Once you’ve gathered a sizeable mob, you’ll need to equip them with placards or banners. Placards – which are easily fashioned by ﬁxing a large piece of card to a stick – should contain snappy slogans which are easy to chant. Good slogans include: ‘die scum!’, ‘peedos out!’, ‘hang child killers!’ and ‘kiddie ﬁddler shitbag!’. Bad slogans include: ‘You’re the product of a complex series of social and psychological factors!’ and ‘I haven’t really thought this through!’
Jonathan Swift it most certainly wasn’t – but I hoped it might make a few people smile in recognition. Things started slowly – a hundred visits or so in the first hour, mainly from friends and their friends. By dinner time, it had had a thousand visits. By the next day, ten thousand.
And then things really started to get interesting. Several high-proﬁle sites linked to thinkofthechildren.co.uk, including the very inﬂuential B3ta.com.
Suddenly I had 100,000 visitors.
Half a million.
Half a million people reading my stupid jokes!
It even got linked on to the Daily Mail discussion forums, where readers responded with a mixture of outrage and disapproval. The Daily Mail! My parents would be so proud.
All of a sudden, thinkofthechildren.co.uk dropped off the Internet. One minute it was there. Next minute I clicked refresh and it was gone, in its place an error message: ‘Page not found’.
Irritated, I dialled the number of my web-hosting company, Host Europe. I assumed there had been some other kind of technical error. I tried to be friendly with the person who answered the phone. It doesn’t do to get upset about these things.
‘Hello there, I hope you can help me. My site seems to have gone down.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry, sir, can I take the address?’
‘Yep, it’s thinkofthechildren.co.uk. That’s T-H-I-N...’
But before I could ﬁnish – ‘Can you hold, please? I need to put you through to my manager.’
This didn’t sound good. This didn’t sound good at all.