My apologies folks – a catalogue of woes coming up, but if I am to continue blogging and running a non-aligned blog for you all to chat in, then I need your assistance please.
Truly, I am as close to throwing in the blogging towel as I have been in a long time. I know you will tell me that I am physically low from the chemotherapy, and mentally low from eight months of incarceration, and that is true; you will tell me that I should let it ‘wash over me’ – but I have done that before and paid a high price for it, and I just don’t feel that I can face more of the same shite.
Those of you who are loyal readers will be aware that I am a Quaker, and as such I do feel obliged to offer assistance to anyone in need, if I am able. Those of you of different faiths perhaps feel obliged to perform other rituals, I don’t know, say Mass or something, well doing something directly is my version of that. I don’t have a ‘church’ or an ‘intermediary’ between me and whatever salvation might mean, it is just me and my conscience. I also feel obliged to try to look at both sides of an equation, not just pick one version and stick to it. The combination of those two aspects of my personality have caused me endless heartache since I have been blogging. I can’t honestly say that it is the first time in my life that either aspect has ‘bitten me on the backside’ – but I am fast coming to the conclusion that the two together should be a total bar to blogging, and I should step away from the computer for good.
Mr G certainly thinks so and ‘look after number one’ and ‘fu** ‘em all’ is beginning to sound like a Hari Krishna chant ringing in my ears from his direction.
The problem is threefold. First, a long time ago, I offered hospitality to someone who was travelling to this area which they horribly abused. When I complained they wrote some truly vile and untrue posts about me on the Internet. No need to rehash all stories, I am sure you have all read them, they have been republished and linked to so many times they make your head spin. I thought at the time that the best thing to do was not to react, it was but a small and damaged mind working out its mental health problems.
I underestimated the darker side of the Internet. Every time I wrote something or offered an alternative, and always researched, viewpoint to some acknowledged Internet ‘truth’, rather than argue the toss, or debate even, on my blog, there was always someone who would scurry away to some dark corner of the Internet and wave those posts as the ultimate rebuttal of whatever I said. It actually became something of a joke in the back rooms of Raccoon Towers as the e-mails flooded in […] ‘Did I know what so and so was saying about me’- here we go again, I would say, Ms Raccoon is a paedophile in disguise, government agent, safe house in France, yada, yada, yada.
Than I loaned a substantial sum of money to someone in trouble. They didn’t want to pay it back – so the stories got embellished, republished, this time along with my married name and my home address. Its called payback for doing a good deed. No point complaining, I thought, Streisand effect and all that. Best to just ignore it.
Then last night, or rather the early hours of this morning, I found that I faced a new threat to my good name. Yeah, someone else I had done a good turn for.
Something about the timing of this threat, the fact that its not so patently unbelievable or ridiculous as previous unpleasant postings about me, has made me want to challenge this one, this time. I’m not prepared to have my legacy on the Internet slurred by being labelled a thief as well as a paedophile…I am not, neither, either or, however you want to read it!
Remember Carol Hill? I wrote about her a year ago. Carol Hill is the school dinner lady who committed the heinous crime of telling the parents of Chloe David that she had been bullied at school. Tsk! Read the post, you will see that at the end of it I put up a donate button to raise money for Carol who had been fired from her job, and her compensation cut for talking to the press. Four days later, I was able to write that you had made up the shortfall in her compensation and I was forwarding her a cheque from my English bank account. I did. Notwithstanding that the money had yet to filter through the French banking and money laundering laws, nor that Paypal takes its cut out of collecting it, nor that Paypal has an abysmal exchange rate for converting your kindly donated pounds into Euros, nor that the French banking system then takes its cut for exchanging the Euros back into pounds to credit my English bank account. As a French resident, I’m not allowed to have a Paypal account directly connected to an English bank account. It took bloody months. There was a surplus, it was in single figures. Less than ten pounds. Still, job done, Carol had been repaid the compensation she should have received for losing her job.
A year later, Carol Hill wrote to my Facebook account.
Unfortunately for Carol, last October my computer blew up, and though one of my readers, Ivan, kindly rebuilt it for me, he had done so in such a way that meant he could not use my original software, and I ended up with a different version of Word and a different version of Microsoft Outlook – so had never been able to upload my back ups – which naturally included all my old e-mails, passwords, phone numbers, just about everything you need to exist in modern life! Amongst them was my Facebook password. A minor irritation, I loath Facebook and rarely even checked it.
Fast forward to February, and ‘old wanky’ as I have taken to referring to my rebuilt PC had developed even more problems. I had had to buy a new copy of my accounting software – ‘old wanky’ couldn’t download my back up copy of that either. The EU, in its wisdom had decided that anyone buying anything from the USA must be charged Vat, and the US firm that manufactures ‘Quicken 2010′ had retaliated by refusing to sell it to Europe. At Christmas I managed to contact a friend in the US who bought a copy of the same software for me and sent it to France. Only cost me £60. Exactly the same software I had before. Except that it wouldn’t open my back up copy either. My data was multi-currency, and yeah! they had transferred the multi-currency component to ‘Quicken Premier2010′ – I could have an upgrade for a mere $10…except that it is on-line and I can’t because I have an French ISP. My friend in the US can’t upgrade on-line for me because I have the installation disc. Rats, bugger, shite and other Anglo Saxon incantations.
I gave up on ‘old wanky’ and retreated to an Apple Mac that another reader had kindly loaned me. I spent another £50 buying Apple accounting software and a happy couple of weeks rebuilding a basic two years accounts in time for my French tax return. Joyous days.
The Apple Mac came with a bonus though, it was called Entourage, and Entourage informed me that if I could just give it a comma delimited version of Outlook rather than the .pst version on my back up disc, it would open it for me! Yo! Back to Ivan, who arranged a friend of his to come round with his Outlook enabled laptop, trawled through my entire hard drive, and managed to at least retrieve my ‘Contacts’. It loaded! Yeah! Including all my old passwords. I revisited lots of old haunts. Including Facebook for the first time in months. There I found not only Carol Hill’s original message but a new one. Only a week old.
Indeed I did, and she was quite right. I had entirely forgotten. Still, I had the accounting software now, I could go back, check the figures and send her the balance. I was slightly miffed at her message, shouldn’t have been, but human nature being what it is, I was, so my reply was just a tad sarcastic. I said I thought it was about two quid, but would check into it. It could be £8.42, or £4.63 for all I know. In single figures anyhow. I replied.
Poorly? Bloody Hell, I’ve been sharing a toothbrush with Dr Death, we’ve been that close. I was quite gobsmacked, and, maybe it is indicative of my current state of mind, it felt like the end of the world. I have lain awake most of the night working out what I need to do to rebut this. Over the past month alone, the blog has had between 100 and 200 hits a DAY on just one post I wrote two years ago linking to some factual and official information that a large body, well about 50 of them actually, do not chose to rebut themselves, but have endlessly reposted along with links to previously mentioned scurrilous posts circulating on the Internet, which has brought in its wake a regular crop of ‘have you seen what ‘x’ is saying about you’ e-mails; I have had regular attacks on the security of the site following a piece I wrote on someone who is heavily involved with Russian hackers; I’ve had a long and bitter correspondence with a dear friend who was upset at my mentioning someone she admires along with his criminal conviction; a falling out with another friend who decided to poke fun at an old post of mine – unfortunately her readers didn’t see the joke and I got a flood of foul comments on my site – and now this.
It has really brought me low, and I need your help to prove to Mrs Hill that ‘the majority of the money donated’ didn’t go to me, and since my site doesn’t allow you to comment on year old posts, I shall send her a link to this post so that she can comment all she wants in public – to the very people who donated that money. I am not a thief.
What I need from you is this. A copy of Microsoft Outlook 2003 – must be 2003 – that I can borrow for a few hours. I cannot afford to pay £100 odd quid for a copy just so that I can access my old e-mails. I have a file in there called Carol Hill. In there is every e-mail that Paypal sent me alerting me to the identity of a donor to that fund – and a copy of every e-mail I sent in return thanking the donor. I can now, thanks to access to my passwords, access my Paypal account – but that only shows amounts in and out, with a reference number, it is only the e-mails from Paypal that link the reference number to a specific donation for Carol Hill, rather than my own transactions.
Then I need to borrow a copy of ‘Quicken Premier 2010′ so that I can access my old full bank account details – again the ‘downloaded from the Internet’ variety only shows bald figures, not the information and exchange rate transaction that is stored on my back up copy of Quicken.’Old Wanky’ will just have to get fired up again.
Then I can e-mail all of you who donated, and ask your permission to show Carol a suitably anonymised accounting trail and prove the
bloody woman wrong.
I probably shouldn’t take this to heart so much, but I have. I probably shouldn’t wear my heart on my sleeve so much – there are those ‘out there’ who will delight in this post. Sod ‘em. I just cannot bear the thought I might have someone going around calling me a thief or a person who would make money out of someone else’s misfortune. I have had more than enough said of me already. Had I remembered at the time, I would have sent her a cheque for £10 or £15, rounded up out of embarrassment, because that is the way I am.
Now I am determined that she will get the exact figure to the penny piece – and I hope that my memory was being overgenerous and it was actually £1.63.
Please, if you can help, or you know someone who can, would you? I have the information, I just cannot ‘get at it’.
Right Carol Hill, you have a post that you can comment on – go for it…you tell my readers who dug into their pockets in one and two pound handfuls, that you believe ‘the majority’ of those one pound donations actually went to me, and you only received a smaller fraction of their generosity. You tell ‘em. I’ll see you choke on your words.