Overnight, it appears that the abusive and threatening Twitter presence known as @tabloidtroll first went private, and then was deleted. Thus was closed a less than pleasant chapter in the realms of trolling, threatening behaviour, and stalking, to the general relief of those who would rather it had never been there in the first place. He is going to write a book – well, so long as I don’t have to read it, and all that.
Although @tabloidtroll was a singularly unpleasant individual – claims that the account had more than one author were not, as with much of its content, grounded in fact – there were lighter moments among the threats, smears, obsessive pursuits, unsolicited phone calls (I kid you not), trolling of contributors to the Leveson Inquiry, and the constant talk of arriving on the doorstep.
Take the hacking trial, for starters: almost exactly two years ago, @tabloidtroll proclaimed to the world, in the style of the woman from the Resistance in ‘Allo ‘Allo, “Saying this once: Hope Andy Coulson isn’t charged today – and if he is that whatever they lay on him doesn’t stick. Great journalist”. Thus was Coulson cursed: he is now doing a stretch in Belmarsh.
Likewise @tabloidtroll’s unequivocal support for Neville “Stylish Masturbator” Thurlbeck: “Neville Thurlbeck has told the BBC he is ‘most surprised and disappointed’ to have been charged with phone hacking ... and that he will ‘fight vigorously’ to clear his name ... these are just charges. Proving is something else”. Nev is, apparently, sharing a cell with Coulson.
For some light relief, there was the occasional discussion of what would happen when @tabloidtroll turned up on the doorstep of one of his critics (given his behaviour, there was always a good choice of these). He was “ever more convinced one-on-one is required here”. A friend offered to accompany him; clearly no man is of perfect courage. And someone else would film proceedings.
But for sheer unintended hilarity, there was the insight into investigative journalism: “So who is this blogging clown speaking of his admiration for Gaddafi?” he announced triumphantly. He had found someone called Tim Fenton. The problem was, it wasn’t me, and I was the intended target. @tabloidtroll had not understood that there are several people who style themselves thus.
This message did not at first get through. So a little later, we got “Happily for anyone in Crewe who has forgotten Gaddafi’s war crimes the Guardian archive has this”. But it still wasn’t me. Although he knew where I lived, which would be useful, were I to forget. And @tabloidtroll did everyone a great service: nobody needed to explain the worst tabloid hack mentality. He was it. And now he’s quit.
I’d like to have something positive to say about him. But sadly I don’t. At all.