Wednesday, 16 December 2015


I used to feel (mildly) embarrassed by the amount of time I spent in forums and chat rooms.  It had a kind of hermit, loner, weirdo ring to it, I seemed to prefer cyber people to the real thing.  And I did.  They satisfied my need to talk endlessly about subjects that intrigued and fascinated me.  Subjects of little or no interest to my nearest and dearest. And quite right too.  When they are with me, I want to hear about what interests them and what they are up to. 

As I mentioned in a previous blog, my first tentative steps into forum world was like walking into a Roman Arena and saying no-one told me there would be lions.  Many get eaten alive on the first day.  The old hands who have been there from the beginning, look down on newcomers as if they were stray cats who may or may not be infested with fleas.  They have already formed their own little Gangs of New York with induction ceremonies for those who want to enter their inner sanctums.  Knocking on the door with a blade between your teeth and a dodgy wink gives automatic admission. 

The AOL Europe Board that was discussing the case of missing Madeleine McCann in 2007 was a free for all.  It probably went largely undiscovered because of it's curious name.  It was simply one of hundreds of specialist chat rooms that AOL hosted at that time and AOL began directing Madeleine discussion there. The beauty of it was, it was unmonitored and there were no admin.   

When I joined in September 2007, groups had already been formed, pros and antis, and every day was a bloody battlefield.  I kind of liked it, lol.  It was an opportunity to reply to all the injustices in the world that I see around me.  It gave me an opportunity to say 'hey, that's not right', and explain why it's not right.  I'm not one of the silent majority, nor have I ever wanted to be.  Prior to the internet I was a prolific writer of Mrs Angry letters to national newspapers and MPs (that I was mostly too lazy to post). 

I was happy to take on the Right Wing and the Fascists on the AOL Europe Board, (they were in the majority) and challenge their loony views.  I knew I had to don a suit of armour (borrowed from Henry VIII) before each visit, heck, I even encouraged the arrows by describing myself as a Marxist/Feminist, and my posts carried the tagline 'don't let the hand you hold, hold you down' (unknown).  I love to challenge antiquated ideas about feminism, religion, actually anything subversive and any subject not open for discussion at polite dinner tables. 

The Europe Board had a lot of established characters, some interesting and informative, some hilariously funny, some just plain spiteful and some who were completely off their trolleys.  One group were on a mission to clean the place up by introducing new rules and regulations that we were all to do adhere to.  They even began sending copies of our posts to Carter Ruck and threats to write to employers were frequent.  In retrospect, some of the pros probably were part of the official Team McCann.  Their tactics were exactly the same as those who compiled the death dossier.  

Whenever a newcomer questioned the abduction story, they were instantly surrounded by 5 or 6 pro dobermans snapping at their ankles until they gave up or better still, obliged them a sensational quote for a headline.  The pack would seek out perceived weaknesses such as mental health, disability, cancer, or problems with alcohol and drugs. All information carefully stored for future use when they went in for the kill. What I saw in the Europe Board certainly illustrated the dark, nasty side of the internet that everyone warns us about. 

The strangest part was, the most vicious trolls, were nothing more than bored housewives, ladies who lunch and ladies who peek out from behind net curtains in the shires.  Brenda Leyland was typical of the kind of people who follow and talk about the case  of Madeleine McCann anonymously online.  She wasn't a leather clad thug swinging knuckle dusters, she was just an ordinary middle aged lady.  

Some of these women appear to be bubbling away like volcanoes ready to blow.  All the anger and bitterness they hide so well in the real world, is unleashed in the alter egos they create to go online.  Outwardly, they are almost Mrs Bucket like, with their spick and span houses, yes dear husbands and solid British values. They have to put themselves up on those highly polished pedestals in order to look down at the rest of us. They probably have hair that stays rigid in a gale force wind, wear American tan tights and speak in squeaky little girl voices that stopped being cute when they got past the age of 6.  (Grown women who speak like little girls irritate me - I want to slap them). 

Some might ask why I stayed there.  I ask myself that all the time, lol.  As bad as the AOL board was, it did eventually find its level.  We had some great debates that went on long into the night and we had some great laughs. The main issue that reared its ugly head each day however, was censorship with lines being drawn between those who wanted rules, guidelines and some topics to be off limits and those, like me, who said go boil your head.         

Sadly, in most forums, once the discussion/debate begins to heat up, the thread is locked.  Admin taking the decision to send the naughty ones off to cool down whilst urging those who remain to play nicely.  Fortunately no-one on the Europe Board had that 'power' over anyone else.  Nor could they censor or remove posts they didn't like.  If they had, I probably would have started my blog much sooner than I did - I refuse to be bound!  I am sure in a previous life I was probably Joan of Arc (loopy enough) or the warrior(ess) Boudica , maybe even the Spartan wife of Gerard Butler (I can dream :) ).  As a little girl growing up, there were very few female role models to look up to.  But that is another feminist subject for another day, but got to say, loving the new Jessica Jones series where a female, for once, is empowered!

When the AOL boards closed down, I wandered into CMoMM.  It took me a long time to actually join in the discussion, because even then, it had ferocious guard dogs in the form of Aguila and Plebgate and those who worshipped at the altar of Tony patrolling the borders.  Once in, I quickly learned that I would have to be inventive if I were to stay within house rules.  I convinced myself to hang on in, because I wanted to be there when the truth about Madeleine's disappearance finally broke.  And there have been many times over the years, when the more optimistic of us have seen an end in sight.  

I joined some of the Facebook groups, but my commitment fears extend just as much online as they do in the real world and I am reluctant to sign up for anything.  And once again, my carefully thought out and non libellous contributions were swiftly removed by those who believe they know what is best for their members.  Most groups it would appear, eventually become one tracked and exclusive.  It is inevitable if you do not permit alternate views.  For the sociologists out there, it is probably textbook stuff, but it's enlightening nevertheless.  

Gang mentality sadly, flourishes at every level of society.  It exists in boardrooms and genteel coffee mornings just as much as it does in the back streets of Peckham.  The gang leaders may not have tear drops tattooed on their cheeks but their victims are just as abundant. Gang mentality begins in the playground, several kids gather together and one or more are excluded. The isolated child acting as a warning as to what will happen to those who don't conform to the group.  It is a brutal lesson, but it is one we should remember. Should add gang mentality is prevalent in organised religions too. 

Unfortunately, owners and admins of forums and facebook groups are trying to keep the majority of their contributors happy - an impossible task. They censor and remove posts because they don't want any friction in their forums.  Well ho hum, if you've got no friction, you have got nothing to talk about!  And isn't it a bit strange that those constantly calling for peace are in the thick of every row?

There is nothing wrong with having a difference of opinion.  What a boring world this would be if we all thought and acted the same!  And what a freaky world it would be if we all remained static, having the same views at 90, as we did when we were 20!  Those with their opinions set in stone have called a halt to their education, they have limited their world to the tunnel vision they see through their blinkers.  They would be sad, if they were not so cruel. 

Unfortunately, on forums these malcontents are mostly successful, because they achieve what they set out to do.  Halt discussion.  Especially in the case of Madeleine McCann - in the early days, every discussion about the abduction was swooped on by patrols of McCann dobermans supporters claiming a)Goncalo Amaral was lying, b)the dogs were lying c)your just a loon, go take your meds. 

As for a new forum, I don't think it would be for me.  Posting in a forum or facebook group is like typing with one hand tied behind my back and I'm tired of it to be honest.  I want to 'talk' directly to my readers, and I want them to be able to 'talk' directly to me.  I don't want their posts or mine to be hacked about by someone in the middle.  I know that sounds a bit harsh on those who have put up with me, but I hate to hold back on what I am saying for fear of offending anyone.  Here, I don't have to.  When people ask me for the truth, that is what they get!  I want to offend people, I would prod them with a large fork if I could!  And people who demand the right not to be offended deserve it the most!  I want to make them sit up think!  My regular readers know what they are letting themselves in for, and if the newly offended return for more, they have no-one to blame but themselves! :) 

Ps.  Regarding the glitches over the weekend.  I inadvertently changed my blog from an open forum into Google+ and lost all my comments!  I then went into meltdown pressing buttons galore and making the situation a zillion times worse :(  Fortunately, son performed an intervention and order was restored, lol.  To the conspiracy theorists already discussing the notion that I removed all the comments so I could furiously edit them before putting them back.  Seriously?




  1. An interesting blog, thank you Cristobell.

    The problem I see with unregulated sites is that some people will make libellous statements, like Mr X and Mrs Y are paedos and child killers, which are likely to get the sites closed down.

    I also would not be happy to see loads of abusive rants, threatening death and destruction to dissenters, from people who can't debate sensibly.

    Presumably at times you yourself don't allow a post to be published because it is unacceptable for whatever reason?

  2. You have made a number of good points Monty. Unfortunately, there are some strange people who use internet anonymity to unleash their inner oik. They behave online in ways they would not dream of in the real world. I try to imagine my own stalkers saying directly to my face the kind of things they type about me online. And of course they couldn't and wouldn't, because ultimately they are just cowards.

    Regarding libellous statements, bizarrely, even the worst kind of trolls avoid direct accusations and threats. As thick as they are, they understand that CAN be tracked down - their anonymity will not save them.

    Abusive rants tend to die a quick and natural death in my experience Monty. Mostly, because they have no takers. They are repetitive, boring and of no interest to anyone. Take note Tigerloaf, though you are writing about my favourite subject (moi), even I can't arsed to read your shite.

    I know my free speech dream of unregulated posting, probably stems from cuckoo land, but in my experience discussions and debates usually find their own level. Those contributing valid and interesting points get more response than those hurling playground insults. The trolls usually end up heavily outnumbered.

    Sadly, yes, I have to spam some of the comments I receive here - though not so many these days. I have standards! I think I am getting the message out there, as the good quality of the comments I receive reflect. I'm happy to publish alternate views and intelligent debate, but I won't give a platform to those who just want to be spiteful and abusive. I will never allow my blog to turn into a sniping, paranoid cesspit!

  3. It certainly will be pleasant if we no longer have to wade through hate-filled venom-spitting rants, not only from McCann believers; some people who don't believe them are just as bad.

  4. So you were never a member of 3As - the largest and most popular Mccann forum?

    1. I used to read the Mirror forum but only posted occasionally. I joined the 3As, but again, very rarely posted on it. I felt out of my depth to be honest! Both were very focused no nonsense forums, they did not tolerate fools or any form of joviality. Though they made interesting reading, they were very daunting to newcomers. The gangs had already been established and the paranoia had set in.

      I was more comfortable in the AOL forum, where I didn't have to be affiliated to anyone and no-one could ban me! Whilst I was interested in other opinions on the McCann case, I wasn't a flag waving anti demanding justice, I was trying to find out what was going on. I hadn't reached the 'beyond reasonable doubt' stage, and I was obsessively reading everything McCann related. I was trying to prove myself wrong, not anyone else. And I wouldn't join any active campaigns or sign any petitions. Not my kind of thing anyway, but at that time when many of us were unsure, it would have been morally wrong.

      Nobody wanted the McCanns to be involved, because when we accept that they were, a small part of our faith in the goodness of human nature dies. Watching the way in which people we once trusted have used this tragedy for power and profit, chips away the rest.

      The McCann case was curious because it was so divisive. It was right up there with politics and religion as no go subject in polite society. It turned otherwise even tempered, rational people into fierce defenders of the McCanns and the terrible decision that will haunt them forever. They saw critics of the parents as self righteous and unfeeling, jealous of the McCanns' successful careers, happy marriage and perfect family. Only bad people disbelieved the parents.

      Fortunately mass hypnosis has a limited lifespan, the truth cannot be suppressed forever. The more lies you tell, the more those on your tail find to unravel. Operation Grange have done well to have got through it all in 4 years.

  5. If you find yourself at a loose end during the festive season, try your luck on the CMoMM's latest bizarre offering; The Smithman Christmas Quiz.

    If you don't already know, have a guess who is the originator of the said 'quiz.'
    The prize for guessing correctly will be a left-over, greasy turkey wing which the dog refused to eat.

    I often wonder if Mr Bennett could tell us all (in 9 separate threads) the reasons why Smithman could NOT be Gerry McCann.

    You know, why it is IMPOSSIBLE that Smithman was Gerry McCann.
    Stand by for a quiz on that, too.

    1. You don't need a quiz to show the impossibility of Gerry McCann being Smithman. He was at the OC at that time, besides it would be sheer stupidity to run around with a child at that time and no one else but the Smiths claimed they saw someone. Secondly they regretted they ever saw someone and when it 'was getting serious' they said they wouldn't recognise him anyway. Oh wait they were sure it wasn't Robert Murat....How credible is all that? Why some people regard these statements as Gospel, I have no idea. They are as solid as a sandcastle on a rainy day.

    2. 22:17 I am astonished that anyone, even Bennett, could compile a Grand Christmas Quiz about a dead child. It is a whole new level of sick.

    3. It would be sheer stupidity to try to cover up the death of a child with less believable stories than Hans Christian Anderson, but they did 12:52.

      They were desperate people dealing with a desperate situation and the body had to be moved out of the apartment pronto. Anything is possible.

      As for the Smiths, they present the most believable statements, far more believable than the statement of Jane Tanner for example. And of course it begs the question; why the McCanns didn't use the Smiths' sighting in their appeals?

      They needed an 'abductor', and the Smith family saw a man carrying a child at the relevant time. If they were 100% confident that it was not Gerry, then why did they 'bury' this evidence? And bury it they did. DCI Redwood and Crimewatch revealed the Smith sighting as a NEW revelation.

      If anyone has any doubts as to whether Smithman was Gerry, they only have to look at the lengths the McCanns have gone to, to cover up the most relevant sighting to date.

      With Smithman there are but two simple questions. 1)what are the chances of an abductor looking exactly like the father? 2)what are the chances of the child looking exactly like Madeleine?

      You could add more. What are the chances that a Gerry doppelganger just happened to be, not only in PDL, but wandering those same streets at the moment the child was abducted?

      For the McCanns the sighting of a man carrying a child by six members of the Smith family could have established beyond doubt that there had been an abduction. If they were confident they could prove it wasn't Gerry, they would used the Smith efits, drawn up by their own investigators, from 2008 onwards.

    4. @ Rosalinda, Cristobell Hutton19 December 2015 at 14:20

      your post is so factually incorrect.

      You are working the wrong way round i.e. don't decide they did it and then try to find facts that fit your opinion. Work from they are innocent and then try to prove they are not.

      You will never be able to do it. (unless of course you are better than 2 Police forces that have access to everything)

    5. So you really believe Madeleine died while they were having dinner, well that is hardly compatible with the dogs findings and even less compatible with their behaviour. An accidental death that very same evening wouldn't cause for desperate parents and desperate actions, no it would mean total chaos, total state of shock beyond doing anything but screaming, crying or being paralysed. Who could come up with a staged abduction within such a short time, who could be rational enough to write a timeline, who could be composed enough to keep in touch with media shortly afterwards. The so called desperate actions are part of the plan, of course they have to play desperate, who can be calm when your child just been snatched? Real grief, real loss looks completely different.

    6. @12.52
      Gerry McCann was nowhere near the Ocean Club at 10pm. Try and keep up with this stupid saga.

    7. 16:53. You raise some interesting points. Who indeed could keep calm and stage an abduction in the face of such a tragedy and in such a short space of time. Very few of us I imagine.

      But if you had a small group of highly trained professionals, people who specialised in emergencies, death and trauma and who were unfazed by handling a cadaver, then the chances rise significantly.

  6. @ Ros

    A post of yours in 2012

    "I am missing me old mates, me old muckers, that gang of granny thugs, who used the aol message boards to knock seven bells out of their equally decrepid YGL room mates with their zimmer frames especially on a Friday night, when the gin bottles came out with a vengeance and sure as eggs is eggs, you could always guarantee it would end in a punch up.

    For nearly 5 years we met up constantly, regularly, to the point of obsession and in need of psychiatric help. Some might be relieved to know that when I confessed that particular addiction to my own shrink, he said, not to worry at all, it is the 21st century equivilent of chatting over the garden fence. But back to the Europe Board, that became the Penny pickers, or something like that - an especially hilarious time when we could insult each other with accompanying graphics - lots of fairies and pigs! The Penny Pickers became the YGL, as we declared an amnesty in our search for a new home in which to abuse each other. All pretence at never wanting to set eyes on each other again was put aside, as memories of Selectedsgate flooded back, to all our shame. I think I used the feck a lot."

    Not quite the lone outlaw were you?

    More like a gang thug!

  7. How creepy that you have kept a post of mine that is 4 years old, lol. Fortunately for you, I am not so brusque these days, and not inclined to give you an explanation for anything. You might want to seek help for obsession though.

  8. @ Rosalinda, Cristobell Hutton18 December 2015 at 23:15

    I didn't keep it - it is on this very blog - look back to 2012 AOL BOARDS YGL I MISS YOU GUYS!

    It is what you posted and is still available for anyone to see - hold on I will post to link to remind you. there you go.

    See - I am not creepy at all and am certainly not obsessive.

    1. Ah, you will have to forgive me, I have stalkers who have collected all my social media comments since 2007. If their behaviour weren't quite so creepy and anti social, I would thank them for sticking with me, lol.

      As for my being a 'gang thug', seriously? I find gang mentality abominable. Not my style, never has been - that's why I am incorruptible.

  9. I see this little contretemps has caused minor activity among the brain dead in JATKY2. What a bunch of boring, miserable old gits they are. The fact that they use a word like 'harpy' should have been hint enough, lol.

    Yes, shock, horror, we used the forum to meet up to have a giggle and a drink. Many were mums with their babies tucked safely up in bed (in the same building) and many just wanted a 'cyber' girls night out.

    We are not all fortunate enough to have family and friends on hand 24/7 when we are in the mood for a chat. Even those lucky enough to have found their soul mates, will occasionally want to speak to different people with different views.

    Many people are housebound for whatever reason, and many people are isolated. The AOL forum offered a friendly (sometimes) and lively drop in place for the bored, the lonely and the mischievous, and yes, I ticked all 3 boxes!

    And it offered friendship. I have spoken often about the bad, but not enough about the good. Friendships were born out of the madness, and there were a lot of kind, supportive posters who rallied round those in need. And happily for me at that time, there were a couple of other insomniacs willing to discuss the meaning of life at 3.00a.m.

  10. @ Rosalinda, Cristobell Hutton19 December 2015 at 15:15

    there is no contretemps - I posted what you had said in the past - you called me spooky and obsessive - believe me I have no obsession with you, I just read your blog because everything you are currently saying does not accord with what you have said in the past.

    You were a lonely old woman who found comfort and pleasure in being an online thug.

    "I am missing me old mates, me old muckers, that gang of granny thugs" - your words not mine.

    If you don't like to be reminded of the past them maybe you should delete the posts that you have made.

    1. I stand by everything I have written 16:05, honesty and integrity, I won't be deleting anything. Not even the bad or slightly drunken ramblings!

      As for my being a lonely old woman. Do behave. I love living alone! I have been a carer most of my adult life, my kids, my parents, and I don't begrudge one minute of it, but it's 'me' time now, and I'm loving it!

      There is a difference between loneliness and being alone. You can be lonely in a crowded room and you can be lonely in a happy marriage. If you are a rounded human being, you will have interests outside of those you are married to, related to, work with, or live next door to.

      I actively seek out those who share common, and sometimes specialised, interests to myself online (eg. McCann case)because, guess what, they too want to talk about it!

      I'm at an age where I am VERY selective in the company I keep. I honestly don't care if people consider me arrogant or aloof, I won't be trapped into spending time with people I don't like and who don't interest me. I have very low tolerance and boredom levels these days, my time is precious!

  11. Admin on the cess pit is one sick person. To have a christmas quiz about a missing child is beneath contempt. How could any person stoop so low?
    That is not the actions of a christian. It should hang its head in shame.

    1. I agree 21:22, it is unnecessary, and it is unkind.

  12. I wonder if anyone there will dare to post an unfavourable comment about that quiz and the other one stirring things up again with the Smiths.

    1. Of course not. The witches love it.

  13. If you say something negative or detrimental about Tony on that weird place, then you get jumped on by a load of socks followed by a banning. So the handful of 'genuine' members there will of course won't say anything. The fact that it's had hardly any reaction (apart from a sock) says it all. Even the 'genuine' members there think he's a pratt.

    Regards, Andrew

  14. It would be very interesting if anyone could post on here real evidence that Verdi is bennett.

    Note that I say evidence and that excludes personal opinion.

  15. I don't think that anyone could supply proof.

    It's a bit sad if anyone has to back themselves up because nobody else will but it's not illegal of course!

  16. Hard to prove but very obvious and yes extremely sad. Not illegal but extremely weird. Severe mental health problems with an added agenda.

    'Me, myself and Tony'. A sequel to the Jim Carrey film.

    Regards, Andrew.