Are you on a list? If not, you’re nothing. You don’t exist. You are a non-entity. Anyone who is anyone is on a list: 100 greatest this, 100 worst that, 100 most influential people we have never heard of. The only list I’ve been on is a shopping list – when my parents tried to sell me to the highest bidder while on holiday in Tunisia. They’d have sold me too, had the buyer not peeked under my balaclava and decided I wasn’t white enough for the white slave trade.
We are becoming dependent on loyalty and rewards. I am scared to go into supermarkets in case the cashiers terrorise me at the till. Do you have a Nectar card? A Clubcard? Each time, I freeze in a panic – have they brought in a tough new ID card system without telling me? Am I going to be dragged off to Guantanamo Bay?
As I scour the rest of the queue, looking for that nice Lady Liberty to come to my aid and rebuke the store’s fascist regime, I remember that the loyalty card is just a nice way of giving me extra things. Spend £600 in our shop and get a free carrier bag, that sort of thing. Some people are addicted to their Clubcards. You see them in the supermarkets – stick double points on anything and they’ll grab at least two. Some poor man’s been eating Pot Noodle for the past two months because they had double points in November.
Saying that, these loyalty cards probably hold more personal data than any biometric identity card ever could. As I write, some Whitehall code-breaker is adding the fact that I buy Domestos bleach to my potential terrorist profile. No part of my life is safe from loyalty cards; I get offered them everywhere. At Primark you get extra points for putting the clothes back on the rails. The beggar at my local cashpoint has given me a card so that, for every ten times I give him my small change, I get to walk past one time guilt-free.
After the screening of my comedy doc F*** Off, I’m a Hairy Womanthis week, the BBC were so pleased with the programme’s ratings that they asked me to front some more shows. One of them was about virgins. I couldn’t think of any way to make this funny, unless the show was based on me experimenting with celery sticks and organic carrots, so I turned it down. They said they’d come up with some more “Funny Ideas”. I can’t wait.
One of my reasons for turning down the virgins show was that I thought it would be asking for stalkers and the disturbed people in our society to put my life in danger. However, after going through my mailbox, I think it may be too late.
Call me a cynic, but a 29-year-old Essex computer tester who sends you pictures of himself taken on the Tube, who is excited by body hair, and who says things like “You go, babe” is in need of specialised medical attention. Another letter said: “After watching your programme I have lost all respects for you. I feels offended that you wear a leopard-print bikini and say words like chav. I advice you to do your research better when choosing swimwears. PS: I am speaking on behalf of all people.” My main concern is the spelling. I really want to mark these letters with a big red pen and send them back. Must try harder. Insult me, criticise me, but at least use good English.
Perhaps the most bizarre was:
Dear Shazia, I love women. It started over 30 years ago when a woman in the bed opposite me in hospital smiled at me. I thought wow, this is it.
Such messages enlighten me to how many strange, odd and just plain bored people are out there. Still, by accepting their bizarre messages, I am providing a service. Maybe one day I’ll make it on to the Top 100 Stalked Comedians.