NO BUT I’m having shall we say a heated debate with this wazzock who calls himself gnomechomsky and he put Les and John’s names up in a message. First he DMs me shots fired, and a smiley face. Then he puts I wonder what wife Leslie and son John, eight, think of your positions, cryptofascist? You’re anonymous on these hootenannies and he’s found – he hasn’t just found me – he’s found the names of my family? Yeah but the trouble is Tom – the trouble is if they put up the names of people you know then people can find them and send them nasty stuff. My name wasn’t ever on there and now they know the names of my wife who was ill and my son with his challenges and I don’t need Les, you know, after everything she’s been through, getting, you know, I want to slice off your whatevers and shove them in your you know or whatever it would be. And this happened, right? No but this – J was playing Augmented Sapiens and an avatar came up to him and handed him this picture that was a man with no top on and plastic trousers, with a squirrel’s head. And there was no member or anything, so it wasn’t porn as such, but it was gross, it was disgusting. Les also said it was disgusting. And this because of what gnomechomsky did.
    So I have to find out who he is, obviously – which is actually not that hard. His name is Dan Pencer. Turns out he’s an IT guy. At Forage magazine. Computer nerd and food wazzock in one. Unbelievable! And I send him – so I find online you can buy a salt and pepper set shaped like a pair of large members which is – I suppose they make them for hen nights where you want literally everything to be penis-­themed. So I do a wholesale order of these and send them to Forage magazine. And we all know what IT guys are like, eh? Say no more. IT guys are a pack of solitary self-­abusers, are they not? He has a wife and kid too, except. Well, she’s obviously a weirdo. Marrying a solitary self­-abuser communist IT guy. But so this is like poetic justice – you’re going to send my son some nearly-­porn; I’ll send you a bawdy cruet or two, friend.
    So I get delivery confirmation and I’m quite enjoying the thought of Dan Pencer getting the package delivered and opening it and finding the members. You know, maybe he opened it at work? Maybe his boss was there? Will Dan cry when he gets fired, do you think? I ask Les. She says Richard remonstratively back, Richard, she says, but she’s imagining it.
    He sends me another email that says shots fired and a smiley face. Same as before. So what does this mean except that he’s decided to escalate it, that it’s a war? Yeah but what’s – what’s really scary is – I’m imagining him sending, you know, intimate massagers in the post to Les’s work. Or she’s getting handed, you know, snuff porn in the staff room or J with emails full of scat GIFs. You know anyone can say anything to me, Tom, but once you involve my wife and family it’s war. After everything we’ve been through in the last few years, with Les’s cancer and losing her hair and everything and John getting bullied. I’m holding hands with him sitting on his mum’s bed in the evening while she’s losing her breath and his lip quivering and I’m saying it’s OK, it’s OK J and he’s saying OK Dad, OK Dad, and the next morning they’re smearing fluids on his rucksack. Animals. And that trade­-unionist wazzock teacher. I know J’s small, I know he’s spindly, but he’s tough, you know, in his core he’s tough, in the center of him. It’s just intolerable, you know, when someone comes after your kid.
    You know I don’t look for trouble. I don’t look for trouble but you know I’ll hit back if you hit me. You know I’ll hit back. And with this sort of thing you have to shut them down fast. Once he’s escalated you have to go nuclear. Overwhelming force. You can try not feeding the trolls, but at this stage that’s not an option. You have to flatten them before they flatten you. Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear't that the opposed may beware of thee. Which is Shakespeare essentially saying you have to go for the gonads.
    So, first level, incognito emails to the wife and kid every half-­hour – husband’s a nonce, father’s a nonce, we’re doing. I knocked together some images. I won’t show you. And then we’re putting things in his email for people to find. And we’re emailing his work. Did you know?, etc. Email the neighbours. Kid’s school. Neighbourhood watch.
    And so next we’re manipulating search engine results. This is a rather useful thing you can do if you know how. So if you know what you’re doing you can make it that if you search for Pencer, it says he’s a nonce. Yeah but this is a thing that you can do. This is over a period of time. And I’m keeping tabs. For instance, his work email address appears to have vanished one day so probably they’ve got rid of him. This would seem to be confirmed by the fact that a regular monthly payment stops arriving in his bank. I’m looking for a payment to someone who when I look them up would be a divorce lawyer but no luck yet so I suppose the family is sticking with him for now. If you can swallow being married to a solitary self-­abusing communist you can probably swallow being married to a nonce I suppose.
    And so once again, a third time, I get an email, shots fired, and a smiley face. Like he’s mocking me still. Like I’ve kicked him down, kicked him in the teeth and he – he can’t rise up but he’s pushing himself up on his two arms and looking and me and smiling through his bloody teeth with one or two missing, saying still, Confound you! How dare he? How dare he?
    So I start thinking, now this is dangerous, you see, Tom. Now this is dangerous because what if he’s not down? What if he’s not down, albeit looking up at me through bloody teeth, but down all the same, but if in fact he’s up? What if he’s strong? What if in fact he’s preparing a counter­attack? And then the wife and the kid getting some funny ideas in their heads, which who could blame them? Given what I’ve done? And encouraged by whatever lies he’s been telling them about what’s going on, which I am powerless to prevent, probably being egged on by all their wazzock trade­-unionist friends, oh hate crimes, oh patriarchy, or whatever, telling everyone we’re the victims of a smear campaign. And he knows who I am. He can find out where we live. And all of a sudden we’re getting, you know, t­-shirt in the post, surprise! Present for Les! Congrats on being a survivor, from your friends at Macmillan Cancer Support, surprise! But it’s impregnated, Tom, and when she realizes it’s too late, the damage has been done, savage angry raw chemical burns all over her skin when she’s been through so much, and we’re the ones who are down, crying, and our home feels violated and not like a home any more. Or surprise! John finds chocolates in his locker at school ­­ very impressive, John, you young dog, which one of those fine fillies is your secret admirer? But the chocolates are injected with a hospital­-grade laxative, and it’s Dad, help me, I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Dad, help, oh God Dad, when will it stop? No way.
    This is what’s in his brain. We have to do it to him before he does it to us. I mean, you don’t like to think about harming other people seriously, killing them – technically. But I’m remembering years ago, we’d been to one of those outdoor concerts with fireworks in the grounds of a stately. We wouldn’t have gone, J was too young, but I think we must’ve got a card in the post and Les and I were talking about it and he heard us say they were going to play the theme from Star Wars. Which he loved at that time and he kept on and on and on at us and he wore us down and so we went. But we knew he wouldn’t make it all the way through. So he wore his Chewbacca pyjamas to the whole concert under his little navy­-blue duffel coat. And we had lemon curd sandwiches, which he liked, and carrots and celery sticks. And he couldn’t make it to the Star Wars part, it was right at the end, when it was dark, with the fireworks. And he was willing himself to stay awake. Just willing himself so hard, but he kept dropping off with his head on my leg and in the end he said wake me up when it’s Star Wars Dad, don’t let me miss it. And we said no of course he wouldn’t miss it, though when it came on we nudged him and he wriggled and snorted and went back to sleep though he opened his eyes for a second and we said it’s Star Wars John and he said it’s Star Wars it’s Star Wars but basically in his sleep. And when it was done we put him in the car and he slept all the way home. And I carried him up the stairs to his bed in his pyjamas he’d worn all evening, all heavy and sweetsmelling and full of trust. And that was what was at stake here.
    So we’re going tainted mail-­order treats. These champagne socialists, these Forage types, they like that stuff, even if they are also solitary self-­abusing IT guys. So how many apple seeds do you need to make cyanide and can you hide it in small­-batch vanilla­bourbon apple sauce made with only authentic Madagascar vanilla beans? We’re adding arsenic to a cherry & chocolate-­chip kirsch baba maybe; we’re considering slipping strychnine into real west coast langoustines or botulinum neurotoxin in peerless salmon fillets from the Kyles of Bute. Curare in the GaelSong selection created by master cheesemakers from each of the six Celtic nations. Sarin in the Belgravia chocolate biscuits (essentially a smart version of the Chocolate Bath Oliver). Polonium Peppermint North Poles. This is over a period of time. We’ll get the wazzock.