Wednesday 31 August 2011

Tax on tax on tax.

I've been trying to remember when it was that I concluded Clegg was an idiot. I think it was when I first saw him. Since then, he has taken great strides in proving my initial assessment to be entirely correct, if perhaps something of an understatement.

I have since formed the opinion that the reason he is leader of the Lib Dems is that he is actually the least stupid member of that party. Also, I am convinced that the entire party hates being in power so much that they are determined to ensure they never receive another vote again. I wouldn't vote for them if they were the only ones on the ballot paper.

Pub Curmudgeon spotted the latest lunatic babblings of the Lib Dems. When you buy any form of booze, you pay duty on it. A lot of duty. On the price plus duty, you pay VAT so you pay VAT on the duty too - tax levied on tax. The Lunatic Dims propose adding a new tax onto that total price - tax on the tax on the tax - and the only reason I can find behind this proposal is that they are all certifiably insane.

Smuggling cigarettes is difficult. Counterfeiting cigarettes is difficult. It happens anyway. Booze? You can make it in your shed. Criminals will have no trouble producing dodgy booze and they won't bother distilling it. As in Prohibition days, they'll water down industrial alcohol and sell it as gin. Beer is crushingly easy when you're not bothering with all the regulation and quality control stuff the genuine brewers have to deal with.

Normally you wouldn't touch the dodgy stuff with a bargepole but when the good stuff is priced out of range, well...

Unlike legitimate brewers and distillers, criminals don't care who they sell it to. They aren't going to ask for ID. The higher the tax, the more attractive the product becomes for criminal enterprise. It's not a new idea, it's a tried, tested and long-proven fact.

But Nick Clegg is expected to demand some tax changes as the Coalition begins planning for the second half of this parliament.

Why? Why does he want more money from us? Isn't the bastard rich enough on our money yet? Isn't he happy with canteens and restaurants and bars we're subsidising? What does he need expenses for now? Just how greedy can one man get? Is he jealous of Mandelstein or something?

Earlier this year the Lib Dem leader suggested councils should be allowed to raise taxes on everything from fuel and office parking to landfill and speeding.

That must, MUST be made very clear at the next election. This is what the Lib Dems want. All your money. All of it. All your freedoms, all your possessions, all your thoughts. There is absolutely nothing liberal nor democratic about this bunch. They are, as they prove over and over again, utterly worthless as a party, as representatives, as human beings.

As for the Tories, well, they are still wearing those blinkers that say 'Pubs are closing becasue of supermarket prices. Nothing at all to do with the smoking ban.'

We'd be better off if we made Downs syndrome a requirement for anyone standing as an MP.

It couldn't be worse.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Safe movies.

Velvet Glove, Iron Fist tells the tale of the New Censorship that seeks to ban any form of smoking from the sight of children, or indeed anyone. Cruella DeVille can still make coats out of puppies, that's fine, but the smoking has to go. In case the children are upset by her smoking.

They won't be upset by her making coats out of puppies because they learn how to do that in primary school now. Seen many puppies around lately? You haven't, have you? What do you think those hoodies are made of?

In another vignette from the Novel That Is Taking Far Too Bloody Long, the main character is called in by his daughter's teacher. Teacher observed child chewing the end of a pencil and since this is smoking-related behaviour, she is obliged to quiz the parents about it. Cotinine tests all round. Far-fetched? I thought so when I wrote it, but I'm not so sure any more.

Have you seen Hostel or Saw? Lots of gory nastiness untroubled by the complexities of any actual plot. Lovely. Surely banning smoking in such films would be superfluous because children aren't allowed to see them anyway. Ah, there's a far better way to solve that problem than the rather insipid 'oh, but they might, and they'll be more traumatised by a full ashtray than by the sight of someone being hamstrung'.

Yes, the denormalisation of anything harder than 'Dumb and Dumber' is in its early stages. The merry little japes are good for you, anything that might show someone getting a bruise will make you die. Oddly, the most disturbing film I've ever seen was Jim Carrey in 'The Cable Guy'. Hellraiser, I've seen them all and the later ones are rubbish. I didn't even twitch through any of them. Cable Guy scared the crap out of me. I'm glad I don't have cable.

It's not just smoking in films that's on the list for removal. Get used to the Sound of Music because it's all we'll have left soon. Unless some underground group fights back, as is happening with everything else.

Sleep tight, cheeldren. The sounder you're asleep, the easier it is for the toys to dreenk your blaaad.

Anyone looking for a babysitter? No? Just thought I'd ask. So, everyone staying in for the night, then? Well I'm not.

I like to creep into houses and hide under beds with a big knife. It's just a hobby.


Seen but not heard.

I do most of my writing-related work at night. Actually I often work in the lab overnight too. It's quiet, no phones, no visitors, no interruptions. Ideal for concentration but not so ideal for making use of those things that require you to be awake during the day, such as banks.

It's not just because I write tales of gloom and it's hard to get in the mood when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. When the weather is fine there's always a lawnmower running somewhere, then there are delivery vans and other traffic, and the children.

Just along the road is a child who is part banshee. She likes to scream. If she was being flayed alive, not one curtain would twitch in the street. We're all used to hearing her scream now. It's irritating but easily avoided by waiting until after childrens' bedtimes before working. The lawnmowers have all stopped by then too, there are no more deliveries, nobody is phoning or knocking at the door so it's a much more productive time.

It had never occurred to me to complain to anyone about the screaming child. I've never actually seen her, only heard her. This child is heard but not seen. Maybe she really is a banshee.

Yes, it can be annoying especially when she really gets going but it's what children do. They are noisy. I expect I was noisy as a small child too. I didn't notice it but the adults would have, and I do have vague memories of a bellowed 'Shut up' aimed my way once or twice. It is also the summer holidays (soon over, if they aren't already, it's not easy to tell if you don't have kids at school) so the kids are out playing. Can't really complain about something that's natural. It would be as ridiculous as complaining to the council when it rains.

We do have some ridiculous people in the world these days. Not just the one who complained to the council about one, single child playing in his own garden. No, more ridiculous still are those in the council who served a warning on the family, threatened them with monitoring, a possible abatement notice and a fine, empowered the weasel neighbour to keep a diary and record this child playing (a practice that would normally result in a police visit these days) but who then seek to justify their pathetic actions.

A city council spokeswoman insisted the authority has a legal obligation to investigate all complaints.
She said: 'Legally, we have to investigate any noise complaints we receive, regardless of the source of the noise and, in compliance with the law, we informed Mr and Mrs Lansdell a complaint had been received.

That's not what the letter they described sounded like. It sounded pretty threatening.

'An abatement notice has not been served.'

Well, no, not now, but would it have been? These petty officials back down faster than schoolyard bullies faced with the headmaster, but only if they're caught.

This particular child is learning an early lesson. Keep to yourself, mind your own business, don't steal or rob or vandalise and you're a soft target. If he had been setting fire to cars, the council wouldn't have dared approach the family.

It's fast reaching the point where the only way to be safe in this brave new world is to be dangerous. Children are learning this very quickly.

Monday 29 August 2011

Sometimes you have to laugh.

This should do it.

Being a proper villain.

This evening, I feasted on lamb, with baby carrots and new potatoes. Yes, it was a meal composed entirely of child-flesh. Lovely. Continuing the evil bastard theme, my breath now smells of whisky and my fingers reek of tobacco. Those leaves are sticky and the smell persists after repeated washing. It's great. In fact, if Lady Gaga happens by, a dress made of dried tobacco leaves would look absolutely stunning, and you can rip a bit off and smoke it if you run out of cigarettes.

All I need now is an underground lair and Don Shenker tied to a table with a big laser heading for his knackers. Unlike that incompetent oaf Goldfinger, I intend to stay there to make sure the job's done. None of this secret cutty watch thing rubbish, no casually turning away for a chat.

I'm going to need more than one table too. And probably some help with the electricity bill. Those knacker-cauterising lasers are worse than tumble driers, you know. Then again, if I had Scaramanga's solar array I could power it for free. That Bond bloke is lucky his enemies never properly teamed up.

Well, that's all far in the future and depends on me winning the lottery. My chances would be improved if I actually bought a ticket, but not by very much.

In the meantime, I will have to settle for being the Man with the Yellowed Finger or maybe Blosmoke, with a rather off-white cat, and just dream about those imaginative ways of exacting terrible revenge on those Nazi-inspired denormalisers. Oh, you can shout 'Godwin' all you want, antismokers. Just have a read of this while you do. Then maybe you can revert to shouting 'Heil' as your kind did in times past, and will again. It's all you can aspire to because you're no damn use for anything other than being someone's drone.

I don't compare smokers to the Jews. If you are born Jewish then you are Jewish and they'll come for you again one day. Smokers are more like the Jehovah's Winesses who also died in those camps. We could stop smoking and conform to the demands of the smug controllers, just as that option was available to the JW's. Like them, I will not conform. You're going to have to gas me, smokophobes, and don't think I'm going to be all meek about it. There will be blood and not all of it mine.

Pat Nurse is on top form lately. In another post she describes how the NHS will refuse to treat us unless we agree to assimilation into the collective. Oh, and if you're an overweight smokophobe, don't smile until you've read it.

So be it. Once that is in place, the scene is set for a class action charging the NHS with extortion. We all have to pay National Insurance and that's supposed to pay for the NHS (I know it doesn't really, but many people still believe that crap). So we are forced, with threats, to pay for a service that does not exist for us.

We won't win. That's for sure. We won't win because the defence will make clear that National Insurance is not earmarked for the NHS but is in fact an extra income tax for the government to spend on anything they like. It's the only defence available. The effect of that in the national news could be interesting, don't you think? Ozzy the Chancer once mentioned putting NI in with income tax, because that's what it is, but that went quiet very quickly. Someone doesn't want it becoming too clear.

What is perhaps even more interesting is Pat's link to an Australian smokophobe site. It's full of the usual petulance and smug whining and all the crap these idiots actually believe but it has its amusing side too.

Smoky-drinky is free. Bring some booze, bring your own smokes, but there is no membership fee and no entry charge. Being an antismoker means you have to pay to hate. Oh yes, smokophobes, it costs you money to hate me. It costs me nothing to hate you. It's a testament to the dedication of the haters that the page still has '2009' at the top. What does it cost you to hate me today?

The smokophobes pay to be told lies, they pay to be scared, they pay to be pompous self-important arseholes and they pay to hate. Smokers just relax and blow smoke rings and you know what? Stress will kill you faster than smoke will kill me. It's not the second hand smoke that's killing you. It's worrying about it.

So go ahead, smokophobes, believe that carbon monoxide is cumulative because red blood cells are never replaced. Believe that there is enough poison in one whiff of smoke to instantly give you cancer when I've been smoking them for thirty years without incident. Believe it, worry about it, lose sleep over it, be terrified of it and if we ever meet I will be delighted to expand on the nonsense you have been taught. I love this game.

You an argue that it's not a game, that it's serious. No, it's a game. Smokophobes, you don't get it. You are not the players in this game. You are the pieces. The likes of ASH put crap in your heads and send you out. I, and those like me, put more crap in your heads and send you back. The game ends (for you) when one of us manages to induce your death.

Have I spoiled the game by telling you this? No, because you smokophobes won't believe it. You can't grasp it. All you believe is what suits your prejudice and this information cannot possibly have been planted by game players. Keep moving on that board, smokophobes. Your smugness and gullibility ensures we get to keep playing.

Even if the smokophobes all woke up to reality, the game continues with the salinophobes, alcophobes, obesophobes and many others. Usually it's mostly the same people so we don't even have to come looking for you.

Is it true? Are we using you haters as pawns in a sick and cruel game? Or am I just playing with your mind? That is the essence of the game I've just described so maybe it's real, maybe it's not.

For once, smokophobes, you have to decide.

Meanwhile, watch out for that candle. The best material for candle wicks was discovered by Trappist monks, centuries ago. It's a special kind of twine.

It's made from the stems of the tobacco plant.

Didn't you know? Everyone else knows.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Panic harvest.

It's been howling with wind all day, a nasty cold one from the North. Several of my plants have toppled and quite a few leaves are shredded. The ones next to the North-end fence are better but they're struggling too.

So I'm busily picking the leaves that are of decent size (and haven't been torn to bits yet) and threading them onto wire. I still have to check on the greenhouse - haven't dared open it yet.

This isn't the hurricane, that's still half a planet away and anyway I'm on the east coast of Scotland so it isn't likely to get this far. This is just normal bloody Scottish weather.

I've also picked some flowers as suggested by Rose in comments, discarded the petals, stamens and style and just kept the green bits for drying. Question - should I just keep the sepals or do I get to burn Dreadful Arnott's ovaries too?

Back later - I have leaves to thread.

Taking it too far.

Remember Frankie Boyle, the ginger specky git who loves to offend? He was in trouble for having a go at some pop-tart's kid and again for making fun of Down's syndrome. There was Outrage! The lefties were all up in arms (apart from the Down's syndrome lefties who were busy with some chocolate). It was a Terrible Thing he did.

Okay, he does go well past the bounds of good taste on occasion. Well, most of the time actually. But he does not mean it maliciously, he's just an outspoken sod. Sometimes he's really funny even if some of his jokes make even me go 'Ooooo'. We don't have to watch him but enough people do to let him make a career of it and if you pay to go to a show or tune in to a TV programme knowing you're going to be offended then you're an idiot and you'll get no sympathy here.

Frankie Boyle is joking. You might not find it funny. I might not find it funny. But he is joking.

So, you can argue, are those who have decided to depict Maggie the Thatch as deranged enough to sleep with the Tiny Blur. It's not realistic, no woman could be that deranged which is why he married a postbox.

One comment points out that Spitting Image used to rip the piss out of her every week so why is this different?

It's different because she is no longer Prime Monster, hasn't been for a long time and indeed has no official public role. It's different because she is old and frail and a bit loose in the head these days and cannot defend herself. When Spitting Image made their puppets, the Thatch was a powerful woman with a mind so sharp it could perform surgery on itself. She was Prime Monster and in charge of the country. She made no move to silence Spitting Image even though it deliberately denigrated her and all of her allies as well as all of her foes. The Hattersley puppet was responsible for several hosepipe bans and the Tebbit puppet made leather fashionable.

When Frankie Boyle picks his targets he knows they can defend themselves or that they have people to defend them, or that they won't be watching or won't care. He is not malicious. When Spitting Image indulged in caricature they were also not being malicious.

This depiction of the Thatch is malicious. It is different from 'funny', it is different from 'taking the piss', it is simply vindictive.

If the Thatch was in power or even in parliament now, I would be among the first to deride her efforts, but she is not. She is a confused and vulnerable old woman in the last days of her life.

The Tiny Blur still babbles his nonsense as if anyone was listening, 'Kicker' Tebbitt is still compost mental and blogging, the Brown Gorgon can still hide in a jar of prunes and blame it on the gherkins, Red Ken still pops out idiocies to delight the news, Boris the Spider is the best comedy mayor since Red Ken, Monochrome Man, the Prime Monster nobody can remember except that he dressed as a walrus and had an affair with the Eggwoman, is still there in black and white, and Drooling Kinnock is still available for derision and probably always will be because I grew up in that arse's constituency and he convinced me never to vote Labour. The Cleggy and the Cameron have a poem being devised just for them, even now.

The last short story collection had a poem at the end, and this next one will too, in the interests of balance.

When they are too old and too frail to be derided, it's time to leave them alone. Come on, she is five prime monsters in the past and has had no effect on anyone's lives since Monochrome Man took over. She is just an old woman now.

Even Frankie Boyle knows when to drop the sick jokes. It seems his most vociferous critics don't.

But then it does seem to be a particular blind spot with socialist control freaks.

Saturday 27 August 2011


I reproduce the comment I've just read verbatim for your edification...

Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from shipping by a billion tonnes a year? No problem.
Remove the diesel engines from the world's existing fleet and convert them into galleys.
Conscript everybody whose body mass index is too high to pull the oars. Two problems are thus solved in one stroke.

Julian Glazer, Westcliffe-on Sea, UK

So where did I read that? In the bloodvessel-bursting pages of the Daily Mail? In the heart-attack-inducing print of the Sun or the possibly carcinogenic words of the Grauniad? Some crazed hack-rag, surely?

The letter, for letter it was, not some unmoderated forum post, was selected for publication and printed on page 31 of issue no. 2827 of New Scientist.

New Scientist used to be about science. Now it simply pushes the socialist control agenda and approves of the hate and bile directed against anyone who does not fit the British Standard Human model devised by neo-eugenecists. Oh sure, there's still some interesting astronomy in there, sometimes there's some entomology but it's all just a cover for the fact that most of the magazine is a Stalinist mouthpiece now.

Everything is related to global warming. Everything. If there's a dust storm on Mars it's because you turned your kettle on. Salt. Fat. Smoking. Drink. All the made-up numbers and ridiculous studies are included with not a shred of critical thought involved at all. It fits The Agenda so it goes unquestioned. Call for Hitler-style punishments for those who don't conform and New Socialist will print it. Point out the insanity and you are a 'denier'. A heretic.

Scientists read this magazine. I, like most scientists, used to rely on it for understandable explanations of work that was far outside my own field. I can't rely on it now. I know they are printing lies and hate and so I can no longer rely on any article printed in there. Is it real or is it propaganda? If it's outside my own knowledge base I can't tell any more. This copy was the first I had bought in months and it'll be longer before I buy the next one. What's the point? It's a hate publication now. If you hate the Denormalised that's just fine with the editors.

I'm not obese, not even by the narrowing definitions of recent years designed to drum up business and new scare stories. I do like to smoke and drink and I don't want a bunch of pompous Borg telling me to conform. I like salt. I like crackling on pork. I am not going to live a dull life just to fit with some control freak's demands. You can shout about me 'costing the NHS money' even though I haven't and in fact the NHS has cost me a hell of a lot of tax money over my half-century of existence. You don't want me to use the NHS in the future? Then shut it down right now. Then it won't cost either of us anything, will it?

I have to wonder what the NHS is for since it doesn't want to treat sick people but instead wants to direct our lives in minute detail. I have to wonder what New Scientist is for if it is no longer interested in the two-way world of science but only in the one-way world of totalitarian control. Science is all about disagreement but New Scientist believes in the 'We are right because we say so' version of science put out by the BMA, ASH, the Church of Climatology and many others. Disagree and you are deemed worthless.

I am not obese but I will not stand by why the obese are derided as nothing more than oar-fodder. Why? I know there are those who make Mr. Blobby look like a swimwear model and who hate me because I smoke so why defend them? Why not let New Scientist's correspondents yoke them to an oil tanker's oars and let them puff away into the sunset?

Why? Because it's the same thing again. It's population-splitting. Not all chubbies are rabid, vicious antismokers. Not all smokers are slim. Not all smokers are drinkers and vice versa but read the letters and the comments and you'd believe that we are all disparate groups. We are not groups at all, we are individuals, and neither the NHS, the BMA nor New Scientist can cope with that. We must fit a pigeon-hole or they can't deal with us. So much for superior intellect.

Some people like cannabis. I don't but I don't care if someone else does. Some people don't eat pork, others don't eat beef. I eat anything but I am not interested in forcing the non-pork and non-beef eaters to comply. Some like to be vegetarian or vegan, and I have no problem with them not eating meat. Some people prefer to avoid alcohol and/or tobacco and that's fine with me.

All I ask is the same in return. I have never forced any of you to live like me. Just leave me alone.

Some people like to be larger than others, some like to be slimmer than others. Neither is any concern of mine. Nor is it any concern of anyone else. No concern of the NHS which we all pay for, including smokers, drinkers and the obese. No concern of the BMA or the WHO which nobody voted for and who therefore represent only their own bank accounts. Which, incidentally, you smoke/drink/fat haters are also paying for, as are we. Yes, we pay them to order us around but we have no means of telling them to stop. We all pay ASH too, did you know? They cost the taxpayer more than smokers ever could. Look at the numbers. The real ones.

So it's official. Letters demanding that fat people be put into slavery are approved and published in the name of global warming, in a mainstream science magazine. Aren't you delighted, Righteous? Aren't you polishing up those gas-chamber guard jackboots ready for the day your services are required? Won't be long now.

If you're a fat smoker-hater, sit down and think because you are one of us now. You are in here with the smokers and drinkers and all the rest of the Denormalised. Yes, it's your turn in the hatred chair.

'Science' has spoken.

Jaffa cake party.

I have been out at Smoky-Drinky and we were in among the Jaffa cakes. This is composed of evil-strength cider and either Guinness or Murphy's stout and was christened a long time ago by a friend of mine.

He was meant to meet his girlfriend and came for a drink with us while he waited for her to finish work. She was late so technically it was her fault he was plastered. At that time it was Merrydown and Guinness, and when she demanded to know what he had been drinking he replied 'Jaffa cakes. Dark and smooth with a smashing orangey bit in the middle.' We fell about. She made him leave. I don't think she ever spoke to any of us again.

Also I have been drunkenly responding to some emails so if you have a long and somewhat deranged rant in your inbox, blame the Jaffa cakes.

And now, once the sobering effects of Grant's ale cask reserve kicks in, to the news...

Friday 26 August 2011


I'm supposed to be working but some nights you just can't get into it.

Anyhoo. In the modern world of witchdoctor-science you can get funding for anything that matches The Agenda even if your results have more hard centres than my plum tree.

Yes, my plums are vast and full of juices. Look on my plums, ye wenches, and despair, for I am Ozyplumdias, King of Plums, and possibly slightly pissed.

Even the study of women who are unsatisfied with their USB port and wish it converted to USB 2 draws funding as long as it blames something the Puritans want banned. Look, wenches, I have never met one of you where I have had cause to complain about your loading bay. I have met a few who have complained about what I'm loading. Hey, I'm just the delivery boy. Complain to the manufacturer.

What is this female genital mutilation all about? I thought women weren't keen on it and here they are demanding it on the NHS. What are they having done? Shaving it into Groucho Marx eyebrows? Try not to picture that with a cigar. Oops, too late. Having it made less wrinkly than Gordon Brown's face? Ladies, that face has been called the same name as your lower bits for so long that most of us men expect to see him there. We look forward to hearing someone else getting the blame.

If porn was the cause of genital surgery, every man on the planet would be looking to have the end threaded so he could attach an extension. Those films might look raunchy to females but to men they look like fireman training films. We normal blokes can't compete. If those things were real, when they filled with blood the man would pass out.

Look, wenches, if you want to attract someone with that kind of equipment, forget surgery and learn to speak horse. There are very few of those freaks out there and they all work in porn films. With women who also work for Defence as aircraft carrier dry docks.

This fanny-fiddling does not trouble me in terms of 'cost to the NHS' because the drones already believe I've bankrupted it anyway, even though the NHS don't know who I am. It troubles me because it's silly and not in a funny way. Elective surgery is not something to be taken lightly and fiddling with your reproductive bits can leave you childless or worse. Worse? Yes, someone gave birth to Jonathan Ross, remember. Do you want to be that woman? Well, do you? Fiddle with your bits and the next one might be you. And you thought the hairy palms tale was scary.

Circumcision is, to me, ridiculous. It's like God says "I made you perfect except for that bit. That's a bit of moulding flash, just trim it off. Then you're right. You'll understand when Airfix is on the go, that's my message to you. Trim the flash and it's just right. You'll see."

So Airfix was a message from God. Deny it if you can.

Female chopping of the bits is far worse. Even if there's a whole wizard's sleeve thing going on, there is no benefit in slicing and dicing those components. We can say what we like about porn stars but real life is not like that. Not for me anyway. Not for most people, I hope, because that would make me the only one not getting wild sex with every passing stranger (if that's true, don't tell me).

I have to wonder what a 'designer vagina' is, though. can you get the 'Cherie' that looks like a post box or maybe the 'Jean-Paul Gautier' that is indistiguishable from your arse? The Vivienne Westwood... no, I am nowhere near drunk enough to envisage that.

Women, realise this. We men are simple creatures. We don't care if you dye it purple and give it a Joker smile. We don't care if you make it look like Kate Bush or Alfred Hitchcock. We don't care too much if it's a fairly randy goat or a bag of sand with a hole in it so worrying about what your lower receptacle looks like is futile. No man cares unless he's gay and then the only thing you'll get is a critique.

You women who worry about whether you should get it strimmed to bowling-green standard or leave it as three acres of brambles. You women who want the wizard's sleeve retailored into a Mod cuff, know this.

Men don't actually know the difference and don't care to. Really, we don't. If you are hurting during an intimate encounter because of some surgery you didn't need, most of us will notice and it will result in a visit from the Floppy Fairy. Neither of us want that.

Do. Not. Cut. Yourselves.

There is really no need. We left that tribal fanny-chopping behind a very long time ago, and neither gender wants it to come back.

Especially not on the NHS.

Not so media savvy.

I screwed up. I set up this blog before setting up the smokydrinky Email so this blog is not linked to that Email.

Both are Google accounts so I can't be logged into both of them at once. I have to log out of this and into the Email to answer them. There is a way around it, I can invite myself to contribute here but it's a patch, not a fix, because I run several other odd-bugger blogs and have another one in mind (yes, I am full of shit and the Internet is my sewer) plus other email accounts including the one ASH haven't yet banned because they don't know which is me. So it's all a bit of a mess. To be honest, I like it that way. It's funny.

Anything that makes me laugh is a good thing. Not necessarily for anyone else, but anyone else can tut and stare and watch me not care.

Right. I will invite myself to contribute so I can be in both at once because I am getting very, very slow at responding to email. Often I log out, switch off or just pass out from booze and don't get to the smokydrinky responses. Therefore there will be a new contributor which is also-me and you know, I might even use that name.

Downside? Of course there is. I am an occasional contributor at Old Holborn though I haven't had anything suitable for a while, and also have babbling rights at Fausty's though I have yet to exercise them. The new Me will not. My link to Orphans of Liberty is unaffected because Google don't own it yet. Again, I have not babbled there enough lately. Must get the babbler oiled up and ready to go. Anyway, if I want to get into Fausty or OH's places I'll have to log in to this blog.

So if you see posts put up by someone who is not me, be assured that there is no problem, no conspiracy. Not-me is also-me.

I have yet to decide on this new name.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Stop! Baccytime.

I think Dreadful's been at my whisky.

Time to start the harvest to the tune of MC Baccy's 'U Can't Smoke Here'. I am indebted to this tip for hanging the leaves to dry. Although sun-drying might not work here. We don't see that thing too often in these parts. In fact, the biggest laugh I had this week was when some idiot tried the cold-call hard-sell for solar panels.

"What's a 'solar'?"

"It gives you free electricity from the sun."

"The what? The shiny thing in the clouds? I've been wondering what that was for. Is it yours?"

Cold callers are fun - and they're paying for the call so keep them on the line as long as you can.

My plants have been somewhat wind-ravaged but it would have been worse before the neighbours put those big fences up. Perhaps I can induce them to build higher ones. It would have been better if I had used six-foot canes to hold the plants up, but lesson learned. I didn't expect them to do so well this far north.

I've already pulled a batch of leaves and strung them up to dry. That's why Dreadful looks a bit sparse around the bottom. There were a lot of slug-ravaged ones and I've left most of those on. If I take them off, the little slimy gits will just climb higher to get their freebies. The slugs, I mean. This isn't a post about politics.

Lately, we are to believe that tobacco is full of arsenic and polonium. There's none in mine. Arsenic and polonium are elements, and plants have not yet developed the technology to create elements. They've already invented tobacco and alcohol and many other things, so they probably feel they've done more than we have anyway. They're leaving the elemental chemistry to us.

If I had a plant that could turn one element into another I'd be feeding it lead and crossing my fingers.

The only places a plant can get any chemical element is the soil, the water and the air. Look at the size of Dreadful up there. If she had absorbed enough of a toxic element to have detectable amounts in her leaves then either the soil, the rain or the air contains so much of it that I, and everyone around me, is already dead. So are all the plants.

Therefore, if a tobacco plant has absorbed enough of any toxic element to pose a risk to those smoking a little bit of one leaf (some of those leaves are at least five smokes' worth, and further south they get much bigger) then that plant cannot have grown at all. So no, I am not in the least concerned by scare stories of polonium and arsenic. They are self-evident nonsense. Yet the drones believe it and if you imagine for a moment that I won't tell them those leaves are radioactive, then you haven't been here before. I still have a little pot of glow-in-the-dark paint from the time I painted the grouting in the kitchen tiles to play 'Hellraiser' with a gullible idiot. Yes, I have a fake 'Hellraiser' box here too. I told him he'd solved it and turned off the lights.

Growing the plants turned out to be easy after a couple of initial errors. I put out the first ones too soon and the slugs minced them. The ones I later put straight into the rubbish soil I have are still alive, but piddling little things.

The best results were with those potted on in the greenhouse until they filled six-inch pots, then put into buckets of decent compost (£3 for 50 litres by the time I needed it, hardly an expensive affair). The buckets had holes in the bottom and stood in cat-litter trays full of water to keep the slugs out. Buckets and trays were from the pound shop so each cost, somewhat predictably, a pound.

The plants grow themselves. Unfortunately they will not dry and cure themselves so now begins the hard part. As far as I can determine, the leaves should feel like thin leather, not dried to a crisp like 'normal' leaves. Then there are several options to choose from.

I could take the Bulgarian advice (in Email) and blanch them in boiling water, then re-dry them. That's the fastest option so one batch will go that way. I have seen options to air-cure, seal in jars or bags, stack and moisten, roll into pods and pour in rum or other spirits, and more. I probably won't have enough to try them all. I expect to get some or maybe even all of them wrong, it is a first attempt after all. In the end, maybe I'll end up with a little bit of something smokeable but every error along the way is a pointer for what to do next year. Remember, the entire experiment has cost not much more than ten worthless British pounds. One or two ounces of smokeable tobacco at the end of this and I break even.

That's for the future. For now I have to concentrate on stage two, drying. In this sometimes warm and always damp climate, moulds are a big problem and I could potentially lose the lot to a fungus. Therefore there will be several drying locations - house, garage, shed and greenhouse. Hopefully the moulds won't get them all. There's only one way to find out and it has cost nothing more from the plant-in-buckets stage.

Worth the effort? Certainly. If I can smoke one single cigarette/cigar/pipe bowl made of tobacco I grew with my own nicotine-stained cancer-spreading fingers, it's all been worth it.

If it doesn't work, I will have seeds and buckets and trays all ready to try again next year so the second attempt will cost less. Plus I'll have one year's experience of buggering it up.

Even if it does fail, the plants are pretty and fun to scare people with. The slug-munched ones will get a coat of paint.

Opinions requested.

That second short story collection is nearly ready to go. It will include this one by popular request (well, one request, but that's more than any of the others had). Plus some others that have appeared here but weren't in the first book and a few brand new ones.

Tonight I've been working on the cover. The cover matters because it's the first thing anyone sees and if it's a turnoff then nobody will open the book anyway. It's worth spending some time on it. I've gone for a basic image composed of a couple of photos. All photos are taken by me so there's no copyright issue at all. No title as yet, this is just the background image for the cover.

How does it look? Total crap, or spooky enough? Should I branch out into cover art or shut up and get back to the writing?

I'm also thinking of splitting the book for Kindle so I can sell it in cheaper bits rather than as one whole book. That way, people can buy a 99p sample and if they like it, they can buy the rest. It won't be all separate stories as some are pretty short, so the short ones would be bundled. I'm currently thinking maybe three or four parts. Good idea, or a terrible notion? The downside is that each will need its own cover, but then I have an awful lot of photos to choose from.

The print version will be one book, a little shorter and therefore hopefully a little cheaper than the last one. I made that a single ebook, and I'm wondering if that was a mistake. Any marketing experts out there?

As for the published one, I see the sods at Amazon have put the price up. That's not going to help sales. I can sell signed copies for £9.50 including UK postage and that's with me paying to get them shipped over from the USA in small batches, so why Amazon needed to tip it over the £10 mark is a mystery. It's not a big book. If you can stand to read a PDF, the cheapest option is still direct from the publisher. I hear there are problems with the chapter breaks on the Kindle version and as far as I know, that's still the case.

Right, best get back to that fantasy world that's almost as mad as the news. I'd like this collection out of the way soon because it's time to nag the publisher about the second novel I sent them three months ago. That needs to be done diplomatically because the easiest response to a belligerent author is 'no'.

Diplomacy is not my forte.

Hey, non-smoking drinkers...




Liver disease is the new lung cancer. You are costing the NHS money! It's actually having to do what you're paying it for and it's not happy. It doesn't matter if you drink no more than a glass of sherry a month, you're a drinker in the same way that someone who has one cigar a year is a smoker. Your turn.

Oh - and guess who's next?

Still think you're not on the list? Wake up call - everyone is on the list. The list the smokophobes started now has their names on it too. So, you guys want some help from the smokers? You want us to help you fight the new bans coming your way?

No. Because even if we did, we'd still be out in the cold. Remove the smoking ban entirely, stop all funding for ASH, get the BMA to do their real jobs rather than acting as if they own us all, and then we'll talk. Otherwise, enjoy your own ban.

Wednesday 24 August 2011


Love them or hate them, you're not allowed to kill them.

The Daily Outrage tells us that the bullet-headed brother of someone who has served time for murder has been charged with being a kiddie fiddler. Then, they publish a load of pictures of sleeping babies which could well have been taken directly from Darth Paedo's hard disk. You figure it out.

Actually, the baby photos are harmless. They are the sort of photos everyone's parents love to bring out when their child brings home that first adolescent boy/girl/thing friend. The parents of those particular infants will be able to show off newspaper clippings. Which is cruel but since none of them are me, also very funny.

Real photography rules are: You can take pictures of anyone in public and you don't need their permission. The Daily Mail and practically every other newspaper should be well aware of this because every day they publish pictures their hacks have snapped and nobody would ever give permission for most of them. They range from the embarrassing to the downright humiliating. They even photograph celebrities' children and publish them. It's almost as if someone cares.

There is no special law saying that anyone needs your permission to photograph your child in any public space, but I can say now that you don't need to worry about me doing it. I find spiders, insects and rocks far more interesting subjects. Prettier, too, in many cases. And much quieter.

So it's no surprise that the police dismissed parents' complaints about someone posting photos of school sports day on Farcebook. It's not illegal. The paranoid delusion of the Winghams is breathtaking.

I wonder if modern school sports includes shot-putting and javelin-throwing? Ours did, but I was never involved in sports day because they never included dominos, cribbage, poker or pool. Not even chess. Sports day focused on mindless exercise rather than logical thought. Ours didn't include any shooting even though most of us had airguns. In younger days we'd all had cap guns, pop guns, spud guns and as a last resort, pointy fingers with manually-operated 'Bang!'. Nobody died. No adult seemed even to notice.

Yet now, it seems that children will all demand Uzis for Christmas if they so much as see someone shoot a gun. As JuliaM notes, the future of that particular sport is doomed. No potential Olympic shooter can take an interest if they're not allowed to know the sport exists. The gangsta culture continues as before because shooting at each other is not an Olympic event so they're allowed to keep doing it.

All this in the name of child protection. And yet, babies are paraded around in full view of dribbling molesters while bearing the iCandy label above their heads. By the same parents who will later object to their grown child being photographed running, jumping or looting. Here's a picture to explain how this all looks to me.

Finally, I am going to Hell in business class for laughing at this. Fortunately the child has now been de-obo-fied and is therefore fair game for the Daily Ooo-matron's paedo drooling section. Oddly, the parents have not decried the publication of those images and in fact did, I suspect, actually provide them. Now that is a baby photo that's just waiting for her to bring her very first boyfriend home.

I wonder what she'll make of circuses?

A Reason to Sign.

Things are likely to be quiet around here for a while. Cash reserves are running low and there's not much work coming in so I'll have to concentrate on activities that generate income. This does not mean silence but it does mean fewer long rambles. I'll have to learn to be concise. If possible.

There will be exceptions when something I consider important comes up. Note: what I consider important. That might include things that nobody else on the planet considers important. This is one I consider important -

Via Dick Puddlecote comes the news of an e-petition to amend the smoking ban. Simon Clark has finally persuaded our anti-everything government to put one of the 'stop hitting us' petitions up and he's right - it did need a 'name' attached to it. Anthony Worrall Thompson, a chef whose restaurants I will be happy to smoke outside. Maybe, one day, inside.

Now, I've never had much faith in petitions because I'm convinced that Kim Il Cleggeron and their coagulation are not in the least bit interested in what anyone has to say, unless they've paid them to say it.

However, Smoking Hot raised a good point. One of the staples of the smokophobe's imaginary world is the phrase 'most smokers support the smoking ban' and if we don't sign this petition, they'll hold up the low numbers as proof.

Many smokers don't have internet. One of the local smoky-drinky regulars doesn't even have a landline phone. Of those on the internet, few read blogs. So this needs to spread beyond the blogzone. Giving out the URL isn't likely to help because it's hardly memorable and prone to mistyping.

Lots of those smokers shivering in the cold have internet on their phones. Direct them to one of the blogs hosting the link. There will be more. Pick a blog you can remember the URL for while you're outside the pub/club/restaurant. Show them the link, if they don't want to sign at that time at least it's in their browser history. They can think about it later. They might even tell others.

I think this petition will be ignored even if it gets a million signatures. Little Clegg's fake repeal website studiously ignored it. The Cameroid, the Clegg and Special Ed are no more capable of understanding this issue than an anencephalic prawn so unless the Brain Fairy visits, they will continue believing everything in the garden is smokefree.

However, I would urge everyone to sign it. Not because they might listen, there's no chance of that, but so that the next time we hear 'most smokers support the smoking ban' we can slap down the smug gits with actual figures.

Plus, there is a chance, the slimmest and farthest outside chance, that maybe someone in that Westminster bubble will notice something's not as popular as they have been led to believe. Stranger things have happened.

But not many.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Free speech (terms and conditions apply)

Busy tonight, so not drinking. I have some soft drink called Boddington's to keep me going. I think I might also get some of this to drink while smoking in public. Might as well keep the loonys' illusions going, eh?

Tonight I refer you to Longrider's description of those who defend free speech by denying it to those they disagree with. No, not the UAF this time, although this lot are shaping up along the same lines. Also to the one who is really confused about all this, and whose question I have no answer to.

Perhaps it's one for Bella Gerens' progressive dictionary - Free Speech is when you say what the appropriate pressure group agrees with, hate speech is when you say what they don't agree with.

The doublethink involved in praising Twitter use in Libya while demanding it be shut down in the UK is amazing, and you just know the drones will see no problem with supporting both positions. "Ah, but it's different" they will say. No. It isn't. What the Coagulation want is the power to shut down networking media when something happens that they don't want to happen. They say 'when trouble happens' but look at the official response to the riots. What did officialdom do? Not a great deal.

So it's not trouble for us they are worried about. it's trouble for them.

Perhaps a few of these posters scattered around will start a few dormant minds thinking.

Ah well. Back to work, trying to think up more bizarre stories than I read in the Daily Mail. It's not easy.

Monday 22 August 2011

Comic relief.

Once in a while, the mood around here needs a bit of lightening up. So here's a couple of jokes at the expense of age, disability and healthy living.


A lonely older lady, aged 75, decided it was time to get married. She put a want ad in the local paper that read:

"HUSBAND WANTED. Must be in my age group, must not beat me, must not run around on me, and must still be good in bed. All applicants must apply in person."

On the second day of the ad she heard the doorbell ring. Much to her dismay, when she opened the door, there sat a man in a wheelchair. He had no arms or legs.

She asked sardonically "You're not expecting me to consider you, are you? Just look at you. You have no legs!"

The old man smiled, "Therefore no chance to run around on you!"

She snorted, "You have no arms either!"

Again the old man smiled. "Nor can I beat you."

The old lady raised her eyebrows and gazed at him intensely.

"Are you still good in bed?" she asked.

The old man smirked and said, "I rang the doorbell, didn't I?"


The couple was 85 years old, and had been married for sixty years. Though they were far from rich, they managed to get by because they watched their pennies. They were both in very good health, largely due to the wife's insistence on healthy foods and exercise for the last decade.

One day, their good health didn't help when they went on a vacation and their plane crashed, sending them off to Heaven. They reached the pearly gates and St. Peter escorted them inside. He took them to a beautiful mansion, furnished in gold and fine silks, with a fully stocked kitchen and a waterfall in the master bath. A maid could be seen hanging their favorite clothes in the closet.

They gasped in astonishment when St. Peter said, "Welcome to Heaven. This will be your home now."

The old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.

"Why, nothing," Peter replied, "this is your reward in Heaven."

The old man looked out the window and right there he saw a championship golf course, finer and more beautiful than any ever built on Earth.

"What are the greens fees?" grumbled the old man.

"This is heaven," St. Peter replied. "You can play for free, every day."

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch, with every imaginable cuisine laid out before them, from seafood to steaks to exotic desserts, free flowing beverages.

"Don't even ask," said St. Peter to the man. "This is Heaven, it is all free for you to enjoy."

The old man looked around and glanced nervously at his wife. "Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?" he asked.

"That's the best part," St. Peter replied. "You can eat and drink as much as you like of whatever you like, and you will never get fat or sick. This IS Heaven!"

The old man pushed, "No gym to work out at?"

"Not unless you want to," was the answer.

"No testing my sugar or blood pressure or..."

"Never again. All you do here is enjoy yourself."

The old man glared at his wife and said, "You and your bran muffins. We could have been here ten years ago!"

No smoking in pubs - and no drinking either.

There aren't many vivid memories of childhood in my head. It was a very long time ago, you know.

One that remains absolutely clear to this day took place when I was around five years old. My brother and I were playing with toy cars on the floor when our grandmother came in. She spoke fluent Welsh, our mother wasn't quite so fluent and we kids only knew the swear words our grandmother used when we came in filthy. 'Mochyn' featured heavily.

Our grandmother said something in Welsh, in that little-old-lady 'isn't it terrible, ooo, scandal' gossip voice and our mother responded with 'Shh. Not in front of the children'.

We stopped playing and became absolutely attentive but since we couldn't understand a word, we still, to this day, have no idea what particular juicy scandal they had uncovered. The 'not in front of the children' was irrelevant and pointless because we didn't know the content of the conversation.

In much the same way, when we were given soft drinks and our parents had a snifter of booze, we didn't concern ourselves with their drinks because a) we were too busy checking that both our drinks were exactly the same size and b) we didn't know, or care, what was in our parents' glasses. Only what was in ours. They could have slugged down pints of gin and we'd have been none the wiser. (Actually we would have. They weren't big drinkers so they'd have toppled over in no time).

Now it seems that bar staff are beginning to decide for you what you can and cannot do in front of your own children. As Pub Curmudgeon reports, two women with their children were refused wine spritzers because the bar staff thought it inappropriate that they should consume alcohol while with their children.

Yes, it happened in a pub. The one place in the High Street you would visit if you felt like a drink. If you have children with you, too bad. One of the reasons for banning smokers from everywhere was 'for the cheeeeldren' and that's now the same for drinkers.

As the Curmudgeon says, this is a one-off. It is, however, not in the least bit surprising. For a long time now there have been reports of supermarkets refusing to sell parents a bottle of wine if they have a child with them. The decision is usually made by someone on the till who isn't much older than the child they're complaining about. It really was only a matter of time before the first instance of the pompous 'I know best' attitude appeared in a pub and I'm afraid I don't believe it will be the last.

Pubs are private businesses, as are restaurants - and the first restaurants to ban children have already been reported. That's spreading. It seems odd that a pub should choose to refuse to serve drinkers rather than simply to ban children but it's their business and they can ruin it any way they choose. It's not as if I'll miss another closed pub. They threw us smokers out years ago.

No doubt, when anyone with children can't get a drink in a pub, when the other clientele cannot get a drink if someone else's child comes in, then the loss of trade will be blamed on supermarket pricing. It cannot possibly be because the pubs have banned or alienated their remaining customers. It's someone else's fault. These days, it always is.

I don't own a pub, don't work in one, don't supply one, don't sell beer, and rarely visit any of them any more. Like those hotel rooms with the severe signs: 'No smoking, and the bathroom has a smoke detector so don't try sneaking a quick one in there', I don't go back to places that could not have been less welcoming if they had Basil Fawlty on the front desk or behind the bar.

The loss of the pubs is no loss to me. I lost that particular option for an evening out years ago. Now the antismokers, with their hideous smug smiles, tell us that we smokers are all little saddos who sit at home alone with a few cans of own-brand badger piss, watching TV and trying to stop the tears dampening our cigarettes.

We are told that it's our fault the pubs are closing because we refuse to visit places that treat us as if we were infectious. That we are weak because we enjoy a drink and a smoke and don't want to cut out half our enjoyment. That we are inferior because we are not smug, self-important arseholes like them. Okay antismokers, the pubs are all yours now. If someone refuses to serve you that's your problem. If it closes down and the staff who ejected us are out of work and the landlord is bankrupt, don't come to the smokers for sympathy.

You could have fought this ban, publicans. Instead you lobbied to extend it to all private clubs. We can't have a club that's for smokers only, that only employs smoking staff and that is situated so far out of town even the Dreadful Arnott couldn't smell anything. You did that to us, publicans. Don't ask for our support now.

In the beginning, a public house was just that. A private house in which the owner sold beer to anyone who happened by. He could allow or deny whatever he wanted, because it was his house, not the property of the State. That format, in general. continued up until a few years ago when the antismokers declared that the publican did not own the pub. They owned it, and they were going to decide who can and cannot visit. The pub industry did not say 'Go fuck yourselves, this is a private business and you're barred'. The pub industry said 'Oh, all right, and while you're at it, why don't you wreck the club business too?'

Now we are treated to the news of a Shenkerite deciding parental behaviour while in the pubs, which are moving from 'antismoker property' to 'antidrinker property'. I didn't even raise an eyebrow at the story. It was bound to happen. The only surprise was that it hadn't happened sooner.

Let's face it. The pubs are doomed unless a senior politician magically grows a brain or the pub industry realises that it's not the supermarkets taking their customers, but their own policies driving us away. Perhaps that will never happen.

In the meantime, we sad and lonely smokers have formed smoky-drinky. It's like the original someone's-house pub format with a few exceptions. There are no staff. No children. Nothing is on sale, we each bring supplies for the evening. No business is transacted there otherwise it becomes a 'place of business' and smoking would be banned.

It's also not open to the general public. It cannot be or the smoking ban kicks in. No membership, no fees, no defined premises. We take turns to act as 'pub'. Some are better at it than others so some get to host more evenings. It's developing, perhaps as the original pubs did, to the point where there'll be a regular 'public house' except it won't be public. Invitation only. And it's not easy to get invited. We'd like to allow more people in but the risk of an antismoker infiltration is too great, or of some self-righteous idiot deciding they're going to bring their children and demand that we can't smoke or drink while they're there. As it's a private house that would be easily and swiftly solved, but then they'd be 'offended' and we all know what that means.

One day, when the current pubs have been eradicated, the Dreadful Arnott has been staked out at the mouth of the Thames at low tide, Dim Shenker has been immersed in alcohol for posterity, and the madness subsides for a while, the Smoky-Drinky will be ready. Signs will appear, licences will be applied for, proper hand pumps and optics installed (we already have some optics but we don't use them for whisky because they're far too small), opening times established, ashtrays on tables and then new pubs will open.

Then Wetherspoons, Punch and the rest will start buying them and the whole circus will start all over again.

Well, we know what to do next time, so we can set up smoky-drinky as soon as the first stirrings appear. Next time we'll abandon the pubs the day the smoking ban is proposed rather than wait until it happens.

If we'd done that last time, things could have turned out very differently.

Saturday 20 August 2011

The New Bogeyman.

The lunatic assertions of the smokophobes have been well documented, here and elsewhere, and have become more ridiculous than those childhood tales of Underbed Monster and the bogeyman. It is really quite difficult, sometimes, to come to terms with the knowledge that adults really believe this stuff.

Yet, they do. They believe every word. They believe that second hand smoke causes bacterial infections. They believe it causes asthma. They believe thousands are dying of it even though nobody has. They believe one cigarette is more dangerous to their health than the more than two thousand nuclear bombs that have exploded on this planet or the massive trucks that roll past behind them while they fake-cough at the man with the bit of burning leaf. They will genuinely believe anything you tell them, and I admit I've had some fun with that.

The other control freaks have noticed this, so now we are treated to the horror of drinks companies having Facebook accounts and advertising to children who don't know they're there. Or rather, who didn't know they were there until Dim Shenker splashed it all over the news. He's just boosted the hits on those booze pages a hundredfold.

The companies aren't advertising to children. They just have Facebook pages. That's all. They do not 'friend' fifteen-year-olds and do not intrude on others' accounts. I didn't even know there were booze companies on Facebook and I've been drinking their products for decades. It's made-up nonsense and the drones will believe it. They'll read this headline and accept that Drink is the new Smoke without bothering to read the article - which makes clear that the headline figure was simply the invention of a deranged and very nasty little Puritan mind.

Now the Climatologists are in on the act too. As Frank and Subrosa have noticed, fat people are carbon sequestration units because what the idiots at RGU don't seem to realise is that all life on Earth, including people, is carbon-based. We're made of it, fat's made of it, and if you're overweight you are storing it away. When fat people die and are buried, they become underground carbon storage containers.

And yet we are supposed to believe that being fat causes global warming. Whereas losing all that weight, thereby converting all that stored carbon into carbon dioxide, will save the world. From what?

Well, from aliens, apparently. Perhaps the scientists are worried that aliens will see fat people from space.

(There was a fisking of this over at Counting Cats but I can't get the site to load at the moment. I'll add the link when it comes back up.)

(Update - Here it is.)

Aliens might notice us if we produce too much carbon dioxide, even though they didn't notice the planet when there was far more of it in the atmosphere than there is now. Those aliens might decide to wipe us out just because they can. I expect the aliens all vote Green, they seem to have the same policies.

This is just another bogeyman, a story to frighten children. It works on the infantilised, as does the notion that they will be assimilated by their partner who has evil, filthy ways and those ways are contagious. You have no free will. Resistance is futile.

I didn't have to look far to find an example of a couple who have been married for more than 50 years, a couple where the husband smoked all his life until very recently, and his wife has never smoked. My parents. Apparently, my mother has defied the wisdom of the experts and refused to take up smoking. Oh dear, she's using free will. That's probably illegal.

Today we hear of an Israeli couple who are offended by people giving mock Nazi salutes to the wax model of Hitler in Madame Tussaud's.

The couple, whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, photographed the incident and complained about the tourists' behaviour, which they described as 'an unequivocal demonstration of anti-semitism and bigotry'.

It was mockery of a man who was a big part of world history. A very unpleasant part, but the changes he set in motion are still happening today. In this country, we mock him with his daft salute and his silly goose-stepping and that ridiculous moustache. It has nothing to do with anti-semitism or bigotry. Frankly, Israel, we don't really care about you all that much over here. We've never had a war with you so you're just sort of 'there'. We don't hate you, we don't all talk like Fagin when you're around, we don't mock you because you are not an enemy.

Hitler was an enemy. A big one. A recent one. He killed a lot of people as well as those in the camps and now he's dead, we laugh at him.

Actually, we made up comical songs about him while he was still alive because, well, just look at him. He looks as if some students got him drunk and superglued a Brillo pad to his lip. Well, that's irritating, especially in the 1930s when superglue solvent hadn't been invented but trying to kill everyone in the world was a bit of an overreaction.

There is nothing offensive or bigoted about mocking Hitler, but the perceived offense is a symptom of the sad and feeble people we are becoming. Those riots had all kinds of causes thrown at them from all sides but really, they were just tantrums. Nothing more. A flailing of children who aren't getting their way.

Now we have reached the point where those who want control can just make up bogeymen and expect us to cower under our bedsheets at night - and many, many people are doing just that. An asteroid might hit the Earth so we're going to shoot at one just in case. Aliens might wipe us out, the sun will give you cancer, avoiding the sun will give you rickets, and it might just go bang one day and burn out your toaster. Which you shouldn't use anyway because toasters kill polar bears before they get a chance to kill you.

(note to self - get a bigger toaster before winter sets in)

The culture of taking offense lets people make up their own bogeymen, and they are only too pleased to do so. Even though studies have shown that taking offense at pointless things causes gallstones and curvature of the ears. It's true. An expert told me.

Terrorists have castor beans in the Middle East and they plan to make ricin out of them. Or maybe castor oil, or perhaps someone made a casserole with rice in, and the permanently-scared misheard. Worried? Why? Extracting the ricin isn't hard but powdering it without inhaling the tiny amount that will kill you requires specialist equipment. Not the sort of equipment you'd generally find in a Yemeni goat herder's hut. Meddling with that stuff is like looking down the barrel of a gun to see what's stopping the bullets coming out. Let them meddle. All it really means is that the next time you try to get on a plane you won't be allowed to have talcum powder.

The claims are getting desperate now. Beyond ridiculous. At least when I write stuff like that I have the decency to sell it as fiction. I'd sell a lot more if I labelled it 'news'. Then I could regale the drones with brand new bogeymen.

Maybe these scientists are actually writers who have already thought of that. Damn.


JuliaM, on Orphans of Liberty, writes about the electronic jiggery-pokery that has beset the publishing trade. I left a little comment but you know me, I just can't shut up once I get started on something complicated. This is so complicated one post can't cover it all. Here's a bit.

It's a matter that has become of particular interest to me since getting that first novel published. I've started taking the writing a bit more seriously now that the tax man is involved, although it'll be some time before he gets anything worth having. You don't get rich from one book, unless you're God, and even he actually did two - the Old and New Testaments. Technically, those are collected works involving lots of books so even God couldn't stop at just one. I picture the day he taps the Gideons on the shoulder and says 'Ahem. Royalties?' But I digress.

It seems to me there are two ways to make a living writing. Either you take the Stephen King route and take two years to write each huge tome, but do it so well that it sells in huge amounts and every one gets turned into a film, or you take the Michael Moorcock route and pump out a small book a month for a niche audience. Lots of income per occasional book sounds harder than small amounts per frequent book. But writing frequent books isn't easy either unless you take the full Moorcock route of devising a fantasy world and writing everything within that world.

Well, I could try that, but it's not scary enough. I prefer to research, in fact I was trained to do that and can't help it, and to use things you can look up in the real world. I prefer to stay in this world and make the innocuous scary. There's also the Catch-22 of writing - you can't get known until you have quite a few books out, you won't make any money until you're known, so you have to have a day job that limits your writing time and therefore impedes progress and no publisher will take you seriously until you're already popular. Oh, for a small lottery win!

Anyhow, this new electrobookery. It's a good thing and a bad thing. Electrobooks are much cheaper than print ones, and they don't cost postage, and you can get them in under a minute. Nothing is printed so publishers have no print costs and the percentage coming back to the author is better than with paper.

However, it is also easy to copy most formats of electrobook and pass them around. It's also fairly easy to convert from one format to another. So one person buys a copy of this, for example, and makes copies for their friends. You can't do that with a paper book unless you have a photocopier, your friends are happy to read from a pile of loose pages and you're happy to pay as much, if not more, for the rough photocopied version as for the original. Digital copies don't suffer from degradation on subsequent copying. Good for those getting copies, not so good for those whose work is getting copied.

On the plus side, electrobooks can't appear in second hand shops. Authors and publishers make nothing from second hand book sales. Then again, someone might risk a few pennies for a copy of this one when they wouldn't pay the full price plus postage for a new one. That can be thought of as advertising, especially if you have the sense to put a page in the back of the book headed 'By the same author'. Of course, you can do that with the electronic versions too.

So both second hand shops and electropirates can be unwitting advertisers for you. There's sod all you can do about either of them, realistically, so you might as well turn that non-income spread to your advantage.

In either case, it only works if you have lots of books out and that takes time. Unless you are this guy -

Mr Patterson, the creator of Alex Cross, the crime-solving single father, is also a prolific writer of children's stories and writes online film reviews in his spare time.

Spare time? He has spare time? Doesn't he ever sleep? How can one head contain so many words? I haven't read any of his books because they aren't in my field of interest, but there is no denying he is extraordinarily good at the whole writing game and must have worn his fingers down to little nubs by now. I bet there are no letters left on his keyboard, but then he probably doesn't need them any more. This is a literary Chuck Norris, you could give him a keyboard with no letters at all and he'll still type a 100,000 word novel in ten minutes. With no spelling mistakes.

Maybe he doesn't have an Internet connection. I have to stay offline to get anything done these days which is why my visits here are rationed and why I'm often slow at responding to email. Once a story gets stuck, clicking on the newspapers or the blogs or Web Sudoku is just that bit too tempting.

When I started out I heard, often, 'Oh you'll never make as much as Stephen King or JK Rowling' but the truth is, I don't need to. Nobody does. If James Patterson made 84 million last year, think how much he paid in tax. Why bother? All that money will attract hangers-on and thieves and worse, the government. What does anyone do with it all?

If you give me 84 million quid, I am never going to do a stroke of work again and will have drunk myself to death by the middle of next week, in style, with the most expensive malts available. The cremation fire would burn for a month - alternatively, archaeologists would dig up my corpse in five thousand years and marvel at the pickling technology of our day.

I could never spend it all. If I can make enough to live on, and that is well below the 40% tax level for me, it's enough. Why knacker yourself to pay for this or any government's idiotic projects?

So while I find the illicit copying of electrobooks irritating at this early stage, in later years it might not only be irrelevant but actually useful because the later books will advertise all the others. I don't care if someone passes copies around their friends. I'm only going to get stroppy if someone is selling it on eBay - and that's already happened.

A few years back I wrote my first novel. It was called 'Samuel's Girl' and it was crap. It was nearly two hundred thousand words of crap. The problem was that I was still thinking like a scientist and explaining absolutely everything in minute and tedious detail. Now I have developed multiple personality disorder, it's much easier to switch between science and mad dream stuff but that first attempt, oh, it was dire.

I cut it in half. I have enough out-takes for another book (an extremely dull one) and the meaty parts eventually made a decent story that is being considered by publishers now. It was a lot of work so yes, I'd be miffed if it was copied, but that's not the story here.

That book introduced a fractious, self-important sod called Romulus Crowe. I set up a blog for him, and he wrote a book. Yes, someone I made up wrote--and sold--a book before I did. He is that much of a bastard and since I invented him, it's my own fault. I put his silly little book on Lulu for fun. He's a ghosthunter and the idea of a non-fiction book by a fictional author made me laugh. Besides, it cost nothing. It was also a response to all those idiot ghosthunting books that insist you have to be tooled up like Batman while dragging yourself around ruined castles. Oh, and orbs, especially orbs. There are none so gullible as those who photograph dust.

On that character's blog, a commenter mentioned that the book was on sale on eBay. I had a look. Some little shit had downloaded the PDF version, printed it and was selling copies.

Financially I cared not a jot. That book was a laugh. I had never publicised it, pretty much forgotten about it and had never thought anyone would buy it, and was astounded when that first (very small) royalty payment appeared. In fact, I was a little flattered that someone thought it worth stealing. But the little shit had stolen other people's books too, people who were really serious about the writing game (it was a hobby for me at the time) so I was in the bizarre position of having to contact eBay as an entirely fictional character to complain about the pirating of a book.

I even bought the domain to do it so I'd have the email. Yes, I found it that funny. One day I'll do something with that domain, especially if the book he came from is accepted.

It's not just file copies. If you have the machinery you can get a PDF for a few dollars and then print-on-demand. Which means you can set up as if you're selling 'used' books and print the ones that get ordered. I suspect you'd soon pay for the machinery if you did that. So it is far, far easier to pirate electrobooks than it is to photocopy real ones. You can produce a professional-looking copy for not too much outlay.

So it seems electrobookery is taking over. Authors still make money, publishers still make money, only the printers really lose out. I have a Kindle and well, I like it. It's excellent if travelling by plane because you can load a hundred books into it and its weight does not increase. The screen doesn't burn like a computer screen and most of all, it's a gadget.

Well, it's time to get sinister. Polish up the tinfoil hats because it's spookytime.

The Kindle once had Orwell's '1984' as a download. They had to pull it for copyright reasons, fair enough, but the sinister part is - it vanished from everyone's Kindle at the same time. Kindles update themselves. Most computers do, we're all used to it and take no notice. This is where the deletion of 1984 looks significant.

Say you get the Times downloaded to your iPad. Suppose you saw a story you wanted to go back to, and it didn't read quite as you remember. What can you do? If you had paper copies you could see the unedited version, but your iPad has updated...

Winston Smith's job was to 'correct' past issues of newspapers. He had to do it with paper. It would be so much easier to do it digitally. Everyone's copy would change on command.

For fiction it really doesn't matter. It's just a story. But when you have the ability to change past news, past announcements, even past scientific reports, then it doesn't look so encouraging.

Electrobookery has some great advantages. It has some terrifying disadvantages too.

Still, all it takes is one solar flare in the right direction and the problem just goes away.

Friday 19 August 2011


Well, I've been over to the total politics place and voted. Apart from the twitter vote because I don't twit so I have no idea what goes on there.

I had an Email from Guido Fawkes the other day. Seriously. An Email to this humble backwater blog from the top of the tree. I didn't vote for him because he won't need my vote. It was a funny sort of Email. 'Don't go blogging for the Huffingtons, link to us and we'll pay.' Huffywhatnow? Why would they be interested in me?

Well, it was tempting, but their requirements include a thousand hits a day. I get about 700 which still amazes me but I don't meet the criteria so I'm out of the running. I'm not sure I'd want that anyway, this blog is for fun, not for profit. I have sometimes wondered about activating the ads option but I know that whenever I talked about smoking I'd trigger ads on patches, gum and the Dreadful Arnott and I'd rather die poor than give that hideous freak talking space here.

So I remain ad free apart from ads for my own books, and those will pop up in posts (and in the sidebar). I will not risk seeing an ad for antismoking, antidrinking, antifat, antisalt or antianything here. It would be like a hobby philatelist opening his stamp collection and finding the cat has pissed on his penny black. I remain the penniless key-tapper, still using a keyboard stained with whisky and liberally sprinkled with ash, attached to an ageing Dell that doesn't need upgrading because it's a typewriter. A typewriter that can correct drunken blunders without Tipp-Ex and ripping up pages, a typewriter that transmits my babblings to the world at the press of a button and the world's babblings back to me, but a typewriter nonetheless.

There is some kind of battle between Guido and this Huffington woman. I have been vaguely aware of it for a while. It seems she plans to set up shop on his turf and he doesn't like it.

I don't see why. Competition is good, surely? It makes us all improve our game when someone better comes along.

Well, they can fight if they want. I'm taking advice straight from the horse's mouth:

Stranger than fiction.

Via ManWiddicombe tonight, feast your eyes on these manifestations of malice. The Moose has the story too. As a writer of scary tales, I am in awe of the cruelty and viciousness these characters display.

Yes, the antismokers want to make cigarette packets harder to get the cigarettes out of. It appears they have never heard of the old 'cigarette case', once popular and likely to make a comeback very soon. I wonder if I still have mine?

I also wonder if I can get some cases printed with pictures of my hat?

Among the imaginative labels is one about cigarettes containing polonium. Well, no doubt there's an atom or two floating around, it is an element after all, but the label leads me to believe that there will be a measurable amount in each and every cigarette. If there isn't, it's false advertising and the label-maker should be sued. I doubt they have considered this.

As for the teeth and the lips, oh yes, I want one of each of those. I'd leave it on tables with a cigarette poking out or wear it as a mouth-mask.

These odd-shaped packets will be incredibly attractive to children. Collections and schoolyard swaps will abound. So, once again, the idiots have come up with an idea that will do much more to promote smoking than any tobacco company ever could.

Their comments are often along the lines of 'We must stop people doing what they want with their lives because they are not like us, and we are superior'. Except, evidently, in intellect. There is no foresight, no critical analysis. They think making the packs harder to fit in pockets and harder to extract cigarettes from will stop people smoking. It does not occur to them that it will be easy to tear the packet open and transfer the cigarettes to an alternative container.

The antics of the antismoker are now so ludicrous that only a politician could be taken in by them. Unfortunately, we are plagued by low-energy politicians because the EU has banned the old tungsten ones. The current lot take ages to warm up and don't do much when they get there.

So the antismokers, the booze banners, the fat haters and Graham the Desalinator have a willing parliament devoid of ideas and filled with people who failed the audition for a zombie part because they couldn't remember their lines. The insanity continues because nobody with any sanity is allowed into any position where they might inject a little sense. They are shouted down, just as those who questioned uncontrolled immigration were instantly labelled 'racist'.

There was a time, not so long ago, when those who derided the overweight were referred to as 'fattist'. Now they are called 'health professionals' or 'concerned citizens' - both rapidly becoming euphemisms for 'interfering git'. Interesting how language changes over time, isn't it?

So we can expect to see cigarettes packaged in plain boxes that you'd need a black belt in origami to open. Or a scissors. What's next? Booze bottles in logic puzzles? Oh, wait... It can only be a matter of time before these are standard.

Ready meals will be stocked in chillers with a fast-moving treadmill in front of them so you'll burn off more calories getting hold of it than you'll get back by eating the meal, and salt will only be available on prescription.

All these things are easily circumvented and some already have been. Salt is currently cheap and plentiful, lasts forever and is the only one you'd need to stock up with. Storage just has to be dry, that's all, no chilling required.

Tobacco grows, even north of Aberdeen and it produces so many flowers you'll never need to look for seeds again. Keep the seeds from the best plants. Beer and wine are a doddle to make, if they ban sugar use honey, if they ban honey grow sugar-beet. Beer yeast and bread yeast are the same species. Bread yeast will take a few brews to adapt but it will work. So only the dopes who support the bans will have to go without. They won't make any preparations because they don't think the bans are for them.

Some months ago, Tesco sold off their 60-watt light bulbs at 7p each. At one point they were selling for 1p each. I bought a good stock and it now looks like they were a better investment than gold. Much the same is likely to be true of tobacco, booze and salt very soon. Ready meals too - although you'd have to factor in the cost of keeping them frozen. I won't bother. At a pinch I'll eat the inspectors who come to check if I'm smoking in my own home. Well, I won't be able to let them leave, now will I?

Fakes and other dodgy black market products are about to take off in a big way. That's why I'm stocking up and growing/brewing what I can. I don't want to risk a repeat of US Prohibition when the government deliberately poisoned the alcohol supply to kill the drinkers. I don't want dodgy tobacco that's been padded out with lawn trimmings. Nor do I want salt that has been lifted from a council gritter.

Well, back to work. I'm building another short story book and this time I'll start with a very gentle, harmless and predictable ghost story to lull you into a nice, warm glow and I'll end by leaving you terrified of dust and rain. It's still all as nothing compared to the terror I can invoke in real life using nothing more than paper and a bit of leaf, but I doubt even Clive Barker managed to do that in fiction.

Maybe I'll write one about salt.