Midweek Musings #3

ITEM: All the comment over the Beckhams naming their latest sprog Harper Seven has reminded me that I was never really that happy with my own middle name. I was christened Peter Alfred, the second name in honour of an uncle who was supposed to be so flattered that he would remember me in his will, a ploy that failed dismally. On the other hand, the relative who did remember me in her will was Aunt Nellie, so all things considered I reckon I had a lucky escape.

Getting names right is a matter of principle to some people. I’ve always gone by ‘Pete’, but there are still those who insist on the more formal ‘Peter’. One time, nearly forty years ago (we really do go back that far), The Imaginary Girlfriend rang me at home and my mother answered the phone. TIG asked to speak to Pete and mum replied that there was nobody of that name here and hung up. She then turned to me and said, ‘When she rings back tell that girl if I’d wanted you to be called Pete I wouldn’t have christened you Peter.’ Mum had attitude. Today she’d be a rapper.

ITEM: Filling in online forms is a constant source of amusement to me, particularly those bits – questions and captchas – that prove you’re not a spambot, or at least a pretty low level one.

When I signed up to the BFS forums at the weekend, their system asked me how many sides a heptagon had, only to then inform me that ‘seven’ was the wrong answer, which sent me straight to the good old CED. Possibly the answer should have been ‘7’ (as in ‘Harper 7’).

And a verification question on another site asked me what colour the sea was. Tricky. I went with ‘Blue’, but honestly, when was the last time you saw blue sea? Off the Norfolk coast it’s more a scummy brown-grey, and that’s on the good days.

My recent favourite though was a captcha I completed this morning where the word was ‘Smirnov’. Not quite the same spelling as the vodka I believe, but you can’t type it without thinking of the vodka, begging the question of whether corporate minds have come up with a new product placement wheeze come form of subliminal advertising.

And if not, then it’s probably an idea worth millions, and so ‘(TM) Peter Tennant’. Do not pass go. Send me my cheque for seven gazillions you megalomaniacal corporations and we’ll call it quits.

ITEM: I’m increasingly intrigued by the search engine terms that bring visitors to this blog. Yesterday people washed up here courtesy of ‘mature woman seduce young lady’ and ‘gecko black-and-white caftan’.

I try to imagine why people would be searching such combinations in the first place, and frankly, the mind boggles. By way of an experiment I googled ‘mature woman seduce young lady’, and near as I could tell the first half dozen or so pages were porn sites. I added ‘trumpetville’ to the search, and then got directed to my post earlier in the week regarding horror film remakes. Strange.

I’ve refrained from searching ‘gecko black-and-white caftan’ though on the grounds that, if that also directed me to porn sites, I’m not at all sure if I’m psychologically strong enough to deal with the implications.

ITEM: On Monday I stopped receiving emails to my Hotmail account from 13.00 onwards. Concerned that something had gone seriously awry in the world of telecommunications I sent an email to myself from my Yahoo account. It arrived okay, so guess you were all just ignoring me then. And if so, sod the lot of you.

In a similar vein of feeling unliked and ignored, a few weeks back while checking to see who else was on Facebook with my name, I discovered that there was ‘Peter Tennant Author’ page. I’ve no idea how it came into being, perhaps spontaneously generated by my Wikipedia entry, from which most of the details came (and I’ve no idea how I warranted a Wikipedia page either). Only one person liked ‘Peter Tennant Author’. Yesterday I checked back and nobody liked ‘Peter Tennant Author’, so now I’m trying to figure out who I’ve offended recently, or perhaps the ‘liker’ got ‘Peter Tennant Author’ confused with Sir Peter Tennant, who worked for British Intelligence during WW2 and wrote a book about it. Yes, I’m sure that’s it.

ITEM: I haven’t read a newspaper in years, though I have looked at the pictures while waiting for my order in the chippy. Henry Miller claimed that he never read newspapers, because ‘if there’s a war or revolution, somebody will tell me’, and none of the other stuff mattered. That’s even more true nowadays, when most newspapers are little more than comics for adults, intent on keeping us well informed about the doings of Posh and Becks, Kate and William, Cheryl and Jordan, and distracting us from thinking about anything that might actually matter. And so I’m not the least bit bothered to see The News of the World go down the crapper, other than that all the smart money says the slack will be taken up by the equally odious Daily Mule on Sunday, and cordially hope that the rest of Murdoch’s media empire will follow tout suite.

And congratulations to Dave, Nick, Ed and the rest of the gang for belatedly growing some balls and standing up to the Awful Antipodean. Now perhaps you’d like to bring in some measures to stimulate instead of depressing the economy and tackle the bonus and tax evasion culture that’s slowly siphoning off the wealth of the nation into the pockets of a few old-Etonians, in lieu of the easier option of making scapegoats out of benefit claimants. Yeah, I know it’s a tough job and doing it won’t get you a lucrative seat on the board of any financial institutions or conglomerates, but hey, it’s the job we elected you to do and it will win you the love of the common people, which has gotta count for something.

That last paragraph was brought to you by the ‘hang ’em high and leave ’em to rot’ party. Normal service will resume tomorrow, or the day after if I can’t be bothered to blog tomorrow.

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4 Responses to Midweek Musings #3

  1. Cate Gardner says:

    Sod the Facebook page, people should ‘like’ your musings posts. They make me snort everytime. Although snorting is not a good sound, so let’s pretend I said they make me laugh in a ladylike manner everytime.

  2. Hi Pete,

    Really got a laugh out of the strange search terms that bring visitors to your site.

    Quite a few years ago, I received a negative e-mail from an Angry Mom who wrote me to say she had been searching on the Internet for a wok, and had somehow stumbled across my site. She evidently read some of the more sexually explicit stories on the site, and was distressed to think one of her daughters might be able to access my site, “without any warning.”

    It was clear from reading her e-mail she thought I had somehow ‘fixed’ the search results in the different Internet search engines around the world so that whenever someone inquired about woks, SENTENCE would show up to corrupt youngsters, even as they stir-fried (with one hand.)

    I don’t know why she thought this, other than that perhaps she was new to the Internet, and didn’t understand how it worked. After all, it’s not as if I reviewed the stats from my site and decided, “Well, I’ve got university professors visiting SENTENCE, and college students, and creative writing teachers and linguists and critics, and a lot of folks who use pots and pans, but I’m still not really getting the wok-using crowd. That’s such a hard audience to woo, those wok-users. I’d better take over all the search engines in the world again, and make still another adjustment.”

    She seemed a sincere person to me, so I wrote her a nice letter back, apologizing that she had been exposed to my site. I do discuss cooking on my site, so I pointed out to her that perhaps SENTENCE had come up in a search for ‘wok’ because some of my pages discuss cooking, including Asian cooking. (One of the most popular search strings that brings people to SENTENCE is still ‘baked ziti’. If people weigh more than they did a year ago, I may be partly responsible. Sorry.)

    • petertennant says:

      Ah Rob, I hope you explained to her about parental controls and how no responsible mother would allow her children to google cooking terms.
      In the UK it often seems to me that, with the proliferation of celebrity chef culture, cookery and the world of sex are merging. There’s “The Naked Chef”, there’s that other chef with the x-rated vocabulary and there’s Nigella Lawson who is forever batting eyelids and suggestively licking stuff off her fingers. Some of the best cooks in the country probably started out by searching porn terms.

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