Jane Ellen


Arthur Redux

Several months ago I wrote a post in my old blog about having been deluged by spam addressed to a person unknown to me, the mysterious Arthur N. To my surprise I've had several enquiries over the past few weeks regarding Arthur and his email deliveries. (Not bad, when I didn't think anyone even read that post!). The best bit came from my friend Chris in response to an email about the planned deletion of my former blog:

What about Arthur? Hmm? What if he's out there, right now, even as we speak, looking around desperately for info on all these emails he was expecting but didn't get, and is depending on your old blog to help him out? How can you even think about deleting it when he could be panicking cos he hasn't heard back from that Nigerian bank manager, or cos he hasn't gotten those magic pills that will solve all his bedroom-related problems. Could you really live with the thought that you stopped him from buying that designer watch that he'd have to remortgage his house for?
I mean, come on! Show a bit of respect! It's Arthur!

I suppose since I've quoted so much of Chris's email I'll now have to donate to the upcoming surgical procedure scheduled to have his tongue removed from his cheek.

I'm happy to say that Arthur's barrage of spam seems to have slowed to less than a crawl. In fact I had to look carefully to find anything at all for the elusive fellow. The most recent emails were titled (seriously!): "Arthur! Steal a house! It is completey legal!", "Stop snoring forever, Arthur!", and "Lady Maids, UK Finder, Amazing service Arthur!" The only thing I can gather from this is that he is now homeless, plagued by snoring or other respiratory problems, and hoping to find employment as a Lady Maid – since he's obviously too broke to hire one.

And if you want to find out how all of this nonsense began in the first place, my original blog post is printed below.



Flashback post: originally written May 16th, 2011 – two blogs and several thousand spam ago.

No – not that Arthur. Certainly not the lovely Dudley Moore, nor even the slightly more abrasive Russell Brand. I mean the Arthur for whom I have been receiving an increasingly large number of strange emails.

I was rather bemused when I first began to notice email addressed to Arthur N forwarded to my current inbox from an old professional email address I rarely use. Arthur quickly began to receive a steady stream of information for new parents, expectant mothers (presumably directed toward the equally elusive Mrs Arthur), and adverts for books and clothing for young children. Soon spam for every sort of electronic gizmo and gadget you can imagine also began to arrive (presumably not for Mrs Arthur), as if open season had suddenly been declared on my email box.

Nowhere was there a sense that this was ordinary spam; every email specifically addressed Arthur, thanked him for joining their mailing list, and eagerly sought to be of use to him with his new parental responsibilities. Those that advertised every mechanical and electronic device known to man (including a few of rather dubious nature) didn’t waste time on pleasantries but got straight to the point, loudly proclaiming in colourful letters how much Arthur could buy for how little and warning him that he would deeply regret not accumulating several storage sheds filled with this invaluable … erm … stuff.

Very few emails were opened, and all were routinely marked as spam. I puzzled over the fact that the emails never seemed to be targeted as spam by gmail as they continued to fill my inbox at a steadily increasing rate. Several Google searches for Arthur proved fruitless, nor could I find anyone else complaining of a similar barrage of email addressed to the same fellow. I didn't try to unsubscribe for fear of merely confirming the outdated address and generating even more email.

Finally I resorted to adding the return addresses to my delete filters so that the emails would go straight to the bin without my having to deal with them individually, but that took so much time that I soon gave up and continued the mass deletion every time another 20 or 30 arrived.

Not only did Arthur receive joyful messages regarding young parenthood, but about six weeks after the emails began some of the mail took a darker turn. I watched as Arthur (whom I was now beginning to feel like I knew) received offers for grief counseling and resource lists for parents who have lost a child. It felt as if a rather morbid version of The Archers was playing out, unbidden, in my email box. I think that's about the time I began to lose it.

Precious hours were spent over the next few days opening each and every email that arrived, adding the addresses to a filter for immediate deletion, hoping this would somehow effect a cure.

The good news? The emails seem to have slowed to a crawl; every so often I notice one or two in my bin, but there are few (and none in the past week) reaching my inbox. I'd wonder about being pranked, but to my knowledge I've not offended anyone of late, certainly not deeply enough to provoke that kind of response.

The bad news? I still find myself occasionally wondering about Arthur N, Mrs Arthur and their children, and wondering if they actually succumbed to that hugely discounted offer for the mineral supplement designed to diminish the grip of chemical dependency.

It's a very strange world.

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