I’m quite partial to a proverb, not that I have the foggiest what many of them mean: I refer you to ‘a bird in the hand, is worth two in the bush', ‘what's good for the goose is good for the gander’ and, well, you catch my drift. One I do understand fully however is ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ although I’m not so sure that is the case.

We have no doubt all sat in work meetings, even ‘fishbowl exercises’ as we ‘brainstorm’ solutions to vocational problems. I've come up with good ideas that then, when ‘sharing’ our findings with the collective, are hijacked and claimed to be the idea of the person vocalising ‘her’ idea as she sits there, not a foot away from you, and takes the plaudits for ‘their’ great idea as if butter wouldn’t melt.

Having your thoughts stolen, or imitated, are unpleasant as is your identity being hijacked, as has happened to me a few times in recent years. The first time was at Christmas, around 2017 when, watching one of Channel 5’s marathon ‘back to the 1980s' compilations that seem to be their stock in trade, my wife shouted up the stairs "Dan said good move". Thinking she had gone mad I questioned her outburst. Her brother was playing online chess in Cornwall and was playing ‘me’, or should I say someone using my photo. To cut a long story short, a young man had downloaded my picture from online and happened to be playing my brother in law some 300 miles away. A cease and desist order was issued and he went on to use someone else’s identity and may still be doing so.

The same thing happened last year when, using some kind of reverse photo app on Google, a man was, acting ‘pervy’ online around women and it was reported to me. I then stumbled quite by chance on another a few months ago, culminating in a fourth ‘Brett-a-like’ last week when, in a town in the West country, another man under the name of ‘Tom’ was again using my profile picture as his own and was again acting in a perverted manner around the female contingent.

So, I sat wondering, why me? Now I’m fully aware I’m more average from Peckham than David of the Beckham so why, if purporting to be somebody else, would someone go to the bother of choosing a bespectacled, slightly overweight, hair-has-gone-out-with-the-tide, middle-aged bloke who was never the prettiest boy in the playground, and then the answer hit me square between the eyes.

A short while ago, my 12-year-old daughter was in fits of laughter in her room. I popped in to see what the joke was, and she said "it’s you!". Once she had calmed down 30 minutes later she explained her friend had some homework based around ‘middle aged men’ (quite what the homework was, I haven't a clue), anyhow she typed ‘middle aged man’ into Google and my picture came up on the top row of results. Not believing her, I went and did the same and lo and behold there I was. I then spoke to a Polish and German friend and the same was the case in the deepest confines of continental Europe. It has something to do with metatags or suchlike after I wrote a column some while ago called ‘middle-aged men in nightclubs’, so here’s the theory: A deviant, or four of them, wants to have a pseudonym and get his kicks online by typing suggestive and sordid messages (and bizarrely play chess with a Cornishman). He doesn't want to ‘overcook’ his alter ego so instead of Brad Pitt, he puts in the first picture that springs up when he types middle-aged man into the search engine.

As for me, I am getting a little tired with sending complaints to Facebook and threatening reporting the saddos under the Malicious Communications Act, but I fully expect to be blindsided sometime soon when I am recognised by an irate husband believing I am the wrong 'un who has been asking his wife personal questions.

I might play them at their own game and use Gregg Wallace as my profile picture. He’s bald, wears glasses and I reckon I could get away with it if I act like a hyperactive puppy as I spout off about factories and food.

Brett Ellis is a teacher