The Obscurer

Dropping A Gear

Word arrives of a terrible event in the World of Clarkson.

When CDs containing the banking details of seven million Britons went missing late last year, Jeremy Clarkson insisted it was a storm in a teacup.

To prove no one would be able to access money by using the records, the outspoken broadcaster and columnist published his own bank details.

Now, however, the Top Gear host has ended up with egg on his face – after one entrepreneurial thief removed £500 from his account.

The fraudster set up a direct debit using Clarkson’s bank account details and paid the money to the British Diabetic Association, one of many organisations which do not require a signature to set up a direct debit.

Writing in his newspaper column, Clarkson, 47, said: “Back in November, the Government lost two computer discs containing half the population’s bank details.

“Everyone worked themselves into a right old lather about the mistake but I argued we should all calm down because the details in question are to be found on every cheque we hand out every day to every Tom, Dick and cash and carry.

“To hammer the point home I even printed my own bank account number and sort code.

“And guess what? I opened my bank statement this morning to find out that someone has set up a direct debit which automatically takes £500 from my account.

“The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again.”

A very sad state of affairs. Sad, obviously, that the prankster didn’t manage to set up a direct debit for Friends of the Earth, RoSPA or a similar organisation that would really wind up the fool. Far worse though is that I wrote a fairly sanguine post on the whole HMRC lost discs fiasco back in November that made much the same point that I now realise Clarkson also made; and that is sad indeed.

But there is still some hope. Clarkson now states that

“I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake.”

“Contrary to what I said at the time, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy.”

So he has changed his mind, which is at least something; he is no longer my ally, and even when he was I was blissfully ignorant of the fact. The worry is, though, that if we have agreed on this one matter, could we agree on others? Doubtful; but just to make sure I don’t upset myself I vow never again to read anything written by the silly sod.

Undertaking

A morning spent fruitlessly trawling through a large tin of Celebrations attempting to locate just one last Snickers must mean conclusively that the Christmas period is finally over, so perhaps I should dust off this old blog and write something down here; but what?

Well some old things don’t change with the New Year; for one thing Inside Track are still mithering me. Once again I have received a mailing from them inviting me to attend one of their workshops where I can learn all about investing in property so that they I can profit to the tune of a tidy sum. Since having a chuckle while reading their first letter to me a few years back, I’ve always thrown their post straight in the recycling; for an organisation that proclaims that spaces on their seminars are limited and rapidly snapped up I can’t understand why they insist on sending unsolicited invitations to someone who has ended up on their mailing list for no good reason at all. But still the letters come.

However, they seem to have changed tack with their most recent mailshot; just take a look at their latest envelope.

Yes, Inside Track was responsible for making 200 people millionaires last year; now they want me – yes, me – to swell their number and become the 201st. Clearly for Inside Track the arrival of 2008 is no reason to rest on their laurels for 2007; oh no, not only do they want to make me rich, but they want me to join their rich list for last year, so boosting their already impressive statistic of 200 success stories. I can only assume that they don’t simply want to make me a millionaire, they also want to help me to travel back in time, to have become rich some months back; or at the very least they are going to backdate my windfall.

Perhaps I should be flattered by Inside Track’s continued interest in me, but why do I get the nagging feeling that their target audience is not the financially astute, but rather the gullible? Certainly they have hitherto been wasting their time with me, unwilling as I am to get roped into something that exhibits all the signs of financial charlatanry; but time travel? Well, that changes everything. Rather than wasting my time as I had assumed, will an Inside Track seminar instead afford me all the time in the world? Even the mere possibility of it excites me; perhaps I have been far too dismissive of the dubious clots.