Internet ‘bots’ are, for the most part pretty annoying but from time to time they can be quite entertaining. It’s generally easy to spot one and I feel sympathy for those who fail to recognise them and try to engage in sincere conversation.
What follows is a ‘chat’ that occurred between myself and a ‘bot’ called Shay which happened when I logged in to Hotmail recently. This character somehow added me and occasionally sent a message or two but this time I decided to have some fun and see how ‘intelligent’ it was. As you can see, it is not very clever (in spite of the use of mis-spelt words and other net parlance).
Shay says: (14:45:36)
Jude says: (14:45:58)
Shay says: (14:46:07)
hello to you too
Jude says: (14:46:22)
how’s your day?
Shay says: (14:46:31)
Yay! Someone to talk too!! :-)
Jude says: (14:47:10)
So, what you been up to? Annoyed any other MSN customers today besides me?
Shay says: (14:47:20)
lol my name is Jenny i found you on the messenger directory, I’m 22 n go 2 school in cali, just moved here from miami. Umm can i ask you a question?
Jude says: (14:47:32)
Shay says: (14:47:41)
I have a slim waist do you think its to much to always be in gym clothes? I love showing off my body ;-) Do u have pictures?
Jude says: (14:48:00)
you asked me that before and I didn’t like it then
Shay says: (14:48:10)
Well i have pics but they are not on this computer, all i have is the cam. Want me to turn it on??
Jude says: (14:48:30)
How’s your day going? you never answered me
Shay says: (14:48:40)
lol right y wouldnt u want to see me?! well let me put something on cuz i’m damn near naked right now lol brb real quick
Jude says: (14:49:45)
Why do you never answer my questions?
Shay says: (14:49:56)
hmm well its gonna take to long t0 find somethin 2 wear haha… tell me what u think of me dressed in red! ;)
Jude says: (14:50:27)
what are you studying in California? advanced artificial intelligence?
Shay says: (14:50:36)
ok goto http:_ _ _ and we can go 1 on 1 chat. Just click Accept Invite button… I’m ready now just bra and panties :)
Jude says: (14:51:08)
just talk to me. How rude. :(
Shay says: (14:51:17)
Do you see my video i made dancing, i hope u like the latin music, had to add some spice 2 it
Jude says: (14:53:30)
You actually aren’t listening are you
Shay says: (14:53:39)
This site is awesome cuz they have new technology that assures me people can’t record me. I dunno what i’d do if my parents saw this lol
Jude says: (14:54:19)
are you just talking to yourself here?
Shay says: (14:54:30)
you might need to fill out cc info for age verification but dun worry baby ur card wont be charged
Jude says: (14:54:46)
I’m trying to ask you questions. Hello, hello.
Shay says: (14:54:56)
Jude says: (14:55:20)
none of this makes any sense
Shay says: (14:55:32)
I’ll do anything you want me to do.. Do you see me? I can’t chat with you on the site till you register :-(
Jude says: (14:56:02)
I don’t want to register and I don’t want to see you dance particularly. I hardly know you.
Shay says: (14:56:12)
http:_ _ _
Jude says: (14:56:25)
stop sending me links and talk
Shay says: (14:56:37)
Its http:_ _ _ just accept my cam invite!
Jude says: (14:56:53)
No. Not until you answer my questions.
Shay says: (14:57:03)
Baby I’m So Horny right now! Do Whatever You have to, to get in! i’ll spank my ass till its red for u!!!
Jude says: (14:57:39)
You don’t even know who I am. I might be your mom.
Shay says: (14:57:50)
Your such a good boy, i’m gonna show you what good boys deserve.. i’ll be waiting for you on the site…
Jude says: (14:58:15)
Just wait til your dad hears about this.
Shay says: (14:58:24)
i’ll be waiting for you! Goto http:_ _ _ and Join then we’ll chat live!
Jude says: (14:58:47)
When I think about all the money we spent sending you to school
Shay says: (14:58:56)
there’s no $$ involved!!
Jude says: (14:59:16)
Ha. There’s gratitude for you. Your father sweating his life away in that factory for you to be exposing yourself all over the internet
Shay says: (14:59:26)
Jude says: (14:59:46)
Not so smug now are you, missy?! You haven’t been listening to a single word I type have you?
Shay says: (14:59:55)
yes I am finally single!! its great!
Jude says: (15:00:28)
Are you even able to understand English?
Shay says: (15:00:39)
Jude says: (15:00:50)
I take that as a no, then.
Shay says: (15:01:02)
Jude says: (15:01:14)
Yes I am indeed. Have you fed the chickens?
Shay says: (15:01:17)
Jude says: (15:02:27)
Aaaand, we’re clear. That’s a wrap everyone.
…where the food garnishes itself.
The great British seaside [Part 1]
On Yorkshire’s eastern seaboard lie many jewels. Nestling in a calm and sandy bay, with its history clinging like crusty barnacles to the salty bedrock of British seaside tradition, is Bridlington - that pearl of the coast. Sitting demurely between Flamborough Head to the North and Spurn Point to the South, it grins benignly out into the dark green North Sea and Holland beyond, beckoning travellers to take tea with her. She shrinks, like Scarborough’s younger sister, hiding her charms with modesty and jealously guarding her delights with wisdom and reserve. Where her elder sibling is brash - with her painted lips and awkward heels - Bridlington, on the other hand, is refined and gentile but don’t think for a minute that she can’t offer the same delights. She is vibrant with everything a pleasure seeker could wish for but without the vulgarity offered by her less restrained family member.
The seaside experience, extending deep into the British psyche like seaweed entangled firmly in our minds, is not about being beautiful - that is for the continentals. When you visit a Northern coastal resort like Brid, it’s time to let your hair down and be who are are (and sometimes who you’d rather not). Our suspension of disbelief is in full flight as we promenade along facade after facade of flashing lights, misspelt signs and indigestion inducing food emporiums whilst telling ourselves that we are having fun in spite of the rain. On the whole, we know that everything is not only skin deep and purely for our benefit but more importantly; we know that it is perhaps more that ever-so-slightly rubbish. In fact, secretly, we know it is significantly crass but we love it all the more for its paucity of depth
We embrace its honesty as it spews yet another greasy hot dog or donut stall at us and we laugh as we buy dreadful hats with rude motifs and browse hideous keepsakes and souvenirs which we will discard within the year. But most importantly, we want to engage in the whole spectacle. We have a driven desire to eat boiled sugar and seafood or fried fish and pale chips from paper as predatory birdlife swoop, because it’s bred into us. It’s traditional. Overweight and sweaty children, holding shafts of brightly coloured rock, run between the awnings and and paw their sticky fingers across the contraptions designed to extract our spending money. Mums and dads, with more flesh exposed than is decently acceptable, look on with teeth bared and cackle - confident that they are all having the commodity of fun delivered in spades. They know in their hearts that the facade is a tart but in that understanding lies the terms of engagement which brings a rush of thrill knowing that our relationship is transient.
Underneath the flashing lights and constantly chirruping arcades, however, lies an older version of self, which if searched for reveals another incarnation of now. A vintage version of itself which has layers of similarities stretching back to the hazy days of fishing fleet and shipping lanes, tobacco smuggling and piracy. In those days the air was rich with daring and adventure and you can smell the log smoked stories of ghosts and bravery in every inglenook fireplace of every stonebuilt inn.
But perhaps it was the Victorians and Edwardians who introduced the proletariat to the idea of venturing to the beach and the letting down of hair which, even then, involved a degree of equal daring to the seafarers of old. Every palace of fun looks down on the modern day with a knowing eye from the building tops which still proclaim the names of long forgotten music halls and flickery cinemas such as the Empire and Astoria. From the pavilions and solariums where the sun never comes to the flowered gardens where the benches regimentally face the watery horizon - everything is designed for escape, if only for a moment, from our ordinary and dreary lives.
In spite of the rain I’d urge you to smile when you visit such a place. She knows she is brash but if you take tea with her she can entertain you on her level. There is no need to recoil in horror if you feel above the vulgarity of it all, she knows that and always delivers all that you’d expect. When you take her at face value the rewards are bountiful so embrace the great British seaside with open arms as if she were a favourite grandma with her best party frock and a face full of make-up. She might plant you a slobbery kiss on the cheek but you know you always have the going home to look forward to.
Facebook has changed the world in many ways and in spite of the negative coverage it often gets in the popular press, all of us who use it cannot deny the positive benefits it brings to our everyday lives.
In a world where much of our ‘digital’ life is stored in ‘the cloud’ - that mysterious place in the ether where all the music, films, photographs and email messages reside - it is wonderful to realise that I have a cyber-mantlepiece filled with birthday cards and greetings.
Facebook has truly linked our lives in an intimate and immediate way that never existed before (unless we lived on the same street, same house etc) and for that it has truly brought us closer together. I genuinely enjoy reading the sincere updates of the daily lives of people who are special in my life and although I don’t always interact with their news, I feel that I am connected with them.
Yesterday was my birthday and as a treat to myself, I disconnected from the internet for a day. This in itself is an usual thing (as most of us smartphone users will know) but as I was out of range of any signal for many hours it was an easy task. I felt freed from the need to continually poke at a screen and as much as the curiosity burned in me, I resisted the temptation to see if anyone had remembered that it was my special day.
But what a wonderful surprise it was to return to see a page filled with thoughts and good wishes. Facebook has made it a relatively easy task to be aware of each other’s birth dates but the fact that so many took just a few moments to click on the link and type a message is genuinely heart warming and means a great deal to me.
To mention a few (in no particular order): Lizzi, Daniel, Holly, Dave, Minnie, Edwina, Paul, Jennifer, Jo, Colin, Jon, Rachel, David, Nibbe, Ulrike, Hope, Jason, Kyra, Annie, Alannah, Michelle, Bill, Dave, Karl, Lee, Matt, Joe, Gazz - your thoughts are wonderful and I thank you.
My missus had planned a secret getaway on the Friday night and we drove away, deep into the North Yorkshire countryside to a marvelous hunting lodge hotel, where she had arranged dinner and an overnight stay. The following morning, after a huge breakfast we went out into the foggy, crisp morning air for a walk around the village then set off to visit the nearest town: Malton. From there we went back to York, picked up my daughter, Hope and we drove to the coast to have doughnuts. Taking the scenic route back we went into York and had massive amounts of pizza. Finally, I indulged myself with a couple of hours of Harry Hill on TV then fell asleep on the sofa. Tired but (for once) very happy.
The last twelve months have been an unusual experience all in all, and this birthday marks some important landmarks: It was the year that I wrote a novel and became a grandfather (amongst other lesser events). I shall look forward to the next twelve with great optimism as I feel that we all are the source of our own destiny.
I never once saw my father lie on the floor except the day I found him dead. In spite of that rather grim observation, I have come to the conclusion that I am of the generation of adults that have never quite ‘grown up’.
I am much happier eating cheerios whilst lying on the floor in front of the TV on a Saturday morning, watching cartoons than I would be sitting at a dinner table, wearing a shirt and tie reading the newspaper. This rather odd confession troubled me for some time until I accepted the fact that myself and my contemporaries (those born after the 1950’s) have an inbuilt up-growing mechanism which prevents us from being like our fathers (and mothers). Curiously, they embraced the ‘adult lifestyle’ and mirrored their parents as a matter of course.
I am sure that my dad held secret desires to let his hair down once in a while but he was bound by social conditioning that firmly encapsulated him in a a world of manly things and sensible trousers. If only he had been liberated perhaps he would be alive today and not have grown into the miserable, resentful, repressed adult of the 40’s that he was.
I am sure that many a sociologist, anthropologist and cultural observer could spin an entire conference around the subject but I can speak from first hand experience and say that the ‘old order’ is not for this particular adult and in some ways, I believe it is a spent existence in any case.
When I was a young child, men in their sixties (who were seen by me as - not surprisingly - ancient) used to bemoan their back problems, poor weather, the amount of work to do at the allotment and mysteriously incomprehensible issues of the day. Most sixty year olds I meet these days (now that I am considerably older) seem to be more upset by bad artwork on their latest tattoo or poor seats at a Def Leppard concert.
That said, I think the dichotomy occurs when you see just how grounded in the past this generation of child-adults are. You can see evidence of this in the proliferation of vintage memorabilia and faux-nostalgia. In everything from retro specialists on the interweb, selling boiled sweets, crap plastic electronica and space hoppers to the overwhelming proliferation of dewy-eyed references to how the ‘olden days’ were somehow ‘better’.
In truth, most of it was crap. Cassettes didn’t work properly (the tape used to tangle and there was never enough room to get an album on them). Television was rubbish, poorly presented and underfunded. I could go on, but amongst my derision lies a fondness for the paucity of finesse, which is a contradiction I am happy to live with. In many ways, it was the rubbish-factor which makes much of my past so fluffy and adorable. There was an innocence about it which made it somehow more accessible.
Dr Who, for example, wasn’t a cool dude in a snappy suit with fantastic accessories and gorgeous assistants. He was a bumbling old bloke on a cheap set with dismal special effects and a gawky assistant. But, he still scared the bejesus out of me on a Saturday teatime everytime some cornflake-clad antagonist blared at him through a project-kit voice transformer. I knew it was rubbish, but I forgave them for it and that’s the point.
Uncle Reggie’s Magic Radio sounds to my ears like every (so-called) children’s programme that was ever created when I was under twelve years old. Programmes that were hosted by the ‘adults’ - a slightly creepy assembly of authority figures - who stooped to entertain us (but on the whole: failed) by delivering a saccharine blend of the intensely weird and the hideously outdated, almost Victorian, segregation of being a child in the presence of the grown ups. I, for one, would rather have a Motorhead CD in my Christmas stocking, but even so Uncle Reggie’s voice makes me tingle with memories that make everything right with the world.
Perhaps the reason that ‘the past’ is so fluffy, is because it represents a time when I was young. So, beware - if you are young, the thing you love now will rattle all kinds of skeletons in your wardrobe way off in the future. Cherish them as they are but know they are rubbish compared to what will become of them
This isn’t the usual kind of post that I would normally make but this week has seen some extraordinary activity on Tumblr that I couldn’t let pass without some acknowledgement.
I am in the process of ‘workshopping’ my current work in progress: a valvepunk comedy epic psychological adventure, and from now on, various chapters and extracts will appear amongst the usual short stories, sketches and literary obseravations, advice etc.
However, I was surprised to pick up eleven new followers in the week and thought that I’d like to give you all a big thank you. You are (in no particular order): bmulhill, readingme, scrawlingtruths, onceuponatimewriting, bvjk, theriverrunswild, thatneedstogo, pianoghost, iwanttobelikearollingstone, ninjamnah, nureenvelji - and I’d just like to say “Hi, I know you’re there and I’ve followed you back to say thanks”
Just because I don’t comment on posts as a rule doesn’t mean that I don’t read what you put. I enjoy checking stuff out just like the rest and as a writer (!) enjoy a distraction whenever it comes along, like we all do.
Once again, thank you and I hope that you have enjoyed what you’ve read and that you will take time to trawl back through my archives and check out the new stuff as it comes along. The new novel is going to be great and there’s enough depth and intrigue in there to keep anyone guessing (and chuckling) for a long time.