When I’m browsing the Web, I usually do so with an alternative browser, boasting pop-up blockers, referer spoofers, and ad filters. (I also wear an all-body condom and a bullet-proof vest.) This is faster, but looks—to other, less obsessive, people—strange. There’s no visual spam. Where most people see animated games inviting them to “SQUISH THE SPIDER TO WIN A MAC” and find that every broadsheet article they read is bordered by an invitation to take a test drive in the new Passat, I see blank spaces, chequered with rectangular grey boxes. It’s like watching a commercial TV programme from a videotape and skipping over the commercials.

At the weekend, I was looking at the Vatican Website (don’t ask—there might be a post here later about what else I found there) and Iwas shocked to see the top half-inch banner of some of the main pages disappear into a grid of grey and white. Are things so bad for the One True Church that it has to offer vistors to its Holy Webserver a chance to “CLICK ON OUR LADY AND WIN AN IPOD”? Perhaps it’s a link to the Vatican eBay shop where you can buy “The Pope Is Dope” T-shirts? Sadly no. Loooking at the page on an unblocked Windows box it turns out that every page is headed by the slogan “Year of the Eucharist”. The promotion is nearly over now—it ends this October—but you’ve got to admit that twelve-month special offers are a bit tacky for the “original and best” purveyors of Christianity.

Anyway, sitting in front of an unfiltered browser it was inevitable that one of the newly revealed Web ads I’d see next would be one for an online dating site. These usually depict an off-duty supermodel type as likely to sign up for Match.com as (s)he is to live in a trailer. That used to be the way anyway. Now? Well, girls, can you tell me what this is about?

rough looking bloke wearing silly hat and sillier triangular goatee

Call me a heterosexual male unqualified to comment, but I’m guessing he isn’t setting any of my readers’ pants on fire, regardless of their sex or orientation. At least it’s possible to see from the photo why he’s “single, too”. If that’s what the competition’s like then maybe I should sign up.