Despite spending most of my working life involved in one aspect or another of one IT project or another and drinking vast quantities of instant coffee, occasionally breaking off this important work to resume an ongoing dialogue with my bookmaker, I didn’t really become acquainted with the Internet until May 2001.
Following Blackpool’s defeat of Leyton Orient in the play-off final of the Nationwide League: Division 3 on 26 May 2001, I found myself totally submerged in a superfluity of euphoric wellbeing which didn’t get better for simply days. When I did finally return to something approaching normality (for me, anyway), I logged in to the Orient website in the hope of indulging in a spot of harmless Schadenfreude.
Unfortunately this was not to be. The contributors to the message board on that site were fairly unanimous in conceding that the better team had won. (They were right). So I told them who I was and I stuck around for a while without ever mentioning play-offs and embarrassing results (Blackpool 4 (Hughes, Reid, Simpson, Ormerod) Leyton Orient 2 (who cares)).
I began to look around for another board in early August and, before coming across these forums, alighted on a now defunct message board also with a football theme. This was a time in my life when I was not happy with who I was, so I took the easy way out and decided to become somebody else.
Afer lurking for about 30 seconds, I announced the arrival of one Dr. Schadenfreude, coming to you from his recently acquired top security accommodation at Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight. Schadenfreude was a political prisoner being held in solitary confinement for expressing ‘off message’ opinions about Tony Blair and his mania for appearing on television and looking sincere.
The good Doctor appeared generally resigned to his fate, but had a few scathing comments to make about the lack of lavatorial and broadband facilities in British Prisons. He suffered also from the harsh yoke that comes with being a user of BT Anytime, and he posed several innocently pertinent questions asking whether anybody else was experiencing connection problems from within the British Prison System, say from Winson Green, Strangeways, Wormwood Scrubs, or anywhere else Anytime was in use at times by people doing Time.
Most of the board membership was sympathetic to the Doctor’s plight, some of them offering food parcels, prison visits and updates on the political situation in the Houses of Parliament (if any). However, one member consistently refused to believe that Schadenfreude was for real and he gave the Doctor a very Hard Time indeed. This person, who I will call Mr. Angry, insisted that he hadn’t read about any Political Trials in the newspapers recently, that he had checked with the German Embassy in London to ascertain whether they had any Mad Doctors missing and unaccounted for, and that he didn’t believe for one second that Internet access was provided at Parkhurst, even one as slow as a 56K dialup connection.
Schadenfreude assured Mr. Angry that he had been imprisoned without trial in conditions of the utmost secrecy, and that the associated conspiracy had long and quite slimy tentacles which reached into the highest levels of British Government (Tony Blair). He also asked Mr. Angry how the hell a top security prisoner could communicate from Parkhurst if there were no facilities which allowed such communications to be communicated.
A fair question, I think.
Things turned nasty when Mr. Angry really ‘went after’ the Doctor, constantly giving him abuse, calling him names like Schadenfraude and comparing him most unfavourably with various parts of the body (male and female) not totally unconnected with the human reproductive system.
Schadenfreude, being a foreigner in a suddenly hostile environment, couldn’t understand the bile he was receiving on an almost hourly basis and so, in the dead of night, he quietly got himself transferred to the Bastille, on a reciprocal Prisoner Exchange Scheme Tony Blair has going with the French President, whoever he is.
This perked him up considerably, and he was able to report that he was very happy to have his own toilet again and, furthermore, the French Prisons Telecommunications Service (FPTS) had done a marvellous job installing a DSL line into his cell at very short notice. He was also very glad to be out of the clutches of Tony Blair at long last.
Somewhat predictably I suppose, the Doctor was informed in no uncertain terms that he really was a fraud this time because nobody got himself transferred from Parkhurst to the Bastille because the Bastille no longer catered for a prison population, so there. Schadenfreude insisted this was a complete lie promulgated by the French Government, and that two prisoners currently ‘had rooms’ at the Bastille: himself and the bloke next door who spent all his time trying to find a website with instructions on how to remove an Iron Mask without damaging the wearer.
The moderators on this particular message board were very agreeable people when they weren’t moderating, which they never did, and so the problems continued to pile up for the Doctor in spite of sympathetic noises from other, more reasonable people. After a week or so of more vituperation and unpleasant sexual metaphors, he got himself shipped out to Devil’s Island, logged in just once more to complain about an overabundance of mosquitos and then sat on Dreyfus’ Seat reading and inwardly digesting the Complete Works of Henri Charriere.
He briefly resurfaced on these forums before undergoing a metamorphosis which he thought necessary if he was to ‘blend in’ with everybody else. Nevertheless, I do miss him. It annoys me intensely that he was forced into Exile by a right wing xenophobic who never displayed any interest whatsoever in the abysmally poor conditions experienced by political prisoners in the UK even as we speak.
I don’t expect everybody to share my liberal attitudes. That would not be a liberal attitude. But I sincerely believe that a transparently obvious ‘troll’ masquerading as a mad German doctor imprisoned in ‘Solitary’ for crimes against the state (and various parking offences) deserves more understanding and consideration instead of hurtful comments and unwarranted criticism.
I hope Mr. Angry, wherever he may be, is completely ashamed of himself and that he has changed his ways. I hope he has acquired some humanity from somewhere during the past 14 months. And I hope his football team get relegated at the end of the season because of ‘financial irregularities’.