The question of privacy has popped up a few times in my activities over the past couple of days.
1. Someone just knocked on the door (literally — still no doorbell). I rushed downstairs to find two smiley people on the doorstep who immediately addressed me in English, a rather unexpected event in France. Of course, they were Jehovah’s Witnesses – you probably worked that out a couple of lines ago but it took me a few minutes.
Me: How did you know I spoke English?
Her: Well, we look up English names in the phone book and then come round.
Talk about sophisticated marketing techniques. I really must learn to be more assertive. Why didn’t I just say “Go away”? Instead of that, I ended up with the “Watchtower” in my hand and they left promising to come back. Oh no.
It also occurs to me that if they found my name in the phone book, they could also google my name and this blog would be first on the list. Oh yes, and before you tell me, the third hit on the Google list informs you that “really shag me” is an anagram of my name which is always useful to know. I can just imagine the crossword puzzle clue,
1 across “Really shag me” says this unknown blogger confusedly.
2. Still on the subject of phonebooks, and I’m going to have to be a bit hedgey on this one because I don’t want to invade an apparently nice man’s privacy à la Jehovah’s Witness. Yesterday, I read an article quoting another article in a major British newspaper which reported that a very famous Scottish author had said he used to “pore over phonebooks” when he first lived in London, looking up famous authors and marking them in his A-Z. Now, I learned last year that this self-same author has a house in a village not far from my French family. By some strange coincidence I suffer from the same virtual stalking instinct as said (or actually unsaid) author and immediately looked him up in the French telephone book and there he was. No, I didn’t phone him up and no I didn’t go and have a look at his house but my curiosity was satisfied.
3. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned an unhappy experience when I left a comment on another blog that went against the flow of other comments. It appears that the majority of readers of this sort of tell-all blog consider themselves as supportive, understanding friends rather than bolshy, questioning pseudo-acquaintances and quickly shout down any dissenting voices. What strikes me is that as I continue to read the blog, I increasingly wonder what motivates someone to share such an experience (separation) à chaud with a bunch of curious onlookers. The words laundry and public come to mind and I feel a little guilty about being a passive part of it, for without readers there would be no point in spilling all the poignant, and sometimes sordid details, out into a blog.