Comics and scripts for animation are all very well. But I figure it’s time to grow up. So I want to do some gonzo journalism and write a series of books about the freaks that inhabit the Internet. Open up your browser and you’ll find yourself in one of those American travelling circuses with their bearded women and two headed cows. It’s like an acid trip without the lysergic acid. Trust me on this one. There are people out there who should definitely be undergoing some kind of therapy. On the other hand, maybe they are. Maybe this is all part of their treatment. Maybe a bunch of psychiatrists got their heads together and decided to create a hi-tech version of basket weaving. I used to be psychotherapist, so that wouldn’t surprise me. Or maybe the computer is able to tap into some alternate reality; some parallel dimension. What I do know is that parts of the Internet are like the Twilight Zone and Rod Sterling would have had a field day with broadband and a laptop. Below is a list of the subjects I want to cover...
It’s really weird. It seems like once you get on the Internet there’s this overpowering compulsion to blog. It’s like when you find yourself in a public lavatory armed with a pen. There’s this strong temptation to write something on the wall. And the funny thing is most of the people who do that have penises over three feet long. And they just have to boast about it. But why in a public lavatory? Surely to God that sort of information deserves to be mentioned in The Lancet or the News of the World. I used to write on the walls. But at least I made some attempt to be more creative. And I made it a point never to mention the size of my willy. Make of that what you will. In fact most of my best work is in a lavatory in an army camp in Sennelager. But that’s another story.
I digress. The thing is, everyone blogs – including the freaks. This book will be entitled, “The Wallygrange High School Blogs,” and will come in two parts. The first part will describe some of the really crappy blogs out there. Blogs with all the artistic integrity of a tin bucket filled with horseshit. The second part will feature this gonzo journalist’s attempts to outdo them. This part of the book has already been completed and features the fictitious Wallygrange High School that was labelled by OFSTED as the UK’s worst school. And, just in case there are any doubts about this dubious claim, part of the Inspector’s infamous report is included in the book. Along with the school’s own blog there are blogs created by former pupils like Gordon Rumsey, the cannibal chef who shares with us some of his mouth-watering recipes. For example, we find out what happened to that paperboy he ran down in his Humvee. And who’d have thought crisps made from the hard skin on a cadaver’s heels could be so tasty? Then there’s the historian David Hirving who claims to have discovered Hitler’s photo album. See Hitler as you’ve never seen him before, (one photo shows him capturing some Tommies at Dunkirk and in another he’s giving some guy an enema in a sauna in Vienna.) There’s Guy Forkes, the middle-class, part-time Gay anarchist and his partner who live in a bungalow in North Wales. And it’s not everyone who can claim to who have a foul-mouthed former United States Marine Corps gunnery sergeant living in a DIY iron lung in your loft.
The Wallygrange group of blogs appeared last year on the Internet. For some reason, most of the visitors to the cannibal chef’s blog came from the USA! I find this rather disturbing.
2. Cyber Romance:
Gonzo journalists go where others fear to tread. And I’m no exception. I suppose the best way to describe this book is to say it’s a modern version of that classic, “64 Charing Cross Road.” In this version you have an English writer who goes on an Internet penpal site in the hope of contacting someone who can trace the sister he’s never met. Instead, he comes across what looks like a Belgian binge drinker. It’s not an auspicious start. The writer has a rather sarcastic and acerbic style. Yet they strike up a relationship. Eventually, she drops her Belgian identity and tells him she comes from California and works at the Paul Getty museum in Los Angeles. She also tells the writer about a Walter Mitty character she’s found on the website. They join forces in hunting them down. But it isn’t long before their relationship takes yet another turn. In the space of just over two months she’d sent him over 277 emails. As for him, the emails he’s written back to her come to over 200,000 words! In fact, between them they’ve probably notched up closer to 300,000 words.
The girl seemed to inspire him and his emails contain some really funny work. What she described as comedy gold. But it wasn’t all comedy. The writer also found himself pouring out his heart. Previously dedicated to writing humour, he found himself writing serious stuff. Stuff he’d previously scorned. Add in the fact that he’s 64 years old and she’s only 24, and you have an Internet version of the film “Venus.” Yes, it turned into that sort of relationship. These two people seemed alike in so many ways they could have been twins. Both were highly imaginative and shared the same tastes in music and literature. The emails revealed it was a stormy relationship. The woman was very emotive and possessive. On the other hand, Gonzo journalists have another quality. They’re not that gullible. This was all just too good to be true. There were certain inconsistencies in her story and when these were pointed out, her answers were vague. But I went along with it. Let’s face it. I wasn’t about to turn down the chance of a good story.
How did it end? As the writer suspected it would. It fizzled out when it finally dawned on her that I was stringing her along as well. And when the writer checked on the name and address she’d given him, it turned out to be false. She herself was one of those Walter Mitty characters. And after having grown tired of the one man she ever truly loved, she turned her attentions to someone else. The Old Fart was cuckolded, revealed by this lovey-dovey message she sent to another man...
“Pumpkin what animal creature do you relate to and why?”
3. Penpal/Dating Sites:
The cyberlove of my life did me a double favour. She pointed me in the direction of another book. Entitled, “Pink Coat & Friends,” most of the material for this book has already been collected. The book is about the Walter Mitty characters found on the Internet. Hardly surprising, really, because on the Net it’s quite easy to pretend you’re someone else. I suppose it started a couple of years ago with a Major Pole who pretended he was an award winning comedy filmmaker from Poland. He claimed he was working on a project with two famous stand up comedians, (one was Stuart Lee who’d never heard of him.) I thought I’d seen the last of this guy. Then, in June this year, I get a request from a Major Pole to be his friend on Facebook! Not only that, he has a series of short film clips on You-Tube, describing himself as, “The Worst Comedian of the Year.” Which, having seen them, is something of an understatement. Definitely “Twilight Zone” territory! However, the main subject of the book is a character I’ve called “Walter,” for obvious reasons. I found him on a penpal site I call, “Intopals.” (This is not its real name. I merely wished to preserve its anonymity by using what some may consider a rather thinly veiled disguise.) I even told Walter I was thinking of writing a book about him. To which he replied...
“I HOPE YOU SEND ME SOME CASH, IF YOU GOING TO PUBLISH A BOOK ABOUT ME, IT MIGHT BE BETTER THAN MY LAST ONE, MY USUAL CHARITY NEEDS SOME HELP.”
Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources to discover this person’s real identity. Which may be a good thing. Just imagine the disappointment if this individual turned out to be a totally sad character devoid of any personality. Worse still, a group of totally sad characters hunched over their laptops in dingy bedrooms, their walls festooned with posters of Cliff Richards and WWF stars. Believe me, some things are best not known. Walter has adopted a series of identities. The most outrageous was a woman living on a trailer park in Tennessee who read War & Peace whilst munching on pan-fried bamboo caterpillars! Walter has also been a former SAS man, now living in Africa where he devotes his time to taking award winning photos and helping elephants, (I suspect the connection is that, like him, they have a particularly thick skin.) In another he was a former member of MI6. The statement below hints that he was involved in what the CIA euphemistically referred to as wet jobs...
“No sorry i worked for a branch of mi6, a covert branch who cleans up the mess others can not do, and i dont mean the shit house either, .You could call me the jackal but i dont get caught, i have c2 clearance, dhss sorry i have plenty money, i am not the best writer by far, thats why i am in the shadows.”
He’s also been a Lonely Italian In A Hotel Room and a rich, but illiterate, stockbroker from Goldman Sachs, now living in Monaco. (He called himself “Goldbar” and has recently returned as “Silverbar.” One presumes that recent problems in the stock market and banking have seen him fall on hard times.) Other characters include Pink Coat’s brother. He’s been sending me fake spam emails long before I joined this penpal site. The book will also contain examples of fractured English leading to some very strange profiles and requests. Here are just some examples...
Request: I AM LOOKING FOR A GIRL OR A LADY THAT POSSES GOOD CRATER.
(No prize for guessing what the “crater” is!)
Request: no sex please! we are indians!
Profile: I'm tall, dark and slim.I've been told i have nice set of teeth and good skin. I'm also an unrepentant Arsenal fan.
And I challenge anyone to make some sense out of this one...
Profile: Hello, I am a man nut, obsessed by desire for having best diploma, does not like hospital, well on with the starting point is obvious to have Jokes, but that does not take with me... retient my respiration" I know I kind of discours", not problem, I go you grant three minute imagined which be-I... With a strong Education, a good glance, does not love the traitors, I am impassioned by the reading,, but I am exhausted by feedback especially the past, likes all which is traditional, because it feeds my future..extraordinary that? Love for me symbolic system, is for that that fails in my relation with the girls,un day met one... Choose for interrelationship... my face is original.....weack to fall in love, and to act as I could not pass one without you.....classic like....Ask more!!!!
Finally, even with the advent of spellcheckers, the book will confirm the fears of grumpy’s like me who are convinced that standards of literacy have plummeted.
I’m still in the process of gathering material. There’s a hell of a lot of it and it gets pretty complicated. From the evidence, it seems like these trolls have got quite a sophisticated network going. I’ve even got a blog going entitled, "The Guy Who Hunts Internet Trolls & Flamers." And it’s picking up quite a few visitors. One guy actually spent almost 12 hours on it! Talk about slow readers. The trolls have also visited me on there and left their comments.
Entitled, “An Impotent Man’s Guide to the Internet,” the book will look at Internet sex sites where those readers unfamiliar with these things, discover the meaning of such romantic terms as “MILF” and “Twinky.” The book will also cover those sites offering sexual advice, toys, remedies to enlarge your penis, etc. Trawling these disgusting depths of depravity will no doubt endanger my immortal soul, but I’m willing to risk that.
5. Social Networks:
I’ve been a member of Facebook for a couple of years, (the reason I signed on was because Pink Coat’s brother had created a false ID on there.) I’ve hardly been back, but the book will give me an excuse to explore this and other similar sites.
6. Computer Games.
The final book is not about weird people. But it is related to computers. It’s based on an article of mine published on Graham Hancock’s website. Graham Hancock, as you probably know, is an anthropologist, archaeologist and journalist who has written a number of books. It came about after I read his book “Supernatural” in which he discussed the role of hallucinogenic substances in the development of mankind. When describing some of the visual effects, I realised I could do something similar simply by applying pressure to my eyeballs. In fact, I once actually created an elaborate snakeskin effect like the ones described in his book. And I’m frequently able to produce complex geometric shapes and patterns. This in turn reminded me of the actual paradox of how we “see” things. A paradox that’s fascinated me for some time.
I went on Graham’s website and left him an email message about this. He replied a few days later and suggested I write a 2000 word article. It turned out to be more than that because I incorporated a spoof theory I’d written some time before. It had come about after I’d read a book in which a scientist said the best theories were often the simplest ones. My theory was certainly simple. In the article I ascribed it to a fictitious idiot savant I’d supposedly met in the park. After all, one is always bumping into idiot savants in public parks who want nothing more than to tell you how they think the universe was created. Or, in this particular case, not created. It must have had some merit because Graham Hancock emailed back with the message, “Excellent article, Mike. Really enjoyed it.”
This led me to wonder if the theory actually had some potential mileage. Could it be extended into a book? I then recalled another spoof theory of mine about a Fundamental Law of the Universe that was equally simplistic. I could combine them both into my own Grand Unified Theory. Only my version would be a Grand Simplified Theory, (GST.) Both theories – to use an expression from mathematics – are self-verifying. The fact that they’re so bloody obvious makes them very seductive. It also means that, unlike most scientific theories, anyone can comprehend them. In fact, their very simplicity may piss a large number of scientists and philosophers off. Which is no bad thing. In my opinion, these people have ruled the roost for far too long. It’s time to let us simpletons have a go! The book will also contain a variation of the philosopher Nick Bostrom’s suggestion that we could all be part of some computer simulation created by an advanced race of humans. In this version the computer simulation was created by an entity called Absolute Consciousness and that we ourselves are merely part of it. To support this theory, the book will cover computer games. Let me stress this, right now. Unlike those other weird theories out there, this one will be presented in a “tongue-in-cheek” manner.
Because my normal publisher, DC Thomson, doesn’t do this sort of stuff I had to find another one. I also decided, after almost 30-years, I’d try to find an agent. So I started sending out queries. Then I got this back...
“I am not sure if this is a Henry Root-style prank letter, or a genuine inquiry. If the former it’s quite funny. If the latter, then to put it mildly this is a bad idea for a book and I’d urge you to concentrate on something else. I won’t be able to represent you myself, but I do wish you good luck in all your future endeavours.”
The prank letter angle never occurred to me. Do I resemble a merry prankster? Maybe I should change my profession. Mike Knowles, Jolly Japer & Purveyor of Un-writable Books. I presume he was referring to Wallygrange. Was it perhaps Gordon Rumsey’s recipe for crisps made from the hard skin on a cadaver’s heels? (Rumsey suggested dossers because the skin would be thick and calloused due to all the walking they did.) I must confess the idea made me feel a bit squeamish! In which case I wonder what he would have thought about the other recipes? Yes, Rumsey’s crisps could be the Kiss of Death for me.
If anyone's interested my blog can be found on: http://cyberhelsing.blogspot.com/.