Your vehicle is no longer taxed

A CROWD OF CROOKS is out to steal your money, but they vary considerably in skill. Today, I received the following email bearing the triangular logo of the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency). It was addressed to my email address not to me, the licence holder, by name. It reads as follows:

_________

𝗬our 𝘃ehicle is no 𝗹onger 𝘁axed.

Dear myemailaddress@hotmail.com,

𝐃VLA have been notified electronically about you latest 𝐩ayment for your 𝐯ehicle tax failed because there is not enough 𝐦oney on you debit card.

We sent you a 𝐃VLA bill, and we still haven’t received 𝐩ayment.

Acknowledge that it’s illegal to drive your 𝐯ehicle until you’ve taxed it.

𝗧ax 𝘆our 𝘃ehicle – 𝗦TART 𝗡OW >

Notice: Un-taxed vehicles risk a fine of up to £240. 𝗬our 𝘃ehicle is no 𝗹onger 𝘁axed.

 Yours sincerely

@GOV.UK

Vehicles Service Manager        

_________

Many of the letters in the email were in bold type. The words ‘START NOW’ is a hyperlink, which I did not click. Initially, I was concerned, but only for a few seconds. This obvious scam contains something in common with many other scam emails that try to worry the reader into believing that something momentous might happen if the instructions in the email are ignored. That common factor, which is well-illustrated above is bad use of the English language. For example, in this case:

“𝐃VLA have been notified electronically about you latest 𝐩ayment …”,

and

“Acknowledge that it’s illegal to drive your 𝐯ehicle until you’ve taxed it.”

Neither of these mistakes would have been made by the DVLA, nor would that organisation have signed itself as “@GOV.UK, Vehicles Service Manager”

Also, the DVLA would know my name and would address me by that, rather than by my email address. Just in case you missed the erroneous wording of the email, you might become suspicious of the sender’s email address: pashegm@hotmail.com, which does not look like the kind of email address that the official DVLA would use.

So, there is a great need to brush up on your use of the English language if you wish to succeed, you contemptible bunch of damnable scammers.

In brief, this scam email was hardly convincing, and the dishonest sender deserves to reap a poor reward, if any, for his or her pathetic attempt to rob me of cash or, worse, sensitive banking or similar details. So, please read all emails carefully before making an error that you might easily regret.

PS: my vehicle is taxed until June 2021. You can check the validity of your vehicle’s tax on https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax

Photographic memories

THERE IS PHOTOGRAPHY IN MY GENES. My great-grandfather, Senator Franz Ginsberg (1862-1936) left his native Prussia to migrate to South Africa in 1880. He arrived in King Williams Town where he and his future bother-in-law Jakob Rindl established a photography studio, one of the first in southern Africa.

HAL 6

I became keen on photography as soon as an uncle, a keen amateur photographer who was closely related to Jakob Rindl and also Franz Ginsberg, had presented me with a simple Kodak Brownie camera when I was about seven years old. It was exciting taking photographs, waiting for the film to be developed at chemist or photography shops, and then opening the packet to discover whether the prints bore any decent looking images. In those early days, there were plenty of dud shots, but also a few decent ones. I graduated from the Brownie to another Kodak model, which had two lens and a viewfinder on top of the device. It was probably a version of the Brownie Reflex camera. It pleased me because it had a few things that could be adjusted whilst taking a picture.

As I got older, maybe over twelve years old, I began buying photography magazines. I soon realised that to achieve interesting results in photography, using a 35mm film camera was essential. I leafed through the issues, reading the reviews of cameras that sounded wonderful but were way beyond my budget. I was so fascinated by these sophisticated devices that I used to draw pictures, fantasising what I would have liked to have owned.

Eventually, there was a review of a camera that almost suited my pocket money budget, and which was likely to satisfy my desire to own a more complicated camera. The camera, which was given an excellent review was made by the Halina company and cost around £12.The Halina models were manufactured in Hong Kong by the Hakin Company. I cannot recall exactly which model was reviewed but it looked similar to the Halina 35x. I do remember that it did not have a built-in exposure meter.

Twelve pounds was a lot of money for me to find in the mid-1960s. I did not expect my parents to donate this sum to me for something they considered unnecessary because they never showed any interest in taking photographs. However, they did offer me a solution: I could earn the money by helping them. The task I was given was to mow the lawn in our garden once a fortnight. Please note that we only possessed a non-motorised human-powered mower. So, the £1 that I received for each quite arduous mowing was not easy money.

Eventually, I amassed the required sum to buy my Halina camera and it leather-like case. Then, I was faced with the problem of determining the appropriate shutter speed and diaphragm settings for my shots. My uncle, the one who had started off my interest in photography, gave me a circular plastic exposure calculator. By twisting the dial to three settings (weather condition, subject matter, film speed), the device produced a recommended combination of exposure time and diaphragm setting (‘f number’). At first, this was quite difficult to use. After a little practice, I became very adept. For example, I could use the calculator to work out the correct exposure settings when taking pictures of landscape from a moving car or bus, and the results were often more than acceptable.

A little more money saving allowed me to have sufficient to buy a highly recommended low-cost electronic exposure meter made by the Boots Company (the famous British pharmaceutical retailer). The meter was far easier to use, and much quicker than, the plastic calculator.

I used the Halina happily for several years until 1967. That year, my parents paid a visit to Japan, where they were hosted by various Japanese people and organizations. Moments before they were about to board the jet that would fly them back to London, their hosts handed them several generous gifts. One of these was a top of the range Canon Rangefinder camera. As mentioned already my parents had no interest in using cameras.

When my parents landed in London, they declared their gifts to a customs officer. Handing the camera to him, my mother said:

“We don’t want this. Take it so that we need not pay duty.”

The officer looked at the fine camera and said:

“The duty is only £3. Anyway, I can’t take it.”

As my parents paid the duty, the officer leant over and whispered to them:

“You’ll get at least £300 for this if you sell it to someone on Oxford Street.”

Fortunately, they did not follow the officer’s advice. Instead, they gave me the superb camera, which I used for many years until I decided to buy a Pentax single lens reflex (‘SLR’) camera. Its excellent lens and accurate built in exposure meter never let me down.

The Pentax was a disaster. I bought it to use during my first visit to what was then Czechoslovakia. A critical part of it broke two or three days into the trip. No one in Prague could fix the thing. So, I purchased another SLR camera. It was an Exacta, which had been made in Eastern Germany shortly before the Berlin Wall was demolished. The Exacta was heavy but solidly built; it was probably indestructible and produced lovely photographs.

That was all long ago. My interest in photography has continued, but it has been several years since I abandoned film cameras for digital devices, both ‘phones and actual cameras. The advent of digital photography and the editing software that can be employed to modify the images captured have eliminated the need for film developing and darkrooms. Modern digital software allows anyone to be able to do what was only possible in darkrooms and much more.