Being a vain person, perhaps a decade ago I subscribed to a thing called “Google Alerts;” Google would email me if my name appeared in online stories. (When searching for occurrences of people talking about him on Twitter, if Ed Balls had subscribed to Google Alerts instead of hashtagging his own name in a Tweet, and appearing on the Internet as having tagged himself, he might have been discreetly alerted, and there would not be the annual Ed Balls Day celebrating social media faux pas).
Of course, emails to me from Google Alerts were about as frequent as calls to the Carlsberg Complaint line. There was one when a letter appeared in the Irish Times, otherwise there was silence, as would have been expected when one’s name does not feature in stories. Years have passed since an alert came, and so it was that I had long forgotten about Google Alerts, until today, when one arrived. As was the case with the call to Carlsberg Complaints line being a wrong number, the alert came to the wrong person.
Assuming the story came from Dublin, where a namesake lived on the south side of the city and where Leinster played their home matches on Anglesea Road, clicking on the link brought a story about a local football and netball club and told of the club lobbying their MP in their quest for funding for new floodlights. Dublin has no MPs, it has TDs, and the story was from the Surf Coast Times, not a title among the extensive array of Irish newspapers. The news was from Victoria in Australia, the football being of a code very different from that played on Anglesea Road in Dublin. It was disappointing that the story featured a photograph of the MP and the local mayor and players from the club, but did not include Ian Poulton, the club assistant secretary, in the picture.
“Ian Poulton” is not an overly common name, there were two of us in Dublin, (in the years living in Northern Ireland, there were no other Poultons in the telephone directory), so there is something strangely reassuring in discovering someone who shares the name, as if a solitude has been broken, as if there is an unexpected solidarity. Perhaps, in a few years’ time, Google Alerts will find another.