Look! I’ve made a thing!
What do you do with unsolicited emails? Ignore them? Delete them? Let your spam filter swallow them? What if you were to reply to them?
That’s exactly what I did in October 2009. Fed up of people wasting my time sending me emails about search engine optimisation opportunities, or who wanted to place adverts and guest posts on this blog, instead of rolling my eyes, tutting loudly and deleting them, I wrote back.
At the time, I was the web architect at Scotland’s oldest university. I feigned ignorance, however, about the whole web design process and with the help of my (fictional) neighbour Colin (who runs the local ‘internet shop’, as they call it, in my also fictional village) I replied to these emails in a rather over-familiar style, taking delight to explain in great detail why my reply had been delayed, and often commenting in real time about the antisocial ongoings-on of my other (fictional) neighbour, Mr Parkinson. But would they write back?
“Inspired by The Timewaster Letters by Robin Cooper, this is a personal collection of silly emails spanning 13 years, from 2009 to 2022.
What people have been saying about I like to write back:
“Taking inspiration from The Timewaster Letters by Robin Cooper, this is a complete waste of everybody’s time, his, theirs, and now mine. Enjoy!”Danny Curtis, school administrator and email user
“A delightful read overflowing with character. I heartily enjoy it when the spammers reply as (convincing) humans. I love Colin from the local internet shop and was inspired to visit my local internet shop—they had the internet on CDs, if you can believe that! I encourage you to read this.”Aaron T Lott, software developer, author and email user
“Over the period of a 35-plus-year friendship, I have asked Gareth for many things. None of these have been as inappropriate, filthy, bizarre, erotic or frankly… Scottish as that which you will read here. I hope the writers of these do better than me. All I ever persuaded Gareth to give me was [redacted on legal advice].”Nick Morgan, priest, singer-songwriter and email user
“I Like To Write Back is a delightfully daft book that deftly highlights the utter absurdity of the kind of nonsense that constitutes almost a third of all email—spam. As well as introducing us to Gareth’s fictional neighbours and weaving surreal tales out of whatever the initial spam request was, the book contains the occasional reply which bafflingly suggests that at least some of these spam messages we receive have actual people on the other end. Wonders will never cease.”Steve Lawson, cyclist, bassist and email user