Ms Raccoon hasn’t had much of an appetite, the past few weeks, for trawling round her usual rubbish dumps. As you probably realised, I’ve been none too well. Hence I had an appointment for an extra scan this morning – and what a pleasure it was not to be having the two hour PET scan, but a common or garden CT scan with no contrast fluid. In and Out in under ten minutes. Didn’t have to tell anyone which gender I identify with, nor which religion I follow, and all the staff utterly charming. Mobile scanner of course; brought in especially to provide a seven day a week NHS service without using locum staff in the radiology department – instead they bring an entire ‘locum’ outfit, complete with its own staff, onto the site…
So it was that I had time to make an extra call on the way home from the hospital, along with a very reluctant Mr G. We’d had one of those 4am conversations recently where every sentence starts with ‘and another thing’ and only ends when he asks whether I might possibly go back to sleep if he poured yet another cup of tea down my throat. I expect you’ve had them too. This one was on how, precisely, protective he needed to be of me in my present state of health. Kicked off by his insistence that if I persisted in my request that I go round the garden centre with him if we were choosing plants to go by the front door, it would be in a wheelchair or not at all. I gave in, purely, you understand, because he made it obvious that he was quite prepared to let the clutch out and drive off from the centre faster than I could get out of the car if I didn’t agree. A grim faced Raccoon was duly wheeled around to select her own Chrysanthemums….
A long winded explanation to explain how it was that after the ensuing virulent argument, lasting some days, on the subject of whether it should be my choice to ask for help if I need it, or his responsibility to protect me from every situation that might prove too much for me, he felt unable to set me off again by refusing to drive me to the requested village on the way home. He knew why I wanted to go there…
It wasn’t just because it was one of the most beautiful villages in Norfolk, a sylvan paradise of ancient red brick cottages, winding lanes, the most charming community pub and shop that has hosted Prince Charles as a visitor recently – and a boat yard.
It was because the village also hosts an IP address that has caused an unpleasant hiccup in the normally trouble free virtual pub that Ms Raccoon takes great pleasure in retreating from her life as ‘patient’ to become, for a few hours, just another blogger pointing out the inconsistencies in media accounts (and on that subject – has anyone else noticed that The Sun appears to be of the opinion that Mark Carney raised interest rates yesterday?)
“Bank of England interest rates have bounced back with a massive rise.”
Not just raised them, but ‘massively’!!! A true exclusive that appears nowhere else, not even on the Bank of England’s website….
I digress, as usual.
Last night, it would appear that I had upset someone deeply; because far from the usual intelligent comment and agreeable debate, I had acquired a new visitor who used a proxy IP address, sometimes Singapore, sometimes hither, sometimes thither – but my software unscrambles proxy addresses and they all resolved to the same IP. I have no objection to anyone using a proxy server; I understand the necessity of protecting your identity from all but police eyes on the internet. I could even understand the foul language and anger emanating from this individual. People do get irrational and overwrought during pub hours. Normally I just kick them out into the spam cellar and let them cool their heels for a few hours.
What bothered me was this this spittle-flecked outpouring was coming from an IP address which my GPS tracer told me was just a handful of miles away from me. It appeared to be very angry with me. That is not a comfortable feeling, quite apart from the inconvenience to other customers of this virtual pub.
A quick word with my friend in a forensic computing lab, and I had an address, at least to within a few yards, if not a name. It’s amazing what a chat with the postman, the publican, the shop-keeper and a few dog walkers can come up with. In no time at all I had a name to go with the address. Mr G sat in the car and glowered at me…
The thing is, if I’ve upset someone and made them that angry that they just want to trash my pride and joy, otherwise known as this blog, I’d rather know what I’ve done so that I can apologise if necessary, or put things right.
So it was that I trotted up the path of one of the prettiest cottages in the village. A land where time had stood still. A cottage garden that hummed with the beating of a hundred butterfly wings. I knocked on the door – to no avail. I gently parted the massed branches of roses and delphiniums, sunflowers, and michaelmas daisies, and made my way into the rear garden. It was magical. I called out but no one heard. I made my way back to the rear door; there didn’t appear to be a ‘front’ door. A man appeared, he looked alarmed – as well he might, finding a six foot Raccoon in his garden at that time of the morning.
I didn’t really know what to say to him. ‘Are you Richard’, I enquired with my new found knowledge. ‘Yes’ he said, ‘what d’you want’. ‘Well’, I said, ‘I think I’ve upset you and made you very angry, and I might owe you an apology’. ‘What for?’ was his entirely reasonable reply.
Well, that stumped me, ‘cos I didn’t know what I’d done. So what followed was a halting explanation of how I ran a political blog, was known as ‘Anna Raccoon’ – a name he assured me he’d never heard of – *miffed* – but then again, he told me he had no truck with the internet, possibly because he does understand a lot more about IP addresses than I do. He very kindly took the time to explain to me how IP addresses and GPS trackers weren’t accurate, that it could have been any one of his neighbours responsible for my problem.
He was a most charming, mild-mannered man, that you couldn’t imagine ever using the sort of language that had graced or disgraced this blog last night. His wife appeared, and as you can imagine, was very angry with me for disturbing their bucolic peace – but then turned out to be as charming as he, putting seats out in their delightful garden and inviting me to sit with them. We had a bit of a laugh when she asked why I hadn’t had the foresight to bring the offending IP address with me, and I explained that I was on my way home from the hospital and it was on my computer.
‘You knew you were coming here to accuse us, why didn’t you bring your laptop’, said she. ‘Cos I don’t have a laptop, and my computer is about two foot square’ said I. I said I could e-mail the IP address to her if she gave me their e-mail address, but they didn’t want to do that ‘cos of how dangerous it is to let people have your e-mail address – ‘they can make all sorts of connections’ she said. She’s right of course.
We have exchanged phone numbers, and their advice if I get any more foul mouthed diatribes from that IP address was to call in the police to trace the correct owner. ‘Richard’ told me that he couldn’t understand why people wasted their time abusing others on the internet, and I said that I thought some people were just so unhappy that the only thing which could relieve their unhappiness was trying to make someone else just as, or preferably, more, unhappy. It is a sad business.
It’s been an interesting morning, which came to an end because Mr G, who of course, had not been party to this conversation and so had no idea that ‘Richard’ had a wife, nor that she also has had lung cancer and so was aware of how I might have been feeling (though she is thankfully in the clear now), had become alarmed himself that I had not reappeared from the lush cottage garden of perennials, and come in search of me. Now if there is anything more alarming than finding a six foot Raccoon in your back garden, it is the sight of the 6′ 2″ wide and-I-can’t-remember-how-tall, Mr G, bearing down on you, fearful of what you might have done to his dearly beloved…
We have exchanged apologies all round, they on behalf of whichever of their neighbours is responsible, and I for having disturbed their morning. I have their phone number and they want me to let them – and the police – know if I have any further trouble from anywhere in their vicinity.
I will do so – but I think the additional software I have installed this morning should solve the problem, and apologise myself for the disturbance in our normally happy bar.
Funnily enough, the troll was back at 7.56 this morning. Walked straight into the spam trap. He couldn’t have known that I was already en route to the hospital at that time. We shall see if he/she tries again.