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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

315. New from The W.H.O

The World Health Organisation has warned of global disease disasters due to wars, environmental damage, disinterest from well-off countries, the way we treat (ignore) masses of vulnerable people, misinformation and weak government. Last week this potentially imminent horror just managed to squeak through the low grade hubbub that passes for daily discourse in the privileged West.

The latest WHO statement is common sense. What it is not is new news.

I am no Cassandra but even this blog laid out similar scenarios years ago before getting blog-bogged with the Trump/Brexit depressions.  Check out -  Armageddon will not be televised. Plus, see last week’s post. My dystopian novella Zero One Zero Two portrays in dramatic fiction (+a bit of poetry - well you know me...) – the exact scenarios the World Health Organisation are trying to warn about.
On a lighter note, as I shut up shop for a couple of months, I’ll leave you something positive from my ‘other’ writing life.

Recently I published a comedy poetry collection with a bonus short story. 
Humorous Verse for Parents is the type of book I’d like to have read when I became a parent. It does not pretend there is a perfect way of child-rearing – unlike the ubiquitous and dictatorial parenting manuals. Nor does it paint parenthood as an ongoing horror story like some of the smug ‘wits’ pedalling their flippant ‘having kids ruined my life’ tomes on the internet. It is a kind but comic observation of the realities of that wonderful, heart-wrenching, panic-inducing, exhausting, exhilarating, confusing, life altering, sledge-hammer-to-the-gut experience which is Parenting.

Back in September.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

314. World Environment Day 2019

Tomorrow is World Environment Day. One day. I know. Imagine the fuss people would make if just 30 seconds was allocated for Christmas...

I’m all out of rant so for WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY this 5th June 2019 do check out a couple of my books that say what I have to say on this subject and which I’ve put on offer specially for W.E.D.

The first is a magical fable in verse about a little boy, the people he loves, wild ancient sea beings and their activism to save the world.
50%+ price reduction on e-book version 4th - 11th June

The second is an hallucinogenic, dystopian novella imagining what happens
if we don't step up immediately and rescue our planet.
50%+ price reduction on e-book version 4th - 11th June

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

313. Britain has outsourced self-respect and nationalised irony.

There are some things you don’t want to be right about – even for the childish satisfaction of I-told-you-so -

I told you this branch wouldn’t hold
I told you I was dangerously allergic to shell fish
I knew this bridge was about to collapse

But the thread of this blog ever since June 2016 has been that the UK is reaping the harvest of decades of self-obsession, outdated grandiosity and the selling-off of a nation’s assets to the highest bidder. Since Thatcher began the process in the 1980s it has not stopped. There is nothing left to sell now. Neither of the two established parties have been able to find leaders that can lead. The family silver is all gone. Add to that the disastrously destabilising and illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the financial crash of 2008 from which we have not recovered and the setting is all in place for the kind of insecurity and panic that leads to a country ending up with Nigel Farage as its poster boy (see my latest letter today in The Guardian).

What we have left is the thing Britain was always good at – IRONY. 

The populist right wingers peddled xenophobia and jingoism like cheap circus acts and the clarion call was ‘reclaim our borders’ - an echo of Trump’s MAGA. In fact we have made ourselves a laughing stock and our stock of credibility has dwindled globally to nothing.

As the UN report on extreme poverty and human rights in the UK hit the fan last week, British democracy is looking more and more like a third world car crash - see UN Report and much of what I and countless others have been saying since June 23rd 2016 has happened/is happening.

The UK is failing on climate change targets and pollution – (see three posts ago).

Companies have abandoned Britain in droves since the UK voted for self-destruct three years ago. Early company exits were polite about it but the stampede – mixed with the crashing sound of foreclosures on the high-street and the thud of failing businesses is now deafening.

The dregs of Indian-owned UK steel manufacturing has petered out and is the latest (and last of) the big industries to go tits up. Ironically – as I mentioned many times on this blog – when Welsh Leave voters were interviewed after the 2016 referendum many cited their wish to save what remained of the steel industry despite the fact that while the EU had tried to  protect Europe from Chinese overproduction, David (where is he now?) Cameron’s administration vetoed that move.

And here we are – just three years after many in the UK answered the call to ‘reclaim our borders’ and return the UK to some 1930s Utopia where everyone knew their place and posh people - like Farage and Johnson - told the plebs what to do/think – looking like the kind of country that would have to beg its way into the EU – not struggle to leave…

Yes, young folk are chucking milkshakes at Farage but that other great liar of the referendum – Boris Johnson is a serious contender in the competition to head up the Tory party and the country after the grey men in grey suits showed Theresa May the door. It’s just a shame Labour do not have the same clout when it comes to slinging Corbyn out. With possibly the two most incompetent leaders the main parties have ever jointly seen, the UK has been left doing the doggy paddle in a sewer for three years. We’ve got nowhere and all that has happened is that a whole lot of effluent has been churned up from the bottom (no pun intended).

So, unusually – it’s not the I-told-you-so brigade feeling smug. The I-told-you-so-brigade will be feeling – as I am – sick to their stomachs. The ones who were always happy, gleeful and delighted to dance us over the cliff are more cock-a-hoop than ever. Chaos is meat and drink to them.

In a letter published in The Independent a few weeks ago I suggested that the party that got rid of their appalling leader first would stand the best chance in a future general election. And – as I predicted – the Tories got their first. At the end of the day – whoever they choose will have the ‘not Theresa May’ shine for a few months.
The not-really-a-leader of our non-existent Oppositions is still in place and claiming that Labour's failure is simply proof we need a general election to sort everything out! Its as if someone nailed his shoes to the floor.

No one but no one in the fragile sugar tower of power in the UK seems to have noticed that – as we “reclaim our borders” more and more countries and institutions are treating the UK like a low-level fringe country whose inhabitants still need to be taught how to use cutlery and a napkin and not shit and wash in the same stretch of water… 

The irony is blinding.

Maybe the UN will  soon be sending aid parcels to Britain.

You know I occasionally scrabble down the back of the sofa for the pennies of positive news and in the EU elections the significant increase in the votes for green parties is what I found. So, next week, if I can get the thing working – I will have special offers on the e-book versions of both Casey & the Surfmen and Zero One Zero Two for World Environment Day.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

312. Trump is just the smoke screen. That is the real con…

Trump is a moronic grifter on a permanent bigotry-bender so it should not surprise us that he is not actually the one driving the biggest con in US history. Mitch Mc Connell (Senate majority leader) is...

Looking back at this doodle from 2016, I realise that I – like a lot of folk - focused on Trump as a singular problematic and destructive anomaly in US politics.

The disease with the Trump stamp on it is spreading its spores (and mingling with others) around the world increasing disharmony, fear, bigotry, environmental damage, profit before people and all that jazz.

However, two things have happened in recent weeks that make it clear that the dawning suspicion of many is in fact correct.

Southern Republican states have made extreme moves to roll back women’s reproductive rights with laws that may eventually challenge Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court – where Brett Kavanaugh and other misogynist right wingers lie in wait.

But there is another reverse-the-clock event, in some ways more chilling because there has been less noise about it. A slew of new judicial nominees have stumbled and stalled and harrumphed and obfuscated when asked by Senator Blumenthal the clear and simple question – do they think Brown v The Board of Education was decided correctly. In a nutshell – this was the case that outlawed black/white segregation in US schools. In a recent letter I suggested that this was like asking someone if it was ok to kick a disabled old person and them failing to find the easy, acceptable answer.

If you add these two recent developments to the overturn of environmental legislation to please the oil lobby; if you look at that eye-watering tax breaks for the very wealthy it becomes so suddenly obvious you’d be forgiven for choking on your breakfast.

Remember also that Mc Connell made it clear he'd take right-wingers in what are permanent judicial appointments over short-term political gains and you begin to really see the picture.

Trump is nothing more than a smoke screen for the evangelical ultra-conservative, wealth-obsessed right wing of the Republican Party. Note I do not say Christian. I am a Christian. And in anything other than a very selective reading of Christian teaching, there is no room for hatred and bigotry. There is no part for theft by the rich and leaving the poor and vulnerable to rot. Plus, there is an absolute duty of care for our planet.

I even go as far as to suspect that many of those sweating away behind the orange Trump screen are not wild about his overt white supremacy (they have their own more subtle version) or the wall nonsense and the vile hatred against immigrants - maybe. But hey – what’s a few babies in cages if they get to notch up control-freak government in the name of American freedom? What are a few deaths of desperate migrants if they get to put women and black people back in their place – which is – for them - in America but right at the bottom of the pile and doing as they are told?

It is time for Democrats to stampede and for any decent Republicans to stop hiding behind the big orange smoke screen which is Donald Trump; more damaging in the long run than any wall. Mc Connell's quieter, deeper, darker con will blight America for a generation.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

311. I can't believe its not better....

After three years of Brexit hell, madness, duplicity, incompetence, global degradation, mass economic and business exodus, are we really just a week and two days away from voting for a new batch of MEPs with prize bigot and human (!) wrecking ball Farage in the lead?

Do you remember the good old days Like this! – before the 2016 referendum – when followers of fake man-of-the-people Farage were just idiot bigots – like the councillor who thought being Gay caused flooding...

Now he and they are idiot bigots with clout in the UK. Here we are in 2019 and it’s a double-headed hydra. Farage has superficially cleaned himself up, clenched his jowls and called himself head of the Brexit Party (it is not a party - he has subscribers not members) leaving his legacy of racism and misogyny and vileness far far (well – really not that far) behind. While Farage aims to righteously fight for the will of the people (a will that has never ever been defined) and – if he gets elected – to wreak more havoc on the European Parliament – his old group content themselves with advice from white supremacist thug Tommy Robinson plus rape ‘joke’ impresario and UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin. The Guardian

Meanwhile the planet is STILL dying. No, it didn’t fix itself while the UK spent 3 years shitting on itself. Check out - for example -  the Wildlife Trust's article on our government's spectacular failure to protect marine life around Britain’s shores  Wildlife Trust Report

And not only have we not attended to the things we should have done because of the mess of Brexit,  the lives – often of those in strongly Leave voting areas – areas that have historically been crapped on by successive administrations from the miners strike - through privatisation and lack of investment to suffocating the young with debt (thanks Nick) - have become much more precarious.

It is such a mesmerising mess it no longer feels real...

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

310. Extinction. Why are people still choosing the blue pill?

The iconic turn-of-the-century movie trilogy The Matrix has a central motif. Humanity is devastated – either by its own stupidity, its own self-destruct mechanism or by rogue AI on a mass scale. Humans are enslaved to the point of being a mere energy source for The System (the horrific and logical conclusion of Consumerism?) Those who choose can be released into real reality and have the opportunity to fight to save what is left of the human race. They make the choice by opting for a blue (stay hooked up to the matrix) or a red (uncomfortable freedom, self-determination and rescuing the human race) pill. Neo chooses the red. I am increasingly convinced that, when it comes to extinction, the vast majority of people here and in the US are regularly opting for blue oblivion.

We now seem to be offered the red pill on a regular basis for our blue planet and equally regularly reject it. This week another report claiming to be the one to stop us in our tracks came out and this time there is no shortage of papers making it headline news e.g. The New York Times

The mind-bending that goes on to try to ignore realities has become dizzying. Last week there were headlines about the £7m it apparently cost to police the Extinction Rebellion protests. No one paralleled that with the £1bn Theresa May paid to the DUP to remain in power after her disastrous snap general election. No one pointed out that Brexit is being maintained by 10 political throwbacks whose own country voted to Remain in the EU and where increasing, retrogressive destabilisation has led to violence and the death of a renowned young female reporter.

Meanwhile our children are literally dying from the air they breathe and here in the civilised UK over 40,000 premature deaths each year are linked to poor air quality. But, if the numbers are too big and the time frame too distant we have other more immediate and captivating examples. Ella Kissi-Debrah’s cute smiling face beamed from the pages of many newspapers last week after her mother was granted an inquest into her possible death from air pollution in London see The Guardian And if that isn’t the kissyest face you ever saw I’ll be surprised. After more than half a decade of battling, her brave mother was granted the chance to formally question the possible effect of air pollution as a contributor to 9 year-old Ella’s death. I suggest that beautiful little Ella, described as she has been as another canary in the coalmine is in fact another opportunity for us to choose the red pill. To wake up.

How many opportunities will there be to choose the truth before it really is too late? How many opportunities will there be to stop fighting and wasting time and resources over self-made non-problems and concentrate on the things that matter right here and right now?

The public is fickle and Ella’s story will ebb and flow in the public’s imagination despite it being, in my view, one of the most important stories of our time. Let us hope that – suckers as the public are for a pretty face – the still image of her adorable face and obvious vivacity will help keep this terrible story in the headlines so that, before it’s too late, we choose our blue planet by opting for the red pill.


If you find apocalypse more palatable in fiction form - do check out my novella 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

309. V.C.R. syndrome is making me ill…

No, it’s not a strange aversion to defunct video equipment. I have a bad case of Voting Card Revulsion…
Yesterday my polling card for the May 23rd EU elections popped through the door, a month shy of 3 years since Britain (or rather the English and the Welsh) voted to take us out of the EU for reasons no one is clear on. I’m not sure I can bring myself to touch it. Could this situation be madder if a toad dressed in a tutu tap-danced into my living room?

The new Farage/Annunziata Brexit party have the biggest poll showing for the forthcoming EU elections here in Britain, while the Labour party still have to waste time and energy explaining the inexplicable Jeremy Corbyn .

We’ve got the arch self-promoter and racist Boris Johnson still spewing up toxic guff in The Telegraph but now with a sister in the also new Change UK party. Explanations on a postcard please as to their political profile. They recently ejected one candidate shortly after announcing his candidacy because of his racist tweets!!!

Rees Mogg, Brexit lunatic, brother of Annunziata and our faux Dickensian twonk - has still not apologised for uncritically re-tweeting a German fascist party.

The Liberals reckon it’s worth someone putting a tick next to them on the ballot even though their Leader is a dead man walking (Vince resigns in the summer) the country may have forgiven them for their part in the David Cameron coalition. I haven't.

The 10 Irish lumps of the DUP continue to claim to be implementing the will of the people by pushing for the hardest of hard Brexits even though Ireland voted more decisively than any other part of Britain to REMAIN in the EU. Also, many blame the recent violence including the death of the young Irish journalist Lyra McKee on the continuing lack of leadership on the island of Ireland, uncertainty over Brexit and the fear of a return to internal borders.

Here in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon dangled the possibility of a second Indy Ref ahead of the SNP conference as we struggle with the combined and conflicting outcomes of both referenda. The 2014 Indy ref was sealed by fiscal scare-mongering AND the threat that an independent Scotland would not be allowed to stay in the EU!!! Now we are being dragged down the sewer by England (and Wales), the way being liberally smeared with you-know-what by the Westminster cabal of crazies.

Few media outlets seem interested in talking to Green candidates – what with the Environment being all so not-a-problem and all.

Then over the weekend more hysteria e.g. John Rentoul’s op ed piece in The Independent claiming that Theresa May has ‘killed Brexit and her Party’ so Corbyn will now get into Downing St. I’m not sure what drugs he’s on but a. you can’t kill the walking dead. b. even Corbyn’s own party clearly no longer think he is electable. Plus he keeps trying to climb aboard any passing bandwagon and landing on his face. Last week he wanted climate change declared an emergency (wow – really JC) presumably tapping into Greta Thunberg’s youth popularity – like a creepy political vampire feeding off the young.

Meanwhile, stories about the number of companies that have bailed out of the UK have dropped out of headline position and we are embroiled in a new silly situation over security and Huawei and May’s apparent decision to give the go-ahead to the Chinese telecommunications company despite global concerns about state involvement. No one but no one is asking – for example – how all their super-high-speed tech is going to work in a country with badly failing infrastructure that has shattered its global reputation. Surely, if things continue on their backward trajectory away from the future will we not plunge down into a grey 1970s world of power cuts and tinned food…

What I liked about the 1970s first time around was being a child and not understanding anything about politics…


Oh – and –for lazy environmentalists and need-a-lie-down eco-warriors who may be too depressed to muster the energy for the book version of Casey & the Surfmen (see last week) there is a bandcamp version – read by me - for streaming and downloading - click here...