When I started this blog, I intended it as an efficient way to keep about 6 people up-to-date on the latest shenanigans in my life without having to tell them, call them or e-mail them individually. A noble ambition. Now with literally “some” or even “dozens” of readers, I’ve realised my ambitions were too muted. Now I want to run an international Polish t-shirt printing business, become the world’s leading impersonator of Bosnians, a renowned expert on God, theft, handbags, online dating and unexpected nudism. I want to be invited as a special guest to the Eurovision Song Contest (preferably in a year where it’s somewhere good and the UK entrant is under 60), become the honorary mayor of Soho and ultimately, and saviour of the world from stupid Facebook posts.
And I want to be the primary, the de facto and de jure, principal, one-and-only, single most important Alan McCann on the internet.
Problem is, and I should have been more aware of this from past experience, achieving such heights comes at a cost.
About 7 years ago, I had recently left my job as a web designer with a software company, hoping to hang up my suit and tie for good. Yes … I had to wear a suit and tie to work every day. Yes … I was a web designer and had to wear a suit and tie to work every day. And yes … I was a web designer in a software company and had to wear a suit and tie to work every day. I always do my most creative work in a suit and tie. I’m wearing one right now.
I left to pursue other opportunities, like the opportunity of not working there anymore, and planned to be a freelance designer. (There is more about this period in my post How I Got My PlayStation).
I was all set up for my freelance designing and my new portfolio website was ready (that’s what my last few days at work was spent doing…) and I had a few potential clients lined up and a nice e-mail to send out to contacts with a link and examples of my work. I’d only been a designer full-time for a couple of years but it had been a spare-time thing for long before that doing unpaid things for friends, charities (I know, aren’t I?) and for myself.
A couple of weeks later, I’d started temping with Her Majesty’s Government (I won’t be more specific as it will ruin the aplomb) – just while the freelancing business took off and I got enough going to be full-time. I’d resigned from the previous job and I like collecting crap so I didn’t have enough cash to not be working. One night, arriving home after taking care of Her Majesty’s business, I had missed a delivery and found a courier card in my letterbox. I wasn’t really expecting anything, couldn’t remember ordering anything … weird. But it was a package from a courier so it must be something special – a kind gift from afar, a free present from one of the online shopping websites where I exercised my shopaholic urges. I decided to go to the depot straight away, even though it was evening and it had been a long day at work.
And even though the depot was on an industrial estate in the middle of Morden. You might not be familiar with Morden. I’m sure you can picture it in your mind. It’s called “Morden” and it’s the very end of London’s longest Tube line*.
I arrived in Morden with a map and a deep sense of unease. After about half an hour of walking I was finally away from the endless trainyards and navigating myself through the middle of nowhere towards this “depot” and my lovely surprise treat.
Eventually after a lot of trekking through the cold and rain, I found it, and joined the queue in this creepy little dank office where a man, hidden behind bullet-proof glass and so many printed-out signs he never had to speak to anyone, was taking the cards and fetching the deliveries. I got my package. It was underwhelming. It was an A4 envelope. This was not the box of romantic keepsakes from Ashley Judd I’d been hoping for.
I opened it on the way out of the depot as I got back out into the rain. It was a letter. From my former employer. From my former employer’s Head of Legal Affairs (which was a fucking laugh, she wasn’t even a qualified lawyer).
It was regarding my website alanmccann.co.uk – my portfolio site. And the use of copyright material. Naturally, as a portfolio site, I had examples of my work up there – all things that were available to the public. E-mails we had sent out, website banners from the company site, animations from their advertising. Apparently they did not like the idea of me telling anyone I made these. She went on at length about my contract and that any work I did for them remained copyright them, which I did not dispute, and about how I had no right to display these items publically (which had already been displayed publically by them) without their consent, which they were not going to give me. They gave me a deadline before legal actions would commence.
I know what you’re thinking. What a bunch of inexcusable cunts. I didn’t have the time or money to go the distance on this one. I exchanged a few strongly-worded and heavily sarcastic and derogatory letters with their “legal” team, moved my full portfolio to a password-protected area, and placed a message on my site telling people to request access, and of course explaining in extremely negative terms the action that my former employer had threatened.
Swapped it all back a couple of months later of course. They never noticed, but I imagine they were too busy finding disabled people to punch or starving children to euthanise.
Now with McCannecdotes, I’m creating original content so this isn’t a problem. The odds suggest the images I’ve occasionally thieved from the wider internet probably won’t be found out, and I think in either case there’s a bit of share and share alike with this one, as two days ago, my stats say someone found McCannecdotes.com using Google Image Search and the phrase “naked on beach”. So just as I’ve occasionally appropriated a photo of a scantily-clad woman to illustrate my stories, so too might someone have taken this photo from my nude beach story and posted it up on their blog about “hot Scottish guys” or “why pale is the new black”.
What’s stranger is, think how many images there are on the internet that would match that description better than any photo on my site. Think how many naked beach photos that person has to look at before finding mine (if you’re not busy try it). This person must have spent a lifetime trawling through naked beach photos to get here. I’m sure he (or she) was glad they did though, they are probably pissing themselves right now reading my Polish story…
I seem to be getting traffic from some strange searches actually. About a week ago someone found the site with the phrase “steal woman’s handbag from work”. They landed on the post “So I Stole A Random Woman’s Handbag“, originally intended as a light-hearted tale of how some careless moo got her bag strap caught on my arm, but now clearly being used as a training manual for bag thieves across the globe.
What if other Alan McCanns Google their name, and find my postings about them? I could get some serious reprisals like an e-mail saying “oi, enough of that” or one of them might even fly over to London, track me down and sing at me.
What if my former employers find this blog and sue me for calling them cunts? (they were the kind of cunts that would do that actually).
Most of all, what if I actually meet someone through online dating. I basically have to keep my surname secret from them forever, and not add them to Facebook, in order for any relationship to get off the ground. Imagine her reaction as she reads my posts about online dating and the post about my ex-girlfriend (although I was very complimentary about her); what if she reads about how she left me for a guy with a ludicrously enormous cock and realises THAT’S AN OPTION. How can I explain with “hey, at least I didn’t write anything about you? Yet…” and what if her favourite song is “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon and she reads my Birmingham story.
Perhaps I should have written this whole thing under a false name from the start. Something like Ernest Hanrahan. Hanrahanecdotes.com. A much safer bet. Then I could have set up a fake Facebook account, befriended all my existing friends, and everything would be so much safer. Perhaps I could have increased my traffic by making new friends with people who think I’m a relation of the late and beloved news correspondent Brian Hanrahan.
Oh well, guess the only thing I can do now to mitigate the potential woes is to keep the site very quiet, the readership low, and keep it out of the national press. So if you don’t see McCannecdotes.com mentioned in the national press, that’s why. That’s the only reason why. But it’s all going to get much worse when I eventually take all of my stories, publish them as a book and go on Oprah. Let me just check my total word count, yeah I’m about halfway there…
* Longest continuous tunnel: East Finchley to Morden (via Bank) – 27.8km/17.25 miles – see I fucking research these things, people think everything on this site is just off the top of my head, but a lot of hard work goes into not talking shit when I’m writing my shit.