Mad Men: it's back!

Series five, episode one: Megan's dance, Don's soul and what on earth has happened to Harry Crane?

Never before has there been such hysterical excitement about the first episode of the fifth series of a long-running American television show. Televisions were self-immolating from anticipation. But this is Mad Men, and the rules are different, and they made us - the dribbling, adoring, devoted fans - wait for so unbelievably long after a plot twist at the end of the last series that saw Don Draper propose to his secretary. Those of us who care more than is healthy or right about this show have been stewing over this proposal for 18 months. I hope Matthew Wiener knows he is responsible for stomach ulcers across the land.

Anyway, here we are. It happened. And that strange first scene showing a bunch of unknown (to us) ad agency workers water-bombing a civil rights march made us panic - what have they done with the cast? The office? What have they done with Peggy? Luckily, this was not Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the beloved agency we left on the brink of collapse, but a rival. And we were soon back in Roger's inner sanctum, a parody-of-sixties-design (must be Jane's doing), watching him pretend to be useful. No one is hopeless as charmingly as Roger.

There, too, were Don and Megan (The Secretary) and, woah, there's Megan giving a sexy dance and singing a French song which sounds like elaborate baby talk at a surprise party for Don in their vast apartment which looks straight out of an overpriced Stoke Newington vintage furniture store. (Line of the episode goes to Lane Pryce describing Don watching his new, young wife cavort in front of the assorted lecherous guests: "I saw his soul leave his body".)

On the lechery point: what has happened to Harry Crane? I always liked Harry - the kind of character who eats in every scene and sweetly bolted from the boardroom in guilty tears after Don's Kodak Carousel presentation, so moved was he by the (ingeniously contrived) depiction of family life after he'd had it off with Pete Campbell's secretary. (Whatever happened to the humourless Hildy? I hope she returns as Duck's improbable mistress when he tries to drunkenly stage a hostile takeover of the company, before being lamped by Don, desperate to make up for that embarrassing empty swing in the last series. One thing Mad Men has taught us: anything is possible.) But now Harry is a horror - even more pervy and bigoted and dumb. He is also universally loathed. But this isn't the Harry we knew and loved. Moral of the story: LA does bad things to people.

And finally - our favourites - Peggy and Pete. I know, Pete isn't the popular choice but there is something so lovable about someone as socially awkward and keen on antique etiquette as Pete Campbell (also: I have been smitten since he and Trudy did That Dance at Roger and Jane's party). If that wasn't enough, the sight of Pete launching a comically furious campaign for a larger office - one, preferably, without a support pillar - is enough to melt the hardest heart. This is what ambition smells like. And Peggy? Still the soul of the piece, of course, plus Megan's boss (intriguing dynamic). When left holding Joan's baby for a brief moment, she looks - poignantly - as though she has been handed a goblin. Joan, meanwhile, is single-handedly carrying the "challenges of working motherhood" storyline - sound the Social Theme klaxon!

Still it was great, wasn't it? It felt like being reunited with dear friends you haven't seen for months. I wanted to note every change in clothing and expression and mood. Such is Weiner's militant attention to detail, you could feel the weight of history in a lampshade. But the best thing was that there were no tricks, no shock revelations - things had moved on exactly as you might have predicted they had moved on, and yet of course you hadn't predicted it quite right, because the glory of this show is that it is as entirely and beautifully unpredictable as an English spring.

Christina Hendricks: Joan in Mad Men. Credit: Getty Images

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Doing a Radiohead: how to disappear online

The band has performed an online Houdini in advance of its ninth album – but it’s harder than it looks. 

At the beginning of May, the band Radiohead’s web presence – well, its Twitter, Facebook, and website, at least – went offline.

Lead singer Thom Yorke has repeatedly criticised streaming, and the future of online music in general, and it's clear that his opinion fed into this month's decision to reject social media in favour of sending individual cards to the band's fans in the post. 

However, it’s also a clever publicity stunt in the run up to the rumoured release of the band's ninth album, since it plays into a growing paranoia around the lives we live online, and quite how permanent they are. In reality, though, Radiohead has done a pretty terrible job of disappearing from the internet. Its Facebook and Twitter accounts still exist, and widely available caching services actually mean you can still see Radiohead.com if you so wish. 

These are the steps you’d need to take to really disappear from the internet (and never be found).

Delete your acccounts

Radiohead may have deleted its posts on Facebook and Twitter, but its accounts – and, therefore user data – still exist on the sites. If this was a serious move away from an online presence, as opposed to a stunt, you’d want to delete your account entirely.

The site justdelete.me rates sites according to how easy they make it to delete your data. If you only hold accounts with “easy” rated sites, like Airbnb, Goodreads and Google, you’ll be able to delete your account through what justdelete.me calls a “simple process”. JustDelete.me also links you directly to the (sometimes difficult-to-find) account deletion pages.

Failing that, delete what you can

If, however, you’re a member of sites that don’t allow you to delete your account like Blogger, Couchsurfing or Wordpress, you may be stuck with your account for good. However, you should at least be able to delete posts and any biographical information on your profile.

If this bothers you, but you want to create an account with these sites, Justdelete.me also offers a “fake identity generator” which spits out fake names and other details to use in the signup process.

Go to Google

Search results are the hardest thing to erase, especially if they’re on sites which published your details without your permission. However, thanks to the European Commission “Right to be forgotten” ruling in 2014, you can now ask that certain search results be deleted using this online form.  

Ditch your smartphone

Smartphones tend to track your location and communicate with app and web servers constantly. For true privacy, you’d want to either disconnect your phone from all accounts (including iCloud or Google) or else get a basic phone which does not connect to the internet.

Give out your passwords

The artist Mark Farid decided in October 2015 to live without a digital footprint until April 2016, but was aghast when he realised quite how often our data is collected by our devices. As a result, he decided to live without bank accounts, use a phone without internet connectivity, and use an unregistered Oyster.

When I saw him speak at an event just before his off-grid experiment was due to begin, he announced that he would also be handing out the passwords to all his online accounts to the public. The kind of “bad data” which randomly hacked accounts would show would actually make him less traceable than a radio silence – a bit like how words written over other words mask them more than simply erasing them or scribbling on them would.

Accept that it probably won’t work

Even if you managed all this, the likelihood is that some of your daily activities would still leave a trace online. Most jobs require internet activity, if not an internet presence. Bank accounts are, let's face it, fairly necessary. And even Radiohead will, I’m willing to bet, reappear on the internet soon after their album arrives.

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.