Archive for October, 2016

Thank you to wannabe scammer John Mark for providing today’s blog entry:

Good Day!

How are you doing? I just want to apologize for any inconvenience
this email may cause you. My name is John Mark  and i work for numerous farm
animal industry in Maresfield Gardens, United Kingdom as a marketing
consultant. The company i work for is a domestic and farm animal company which
deals with the treatment of all kinds of domestic and farm animals including
horses. Their is an Antidote which is highly needed here in my company and in
so many farm company’s here in United Kingdom.

This Antidote is known as CALVENZA EHV 1.M Injection. CALVENZA EHV 1.M Injection is an antidote which is used for the treatment of farm and domestic animals. CALVENZA EHV 1.M Injection relieves pain caused by swelling and inflammation associated with joint disease and absorbs shock in horses. This Antidote is sold in USA at a costly rate of
$5,750 USD per-carton. Recently,i found out that this Antidote is cheaper in
Malaysia and it is sold at the rate of $1,100 USD per-carton, which is very
cheap than what is been sold in USA and other countries.

The seller of this antidote in Malaysia is a woman known as Mrs. Maisarah J. Mohammed. Mrs Maisarah sells this antidote at the cost of $1,100usd while my company buys at
the rate of $4,950usd which is cheaper to them compared to the price in USA,
because my company don’t know the price of the antidote in Malaysia. Every
further details and contacts will be provided based on your determination in
handling the business.

I should have handled the business myself, but i am suffering from leukemia which cannot permit me to travel. All i need is your reliability in doing this business and in terms of the profit made from the business, 60% goes to you and 40% is mine. Feel free to write me via
jmark2874@gmail.com  for more details.

Take good care and have a nice day.


John Mark




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blake-newtonIn his new documentary film, Hypernormalisation, Adam Curtis presents us with a vision of the world in which nothing we see is what we think it is, one in which both the official and the media narrative describing this world is simplified and spun to the point of fiction. We suspect this to be the case, but we go along with it, and in so doing we perpetuate it.

In the Soviet Union of the 1980’s, the economy had failed and the Bloc was on the verge of collapse. The evidence was everywhere, yet the official narrative differed from reality, creating instead a story of normality and stability. Everyone knew it was untrue, yet people accepted this “normalised” vision, and became so much a part of it when the end came they wondered why no one had seen it coming.

The same applies in the West. We are given various narratives aimed at maintaining the influence and the image of the power structures that have held sway now for half a century. We go along with them, even though we know something is wrong.

The evidence is everywhere:

1) 0.01% on our savings.

2) Offspring with university educations and thirty thousand pounds of tuition fee debt,  labouring in warehouses, and flipping burgers on minimum wages because the graduate jobs they were told would be in abundance do not actually exist.

3)The means of owning even the cheapest of properties is beyond the means of anyone just starting out.

4)The closure of your nearest A+E department adds an extra half hour’s ride by ambulance to an emergency response, and that might just kill you.

5)A decade of civil wars in the middle east has created a refugee disaster on an unprecedented scale, one even the combined might and minds of the European Union is unable to cope with.

6) The European Union itself, as an institution, and a massive experiment of economic, social and trading cooperation is on the verge of collapse.

7) Everywhere there is a return to the pernicious evil of ancient fictions that incite inter-ethnic violence.

Yet we assume it’s just a blip, that things will level out, that the ponderous machinery of state and finance are but temporarily muddled and will shortly pull us back on course, back towards normality – normality being whatever our nostalgia genes tell us was our halcyon decade. We are living through astonishingly turbulent times, yet we paint for ourselves a narrow, comforting fantasy, choose only the cards from the Tarot we want to see, palm the rest, then pick up our telephones and play Pokemon.

I’m waking up a little late to be doing anything about this other than posting a snarky blog. But there was nothing I could do about it anyway, even had I known the truth decades ago, because I am part of the problem. Ignorance is bliss, and a man awakened rudely is one who wishes he could only go back to sleep. I would be better writing romantic fantasies, ones in which girl meets boy and they always live happily ever after, or crime dramas in which the bad guy always gets his come-uppance. Or maybe I should give up writing altogether, succumb to the entertainment media, watch two hours of mixed soap and then a celebrity cooking program instead.

My ignorance of the world astonishes me. I am a faithful follower of events yet seem always to miss the punch-line. Or in the game of three cups, seem always unable to guess under which cup the little ball of truth has come to rest, though I swear I have followed it diligently as the magician swapped them about.

Writing has been my own grand deceit, believing in the long ago that I understood the business end of it – that one penned a novel, posted it to a publisher, they published it and we became a writerly writer, finally giving up the day job. It is a fantasy, normalised to the point of myth – one no one who has tried it really believes, yet simultaneously accepts as the truth , for the reality is much more opaque. My naivety in this respect embarrasses me, even though I’ve submitted nothing to the peddlers of that myth since the turn of the century. The labyrinth, for such as it was, was to be navigated in total darkness -an impossible task, yet there is still a sense of failure attached to one’s inability to settle credibly even with the myth, to fit in with the official narrative of the struggling writer.

The truth of me is I do not make it big, but neither do I die in complete obscurity – well no more than anyone else. The truth about writing, the view from the typewriter, you see, is that neither matters. There have been plenty of incomprehensible scripts paper published already, scripts scanned briefly by the semi conscious, then forgotten – news even of terrible world events erased from the collective memory only days later, the papers on which they’re written used as fish-wrap. The blogging of articles such as these is no different, changes nothing, only wastes less time. Attention spans are short, and I have already far exceeded my 500 words of permission.

The red light of conference is now flashing.

The truth of the world then is a concept of varying complexity, a complexity relative to space and time. Truth, real truth, ground zero truth, is in the nitty-gritty detail of an event and only there does the truth exist in any meaningful sense. But it’s fleeting, ephemeral as a Snapchat squeeze. The further away we are from an event, geographically or historically, the less detailed, the less reliable our grip on things will be, until, when we’re far enough away, even a fiction will trump the truth, being more persuasive than the facts of the world, more influential in shaping further events which, with the passing of time become equally untrue.

The world in its entirety as fiction.

Publish that!

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The unadorned body is something of a rarity these days. Even the male of the species is lately prone to the over-elaborate decoration of the birthday suit. We pierce our ears, pierce our noses, our nipples and even the ends of our willys. And secured within these self inflicted orifices we find an endless variety of  tribal metalwork: hoops, loops, barbs, bars and bells. Some of us progressively disfigure our ear-lobes too, with plastic bobbins. The sight of the latter makes me feel queasy, even more than the thought of a pierced willy, but I’m told it’s all the rage among certain hip males these days. And of course there is an entire industry devoted to the inking of one’s skin. Even undressed, male or female, few of us are truly nude any more.

Defacing, or enhancing? Edgy or just misguided? What are we trying to say with all this self labelling?

As for my own adornments, I restrict myself to just a watch and a wedding ring.  I am far too straight edged for a tat or a nose-stud.

citizen-and-banglesNow, to be honest I did try to wear some wrist bangles once – starting with a copper bracelet – common enough among men of a certain age, then a silver torq, and then a leather – well – bracelet. But after a while I saw this as a form of consumerism, nothing satisfying for very long – also, what with a chunky watch and everything, I must have been carrying two hundred and fifty grams on my wrist.

I also wore a necklace for a while – or at least a piece of silk chord on which I’d strung a couple of pendants – a pair of yin and yang, and a tree of life. I’d gone all mystical shaman, I suppose, but these weren’t really me either. What was I trying to say through these adornments, and to whom was I trying to say it? Was it to myself? But really I should have needed no reminder, unless actually, deep down I was trying to persuade my self of something.

tree of life and yin yangWe all develop fascinations, interests, identities, but we’re not static in our fancies. What we held dear ten years ago we are unlikely to be as enamoured of now. Like the man who has a girl’s name tattooed on his bottom, are we really, all of us, prepared for the implications of such an indelible commitment?

So yes, I’ve gone back to basics: watch and wedding ring. The bangles and beads are consigned to the drawer of experience. But I’m not entirely without affectation  – far from it – because in the mean time something weird has happened to the watch.

A man’s watch is never purely functional, it’s also a statement -like a tattoo, I suppose, but not as permanent. Modern watches are more noticeably narcissistic than they were forty years ago. Telling the time has become only a secondary function, since our telephones do the same job  nowadays. They are more a statement of the kind of man we think, or want others to believe, we are. So what kind of man are you? He-man, fashionista, cool dude, retro, or simply loaded. Me? I was tending towards the outdoor man, expressed through various incarnations of pseudo rugged adventure watch, the watch that would still tell the time at the bottom of the Marinas Trench. And I liked to be technical – lots of dials and buttons,… Look at me: I am a technical, outdoor man!

avia-peseusBut recently my watches have been getting smaller, lighter, simpler – what this says about me, I don’t know but it started with a fifty year old Smith’s Astral I’d undertaken to repair – somewhat recklessly as I’d only cursory knowledge and few tools. But a cautious clean up and re-lubrication did the trick. Also, significant for me, while testing the reliability of this venerable old ticker, I realised it felt good on the wrist: lightweight, small, and above all ticking.

It was the start of an obsession.

I now own several small, inexpensive pieces – gold plated, tending to plainness, and all of them at least forty years old. They arrive from Ebay, mostly still working, still telling the time reliably, accurately, even after having been stashed in a drawer since the advent of Quartz mechanisms. Others are doggedly unreliable even after stripping and cleaning and endless tinkering. These latter I consign to the bit-box of experience. Of the more successful purchases, I’ve noticed it is the Swiss movement that seems the more reliable, the more capable of longevity. In particular I’m favouring AVIA at the moment, an old British import brand with Swiss movements. I have several, including one from the very early sixties, which is my most treasured piece – costing all of fifteen pounds.

avia-olympicMy most recent addition is another AVIA, the Olympic, this one with a black dial, uncommon for the period, and gold markings. A new glass and strap and this is restored immediately to the status of an understated classic – very seventies, but without being too heavy on the funk. Again though: what am I doing here? Because with all adornments we are doing something, saying something. It’s like the psychology of advertising – what attracts us is not the stated function – it tells the time. What really attracts us is the life-style the device, or at least the “style” of it suggests. An old fashioned wind up dress watch is no more “authentic” in this regard than a grand’s worth of designer faux he-man bling. Both tell the time, but each tell also a different story, a different fiction about the wearer.

Am I rejecting the adventure vibe? If so I am embracing a more delicate oeuvre with tickers so leaky you have to take them off before you dare wash your hands. They’re not exactly what I’d want to trust on a mountain in a rain-storm, but I have another watch I can wear for that, and for a more authentic reason. Nor do I seem to need all those dials and clickers any more.

Perhaps with me it’s a hankering after a slower time. We all wore watches like this forty years ago, back when an hour was an ample measure of anything, and a minute’s error by the end of the week was no big deal, unlike now when even a year is the blink of an eye and we are convinced the second must be split in order to cram in everything our Outlook scheduler tells us we need to accomplish by the end of the day. It’s an age thing perhaps. I see the falseness and I call it out. But even this is just a story, and a self crafted one at that – like the salty Sam tattoo, or a ring through the end of your willy.

What am I trying to say?

I have mined this metaphor before. I have observed myself during the scroll of Ebay’s listings, and find the pieces that attract me most are of a period that marks my own beginning. Each new piece acquired is possibly then an attempt at the restoration of an earlier part of myself, a quest for the youth I once was. Or then again perhaps I’m trying to keep myself ticking, trying to associate myself with something that has endured long beyond expectation, in the hope that I shall too. Or like all collecting, is it about not wanting what we’ve got, and instead hankering after that one thing we lack, and which we imagine will complete us? But alas, that thing does not exist.

jldIf we would truly restore our selves to our selves, I’ve a feeling we should be easier in our skins, unmarked and unadorned, and thus more profoundly nude than we seem comfortable being these days. But who among us has the courage to do that?

Here I am we say: we are no more than this, and the rest is just for fancy.

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man writing - gustave caillebot - 1885Much noise is still made of the vexed “business” of online self publishing. The arguments go like this: if you’re traditionally published, with an agent and a publisher behind you, you’ll complain self publishing authors are ruining the “industry”, writing for peanuts, or worse, nothing, thus driving down the market, meaning publishers get away with paying proper authors less. And all this self published stuff is narcissistic rubbish anyway, isn’t it? I mean if anyone can publish anything, who is the guarantor of worthiness and good taste? Also, even a cursory inspection of self published works, tell us the authors cant spel and ave lickle nowlidge of grammer.

On the other side, the more high falutin’ self publishing authors blow raspberries at the paid ones, while claiming the moral high-ground. Unfettered by contracts and deals, they say, there is no onus upon them to toe the line on “acceptable” content. Thus they claim to have greater artistic freedom, that they are the saviours of creative writing as a viable art-form, indeed the only ones capable of taking writing into the future. We are unfettered, they say, unafraid, edgy, dangerous,… our stuff will blow your mind, unlike like the same old predictable poop we still get served up every Christmas in hardback form.

I mean, Hardback, for heaven’s sake – how quaint!

Both sides have a point, but it seems to me they’re also missing the bigger picture which offers a much simpler take. Things have moved on.

Yes, it’s hard getting published. Everyone knows that. If you can’t attract an agent, if no one will read your work, you’re going to self publish sooner or later. And why not? And if you’ve self published once, and had some feedback, you realise you’ve found a way to reach a readership directly. It’s stimulating, rewarding, inspirational in its own way, and your writing takes on a new impetus, so you’re going to self publish again. And again.

And I do not think about the publishing business when I write. I do not wonder if publishers read my blog, or my novels. I’m sure they don’t except perhaps by accident, and anyway I am not writing in expectation that one day I will be brought in from the cold by an attractive and unsolicited contract, for writing as I know it now is a very warm place indeed. I do not wonder about the share price of Random House, nor less care that I might be depressing the earnings of professional authors by writing for nothing online.

As for the arty stuff, perhaps it’s true – being independent one is indeed less inhibited about trying ideas the “industry” would consider too risky. But really, the ideas come just the same, and I write them down. They could be good ideas, or mad. I have never had anyone to tell me the difference, and that’s not going to change any time soon. It’s just the way it is, and it doesn’t matter. Nor does my lack of interest have anything to do with sour grapes or flicking Agincourt fingers at the enemy. (1415)

There is no enemy.

There is no war.

Writers write. We just do.

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Suliven, Sutherland, UK

I still think of Suliven. It’s a mountain to be seen with one’s own eyes before it can be adequately believed in. I saw it thirty years ago, had the passion for it then, but no realistic opportunity of getting my boots on it. My companions possessed no mountain form, and were only kind enough to humour my obsession sufficient to allow me time to get within visual range.

We had driven from Ullapool after a sojourn on the edge of the midnight sun, then north, to Sutherland and the little harbour town of Lochinver. There, I walked inland, along a narrow scrap of road and I gazed at Suliven, confirming to my satisfaction the reality of its remarkable existence. Then I had to dive out of the way as a pick-up truck came at me, clipped me with its cab mirror. The mirror broke, but I was unhurt, spared injury by my aluminium water bottle which took the hit for me, bearing ever afterwards an impressive dent.

The truck didn’t stop.

I’m certain, in the long ago, Romantics were not a target for extermination. There were no guardian trolls tearing up Wordsworth’s first in-situ drafts of Daffodils by Ullswater’s choppy shores, nor hunting him down atop Helvellyn with their fowling pieces while he sought only to settle for inspiration. Perhaps he had better protection, contracted out among the fates by his formidable muse. Anyway, thus it was, and with a certain ignominy, I left Lochinver without so much as breaking bread. I returned south then, to several decades of the whirlwind of life and did not return.

I do not lament our estrangement.

Suliven exists for me still as part of a tangible reality, a phenomenon to which I have borne witness, yet also as something on the edge of perception, therefore inhabiting a liminal zone, one to which I am forbidden entry as a mortal. And all things are relative: for the inhabitants of Lochinver, to say nothing of mad bastards in pick-up trucks, Suliven is as ubiquitous as the wind and the mist, and the rain and the bog, to say nothing of the sheep ticks that infest those wastes, and whose parasitic presence is difficult to interpret metaphorically in any way other than negative.

The far-away then is no guarantor of wise teaching and, since the landscape of myth is always viewed in part, through the eye of imagination, my own hills have had as much to say over the years as I imagined Suliven might back then. It’s all a question of interpretation.

To experience myth is to walk the path in company with, and under the protection of the faery, or the Gods, however you like to phrase it. One visits the territory, the village, the town, the safe valley of human habitation, a place that is never-the-less inspired by the transcendent vista of the hill beyond the last farm gate. The hill is Olympus rising assertively above the mundane. One fetches up in the vale, contemplates the hill from afar, measures ones mortality in the presentation of light and shadow on its flank. Then we climb and experience the path as it unfolds, interpret the course and the discourse of the hill before returning, footsore, then to be restored at the well-spring of human hospitality,…

To tea and crumpets.

But I’m talking of another hill, now, way, way south of the Norseman’s Sutherland. I’m talking of Ingleborough, in fact, in the Yorkshire Dales, and of the homely little village of Clapham where those crumpets were so aromatic after a day on the hill, they were surely delivered from the ovens of a divine refectory. I exaggerate of course, as is my wont, fashioning a moody purple from the clear blue of a benign autumn sky, and the scent of a crumpet – oh, but they were sweet and aromatic! Also, so far as I’m aware, there is no Faery-lore in the Dales, but as a mixed descendent of the Irish Celt, and of the British Setantii (according to Ptolemy),… I find the shee tend to travel with me.

Ingleborough has been a good friend over the years, and like all good friends it’s never afraid to give me a good talking to. Not long ago, amid a ferociously inclement turn of weather, it tested every step of my wobbly ascent, then tipped me over a good mile from the top and said: you’re losing it, mate. You’re no longer that twenty five year old who beheld Suliven and dared to dream of climbing it. I’d let my fitness slip below the level of aspiration. All hills worth their salt are the same in this regard, demanding of the pilgrim a certain circumspection for their ardours.

So I’ve been working on it.

The older you get, the greater prize the hills will promise you, but the harder you have to work at it. Today I climbed Ingleborough again. It was a clear day, a warm day – no horizontal rain this time – and the hill was glad to receive me without much persuasion. And there, by the summit mound, I settled to make libation to the gods with Vimto and Kitkat, while a large family – grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren, settled beside me in pointy party hats to celebrate a birthday, with cake! Well, this is Yorkshire after all, and anything can happen, though it must be said, in my experience, unexpected happenings in Yorkshire tend to be positive ones.

I do still think of Suliven, but to be honest, you can keep it. I’m certainly in no hurry to return. I’ve plenty of hills to call my own. Ingleborough’s just one of them, and not a single troll in a pick-up truck to hit and run me down.

Or maybe these days I just have better protection.

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The_ScreamIn observing the political and economic turmoil of the world, I feel I should be writing about it more, since if I’m not writing my life feels a bit like a rudderless vessel. And, politics, world affairs, these things are, after all, interesting subjects, subjects that determine the fate of nations, but I find it difficult to get at the facts of them, and without the facts one cannot help but be partisan.

The reason I struggle for the facts is I have laboured all my life under the misconception of a simplistic world view, a simplicity that’s comforting because the truth is more complex than most of us can make sense of. Indeed partisanship seems a necessary condition if we are to function at all, without the infinite ambiguity of the world rendering us permanently frozen in a state of catatonic schizophrenia. To be partisan, after all, halves the problem, since we can then dismiss the other person’s point of view and rest more comfortably in our own.

Of course, the advent of the world wide web has blown up a storm of imagery, revealing a world far more complex than we once thought, but this does not help because now the available information overloads us so we self-censor, pick the images that suit our narrow view, and block the ones that don’t. Yes, I can try to be non-partisan, but I’m working against myself, and I can be a devious fellow, but here goes.

Approaching now the end of our lost decade, we find American and Western European democracies polarising into entrenched positions to the left and right while the middle ground has fallen away. Unfortunately, the middle ground is where most people stand, and they’re finding no one represents their aspirations any more.

The economic system that has supported us since the Second World War – free market capitalism – is now impotent. It still generates wealth in sickly spurts, but fails to distribute it evenly. It is caught in a pathological malfunction that vastly enriches its captains while laying waste to the rest, both environmentally, and in terms of the life prospects of the majority of planet earth’s inhabitants. A mutiny, by the natural world, and the disenfranchised is an entirely plausible consequence, and some might say long overdue.

Politically, even the most cursory analysis reveals the West is not governed by democracies as we are led to believe, but by plutocracies. These are systems in which the democratic machinery exists and is indeed much vaunted, but its goals are more of an aspiration, rendered largely irrelevant by, and subservient to powerful moneyed interests. And plutocracies are resistant to change when change is due, since the beneficiaries, cosseted in wealth, do not feel the pain of the poor who are subservient to them, nor are they particularly aware of their existence.

As a consequence the global plutocratic vessel fetched itself up on the rocks for the last time in 2008, with political and economic efforts since then being devoted entirely to its salvage, at floating it off on an incoming tide of oft-touted market resurgence. But its back is broken, its cargo spilled and plundered. Persistence in this direction promises not a lost decade but a lost generation, or two. Yet this is exactly the course on which we’re bound.

There is a revival of left leaning, anti plutocratic politics, giving voice to complaint. Socialism, a term not mentioned above a whisper since the 1980’s, is spoken again, on both sides of the Atlantic, and without irony, but it remains to be seen if this will have any effect at ushering in a more egalitarian paradigm, since the forces arrayed against it, barricaded behind vast wealth, remain formidable.

But when consumer goods, things that have rendered populations docile, are beyond purchase, when the domestic budget forces a choice between food and renewing the contract on the iPhone, populations will become restless, prone to irrational frenzy. Thoughts will turn from the Playstation to activism. This is, after all, what the consumer society was invented for in the 1920s, as an opiate for the masses, and it cannot be allowed to fall away entirely or, whether such frenzies of want are tickled by charismatic, media savvy individuals, or by the phases of the moon, the half century to come will be an eventful one.

The Middle East is aflame, of course. The Syrian civil war has been raging for six years. Iraq and Afghanistan, theatres of western intervention, have been bloodletting for over a decade. Western Africa is benighted by an economic ruin largely ignored in Western Media. These regions have haemorrhaged their youth, set them on the terrifying migration routes to the heart of Europe, where their arrival arouses compassion and racist resentment in equal measure.

I do not know where this is going, only that it is a crisis terribly underplayed, and perhaps it is for this reason we seem immune to it still, ambivalent, by turns perplexed and apathetic, but generally believing things will still turn out well in the safe shires of the West, because they always have before. But this time they may not.

The world is not a dream, but in many respects the imagery coming out of it resembles the imagery of dreams. There is still the beauty of aspiration – the eye of the beholder – reminding us the human spirit can be stilled into appreciative contemplation by the simplest of things. Yet there is also the grotesque, the violent, the terrifying – all the stuff of nightmares, suggestive of the power of the unconscious bearing a dark fruit, sown by the seeds of things we have long suppressed.

This harvest is not a wholesome one, we shudder to touch it, but it must be gathered in all the same, dried out to harmlessness under the sun, and examined, not left to rot and fester in the fields, season after season, as we have always done before.

And as with dreams it helps to take each image in its turn, to ask ourselves what it is within us that gives rise to this picture. The dream, like the world, cannot be controlled directly. It simply is. And what it is is a consequence of our thinking, our desires, our prejudice, our imperfections, our inner most selves. We can only therefore each look to our selves and temper our hardness, temper the Ego’s will to power.

It is a retrograde step, and sad to see, the usual media popularising our leaders trading infantile insults live on TV. We have no need for warriors. Time more for all the great houses of power to temper their tone, for the Ego, that when shown its failings in the dream, even then persists in its will to power and the fantasy of its own superiority, gives rise to the most monstrous nightmares, to the apocalyptic imagery of the archetypal gods, on whose anvil all things are eventually broken.

Viewed in these terms, the world begins to make more sense. We are in the midst of a cataclysmic collective psychosis. Sadly, this suggests that what lies ahead of us is not a lost decade, nor even a lost generation, but perhaps a lost century.  And it’s only 2016.

Better to stay away from politics and world affairs – its study can make you maudlin.

Sweet dreams.



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