Scam Scum Revisited

A long time ago I published a post called “Scam Scum”, title self-explanatory I hope, with a promise to make the exposure of scams, internet or otherwise, a regular feature of my WordPress activity.

What’s a promise worth these days?  Like a lot of people, I got sidetracked into posting photos of castles, cakes and cats so as to make my friends jealous – and went for long periods without blogging at all.  When I did do something consumer-related, it was only to moan about the NHS or trains not arriving on time and having no air-con.  Important matters yes, but not really what I came here for.

This morning, while on what I hoped would be a routine trawl through the Spam folder of my gmail account – my secondary email which doesn’t get as much traffic as the first – I was given a rude reawakening.

The contents numbered seventeen.  Apart from the usual rubbish from HMRC No Reply, there was one from Emilie, one from Sarah, one from Farah – see what they did there! – one from Cami, and others from females whose names I can’t remember and they’ve all now been deleted forever anyway.  But here are some extracts:

“I am new to city and looking for place stay.”

“We have not spoken some time I am taking courage write to you.”

“I have nice photo please click on link.”

“Would like you to come office talk” (though this might have been the one from HMRC).

Now it’s not difficult to spot a pattern here.  You feel sorry for them perhaps, and maybe a bit horny as well, so you get back in touch and 24 hours later you’re exchanging phone numbers and bank details – or at least you’re giving them yours. 

Why do we fall for it?  As an occasional EFL tutor, I despair of different people who make the same errors of grammar and punctuation – and you should too.

Maybe I should offer my services as a spam scam scum letter writer who can do reasonably competent English.  Must be worth a couple of hundred squid an hour, don’t you think?

Etiquette, Netiquette but never Schmetiquette

I take my responsibilities very seriously.

If I say I’m going to be in a certain place at a certain time, I’m there – usually waiting for some idiot who thinks their time is more important than mine, and shows up half an hour late.

When online I always follow back and confirm friendships, whether I’m in Manchester, Peterborough, Granada or getting my degree in Ho Chi Minh City (where the Open University is now based, according to FB).  I don’t think it’s too much to expect other people to do the same – I’m not a troll or a timewaster, honest!

I try not to swear too loudly when I’m frustrated by buffer wheels, Aw Snaps, beep beep boops and Google Docs that won’t page down – and the people I’m supposed to be “sharing” them with don’t bother to look at them, let alone add anything meaningful to them.

What I’m trying to say here, I suppose, is a bit of reciprocity never did anyone any harm.  It’s not about you being like me – God forbid! – but about us both following some simple standards: what used to be called “netiquette” in the nineties.

I don’t think any civilised person would have a problem with that.

Free Travel Feature: Ludlow in a Day

Ludlow has recently been flagged up as one of the cheapest places in the UK for a short break.

That’s as may be and, while it has a number of attractive guest houses and pubs with accommodation, it may be more practical, given the town’s relative compactness and easy navigability, to consider a day trip instead.  The West Midlands/Welsh Border location make this quite achievable for many people in mainland Britain

If you’re also fortunate enough to live near the Manchester to South Wales line, a day trip by train, without the annoying need for a change at Crewe or Shrewsbury, is also on the cards.  Two hours each way from Manchester, and it was possible to buy advance tickets from the Arriva Trains Wales website for a total of £28 – though prices can and do vary considerably.  This allowed for eight hours in the town, which was plenty, and in midsummer enabled a trip that could start and finish in daylight.

Don’t expect perfection.  Arriva’s wi-fi-free zones – what do you think this is, the 21st Century? – mean that you’re going to need a crossword or two to hand if you’re not prepared to sit back and enjoy the scenery; and the promised trolley service didn’t materialise until Shrewsbury.  But the sunday morning outward journey was comfortable enough and quiet, except maybe for the screaming kids off on holiday who thankfully left the train at Crewe.

Ludlow station is a minor affair, unstaffed and free of ticket machines, coffee bars and, for a lot of the time, passengers as there was only one train per hour each way.  The town plan on the platform was ultimately more help than could be provided by any human, though.

One of the first things you’ll see if you arrive by train is the Ludlow Brewing Company, which proudly announces that it’s open to the public.  An ideal place to spend a couple of hours waiting for your train home, were it not for the “Private Function Only” sign on the door.  Welcome to Middle England, where inbred faces haunt the cobbled streets, and dog owners discourage their pets from interacting with strangers.

That said, the town centre is well worth a look.  Free for the most part of the chainstore nightmare of most market towns, there are plenty of reasonably priced places for the book and antique collector to search.

Castle Square hosts a themed market on Sundays and Thursdays, and the regular themes are food and antiques. In addition, there are annual Food Festivals in May and September. Pork pie heaven, although vegetarian and gluten free alternatives are available.

Not surprisingly, you won’t have trouble finding a pub or cafe for lunch, or eat alfresco at the market if weather permits. As ever, the less costly (but equal in quality) places are set back from the tourist traps.

you can spend time in the castle if you’re happy to part with the £5 entrance fee, but if you’re reasonably fit and don’t mind a couple of slight gradients, take a free walk alongside the River Teme or the town walls. Few visitors seem to want to take this option, but those who do will be well rewarded by the views.

The return journey would have been alright if the train’s doors and air conditioning had been working. Unfortunately they weren’t.

 

Post #100 (I think)

I know, I know, I know.  Post no.100 (the title was just a cynical ploy to attract US citizens) should have followed in excited rapid-fire succession to post no.99, but I just couldn’t summon up the motivation.  Once again I apologise.

I no longer have the World Cup as an excuse either.  The laptop is safely tucked up in bed when there’s sport on TV, as you know – but as I don’t have a telly that picks up live cricket, and as I can’t stand golf, I am having to actually do a few things that vaguely resemble work – and this is one of them.

I’ve recently published MY CHRISTIAN FLATMATE on Kindle and sent WHAT I HAD FOR DINNER to CreateSpace – forgive me if I’m repeating myself again – so I can have some booby prizes at the ready for next year’s Food and Drink Festival.  I’m hoping to share a platform for a promo with a microbrewery, so at least I’ll be temporarily happy even if I’m as out of pocket as ever.  Still early days though, and I’m going to have to do some uncharacteristic heavy planning to make it succeed.

It did occur to me that by the time the next Festival transpires, the result of the UK General Election will be known.  Now that I’ve added gambling to my list of interests (Colombia for the World Cup seemed so plausible at the time), I might risk a quid or so on Labour coalescing with UKIP after the latter party have grabbed their three seats in Essex.

I think I can work out the Tory strategy – the party political broadcasts are going to be homages to Robert Palmer’s classic “Addicted to Love” video with Dave – the lights are on, but he’s not home – strutting his stuff surrounded by a bevy of female Cabinet Cuties to show how much he really cares about women.  Whaddya think?

 

Time Out

I’ve just had a whole weekend without the internet. No surprise to anyone who’s had recent experience of TalkTalk or BT, but this was actually unforced.

My excuse is that I was watching sport on TV. Now I could have been doing this with a laptop to hand, tweeting “Federer’s bound to win it now…oops”, “Will Lewis Hamilton ever win an F1 race again?…oops” and suchlike banalities, but that’s not me – I prefer to concentrate on one thing at a time.

The World Cup’s getting a bit boring now it’s reached the elimination stages, as it always does, and I’m too old now for penalty shootouts that keep you up until midnight, but I fell completely for the TdF in Yorkshire. I was surprised they were only doing 20mph in some stages – I’ve gone faster than that on the Loop Line, with a bit of wind and gradient assistance admittedly – but this is Yorkshire, the county where they get ‘em in singles, so I’m not surprised.

In between, I’ve been getting my fix of excellent 60s and 70s music courtesy of Radio 2, Radio Manchester and not least my man Steve C on allfm.org – though I did fall asleep before Tony Blackburn announced what was Number One this week in ’76.

This week in ’76 was slap in the middle of that glorious summer, I was on a post-O level family holiday in Abersoch, still firmly in prog mode though I’d read an article in Sounds about the Sex Pistols, and West Indies were bowling us out for 71 and 126 at Old Trafford. Life will never be like that again.

But anyway, it’s now Monday and back to work. Finding Overheard in Waitrose on FB was my job for the day, but it was a job well done.

Pulled Out

Who says men can’t multitask?  Here am I, watching the France-Nigeria game – why do all the good goals by the unfancied nations have to get disallowed? – proofing my CreateSpace version of What I Had for Dinner while struggling with a BT connection that disappears every five minutes.  I thought you’d fixed this problem after you first cocked up on Saturday, lads?

I’m also seeking a ticket for the Soft Machine Legacy/Keith Tippett concert next month, and trying to get a fiver on Colombia to lift the trophy because nobody thinks they’ll beat Brazil do they, but every bloody time I try to, I’m told I’m not connected to a network.

Control Panel says I am connected to a BT network, but these can be two alternate ways of saying the same thing.

I’m hoping BT can keep it going long enough for me to publish this, but I’m certainly not counting on it.

So I’ll sign off, make up a title and tags as quick as I can, and get back to my pulled pork pie.  All pork has to be pulled these days by order of the coalition and Manchester’s increasingly pretentious food outlets.

Toy Footballers

Am I the only person in the  world who’s sick of the sight of footballers folding their arms?

How many times do we need telling – if you try to get a footballer to do anything besides playing football, they’re going to look pretty stupid doing it.  Especially if the task in question involves wearing a business suit or trying to construct a sentence in joined-up English (mind you, Fabio Capello’s got a lot better at that since he got the Russian job – shame his team’s not proving to be any better than his last one!)

For my two cents, yes the Mexican keeper’s display was every bit as impressive as Van Persie’s or Muller’s, I expect England to get a point off a semi-fit Suarez and hobble to the last match with it all depending on that again.  I got Uruguay as my team in the 1970 Subbuteo World Cup and they’ve never done anything since, Diego Forlan in South Africa notwithstanding.

And Fuerza Chile tonight!  I can’t wait to see Spain sent packing.