Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tony Blair Wrong Again

One of the organisers of the second series of bomb attacks in London, presently held in custody in Italy, has revealed the motivation for the attack,

"A suspected member of the 21 July bomb cell has told investigators he was motivated by the Iraq war, not religion."

Tony Blair and his government have consistently rejected any link between the attacks and UK support for adventurous war in Iraq. Here's Blair, 19 days ago.

Mr Salmond referred to claims by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi that the US, UK and Italy were more exposed to terrorism because of their leaders' support for the war [in Iraq]. The prime minister dismissed the suggestion, stating: "I think the one thing that is very obvious from the long list of countries who have been victims of this type of terrorism is that it does not greatly discriminate in terms of individual items of policy."

Firstly, referring to war in Iraq as an "individual item of policy" is a gross understatement, as if it sits naturally along decisions on how many new hospitals to build or how to lift people out of poverty.

This "individual item of policy" has been redrawing the map in terms of Britain's standing in large parts of the world, as well as being directly responsible for the deaths of British soldiers, and now, it seems for bomb attacks that have killed many Londoners. Those bomb attacks also led to a sanctioned execution on Britain's streets.

Leaving aside such disingenousness, the basic fact cannot be hidden, Blair is wrong, AGAIN. The failed bomb attacks had EVERYTHING to do with IRAQ, he just cannot admit it. Let's not forget, this is the same Blair who was told by his own intelligence chiefs that his policy of joining the Iraq invasion carried grave risks,

Tony Blair led Britain to war against Iraq despite intelligence chiefs' warnings it could increase the risk of terrorists getting weapons of mass destruction, it has emerged. The revelation comes in a report from the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) giving its verdict on how intelligence was handled in the run-up to the war. The report says September's key dossier was not "sexed up", but it adds that ahead of the war (one month ahead) Mr Blair was told the threat from al-Qaeda and allied terrorist groups would be made worse by invading Iraq.

Seems to me that the only British citizens who have not been made Less Safe by Blair's policies are Government Ministers and high-ranking officials with their Bodyguards, Police Marksmen, cordoned off areas, 1000s of police officers, sniffer dogs, etc. Not only does the government require security from terrorists, the fear of democratic protest has them engaged in measures such as those that accompanied the recent G8 Gleneagles summit.

AN UNPRECEDENTED operation to secure Scotland’s ports, airports and roads will swing into action in July to prevent anarchist protesters reaching the G8 summit at Gleneagles, according to the policeman in charge of the security operation.

Police are expected to lock down a campus around the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyroodhouse to protect both buildings from the thousands of demonstrators who will descend on the capital for the summit. They will also set up cordons around major landmarks such as the Forth Road Bridge and Edinburgh Castle.

Security at Edinburgh Airport, the main point of entry for the world leaders and the demonstrators, will be the tightest in its history and senior police officers will liaise with customs officers.

The latest attempts to hide behind "operational decisions" over the police shooting of Carlos Menezes is inspired by a similar dislike to being accountable to Parliament that Tony Blair's Labour government has come to specialise in.

Home Office ministers have repeatedly insisted that the 'shoot-to-kill' policy is an operational matter for the police that does not require political approval. However, opposition MPs said it could no longer hide behind operational constraints. 'The new terrorist threat requires new responses,' said Jeremy Browne, a Liberal Democrat member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. 'But an operational policy decision as fundamental as shoot to kill poses wider questions about the power of the state, and should be subject to proper political scrutiny and approval.'

Well said, Sir. And let's not forget that it wasn't MPs who decided on "shoot to kill",

"The new guidance for the campaign against suicide bombers, known as Operation Kratos, was produced after consultation with Israeli security experts."

Yes. Why do we need accountable public figures in Britain when we can go straight to that Security State, Israel, with their vile military bureaucracy of checkpoints (see the documentary, Checkpoint, for footage that provides an insight into what it means to be caught up in the Israeli security machine on a daily level), their bulldozing of houses, and their targeted assassinations (not via plain clothes officers, "targeted" killings via air strikes from helicopter gunships).

This is the same state that deliberately shelled a UN compound full of refugees, (a full 5 years before 9/11 "changed the world forever" - what a joke that idea is, this has been going on for decades)

We had been by Qana that morning and had seen it crowded with 800 refugees. The people with their villages under fire had been taken by the U.N. armored vehicles into the U.N.’s own compound. This wasn’t a refugee camp. This was a battalion headquarters of the U.N. in Qana, where they would be safe. And we could even see that they actually brought their cattle with them and tethered their cows and goats to the barbed wire around the camp. They were going to be safe there.

When we got to Qana, much of it was on fire. As these proximity shells burst, they killed in all 106 people, including fifty-five children. Proximity shells burst seven to nine meters above the ground. They’re anti-personnel weapons; they’re intended to give amputation wounds. When we got there, these poor people without arms and legs had crawled and smashed down the back gate of the compound, and we drove into it. It was literally a river of blood, and it was overflowing our shoes. And we got inside, and it was just butchery. Babies were without arms and heads. Women torn apart. People eviscerated.

that shoots dead schoolchildren

On 5 October Israeli soldiers shot dead 13-year-old Iman al-Hams near her school in Rafah. According to an army communication recording of the incident and testimonies of soldiers, a commander repeatedly shot the child at close range even though soldiers had identified her as “a little girl... scared to death”.

and British peace workers.

The practice of ISM members in Rafah was, while waving their passports, to accompany Palestinians as they attempted to restore water supplies, and telecommunications shot up by the IDF, and to prevent the demolition of houses. On April 11 2003 Tom, dressed in a fluorescent orange ISM vest, was at the end of a Rafah street observing an earthen mound where a score of children were playing. As IDF rifle fire hit the mound, the children fled. But three, aged between four and seven, were paralysed by fear. Tom, having taken a boy to safety, returned for the girls. He was hit in the head by a single bullet, fired by an IDF soldier.

After a two-hour delay on the border, Tom was taken to a specialist hospital in Be’ersheva, and then back to London, where he survived, in a vegetative state, until his death.

And the BRITISH GOVERNMENT thinks we can LEARN from these methods!

Shame on Britain for consulting with another brand of terrorist, the administrators of the Israeli security state. Shame on Tony Blair for leading us in this terrible direction.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Workers of the World Unite!

This post could equally be titled Working Class Solidarity vs Simple Xenophobia

I'm starting to go beet-red over the basic smearing of the Brazilian shot dead 8 times in London last week. You know, the guy who was wearing a bulky jacket, only he wasn't, the guy who was vaulting a barrier, only he didn't, who was shot 5 times, only he wasn't. Remember him?

This from the Daily Mail:

"The student visa of Jean Charles de Menezes expired more than two years before he was shot by police, a Home Office spokeswoman has said.

The Government also issued a cautiously-worded statement which appeared to indicate Mr de Menezes had a forged stamp in his passport.

The spokeswoman said: "Mr de Menezes ... applied for leave to remain as a student. This was approved on October 31, 2002, and he was granted leave to remain until June 30, 2003."

*** And also, this from one police chief, Ian Blair, yesterday

Sir Ian said his officers had, tragically, been left with no choice but to open fire on a Brazilian man wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber.

Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was shot dead at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July.

Sir Ian said using a Taser in such a situation was "not an option".

He was "devastated" for Mr Menezes' family but stood by the force's shoot-to-kill policy for suspected suicide bombers.

"There is only one way to stop someone who is a suicide bomber which is to kill that person."


Let's start with Ian Blair. Quite frankly, this is a ridiculous statement. Blair's argument is COMPLETELY UNDERMINED by the fact that it was NOT a suicide bomber. His argument is equivalent to shooting a man in the head having mistaken him for a grizzly bear, then maintaining that that was the ONLY WAY to deal with the threat from a grizzly bear.

"But, Mr Blair, it Wasn't a grizzly bear..."
"Well, so you shouldn't have shot them."
"Why not? If you'd seen his big grizzly bear head, maybe you'd understand... there's only one way to deal with a bear about to attack you."
"It wasn't a bear. It wasn't about to attack you."
"Easy for you to say. But how could we take the chance that it was simply going about its business..."
"What did "the bear" appear to be doing?"
"It appeared to be simply going about its business. But... you see, that's what they do, they're at their most dangerous when they're not doing anything suspicious. Personally, I find a grizzly bear that is not doing anything suspicious, EVEN MORE SUSPICIOUS... the next moment they could be attacking you, and there's only one way to blah blah..."
(Ian Blair ducks down behind his desk having caught sight of a tea lady who appears to him to be a wolverine...)
"Make them stop," he whimpers.

*** Now, the issue, or non-issue of the expired Visa ***

Like I say, it's Workers Solidarity pitched against Simple Xenophobia (seasoned with Fear of Being Blown up by Brown People). Stir vigorously with tub-thumping editorials, pictures of politicians looking serious, police with guns, etc.


He was a worker. Isn't it clear why he was here after a visa had expired? He wanted to WORK here and earn money and HAVE A LIFE. I don't care about his paperwork and the zero impact this had on him being selected for ARBITRARY EXECUTION by THE METROPOLITAN POLICE GOON SQUAD. The Working Classes are supposedly reflected in the opinion of the tabloids, but all they do is pander to fear and incite civil war among ordinary people. I reject this utterly. Anyone with a suitably developed sense of their place in the world should dismiss this charade over the status of this Brazilian worker and point back to the real issue - People Being Executed for no reason BY mistake on the Streets of Britain.

The utter charade that the other bombers have been captured with a taser and via a siege only goes to show that their is no validity to the arguments given in support of sanctioning the execution of Menezes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - a blushing debutante

I mentioned it a week or so ago, but the John Fante article I wrote is live now, along with a new short story (I am thinking), over at Tom's site, Be sure to have a look if you get a moment.

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Us Brits - A Londoner Responds

Preamble: This is a guest post from Chris Paul, a friend of mine, who lives in London. Many thanks to Chris.


"Suspect paid thousands in benefits" says The Daily Mail.

Jesus. Not only did this brown faced man bomb us but he did it all with Tax Payers Money. If you tot up what he claimed and add it onto the defence expenditure on Iraq and Afghanistan that is a lot of bombs and dead people that the British tax payer has stumped up for recently.

In the wake of these bombs I've followed official advice however. I haven't let the terrorists win. I've carried on life as usual. I've even carried on catching the bus into work. 'I wonder if it will blow up?' I casually think to myself before forgetting the fact that it probably won't and thinking about something else entirely. I've got to get into work after all.

As a Londoner, as a Britisher, as someone whose life has been effected by terrorism (albeit thankfully not much), I'd like to express my whole-hearted solidarity with peoples in many places; New York, Afghanistan, Bali, Jakarta, Istanbul, Madrid, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Palestine. I'm not sure what form this solidatity should take though, to be at all meaningful. Maybe a day of strike.

In the meantime life does indeed go on. I've got a poetry reading tomorrow night, the cat needs to go the the vet, and the rent is due next week. All to a backdrop of a mundane paranoia and prejudice (no muslims on the top deck today, phew) and the startling apathy that 'us brits' are famous for.

At least we still have our sense of humour.

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Is Britain Going Mad? part 2

FINAL UPDATE 24/07/05 *** "On leaving his flat on Friday, he [de Menezes] was followed by armed plain-clothes police. He took a bus for the three miles from Tulse Hill to Stockwell. It was only when he crossed the road to the tube station that the police intervened and called on him to stop."

For those who believe Police Intelligence to be an oxymoron, this is a gem.

So, the police let a suspected suicide bomber board a BUS and travel three miles. Erm, what if he had been a genuine suicide bomber, intent on blowing up a bus? It just shows that the planning was non-existent here.

As for the argument about needing to shoot suspected suicide bombers in the head, suicide bombers will no doubt devise mouth operated timers that they can bite on to set off their payload. What then? Trying to tackle suicide bombers when they have their dynamite strapped to them is a mug's game. If a suicide bomber puts on their explosives an hour or two before they leave on their mission, that leaves ALL THE TIME preceding that moment to intercept someone. Apply police logic to conventional suicides. You wouldn't have The Samaritans, you'd have guys wandering the streets with blankets trying to catch anyone who jumps off tall buildings.

UPDATE 24/07/05 *** Jack Straw is busy using the "tragedy defence" (see end of post), this today on Guardian

"We have to ensure that clear rules are operated but we also, tragically, have to ensure that the police do have effective discretion to deal with what could be terrorist suicide outrages about to take place. That's the dilemma."

And Britain's police chief, Ian Blair, weighed in with more wisdom (same article)

"This is a tragedy. The Metropolitan police accepts full responsibility for this. To the family I can only express my deep regrets." ***

It does not surprise me how irrational people are, particularly in the wake of bomb attacks. But there is no defence for what the police did when they executed Jean Charles de Menezes, and I will go into the argument a little here, to prove those who say "it is a price that must be paid in the war against terror" are wrong.

Firstly, in this modern world, it is very very easy to rationalise the death of another when we don't know them personally, when they're just a name and a photo in a newspaper, on a website, on TV. It's as easy as it is for people to do the seeming opposite, and grive over someone they never met (ie: Diana, the Pope, etc) as if they lost a member of their own family.

If we apply Kant's ‘Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law’, we may get somewhere, once we start to envisage the consequences for Everybody of Rationalising Away an Innocent Man's Death as Acceptable.

Firstly, the man yesterday could've been any of us. Me, my father, one of my friends. Would I want plain-clothes police to be able to execute them in a public place as they were going about their business? Would I accept that it was "part of the price to be paid in the war on terror"?

Answer: No. And I don't think many people would find that acceptable. It does not violate Kant's principle to contend otherwise, but we must then also recognise that to others, we too are strangers, and accept that others then have a right to rationalise our own deaths as a price worth paying. I don't subscribe to that. I believe that those who put forward the "price worth paying" argument do so mostly on the basis that "it wasn't them AND they don't know the deceased." I would compare this to being sat in a swimming pool that you cannot climb out of, and watching a shark eat someone you didn't know. You may delight in rationalising that the hungry shark was obeying its impulse to feed and that the man made a hearty meal, but you are unlikely to be holding to such a reasoned position when the shark is swimming towards you.

So. I believe that the life of a stranger is equivalent to my own or that of my associates. I don't believe that the police force should be at liberty to execute innocent civilians and that these people can be racked up as "acceptable losses." There is a problem with the rhetoric here, and it has to do with the phrase "war on terror." There really is no way that I want the fight against terrorism to be prosecuted as a war, if that means all the conventional logic that flows from such a framing. Are we to then accept that our cities are battlefields?

This is our own soil, and we must not allow politicians to foist "collateral damage" type arguments, arguments that may be fine upon a genuine battlefield, upon us; we must not accept the logic of conventional war on our own doorsteps. I see such an acceptance of this killing as the first step along such a road. If we cede basic rights such as the right not to be murdered by the police, what comes next? Checkpoints? ID cards, Security Walls? Peace, Israeli style? Would people in Britain really want a Divided Country, segregated communities a la Northern Ireland, Muslims on one side of the fence and everyone else on the other.

If this was so desirable, why are Northern Ireland and the Occupied Territories quite so far down the list of Popular Holiday Destinations!

People must say NO to assassination on Britain's streets. The police are plainly not ready for a licence to kill. It is sadly, probably fortunate, that the dead man was not a young British Muslim - who knows how much hurt and fear and anger that would've caused.

The framing of this as "tragedy" must also be resisted. Hamlet is a tragedy, Othello is a tragedy. This was not a tragedy, it was a direct result of flawed Home Office policy. If nothing changes, expect regular "tragedies."

Anyone who wants to come back and counter my position is welcome to do so.

Is Britain Going Mad?

23/7/05 UPDATE *** Once again, Extreme Unction's common sense analysis proves correct. What was yesterday being hailed as the successful termination of a terrorist is now a grovelling apology, the POLICE having managed to KILL the wrong person, an INNOCENT person (for any Metropolitan Policemen reading, I have linked to the dictionary entry for "innocent").

If the higher-ups are trying to generate maximum fear in the Muslim community, they've made a perfect start. It does not surprise me that this happened, I am used to the utter incompetence of the Metropolitan Police. But it still hurts - SEE STUPID BRITISH PEOPLE COMMENTS AT FOOT OF POST***

After yesterday's joke post, I then find that the POLICE have sent 5 shots, execution style, into the head of someone in a crowded station. (The Guardian)

I cannot buy the "seconds to decide" defence of this. And we shouldn't be learning anything from the Israeli government about how to deal with terrorism. What next, bulldozing Bradford? A security fence around Wembley?

Talk about how to scare everyone with a brown face in Britain - it's madness. Actually, everyone should be scared, we're going down the wrong road with these tactics. There doesn't need to be a "well, Jason how would you deal with it..." because I would be withdrawing troops from Iraq and doing everything I could to reassure Britain's Muslims that their votes and opinions count too when Britain formulates its foreign policy. Instead, Tony Blair lied to everyone and got us into a complete mess.

It also looks obvious the person was unarmed/not covered in sticks of dynamite, or that would've been disclosed (UPDATE - this proved to be the case). What happens when the cold weather comes and some Muslims would like to wear their padded jackets? Are they going to have to walk round the capital shivering in transparent vests?

*** from BBC Have your Say section, here are some of my British fellows demonstrating they can be just as stupid as the best that the US can offer... ***

With innocent lives at risk, the police cannot afford to take chances with suspicious people who run away when challenged. It's easy with hindsight to accuse them of being too hasty, but haste is unavoidable when you might have a suicide bomber among dozens of people on a tube train. There's no time to interview the suspect - there's just action. If people want someone to blame for this, blame the terrorists who have made such actions necessary.
Jennifer Harvey, UK

A situation like this demands firm and decisive action. It sends a message to all who are on the fringe to keep clear and for those real terrorists that there is no mercy. Inevitably, there will be mistakes but in a war this is the result of a fanatic minority trying to impose their will on all others.
Peter Nurse, (English), France

Yes, rationalising away the death of an innocent man. Best get in some practice, there will be a lot more innocent people being killed if this goes on. The first comment, in particular, is so loaded with the government's message, and represents a nonsensical joining up of imaginary dots - it shows the magic that can be worked on small minds in a short space of time!

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Ban Backpackers Now!

If today's bomb attacks get anything done about backpackers, great. I remember numerous times some loud-talking Scandinavian whirling round on an Underground platform and their enormous backpack almost sending me in front of an oncoming train.

"Yass! Jurgen, Lurn-durn iss sooo kool, we murst send Heidi a postkarten - Vish youver heer, lurve Jurgen..."

This is just how it happens - :

Blam! The top part of the backpack catches me on the side of the head, knocking me off balance. The lower part of the backpack features a metal frame. This has speared spitefully into my solar plexus, knocking all the air out of my lungs. As the bobble-hatted student jabbers obliviously, I am engaged in a life and death struggle to avoid pitching forward on to the tracks, just in time to be squished to bits by an oncoming train. It is a long lonely fight for survival, undertaken without humour. Somehow, I win, and regain my footing.

This experience became so common (and I swear I was not doing it as some kind of way to achieve orgasm - a danger junkie). It reached the point where I would carry a "Non-Suicide Note" with me, so that if I came to grief my parents and friends would know it was an accident. I didn't want to think about people saying, "Yeah, he looked kind of sad when he left, but he didn't seem that depressed..."

I wanted them to know it was more likely a Norwegian wot killed me.


Here comes Dylan Thomas to set the world right.

And Death shall have no Dominion
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Through they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.
there's audio of Dylan Thomas reading this poem here

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

D.R.I.P. John Tyndall

The D is for Don't... so Don't Rest in Peace, John Tyndall, who has happily passed away.

John Tyndall was an ugly fascist, a bullyboy, who liked to strut around with a gang of skinheads and yammer on about "Proud Britons walking the streets of Britain, proclaiming the supremacy of the White Man" - you get the idea.

I will never forget Tyndall's indignation at that well-known Trannsylvanian, Michael Howard, assuming leadership of the Conservative Party...

"This immigrant son of immigrants, this (look of righteous indignation on face) INTERLOPER!"

Me and Leo used to replay that sentence to one another, the cadence was so satisfying. It held a high place in our esteem, just as when The Rev. Ian Paisley, another fire-breathing bully, stood up during a Papal address and shouted, "I denounce you as the Anti-Christ!"

Anyway, the world is a marginally better place today - it no longer features John Tyndall.

Some random thoughts about the weather...

Here are some of today's thoughts...

There's a heatwave going on in New England. They showed pictures on TV of a Boston street and there was a guy running along in a tight athletic vest and very short shorts. It is now clear to me why New England is generally cold, it's so that people with bodies like these keep covered up! His legs were of the terrifying sinewy type, and so white, staring at them could cause snowblindness. He looked like a giant curly-haired chicken.

Hurricane Emily is arriving in Texas. Again, they showed people who are arriving for "vacations". What kind of vacation is it to jet in to the path of an oncoming hurricane? I don't care if your last minute deal did cost $89.99, it's totally stupid.

There was flooding in a nearby part of Tennessee this week, 4 inches of rain fell in just 30 minutes. That's a lot. They showed people whose homes had been damaged on the news. One guy was stood outside a really run-down house, moaning about all the stuff inside that had been damaged. Now, I don't want to be too judgmental, but looking at this guy's setup it's hard to believe that anything decent got wrecked. Basically, his house was full of broken crap before the bad weather, now he has a house full of soaking wet crap is all.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mr Blair and Sanity - they used to be friends...

UPDATED: July 17th 3:45pm

*** Even Blair's own party don't believe him, Clare Short has spoken out again ***

Ms Short said the anti-terror legislation being planned by Mr Blair would act as a recruiting sergeant for the terrorists. She said it was wrong that Muslims should grow up in Britain willing to contemplate killing innocent civilians, but coupled her condemnation of the bombing with criticism of British foreign policy.

"Some of the voices that have been coming from the Government that talk as though this is all evil, and that everything we do is fine, when in fact we are implicated in the slaughter of large numbers of civilians in Iraq and supporting a Middle East policy that for the Palestinians creates this sense of double standards - that feeds anger," she said in a recorded interview for GMTV.


I hate to call anyone names, but listening to Tony Blair's speech on the global response to terrorism, well, it did make me question the man's sanity.

"As he has done frequently, Mr. Blair sought to reject any suggestion of a link between the Iraq war and the London bombings."

Right. Sooooo, when the Madrid bombs exploded, in a nation that was a coalition of the willing member, and days before a general election that saw the war-supporting government swept from office, that WAS a bomb attack linked to the Iraq war? Or, perhaps in Tony Blair's mind, it wasn't. Now we have a similar attack in London, another member of the coalition of the willing, but no, it's NOT connected to the Iraq war.

So, to recap. Having asserted a link between 9/11 and Iraq that has been shown NOT to exist, Blair is now rejecting a link between his war in Iraq and terrorist bombs that DOES exist.

It would be much easier to admire Blair's message of moderation, tolerance, and freedom, if he had exhibited any behaviour that demonstrated these noble principles. Instead, we have a PM who misled his cabinet, Parliament, and the British people, who goes to church on a Sunday and presides over death and destruction abroad during his week, who has imprisoned British citizens without trial for "terror-related crimes", who did sweet FA to have British citizens guilty only of working at a Comet store in Wolverhampton, released from Guantanamo, and whose commitment to freedom requires his government to proceed with flawed ID card legislation (and having taken your data, and charged you 300 quid for your card, are then going to SELL that persoanl data to private companies), and to this week suggest that society would be more secure (not free), if the Home Office could read everyone's emails and view everyone's phone records.

I can only conclude that Blair is not sane. Only someone not in full possession of their faculties would 1) be sending out a message completely at odds with their record, and 2) seriously expecting anyone else to believe them.

Blair is a liar, and he needs to go. Preferably before he gives me an ulcer, as just the sight of his face now has me reaching for the antacid tablets.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Finished at last...

I made it. I finally completed my article on John Fante, the writer, for my friend's upcoming literary website. It's taken me almost a month of occasional effort to stagger across the line, but the results are good. Will post a link when it goes live.

A few words from Dylan Thomas

"The world happened at once. There was the furnished mountain built in a flash and thunderclap colliding. The shapes of rain falling made a new noise and number. And the lightning stayed striking; its charted shaft of sawteeth struck and bit in continual light; one blind flash was a year of mornings. The mummyfolds, the mudpots, the wet masks, the quick casts, the closing sheathes, melted under the frostbite heat of that unwinking lightning. He boxed free from the statues and the caved and toppling watchers. From the man-sized dent in a melting thigh he came up strung with shells and mussed with weed like a child from the roots of the original sea into a dazzling bed."

from An adventure from a work in progress


These words are very beautiful, however, in true 60s paperback style, the cover of this book is a drawing of a man with three small people sticking out of his head; a woman in glasses, a man in a bowtie, holding an umbrella, and finally, a green-faced moustachioed man in a bowler hat and greatcoat.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Potatoes, Dreams, and Moustaches

I love potatoes. I am sat here right now, and despite not even being hungry, I am pining for a plate of mashed potato with a good lump of butter melting in them. It must be my Irish ancestry.

The potato met plenty of opposition when it first arrived in Europe, particularly from the religious:

Scottish clergymen banned their flocks from planting potatoes, saying that the tubers were unworthy of human consumption because they were not mentioned in the Bible. It is possible that the word "spud" (a common nickname for the potato in English-speaking countries) is an acronym for the Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet, a nineteenth-century activist group dedicated to keeping the potato out of Britain. The first edition (1768-71) of the Encyclopedia Britannica referred to the potato as a "demoralizing esculent." Esculent is an ostentatious word for food. At least the scholars gave the potato that much credit.

that's taken from here


I had a dream last night that featured a sign painted with the message:



I keep thinking about Sir Richard Burton, the explorer, and the fact that he challenged someone to a duel on the basis that they laughed at his moustache. And from there it's a short hop to Tom, back in England, who I miss so much, you see, Tom once slept the night in Mortlake Cemetery, where Sir Richard enjoys his eternal rest (I wonder if his headstone has elaborate stone moustaches - I can see myself taking a picture of a stuffed raven perching on it...)

The other claim to fame of Mortlake is that the house is where John Dee, the magician, transcribed the Book of Enoch, but there's probably only Alasdair who reads this blog who'd be at all interested in that fact.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Don't go back to your old ways...

Okay, here is the first post-London bombings post. Settling down to write it, I'm reminded of the comedy act, Alan Parker, Urban Warrior (pictured below), once the most radical man in Britain, now the Only radical man in Britain. At the end of his act, he'd exhort the audience, "Don't go back to your old ways..."

It's good advice, but there is also that the caveat that I don't believe the London bombings to be responsible for any lasting change, either to the world or to myself, so any reticence exercised here, is done purely for where this post falls in the sequence, the same way you wouldn't want to be seen playing swingball an hour after the funeral of a friend. It's not that there's anything inherently wrong with swingball...

Okay, I'm sure everyone has the picture. Back to the old ways then, here's the latest disturbing search term that has found my blog - :

penis guillotine (on Alta Vista)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The London Bombings - a big fat analysis

Here is my response to the bombings in London yesterday.

Firstly, I was horrified by what happened. No law-abiding citizen deserves to be blown up as they go about their daily business, be it in London, New York, or Baghdad. Yes, Baghdad, and yes, I am going to talk about that place, that place called Iraq.

What happened yesterday doesn't begin with 9/11, but 9/11 is a useful starting point. From the rubble of Ground Zero, George Bush began prosecuting his "war on terror" and the London bombings are one more sad instalment of this flawed policy. First, with the world on his side, Bush dispatched the Taliban, ostensibly because Osama Bin Laden, who was alleged to be behind the 9/11 attacks, was hiding there. The Taliban are a bunch of shits. Afghanis are better off without them. As it so happens, the US oil corporations are also better off without them, behold! in a miraculous coincidence Afghanistan now has a shiny new oil pipeline passing through it, bringing oil from the landlocked Caspian sea.

George Bush talked about America's dependency on foreign powers for its energy needs, specifically oil, and about how that dependency needed to be addressed. Some souls may have taken this as meaning America was going to invest in renewables, seek to curb its oil use by putting some big taxes on SUVs, etc. Reasonable stuff. But we heard it all wrong. Bush planned to address this dependency by annexing Iraq's huge reserves of oil.

And so began the need for invading Iraq. Time to talk about WMDs, etc. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, they each repeatedly made a link between 9/11 and Iraq that didn't exist. Osama Bin Laden never received support from Iraq, Al Qaida (if it exists) had no presence in Iraq, Osama Bin Laden wasn't hiding in Iraq. What did it matter? Just keep repeating it and damn those in the "reality based community."

Two years plus, and we have seen that the "war on terror" brings no added security. Bali, Madrid, and now London, all have fallen victim to terrorist attack. In Spain, the government fell, the people deciding that participation in the Iraq invasion was not worth terror at home. In London, well, what now?

I am going to address how people may react with a series of statements and a brief discussion of each point.

The London bombings are not "our 9/11"

9/11 was a huge shock to the American people and the world. America fell victim to foreign attack on its home soil for the first time since WWII. By accompanying Bush on his "war on terror" and into his oil grab in Iraq, the people of coalition countries have had to accept that sooner or later they may fall victim to a terror attack. Interestingly, both Spain and the UK have fought their own battles with terrorists, ETA and the IRA, the public know the psychological terrain much better than most Americans. This may make a difference in the days ahead.

But, crucially, the London attacks are not our 9/11 because they emerge directly from policy decisions of our government, our elected leaders, decisions taken SINCE 9/11, decisions that it was clear from the beginning could prove disastrous (hence the massive anti-war movement). Now, let's pause and think about the Downing Street Memoranda, and what they show. They show clearly that Tony Blair did indeed mislead both his cabinet and Parliament with his statements. They show that Blair knew that US intelligence was being fixed around a policy of invading Iraq. We already know that British intelligence was practically non-existent, with one dossier comprised chiefly of a schoolkid's homework. We also know that the legal advice from Lord Goldsmith could not provide a firm answer on the legality of military action.

Tony Blair decided, personally, to go to war. Cabinet and Parliament, provided with a more accurate picture, may have declined. This needs to be remembered, because the next point is that the "war on terror" is unwinnable, just like the "war on drugs", just like the war on just about anything you care to name.

There have been many false connections and false choices provided by the US administration. Firstly, the "war on terror" would seem to require catching Osama Bin Laden, at least if we are to follow the fact pattern we have been presented with. Instead, the US and the coalition are bogged down in Iraq. As a US military commander himself said, Bush is acting as a recruitment sergeant for Al Qaida with the Iraqi conquest (while, sensibly, Americans are sending recruitment levels to record lows, making a draft a real possibility).

Just a week ago, an American government spokesman said in interview, "We know where Osama Bin Laden is, but we can't go in and get him." The mighty America, not prepared to catch the world's most wanted man because of respect for a nation's borders. Hmmm, these borders must have markedly different characteristics to Iraq's borders.

Okay, so the Iraq conquest is only de facto part of "the war on terror." A false connection. One of the chief false choices Bush provided after 9/11 has been playing out on the media again today. This is, "You can either fight terrorism abroad, or you must fight it at home." The point is... we aren't fighting terrorism anywhere! We are fighting in Iraq for to secure American energy interests. This war is actually increasing global insecurity, it is acting as a rallying point for those who wish to battle the US. Two years ago, it was a constant refrain that "the insurgents" were from OUTSIDE Iraq, largely. Yes, they were a ragbag of Taliban, old Mujahadeen, mercenaries, etc, who had all come to Iraq to fight. Today we are being asked to accept that there is a link between the bombings in London and the Iraqi conquest, but for All the Wrong Reasons.

The media logic goes like this:

The London bombings only go to show that We are doing the right thing battling insurgents in Iraq, because they are Al Qaida affiliated. When we kill one of them in Iraq, we weaken their prospect of launching an attack elsewhere in the world. Fox News had someone saying that the Egyptian politician who was killed in Iraq today, that this orchestrated by Al Qaida, to show both their power in Iraq and their power to strike abroad. Is this credible? Again, the killing was attributed to Al Zarqawi, but where is Mr Zarqawi, as this Alternet article suggests, he may have died in Afghanistan a few years ago, and now exists primarily to serve the interests of coalition propaganda.

Conclusion: We must not give in to terrorism, we must stay the course, otherwise, they win.

Here's my take on this media logic.

The London bombings only go to show that we did the wrong thing invading Iraq, that the right thing would've been to focus on dismantling the organisation that planned and executed the 9/11 attacks (whoever they were). The bombings in Bali and Madrid only show that the terrorist capacity remains largely undiminished. The war in Iraq is making things worse as it beats the drum for a radical strain of Islam that preaches war on the infidels, that legitimises indiscriminate murder of civilians (and the coalition has also indiscriminately murdered Iraqi civilians, whether by first labelling them "insurgents" for being upset that their country has been invaded, or through collateral damage). Tony Blair was wrong to follow the US down this path, Tony Blair bears some measure of personal responsibility for Britain's being targeted by Al Qaida (or whoever carried out these attacks).

Conclusion: It is imperative that the British government admit that a huge mistake has been made, that the war in Iraq is not part of the war on terror, and was entered into because of US energy interests. This won't happen - the truth has become both impossible to acknowledge and impossible to ignore.

The unlawful detention at Guatanamo Bay has also been disastrous. It is not possible under the terms of the Geneva Convention for someone to fall outside the articles, and yet here is the US detaining children and Basra taxi drivers and British guys whose only crime was to work at a Currys (for US readers, the equivalent of a Best Buy) and who have created what could quite fairly be described as a terror network of their own, where Gitmo prisoners are sent to US-friendly regimes for torture practices that are not permitted in the US. This policy is known as "extraordinary rendition" and if you are sent to Egypt for some work, you may be beaten and burned. The US also has a base in Uzbekistan. Today Fox News said that the Uzbeks want the US base closed down and that "relations are strained due to concerns over how the Uzbeks deal with political prisoners." The Uzbeks deal with their political prisoners by sometimes boiling them alive. The whistle on this was blown by the outspoken British ambassador to Uzbekistan. The moral: the US cannot claim the high ground when it comes to prosecuting the "war on terror." (see section Why Bush is a Terrorist)

Please note that I am not suggesting here that Britain should have done nothing in response to 9/11. I supported action in Afghanistan, I still support the dismantling of terror organisations through special operations, intelligence work, assassination even. What I don't support is endangering the civilian population prosecuting a war that is most likely illegal under international law, and telling lies about WMD being the reason when it was only ever about grabbing resources, which, after all, tends to be the reason for most wars.

The War on Terror is unwinnable

Just like the war on drugs, which I believe the war on terror is basically equivalent to, this war is unwinnable. Let's rewind a little through British history and consider the IRA for a moment. The IRA have killed many civilians, soldiers, politicians, during their history, they have shot people, they have planted bombs that decimated London just like today. But there are crucial differences. Firstly, British governments may have spoken about bringing those responsible for bombings to justice, but they were wise enough not to claim they would ever score a final victory over the IRA. The reason being, the IRA are fighting for a political cause. So long as that cause remains, there most likely will always be people willing to fight, and perhaps even die for it. The war isn't won by killing every IRA member, the conflict is resolved by addressing the cause, by accommodating, somehow, their demands. This has happened in Britain. In secret, the British government maintained high level diplomatic contacts with the IRA, at times when the public would most likely have been appalled at such cordial relations. The point was, the British government recognised privately that you had to communicate with the terrorists, however unpalatable, that they were the perpetrators of violent actions, but that these actions had a political basis, and therefore, the potential for a political solution existed.

In Britain, I believe that many people could maintain both positions here, that firstly, what the IRA did was wrong, but secondly, their cause was just. It is perhaps unpalatable to an American audience, but many people around the world similarly occupied both positions with regard to 9/11 - while acknowledging the human cost, many people in Britain (where I was) could also appreciate that 9/11 did not come out of a vacuum and that the US as a nation had reaped what it had sown in return for its foreign policy.

What makes today's attacks more frightening for British people is that we do not truly understand the cause that motivates the terrorists. What perhaps is worrying is the notion that somewhere, at the highest levels of government, it has been decided that there is a certain amount of global terrorism of Western targets that is acceptable and that can even be used to foster public support, via the notion that we should "get behind our leaders", only by standing together will we remain strong and beat the terrorists.

I contend that this is a very worrying line to take on terror attacks. To fall into line with government policy and place our faith in them to keep us secure is Exactly the Wrong Reaction. If terror attacks like the one's in New York, Bali, Madrid, and now London, reap political benefits for the incumbent leadership, then you do not have to be a genius to see that it will persist much longer as a phenomenon. Just as War is the ultimate aphrodisiac at the polls when your ratings are bad, terror attacks risk becoming a similarly useful tool. I salute the people of Spain who did not fall for this line of argument, for their good sense in simply kicking out their government for pursuing the disastrous US-led action in Iraq.

So, a cause cannot be defeated, ideas cannot be left dead on a battlefied. Sadly, the "war on terror" has released an anti-intellectual strain in the American people, that has allowed Bush to usher in grave curbs on civil liberties. The deathly irony of "freedom-loving peoples" having their liberties curtailed to guarantee their security (a security that as I have stated can never be guaranteed) has not been lost on those still able to read between the lines. Whether you are Cat Stevens or John Graham, the America of the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security is headed down a regressive path common to all states that become dependent on maintaining a reality gap. As George Orwell notes at the start of 1984, when Winston Smith is being forcefed a glorious set of statistics on how much boot production has increased that year, Winston must integrate this "fact" with the fact that he also knows no-one in his apartment building is wearing boots. This is the pressure the state, when it controls the media and crushes all dissent can wield, it is the pressure that requires Winston Smith to acknowledge that 2 + 2 = 5 (and for a second, it does) - it's called doublethink.

So to reiterate, every terrorist cannot be killed, because our actions against terrorist simply recruits More terrorists. The ideological basis that creates terrorists also cannot be destroyed. Conflict only ends when the underlying causes are addressed (see section Why We Must Change)

* OKAY, What would I do? *

Okay, as a prelude to what I would do, it's necessary to acknowledge that Bush is a terrorist, and that the principle target for his terror tactics are the American people.

Why Bush is a Terrorist

As Bush, in what may have been a tremendous admission of guilt, issued by his subconscious, famously (mis)quoted,

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

Here's another quote, this time from Nietzche - "Whoever fights monsters must be wary of becoming a monster himself." The fact is that the US has ushered in a regressive set of measures designed to curb dissent at home, using the bogeymen of Al Qaida to scare enough folks into submission. Along with this, the definition of what constitutes a "terrorist" is being broadened. As a story today shows, the U.S. government today decided there were 5 times as many "terrorist acts" in 2004, having switched to a "broader definition of terrorism"

I do not plan to prove Bush is a terrorist by argument, I simply invite anyone of a clear mind to note the reflexive nature of a President who talks about battling for freedom, but who is crushing dissent in America, who assures us that security is his #1 priority, while simultaneously inculcating fear in the populace, switching the lights on his terror-o-meter during the Presidential campaign, whenever his numbers were suffering, that holds elections organised by right-wing technology firms, using machines that leave no paper trail.

We are back to Orwell's doublethink once again, and its central paradox, that we relinquish our freedoms by embracing the false proposition of "security."

My point is this - that "security" is an irrelevancy. Counter-terrorism is fine, but there is no such thing as complete security. It's as silly as the Missile Defense Shield. Moreover, the seductive proposition of giving up rights for security is as much a threat as the terrorism it purports to defend us from. This is why Bush must be resisted, his actions countered, and to do so is not unpatriotic, it is because a free society, with all its attendant risks, is better than being drawn into a society that cannot tolerate dissent, that can arbitrarily place people on no-fly lists, that builds a database of high school kids and students to target them for military service, that has its Department of Homeland Security demand that you explain where a sum of money in your bank account came from (this has happened to us), etc. An administration that cannot admit Cat Stevens on the grounds of its National Security has failed.

* What I would do *

Why we must change

At present, Bush continues to "lead the world" but he is leading into a new global reality that is altogether more dangerous than the pre-9/11 world. We need to leave behind the notion that Kicking Ass / Killing People / etc is going to change THEM.

Whatever happened to reflecting on Ourselves? This was kind of encapsulated in the plaintive cry of "Why do they hate us?" that came out of the rubble of the Twin Towers. Americans were ready to examine their foreign policy, perhaps for the majority, whose inability to pick out other nations on a map is the stuff of legend, this was something of a first. However, something went wrong, it was too much work. It was easier to get Angry, it was easier to mobilise, possessed of righteous anger, and embark on what Bush called "a crusade." The move towards reflection was overwhelmed by the pressure to conform to supporting military action, to do the Right Thing. Families divided, co-workers told people that "if they didn't support the war, they should think about leaving the country", the demonising of the French as surrender monkeys began, France becoming the handy inverse, a shining example of what happened if you didn't kick ass - you ran the very real risk of talking in a funny accent and eating snails - the age of Freedom Fries began.

Americans need to recognise that it is America that needs to change. Changing America is the necessary step to addressing the underlying causes here. There is no point in this "hearts and minds" approach, Iraqis are never going to love the US so long as their country is occupied, just as the Irish never learned to love the English during their occupation.

The sources of radicalism can be dismantled. The US won against the ideology of Cold War Soviet Union, it could prevail over the ideology of radical Islam. But the US must not demonise Muslims as that runs the risk of encouraging radicalism. There is also no reason why moderate Muslims should be apologising for global terror attacks, as opposed to condeming them. You apologise for what you have done, not for the things done in your name. To this degree, don't the people of America and the coalition owe a HUGE APOLOGY to the people of Iraq?

"Many apologies. We believed our leaders when they said you had WMDs, we kicked your ass and took over your country. We destroyed your infrastructure and left you in a state of anarchy. Now we won't leave. Sorry,

yours sincerely

The US and the Coalition of the Willing"

The Legacy of the Bombings

I am not about to say something fatuous, such as "Let's honour the victim's of terror by making the world a safer place" etc, but I will say this - when Tony Blair refuses to countenance change in the light of these attacks, don't be too quick to praise him for his steadfastness. Without change, the only sure thing is that such attacks will happen again. As I have said, there are ways to change that don't represent a concession to terrorists. Once again, we are presented with a false choice at a moment of great tragedy.

To make changes would be to recognise the losses today, to simply continue ploughing the same foolish furrow renders these deaths senseless from almost every angle. It is also true that to continue pursuing a senseless policy, having been locked into it by the rhetoric of "not letting the terrorists win" is to ABSOLUTELY have let the terrorists win, inasmuch as the bombers have today contributed hugely to Britain NOT relinquishing policies that are helping to draw fresh blood to the cause of radical Islam. Let Tony Blair be unmoved, but don't be unmoved yourself. Regardless of today's loss, Britain Has to Change, it is even more Imperative that we seek to disconnect ourselves from the failed policies of the United States.

That is all I have to say, as an Englishman resident in the US.

Thank you for listening.

America - It's not about YOU

American media narcissism in overdrive, this is what a news anchor on CNN said a moment ago,

"... and now more news on that breaking bomb story out of London. In Los Angeles..."

Los Angeles, that well-known part of Central London.
I don't remember the BBC on 9/11 saying,

"... and now more news on those terror attacks in New York. In Liverpool..."


Although it would be an idea for Blair AND Bush to go and survey the latest success in their War Against Terror together.

I understand that Bush was so shaken that he had to report to the nearest branch of the Early Learning Center and replenish his stock of children's books. Bush munched on a candy bar as he was led around the store, and on leaving was said to be thrilled at getting his mitts on Muddle Farm and Room on the Broom (quote, "Yee hee, it's all about witches and black magic, Rummy will love this...")

Also, please note, Bush injured his hands last night. Did a bomb go off by mistake while he was getting them ready? Was he like the Irishman in Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, who loses a few fingers while preparing "a birthday present for Queen Victoria"?


-> Nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow issued a statement in the wake of the bomb attacks on London, confirming that he had sadly not been killed. "I know this will traumatise sections of the British public, but the simple truth is I'm okay and feel fine, I've just eaten two boxes of Viagra and am laying in bed with identical twins. Sorry, everyone..."
-> An unemployed acrobat claims to have been carried right across London by the strength of today's bomb blasts. Adam Patten claimed that having been thrown through the window of a tube train, the blast carried him up the stairs. He there met the updraft from the second explosion and was hurled three miles, narrowly clearing Marble Arch. Just as he was about to hit the ground, another explosion propelled him in a southerly direction. He landed in the wreckage of a London bus just seconds after it had exploded. His account has yet to be independently corroborated.
-> The head of London Transport has confirmed that despite shutting down much of London's public transport in the wake of terrorist attacks, that actual wait times would not increase significantly. He highlighted the fact that three Kenyan hotel porters are still waiting for a relief bus that was dispatched three days ago. "I am aware that the attacks are shocking, but people must be assured, it will not impact upon our general level of total incompetence in providing timely transport." He then climbed back into his limousine and zoomed off.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Your free fresh aphorism

There is no greater expression of the frustrations of suburban life than the poisoning of a neighbour's dog.


Everything you ever wanted to know about barking dogs but were too afraid to ask.

There are no dogs barking here. I was roused to write this post by a message I received detailing a dispute between suburban neighbours. I have always enjoyed the ludicrous sight of Middle Englanders frittering away their life savings disputing ownership of a six-inch strip of land. I can picture the patriarch now, marching up and down their Axminster carpet, a pensive family looking on... In fact, there's going to follow a very short playlet about it...

A Death in Suburbia

"But, Giles, is it really so important?"
"Margaret? This isn't about who has access rights to a six inch strip of dirt that runs alongside the garage - it's about Principle! I'll show that vulgar piece of shit a clean pair of heels, just wait until Johnson & Bedwetter get their teeth into this..."

Fast forward 40 years, everyone is jaded, old, and grey. Giles marches up and down...

"I wish I'd just borrowed a gun and shot him... an unlicensed gun..."
"Giles! Where would you have obtained an illegal firearm?"
"I don't know... from gypsies, or from, who were those black chaps in the Daily Mail? - Yardies! Yes, Yardies..."

Fast forward to old Giles, trolling around Brixton in a huge Mercedes, pulling alongside some young black men.

"I say, excuse me for breaking up your illegal business, but... the thing is, I'm looking for a Yardie..."

Unbeknown to Giles, his next-door nemesis is also trolling the night streets, also searching out his weapon of choice. Both men return home to their Surrey mock-tudor affairs, both packing heat.

A showdown, Wild West Style, both men face one another in the centre of their street.

"It's okay to have a showdown here, it is Sunday and this is a cul-de-sac..."

The families look on, ready for the last act. Both men draw, aim, and fire... both men miss, repeatedly, their stray bullets smashing through bedroom windows, the sides of cars, clipping hedges. This goes on for thirty minutes. Finally, both men collapse.

"Margaret, my heart... fetch the portable defibrilation unit..."

The enemy cries out... "My heart is out of control, too, fetch my top of the line defib unit asap, there's a love..."

Both men have their shirts torn open and are subjected to repeated electric shocks that bounce them around the pavement. They survive and are dragged indoors.

It's the big day in court. Giles loses the case horribly, the judge remarking that the entire 40 years of the dispute were a monumental waste of time and money. The enemy dances and shouts, giving an impromptu press conference outside, gloating over Giles' family having to meet his huge legal costs.

Giles eyes have a glassy look. He puts away his cellphone and moves towards the media.

"How do you feel, Sir? What will you do now?"
"I feel fine... I feel fine... It is him over there who is in for a surprise. Let's just say that this dispute is far from over. While I will sleep soundly in my bed tonight, well, let me suggest that my enemy will not be enjoying the same basic comfort."

Cut to the house of Giles, beside it the smouldering wreck of his enemy, the place razed to the ground by a couple of enterprising Yardies.

"Terrible shame," says Giles, puffing on a cheroot, a glass of vintage brandy in his hand.

The enemy and his family are weeping at the kerbside, while police and fire brigade see to the mess. Giles can't resist wandering over...

"Really, if there's anything I can do, don't hesitate to ask..."
"Why, why, why you hoodlum! You did this!"
"Now, now, please, let's not bandy about baseless accusations, particularly with my having my dictaphone running and my lawyer stood 10 feet away. Don't take it so hard, your tastes were vulgar anyway, I should think these smouldering ashes constitute something of an improvement."
Giles' enemy takes a deep breath.
"Anyway, I should think your settling of our legal costs shall more than cover the cost of buying a new house. Perhaps we'll buy yours..."
"Ha! It took 40 years to settle this dispute, how long will it take to settle the issue of costs! Dream on, my good man, dream on!"
Giles whistles as he walks away.

It's night.
"Giles! I can hear someone downstairs..."
Giles gets up and puts on his nightgown. Quite why Middle Englanders equate a nightgown with the power to stop bullets and repel knife stabs is as yet unknown, but, bolstered with huge amounts of false confidence, Giles saunters downstairs.
There are two men stood in Giles' lounge when he flicks on the light, both black.
"Aha! My Yardie friends, here to collect payment no doubt. And why not lads! You certainly earned it."
Giles begins to walk over to his study.
"Stop there, man."
"We ain't 'ere fuh no munny, man, we 'ere to tek you out."
"I do apologise, but I didn't catch that... 'tek me oot'?"
"Yeah, man. Kill you, shoot you dead."
"Ahhh, I see. And I suppose that bastard next door sent you? Fucking typical."
Giles pauses for a moment.
"Well, I suppose you better get on with it! Fucking typical! Shot to death in my own living room. By the way, chaps, you couldn't execute me over here, could you, this rug I'm standing on is worth more than 2000 pounds..."

Two shots ring out and all is still again.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


... is the only suitable word to describe Google Earth. I have spent the day playing with it, switching the 3-d renderings of buildings on, switching the roads on, the postal code areas. Looking at where all the ATMs and grocery stores are located! Tilting and "flying" from Memphis to Dublin, etc, etc. This is the most exciting bit of software I've seen for so long, the most exciting thing since Napster began. And it's free!

Finally, switching on the Keyhole community is just swell, little information "i"s pop up, each one linking into a post on the forum, more info, pics, etc.

... well, I'm going to continue playing...