Monday, 29 July 2013

My Favourite Films of All Time - for Real!!

Well, seeing as yesterday's supposedly cunning ruse on my part to get blog-readers to view my book's videoblurb resulted in a grand total of 'zero' additional views, it is evident that you fabulous people will not be fooled by such cheap gimmicks and that you are not to be trifled with...and quite right too!
So, here is the real post relating to favourite films:

The other day, I watched The Dark Knight Rises, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
However, it didn't make it into my all-time Top Five - these are the films that I have watched, and will continue to watch, time and time again because they are, for me, simply brilliant.

Now you may disagree with my choices (I sense many people bristling at the presence of Notting Hill at the end there), and that is your prerogative - where, I hear people cry, is The Godfather? Where is Battleship Potemkin? Where is The Shawshank Redemption?
Well, they're not here, so deal with it. Okay, I accept that all of those are great films, but they're not the films that I would turn to when I need to watch something I know for certain I'll enjoy. That's just the way it is.

Feel free to comment, though - I'd love the opportunity to have a go at your choices!!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

My Favourite Films of All Time!

Okay, so it's a bit of a cheap stunt this, but I thought to myself, what the hell!
When I posted a link to the Videoblurb for my book in a blog-post a few weeks ago, there were only 6 page views, which is significantly less than my normal number. I was mortified beyond belief by this lack of interest and sat sullenly in a corner for days, wrestling with dark emotions that threatened to consume my very soul...actually, I did nothing of the sort; I'm just hoping to make those who didn't look at that particular post feel a little bit guilty...
Anyway, I thought I would cruelly lull all of you into this particular post with the promise of an opportunity to look at a list of my five favourite films, so that you can say 'My God, that's a terrible choice - how can he like N****** H***!' or (perhaps less likely) 'Wow, Andy's film choices are superb. I wish I liked the films he likes! T** F**** E****** is awesome!'; only for me to guide you cleverly to this link to my fantastically original, disturbing and stunningly produced Videoblurb:

Videoblurb for 'The Book That THEY...'

Is it a pathetic attempt to get more views and so generate more sales?
Of course it is.
Is it below me?
Of course it is.
Do I care?
Yes, but as Blackadder once said 'Needs must when the Devil vomits into your kettle!'

Oh, and just so you know, I promise that I will be posting a list of my five favourite films of all time tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Not good form,my Russian friends. Not good form at all..

Over the lifetime of this blog, pageviews in Russia have accounted for about 12% of the 2,400 pageviews the blog has ever received - not really sure why my inane ramblings should strike a chord in the largest country in the world, but there you go. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I'm a fan of old Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky.
Anyway, some people would suggest that, in order to protect such a regular source of pageviews, I should do nothing to upset anyone in Russia (in much the same way as western leaders tend to try to avoid mentioning human rights violations when they walk to China).
But what sort of hard-assed blogmeister would yours truly be if I allowed my opinions to be influenced in such a way - not one that all you hard-assed blog-readers out there would want to spend their time reviewing the ramblings of, that's for sure.
So that's why, even though today's blog may not strike a popular chord in Russia, I am still going to say what I need to say, which is this:

We almost got the Ross Sea, the southernmost body of water in the world, sitting as it does to the south-west of New Zealand and lapping at the shores of Antarctica, designated as a marine protected area, thus banning fishing in the spawning areas of some species and putting a limit on the amount of fish caught elsewhere.
Unfortunately, of the 24 governments and EU which met in Germany this week, only Russia voted against this and, as the agreement needed to be unanimous, it didn't go through. And Russia's reason? It said it was uncertain about the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resource's legal authority to establish a marine protected area, even though the Commission did just that around the nearby South Orkney Islands in 2009. So a bit of a cop-out on the basis of a technicality.
Now Russia is one of a number of countries that fish in this region; but they are the only country to vote against this plan to set up the marine protected area - which is a real shame, because this area is particularly rich in orcas, minke whales and seals, as well as being home to a quarter of the worlds Adelie and emperor penguins. It is, perhaps, the most pristine marine ecosystem left on the planet...but it won't stay pristine for long because excessive fishing of the Antarctic toothfish (a.k.a the Chilean sea bass) has already begun to have an impact on the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

So, I say this to those fabulous blog-readers in Russia:
'Come on, guys, get on the phone to Mr Putin and tell old Vladimir to order his team to turn up in Hobart in Australia in October and push their way to the front of the queue of those who want to sign on the dotted line, and let's at least have a small part of the world that we don't make a bloody ecological mess of.'

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Please, save me from the BBC's coverage of the Royal Baby!

Now I don't want to sound churlish...actually, that's bollocks, because I actually do want to sound churlish...but not about the Royal Baby itself. Personally, I think it's great that old Wills and Kate have had a healthy baby, and good luck to them!
No, what I want to sound churlish about is the way the bloody BBC has gone absolutely and totally over-the-top in their coverage of the royal birth. I mean, we've got old Nick Witchell outside the hospital, musing about anything from the colour of the babies robes to what's happened to the royal placenta, endless interviews with various doctors and nurses (most of whom clearly had nothing to do with the birth), more correspondents outside Kate's parent's house and Kensington Palace giving their 'opinions' on things they can't possibly have a clue about, more interminable interviews with people who seem to have nothing better to do than stand around all day outside Buckingham Palace, an endless procession of 'quirky' stories about people with dogs named Wills and Kate giving birth to puppies on the same day (spooky) and how the birth is being celebrated by children on the Orkneys (as if anyone except the people on the Orkneys actually give a toss!), astrologers telling us what the prince's lucky number and favourite colour will be, blah, blah, blah...and then, to cap it all, we get the 10 o'clock news presented live from in front of Buckingham Palace because that £26 million studio that the BBC have just spent licence-payers money on simply won't do!
In the next few days, we will no doubt have to contend with a 1-hour BBC special in which various celebrities voice their vacuous opinions about the joys and pitfalls of parenthood, followed by a detailed analysis of the baby's features so we will know if he's going to have a bald patch before he reaches 30, then another BBC 'in-depth analysis' of what someone thinks the baby may be fed on, followed by yet another BBC 'in-depth analysis' on what the Royal nursery will contain (apart from a shed load of nannies), and so on and so forth, ad nauseum.

And then, just when you think it's all dying down and we can all return to some semblence of normality, the BBC will start gearing up for the Christening, with yet more pointless musings about possible names, what such names might signify, how the letters of the name, when re-arranged, actually spell out an address in Basingstoke...

I guess this all means that, for the time being at least, I'll steer clear of the Bouncing Baby Channel and watch something else instead.
I suggest, for your sanity, you do the same.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Behold, the geeks and nerds doth gather...

It's been a few days since I last posted, largely because I've been working overtime to finish the first short-story that I've written in quite some time. A tale of prejudice, it is titled (intriguingly, I hope) 'The Seven Questions of Daniel Keys'. At 11,500 words it's not what you would call a short short-story, but I'm hoping for some positive thoughts from the lovely people who have offered to comment on the initial draft - I'll keep you posted on what they think.

Anyway, because it's been a few days since I've been able to post, this is the first opportunity I've had to tell you about the trip which we made into the Twilight Zone on Saturday.
Imagine a man, going on a journey beyond sight and sound, he's about to enter...Manchester Comic Con!
Except, entry did take a little longer than anticipated on account of the fact that the organisers had obviously been to the Disneyland Paris School of Queue Design and had hidden the vast majority of the queue out of sight along the side of the GMEX building - still, at least it gave us the opportunity to cast our eyes over the costumes that people were wearing (some of which were excellent, some of which were a bit less than excellent, and a few which could best be described as 'token gestures').
It was whilst we were queueing that the were treated to the bizarre sight of Bane pushing a pram:
A special mention to the Battlestar Gallactica Cylon Number 6 (tall, blond, etc) and her companion (who I assume was supposed to be Gaius Baltar) who informed us whilst we stood in the queue that the UK Garrison of Star Wars stormtroopers were on show (as certified by LucasFilm, apparently) - we were fortunate enough to see them later, complete with stormtrooper 'These are not the droids we're looking for' voice.
Also, loved the guy who had Terry Pratchett's 'luggage' trundling alongside him on a lead, though I bet he regretted having that with him when he was trying to fight his way up and down the aisles!

Inside Comic Con itself there were a lot of stalls selling a lot of merchandise covering everything from Japanese anime, through Marvel & DC, on past Aliens and Predator, alongside Star Trek before eventually ending up at Warwick Davies and RobotWars.
Something for every nerd and geek, me thinks.
There were samurai swords to buy, light sabres too.
But, by Christ, was it busy, and that was only with those who had spent the extra dosh to get early entry tickets - apparently, some of those who joined the general entry queue (which was allowed in from 11.00 a.m.) didn't actually get in until 2.00 p.m. and that's a hell of a long time to stand out in the blazing sun! Not so good.

We lasted about 3 hours before the general crush and uncomfortable odour of vast numbers of sweaty bodies inside heavy costumes began to get too much and we nipped off to the city centre for a pizza and a drink, loaded down with our obligatory purchases (I managed to get my hands on some old classic sci-fi paperbacks).

Would I go back?

Most abiding memory (with the exception of Bane pushing a pram, obviously!)?
The quite surreal contrast we saw as we arrived at GMEX, with one side of the road full of stormtroopers, Marvel characters, Assassins, Jokers, Banes, etc, whilst on the other side of the road stood a whole bunch of university graduates, all in their ceremonial garb, alongside parents dressed in suits and posh-frocks, looking bemusedly across at all the nerds and geeks having a whale of a time and clearly thinking 'What the fuck...?'

Friday, 19 July 2013

What to write...What to write...?

I was, the other night, informed that, according to someone who has recently finished reading Part 3 of 'The Book That THEY...' an 'evil bastard!'...but in a nice way.
Well, it has something to do with Part 3's ending...and I won't say any more on that particular subject for obvious reasons.
The comment has, though, left me wondering how the same person will react to the ending I've just drafted for the sequel 'The Book That IT Does Not Want You To Read' - more expletives from them, doubting my parentage perhaps? Oh, I really do hope so.

Interestingly, the wider positivity within which the 'evil bastard' comment was cocooned has confirmed that my decision to press on with the sequel was the correct one, and would not (as I had feared) be a waste of time - that would only have been the case if initial feedback from wonderful readers had been that 'They Book That THEY...' was utter crap! Fortunately, no-one has (to date) expressed such views.
However, what this decision means is that initial work on 'The Curious Case of God vs Pratt' (which my Mum in particular likes the first initial chapter of (and which I'm happy to send to anyone who wants a first glance at it)) will now be put on hold until the sequel is finished, and my other intended novel (Twelve Tears of Regret) will only start after 'The Curious Case...' is completed.
But, before any of that, I'm going to write a few short stories that I'm going to try to get published in ezines and magazines (starting with 'The Seven Questions of Daniel Keys') - I'm also going to write a few poems so I can enter the Manchester Poetry Competition this year - yes, I write poetry too!

Not sure why I felt the need to keep you all abreast of what I have planned on the writing front...but then again, this is my blog and I can just about say what the bloody hell I there!

In all, I'm hoping to be busy, busy, busy!

And a quick note of congrats to Pash on his new job - well done, mate!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The mother of all farts!

For some obscure reason, I today feel the need to share with you this tale of how I came to discharge what was, in my humble opinion, the mother of all farts!
Therefore, for those of you who are of a feeble disposition, or those who do not enjoy references to gaseous bodily functions, or who have no interest in such things, can I suggest you stop reading now and return to read my next blog which, I promise, will have no reference to farts, belches, snot or any other discharges or emissions.
And if you are still reading, I am now assuming that you fall into the category of 'sufficiently fascinated'; as such, I shall continue.

I guess the first thing I need to emphasise is that this 'mega-fart', or more precisely the wind that created it, was not generated by natural means - believe me, to create that amount of gas would have require several hundredweight of baked beans or Brussels sprouts - no, the gas that eventually jetted forth was placed there during a monumentally uncomfortable medical procedure in which my intestines were deliberately inflated with air so that a (thankfully small) camera could have a look inside said intestines in the search for whatever it was that was (at the time) giving me regular and inconvenient bouts of 'the shits'.
[As a side note, it was eventually discovered that I have an inability to digest the skins of fruit, resulting in my body deciding that the best approach was a fast evacuation - so, since then, it's been nothing but peeled grapes for me!]
Anyway, returning to the medical procedure, and with camera now removed and dignity marginally restored (though I am thankful that I have never knowingly met any of those who performed the procedure at any social function since then...imagine how uncomfortable that would be!) I immediately made my way to the local McDonalds in order to gorge myself on as much food as I could, having previously starved myself for a couple of days in order to ensure that the view of the camera was not in anyway obscured by half-digested food remnants making their way slowly towards my bowel.
And yet, hungry though I was, I disappointingly found that I wasn't really able to consume the mass of food that I had bought; the reason why became apparent when I eventually got home, trotted to the loo and let off what was (for me at least) the loudest and longest fart ever produced.
It must have lasted at least twenty-five seconds.
It probably started at deep baritone and concluded as something akin to a castrato.
It had (and I have to mention this) no discernible odour (thank Christ!).
I am pretty sure that I saw my abdomen physically shrink as the fart progressed.
It probably registered on the Richter scale.
At its conclusion, I felt physically drained...and yet, enormously relieved, not just because that uncomfortable bloated feeling was gone, and not because of the realisation that I would be able to eat again - no the added relief was based on the fact that the mega-fart had not made its appearance whilst I stood in the line at McDonalds waiting to order my Chicken McSandwich et al.
Imagine if that had happened!

So, there you have it - a short confession about the day when I didn't just influence the course of a hurricane on the other side of the world, I actually created one on this side.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

So much rant-fodder to choose from...

Well, I've been absent from the blog-iverse for a few days, partly down to having spent a couple of days in the Lake District, and partly because of technological malfunction...and whilst my absence may have left blog followers fearing the worst (or the best, depending upon your bent), the return to the blog after even just this short period of no-blogginess has highlighted to me what an absolute wealth of riches exist in this wonderfully mad and vibrant world of ours on which to comment, about which to moan, or from which to merciless take the proverbial piss.
For instance, we have:
  • the first Ashes test and the fact that, for four days, the Australians somehow managed to smuggle a Marais Erasmus lookalike (allegedly from a small town just north of Wollongong) into the third umpire's seat (whereupon he missed a glaring stumping of the Australian wonder-kid named after a type of laboratory jelly and then gave Trotty out even though he couldn't actually check whether he'd hit the ball or not...which is pretty fundamental, methinks) whilst the real Marais Erasmus (who only returned in time to give the last Australian batsman out) was held hostage in a small bungalow on the outskirts of Nottingham, not far from the M1;
  • the news that the BBC have spent my licence-fee money (and that of a shed-load of other people as well) on three investigations into why nobody at the BBC spotted that Jimmy Savile was a paedo;
  • and still on the BBC, news on severance packages which make me hope (in vain, I suspect) that my current employers would be as generous as the BBC Board in calculating any payout I will get should my services no longer be required;
  • and, of course, there's the ongoing nonsense of the European Convention on Human Rights and the fact that, according to the idiot judges in Brussels, we in Britain are not even now within our rights to tell psychotic murderers that they are going to die in prison, because that is seen as 'inhumane' (though not, I suggest, as inhumane as the way Jeremy Bamber butchered five members of his own family...but, then again, the law doesn't really give a toss about the victims of crime, does it...only the perpetrators).
And that's just a few of the things that I could easily rant on about!

There was, however, one story that I thought worthy of a bit of vitriol today, and that's the fact that the government has (at long, fucking last) put a cap on the amount of benefits that non-working families are entitled to...shame it's still so ridiculously high at £26,000 (and remember, that's £26,000 tax-free).
There is talk of getting it down to £20,000 (only talk, mind you), but I maintain that until it is lower than the minimum amount of money that a working family are able to bring home (after tax), sponging off the State will still be seen as a positive career choice for an awful lot of feckless individuals who bizarrely believe they have some God-given right to sit on their arses watching (and dreaming about appearing on) Jeremy Kyle whilst the rest of us have to get up everyday and go and do an honest day's labour (even though we might prefer to spend that day lounging in the garden!).
Even in the most benevolent of societies, the benefits system should be nothing more than a safety net to ensure that those without work, or those genuinely unable to work, are kept healthy, sheltered and fed...but nothing more. It should not, must not, provide them with holidays or Playstations or 70" plasma TVs...such things should be the material rewards for those with the motivation and determination to get a fucking job!

There, rant over...and, by Jove, it did feel good...

Friday, 12 July 2013


Apparently, when I was born, I was the 3,525,765,640th person on the planet.
Given that the planet now has just over 7 billion people living on it, that places my good self in the curious position of having seen the population almost exactly double during my lifetime.
A quite scary thought, though not, I guess, quite as scary as the realisation that it will probably double again in 20 years or so, rather than the 45 it took since yours truly popped into existence.
It also appears (according to this BBC website):
that I am the 77,560,097,272nd person ever to have lived, which actually means fuck-all to me as a statistic.
So can our planet cope with an exponentially increasing population...actually, I'm not going to get into that debate right now because I've just noticed that this same website has told me that my life expectancy is 77.4 years, which only gives me another 32 years...
Time, instead, to start the bucket list!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

And we're worried about football over here...!

Now I'm not one of those people who would ever describe football as 'the beautiful game' - after all, it's awash with obnoxious prima-donnas who are obscenely overpaid, petulant, foul-mouthed and self-centred, and who (along with their vacuous, silicone-enhanced WAGs) provide the worst kind of role models for youngsters by their attitudes, actions and complete lack of humility and respect for authority and society.
However, whilst the excessive salaries, ridiculous injury over-acting, alleged rape and everything else associated with a sport that now seems bereft of morals results in my lamenting the state of football in this country, a quick glance overseas makes you realise that it could be worse!

Example 1 is from Nigeria where two football teams (one of which had the extraordinarily intimidating name of 'Police Machine FC') were vying for promotion. At half-time, Police Machine FC were leading their opponents (Bubayaro FC) 6-0, whilst their arch-rivals, the less impressively named Plateau United Feeders FC, were a goal better off in their match with Akurba FC at 7-0.
Christ only knows what went on in the dressing rooms at half-time (bribes, threats, an episode of Loose Women, you name it) but the fact that the 61 goals (yes, that's 61 goals, or a goal ever 45 seconds) scored by Police Machine was not enough to eclipse the 72 goals scored by PUF simply beggars belief (although there were some suggestions that PUF's 54th goal was off-side).
It makes the Guinness Book of Records highest score (Arbroath 36, Bon Accord 0) look like a highly competitive encounter!

But that is nothing compared to Example 2 from Brazil where a referee, frustrated that a player he had sent off had refused to leave the pitch, decided it would be a good idea to stab said player (fatally), whereupon the stabbed player's friends and family invaded the pitch and promptly chopped off the referee's head!!
I guess referee's in this country will listen to shouts of 'The referee's a wanker!' from the terraces and be thankful they're not hearing the sound of machetes being sharpened.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Fantastic Murray, Psychotic Miliband

I'm not going to write a dozen paragraphs about Andy Murray and his fantastic Wimbledon victory -all I want to say is congratulations to a man who is a very rare breed indeed; a British athlete who values success more than popularity, is single-mindedly driven to achieve his aims and is not at all content with the tag of 'plucky loser' (and, Christ, we've had a fair few of them, especially in tennis).
No 'plucky loser' is Mr Murray...I just hope that our great British press don't move away from their usual past-time of bemoaning the lack of British sporting superstars to pursue that other favourite past-time of theirs - building icons up, only to  spend the next few years knocking them down again (I'm thinking Botham, Beckham,etc). Instead, I hope they join with everyone else in enjoying Andy's success, share the glory for the next few days and weeks, and then leave him to get on with the job of retaining the US Open, winning a few more majors in the years ahead, getting to World No.1 and hopefully completing a career Grand Slam (though winning the French may be difficult).
Fingers crossed.

On a related Wimbledon matter, that greatest of tennis competitions provided us with an outstanding political photograph that is just perfect for a caption competition.
My suggestions are:
'You're in my seat, bitch!'
'I think I'll kill the fat one first.'
'I fucking hate blue ties!'

courtesy of a re-tweet from Emma Norris

Feel free to make up your own and share them!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Behold - My Roll(s) of Honour...are you on it?

Actually, there are two Rolls of Honour.

The first is for those intrepid individuals who were the first in their country (remember, by country, I mean any sovereign state that it a member of the UN) to download a copy of Part 1 of 'The Book That THEY...'
Now, bearing in mind that this number may change a little as large states break up into smaller ones (I'm thinking Yugoslavia, Sudan, etc) or as small states join together (not that that seems to be happening much at the moment), there can only ever be 206 names on this particular Roll of Honour...and, already, there are 2 fantastic dudes inscribed upon it:
  • Magnus (Sweden)
  • Javier (Spain)
Note - there has already been a purchase in the US, but alas the identity of that individual is not known to me; as for the UK, well, that could get a little messy because a lot of people downloaded Part 1 as soon as it came out...not sure what to do about that!
So what's so good about being on this particular Roll of Honour anyhow, I hear people in the cheap seats shout. Well, at the moment, not a lot - but when I am a multi-millionaire author with a jet-set lifestyle, large mansion, swimming pool in the shed and my own reality-TV show, I will send everyone on that Roll of Honour a bottle of very nice Single Malt Whisky (probably from Islay) along with a box of Thornton's Continental chocolates (a large one), and a big Post-It note saying 'Thanks!!'
Not a bad deal, eh?
Now, there are still 202 places on this Roll of Honour up for grabs, and all anyone has to do is post a comment saying that they've downloaded Part 1 (all I need is name and country) and, hey presto! you'll be on the list (by the way, I have ways and means of checking, so any erroneous claims will be identified and referred to my new friends at the NSA, MI6 or FSB for...intervention - you have been warned!) - a link to Amazon is on the right hand side of this blog page!

Now, for those other billions of people who have unfortunately missed out on the Roll of Honour relating to first purchases, there is an alternative.
This is the Roll of Honour of those who have read one of the three parts of 'The Book That THEY...' and posted a 3*, 4* or 5* review of it on Amazon or Goodreads.
I haven't decided what benefits (other than my heartfelt thanks and appreciation... (which perhaps should be enough...)) being on that particular Roll of Honour will bestow - perhaps someone could suggest something (though an all-expenses-paid trip to St Lucia is out of the question!!)
To date, there are 5 people on this particular Roll:
  • Peteturbo
  • Maddie
  • Chris
  • John (twice!)
  • Mary W
I'd love to be able to add a few more in the weeks and months ahead so, if you are reading this post, why not download Part 1, see if you like it and, if you do, put in a good word on Amazon and Goodreads.

And if you haven't already done so, check out the videoblurb at:

And don't forget the Facebook page at:

There - shameless plugging of my book over for another few weeks!!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Happy Independence Day...and a Videoblurb!

Happy Fourth of July to everyone 'state-side', especially the fantastic people who regularly follow this blog! You are all brilliant!
Over here in Blighty, it is also the time of year when we forgive you for the fact that you're celebrating gaining independence from us, and the fact that your film industry still likes to stereotypically portray the British as villains (Die Hard, Cliffhanger (and John Lithgow is American!!), Pocahontas, etc.). On the plus side, you have given us The Big Bang Theory and the Bourne films.
Trust you will all have a great day!

But whilst the US of A gets into the holiday spirit, there are also a couple of other things to celebrate.
Firstly, this blog has now had in excess of over 2000 pageviews since it started back in March, and has been welcomed onto the computer screens, tablets and smartphones of people in over 30 countries around the world...and I'm pretty certain that more than half of them found the site deliberately (as opposed to 'by accident' whilst trawling the internet for porn or searching for '101 uses for a vaseline-covered feather duster').
My thanks also to Edward Snowden, whose probable visits to the site whilst in Hong Kong now mean there are regular pageviews from the NSA, CIA, MI6, FSB, MSS and the Disney Corporation.
But seriously, my sincere thanks to everyone who has done me the honour of taking interest in my musings, ramblings, moanings and groanings.

Secondly, last night saw the completion of the latest step in my ambitious, well-structured and largely ineffective marketing campaign for 'The Book That THEY Do Not Want You To Read.'
Yes, folks, the VIDEOBLURB is here!
'But what...' I hear some people cry in bemusement, '...the fuck (Obligatory blog swear-word) is a videoblurb?'
Well, follow the link below and see for yourself:

Videoblurb for 'The Book That THEY Do Not Want You To Read'

Yes, it's the blurb of the book...turned into a video!
Cool, eh?

(A special thanks to youngest daughter Emily who took time out of doing her own film projects to help me with it, in particular the 'nanites in the eyes' and the 'running down the alley' bits.
(By the way, feel free to check out Em's work at and ). I would just like to confirm that she was in no way threatened with dis-inheritance if she did not assist me.)

So please check out my videoblurb (there will be a permanent link on the blog page) and let me know what you think.
Better still, share it with everyone you know, telling them it is likely to win the Palme D'Or for best short film at next year's Cannes Film Festival...
Better better still, get them to buy the book as well!!

And once again, Happy Independence Day!Independence

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

This Is The Way The World Ends

This book brings back memories...
The thing is, I'm not entirely sure what the memories are...
I remember buying this book when I was on holiday in the mid 1980s (not the version pictured above, I hasten to add, but a previous version, with a pink cover, I think, which I don't believe I ever got back off John Haynes at Waterside Paper Mill) - I don't think it was when I went to Skye with my parents, but it could well be!
Bizarrely, I can remember quite vividly lifting the book off one of those rotating book stands (you know the type) and being sufficiently intrigued by the blurb to buy it; but I can't recall what kind of shop it was, where it was, what the weather was like, what cool and trendy clothes I wasn't wearing, or anything like that.
Damn, memories are weird!

It's a good book and it was particularly topical in the 80s when relations between the Russians and Americans were...frosty.
However,I have to admit that it's a bit strange to find it included in the SF Masterworks; not that it doesn't merit being there, far from it; it's just that, based on those I've read so far, they are predominantly for the classic stuff from a long time ago - you know, the 50s and 60s and 70s...but, then again, when I think about it, the 80s are thirty-odd years ago, which is more than enough time for anything 'good' from that decade to now be considered as 'classic' - take 'Vienna' by Ultravox, or the 1982 World Cup match between Brazil and Italy, or Dallas...
And before anyone says it, the Austin Allegro may now be considered as a 'classic', but it was never really 'good'.

Who knows, maybe in 30 year's time, one of my books may be considered sufficiently 'classic' to be added to the SF Masterworks range...
I can only dream...

By the way, recent blog page-view activity would suggest Edward Snowden is either still in Russia or Latvia, has sneaked back to Hong Kong, or is now chilling out with the Dutch!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The right way to celebrate Armed Forces Day?

Before I get into the detail of this blog, I want to make it absolutely clear that I have nothing but respect and admiration for the men and women of our armed forces who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect this country and her interests around the world.
I also want to make it clear that I wholeheartedly support the idea of 'Armed Forces Day', a specific day each year when we can all take a little bit of time out of our busy lives to recognise and thank those very same people for their hard work and sacrifice.

Why then do I feel so uncomfortable with the way in which Armed Forces Day was celebrated in Darwen on Saturday - specifically, the presence of the charity 'Support Our Soldiers' in Sainsburys, along with our very own MP, Mr Jake Berry, collecting items to put in 'care packages' for our troops; a copy of the list of items for inclusion in those packages is below.

There's a saying which is something along the lines of 'You can judge a society by the way it treats its prisoners' (which is probably a misquote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's House of the Dead: 'The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.') - well, I would suggest that you can judge a society by how well it treats those whose job it is to protect it; and if that is the case, what does it say about our society when we have to ask shoppers to put shower gel and stock cubes in care packages to send to troops fighting in the desolate mountains of Afghanistan?
Not a lot.
But then again, we do send those same troops out to fight with defective weaponry and with shit radios but without proper body armour...and we do send them out into hostile environments in Snatch Landrovers that are about as much protection against IEDs as a wet paper bag...and when they do return home with terrible physical and mental scars, we turf them out of the army and leave them to fend for themselves...and for those who pay the ultimate price, we make sure we reclaim any pay they weren't entitled to because they went and got themselves killed before the end of the month and then we treat their families with nothing but contempt.
Personally I would very much prefer to spend an extra £5 or £6 billion on making sure that, if our troops are going to be asked to fight in a war in some godforsaken country for the sake of national security, they are properly equipped for what we ask them to do (and yes, that does include making sure they have access to basic things like pens and noodles) and that they (and their loved ones) are properly looked after when (and however) they come home.
To me, it would be a much better society that did that than relying on the laudable efforts of Saturday shoppers, charity supporters and Conservative MPs to provide 'care packages'.

But, I hear you cry, where would you raise that £5 or £6 billion in these times of financial austerity, when we are cutting back on everything?
Maybe this extract from the recent spending review will provide the answer: