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Date: 14/07/07

Brief Lives Of The Spammers

(Well, one can but hope...)

Six months ago, my ISP cleverly managed to get its Webmail database hacked. The result was that thousands of their subscribers got their e-mail addresses handed over to spam merchants. In my own case, having hardly seen any spam in any of my e-mail accounts for nearly four years, I've now been swamped by the stuff.

One of the main problems with spam, of course, is that you can't easily block it out by sender's name, because the bastards use some sort of random generator process. I was looking through my spam folder the other night, and started wondering about these names: could some of them actually exist in what we laughingly call 'real life'? If so, who are they, and what might they be doing?

I therefore present a short selection of biographies of some of the characters who have been sending me invitations to expand my dimensions in recent weeks, all culled from my forthcumm...sorry, forthcoming three-volume International Dictionary Of Spurious Biography.

Corbett, Renee

One-half of the promising 1970s female comedy duo The Two Renees, whose 1979 series for Border Television would have been a huge success had the company not been off-air for its entire run due to a make-up artists' strike. Later hostess on the Television South-West quiz show That's My Gerbil.

(Not to be confused with the Indian cabaret act The Two Ranees).

Herring, Blair

Famous Mormon fisherman. Claimed that his catch of a freshwater salmon in the Great Salt Lake was a sign that the LDS' dominion over Utah was divinely ordained. He was later found to have bought the salmon from a local kosher deli. Three of his wives claim to have no knowledge of his current whereabouts. The fourth wears a mysterious smile.

Chase, Levi

Extremely unfunny Jewish comedian. Movies include Funny Schmunny, Schtumm and Nothing But Tsuris.

Colvin, Eula

Microsoft corporate lawyer. Killed herself after claiming that she wasn't being accepted.

Myers, Josh

Professional baseball player whose only Major League appearance (for Pittsburgh at Philadelphia) was cut short when he had an attack of hiccups on the mound. In his eighteen pitches, he walked three batters, beaned the home-plate umpire, concussed the cotton-candy salesman in the left-field bleachers and killed the home team's mascot with a 95mph fast ball right down its trumpet. Now an analyst for Fox Sports South.

Lanier, Hung

Star of Louisiana's short-lived porno industry. Movies include You Can't Do That - That's My Sister!, I Like My Baton Rouge and The Battle Of New Whore-leans. Found Jesus in 1998, and married him in Massachusetts in 2006.

Maynard, Ginger

Actress, comedienne and dancer (real first name Edna) plucked from a cotton mill in Oldham, Lancs. by J. Arthur Rank to be 'Britain's Ginger Rogers'. Unfortunately, while filming her second feature Flying Down To Rochdale, a mis-placed clog step broke the shin of her co-star Sandy Powell and her contract was terminated. Her only completed movie, Top Clog, is (for reasons lost in the mists of history) ritually re-run on Slovakian television every Christmas Eve.

Fitch, Norbert

Cincinnati-born author and self-improvement guru. His most famous work, How To Win Money And Influence People, has been read by four US presidents, and has been read to at least two more.

Madison, Irwin

Tenth vice-president of the United States. Holds the record for the shortest span of time to hold the office (33 days), dying of a cold caught from President William Harrison. A small bridge across a creek in a remote part of Vermont is named in his honour.

Rudolph, Marylou

Country and western singer from Alabama, nicknamed 'The Chocawhatchee Chickadee'. Married six times (four times to the same violent alcoholic truck-driver) and mother of two sons (who, true to the family tradition, went on to become violent alcoholic truck-drivers). Stardom beckoned after she filled in at short notice on The Grand Old Op'ry after the infamous Dolly Parton 'bicycle pump' incident. Alas, it was not to be, as Marylou was killed a week later when her husband's truck - in which she was a passenger - took a direct hit from a plummeting Cessna light aircraft.

Harmon, Lillie

Silent-movie actress. Died in 1925 in a mysterious trampolining accident also allegedly involving Roscoe Arbuckle and Oliver Hardy. She was buried in her native Ohio and in neighbouring Pennsylvania.

Moody, Chad

Portland, Or.,-born bass guitarist with the legendary grunge band Facial Wound. Albums included You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead and In Up To The Knuckle. Died in bizarre circumstances, having asked his wife of 45 days, Rona DePimp, to insert a balloon up his rectum and inflate it with the air hose from the local garage. His remains were scattered over his home state's Painted Hills. Instantly.

Moses, Timmy

In 1972, the eyes of the world wept for the plight of this cute, tousle-haired ten-year-old boy from Silverton, Colorado, who fell 90ft down an old mine-shaft in his home town while trying to rescue his pet dog Rambler. Rambler was rescued after two days of intensive effort on the part of the local fire department. In the joyous excitement which greeted this event, the firemen went off to appear on coast-to-coast TV, and little Timmy was forgotten. It is said that, if you walk past the old shaft late at night, you can still hear a little boy's voice crying, "What about me, you bastards!?".

Keenan, Preston

Son of an English mother and an Irish father, Keenan was unique in having changed sides no fewer than four times during the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. He is also notable for being the only man ever to have been shot by the IRA after being hanged by the British. His grave is occasionally a shrine for the indecisive.

Neely, Herman

American naturalist and author, whose best-known work Dick Moby tells the tale of its titular hero, an Idaho man obsessed with catching a hump-backed whale. His efforts (doomed because the man never left his home state, and had a phobia of pointed objects) are recounted by the author with great sensitivity and mounting glee.

Manuel, Denny

The legendary 'near-miss' songwriter, whose best-known works include I Left My Knee In San Francisco, Wonderful, Wonderful Floyd, Missouri and Newark, So Good They Named It.

Cleveland, Austin

Not a person, but a car, the British Motor Corporation's failed attempt to repeat the success of the Austin Cambridge and Austin Westminster. Unfortunately, its poor build quality and tendency to smell heavily of petrol meant that sales were poor, and the last working model was seen being used as a taxi in East Berlin in 1987.

Rivers, Robbie

Mercurial centre-forward who enjoyed a brief Premiership career with Manchester City in the early 1990s, having been bought from non-league Congleton Town for a set of used shirts. His time at Maine Road was not successful, making only 7 appearances in three years (5 of them as a last-minute substitute). His only goal came as a result of having the ball kicked against his head as he lay unconscious after colliding with a goalpost. Last seen selling ice cream in Macclesfield.

Chambers, DeWitt

A legal practice in Baltimore, Md., best known for its pro bono work in getting Sacco and Vanzetti's appeal heard before the Supreme Court in 1986.

Stapleton, Dusty

Nottinghamshire slow-left-arm bowler and occasional batsman. His first-class career lasted just two years before he was forced to retire due to losing his left foot in a freak bee-keeping accident. Best bowling figures: 2-144 v. Oxford University in 1936. First-class batting average: 3.86.