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You couldn’t make it up!

PUBLISHED: 17:06 07 October 2011

Home Secretary Theresa May addresses the Conservative Party Conference

Home Secretary Theresa May addresses the Conservative Party Conference

HOME Secretary attacks natural justice and the justice system – you couldn’t, as one of her cheerleaders might put it, make it up.

Someone did, though.

Theresa May told the Tory conference “about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat.”

She may not have been making it up, but she was wrong. As was pointed out with characteristic humour by Ken Clarke, and confirmed by the Royal Court of Justice.

Ken, the acceptable face of the Tory party, must have been embarrassed when his leader followed May in turning on migrant workers. It was a typical Tory ploy to make someone other than themselves the butt of popular anger.

But the prize for the stupidest comment of the week goes to Sid from Norfolk, who texted a national radio station to support the ineffable May.

“It’s about time someone flung out that hated Human Rights Act,” opined Sid.

This presumably means either: (a) he doesn’t think he should have any rights himself; or (b) he isn’t human. My money’s on (b).

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MELISSA from Manningtree wants to meet me. Or so it says here.

She looks quite attractive too, in a slightly cheesy way, if the photo on my screen is actually her.

If, indeed, Melissa actually exists.

If she does, she’ll have to wait in line. Carole from Colchester, Halle from Halstead, Isabelle from Ipswich and Sally from Sudbury all got their bids in first.

Quite why any of these pouting teenagers should want to meet a happily-partnered middle-aged journalist with a child and a dog is beyond me anyway.

Maybe they aren’t quite the nubile young things they seem.

Maybe they’re really older women who have succumbed to the blandishments of a particularly graphic ad that seems to have been following me around everywhere lately. Well, everywhere I go online, anyway.

It appears to show an old woman pulling her face off and revealing a young woman beneath. Bit creepy really.

The, um, interface between the older and the younger skin looks like a sheet of glue, or maybe clingfilm. Which seems a rather unpleasant, not to say hazardous, thing to apply to your face.

I’m sure the easiest way to create that image – assuming it is a real photo, not the work of an expert in Photoshop – would be to apply a wrinkly mask to a young face. Rather than the other way round.

Presumably all these frankly tasteless offers are circulated widely. So that if only one sucker in 1,000 – or 20,000 – falls for it, the advertisers will still make money out of it overall.

It does disturb me slightly, though, that Carole, Melissa, Halle and Sally all come from my part of the world. More or less. Or are claimed to.

Dare I guess that if I were logging on in Addis Ababa, Buenos Aires or Chicago the pretty pictures posted my way would come with addresses a little closer to my real-world location?

Or are the young lovelies of north Essex and south Suffolk so keen to meet anyone from anywhere that their likenesses are being exported globally? Somehow I doubt it.

Indeed, it would not surprise me to learn that someone in Lancashire is looking right now at a Melissa from Manchester. Who wants to meet him. And who looks uncannily like her Manningtree namesake.

What disturbs me slightly more is the advertising that’s targeted with slightly greater finesse than a mere postcode locator.

Like the ones that try to flog me Ipswich Town tickets (I’ll get mine from the club ticket office, thanks).

Or music that some automated mechanism deems somehow “similar” to an album I’ve listened to in the past. Or, insultingly, offer to “publish” my poetry… for a fee.

This is disturbing not only for what’s actually being offered me – but more so for what isn’t.

The refining of information to suit only the tastes and interests you reveal in your online dealings means you’re constantly bombarded with “more of the same”.

Thereby not widening your world view – as you might expect the worldwide web to do – but narrowing it.

Which may not matter too much if that just means more and more prog rock because you once showed an interest in Pink Floyd.

It’s not so good when the news stories you see are only those that in some way match those you’ve chosen to open before.

And it can be downright dangerous if it means perpetual reinforcement of an originally slight interest in, say, gambling. Or recreational drugs. Or religious extremism (of whatever flavour). Or north Essex girls.


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