Tim Walker: Rating those we meet online isn't creepy. We all do it

The idea of casually dating multiple partners simultaneously is peculiar to New York
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The web tends to entrap men who write unedifying things about women. Remember the fellow from Fulham who emailed a friend, advising him to "have a go" with his "hot" housemate, then inadvertently copied her into the conversation? That went viral and now so has an ungentlemanly spreadsheet made by a young New Yorker, to help him keep track of the girls he'd met via Match.com. The document contained David Merkur's comments on each of his dates and notes on the progress of each prospective relationship. When one expressed an interest in seeing it, he foolishly sent her a copy, which she forwarded to her friends.

Merkur has been described as "creepy", "weird", "obsessive" and probably much worse. British readers who've never seen Sex and the City may be especially scandalised, since the idea of casually dating multiple partners simultaneously is peculiar to New York.

The 28-year-old also happens to be an investment banker and, given that investment bankers are all dreadful people, it is suggested that the spreadsheet fits a pattern of unsavoury conduct.

Isn't this the sort of behaviour that online dating sites not only facilitate, but encourage? They're organised by criteria almost identical to those of Merkur's Excel document. And what is Facebook, if not the world's most popular spreadsheet? If the anecdotal evidence of marriages and relationships arising from online encounters is reliable, then it's a remarkably efficient method. Merkur, no doubt a SATC fan, simply pursued it to its logical conclusion.

* Malcolm Tucker – the foul-mouthed Number 10 spin doctor inspired by Alastair Campbell, created by Armando Iannucci and incarnated by Peter Capaldi – has altered the screen portrayal of politics forever. It is now entirely implausible for any scene in the corridors of power to be curse-free. I learned as much this week while watching Kristin Scott Thomas play the Prime Minister's press officer, Patricia Maxwell, in the film adaptation of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Her character owes much to Tucker, but where he would say a subordinate was "so dense that light bends around him" or "as useless as a marzipan dildo" (the cleanest I could find), Maxwell calls them "idiotic morons".

Deprived of swearing so as not to offend the film's target audience, she's about as effectual as "a sweaty octopus trying to unhook a bra", as Tucker might put it. A 2006 pilot for an American version of The Thick Of It, starring Oliver Platt as a Washington spinner, was made for a major network, ABC – and thus contained not a single cuss. It was boring and never broadcast. By contrast, Iannucci's new US sitcom about a flustered Vice-President, Veep, was produced by cable channel HBO, so it can swear as much as it likes. Thank f*** for that.

* Next month, Europe's tallest building is due to be completed on the south bank of the Thames. Renzo Piano's 310m Shard looms over a wider redevelopment, which the property group responsible has christened "London Bridge Quarter". Presumably this is meant to conjure romantic echoes of the traditional French, Jewish, Latin or other "quarters" found in cities across the world. But besides being a mouthful, "London Bridge Quarter" sounds like a nonsense. Neighbourhoods with character conferred by some displaced nationality or demographic group arise from historical accidents, not because somebody plonked a skyscraper there.

The same unconvincing trick is often played with "village". Thanks to a scheme allowing businesses to operate rent-free for a few months in Brixton's run-down Granville Arcade in 2009, market stalls metamorphosed into cupcake sellers and cafés and trendy south Londoners flooded in. Was the arcade's name-change, to "Brixton Village", legitimate? Only if you classify hipsters as a demographic group, like French émigrés. The Stratford Olympic "Village", built to house the world's top sportspeople for just under a month, shares few characteristics of a genuine village. And Bicester "Village" is not a village at all – it's a retail park on the A41.

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