I am a curious person. I like odd and unusual facts. I like to know about the unusual. When I am writing I need to check not just facts but personalities and all that takes me to many an odd internet site. Then, to follow the enquiry may require an email address and that alone can limit curiosity.

Give a company an email address and you know you will be swamped with emails from them or all their affiliates. It’s boring, tedious and fills your email box with rubbish, most of which you don’t now want. It makes finding the important as hard as that proverbial needle.

The marketing emails don’t just arrive for a few days but can continue for months, and forever you will be receiving invitations to move home, receive free gardening products (the most unlikely purchase for me), music streaming services, advice on PPI and eventually pornography and invitations from dating sites.

But worse, you have left a small but perceptible and traceable footprint on the world and one that could follow you forever. That is the danger we face by giving an online email address. But I have a solution.

This is my tip of the month to stop you being swamped with unwanted emails.

I have an alter ego. I won’t tell you his real name because to me it is as important as any of my passwords. My alter ego, call him Nicky has his own email address and account. In fact, his name is sufficiently androgynous that if he really wants to he can pass himself off as a woman (There was once a character who had to make a passing comment on her bra fitting. How else was I going to do the research?).

Nicky is not his real name but for someone who doesn’t exist at all using a pseudonym, is a difficult concept to follow, but I will stick with it.

He is registered with the BBC as a TV licence holder, so he can listen to the radio. There was a time, long before Sasha and thoughts of a writing career were still embryonic when Nicky joined an online dating site and there is still a trickle of replies into his email. That was for an unfinished plot.

I was talking to Annie over the weekend about online dating and she was complaining about profiles where men understate their age. I didn’t dare tell her about Nicky. Well, at least now that is out in the open but I can say Sasha met me with my real name and age.

I could blame Nicky and his life on the writer’s need to undertake research, but that would be a half-truth. I am endlessly curious and to access many websites you need to log in. That is where Nicky comes in useful. I can wander around the internet leaving a false and fictional trail. I email a company or embassy, ask for advice without the worry that my call has been logged.

I never use my alter ego for nefarious purposes. Neither, Nicky nor I troll or comment on websites. Maybe more so than me, Nicky is a benign character.

I note all this because this weekend I checked Nicky’s email.

There were bitcoins offers, exotic holidays, simple online pharmacy products, more music streaming, of course, the usual mix of special and rather explicit sexual offers, and an email from my now favourite internet dating domain name, Muslims2Marry. All easily and quickly deleted.

Checking Nicky’s account is like checking my own spam email, but it has a nostalgia. Sometimes I remembered why I had started a trail and sometimes I looked at the copy to see if I can pick up tips for my own book marketing, sometimes it takes me into a character and I wonder what their life would be like if this was their main email account.

But Nicky has his own spam folder. This should be the spam at the end of all spam accounts. I was ready for a global delete when something caught my eye.

It was an email from Bethea. I don’t know her other than through her emails. She is an online astrologer. For the moment we can put aside how she can operate a service that caters to the masses with the individual needs of me, or in this case, Nicky. It is interesting enough to copy in full.

I know it’s not easy to believe right now, Nicky, but you were born to be rich.

After a comprehensive examination of your chart, it’s become clear to me that something’s been hindering you from happiness and choosing the road to success.

Right now, you’re suffering from fear and self-doubt — you’re second-guessing your abilities and, in turn, blocking your own happiness. However, Nicky, together we can see you through this phase you’re going through and help you attain everything that was meant for you.

Right now, doubt is the main obstacle to your happiness. Don’t stand in your own way a moment longer.

I have an astounding opportunity to offer to you, and time’s running out for you to take advantage. Please, don’t hesitate a moment longer.

Your Devoted Psychic Friend,

Bethea

I know it is hugely generalised and panders to the doubts that all, but the narcissist and egocentric suffer. But at times it is wonderfully useful to have a friend or stranger tell us what we want to hear.

I was with Lucinda and the mighty Bertie this weekend. Part of Bertie’s learning is to literally applaud good behaviour. Clap, smile and tell him how wonderful he is and sure enough, he never forgets how to high-five or throw a ball.

So, when Bethea, an unknown friend tells me that I have near super-power abilities and my own problems are a little fear and self-doubt, I start to feel good. After all, that fear and self-doubt are only signs of my natural humility and so are not bad at all. I know I can overcome them.

As I headed into the weekend I felt good. The best of times were ahead of me. All was going to be great. My books would sell, Sasha and I were going to be together in love and happiness. Bethea had predicted it.

Then it hit me.

It wasn’t me. My alter ego was taking over. Bethea had promised Nicky a great life. He was going to be rich and marry Sasha while I sank into obscurity.

Anyone know how to change your name with a deed poll?

Yours, Nicky