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