'˜They' are watching you... and me (and have been since 2013)

When the internet first arrived, there used to be this '˜thing' where you 'googled yourself', which was part vanity, part genuine interest in what would be revealed. I even remember the unnerving feeling when one of my old editors called me into his office to say he'd found another Neil Hudson living nearby, one who wrote poetry, adding I should do a story on him.

Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 9:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 9:47 am

I don’t know what was more scary: the fact I had to think of a way of ringing up a bloke with the same name as me without sounding like some total weirdo or that my editor had bene googling my name.

Anyway, amid all the grotesqueries of the internet, there’s now something even more frightening and it happened to me this week.

All I did was put the name of a restaurant (which shall remain nameless) into google, so I could find the address and just above that were the words ‘You last visited on...’ complete with a date and time.

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This scared me. Now, call me a technophobe if you want and I had a vague notion that the ‘location’ button on my phone in some way related to this but not to the level of detail I discovered. I’ve since found out it doesn’t matter if it’s on or off, they track your movements anyway.

There was an edit button next to the ‘You last visited’ bit and when I clicked on that it felt a bit surreal (you know those film scenes where the camera simultaneously zooms in on the subject but out on the background... it was like that, complete with dramatic, overwrought music).

Apparently, I last visited said restaurant in June 2016. It told me the exact time I got there and when I left.. and how I got there. Thankfully, it didn’t go into any more detail, like what I ate, what I talked about. Actually, I can recall the visit, which was with my mate Adam. I had steak tartare and he had beef bourguignon.

On google’s location tracker, there is a map with little red dots on. Next to that are tabs for the date and time. Mine goes back to 2013, when I was in Paris, according to google (it’s right, too).

In 2014, I pretty much stayed in Yorkshire, apart from a visit to Manchester. 2015 saw me visit Brighton, 2006 Cornwall, last year I was up to Scotland and this year Dublin, Ireland. What’s even more scary is, it actually breaks each journey down, so that it knows how far you cycled, walked, drove in a car, where you stopped and how long for. All of this is fascinating stuff and I dare say it could come in useful, especially if I am accused of a crime I didn’t commit. That aside, it’s also creepy as hell.

And another thing...

What’s the deal with tin openers? I keep buying these things in ever more elaborate design and they keep on failing me. I dare say, back in the day, the bog standard version, which you can pick up for under a quid, worked fine and if they ever stopped, they were cheap enough to just get a new one (or have a few spares in, just in case).

The new-fangled versions, which have bulky bits of plastic on them and have been designed by someone who knows what the word ‘ergonomic’ means, cost about a fiver. To begin with, they work fine but (in my humble experience) not for long.

One thing that does knacker them is the dishwasher. Another thing is trying to open Fray Bentos pies, which seem to take an age, even with a brand new, ergonomically designed tin opener. It will start off fine but then it will slip and slide and fail to even go past some bits.

Some supermarkets do tins with pull-off lids, which is a great idea. Why can’t they all do that? I must have spent 10 minutes earlier this week trying to get into a tin of sweet corn and eventually abandoned all of my various tin openers and got a massive knife out instead and oh-so-carefully cut my way in.

So, based on the premise that all tin openers fail, I shalln’t be buying any more posh ones for a fiver but will, instead, invest in several of the bog standard variety, which, like old cars, I dare say could be fixed at home once they do go wrong.