Saturday, September 13, 2008

They will find us.....

There was a documentary on the other night, summarising the considerable efforts that humanity has made over the past few decades to find ET. It was all very upbeat, loads of clever bastards telling me how it was inevitable that contact would happen one day and that this was likely to be within the next 10 years or so. In truth, a bit dull and whilst I have no doubt that we are not alone, none of what was being said was particularly new and certainly didn’t warrant the enthusiasm that the various experts exuded. That said, my attention was held (through repeat footage of Martian landscapes and those oh so boring thermal vents) by the promise that the star of the show (and one of my heroes) Mr Stephen Hawkin, would be along to say something at the end. I was expecting his opinion to be definitive and I guess, in a way, it was.

‘We shouldn’t be looking for alien life forms, we should be…yeah John, drop off and pick up outside the Big Mango, over…be keeping our heads down and hoping that they don’t find us. Sorry about the interference there.’

No science trickery, no super hypothesis, just plain old common sense. And let’s face it, if Hawkin is scared, shouldn’t we be scared too? After all, when the Daleks eventually find us, he already speaks the lingo. All he needs is a bin bag and some bottle tops and he’ll probably be okay.

Recycling Jimmy

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Global warming...some stuff you maybe didn't know.

I came across this article the other day. It presents some facts about how our planet and the organisms that live on it have gotten along together over the years. Actually, I say came across; I work in the energy sector and was sent it by my CEO (kind of a ‘please stop everybody picking on me and my share price’ whinge I guess). True too that knowing it’s origins you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s nothing more than a blunt riposte, a pathetic attempt at saving face, like the bloody nosed geek flipping the finger at the fat bully’s back as he walks away from a playground kicking; meaningless but it makes him feel a bit better. Then I read it. I suggest you do too.

Here’s some examples of the type of things presented in it (and I stress ‘presented’ here; impartially without any spin).

Greenhouse ‘gases’ make up only 2% of the atmosphere, okay some of us might have know this. However, something that we are never told in public is that water vapour accounts for 95% of these; CO2 only 3.6%. Even better, when you look at how human activity contributes to ‘greenhouse gas’ levels, we actually only manage a pitiful 0.28%; the rest is down to volcanoes and cow farts.

It’s kind of a mute point anyway because regardless of whether you believe the CO2 number or not, there is in fact no clear relationship between CO2 and average global temperature. There never has been either.

‘But why are the polar bears dying then?’ I hear you cry. Well don’t worry people. Polar bear populations (with the exception of 2) are stable or increasing. Phew! And there’s more good news here too because contrary to what we’re told, the ice sheets are actually thickening in the interior of the two polar caps and only thinning at the edges. That’s why the current rate of sea level rise is the lowest recorded over the last 14,000 years.

The only thing that concerns me about the article (and you must read it!) is that it estimates 45% of the scientific community don’t accept the global warming position taken by the other half. What I want to know is, where the hell are these people because without them balancing the argument we’re just going to have to keep on not only taking this crap but paying for it too.

Recycling Jimmy

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where's the coppers when you need one?

The UK simply isn’t safe anymore.

Let’s suppose I earn a grand. Great, but what do I do with it? Well, first off I give the government £400 for the privilege of living in the UK. Still, I can do something nice with the £600 I’ve got left so I go down to a local business and buy and sofa. Bargain, although it could have been cheaper but the bloke at the sofa shop, even though he’s a pal off mine, plays it straight and declares the deal, happy enough to pay the government another 30% in business taxes etc. The sofa bloke of course has to pay the lad who built the sofa (his son as it happens and also a mate of mine), roughly £200 for his trouble. No wait a minute, that’s only £150 in his pocket after tax. That night the three of us go out on the town to celebrate. I’m skint (just bought a sofa remember), so my mate and his son pay my end all night and between us we manage to do in £240 on beer, fags and food. Hell of a night, and as we all slump down to test the new sofa back at my place, I can’t help but wonder if the tax man had a good time too. As far as I can work out, from the grand I earned, he took £890.

You know, I’m not so convinced that it’s street crime we really need to worry about.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Women should concentrate more on their knitting

Is it just me or are the UK streets starting to feel like no go areas for anyone who isn’t fully tooled up? And yes, I know that there’s always an element of ‘the good old days’ and ‘increased reporting of crime figures’ skewing our perspective on things but I can’t help feeling that, even accounting for these factors, things are definitely going down hill faster than Gordon Brown’s career. What I don’t get is the possible reason for this mess. However, surprise surprise, I do have a theory and it’s this; women have changed. Not only have women changed but quickly too, within one generation I’d say. Mum would never have gone to the pub on her own and left Dad at home to watch the kids. Neither would she have pilled up and spent all night away from the family. She certainly wouldn’t have got involved in any kind of drunken disorder outside the clubs and chippies, something that we see our women getting stuck into more and more these days. And by the way, I’m not talking specifically about my mum here, I’m talking about everyone’s mum (if like me, you’re around the forty mark). Admittedly these are extreme examples but in general it holds true that, somewhere during woman’s quest for equality, the family unit seems to have lost something. It’s fine to talk about discipline at school, respect for the police and the rest of it but fundamentally these principals should be learnt by kids at home. A home where mum plays her role, albeit different, alongside a dad. I don’t think a home where a mum blatantly and brashly competes for ‘equality’ is necessarily a good place. I don’t know about anyone else but in pretty much every successful family I’ve experienced there’s been clear delineation between mum and dad. I tell you something else too; it was traditionally always the mum who knitted the whole thing together. I think her abandoning that task in her quest to be treated like a man is a big mistake, one that’s helped further fray the edges of a UK society that now seems to be slowly unravelling.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Where’s the justice?

As I’ve said before I smoke. Not easy these days, what with the concerted effort made by society to ostracise me, but I ignore the snide stares from mothers sat outside pubs (by the way love, babies and beer?..not a great idea is it?) and battle on. Of course, one of the oldest weapons deployed against me is the cost of smoking. Not only am I taxed to a point beyond reason but I’m also told that I’m a burden on the tax system. Interesting double edged sword that. Let’s look at the facts. In 2006 about 100,000 people died of ‘smoking related’ disease; 40% cancer, 30% heart and 30% lung problems. Okay, point taken. In the same year the burden on the NHS to begrudgingly treat smokers was about 1.6 billion quid. Again, maybe this does justify the tax. Here’s some other facts and figures for the same year. 30,000 died from it. It cost the NHS £3 Billion. Any ideas? Well, it’s my cholesterol packed nemesis; the obese bloke sat with his double cream latte and stuffing doughnuts into his sugary gob whilst tutting his fat ass off because I’ve got the audacity to light up outside Starbucks. Where’s the justice? Why isn’t he paying 75% tax on burgers and chips and buckets of chicken?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Things that wind me up

I tell you who I hate; people who say stuff like ‘Look, I’m only speaking my mind here, but that wallpaper’s crap.’ or ‘I have to be honest with you, you’re lipstick looks tarty.’ But it isn’t the fact that they say these things that bother’s me, it’s the fact that they always precede their insults with what they perceive to be a ‘get out’ clause. Such people truly believe that confessing up front to being ‘compulsive truth tellers’ justifies them in saying anything that they want to, no matter how hurtful it may be. We’ve all seen it; the girl sobbing her heart out or the bloke fuming in the corner whilst the protagonist, apparently amazed at the reaction he’s received, casually explains to anyone who’s listening that he’s ‘only saying what everyone else is thinking.’ Well that’s the whole point isn’t it? Thinking is different to talking you pillock! So, if you recognise yourself here, try this. Next time you feel compelled to tell the truth, stand in front of the mirror and say ‘I just have to tell you mate, you’re an insensitive twat.’ Of course, the astute reader will have already noted that I began a post just recently with the phrase ‘don’t shoot the messenger.’ Doh.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Okay, I'll hold my hands up. This is a complete rip off of something my mate sent me this morning but in truth, I couldn't have said it better myself.

FOOTBALLER Cristiano Ronaldo is being lined up to star in a multi-million dollar remake of the epic TV series Roots.Producers say the star's treatment at the hands of Manchester United make him the perfect choice to portray the young African slave who is beaten by his brutal masters.The Portuguese winger said he had been traumatised by 'outrageous' demands that he honour the £125,000 a week, legally-binding contract, which has brought him only, misery, adulation and Gemma Atkinson.Speaking from the titanium gazebo in the rose garden of his 31-room mansion, Ronaldo said: "I feel I can relate to the suffering of African slaves. "If anything, it is worse, because footballers cannot sing while we work, whereas they had time to develop gospel music during their 16-hours shifts before dropping dead from exhaustion."In the series a young African boy is dragged from his homeland and shipped to America where he is forced to work in the fields by a cruel and violent plantation owner."The similarities are uncanny, though admittedly, the Lear Jet that flew me from Lisbon to Manchester wasn't packed with 150 other players sleeping head-to-toe."Ronaldo also conceded that, while the slave-master in Roots administered brutal beatings, Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson had nurtured his talent, lavished him with praise and turned him into one of the best footballers in the world."But without the freedom to do whatever I want, wherever I want, for whatever fee I want, I am exactly the same as a cotton picker forced to live in a shed, dying at the age of 32."He added: "I know the people will love my acting. Already, in the streets, I hear many of them calling me 'Kunta'."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Don't shoot the messenger

Not politically correct, but I’m going to say it anyway; Chloe Marshall shouldn’t win the Miss UK beauty pageant. Why? Because she’s fat. And before you get all riled up, just hear me out. See, beauty pageants aren’t about making people who are over weight feel better about themselves. If someone has a body image problem they can go on a diet or, if they can’t be arsed to do that, pig out and watch the Oprah/Trisha/Ricki Lake show. No, as far as I recall, beauty pageants promote healthy, natural shapes and minds; unfairly beautiful people it’s true, but ultimately people we can be happy to aspire to. We’re not talking about modelling here either. I can see a role for obese men and women in fashion because that gets the product (or piggy) to the market. Indeed, I find this more acceptable than the size zero approach that designers cling to in order to get their freaky sketches off the drawing board and it blatantly isn’t right that freaky women should be nurtured to achieve this. But like I said, beauty contests aren’t about fashion, they’re about people and people should try and be the best they can be. We shouldn’t dilute that principal to cater for gluttons who insist that big is beautiful and that everyone else should accept that. On the whole, we don’t accept it and watching a pretty girl stuff her face with chips and burgers in preparation for a Miss UK competition feels wrong.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back to laughing at polar bears...

Sorry Al, but this global warming scare is beginning to look a bit suspicious. It’s not that I don’t understand the principal. In fact, I can remember a time when watching news clips of polar bears falling off ice sheets not only made me laugh but think too about maybe turning a couple of lights off. Not anymore. Trouble is, the whole thing is beginning to feel a bit too much of a con now, especially in the UK. It wasn’t too bad when all I was asked to do was take a tiny piece of the collective responsibility but it didn’t take long for the tax man to dive in and insist that I should have to pay to be green. Stinging me every time I get in the car or go on holiday isn’t going to save the planet. What it does do though is make me less inclined to borrow my neighbour’s horse, nip down the shops and buy a cloth sack full of low energy light bulbs. Any good will that may have been has long since evaporated and I’m at the point now where I’m happy to rip down my list of ‘things I should do to reduce my carbon footprint’ and turn the fridge back on. I’ll file it away I think, for future reference under ‘You had me there for a minute’ along with Y2K, WMD and denim flares.

Recycling Jimmy

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just a bit of common sense please

I travel quite a bit and so I was made up to get an Ipod touch for my birthday. Cool piece of kit too, and watching a couple of your favourite shows really helps you wade through the crap that comes with airports in a post 9/11 world. What I didn’t realise though is that an Ipod is a safety risk on a plane. Well, I assume it must be given the fact that I can’t watch it during take off and landing. Anyone know why? The phone thing is bad enough. A phone can’t make a plane crash. If it could, then they simply wouldn’t be allowed in the cabin and we’d have to stash them in the hold with the tubes of exploding toothpaste and cans of anthrax riddle deodorant wouldn’t we? But Ipods? These are even more inert than phones. They don’t do anything other than show pictures. So I asked.

‘In an emergency sir, you need to be aware of what is going on’ the air hostess said dismissively as she scanned aisle checking seat belts.

Er, excuse me love, but I think I’d notice if one of the engines blew up. What does she think will happen when the bloated business man in the window seat starts screaming and clambering over me to get to the emergency exit.

‘Okay mate, give me a minute. I just want to see the end of this.’

Don’t think so.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quitters to the rescue!

Seems to me that there are an awful lot of pissed off wives around these days. For instance, that woman who tried to kill her husband recently. By the way, I’m not talking about the one that bunged her boyfriend three grand to find a hit man (and when he ran off to get some more tattoos, she went to ask her dad), no I’m talking about a much classier act.
I’m talking about Angela Nellany, who stands accused of trying to kill her husband by leaving a soda can filled with wasps in his car?? The picture you see here is obviously her trying to eat the evidence. But the charges are now disputed as being made up and to be honest, I can see the logic. If she really wanted him dead, it would have been so much easier to give hubby a gun and then get her kit off. I'm sure he'd have used it or been straight on the phone to the Quitters.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Foreward thinking

I know it’s not the usual stuff I post about but I just had to let you know about this because believe me, it’s some achievement. "ForeWord has named Kunati Books the first Independent Publisher of the Year. The new honor was created to celebrate ForeWord's tenth anniversary and to recognize Kunati's innovation and fearlessness.Kunati, a year-old publisher, produces book trailers for every new release, maintains a blog, and encourages its authors to blog and actively participate in marketing their books. The publisher currently has several movie deals in the works, and its roster of authors includes Pulitzer Prize winner John E. Mack."

Cool or what, and if you haven’t seen the trailer to Recycling Jimmy, it’s a good laugh….except for the headshot of me drifting though where I look like an anaemic Dale Winton.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Faceless fags

I smoke. Tried to give up but when I found myself rooting through the bin for a half finished pack I’d crumpled there 3 days before, I realised that it wasn’t happening. Not yet at least, although I’ll maybe have another go in a couple of years time. What I won’t do though is stop buying cigarettes because the manufacturers are forced to remove all the branding from them. How is this supposed to work anyway? Mind you, it will make the whole transaction a little weird.

‘Can I help you sir?’
Yes please, I‘d like to buy some cigarettes.’
‘Certainly sir, any particular kind?’
‘Erm, have you got any of those smoking is bad for your health one’s?’
‘’Fraid not sir, just sold the last packet to that very short man with the false beard and sunglasses. Have you tried the smoking whilst pregnant will damage your baby one’s sir? Very popular with the ladies.’
‘Not sure there’ll be to my taste, bit on the strong side. Just give us twenty smoking not only harms you but others around you. They sound a bit more sociable don’t you think?’

On a semi serious note, I’m a strong believer that your health and your mind are firmly linked. If there is even the slightest truth in this then surely plastering cigarette boxes with explicit descriptions of the illnesses you may contract is not very fair and I’d go as far as to say bordering on negligent.

On a very serious note, next time you’re in the shop kids, don’t buy fags, buy a book instead.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Honesty: a step too far for the church

I’m all for looking after the little man and the UK’s latest attempt at regulation will go some way toward this. Apparently, there’s going to be stricter guidelines and penalties to try and stop all that rip off sales pitch that we all fall for from time to time. You know the kind of stuff; closing down sales, tradesmen with qualifications bought off the internet, basic misrepresentation by twisting facts and making us believe that we’re getting a good deal. Trouble is, once again the powers that be have taken it one step too far because in this group they have lumped the fortune tellers and psychics. I’m not disputing that there may be charlatans out there (as there are in any business, let’s face it) but to begin a tarot reading with the words ‘there is no scientific basis for what I am about to do and this reading is for entertainment purposes only’ is simply wrong. Not only for the people who provide the service but for those who truly believe and often take comfort from being told that everything’s going to be fine and Uncle Joe is thinking about you from the other side. Miserable sods if you ask me. Why do they think they have the right to screw around with someone’s belief system just because they don’t buy it? Can’t wait to hear the Bishop of Durham’s next sermon;

‘Now before I pass the collection tray round I have to tell you that God is made up and what I’ve just said about that bloke coming back from the dead is probably total bollox too, although there was a beardy guy called Jesus and he was very nice apparently, so that’s good isn’t it. I’d like to add, that even if you do put money in the tray then the chances are that you won’t actually go to heaven. Not because you’re bad mind, but because there’s no such place. We made that up too. Can I have some money anyway? Amen’

Recycling Jimmy

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And I thought girls were good at this stuff....

Thought I’d share this comment with you from a one of Kunati’s soon to be released (and very excellent) authors, Beth:

'Yeah, I see your point, but besides your observations about pervs & all...? That lightswitch is just plain GAWD-AWFUL GAWDY, don'tcha think??!'

Well Beth sure, on its own the light switch looks naff, but you're not thinking of the bigger picture! You’ve got to imagine it installed as part of the range, coordinated through your house. You know, the Turin Shroud shower curtain, the crucifix washing line pole and the fishing net bed spread.....I bet your house looks a bloody mess!

Sing for Jesus..

Wasn’t going to bother writing a blog today. To be honest, nothing in the news was leaping out at me and then a pal sent me this pic. I’m not usually amused by stuff like this, bit too slapstick for my taste, but what it did do was make me wonder about the bloke who designed it. Now it looks like it’s an old design (let’s say mid 1900’s for sake of argument). The designer obviously put a lot of work into this and was trying to say something about his Christ (bringing light to the world, protecting children from the dark side etc etc) and to be honest, he did a reasonable job. Trouble is, things change. Today, in an age where the popular press is regularly filled with peado priest stories, the message is lost, invisible to a society that is so desensitised to perversion and sicko’s who pray on kids that this becomes our standard model for interpreting images like this. Just an observation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Now I am not a political animal and indeed, if you’ve read Recycling Jimmy you could almost say that I’m politically incorrect (is that the opposite?) but that home secretary woman, Jacqui Smith, is enough to make the most apathetic of us get up and vote. Apart from the fact that she looks like that dancing lesbian, Ellen Degenerate, she talks crap. Today she stood up in front of the police federation and with complete contempt, told its members that the UK couldn’t afford a poxy 30 million quid to honour the pay deal that was, as far as I understand, a done deal. The joke is that on a day when Man Utd and Chelsea will field over 200 million pounds worth of ‘talent’, we tell the men and women who have vowed to protect us that they aren’t worth it. Shame on you Smith, although there was at least one moment of joy when during the q and a session she allowed herself to get backed in to a corner and actually said ‘yes’ when asked if she would change her decision subject to the outcome of a judicial review. I’m always banging on about politicians not giving direct answers but I never thought I’d hear one. It’s funny you know, now that I have, I can understand why good politicians never do it; yes’s and no’s sound rushed and ill considered from people who are meant to be clever enough to govern us. It’s up to you now judge, you could save me a walk to the polling station.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Robbin' bastards

I was scanning through my credit card today (checking up on the missus and what she’d been frittering) and amongst the lipsticks, bras and shampoos (how much could I have saved if I’d have swallowed my pride and chosen one of the many flat chested bald women that have been attracted to me during my life) when I came across a payment that I didn’t recognise. £20 going to somebody called ‘Redsave’. Anyway, as I dug deeper I realised that I’d been paying them £20 on the same day for the past 6 months. As I didn’t remember signing up to one of Putin’s social programs, I rang the number. Now the girl was very pleasant and as I explained my query she listened and grunted in all the right places and waited for me to finish asking what I had bought.
‘Well Mr Tilley, you haven’t actually bought anything, other than that indoor remote control helicopter back in December.’
‘Oh, so it’s a mistake then?’
‘Oh no, no mistake. The twenty quid is you membership fee.’
‘Excuse me?’
‘Yes, when you buy something from us, we sign you up as a member and unless you cancel it then we take the fee every month.’
‘Oh really, but as I haven’t bought anything and it’s obviously been an oversight, you can give me at least some of it back then?’
‘’Fraid not. That would be illegal because it’s part of ….’
I stopped listening. I hate it when people say that something is illegal, especially when it isn’t but I’ve also had enough of these conversations to understand that the helicopter was going to cost £140. Bottom line, and giving Redsave the benefit of the doubt on this one, there are traps out there that innocent online shoppers can fall into. The missus will just have to stop washing her hair for a bit ‘til we get back on our feet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why the rush to destroy the planet?

Anyone know when that big particle accelerator in Geneva is striking up? I think its due any time now and normally I’d look forward to it (just love all that mind blowing stuff that the geeks come up with from time to time) but on this occasion, hmmmm. See, normally I trust the scientists implicitly, almost blindly. If they say that embryo research is a good thing, then that’s fine. If a bloke in a white coat assures me that genetically modified crops are safe, I’ll be the first to munch his plums. My problem with the CERN project is simply this; there’s a chance that it will destroy the planet. Okay, I know it’s a very small chance (like winning the lottery three times on the bounce) and I accept that the potential to expand man’s understanding of his existence is mouth watering but seriously, do these statements make the potential risk acceptable? Once the button’s pressed there is no going back. If the strangelet appears, then its game over and the scientists, the smug bastard collecting his winnings for the third Saturday in a row, me, you, everything; all gone when the experiment "spits out something that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called 'strange matter." But surely, with even the smallest chance of bringing on armageddon the boffins will be taking precautions won’t they? Apparently not; schedule issues caused them to delete the low energy ‘test’ run from the program. “We’ll be starting up in May 2008, as always foreseen, and will commission the machine to full energy in one go,” said LHC Project Leader Lyn Evans. Well Mr Project leader, just ‘cos you’ve got a girls name doesn’t mean the rest of us are in a hurry to see if you’ll find the God particle or just God.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Laughing Policeman; with him or at him?

When you’re writing contemporary fiction it’s important to keep things…well, contemporary. Now at first glance this statement doesn’t seem like rocket science (or should that be shuttle science?) but keeping your book fresh ain’t as straight forward as you might think. Things change fast these days; slang, attitudes, society in general I guess and if you’re not careful it’s easy to work up a piece that you think is current and relevant only for it to become passé and clichéd before it hits the editors desk. Take one aspect of UK culture as an example: the good ol’ British bobby. Don’t get me wrong, I think the coppers do a cracking job but I was under the impression (I guess from the days when I was hanging on street corners) that their attitude, towards youth in particular, was still authoritative and one which demands respect. Apparently it isn’t. I was watching the box last night (camera crew following a various policemen going about their business in London) and was amazed at how naff community policing had become. Policemen chatting casually with gangs of under age drinkers on the very same streets they should be keeping safe. Policemen using words like ‘dude’ and ‘chill’ instead of ‘you’re nicked’. Policemen swearing and lighting cigarettes for 15 year old girls. And as the kids realised that these friendly, laughable policemen were more concerned with looking cool than doing their job, you could see the respect drain away. I’m just glad that I didn’t involve the coppers in the story line of Recycling Jimmy….I would have been so wide of the mark.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The original superstar?

Revelling in the after glow of a magnificent ManU victory last night, I was flicking through the channels looking for something to wind down to. Came a across a program looking at celebrity religion (kabbalah, scientology, P Diddy with $7MM diamond encrusted crucifixes etc) and yes, I know most of this is history now, but it did make me think about what is really going on here. Okay, I am not a religious person but I do try and respect other people’s views. So what is it about a celebrity that makes them think they can hijack someone’s religion in the name of cool? More to the point, what gives them the right to stamp their personal brand all over it? Okay, Kabbalah might be represented by only a piece of red string (that retails at about $26 a length by the way) but why does Madonna feel it necessary to build a Kabbalah hotel? And as for Kanye West (or is it Jesus Christ, I can never remember; they’re so similar aren’t they?) the less said the better. There are more examples but I won’t go on, suffice to say that these people are truly missing the point. I mean, if we look at JC for example, he was surely one of the biggest celeb’s of his day, and in a very competitive market too. Imagine if T shirt’s had been around then? He’d have cleaned up. Don’t the modern day celeb’s realise that daubing themselves with 2000 year old icons isn’t cool, it’s both naff and disrespectful to those who truly understand what their religion is about.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Egg on your face Mr Tesco

I see Tesco’s have been named and shamed (winners of the ‘Bad Egg Award’ apparently) for not removing battery hen eggs from their shelves. In accepting the award they reminded the Compassion In World Farming group that ‘Tesco’s always listen to customers and many of them tell us they are on a tight budget and rely on us to provide affordable good quality food.’ Excuse me but what the hell has that statement got to do with cramming chickens into ridiculously small cages and squeezing eggs out of them? Do Tesco’s honestly believe that anything is acceptable in the name of consumer choice? Anyway, thought I’d nip down to the local store and check out the price difference (needed some milk anyway) and bugger me, it’s big. You get about 150% more bang for your buck. Still, not sure that even poor people agree that you can’t make an omelet without imprisoning chickens ‘til they die. Personally, I reckon that Tesco’s should take another look at this and do their bit to shut the battery farm industry down, not just because its bad but because if nothing else their failure to do so highlights an arrogant disregard for public opinion as well as (and perhaps more ridiculously) a strategic blunder. Has nobody told the CEO that UK battery farms are going to be shut down by 2012??

Friday, April 18, 2008

Snakes on a plane

Imagine you’re cabin crew and a bloke refuses to take his seat for take off. You have no choice but to throw him off the plane in the name of passenger safety right? Now, imagine you’re orthadox Jew and it just so happens that your god demands that you stand near the toilet and pray to him at exactly the same time as the plane you’re on has to taxi. Your god’s a higher authority than the airline yeah? His word holds more weight than the young kid demonstrating how to put a life jacket on and pointing to the emergency exits doesn’t it? Stand off. But this isn’t about the god vs United Airlines, this is about two people who are both suffering from severe OCD. Each is compelled to obey the rules that they’ve been indoctrinate with. The Jewish bloke should have had enough common sense to realise his god would probably understand that, as part of society, he may have to cut his prayers short every now and then, for example whilst he sat down and buckled up. Similarly, it isn’t beyond reason for the cabin crew to appreciate that the bloke will be done praying long before they reach the start of the runway and that he isn’t going to die because he’s stood up while the plane trundles around at 25 mile an hour. Personally, I think the pair of ‘em should have been thrown off the plane; preferably at 30,000 feet (with the life jacket on ofcourse).

Recycling Jimmy

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Please, no more romcom!!

So, yet another romcom hits the big screen. Something about 27 dresses this time but I guarantee you it will be the same old crap with too many flaws to mention…but I’ll have a go. There’ll be the lonely, vulnerable girl; beautiful, intelligent, fully cashed up with daddy’s fortune. In other words, a bloke’s dream catch. So why the hell hasn’t she got a boyfriend already? It’s not as if she’s chosen to be single or is particularly career driven. She’ll work in a cafe or a video store and spend all day moaning about how ‘there’ll never be anyone for me’. The whole thing would be so much more believable (dare I say romantic?) if the lead lady was ugly, genuinely stupid and had actually tried to get a boyfriend before. Enter the bloke. He’s easy to spot. Good looking (but not dashing) innocently naïve, skint and on a run of bad luck that would make the bloke carrying the Olympic torch through Tibet feel wanted. He’ll cry a lot too (not the torch carrier…although we’ll see about that), usually about something she reminds him of. It’s a complete mismatch for Christ sake! And the story will never gain credibility because the plot will be transparent, the dialogue mush and the humor infantile. When are film makers going to realise that we can only watch what we’re given? Forcing us out on first dates to watch sloppy, ill thought out tripe just isn’t fair. Give us a choice once in a while. You could do a lot worse than to develop screenplays from edgy, original stuff like Recycling Jimmy, The Game or Truth or Bare. There is no excuse; the materials all out there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Horne…one sick mother of that there can be no doubt but aside from the uncomfortable fact that UK citizens once more find themselves bending over backwards (no doubt digging into tax payers funds too) and being asked to tolerate a beast in their midst, something else is wrong here. Exactly when was it decided that Australia could start shipping criminals to us?

On a completely unrelated topic, the lads side of the debate closes today over on ‘Women Won’t Win’. Any late comments/opinions much appreciated. Ta

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What does it take to make a girl happy?

Heather Mills eh, what a girl. ‘Nuff said….well almost. I mean, Sir Paul MCcartney must surely have been one of the most ‘romantic’ geysers on the planet. Imagine being woken up every morning girls by the chubby faced scouser’s soft tones, as he sits on the edge of the bed grinning and strumming away? And I mean his guitar! But no, in the end it all came down to money, as it always does. And there may be a clue here to what ‘romance’ actually is; a litmus test for how much a potential partner is prepared to give. Be honest, what’s romantic about train stations and wind swept hill tops? Absolutely no appeal what so ever apart from one thing: women know that if a bloke is prepared to stand in the pissing rain and wait for hours on end just to see you, then the chances are that somewhere down the line he’ll shell out for a big shiny rock. That’s what romance may be. A litmus test of a blokes potential and Macca had buckets of it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Women Won't Win

Thought I’d let you know about a new blog just started up. It’s kind of a battle of the sexes thing; an exchange of ideas over a week or two centred around a specific topic that men and women don’t traditionally see eye to eye on. It was my girlfriend’s idea (a result of her growing fascination with blogging I guess) and it should be fun. Hopefully people will get involved because of they don’t, it’ll just end up being me and her trading blows in public! Have a look anyway, read the ‘rules’ and let me know what you think. I’m up first with my attempt to expose romance for what it really is……….or should I stop now and run for the hills?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Inspiration the Hemmingway

I’ve got a couple of projects on the go at the minute (both at various stages of frustration) so it was cool to have an excuse to close the lap top for a while. That excuse was a short trip to Italy, skiing mainly but with a couple of days travelling tacked on the end. After the snow, we decided that Venice could be nice at this time of year and we were right, a cool breeze having emptied the city of the smells and tourists that can make a summer visit here feel like a crappy fair ground ride. It was on the water taxi on the way to the hotel that I happened across a short article in the guide book inviting me to spend some time at Harry’s Bar.
‘Apparently Hemmingway used to drink at this bar, love.’
‘Oooh, Gucci!’
So it’s obvious from the start that my girlfriend and me have got different things to see and do but as we’re unpacking in the room I manage to convince her that we should find the bar and chill out for a bit before trying to empty the shops. The concierge explains where Harry’s is. Not far actually, just a quick stroll through San Marc’s insatiable pigeons, a right turn at the water front and a 100 yard stroll to the corner where the gondoliers meet. Italian men are worse than the pigeons when you’re with a beautiful woman and my plummeting confidence isn’t helped much by their laughter as I stop to ask where Harry’s is only for one of them to reach across with his oar and tap on the brown door behind me.
‘Grazie. Now come on love, leave the nice men alone.’
Inside the bar is small with not so much a sense of 1920’s chic, more a station waiting room some way down the track. The semi fine furniture is cluttered with jackets, umbrellas and confused, flushed faces. No sign of Hemmingway either and I’m beginning to wonder where I’m going to get my inspiration from. There are waiters though, more pigeons dressed this time in white jackets and I order a couple of Bellini’s from them. While I’m waiting I get a clue from the table next to us as to what Harry’s bar means today.
‘Er, excuse me waiter, but Martini is usually served in a cocktail glass isn’t it?’
The waiter smiles at the American gent with ridiculous contempt. He looks down at the short, stubby glass of gin and then back at the customer.
‘That is how Mr Hemmingway liked them sir’
Our drinks arrive as we’re laughing about this and finally I get the inspiration I came for, and not only to write but to market and sell as hard as I can too.
‘Forty five euros for two bloody drinks!’
The American gives me a knowing nod and together we finish our drinks and hum the theme tune to The Italian Job.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Harry Potter vs contest.

It’s been almost 6 months now since Recycling Jimmy was published. It felt great to hit that particular milestone but in truth that was just the beginning of the challenge; a bit like emerging from the rapids and spotting the waterfall ahead. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this article by the excellent Derek Armstrong. Scary indeed, and as Derek points out, the most important (if not only) tool in the author’s box is branding. This is something I was told very early on in the process, something that has been pounded into me time and time again until the publisher was sure that it had sunk in. Must admit, it’s kind of fun to watch now as a new batch of Kunati authors are taken on; drill Sergeant Derek whipping the recruits into shape. Feel a bit like Richard Geer, driving off on his motor bike to go and collect Deborah Winger from the factory. Trouble is, unlike Mr Mayonaise, things aren’t quite so straight forward for me. It’s this branding thing see. Do you be yourself and hope that that’s enough or do you try and be something you’re not and run risk of getting sussed? Pick the wrong costume and you could end up marginalising yourself and shutting out a large percentage of potential readers. Judging by Derek’s picture on the Foreward blog, he went for the ‘terminator’ look; rogue robot author sent from the future to destroy Harry bloody Potter. Now there’s a death match worth paying to see.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Did I fall asleep and wake up in the United Kingdom of bleedin’ idiots?

Apparently so. Got up this morning, stuck the news on and that Archbishop of Canterbury bloke was advocating the introduction of Sharia law. Now anyone who reads my blog will know my position on religion (there was no one laughed louder or longer when, two days after the Archbishop of York announced his support of gay clergy men, a thunderbolt blew the roof off Yorkminster) but this ain’t about religion is it? Makes you wonder why Dr Rowan Williams’ feels it’s got anything to do with him at all. This is about UK citizens having their principals undermined at the grass roots. It’s about a foot in the door for those people who feel justified in their cause to batter other communities into becoming Muslim states. I live and work in a Muslim country. Even though I would never presume to claim my rights as a UK citizen here, I can kind of understand why my presence would cause offence to a minority of its people. That said, the majority are cool with it so I stay. That’s how things work. Governments don’t pander endlessly to the minorities, or at least they shouldn’t. The UK should take a leaf out of the Australian book. Adopting even the most marginal principals of a law that allows for the stoning of women is fundamentally wrong. Certain things shouldn’t even be debated; this is one of them as the damage that it does to race relations in our otherwise inclusive and tolerant society is immense. So Dr Williams, please shut up or you could find yourself getting that ridiculous hat knocked off by a baying crowd lobbing stones at you in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Harry Hill for President!

As hard as you might try, you can’t seem to avoid the US elections. There again, you really shouldn’t because the global community will be affected by who eventually finds their way into the Whitehouse. And this brings me to my first point about the short falls of democracy. Even though the rest of us will have our lives affected by US policy (both domestic and foreign) we don’t have a say in who will become the most powerful person on the planet. That aside, there’s a bigger problem in all this, with the underlying principle of one man one vote (ah, those were the days…). See, the thing is, to properly exercise that right and take your place in a democratic society, you have to be able to vote with your head. The problem is that a not inconsiderable number of people don’t actually have the brains to understand the issues that they are presented with. I include myself here on many aspects of UK politics. How the hell should I know if Europe’s a good thing or a bad thing? That’s your bloody job to know isn’t? Don’t make me choose! But democracy demands that I choose, otherwise it isn’t democracy. So, forced to do so, rather than vote with my head I vote with my heart. I vote based on things like, ‘well, last time I was in Spain I got my wallet nicked so I’m stuffed if we should move towards a European Federation.’ Get the problem? You see this in the US now. Most people aren’t voting with their head, they’re voting with their hearts. ‘Oh, she always looks so nice in them dresses don’t she? I think she should run the world’ or, ‘Yessiree, ‘bout time we had a black president.’ It simply can’t work anymore. But, not one to moan without offering a solution, I think I’ve cracked it. Voters shouldn’t be presented with people; they should be presented with policies. Simple manifestos, that’s it. No press interrogation and digging into candidates schooldays. No gender or race issues to tug at peoples heart strings. Vote on what you’re presented with without ever knowing the people behind the manifesto. Imagine the excitement on results night when the curtain on the cubicle is pulled back and you find out you’ve voted for Harry Hill? Cool.

Recycling Jimmy

Thursday, January 31, 2008

But who will save the chickens?

I got fan mail today from a bloke who’s just finished reading Recycling Jimmy. Now I know that, for most of the Kunati authors who had their novels published at the same time as me, this milestone was passed some time ago but I like to think that my target audience are just slow readers. Particularly pleasing is the fact that the letter came from someone who had never written to an author before. He just wanted to thank me for giving him a good laugh. How cool is that? Made me realise too that the whole process of writing a book doesn’t count for much if no one appreciates it. I always thought that I was writing for my own pleasure and whilst that maybe true to a point, the fact is that once published, you realise that you were writing for others; writing in the hope that someone, somewhere will like what you’ve done. There are other types of feedback that validate all this of course: royalty cheques (which reminds me, where the hell is mine?) and reviews, but generally these are from people who are either in the business or have an interest in it. If I had to choose, I’d take that unsolicited contact from a complete stranger any time. On the other side of the coin, no doubt it’s the start of sleepless nights for me; images of a tattooed madman sat sniffing my book surrounded by walls covered with news clippings and excerpts scrawled in chicken’s blood. Only messing Allan, much appreciated and glad you enjoyed RJ.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kenya understand it? 'Cos I can't.

Now I’m not particularly well informed about African politics but I do keep my on the news and at least try to be. I’ve seen about as much as Sky news has to offer about the troubles in Kenya for example but still I have no bloody idea what it’s all about. I thought all that was going to change this morning when I returned from the shower just in time to catch today’s offering brought to us by tiny blonde reporter Emma Herd (?) as she’s being jostled by the mob. She walks toward the camera and opens a discussion with a very sensible and calm looking blue shirted man. So, the bloke begins talking but says nothing about inflation, land rights, access to health care, poverty etc etc. All he bangs on about is my people this and my people that. Nothing of any substance. And he gets louder every time he says ‘my people’ too until he’s shouting and screaming and then bugger me if, from behind his back, he doesn’t pull this huge machete and start waving that in our beloved Emma’s face. Hold on pal, what the hell has she done? Anyway, he isn’t there long because a bigger, angrier bloke pushes his way forward, shoves the guy in the blue shirt out of the way and waves an even bigger machete at tiny Ms Herd. Then the camera cuts and we get back to ‘other news’. Left me wondering how it all works over there. But it also left me angry and mumbling to myself ‘am I bovvered’ as I switched the telly off.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Something strange going on.....

As an atheist, evolution has always been my friend. When ever one of the god squad starts banging on about ‘immaculate detail’ and ‘the design of life’ it’s so easy to say ‘Yeah? Well it’s evolution mate. Deal with it.’ Trouble is, it turns out that my ‘faith’ in the Origin of Species is probably just about as blind and misguided as Roy Keane’s in Sunderland. The thing that recently shook my belief system was the National Geographic channel. Did you know that if a bat heard its own sonar then its ear drum would burst? It’s true apparently. Clever little sod gets around this by using a tiny muscle to disconnect bone from drum in the instant that it screeches and then puts it back again in time to hear the echo. What?? How the hell does that evolve? How many bats have to hit how many trees (blood pumping from their furry little ears) before nature fixes that one? And what’s more, shouldn’t the solution have been more straight forward, more sensible? I mean, why the hell wouldn’t bats have evolved night vision or better still, a bloody alarm clock and get up with the rest of us? Now I am not admitting defeat on the old who created what debate, but I must admit, I am beginning to think that there’s something else going on here; that perhaps mother nature isn’t simply throwing dice and getting the odd six. The laws of the universe tend to try and quiet things don’t they? Stars cool, pressure hisses into vacuum, mountains crumble and waves, well you get the picture. It’s all to do with entropy I think; the state of disorder. The more chaos, the higher the entropy and the scientists assure us that the universe doesn’t like it so everything is cooling and slowing to a cold black death. That is, everything except life. According to evolution, life becomes more diverse with time, more complicated. Against every other trend, evolution creates chaos. It’s as though it’s going backwards. We should have started out as a mass of swinging, walking, swimming, fluttering things then slowly evolved back to a mush of single cellular organisms shouldn’t we? Okay, rules are there to be broken but in this case the question would be, who by?

Recycling Jimmy

Friday, January 18, 2008

Shelf Life

I write contemporary fiction; darkly comic stories that string together snapshots of today’s attitudes and events. On the surface, I’d accept that this particular genre is perhaps the simplest of all to tackle. I don’t mind admitting that, as a naturally lazy bloke, writing without research is hugely appealing. But it isn’t all good news. You see, for my stories to work, the reader has to recognise their context or at least be aware that the places and people they are laughing at or with, really could exist just outside the door, That’s how fiction works; the fresher the situation, the better the reading experience. The flip side of this is that, in today’s world where taste and truth can change with the flick of TV switch, ensuring the longevity of a manuscript needs careful attention. Imagine for example, Dan Brown putting the final touches to the Da Vinci code, sitting back with a smug grin only to see on the news that some dusty old archaeologist had found the real holy grail, spooned a goblet from the sand somewhere in the Holy Land. Bummer, and it’s the same risk with the fictional manuscripts that we slave over for months on end. I can tell you, it can be a long, anxious wait between submission and release; a time during which at any moment mass opinions or truths can change turning your funky fresh book into a pile of rotting pulp.

Recycling Jimmy

Friday, January 11, 2008

Be careful what you wish for....

‘Why are there only bad things on the news? I wish these people would report happy stories for a change.’

I’d bet my 42” LCD that anyone who has a television has said something similar to this at one time or another. Well never again for me thank you very much. I’ve said it for the last time because today I finally got my wish. I sat down to eat my sandwich in front of the lunchtime news just in time to see the tail end of some black and white footage of Mount Everest, a tall bloke and a small Asian fella, both stood grinning in big coats.

‘Looks like Sir Edmund Hilary dead or dying. Shame that.’ I said, took another bite and waited for the next story.

Some woman in Ireland had found her dog. This feature is on for over two minutes; a woman finding her dog. And I think I know why it ran away too. The owner wouldn’t stop rubbing it. You could see the dog straining to get away from her pampering, see the discomfort in its eyes, eyes that also resolved to hide better next time or die tryin’. Next there’s a picture of the Liver Building in Liverpool. I know what’s coming; the European city of culture starts today so I’m happy to go and slap some more ham on my bread knowing that I’m not going to miss anything. I return four minutes later to a picture of a monkey. It’s been found too. Now I know that we humans sometimes make the mistake of personifying these little furry people but I swear that as the monkey squealed and pointed off camera, it was blaming the dog. Guess we’ll never know. The monkey feature closed and the ‘news’ wrapped up with some entertainment ‘news’ about the premiere of Depp’s musical mistake, Sweeny Todd. The link girl smiles, promises that she’ll be back later to keep me up to date with everything and the program finishes leaving me wondering what the hell it was all about. I felt like I’d just watched an episode of Blue Peter; absolutely no adult content whatsoever.

It turns out that ‘good news’ is in fact ‘bad news’ after all. No news would have been better.

Recycling Jimmy

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The unrerasonable weight of evil words

I almost had a great day yesterday. Things had been pretty slow after the holidays and I was pretty much resigned to yet another session of watching ducks through the window when Kirk called. He’s an Aussie, a pal of mine from work and on the spur of the moment he decided to drop in to visit me and my girlfriend on his way back to Algeria. Naturally, most of the entertainment took place in the pub where it didn’t take long for a whole host of friends who I hadn’t seen since Christmas to join us. Like I say, all the ingredients were there to make a day great (unexpected friends packed full of stories and huge laughs) that culminated in a guitar thrashing session back at the lodge. Cool, and a fantastic time was almost in the bag when, lying in bed just before the stroke of midnight I unaccountably blurted two words to my girlfriend, snoozing on the pillow next to me. Now I won’t say what those words were (why or what isn’t important here) but the argument and tension that followed was black enough to turn the whole day sour. My own fault and I’ll hold my hands up, but what struck me during that dark, silent hour between fight and sleep was how powerful those words had been. Five bad syllables that had somehow managed to pollute the thousands of good ones that had previously been spoken that day. Bad words have this ability. They can ruin moments, days, lives and they can break things that an eternity of good words will never fix. This isn’t rocket science but it does also explain why as a writer I sometimes find myself staring at a blinking cursor for hours on end looking for the right word. In reality though, it isn’t my search for the right word that delays; it’s my fear of the bad one, the one with the power to turn the last three pages in to toilet paper.
Recycling Jimmy

Monday, January 7, 2008

God Bless (some of) America!

I needed to cash a cheque the other day but as it was in dollars I thought I’d ask how much it would cost to put the money into my sterling account. The young cashier thought about this for a moment and then asked the girl sat next to her. After a hushed chat and an indiscrete giggle (about what I have no idea) she came back to my window and announced proudly that it would cost me 2.5% of the value.
‘So how much is that then?’
The girl took a calculator, turned it on and looked at it for (and this is no exaggeration) 3 minutes without pushing a button.
‘Do you want me to do it?’
She smiles, giggles again and pushes the calculator under the glass for me to punch the numbers.
‘That’s two hundred and fifty quid! You sure about this? I ain’t paying two hundred and fifty quid to cash a cheque.’
‘Well, the cheque is for a lot of money isn’t it sir.’
‘Not really, no. Can you get some one to confirm this please.’
Now the girl huffs, spins her chair and walks toward a group of older women huddled around computers at the back of the room.
‘It’s zero point two five percent.’ she tells me when she returns.
‘That sounds better. So how much is that then?’ I asked, pushing the calculator back at her to see if she knows how to divide by ten. She didn’t so I told her, completed the transaction and left the building, strolling back to my car and resolving to move my account. But is the bank entirely at fault here? I mean if I, as a customer, don’t have the bottle to tell them that a divvy has slipped through the basic training net, how many customers must they lose before they find out? Well actually you know, not my problem, so stuff ‘em. A business shouldn’t be relying solely on ‘customer feedback’ questionnaires to tell them how to improve crap service. They should be delivering anyway, just like the American model that they all bang on about so much. This attitude is typical in the UK if you ask me. Somewhere along the line the UK has decided to adopt only a part of the American ideal and not all of it. Trouble is, it appears for some reason that we’ve only embraced the rubbish bits (gun culture, wars, fat arses, customer feedback forms, tornadoes) and decided not to bother so much with the good stuff on offer (cheap petrol, cosmetic surgery, customer service, cheap petrol). Of course, if you don’t agree or are not completely satisfied with this opinion, please feel free to let me know.