Friday, 18 March 2016

Under surveillance?

A few eerie things have made me start to wonder just how much we are being watched by the powers that be these days. Uh-oh, I hear you say - this is not going to be some sort of wild conspiracy theorist blog entry is it?

Well, yes and no...

In the old days it was pretty straightforward. You could pop into Curry's and have a browse around the fridges at your leisure without having to worry. Other than being bothered by some 18 year old geek in an ill fitting Burtons suit sensing a possible commission on an extended warrant for £199.99, even though the fridge only cost £250 in the first place.

But it's all different now. Most of us must have realised by now that whatever we do on the internet leaves a trace. Have a harmless browse around a few DVD's on Amazon and before you know it your Facebook will be full of ads suggesting you go and buy whatever you've been looking at.

OK, that's fair enough. But how do you explain this? My faithful old Panasonic bread maker is nearing the end of it's life, I fear. The paddle and the bowl are in a very poor state but that's not surprising really. I've been making about five loaves a week in it now for about 12 years, so it's done sterling service. But now it's dying and so it came to pass that I was discussing the situation with my wife earlier. Probably not the most enthralling conversation ever but but being domesticated, married for eight years and on the cusp of middle age you'd be surprised the things one finds to talk about to keep the magic alive! Anyway, the spooky thing about all this is that on settling down to the computer tonight as one does in the internet age, ads for Panasonic bread makers started popping up all over the place. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if one appeared in the middle of this blog now just because I've mentioned it.

Buy me now! You want a bread maker! You know you do!

How did it know? Have Google developed some new highly intrusive device that can see into our houses and listen in on our conversations? Is the computer itself or one of our phones doing it? Every time I turn my phone on it keeps trying to get me to use this voice activated thing, S-Voice or something but there's fat chance of that. I haven't even found the buttons yet to make a phone call.

That's not all. I've been reading Karl Pilkington's latest book on the toilet the last week or two (about the place I can enjoy an uninterrupted read these days), but what do I find on my Facebook feed when I return to the laptop? Ads for Karl's "The Moaning Of Life" series 2 and bog roll. I can't even begin to come up with an explanation for that one.

That's just the internet, but what about one's private life in general? A particularly crude phrase I have often heard bandied about around here is "You can't even fart in Bicester without someone knowing about it". Personally, I would dispute that. On my way back from Nash's the other morning after a large sausage and bacon bap, I let one off down Crown Walk, just opposite WHSmith's. I looked around carefully to see that there was no-one within earshot (or noseshot) first, obviously, but I'm pretty sure I got away with it. I checked on Facebook later and no-one had posted about it on the Bicester Have A Rant page. When I looked back I saw someone coming out of the opticians wrinkling his nose, but I was far enough from the scene of the crime by then to be beyond suspicion. He was an old geezer anyway, so probably not on Facebook.

However, it's amazing the things people do know. I was bemoaning the terrible state of my eyesight these days and that I can't see bugger all anymore to some bloke in the pub and he remarked that it must be down to all the wanking I did as a teenager. I was initially flabbergasted - how could he know such a personal thing? But then in hindsight, thinking about it, if that were true, the entire male population of the world would be blind by the time they got to my age. And probably most of the women as well these days, what with all these rabbits and everything.

I'm moving house in the next couple of weeks, so perhaps I'll be safe for a while. Then again, it's a new build so it's probably got a highly sophisticated fibre optic network concealed in the walls monitoring my every move and automatically sending me deliveries of Pizza, kebabs, and anything else my body language has led it to believe I require. Actually, maybe it's not that bad after all.

In fact, as someone who sells myself for a living (not like a prossie, but in novel format), what I really need Big Brother to do is bombard everybody who reads this blog with links to my novels to get them to buy them. Might as well get the system working for me. I won't prostitute myself any further by shamelessly shoving in a book link here to try and get a sale, I figure most of you have either bought them by now or never will. Instead, as it's getting late in the evening let's merely raise our glasses and say "Cheers". Mine's got red wine in it so if the webcam spots it I expect I'll be seeing some ads from Majestic Wine as soon as I navigate off this site.


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