Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 14 February 2013
I didn't get where I am today
Do you know Richard Hughes and Anne Hughes Weismueller? No, neither do I, but if Facebook asks me that question one more time, I'm going to... I'm going to... well, what can I do?
You may remember that it was years ago since I signed off Facebook and told them never to contact me again, but they have somehow found the connection between the old account in my real name and my assumed name account (both of which I thought I had de-activated) and now send me (Tom Stephenson) emails to my real name account - yet another example of why you should steer clear of the creepy bastards. The only way they can do this is by using credit-check surveillance technology, as do 'Linkedin' - another organisation I wish I had never heard of. It's almost as if they are saying, "There's no hiding from us!"
I recently had a run-in with a couple of idiot doormen at a well-known, brewery-run bar and restaurant here in Bath (Hall and Woodhouse, actually, but don't tell anyone), and I immediately went home to write a scathing report about the incident for 'Trip Advisor'.
Before you get the wrong idea, I don't use 'Trip Advisor purely in order to condemn establishments - I have written as many positive reviews as I have negative - but when I write a negative review (which I have done twice only) I write it as 'Tom Stephenson' to avoid revenge attacks, and that is the only time in the whole review when I may not tell the entire truth. Everyone else calls themselves 'Day Tripper', or some other AKA, so I don't see anything sinister about calling myself 'Tom Stephenson'.
When I arrived at the review site for Hall and Woodhouse, it was pack-full of glowing reports about how simply wonderful the place is, all written under fake names by people whose photographs made them look like they worked for the same security company as the two goons I had argued with that afternoon. Hmm. Only one or two people had a slight moan about the exorbitant price of their hamburgers, and this was before the revelation about the disappearance of Shergar.
The gist of my complaint was as follows:
I went there one saturday to meet H.I. and a bunch of other teachers who were celebrating the birthday of a colleague. I arrived at 7.45 p.m. having just left the supermarket, and I was carrying my shopping in a Waitrose carrier bag. The doormen asked me what was in the bag, and I said, "What do you think? It's shopping." When they asked to look inside, I foolishly showed them, and they spotted a bottle of wine nestling amongst the vegetables. They told me that I was not allowed to bring my own alcohol onto the premises, presumably suspecting I would open it and drink it there, like a few impoverished students had done in the past.
Well, you can imagine how I responded, and it was not a pretty sight. I said I was going in to complain to the manager, and they said I must leave the bag with them if I did. I told them not to steal any of it's contents when I was inside, which nicely offended them. I assured them that I did not believe that they would steal anything, but it was my policy to suspect everyone, in the same way that it was their policy to suspect everyone of smuggling alcohol into Hall and Woodhouse.
I'm going to cut a long story short now, but suffice to say that the goon on the door's parting words to me were, "At least I didn't call you an arsehole" to which I replied that by saying that, he just had.
A couple of days later, Hall and Woodhouse spotted my review on Trip Advisor, and pressured them to take it down on the grounds that I used offensive language (by calling the doormen 'goons' and quoting their parting comment), so I wrote another in more moderate terms. I submitted it, saying that the reason why this review was relevant to visitors to Bath and not just a personal rant, was because a visitor would not be able to take his/her shopping home before meeting friends in Hall and Woodhouse, and may well be refused entry because of that. In any event, H.I. had arrived half an hour before me carrying nothing but a Waitrose carrier bag in which was a bottle of Champagne as a gift, and she was not stopped at the door. Maybe I just look like an old, alcoholic tramp? (don't even bother to comment about that, John, you have never met me...).
A couple of days after I submitted the second, more moderate review, I had a message from Trip Advisor to my real email account, asking if I had written the review under the name, 'Tom Stephenson'. I put my hands up by clicking the 'confirm' link, after which - to my amazement - they published it.
I learnt one thing from this whole sorry tale though - there is no such thing as 'anonymity' when using your own computer from home. Each machine leaves an invisible signature which can be traced right back to the source, and anyone who can be bothered can use the same technology as credit reference agencies to see whether or not you really exist.
So next time you are trawling through porn (like I said, it is my policy to suspect everybody) don't bother to wipe the history if your spouse works in I.T.