Home » Apologies for everything » Watching me watching you

Watching me watching you

I mean, how do they KNOW?

It always bothers me, that signoff. It’s usually a middle-aged white Welsh guy called Huw Edwards who is fronting the main national BBC 1 TV news at ten o’clock. When his 20 minutes’ segment of national and international news is up, he has to handover to a luscious news-floozie called Lucy-something in Cardiff, with huge, pleading eyes and a perfectly kissable pout.

If you knew who I mean, you’d buy shares in lipgloss.

At least, Huw hands over probably to several unseen desk-jockeys who will pick up off the back of the national and international news segment with a roundup of less expensive news from various regions of the country that have their own programme optouts. Lucy-something just happens to be the one propping up the studio table of the newsroom covering the part of the country where I am watching, the mini-kingdom of Wales.

And Huw always says something like: And now over to the news where YOU are. It’s sinister.

How the hell does he KNOW where I am?

Because I don’t have TV.

Which is to say, I have a TV set but it isn’t connected with an aerial or a dish. My eyes got so bad after years of squinting at burned-out CRT screens in low-rent publishing companies where I was a seriously underpaid copy editor that I can’t focus down on this, muh li’l bogl, using the 13.3-in screen of my tiny silver Asus lapbook notetop thing.

So I use a 37-in flatscreen TV as a monitor.

Then, we have the i-Player, one of a number of such services provided, presumably by service providers, where you can call-up old TV programmes on-demand and watch them online, or start and stop them at any point, even while they are still going out, provided you can put up with the frequent holdups while the digits are collecting themselves and the frustrating little circle whizzes round.

Sort-of – the selection is annoyingly limited.

So I would rather just watch stuff I am interested in, one-off documentaries about the Amazon and detective procedurals and suchlike, rather than swallow the main diet of cooking contests and followup programmes about how they made the cooking contest programmes and more programmes about how they decided who won the contests, provided by the TV companies.

Okay, so people laugh at me when I ask, somewhat indignantly, how the hell the BBC knows ‘where I am’, in order to feed me my very own regional news optout. Silly confused single elderly pensioned man, they say, you are IN the region! They are beaming the stuff at you from a regional transmitter! Everyone in the region gets the same regional stuff beaming at them! Don’t take it personally!

You are not listening.

You are probably too busy texting your mates to hear what I am saying.

I don’t get TV from a transmitter. I get the programmes down the phone line, on a nationwide broadband service that covers the whole country at the same time. Not separated by regions or distinguished by regional transmitters. Geddit?

So I repeat, how the hell do they KNOW ‘where I am’, in order to feed me lovely Lucy from Cardiff, not the news as it might be generated and splurged by Tim or Shakeela in London or Glasgow or Manchester or Norwich or Truro? How do they KNOW?

Is it the Surveillance State gone mad? Are the news community watching me watching them? Can they read my more lurid thoughts about delicious Lucy Lipgloss? Have they put tracking soft things on my system? Captured my IP? Misappropriated my URL?

Or is it a Cookie contest? Will they one day be able to send me my own news? (“Good evening. Today, not a lot happened again, where I am….”)

I need to be told. Wherever I am.


If you think that’s weird, wait’ll you hear this!

I was checking my email Spam folder just now for any signs of reality. If a Spam looks as if it might be okay, with information of interest, I don’t open it. Instead I go to my old school chum, Harry Google, and ask him to find the actual webthing of the Spammer in question. If there is one, and it’s kosher, I’ll check out the offer, or whatever it was they wanted to talk to me about. It’s to avoid getting malware all over my li’l laptop.

So, I had three Spams today from something called Groupon. Basically in the space of about five minutes they offered me some deal vouchers, told me to hurry to redeem them and then told me they had expired.

Not the point. Get this.

I do a search on Groupon, and up at the top of page one on Google comes their main site, plus some subsidiary clickons headlining the availability of live offers – two of them from hotels just down the road from me. Where I am, in fact.

So now I only have to search for something and Google knows where I am and can target product offers directly at me on the Search page, without me even having to go to the supplier’s website to get some vouchers?

And half an hour later, Goddammit, I only get another Spam from Groupon, asking if I just enquired about them? And here are some more vouchers for stuff where you are… And they are in AMERICA!

Purlease! I’m getting out of here, local funeral parlour directors please note.



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