Spam, Lovely Spam

Now that I’ve probably put the Monty Python song into your head, I feel I must come clean and admit that this piece is highly unlikely to be remotely as funny as that, or anything else the Pythons did. But it’s a good title, so I’m sticking with it.

If you’ve never checked your spam folder, you really should: WordPress may have had one of its occasional hissy fits and deposited a genuine comment in there. It can also be a source of amusement, especially if you think these might be the product of a real human, as opposed to a bot – which is probably what they are, though. I take screenshots of the ones that amuse me the most: they can be good fodder for a post, as I’ve found before. Having amassed a bit of a collection over the past few months, I thought it about time that you saw some of these pearls too – although I’m guessing you may have received some of them as well.

The most common comment type to find its way into the spam folder is the one where an offer is being made which would probably involve spending some of your cash on the dubious services of a ‘lady’ whose name bears no relation to her email address. Sorry, but I’ve no wish to run the risk of bankruptcy or of catching something nasty – I’m just not that desperate. Yet.

There are also a great many in Cyrillic writing, but as I don’t speak Cyrillic they are rather wasted on me. For all I know, they could be offers of incredible wealth, and I’m missing out big time. Or lots more of those ‘ladies’ – does anyone know the Russian for ‘hooker?’ Then again, they could be abusive and my delicate nature is being spared by not translating them. On balance, I think I’d rather stay in blissful ignorance. Sorry, Cyril, but it’s a ‘no’ from me.

Quite a few of these comments are attached to my About Me page, and I’ve often wondered why. I don’t have that many cousins who are likely to be going round telling everyone about me, but it appears these guys know of one (click on the images to enlarge them, if necessary):

Both of the cousins mention that they are seeking help for a problem. They don’t specify what it is, but perhaps I should introduce them to one of those ‘ladies’ who are helpfully offering their services? I’m also wondering if I should ask ‘Hairstyles’ and Vance which of my cousins snitched on me? Nice nickname, by the way – it’s a good thing s/he isn’t a proctologist…

The most recent comment came yesterday morning:

Generally, if you’re offering professional skills it is a good idea to display them in your sales pitch. I think Magdalena – who appears to have gender issues – forgot this, so he or she may not be the person I’d turn to if I needed help with my writing or if my nerves were shredded. But the claim that ‘only I can solve all their problems’ rings a bell: perhaps he’s seeking alternative employment after he loses the election in November? And where is ‘Old England’ anyway? Advice from residents of New England welcome…

Sometimes spam people say nice things – ta, Sha:

And sometimes they don’t. The comment from ‘Free Stuff’ in the second set from the top (the Vance one) is one such, and this is another, I think:

Sorry, Aurea, I’ll try to do better in future but, as you can see, I struggle to link things together. You might like to try simplifying your comments, too: that one took some understanding, for a simpleton such as I.

Others have commented on my ‘excellence,’ which is always good to see, even from an automaton:

Looking at the second of those comments, I’m still at a loss to explain the reference to brussels. Do they mean the city, or sprouts? I’ve never been to Belgium, and apart from the occasional PSA reminder in October that it’s time to put the sprouts on for Christmas, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned them, either. But it’s good to know that the Brown Duck will be watching my blog for more information on this – perhaps as an accompaniment when its time comes for roasting? Whichever way you take that comment, it’s weird. And I hope you read that as ‘duck’ in that last name: if you didn’t, it’s your mind, not mine!

The third comment in this one shows that even bots lack self-awareness, just like a lot of real people:

As if Lorinda needed to ask! I do hope she sees this piece, though, as it might answer her question, albeit not in the way she was expecting. I hadn’t noticed the comment above hers until now: does anyone know if we’re allowed to travel to Spain yet?

With that, I think I’ve had enough vicarious excitement for one day. I’ll keep the collection going and if enough weirdos provide further contributions I may do this again sometime. Keep looking at your spam folder too: I’d be interested to compare notes.

As a reward for getting this far I thought I’d end with a song. From where I began this piece there could only be one song, couldn’t there?

Wrong! Gotcha 😉

If you’re now trying to work out where you’ve heard that before, Weird Al ‘borrowed’ his parody from R.E.M.’s song Stand. It turned out well, I think 😉

I leave the last word to the mysteriously named XRumerTest:

What’s In A Name?

Back in February 2016, in the long-lost days when WordPress used to give a daily prompt, they did one called Say Your Name.  “Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?”

This sounded very familiar, so I did a little checking and found that I had posted to an almost identical prompt on 1 June 2013. On the assumption that most of you weren’t here all those years ago – either in 2013 or 2016 – and won’t therefore have read those posts, I decided it was time for one of my rework and republish jobs. My follower numbers are around double what they were four years ago, and are far greater than in 2013, so I think I’m working on the basis of a safe assumption!

Me. Apparently.

Me. Apparently.

As you’ve probably noticed my name is Clive, which according to every source I can find means ‘cliff’ or ‘slope’  and is usually believed to refer to someone who lived near one of these. The name is of English origin, and was first found around the 11th century. I feel old!  It is apparently quite uncommon as a first name, but is more in use as a surname.  The most famous example of this is probably General Sir Robert Clive – or ‘Clive of India’ as he is more widely known. I’ve always understood that my parents chose the name as it couldn’t be abbreviated – an approach they seem to have abandoned by the time my duo-syllabic sister came along. However, I was born in Dover, which has a few White Cliffs nearby, so maybe they knew something?

Almost.......

Almost…….

I have also found that there is a small town and parliamentary electorate called Clive in the Hawke’s Bay Region of New Zealand. This was named after the General, rather than me, though. And something I never even thought possible: I’m an acronym. Yes, CLIVE stands for Computer-aided Learning IVeterinary Education. So, after all this time, I finally have proof that I really am the mutt’s nuts!

My surname?

My surname?

My parents’ plan met with debatable success. Whilst I was always ‘Clive’ at home, apart from the times when I was ‘Clive Howard Pilcher!!!!’ – usually a signal to make myself scarce – no one at school ever managed to shorten my name. They simply didn’t use it at all! I answered most to ‘Chip,’ which of course came from my initials (see above) and also to Pilch – if they couldn’t abbreviate my first name, why not go for the surname instead? And thanks to a major TV advertising campaign of the 60s and 70s I was also known as ‘Glen’ – the clue is in the picture. As I answered to all three nicknames as well as my real name, you can imagine the confusion when opposing football teams were trying to work out who my own team were calling to! You may have spotted that I’m attached to ‘Chip,’ which has also been a pet name for me for a number of people, not just in my schooldays. I keep it to this day as part of some of my online incarnations, i.e. Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Would I change my name? For what is probably an old-fashioned reason, i.e. that it is what my parents chose for me and I feel it would be disrespectful to them to change it, I wouldn’t: I’ve had 66+ years with it and I quite like it. It feels a little special to me, particularly as I rarely come across another with the same name, although I’ve found a couple of other Clives in the blog world. It’s not as if I’ve been lumbered with something embarrassing anyway. Never have I been more grateful that my parents have only been celebrities to me, not in the wider world! Calling your son ‘Marion’ for example? What would he do with that?  The reverse seems to be true of modern-day celebrities, many of whom seem to be competing for a ‘most stupid child’s name’ prize.

It isn’t just a recent trend, either. Going back to the 60s there was Frank Zappa, whose four children delight in the names Moon, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva. It’s not as if dear old Frank was strange at all, is it? One sounds like an insect repellent, while another appears to have been some kind of advance personality diagnosis. Into the 70s and along came Zowie Bowie, who understandably prefers to use the ‘Duncan Jones’ part of his full name in his film industry career. Another product of the songwriter’s ability for rhyming is Rolan Bolan, whose real surname is actually ‘Feld.’ I guess Held Feld or Smeld Feld were just too silly.

Bob and Terry

Bob and Terry – a joke 20 years before ‘Brooklyn’

In recent years we have many wonderful examples of celebrity parental idiocy. So many in fact that I could do a whole piece on them. But I’ll content myself by just making fun of a couple of the more obvious ones! The Beckhams’ reason for choosing Brooklyn as the name for their first born perhaps shows a love of the 60s TV series The Likely Lads and the 70s follow up (remember ‘Robert Scarborough Ferris’?). It’s probably as well that the act didn’t take place in Peckham. But Beckenham might have been nice.

My other chosen example is Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, who thought it a good idea to call their children ‘Apple’ and ‘Moses.’ It’s a real shame that they ‘consciously uncoupled,’ as now we’ll never get ‘Microsoft’, ‘Android’ or ‘God,’ will we?

And if you’ll indulge my diversion a little longer, I wonder where this could go next. Maybe we could get children’s names being sponsored by advertisers? ‘Direct Line Keitel?’ ‘Nespresso Clooney?’ ‘EE Bacon?’  And even without celebrity appearances and voiceovers, I’m looking forward to the first kid called ‘Moonpig’ or ‘MoneySupermarket.’ And we mustn’t forget the practice of choosing names based on favourite TV programmes and characters – anyone for Sherlock, Downton, Strictly or, simply, Who?

I’ve sidetracked myself some way from where I began. But apart from taking the chance to have a pop at idiots, there’s a serious point in here somewhere. As I’ve said, I wouldn’t change my name – it’s part of me, my identity, who I am. Why should I or anyone want to change that? We all go through difficult times now and then, when we may well wish we were someone or somewhere else. But if we were able to conjure ourselves into another persona we’d be giving up our identities, wouldn’t we? Our names are part of us, part of our culture and heritage. And giving up on yourself is something no one should ever do.

Marion

Marion

And in case you didn’t know, that boy named Marion was born Marion Morrison, but became John Wayne. Hardly surprising, really, as “Kindly dismount and have a cup of camomile tea” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?