Tuesday, 28 November 2017
I’m winding up for 2017 so here’s to 2018 focusing on people who really need our help. Hopefully, we’ll see Trump’s impeachment and more effort to stem ecological damage. Sadly for the UK, it seems there is no undoing BREXIT and you can’t impeach xenophobia, self-interest and stupidity…
But, it’s the season of Good Will and Bad Debt – so check out my favourite old Christmas post – Drink Driving with my Dad & other Happy Memories. http://browngirloutsidethering.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/blog-22-drink-driving-with-my-dad-other.html
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
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?
A verse picture book for little readers
Books for real girls who want to read about real GIRL heroes.
IF you're lucky enough to have an eco-warrior in your crew try this
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
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…
Re: the latest tax dodging revelations of the rich, famous and morally grubby The Herald published another short letter of mine on that subject
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)
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…
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
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
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.