One by-product of the horrendous murder of Davina and Jasmine Baker, the sisters found stabbed in their beds in Stretham, is the meeting of mainstream media and Bebo, the social networking site for young teens.
Jasmine, who lived with her mother, used the site to tell Davina, who lived with her father, that all was not well at home: “Momz like why do i alwayz have to take you jasmine – why cant yur dad take you and all this bllaa bllaa bllaa.”
Their mother is, as I write, being questioned by police on suspicion of murder, so Jasmine’s words were printed in any national newspaper worth mentioning. The corrupted spelling and total absence of syntax is typical of 13-year-old girls, but it still looks strange in print.
But the part I find really striking are the messages left by well-wishers. Dannii, for instance, writes: “R..I..P..Babee. Love Yhoo .x.x. Now n alwaiiss nevaa forget thatt. Missin Yhoo Both soo muchh.”
The profoundly odd thing about Dannii’s commemorative words is that they aren’t misspelt because she is illiterate, or because they are shorthand, or even because they are phonetic. “Yhoo”, “thatt” and “muchh” aren’t improvements on the correct spellings of the words, they’re just wilfully different – as if to show that she isn’t using the language of The Man (although she is, just badly).
It makes me wonder whether she tried and failed to find misspellings of “love”, “now” and “both”, or just couldn’t be bothered.