Friday, November 30, 2007

Scamsters (3)

Now here's a funny thing.

Regular readers of this witty and verbose column will know that I like nothing better than laughing at the ways and means of online scamsters (look here), mainly bogus fraudsters from Nigeria, who try to part an individual from his or her money in quite the most obscure, and frankly obtuse manner.

Except I'm not really laughing.

All blogs and internet sites have the capacity to vaguely trace you. Every time you or I look at a site some detail, the country, date, time, etc, is recorded so that site owners like me can see who is visiting. The global traffic for the Nationwide Blog you're reading peaks and troughs, which is quite normal, unless I mention SEX or PARIS HILTON in which case the figures take off like a frikking rocket. I have absolutely no idea who any of you are, just that you may reside in the Western - or Eastern - Hemisphere. Possibly.

However the long and detailed (and frankly tedious, for those not interested) description of my most recent Nigerian scamster has proved peculiar. For a start the traffic is phenomenal, quite breathtaking in fact. Really HUGE numbers of people have been clicking on to read this thread. I never knew there were quite so many people interested in the minutae of Nigerian online fraudsters. But there are. Serious numbers.

But here's the thing.

99% of all traffic through the Nationwide site states where the inquiry is from - vague geography, "England", "America", that kind of thing - but the traffic reading my Nigerian fraudster escapade is all anonymous. All of it. Page after page after page of visitors all reading the story at length.

Most people here are like you, a few minutes ( 2? 5?) reading a page then offski. But not the Nigerian scamster page. HUGE numbers of anonymous people reading for 20 minutes, an hour, 2 hours, quite extraordinary lengths of time. Way beyond any natural duration for websites and blogs.

Why? And who? Casual visitors who're flicking and surfing for a few seconds here, a few seconds there, and suddenly BANG! they're so smitten by my marvellous writing that they decide to read my masterpiece in the English language of Nigerian scamsters?

Mmmmm. I suspect not.

Don't tell me, no, nay! Surely the scamsters themselves in Nigeria are not giving an online masterclass in how NOT to make an absolute wazz of yourself. How not to reveal the fact that you are a stupid, ignorant, amateur fraudster. How not to let your victim know your true identity. Don't tell me they're using MY thread educationally, to explain that if you come across as a total dork, and idiot, who has no real idea what they're doing, you'll be failing in your mission.

Heaven forbid. Surely not.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Byres Road, Dubrovnik

Even in the pouring rain, Byres Road in Glasgow is not an unpleasant place to be, residing at the leafier end of things, patiently awaiting neighbours like Partick to become gentrified with their own coffee baristas and organic foodstops.

But controversy rages right now at the top end of the boulevard. Protestors are loudly clamouring to "Save the Botanics" from a rapacious developer. The world famous Botanic Gardens, home to giant greenhouse the Kibble Palace and generations of summer sun-seeking Glaswegians, is under threat, as one of the city's most successful nightclub entrepreneurs proposes a new fleshpot. He wants to rejuvenate a destroyed building at the edge of the Gardens, mostly underground, in premises facing a hotel, a pub (formerly a church), and a sausage roll van. The area's residents - lawyers, media mavens and estate agents - are up in arms, fired by crostini and Barbera d'asti, fresh tapas and crisp, clean Tempranillo, the revolution has started. Expect the flaming buses and barricades of Derry to arrive across Great Western Road any day now. Who said nimby?

So we flee to Tennents Bar, niftily bypassing the world's best restaurant , the Ubiquitous Chip, which eschews chips for gourmet delights and bacchinalian bonhomie aplenty, to watch the England Croatia game. The place is unusually crowded, although not compared to last week's Scotland Italy game where a queue of 40 people snaked around the building, waiting in vain for a spot to watch the game with several hundred other sardines. Made London Tube rush hour seem thin.
So why the crowd tonight? With Scotland out, maybe the groundswell of support has switched to our English neighbours?
Croatia score. The crowd goes wild, laughing and backslapping and cheering on Scotia's new found friends who're going to tank the English (which they do, consequently relieving the manager of his job some hours later) so we move on to less volatile pastures, the Aragon, whose more subdued clientele are observing with diffidence the duffing of the English.

And then the doors swing open and in walk "the team", a once famous Glasgow phenomenon of tribal turf wars and razor slashings. But these 25 young blades are dressed for golf, in Palm Springs. Plus fours, pringle knits, flat caps and calf leather gloves which would look slightly out of place anywhere, never mind a Glasgow pub. And of course they are students, playing "pub golf" which involves sinking 18 different drinks in 18 different pubs, keeping scores, working out complex holes in one, and generally making drunken asses of themselves (after drink number 10, we'll guess).
I ask why they didn't just stay in one place and drink 18 pints of lager, which is what most of the city's thirsty males would do on a cold, wet, football themed night. They think this is a good idea and will probably try that tomorrow.

And so we continue, down past the University Cafe, the cheapest and cheeriest tea and snack and ice cream purveyor, to the The Three Judges, where the telly is temporarily broke due to a frozen Sky signal - it is raining remember, and Sky doesn't like bad weather - and a small crowd who are temporarily crazy with curiosity because the picture has frozen at 2-2 and if it is to be a draw England will sneak through. There's intense speculation via mobile phone that in another game Russia might increase/dash England's hopes...... but in the end England do it themselves by getting beat, thus twinning the cities of Dubrovnik and Glasgow in effervescent ecstasy.

And so, to a branch of what can now be described as a chain of new wee curry shops just yards from where I am standing. In fact, they are called "The Wee Curry Shop", which is rather apt as they're wee. And they sell curry.

But no ordinary curry. This is the offspring of Mother India, the world's best Indian restaurant, and there are now three "Wee Curry Shops" in Glasgow which makes me very happy indeed. (at least when I'm in Glasgow).

We have brilliant food, starting with Chicken Tikka and Potato pakora which is served with a fresh spicy mango dipping sauce and what appears to be beetroot coleslaw - delicious, not a spot left - and then a king prawn and spinach something which was nectar from curry heaven. They forget a paratha so we get free drink instead and we are very very happy people who head off back into the rain, and the dark, and the cold wind, to further celebrate the birth of a new baby (I forgot that bit earlier) with champagne, tea, and a biscuit.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

'oos that then?

So there's Monty and me trotting through the Park as usual when 'oo drops in but Prince Charles. I ain't seen a 'elicopter land in 'yde Park before, it dunalf make a racket early in the morning but presumeably the residents (are owners of them 'ouses worth £50 million still called residents? or do they have a superlative grouping title like, Presidents or sumfink, which is why I'm going all cockney sparrah like cos I knows me place) don't mind because they've all got 'elicopters themselves. Anyway. I'm assuming it was HRH because according to the rules of flying choppers in London you're not allowed to drop off anyone you feel like anywhere unless (a) they're on a stretcher or (b) they're Royalty, or obviously (c) both.
If it was 'im, HRH, then how does that square with the environmental stuff, you know the Duchy biscuits and old architecture and green welly conservation of hunting and the environment? Huh?

Y'see old and trad is in as I discovered last night (and again today) at London's newest flashest eaterie, 'sept it ain't flash, noooooo, anything but. Austere and black and spare, no pictures on the walls, with a menu that's got on it Irish Stew, goose, braised lamb, roast chicken, mash potato, puddings and so on. Used to be the Maccyd's in Whiteley's Shopping Centre in Bayswater, the hangout HQ of West London's disaffected Asian and Middle eastern yoof, all bling and innit and don you look/talk/stare/shout at me you gobba you, but without any actual violence going on, what with the security guards looming large.
Well the pigeon chests have been replaced by pigeon breasts with roasted beets, swede and onion and very nice it is too, particularly since the opening involves a massive 50% discount (in case they make any mistakes) which allowed the Nationwide posse of ten to scoff as much food as they could and still get a bill that was less than for two at Gordon Ramsay.

And earlier we'd been in Borough Market where the Porter pub sells excellent beer and I heard the best Jewish joke ever, borderline tasteless but told to me by a Jewish friend who claims he heard it at a Jewish funeral in New York. That's three times I've used the J word so you'd better not be easily offended.

An elderly Jewish American couple are doing Europe, trip of a lifetime etc, and they're in Germany, setting off on a pilgrimage to Auschwitz. The train is deeply uncomfortable and the husband makes a tastless remark that it's "like a cattle truck" and his wife is offended. What with the heating being up high and all they have words, which leads to a row, a full blown argument and by the time they reach Auschwitz they're not talking.
They go round the place in silence and travel back on the train to their hotel in silence too. In the hotel, he decides to give in and apologise. "Please accept my apology. It was my fault. I wasn't feeling well"
She refuses and continues to stare at the wall.
"Aw come on darling, look this is the trip of our lives. We'll be kicking ourselves back home if we ruin it with an argument. I'm really, really sorry. Please?"
She hesitates, then stares at him balefully.
"OK," she says, "But I just want you to know one thing"
"You totally ruined Auschwitz for me"