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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

256. BLACK FRIDAY & THE CURSE OF THE CHRISTMAS SCENTED CANDLE

I CAN SAVE YOU.

Yes. Nothing says I bought this because - you bought me something last year / we’re distantly related / we once worked together / I don’t really know you well enough to buy something you’d actually like / I had to buy something and I know there is nothing you need/want/haven’t already got that I’d be willing to spend my hard earned money on and my credit card is glowing red so I thought of flames while I was shopping and THEY ARE IN EVERY STORE in the section marked ‘DESPERATION’ and it has a Christmas logo on it and it was either this or gloves because it's REALLY important that I buy you some shit – so here’s a Christmas scented candle…

As Brits across the nation quake with dread at the approach of the debilitating, highly contagious and often deadly US disease BF I have good news for you. Not the bible sort of Good News obviously.

Yes – the highs streets (or cyber-highways) will be dark indeed with the swarms of desperate humans burning more credit onto their nearly-dead this-isn’t-real-money cards. Even the gaping holes, where large stores such as BHS used to operate before the owner asset-stripped them and their pension schemes to fund another couple of yachts, will probably be tinselled-up like seasonal prostitutes.

Yes. The ridiculously large, often vanilla scented CHRISTMAS CANDLE.

It will probably be in a glass jar with a ye olde label and some silver lettering. It may have more than one wick! It will be so big that lighting it will pose a fire hazard for houses in a 200m radius and the chemical fumes will dissolve the lining of your lungs and keep wildlife away from your home for the next decade. But SOMEONE out there is probably going to get you one and they are probably going to do it this Friday. Or – in your desperation to get SOMETHING for SOMEONE on your list you may be tempted. Black Friday. The Friday that may henceforth forever be Vanilla Scented Catastrophe Friday.

So just tell them you’d like a book instead. Or you get them a book.

Yes books too are a bit flammable but generally speaking you don’t deliberately set fire to them and they aren’t full of horrible chemicals that will give you a migraine and they don’t reek of Black Friday desperation and debt.
And yes – this is a pitch. If you don’t buy my books how will I be able to afford to buy scented candles?

Adult novels
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A verse picture book for little readers
Books for real girls who want to read about real GIRL heroes.

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IF you're lucky enough to have an eco-warrior in your crew try this


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Dystopian Sci fi?

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There is even a (sort-of) Autobiography
Check out 'Maybe I'm not a Pigeon'

ALL available here – 


NB All new 2017 editions are significantly cheaper than the old editions. YOU COULD BUY BOTH ADULT NOVELS AND THE ENTIRE ADVENTURE TRILOGY FOR LESS THAN ONE M&S CHRISTMAS CANDLE… though the candle in question does feature x3 wicks!!!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

255. BREXIT makes sense - with my brand new parlour game...

My brand new parlour game is called OPPOSITES - STUPID and it will save your sanity. If only I’d thought of this before. How easy. How obvious.

I have bemoaned a sense of living in a parallel universe before on this blog. You look around you and your eyes, ears and common sense tell you one thing but the government and elements of the pop press tell you the opposite. It’s like standing in your living room looking out of the window at an ice storm while a firm, jolly, slightly condescending but insistent voice right behind you is booming out that THE SUN IS SHINING AND IT’s A BEAUTIFUL DAY. The voice is so unrelenting that you begin to doubt yourself.

The oft repeated and up-beat statement, there are more people in work than ever before, should no longer fry your brain. You no longer need to feel dizzy as you contemplate the number of adults you know who can’t get a proper job or are on a dead-end zero hours contract or are working at many many levels below their ability because even though they have £60k of student debt having obtained (for example) a good science degree, they can only find work as a part time pool attendant (like the son of a friend of mine). You no longer even need to consider the millions in employment who, nevertheless, rely on benefits to live.

Don’t worry if, contrary to the government declaiming that the economy is in good shape, you are now paying £1.40 for an item in the supermarket that 14 months ago cost you 98p.

The Brexit vote was the result of the democratic will of the people is a mesmeric mantra for both The Government and The Opposition (I don’t think I need bother putting in the ‘so-called’ prefix there). So, if you squirm every time you hear that phrase because you can see with your human eyes and your developed Homo-sapiens brain that Brexit was the result of xenophobia, stupidity, blatant racism, lies, an opposition vacuum and a lot of people not paying attention – worry no more. Just play OPPOSITES - STUPID.

It works with government. 

Heading up our 3-day-old road kill of an administration is the self-proclaimed Strong and Stable leader Theresa May. She is the weakest wobbliest most ineffectual premier besides whom a bowl of blancmange would look prim-ministerial. But in our new O-S game even she is a logical manifestation.

Boris Johnson is a racist buffoon whose mouth is the gateway to such a bottomless pit of stupidity and vile, privileged rot one can only imagine that what lies within bears some resemblance to the swamp that gave us The Creature from the Black Lagoon. But when you are playing OPPOSITES- STUPID it entirely makes sense to have a tactless, idiotic clown representing us around the globe.

Michael Gove is currently Environment Secretary but was formerly Brexit flag-waver and would-be leader. He is the guy who sneered at the over-reliance on ‘experts’. Well, Britain is most assuredly cured of anything that looks like expertise now. 

Last weekend Gove happily and moronically joined Boris Johnson in their favourite game of foot-in-mouth thus causing dangerous diplomatic difficulties for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British citizen whose life hangs in the balance in an Iranian jail.

Our new Defence Secretary knows nothing about the military and nothing about ministerial representation in The House. But (see last week’s post) it’s ok now to learn on the job even if that job is head of the nation’s defence. Yes, with O-S it starts to seem less and less odd that these incompetent morons who you would not normally leave in charge of the cat are running (ruining!) our lives.

Our Brexit Secretary David Davis (and let’s face it if you come from a family that can’t even come up with more than one name for their offspring – what hope is there) is a gurning mediocrity. And when playing OPOSITES - STUPID it makes sense that a gurning mediocrity with an apparently limited vocabulary is in charge of the most important negotiation Britain has seen since Chamberlain arrived back from visiting Hitler claiming “peace in our time”

Liam Fox – darling of the right – was embroiled in a money+favours-for-a-chum-while-abroad scandal. So, why shouldn’t he be Secretary of State for International Trade? Why should we be incredulous when he says that a trade deal with the EU should be “the easiest in history”

Then set against this three-wheel supermarket trolley of incompetents we have the so-called opposition in the form of (oh God) Jeremy Corbyn. 

Yes – Corbyn - the man who failed to unequivocally campaign for Remain – or anything else comprehensible for that matter - because he didn’t really know if he was for or against the EU. He had a vague idea from his (seemingly never ending) student politics days that he thought the EU was a capitalist conspiracy damaging the good old British workers’ jobs. Now he just stands up and goes neh neh nene neh to anything the government says and he’s in a bind because – for example – as anyone with three brain cells could have told him – the NHS – Labour’s touchstone when all else fails to rally the troops – is totally fucked without EU workers. He is, as Opposition Leader what King Canute was to the rising tide. But yes – when playing OPPOSITES - STUPID even Jeremy Corbyn makes sense.

Thank goodness that’s sorted…
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Re: the latest tax dodging revelations of the rich, famous and morally grubby The Herald published another short letter of mine on that subject
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And remember – if you are already looking for stocking fillers that aren’t vanilla scented candles or ‘novelty’ jumpers/socks/ties or even more things that need plugging in or things they’ll never wear or shouldn’t eat or don’t have room for – do check out my adult novels, kids adventure trilogy, sci-fi novella, environmental poetry story, picture book or even my sort-of-autobiography in new/cheaper 2016/17 editions

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

254. Sex sleaze at Westminster + Gavin Williamson + Brexit = proof that Britain is now in the dementia wing of the la la land hospital for incontinent, delusional ex-empires.


Grubby scandals, overreach, ineffectual leadership, unnecessary wars, poor judgement, economic Armageddon, the rise and rise of mediocrity. Not necessarily in that order. It’s all there as it was with the Greek, Roman, Ottoman etc empires. 

We had the overreach internationally with the illegal invasion of Iraq - the direct consequences are far from played out. We had the financial overreach, the consequences peaking in the financial crash of 2008 – far from played out. As a preliminary to the current governmental grimy sexual scandal we had the MPs expenses scandal. Then on June 23rd 2016 the UK leaned heavily on the big red self-destruct button and now it’s stuck in the ON position.

Yes, with Brexit full steam ahead to the cliff edge we have Westminster embroiled in a seedy who-touched-whom soap opera. MPs are fiddling – in a different way this time - while Rome (excuse the very accurate pun) burns.

Neither have we missed out on the rise of the ambitious but limp. Gavin Williamson appears to have made himself head of Britain’s Defence with a mixture of crawling toadyism, chameleon abilities to switch from one administration to another and having, as chief Tory whip, access to the list of his MP’s sexual misconduct and therefore prior knowledge of who would be resigning any time soon. To make up for whatever he is lacking, it is reported that he keeps a pet tarantula on his desk – called Kronos for heaven’s sake. Because what we really need is to be reminded that we are going down the same sink hole as another once admired and powerful civilistaion.

This was the letter published in the press (you know what a mania I have for letters to editors – see blog 244)
Dear Editor,
Goofy Gavin Williamson is exactly what UK politics needs right now. Another inexperienced but crawlingly ambitions, intellectually mediocre white bloke who knows how to suck up to whichever non-entity is in power while having no comprehension of his own limitations and careless of his aptitude for the job.
It’s not the tarantula on the new Defence Secretary’s desk MPs need to worry about (there, I presume, for the same reason runty men buy dangerous dogs)- it’s the blank behind the eyes…

This is how empires end. Not from external pressure but from the rot within.

OK – no one is arguing that Britain is an empire now or since WWII but we certainly remained at the top table, the first class carriage, the 5 star hotel – long after ‘letting the servants go’ long after the shine  had worn off, long after the bank vaults were emptied and the tatty jewellery sold off. But now we have entered that era of self-destruct which is where all the energy seems to be going. In this we are not original. Look at every empire from the Ottoman Empire to Charlemagne to the good ol’ Romans we loved to read about at school with their straight roads, togas and Russel Crowe.

I listen with increasing incredulity (and you know my incredulity levels are already at bursting point) to the binary chit chat on the radio about trade opportunities post-Brexit. Even the Remainers are struggling to find something positive to say while the Brexiters continue happily in their parallel universe where shutting yourself out of the £240billion of exports to the EU will be replaced by selling Haggis to Canada and whisky to China.

 Self-destruction, unnecessary conflict, corrosive corruption, endemic incompetence, obsessive focus on self and almost unstoppable sexual scandal and predatory sexual behaviour, financial over-extension, falling standards, failing institutions, moral and social decay, failure of leadership, excessive military spending coupled with lack of investment, a wealthy elite exploiting cheap labour hampering general development and prosperity, internal bickering. Need I go on?

Once the mediocre and self-serving have risen all the way to the top a single sound rises above the cacophony and you can hear the fat lady singing.

All empires end this way…

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How about a free book for light relief?
The one that got away in the last giveaway is finally clear of techno-gremlins so click on the link to my author page below and grab yourself a free kindle copy of Eating the Vinyl (from this Thursday 9th Nov to Monday 13th)
If you don’t want light relief then buy Zero One Zero Two – same link
Or choose from the smorgasbord of paperback books for Christmas presents

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

253. Souls for sale?


State capture is the 21st century equivalent of 19th century exploitation of natural national resources for private gain. Art – however – remains the preferred acquisition for money grubbing moguls, wealth plundering dictators and nation-exploiting oligarchs who’d like to pretend they have a soul.

Trump is proof that attendance at an Ivy league college doesn’t make you intelligent. Our own racist foreign secretary Boris Johnson is proof that being able to speak pop latin doesn’t make you cultured. Equally, it is true that purchasing the most expensive art on the market will not buy you a soul.

There's a tired and oft repeated scene in tedious copycat Hollywood disaster movies. It shows a 'priceless’ piece of art being loaded into a crate or onto a helicopter to be hidden away in a bunker during the plague /alien / environmental / asteroid / zombie apocalypse. What this is supposed to tell us other than a few people got their priorities wrong is unclear. Why would cockroaches that give a damn about The Mona Lisa after we've wiped ourselves out (see last week's happy post).

Many social commentators believe we are entering a new ‘Gilded Age’. This term was coined by Mark Twain in 1873 and described the gap (especially in the US) between obscenely wealthy families and – well – everyone else - the glimmer of gold on the surface and the corruption and degradation beneath.

Just like the Rokerfellers and Vanderbilts, the new wave of grabbers of nations’ wealth are outstripping the term itself by quite a distance. Being a billionaire is no longer a rarity. However, being dirt poor or the victim of unsanitary conditions, human traffiking or disastrous environmental damage or pollution is no further from being a thing of the past than it was in the 1800s and early1900s.

Just like then – modern day billionaires love nothing better than to buy expensive art. Maybe they are trying to purchase the souls or creativity or humanity they know they lack. Then some build large expensive private galleries and museums to show the work of artists who probably never made a decent living from their inspiration and creativity while alive.

Many do not do the display thing. They simply buy and hoard to show that they can. It's not second rate stuff. Private collections contain works by truly great and globally famous artists. Check out The Art Wolf  http://www.theartwolf.com/articles/most-valuable-private-art.htm  Works of art by geniuses such as Caravaggio and Holbein the Younger, Titian and even Leonardo da Vinci – are denigrated to a collector’s hobby – like collecting bottle caps.

Another great trick of faux philanthropy is when those riddled with wealth ‘loan’ their collections to galleries and museums. In case you hadn’t noticed this is standard euphemism for – I don’t really want to share my expensive stuff but neither do I want to pay the insurance.


And all they prove is that you can accrue eye watering wealth and still lack understanding. You can be so rich you don’t know how rich you are and yet lack basic humanity and insight. If these (predominantly) men think they are displaying their excellent good taste or refinement, indulging rarefied exhibitionism bought with money obtained from murky sources, while children starve and the world goes to hell in a hand cart, they are no better than the blocks of granite and concrete used to construct their art mausoleums.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

252 A real horror story for this Halloween…


An actual horror story is reaching its zenith around us right now. It is a fearful, shocking, blood-curdling saga of environmental cataclysm, species collapse and millions of agonizing human deaths from pollution. The nightmare scenario which should give us all sleepless nights this Halloween makes The Walking Dead look like a fairy tale.

Unfortunately with the entirely unnecessary chaos of Brexit this side of the Atlantic and the fatal distraction of Trump on the other, two previously leading nations that should be playing for team planet right now are not.

An author question popped into my in-box on Goodreads the other day. ‘Can you tell us a horror story in two lines?’ Micro horror has been fashionable for a while and I am impressed to see that there is a plethora of well written and inventive writing boiled down to this even more minute scale.

However, when I tried to think of something genuinely frightening – what came to mind was the German scientists’ report last week of a 75% decrease in the winged insect population over the last two and  half decades. Apparently they were initially alerted by motorists reporting the lack of dead insects on car windscreens (yuk). 

If you were a driver before the turn of the 21st century, you will recall disgusting splattered windscreens when driving in the summer.  Often, at the height of the summer, wipers would become useless as the windscreen became a mess of insect gore. This spawned jokes such as -
Q  - “what is the last thing that goes through a fly’s mind as he hits your windscreen?”
A – “his arse”.

Who has not noticed the absence of butterflies and bees in their gardens or open spaces over the last decade?  But apparently common sense and observation is not enough. I remember the old tobacco industry arguments - there is no PROOF that cigarettes cause lung cancer! No – just families with prematurely dead relatives.

Last week I bemoaned the nonsense of hugely expensive inquiries – which often achieve nothing and tell us a fraction of what was evident in this or that disaster. Might we hope that abundant scientific evidence of our rush to self-annihilation will work differently? I hope so. If we cannot look around us and just accept that the diesel fumes we can smell and taste day long are killing us – then let’s at least believe the scientists who inform us that diesel fumes are killing 1000 people a year in the UK. If we cannot look around and shiver at the absence of those species, without which the food chain we rely on will collapse and which we took for granted so few years ago, let’s at least believe the scientists and statisticians. But however we come to the increasingly obvious conclusions let’s for God’s sake and the survival of humanity DO SOMETHING NOW.

We know the ice-caps are melting and weather weirding has been caused by rising sea temperatures. WE KNOW. Further acidification of our oceans harming popular fish such as cod was also announced last week. Globally, scientists estimate pollution kills 9 million humans a year. In some areas pollution deaths outstrip road accidents, smoking related deaths and AIDs.

The ‘two sentences’ I contributed to Goodreads’ call for miniature Halloween  horror were, in fact, extracted from part II of my recently published epic environmental poetry story Casey &the Surfmen
Burning wind scorched the earth which was barren and grey,
no sun arose, no new day,
no moon of silver and shimmering white
consecrated the velvet night.

No sound but the scream of the mutilated earth
and the howl of The One who was there at its birth,
no noise but the weeping of babes in the womb,
no laughing but the chuckles from the tomb.

If you like your pending apocalypse in the form of a dystopian sci-fi novella – try Zero One Zero Two. Judging by recent reports, my only mistake with this last piece was setting it too far in the future.


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

251. Politicians have unemployed themselves…


…so let’s all have a massive refund.

Yes – I had another of my blinding revelations – huge cosmic insights and general headache-inducing flashes of brilliance (or maybe it was something I ate?)
I was mulling over the rash of un-elected ‘government’ organisations, drain blocking number of public inquiries and the wholesale outsourcing of government services and it hit me like a big, wet, rotten fish.

We no longer need politicians. Government itself is outsourced. From contractors doing cheap jobs on road maintenance to companies found to be abusing vulnerable and elderly people in care homes – outsourcing is a known disaster but continues to grow exponentially. The only possible benefit to the public is a massive tax rebate – funded by eliminating clearly irrelevant ‘government’.

In the face of the horror of Grenfell tower – for example - there was the initial deluge of information about what had not been done – which local politicians had never in fact visited a high-rise – the crazy catalogue of safety issues that had been blatantly ignored for years and so on. Instead of an honest indictment of the whole bloody shower of local and national politicians who allowed or helped create the environment for this to happen, including ex-chancellor George Osborne – see my letter to the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/17/local-community-should-set-up-their-own-grenfell-fire-inquiry  we got another inquiry at huge public expense. An inquiry – to find out what happened which has become the standard euphemism for kick the ball down the road to a time politicians hope public anger and shock will have subsided. Because – for some reason – even though its bloody obvious – it’s better not to reach conclusions and set about putting things right – it is, politicians decided, much better to get a posh establishment figure – who (see blog 240) may not be the most appropriate person for the job – to spend months and millions of public money (that could have been spent on public services) so that he can tell the public a fraction of what we already knew. And do inquiries into disasters result in serious reformative action?  Iraq inquiry anyone?

Companies such as G4S and SERCO are awarded huge and long-term government contracts despite acknowledged crap service, dangerous practice and poor value. They are the problem.

In June 2012 UNISON published a report showing that bringing services back into local government control could improve quality and lower cost. It is hard not to conclude that the only remaining reasons for outsourcing is to slough off responsibility and have a third party to blame when things go wrong while also channelling tidal waves of public money into private hands.

Way back when I was a city councillor in Newcastle – councillors did not get paid. An allowance of sorts could be applied for – though for people like me – with children – when there was little or no childcare provision – even claiming for the odd allowance left me out of pocket. Unlike many, I would not just turn up to the first 5 mins of a meeting so that I could collect multiple allowances as was common. I did get sent to Coventry by the then leader Jeremy Beecham for publically complaining about the abuse of the allowance system and the ludicrous expenditure of some senior or favoured councillors. However – now councillors do get paid; in part – I suspect – the stop that kind of abuse. Aint it odd that for people in power – when they do wrong they get more. It works the other way round for everyone else. But now –huge swathes of public goods and services are out to tender with private firms. Many not based in the UK – so much for the Brexiteers re-claiming our borders...

In 2013-14 (47th report) the Public Accounts Committee stated –
More and more public services are being contracted out to private and voluntary providers. Government spends £187 billion (estimated at 242 billion by January 2017) on goods and services with third parties each year, around half of which is estimated to be on contracting out services. Government retains responsibility for ensuring value for money and we, on behalf of the taxpayer, need to be able to follow the taxpayers’ pound, wherever it is spent.

This conjures up an image of some grey civil servant wandering the corridors of power aimlessly whistling and shouting ‘here poundy poundy – where are you?’ Is this what government is in 21st century Britain?  Do we simply let public money leak into private hands with diminishing returns, less accountability and less value for the taxpayer while employing people to tell us which sewer our money has been flushed down? Meanwhile we are paying politicians and civil servants to GOVERN, to MANAGE. When did it happen that we were paying them simply to pass the buck and tell us where it went?

Obviously we’d keep a couple of spare politicians for the obligatory photo opportunity. Last week – for example – dead woman walking Theresa May and creepy polished git Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt turned up unannounced (to staff at any rate – I wonder why) at the trust where my middle daughter is an overworked doctor in an understaffed hospital. They were there for a self-congratulatory photo shoot in an NHS building – proving that there is no level of incompetence, shame, irony, no self-questioning, no humility, no depths to which some politicians will not sink for self-aggrandisement. Hunt can get his, I’m-alright-Jack self, photographed in an increasingly privatised public service institution that probably hates his guts more than I hate dog shit on my shoe. So ok – we’ll keep a couple of politicians in an old cardboard box in a musty cupboard somewhere for occasions like that. But otherwise – as I’ve said – why keep them?


Maybe our young people could use their refunds to pay off their life-crushing student debts?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

250. “The Earth is Pissed Off” Neil De Grasse Tyson - sept 2017


This is what acclaimed US astrophysicist and author Neil De Grasse Tyson said on MSNBC in response to questions about the record breaking weather events around the globe and the global environmental crisis we are happily ignoring. Obviously we’d be better off listening to shaved potato Scott Pruitt or a piece of floating lint – such is our current disregard for the expert, the intelligent, the experienced, highly educated commentator.

Instead we elect moronic celebrities and elevate charlatans and self-serving sociopaths to the highest offices. Certainly that is the case in the US and the UK (see last week’s post). Our own head of environmental matters – gargoyle Gove sneered and denigrated ‘experts’ during the EU referendum as if one way to rid the world of its problems would be to round up all the clever, articulate, concerned men and women who know their subject, and get rid of the lot. Oh – yeah – I forgot – they actually did do that with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Silly me.

It is difficult for some of us to comprehend that the ecological destruction and planetary damage which could wipe out humanity is not the top of every agenda. You cannot escape the obvious however, that people in general are behaving like we have already colonised other worlds and are just sorting out the travel arrangements – like students about to move to new digs who cannot be bothered to flush the loo, clean their beer off the carpet, wash up or remove the strange blueish orange fur from the back of the fridge. When are people going to stop confusing tame Hollywood pop-corn accompaniments with reality?

There was a small success for common sense here last week when the Scottish Parliament finally decided to ban Fracking. In the ‘home of the brave’ – a country that will have far more impact on the environment than the wee ‘home of Braveheart’ the ex-governor of Oklahoma, a climate change denier and mad keen fracker Scott Pruitt was put in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency. This is a man soaked in oil money as deeply as Macbeth was seeped in blood (see blog 220 Trump v Mexico and why the US is literally breaking). He is – right now – in the process of cancelling President Obama’s clean air act. Because – who needs clean air?

Whether on a global, national or local level the behaviour of humans to their immediate or wider environment is tantamount to setting fire to the bed you are lying in. In my own locale the tree-phobic morons and concrete cretins are out in force – chopping down mature trees or paving over previously grassed areas (see blog 236 Does Edinburgh need a tree museum) Last Saturday morning played out to the drone of a large buzz saw as more gaps appeared in the decades-old arboreal curtain that screens the gardens that back on to each other in my area. Yes – in Scotland folk cut mature trees from their gardens to ‘improve’ their surroundings and let in the light. That would be the light that shines between 12 noon and 3pm the third Wednesday in June…

It is time – as I’ve said before – to speak to these people on their own terms. Don’t talk about destroying the planet – or their children’s environment – they clearly don’t care. Talk to them about – for example – the value of their homes. Stupid people value money above all other things (Donald Trump) The daftest, TV addled idiot could understand that – in the not too distant future – even on the basis of scarcity – being able to sell a house with a ‘mature tree’ in the garden – a real live one – will be an added value – a rarity – a bloody sensation.

At the risk of boring my lovely readers I’ll repeat and repeat – can we start pointing out to those who don’t give a shit because they don’t think it will affect them – the planet will be here long after we’re gone (see my dystopian novella Zero One Zero Two). We are not destroying it for good simply long enough to make it uninhabitable for humans. For us. Once we’re gone it will recover. Thing is – the day of reckoning is getting exponentially closer.

As Neil De Grasse Tyson also said, “Nature is giving us a shot across the bows”. We need to take notice.

The recent decision of the Scottish Parliament is heartening. On a personal level because I performed part of my environmental epic story poem Casey & the Surfmen in the Scottish Parliament for environment week earlier this year but also because it seems someone is listening. Someone is taking note, and someone is taking action in a world where the lunatics have overrun the asylum. It is a tiny action and it will not help tackle the plasticisation of our oceans, the warming that is ensuring record breaking hurricanes, the air pollution which is damaging our children’s physical and mental development right now - today. It will not stop the catastrophic and cumulative species extinctions, it will not re-grow the forests we need to breathe, but it is a step and it is a good one.

Let’s take many, many more steps and strides, quicker and faster and bigger and better, before it’s too late.

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Both Casey & the Surfmen and Zero One, Zero Two can be found on my author page
https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Baker/e/B0181KEN9E

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

249. Boris Johnson personifies laughing-stock Britain.


Some things are complicated and some things are not. If you want to understand why the UK has become a nation to sneer at on the world stage – look no further than Boris Johnson.

On this blog I aim to criticise/satirise policy, not the person. However, with Boris Johnson there is little division between who he is, what he is, the damage he does and the wrongness he epitomises. Therefore, it’s fair to say that he is a disgusting, disastrous man who should not be trusted to sweep the streets never mind make the policies by which those who live on the streets of Britain live.

As a racist, our Foreign Secretary has form – insulting President Barack Obama – using terms such as pickaninni –and so on and so forth. He has publicly indulged his own racist ditties and more recently he had to be silenced when he inappropriately began reciting colonial poetry in troubled Myanmar.

Ministerial code 7.12 apparently prevents minsters from inappropriately using government resources. The code did not stop Johnson hosting a right-leaning think tank meeting in the Foreign Office.

Johnson recently re-stated the acknowledged falsehood about £350 million of monies going weekly to the EU. And while being lambasted for misusing statistics (what we in the real world call lying) this odious bladder sack of amoral offal still fills one of the highest offices in the land.

But it didn’t start there. As Britain’s reputation drops further, smeared in Johnson’s most recent political defecations, the stench of some of his nonsense while Mayor of London still reeks. An estimated £40 million of public funds was wasted on his vanity project, the unnecessary and ridiculous and never-likely-to-happen garden bridge.

Elitism, privilege and misuse of state wealth that would make a Russian Oligarch blush has not dislodged Johnson, protected as he is by his wealth and privilege and Eton pals. As his racism, buffoonery, moral failings, repeated foot-in-mouth, insults to those less privileged than himself has not shifted him, clearly his enablers and supporters must share the guilt. It is a litany of personality defects so odious that if the UK had not spiralled off into political la la land, this man would be persona non grata anywhere but the gutter.

At the end of last week it was reported that Johnson was belly aching about his ministerial salary. Clearly this is not his only income but he seemed to think the tax payer had a duty to help support his offspring. His legitimate brood and the one he had as a result of an affair that he tried to keep secret with an injunction.

It is hard to know whether he is more or less revolting than the other prospective leader of the Conservative party – Jacob Rees-Mogg who, having celebrated the growth of food banks and stated his belief that abortion is wrong in all cases even rape, admitted that he benefits financially from a drug used to induce abortions.

And as his privately educated pals and handlers and excusers crawl out yet again to say that – oh – it’s just Boris and he is a ‘bit of character’ – he likes to inject some “fizz” you have to wonder if they think they are still in the common room at Eton (where the students get given exam papers ahead of exams!!).

Many a time I’ve written on this blog about the carcinogenic British disease of elitism. In no human being is that clearer than the pig-man in the blonde mop with the persona of a spoilt, socially/morally/physically ugly delinquent 3-year old, Boris Johnson.

He is a flag waving monstrosity, a ‘jolly’ jingoist who, while he haw haws his way round the globe does more than anyone to drag this country’s reputation down the sewer. Following one recent planetary outing there seemed to be a consensus among the sentient and sensible that he was a ‘clown’ a ‘buffoon’ How come others can see so clearly what the media and the establishment at home refuse to see. And – it has to be said, bearing in mind he was London Mayor (at the time he insulted Barack Obama in fact) Londoners. Londoners who famously think of themselves as a cut above the rest of the country voted this blob into one of the most important posts in Britain so that we could all enjoy the site of this offal in a suit suspended from a high wire waving a Union Jack. It was a sight that made most of us puke.

Boris Johnson personifies the promotion-of-privilege culture that still eats away at Britain’s prospects in the 21st century. He openly lies while spouting pop Latin. At every turn he shows such a lack of real common sense, sense of duty and sense of occasion and in fact any sense at all that even those who support him must get tense nervous headaches whenever he opens his floppy foppish foolish mouth.

This is a man who is all personality and no character. Personality in the sense of the gurning, aping for the camera we expect from D-list celebrities and reality stars. That this government should regard him as not just fit for office but to head the Foreign Office shows just what deep deep deep shit Britain is in.

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Why not check out some archived blogs-
Blog 10. My One Night Stand with the Ghost of Bill Farrell (looking at the social conscience we used to have)
Blog 22. Drink Driving with my Dad
Blog 43. Killing them softly
Blog 113. The Crap Gap Club

Blog 165. The Penisic Era

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

248. A Rich Woman Died!

Yes – an extremely rich woman is extremely dead and it made the news.

I know. You are shocked – even while distracted by the two squabbling fat stupid spoilt brats with the really bad hair who want to nuke the planet and the news that fascists are back in the German Bundestag. But it’s true. Last week the amazing phenomenon that the rich die too, was proven, yet again, by the death of the “world’s richest woman” – a strangely empty epitaph all things considered.

Early in the life of this blog I penned a piece called ‘Dinosaurs cured my performance angst’ (blog 4). It outlined how understanding one’s lack of importance in the great scheme of things can be hugely liberating and, in fact, could  allow you to achieve much more. This is not to be confused with the sense of entitlement, self-aggrandisement, selfishness and arrogance imbued in the ranks of elite school boys who have made a pretty good job of trashing Britain with their over-promotion and un-earned privilege (see blog187. British boarding schools breed posh psychopaths).

But Lilliane Bettencourt, described in The Guardian on 21st Sept as “heir to the French L’Oréal hairspray empire” is dead. The same paper also drops this wonderful little gem…
She was the daughter of Eugène Schueller, a chemist and one-time Nazi sympathiser who made a fortune as the inventor of modern hair dye and founder of L’Oréal.

Despite her estimated fortune of £29bn I’d never heard of her but then I’ve not been to a hairdresser in over 15 years. Ms Bettencourt was wealthy beyond imagining due to money made from cosmetics, which makes mad sense in a world where we fete the shallow and image-obsessed. Her family didn’t find a cure for cancer or invent the jet engine but they have done everything to help keep hair in place. For that, this woman was lauded, indulged, lived in opulence few can imagine and for that this woman died among claims by her family that various hangers on and vultures were trying to con her out of some large sums of dosh.

And I say again – if only the rich would get over the idea that they are also immortal – they might behave better.

A new drug-resistant strain of Malaria is spreading in Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of SE Asia but there is still no magical human made wonder drug to deal with that potentially global disaster. While the mainstream media are preoccupied with avoidable man-made horrors such as Trump’s America and Brexit Britain, real issues with the ability to put a serious dent in humanity’s time on the planet are way down the agenda.

If you want to know what is wrong with the world you cannot do better than look at the strange anomaly laid out in the fact of Lillian Bettencourt’s death (and life!). This woman – who may well have been pleasant enough – did nothing of note with her existence other than be born to an old Nazi who invented hair product. She died a modern day Ms Midas. 

Several months ago I posted, Viagra – Yes. Effective Cure for Malaria – No! blog 97. It was an indictment of mankind’s stupidity, vanity, wrongness in all ways. I thought nothing would top that. But, in the face of the massive threat from this new form of Malaria, surely news of a woman dying – the richest of her sex – not because of the invention of something that would genuinely benefit all humanity but because of a horrible, chemical vanity product, shows why we are, as a species, truly and monumentally messed up.

As the avaricious and empty, squabble for cash over Lillianne’s cadaver, her death delivers the same message as all the other unread signs and portents around the planet – humans need to start spending time, effort, money and intellect on caring for each other and the earth because – surely ‘we’re worth it’.

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This Thurs 28th Sept is NATIONAL POETRY DAY – Check out Casey & the Surfmen. Performed this year in The Scottish Parliament as part of 2017 Environment week, this poetry story was originally a spoken word piece. It is now in a brand new print version.
Casey & the Surfmen is an environmental story for all ages, written in verse.
This contemporary fable takes form somewhere between The Rime of Ancient Mariner and Avatar.
With magic, menace and mystical creatures, the verses take the reader onto the expanse of a child's imagination, on to a dreamscape apocalypse and back to the shore of humanity's original promise.


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NB – What happened in relation to the BT nonsense? (See blog 233 – BT ignoring your customer complaints – just do a doodle) I waited to see if the new debt collecting firm engaged by BT would get tired of sending monthly threatening letters. They did not, so a couple of weeks ago I sent them a cease and desist or I’ll sue you letter and have received now a full written apology (19th Sept) and confirmation that I will not be hearing from them again. To be fair – they also say they bought the ‘debt’ in good faith from BT. Dealing with BT ‘in good faith’ seems to be not a great idea…

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

247. Trump / Thatcher MEGA POLICY is the answer…


… if the question is - How do we prevent political Armageddon or even just Armageddon?

Yes, something occurred to me as I struggled in the swamp of near insanity, paddled in the parallel universe of how-did-this-happen and crawled through the dense dark forest of daily despair that is the current news cycle. Then the clouds opened, the path sprouted flowers… Ok, that’s enough of that nonsense.

Sometimes you get hit by that lightning bolt of inspiration and I did. 

Like many, I watch horrified and fascinated while Trump undoes anything and everything good that Obama achieved – from environmental policies and healthcare to protecting young migrants (see last week’s blog) and on and on. Even his own people now seem to see that Trump is mesmerised with being the anti-Obama president.

Here in the UK, as we flush ourselves down the toilet of self-focus and global ridicule called BREXIT (see my letter in The National yesterday http://www.thenational.scot/comment/15540790.Letters_II__Boris_is_trying_to_cover_himself_in_faux_glory ) I wonder what could bring society back to reason, back to caring, back to functioning.

From the failure in social housing policy, brought to our full attention with the Grenfell tower horror, (see my most recent letter in The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/17/local-community-should-set-up-their-own-grenfell-fire-inquiry ) to the crumbling infrastructure evidenced by everything from poor road maintenance and dysfunctional over-priced railways to school standards, the sense of wrong-path-taken has never been stronger.

But, like those tangled cables that wind themselves into an apparently untraceable mess behind your electrical items, it is possible to find where they lead and where they started. Even the triple mountains of personal debt and even the increase in the numbers being mauled by vicious dogs point, in my view, to an identifiable root cause. What is the common denominator here? The answer, I suggest, is incredibly simple. Margaret Thatcher. Even training our young to normalise eye-watering debt – which I trace back to the introduction of tuition fees in 1998 – was a policy of son-of-Thatcher Tony Blair (see my letter in The Independent last week http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/letters/magic-money-tree-theresa-may-conservatives-brexit-juncker-a7946921.html ).

(Actually The G and The I BOTH published two of my letters last week. I think everyone else is too depressed to type.)

Both Thatcher and Blair preferred to spend on war rather than social investment. As the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma states, the trillions spent on war by affluent Western powers in the good times instead of inward investment, plays a much more significant part in their current woes than the ‘globalisation’ so hated by the jingoists.

T’was Thatcher who privatised the railways and essential national utilities and much of British infrastructure. T’was ‘Thatcher, thatcher, milk snatcher’ who handed a state-grab to the rich long before that was even a term. It was she who vilified and maligned the public sector that now struggles with low wages, under-staffing and poor morale. It was she who sold off social housing and allowed a life-enhancing resource for the working class, which had been a jewel in the crown of social policy since the 1950s, to be denigrated and turned into just another ruse for the sharp elbowed and careless to make a fast buck. Thatcher deregulated public transport and yes – she even did away with dog licencing.

So – in this instance – why don’t we take a leaf out of Trump’s book (yes I know he doesn’t read and can barely string a lucid sentence together, I am still being metaphorical). Yes – let us take that leaf. Let us introduce a broad, blunt, brutal, over-arching Trump-esque policy which is simply headed thus
Whatever SHE did let’s undo it and whatever SHE would do – let’s not…

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And if you want a break from the political, slightly sick-making seesaw of politics, go to my amazon author page and check out the free-kindle-book grab. This week from 21st – 25th Sept – all bar one of my books should be free in their e-book versions.

Remember – only where books are concerned is there no such thing as greedy…