Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!

I'm not sure I've ever written a blog post with an exclamation mark in the title so this should go a long way to redressing any imbalance. That it also alludes to a classic Monthy Python sketch may be considered a bonus.

I was prompted to adopt this heading on the strength of a growing number of faintly bizarre emails that I've received recently. In one afternoon's trawl, I found several earnest behests to buy insurance policies that I very much don't need, others to spark up productive new relationships with traders in China, one or two invitations to commission SEO companies to send my "wesbite" (sic) soaring to stratospheric heights in Google's rankings, and several attempts to coerce me into visiting trade shows whose themes were so dull that they made growing my hair sound like a dangerously thrilling alternative.

I should point out that these all went straight to my junk mail folder. However, I do check this from time to time just to make sure that my various filters haven't accidentally sifted out, say, an invitation from an eager publisher or news of an unexpected nomination for a literary award of some kind. (They hadn't, but thanks for asking.)

Now the emails I've listed weren't all that bizarre, I know. 'Common or garden' is a phrase that probably applies. Anyone with an email address and somewhere to point it will be familiar with the experience of receiving junk of this sort. However, on top of all this quasi-commercial nonsense, I have started to receive a quietly disturbing quantity of messages themed upon the subjects of incontinence and haemorrhoids (a word I'm proud to say I spelled correctly first time without the aid of anyone at Microsoft.)

It's not so much the mere existence of these missives that disturbs me as the sense that, somewhere, the authors of all this junk mail are forming a very worrying picture of me. There's a woman calling herself Valentina who seems especially concerned that I should start equipping myself with a large supply of elasticated mattress protectors at the very earliest opportunity.

Perhaps they feel I've entered some significant new age bracket, or perhaps some pretender to my name has been spending an unseemly amount of time browsing through the 'assisted toileting' sections of some specialist catalogues. Whatever the reason, I get the feeling that someone or something has decided that this Gregson bloke really has some problems to sort out. I can only guess, but the idea that I have somehow managed to get myself onto 'a list' is not at all comfortable. Probably not as uncomfortable as haemorrhoids, admittedly, but tending in that general direction.

There's always a lot of talk about how craftily and cunningly online advertisers are able to track our progress across the web, forming ever more accurate and up to date profiles about our age, social status, blood type, hat size, favourite breakfast cereal and what sort of face we pull at the moment of orgasm. And yet, for all that, here I am, proudly continent and sound of sphincter, still receiving all manner of special offers relating to bed pans and waterproof chair covers. Either something has gone badly wrong or they know something I don't.

I should end this by saying that if anyone does indeed suffer with these conditions, please do get in touch. All this talk of strangely themed junk mail is genuine and I certainly don't want to make light of any affliction. Think of me as a sympathiser and perhaps, too, as a useful resource; judging by recent claims, it seems I now have access to "some of the very best deals on the international nursing and home-care market". I'm sure I could get you a voucher or something.

My personal profile, according to the email marketeers:

Income: sufficient to support weekly international flights by Sri Lankan Airlines and several well known European tour operators. Also sufficient to make fortnightly investments in luxury overseas properties. Nevertheless, a strong candidate for a payday loan.

Health: poor. Likely to suffer from haemorrhoids, incontinence, tinnitus and severe erectile dysfunction. Also believed to be afflicted by multiple industrial injuries relating to past employment. Somewhat clumsy: likely to have sustained regular injuries in public places as a result of accidents that were not his fault. Nevertheless, a strong candidate for eight different kinds of private health insurance.

Business interests: varied. A carefully weighted balance of Chinese metallurgy, fast food, pharmaceutical cleanroom engineering, electronic engineering, water and effluent management, dairy farming, low-cost website development, poultry farming and stationery supplies. Should respond well to invitations to advertise. Also very likely to want to receive offers relating to inheritances and investments - esp. Nigeria.

Education and training: unknown but likely to benefit from multiple, repeated offers of mail-order doctorates. (Academic disciplines largely irrelevant.)

Marital status: unknown. Almost certain to want to receive offers of love, friendship and marriage from ladies with Eastern European-sounding first names.

Domicile: exceptionally cold, draughty and thermally inefficient. Likely to be in desperate need of three new central heating boilers every week, bi-weekly loft insulation top-ups, monthly window replacements and the installation of high performance solar photovoltaic arrays at least once every quarter.

General character: massively gullible; responds especially well to poorly worded, misspelled and grammatically incorrect messages. Likely to produce an almost Pavlovian positive response to offers containing the words 'amazing', 'great' and 'unmissable.' Contact him now and watch your sales figures soar.

Almost uncannily accurate, isn't it?

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