I know it’s a remarkable invention and has really helped many of us keep in touch and stay sane during the pandemic. But I’m so over Zooming and by that I mean this video-conferencing malarkey in general. It’s like attending a séance.
Can you see me?
Can you hear me?
Is there anybody there?
No, you’ve gone.
The whole psychic encounter is made all the more spooky by the use of cheap digital backgrounds where participants appear and disappear like ghostly apparitions. First you see ’em, then you don’t. If only we could all hold hands to contact the living.
In 2016, I wrote a little piece about my semi-colonial life as a forces child in Malaysia back in the swinging sixties. The post – Reflections of an Army Brat – featured a blurry old black and white image I found online of Mountbatten Primary School, the school I attended. It started quite a conversation between ex-pupils, a conversation which continues to this day.
The post from way back also took me to a Facebook group called ‘We are Terendakians’ – Terendak being the name of the army camp originally built for the 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade which consisted of soldiers from the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The Facebook group is a place to reminisce and interact. And reminisce and interact they do with some wonderfully evocative pictures of a bygone era. Sometimes it even gets up close and personal.
This might be me aged around 7:
And this is almost certainly my mother on the ladies badminton team:
I’ve been plagued with spam comments ever since I started this blogging malarkey – nearly 370,000 so far. Just like Domestos and germs, my spam filter kills off 99.9% of ’em so I don’t have to. I used to get an eclectic mix of spam – the collective weaknesses, desires, vices and foibles of humanity laid bare, blended with endless machine-generated auto-babble. These days the slut and smut stuff is mostly absent, and I generally just get pseudo-clinical gibberish, all targeted at a single post from way back in 2012. Here’s an example:
Decrease of a stage of hemoglobin at males up to 120g/l, at girls up to 110g/l is possible. This can imply dependence on male breadwinners, abandoned opportunities for paid work, and exhaustion that extracts a physical and psychological toll. The former is shown, for example, in exams for cutaneous sensitization, whereas the latter is proven in impairment of the power to resist infection erectile dysfunction for women Correlation of preoperative depression and somatic percepRecommendation #2: tion scales with postoperative incapacity and quality of life afer Collecting data concerning the preoperative characteristics and lumbar discectomy. In the course of therapy, the following duties are solved in every particular affected person: fi reduction of exacerbation; fi selection of adequate primary remedy; fi reduction of the danger of development of complications; fi decreasing the danger of side effects in the course of the course.
The post in question is Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum. It caused quite a stir at the time, I’m pleased to say. Has the post been deliberately targeted? Who would do such as thing? Who knows. But anyone searching online for the forum will often find my ancient post on the first page of Google – the sweet spot for any website – just below the entry for the forum itself. Perhaps all these spam attacks are keeping it there? Happy days!
I was badly shaken and much stirred to hear of the murder of fellow author, Lindsay de Feliz in December. Among her many qualities, Lindsay was very social media savvy and developed an impressive following. Her evergreen blog chronicled the many ups and considerable downs of her fascinating life in the Dominican Republic with her Dominican husband, Danilo, assorted stepchildren and a menagerie of dogs, cats and chickens. Life at times was really tough but she always embraced it without complaint or regret. Lindsay wrote candidly about her journey in her remarkable memoirs, ‘What About Your Saucepans?’ and ‘Life After My Saucepans’.
I never actually met Lindsay in person but we talked on Skype and gelled immediately, sharing the same ironic sense of humour. When we first became acquainted, I was a rookie author and she was generous with her help. I was trying to make a shilling or two from my first book and her advice was spot on. I shall be ever grateful.
The manner of Lindsay’s grizzly death is plain but the circumstances surrounding it are subject to much idle chitter-chatter. What is known is Danilo and two of his adult children have been arrested, and, some say, charged with her murder. The story broke in the press and hit the headlines. As Lindsay’s publisher, a national newspaper came sniffing around for the dirt, particularly about how much money she’d made. Of course, I kept mum. My discretion was not repeated online with some people, many of whom had never even heard of Lindsay, heckling from the cheap seats and baying for blood. It was an ugly spectacle, reflecting the very worst aspects of social media. Let’s not jump the gun. If Danilo is tried (fairly) and convicted, then so be it but, in the meantime, I’m steering well clear of the bear pit.
My thoughts are with Lindsay’s family and actual friends at this truly awful time. Lindsay, may you rest in peace.
The deluge of GDPR emails has finally dried up, thank the Lord. For the uninitiated, GDPR stands for the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. It’s the latest wheeze from the European Union intended to strengthen the law about the collection, privacy, security and retention of personal data. The new rules are fairly straightforward, if a little OTT – like so much that comes out of Brussels. I’m all for protecting the little person from the exploitation of corporate bigwigs but I can’t help thinking the reputable will comply, the disreputable won’t bother and those squeezed in the middle will be bewildered – think brown owl trying to chivvy up the girl guides or some poor sod juggling the mailing list of a local am-dram society. I doubt it will stop nuisance calls from India or spam emails from God knows where. A case in point was the mailshot that recently dropped into my inbox from a US company. They were trying to flog me such must-have products as a concealed ankle holster perfect for a sneaky armed robbery, a decorative bracelet knife because Saturday night’s alright for fighting and a magnetised holder for the loaded pistol I keep under the sink next to the Fairy Liquid (that’s a joke, obviously). Every trailer should have one. Did I subscribe to this crap? Nope. Did I unsubscribe straightaway? Yep. Will it make the slightest bit of difference? Not a chance.
If you like to see my own half-cocked GDPR kinda-compliant privacy thingy, you can see it here. Happy reading.