Shazia Mirza’s Weekend Column

I am a very private person. I do not converse with my neighbour over the garden fence about my new saucepans, I do not discuss my fertility problems with other women in the changing room at the gym, and I do not walk around the house naked. The only time I am ever naked in front of anyone is with the woman who does my waxing. And the only reason I feel comfortable with her is because she is 63, a former nurse and could fell a rain forest with one dollop of wax and a flick of her wrist.

So I find it chilling to suddenly become aware of the surveillance I have been under. Sitting in the Jacuzzi of my health club recently, I looked up to see a camera pointing in my face. What possible crime could take place in a Jacuzzi? There is no need for a camera here unless men are being robbed of their swimming trunks and women of their breast implants. Surely nobody could commit a serious felony with an 80mph water jet firing up their backside?

I’m never going in there again. I can’t relax while some bored receptionist watches me picking my nose and squeezing my ingrowing hairs.

A few hours later, while I was walking out of Lloyds bank, a Sainsbury’s lorry driver wound down his window and shouted, “Oi, are you that comedian?”

“Which one?” I shouted back.

“You know, that one,” he replied.

A few days later he tracks me down and sends me an email, saying, “We met the other day outside Lloyds bank. When can I come and see your show?”

I wouldn’t call that a meeting – more like a one-minute stand.

I then rang up to book some theatre tickets. The woman asked for my name, and the first letter of my surname, then she automatically read out my address, phone number and date of birth. I had never booked with them before, yet they had all my information, and probably my bra size, too. They have a profile of my tastes. The people who work in the consumer industry know I like Samuel Beckett, cheap tickets and musical theatre. This is outrageous – I don’t want people knowing I’m into musicals. How can I face a serious stalker when they know I’m a sucker for a show tune?

Soon, we’ll phone to book things and they will put us on hold and say, “Are you gay? Press 1. Do you have ingrowing hairs? Press 2. Are you a Jew? Press 3.” They will then put you through to a list of specially selected products that fit your profile. I will just hit random numbers to make them think I’m a kleptomaniac bisexual with a penchant for Mexican wrestling – let them see what they can stick in my basket then.

I have nine points on my driving licence. Recently I received a letter telling me that Warwickshire police were considering giving me three more and therefore banning me. I was sure I hadn’t been speeding for some time, so I wrote back asking for evidence.

They didn’t just provide me with evidence, but sent a wonderfully clear portrait of me at 8am driving up the M1 with bags under my eyes wearing a cheap blue fleece jumper. I’m sure I wasn’t speeding; I just think the good people of Warwickshire have imposed a moratorium on fleece until after rush hour, which is entirely understandable. If I knew Iwas going to be photographed that early, I would have made more of an effort. I shall have to start acting as if there’s a camera everywhere.

Some people like to be private; others love to live their life minute by minute in public, and the blog is the ultimate form of narcissism – even the shyest person can be famous through a blog.

I can’t understand people who write a blog of their day-to-day life. I read one the other day that said, “Hi, this is Jane again. A few of us went to the zoo today where we saw a cute little baboon.” Unless this baboon has six arms and likes Jacuzzis and musicals, then I really don’t care. Bring back the diary, where people kept their thoughts to themselves.