The New Witchfinders

Well, the Spiteful Nannying Party, the ones in charge of the Scottish government, want to bring in a new ‘hate crime’ law. It is so vague, so wide ranging, that having a copy of ‘Game of Thrones’ would be illegal. Think I’m exaggerating?

Well having a Bible could soon get you jail time in Scotland.

You see, the Bible has several passages decrying homosexuality as sinful. The Church insists that there are only two genders. Those statements are ‘incitements to hate’ under the proposed law.

Even the police have stated that this new law is impossible to enforce, but then they reckon without the army of mask nazis and visitor snitchers created by the madness of this new virus. Oh they’ll get reports, loads of them. One or two might be genuine, most will be the spite-driven trying to get a neighbour in trouble.

As for me, I’d be screwed. I have two Bibles here. I have a partial translation of the Key of Solomon, I have full translations of Goetia and of the Grimoire of Armadel, I have a book on the Voynich Manuscript and several others on mediaeval magic, and a lot of Aleister Crowley’s books. Yeah, when a story contains a demon or a spell, I didn’t just make it up 😉

In the film V for Vendetta, possession of a Quran meant a death sentence. In Scotland, it could well become close to reality if the SNP get their way. See, if the Bible is hate speech, every other religious text will be too. The Bible merely condemns homosexuality, it does not advocate their brutal murder.

Basically, if the SNP pass this law, it bans all religion in Scotland. All of it.

This is going to get interesting.

A new game

When the antismokers were rife, not that long ago, I used to play a game with them. Initially, like most smokers, I tried to debunk the lies they had been fed but it was impossible. I came to the conclusion that these people actually wanted to be scared and that it was my civic duty to ramp up their fear as far as it could go.

Any face to face interaction wit these rabid loonies and I’d get them to feel their necks. Those bumps below the jaw (lymph nodes) became the beginnings of cancer because they’d been inhaling Deadly Second Hand Smoke while sneering at me. There will be doctors who would lynch me if they ever found out I did that. What the hell. Medics were promoting the same lies, it’s their own fault.

ASH told them that cigarette butts never degrade. I told them that all grey dust was tobacco ash that had accumulated for 400 years and now covered the entire country. Well, tobacco waste never degrades, right? ASH said so. Logically, therefore, that fine layer of dust is all tobacco ash. I might be responsible for a few OCD cleaners and bleach footbaths at the doors of homes…

I told a few that niacin was nicotinic acid, derived from nicotine (it really is) and that it was added to foods to make the food addictive, and that was the cause of obesity. I suggested they check the labels. I have no idea how many pellagra cases I might have caused, and really don’t care. There was a lot more.

Remember we are talking about people who care nothing for me. People who would delight in my death and many of them have said exactly that. People who are daft enough to believe any old crap as long as it fits their prejudices. People looking for someone to blame for nothing at all. Why would I care at all about them? Why would I not add to their torment any way I can?

Since moving out to the countryside I haven’t come across any of the truly rabid antismoker nuts. They’re all so tolerant out here. The local shop will sell you booze and baccy with not so much as a judgemental glance.

Basically, I’ve had nobody to play with for ages.

That has now changed. The mask madness is here and the drones are convinced that anyone not wearing a mask is going to kill them. They are terrified. Once more, I see it as my civic duty to terrify them even more. It’s playtime again.

So I bought a mask…

I should really shave my head for the full effect but… no.

Does it work? Of course not. None of them do. This one at least has the advantage that the front and sides are solid and exhalation is directed down. You can stand in front of me and none of my imaginary biohazard breath will touch you. The holes don’t go all the way through but the eternally terrified will think they do. It can also be cleaned just by wiping the inside with an alcohol swab or a shot of disinfectant spray.

It will be clear to the eternally terrified that this does not work to stop the virus, even though it actually works better than their face nappies. I must surely get at least one giving it the old ‘your choices are going to kill me’, just like the old days.

I am therefore practicing my Bane voice and will answer with ‘This is not the time for killing. That comes later’, or simply a cheery ‘Of course’. Maybe even ‘You have my permission to die’. It’s not an easy voice, it’s rather higher pitched than mine, but I am determined.

Ah, I have missed the old games. It’s nice to see them back again.

I’ll have to prepare more terrifying ‘facts’ for them, but with Bozza pretending there’s a second wave coming, this game could play out for a long time. When it’s finally over maybe the antismokers will be ready to play again.

But then, we have the Billy Gates Gruff and his insane RNA vaccine idea. Perhaps I can convince them it will make them immortal, but change their DNA so they have to live for eternity as a lizard. Oooh, David Icke’s ideas could help with that one…

The Bill Gates vaccine will kill a lot of people. All I’m doing is making sure it kills the right ones.

And, incidentally, enjoying myself enormously in the process.

Finally

I have been somewhat distracted for the last six months. Finding it hard to focus. Book promotions, working on current books, my own writing, it has been difficult to get the impetus to deal with it.

On Friday, 24th July, my father’s ashes were interred. If you’ve been around a while you’ll know he died of a pulmonary embolism, pretty much instantly and painlessly, on February 14th. Nearly six damn months ago. The ineptitude of the NHS Wales coroner meant his funeral was not until March 10th. This did mean he had a very well attended funeral and cremation, there were over a hundred people at it. A week later there would have been four.

Then lockdown happened and his ashes languished in the undertaker’s place until they could be interred. Meanwhile, the stonemasons completed his headstone and in a further act of ineptitude, installed it over a grave he wasn’t in. So it had to be moved. I can imagine his rage at all this. He hated waiting and he hated to be late and here he was, at the end, late for his own funeral. Because of the ineptitude of others.

One thing he would have been very proud of was his casket. Made by my son, his grandson, who learned a lot of his woodworking skills from my father. He also learned what has become a sort of unofficial motto in this branch of the family at least – ‘There is perfect, and there is wrong’. And so my son has agonised about some tiny imperfections in the wood but the casket he made turned out far superior to any of the readymades available from the undertaker – and that came from the undertaker themselves.

I know my father would have had no criticism of the casket. The coroner, the stonemason, all the rest of it, well he would have had some interesting phrases to launch at them all.

It has been difficult. I tried to rationalise his death as I rationalise most things in life. He was 82, he’d had multiple strokes, his mind was fully intact but his body was failing and that, understandably, made him frustrated. He knew what he wanted to do but his body could no longer do it. I don’t know which is worse – losing your mind in a fully functional body or having all your faculties in a body that’s collapsing. It’s still difficult to accept either way. Your parents are there from the moment you are born and you think they’re immortal, but they’re not. Everyone finds that out the hard way.

It has been difficult though, knowing he languished in storage when he should have been laid to rest. This should have been all over in March. If the coroner wasn’t an utterly useless arse it would all have been over by the end of February. If it had been, I could have been there.

I could not attend the interrment. I would have risked the application of two weeks of quarantine on my return from Wales to Scotland. I would have risked having to stop at the border, get out of my car and batter the racist SNP bastards with a King Dick spanner on the way back. I really would not have been in the mood to deal with their petty childish shit. I suppose quarantine in prison is much the same anyway.

Only four family members could attend. I know Bozza and the Pretend Conservatives say six but that includes the undertaker and the priest. Family gets four. My father has two brothers and three sisters surviving him, only one brother was able to be there along with his wife, my mother and my brother. If I had been there I would have had to force one of them out. I am glad my uncle was there though, he and my father were very close. It’s horrible the rest could not attend. I’d have given up my spot to any of them if I had one.

At least we have some kind of closure at last. My father’s journey has finally ended. He spent far too long in the waiting room but he’s now reached the final destination.

I can hear him now – ‘Bloody British Rail would have been quicker’.

Tests and masks and toilet rolls

If it was a song it would be an Ian Dury/Captain Beefheart crossover. Unfortunately it will never happen now.

Tests.

I am seeing calls for more tests and faster turnaround. More testing is futile, if you look at the real numbers, most tests come back negative. This means nothing. It only means you hadn’t caught it by the time you were tested. You might have caught it between getting tested and getting the result. Testing absolutely everyone is just silly. It achieves nothing useful at all.

Current government guidance is to get tested only if you have symptoms. Most people won’t bother. For most people it presents as just a cold or a mild flu. Also, as a commenter pointed out, if you are a self employed taxi driver and you test positive, you have no earnings for the next two weeks. So they will not want to get a test.

On test duration… the last department I worked in had a profitable sideline in food testing. The lab was even accredited as a food testing lab. I did use PCR in my own work for identifying bacteria – it’s very good at that – but we never used it for food testing. Why? It finds DNA fragments. It will find dead bacteria and those are of no relevance to a food test.

If we found a positive, it meant the company had to recall a hell of a lot of product. A positive that was just a dead bacterium was no danger to anyone but would have been a very expensive mistake for the company. We had to find live ones, and we had to be sure. Reporting a negative on a contaminated product was even worse than a false positive. So we made damn sure we were right.

Salmonella is a case in point. We didn’t count how many there were, that was irrelevant. The test was for presence or absence in 25 grams of product. If it was there, even one live bacterium, it was a fail. We only tested 25 grams remember, not the entire thing. One in 25 grams might mean hundreds over the whole product and unlike chemical contamination, bacterial contamination will grow.

The test for Salmonella worked roughly like this: Day 1. Sample arrives, 25g is aseptically removed and placed into a sterile broth that will grow pretty much anything. No selective pressure at this stage.

Day 2. The broth is subcultured into two selective media, RV and Selenite broths. All goes back in the incubator.

Day 3. The broth is subcultured into RV and Selenite again and the broth is discarded (autoclaved first of course). Today’s RV and Selenite are put back in the incubator. Yesterday’s are plated onto agar plates of Salmonella-specific media. Those go back in the incubator.

Day 4. Yesterday’s RV and Selenite are each plated onto selective agar. We used two different ones to be sure we’d catch it. Yesterday’s agars are examined. Suspect colonies are tested. If there is a positive we can report it at this point. We cannot yet report a negative.

Day 5. The plates from yesterday and the day before are examined. If there is nothing, yesterday’s plates go back in the incubator and the rest is autoclaved and discarded.

Day 6. The last set of plates is examined. No sign of Salmonella? Not even suspect colonies tested with an antibody test? Fine. We report ‘not detected in 25g’. We would never say ‘all clear’ because we only tested 25g. There is always the chance that the 25g you cut out was the only clean bit 😉

If the product is meat or fish or salad, it’s already been sent out. The test has taken nearly a week, the product cannot be held back that long. A positive result at that stage means a very expensive and very, very embarrassing recall for the company. You have to be very sure you are absolutely right about this.

The point is, sometimes tests take time. Sometimes, especially when dealing with important pathogens, you just cannot cut corners. If I was a food producer and someone said they could test for Salmonella in two days, I wouldn’t touch them. It’s not even possible to do a reliable test in that time.

PCR testing is faster than that, sure, but it’s not instant. It still takes time, even with modern thermal cyclers. A lot is still manual too, putting the sample onto electrophoresis plates was still a manual job when I did it. If you have a lot of samples and limited equipment it’s going to take longer than usual. It’s also very easy to contaminate this kind of test. You need very well trained staff, and those are expensive and sometimes thin on the ground.

So, demanding faster turnaround on testing means demanding corner-cutting and a hell of a lot more dodgy results than the coronavirus tests already produce. Tests take time. You just have to accept that.

Masks

Surgeons wear masks for two reasons. One, so they don’t breathe germs into the open wound they are working on. Two, so that if there is a spurt of blood, they don’t get it in their mouths. That’s what those masks are for. They do absolutely nothing to protect against a virus. It even states that on the packaging.

Nurses wear masks for the same reasons. They are entirely useless against a virus.

There is a mask that is about 90% effective. As long as it is fitted by an expert who will then spray something stinky at you. If you can smell it, the mask isn’t fitted properly. In a perfectly fitted scenario, the mask lasts about two and a half hours before you have to replace it, and it cannot be re-used. Even if you get those masks, do you really think you can do better than a medically trained mask fitter? You might as well get a bean net from the garden centre and wrap that around your face.

I have ordered a Bane mask from eBay. It will offer me no protection at all. It’s just as good as those surgical masks people are stocking up with now. It is, however, likely to be a lot more fun.

Masks worn by the general public, of whatever type, achieve nothing at all. Not a damn thing. Other than to restrict breathing and act as a damp reservoir of horrible nasties breathed out by the wearer and others around them.

They should be sterilised before disposal since they are now hazardous waste but they won’t be. Those who can afford a whole box will simply dump their used masks, those who cannot will use them over and over until they are sodden, bacteria and virus laden deadly face nappies. You might as well shit in a hanky and tie it to your face.

No point telling them, they won’t listen. They have been told the face masks will save them and they point and scream like Bodysnatchers at anyone who has the sense not to wear one all day.

This virus is on the wane. Now we are told to wear masks? This makes no sense to anyone who stops and thinks for a moment. Sadly, few do, they are so well assimilated they just go with the herd. Even when the herd is clearly insane.

Early advice was to wash your hands often and not touch your face. This made sense. Coronaviruses have an outer coat held together by lipid (fats) and soap will break them. Other viruses with protein coats won’t be affected of course. This one, however, is really killed by hand washing.

The ‘not touching your face’ thing is a bad mix with mask wearing. You’re going to be taking that thing on and off all day. Touching your face every time. With no chance of hand washing in between. If that makes sense to you, then you’re insane.

Face visors, okay, I can go with that. They don’t restrict your breathing and they can be reused a lot. If you plan to sterilise them with anything, check on a corner first in case it clouds the plastic. Visors are available cheaply, the expensive ones are as good as the cheap ones at protecting you from viruses (not at all) and the negative reviews are mostly from those who haven’t figured out you need to take the protective film off first. The visor will protect you from spittle from someone talking to you and it’s a physical barrier that actually stops you touching your face. If you raise it to eat or drink, you only touch the visor. Oh, and it goes a little way to protecting your eyes too. Everyone seems to have forgotten the virus can get into you that way.

The mask narrative changed to ‘ my mask protects you, yours protects me’ to enable mask shaming. The masks do nothing protective, they are merely a means to identify the drones who will do as they are told. More importantly, to identify the ones who will question orders and who must be removed. It’s working very well.

The masks don’t work at all. Well they work perfectly for their real intended purpose. Most people won’t accept what that purpose is. Don’t bother telling them, they have been assimilated and there is no way back for them now. The same quasi-religious zeal that infects the Church of Climatology, Black Lives Matter, and all the rest. They are not going to listen. Stop trying to get through their walls, they are impenetrable. Just be ready to get the hell out of the way.

If I have to go into a shop and they are so terrified of breathing they demand I wear a mask, I will wear one. It looks like this –

because that’s what they are really for.

Unless of course the Bane mask arrives sooner. Or the hat to go with the nice leather plague doctor mask. I know none of them will have any effect at all, but I really cannot be bothered trying to explain that when all I want is a bottle of milk or a loaf of bread. I’ll go along with the silliness for the duration of my visit.

Not that I have been in shops very much since all this started. We’ve been getting supermarket deliveries since late March because going to a supermarket is a dehumanising experience. I’d have to go alone since CStM doesn’t drive, and I don’t much like shopping.

Add to that the interesting fact that the delivery charge is actually less than the petrol it would cost to get there (30 mile round trip to the nearest one) and the money saved by avoiding all impulse-buy opportunities, and we might never visit a supermarket in person again. Nothing to do with masks, it’s turning out to be so much easier and cheaper this way.

Toilet rolls.

Remember the arsepaper panic? Everyone bought up arsewipes until the rest of us had to buy the Guardian to avoid skidmarks.

It was bizarre. If civilisation collapsed there would be no sewage works and no water supply. Well, for those who don’t have a well and a septic tank anyway. Toilet paper would be an irrelevance, you’d be shitting in the woods. Stocking up on dry foods made some kind of sense, flour maybe, if you know how to make use of it. I suppose if they were planning on living on a diet of canned beans and pasta they would need an inordinate amount of toilet paper…

Why toilet paper? There were hints there might be a shortage. There wasn’t really. It looked like a shortage because people bought them faster than the shops could restock. It reached the point where many shops didn’t bother putting toilet roll on the shelves. They just plonked the pallets beside the tills. They didn’t stay on the shelves long enough to be worth any shelf stacker’s time. The shops kept restocking, the idiots kept stockpiling, and eventually the stock stabilised. All those stockpiles were irrelevant. I hope not a single shop gave a refund on anything.

There were videos online showing off their hauls of hand sanitiser, soap, bogroll and food. Not just dried food. At least one idiot had boxes full of fresh fruit. Yeah, that’s going to be a box of stinky apple soup in a few weeks. The bananas on top won’t help.

They showed off as if to say ‘Look at me, I’m ready for the Death Virus!’ while everyone else just thought ‘What a prick’. Well, not quite everyone. I was the one wondering how things would go when the local mice found that stash. We live way out in the country so we do stock up, but never more than can be fitted into our plastic or metal boxes. Stacks of pasta on the bedroom floor will soon be disturbing your sleep with the sound of tiny teeth munching.

It’s all become very silly, especially as this virus has turned out to be no more than a bad flu. Flu kills thousands every year, it leaves some with long term problems every year, and all flu viruses are coronavirus. The really bad flu season of 2018 killed more people than this one and yet suddenly, everyone is terrified.

Now we are told to wear masks that are totally ineffective because that’s how we ‘get the economy moving’. Now, I don’t think Boris is actually malicious. He is not a scientist, he is having to rely on advice from scientists. The trouble is, scientists are a lot like the engineers in the Dilbert cartoon. They have no clue how people actually function.

My bet is that Boris was told ‘If you tell them to wear masks, they’ll feel safe and go back to work’. In reality, mandatory masks tell people that everyone without a mask is a plague carrier and that it is not safe at all to breathe air anywhere.

It’s very, very easy to terrify people. I’ve been doing it for fun for many years. It is extremely difficult to un-terrify them once it all sets in. Not that I’ve ever bothered with that part. Then again, there are those who want them terrified.

There are those looking to profit enormously from a vaccine that isn’t needed and won’t work. Flu vaccines never do. They need you scared enough to not only accept it, but demand it. It’s working.

Then there’s Bill Gates and his dream of microchipping everyone. This is his chance, a chip that says you are clear of this flu virus and without the chip, you cannot buy food or use public transport… we are talking chapter one of Panoptica here. A book which should have been finished by now although I’m still not sure if I should. Am I predicting it or am I making it happen? Well it looks like it’s happening anyway.

COVID-19 is fading. It will never be gone. Swine flu, bird flu, all those things that were going to wipe us out are still around. Several cases of bubonic plague have been reported recently, that one is at least 800 years old and it’s still not eradicated. It never will be.

Viruses tend to become less vicious over time. Always. Not because of any thought on the part of the virus – it cannot think, it’s not even a whole cell – but because the deadlier version always kills its host so its spread is limited. The milder version does not kill so spreads more easily. Eventually, any new flu virus becomes a common cold. All of these are coronaviruses.

Take the test if you want, wear a mask if you want, fill your spare room with bumwipes and pasta if you want. None of this will have the slightest effect on the virus.

It’s going to follow the same pattern as all other coronaviruses no matter what you do. The virus is not what you should be scared of.

It’s the fear that’s been instilled in you that will kill you.

Compulsion

So, Bozza is going to make mask wearing compulsory in shops. The day after his deputy, Mickey Gove, said that would never happen. Ol’ Chinless looks a bit of a dick today, doesn’t he?

So does Bozza, the man who stole Gove’s chin and many more until he looks like he’s talking over a stack of crumpets. Twitter is now full of pictures of cut-up Conservative membership cards and cancelled subscriptions. This kind of nannying authoritarianism is not the action of a Conservative government. I really think he’s just lost the next election and if he screws up Brexit on top of this, I won’t be surprised to see a lamp post somewhere bending under his weight. Along with the rest of them. It won’t be BLM or Antifa doing it, it’ll be their own ex-voters.

So, I am obliged to wear a mask now. I have ordered a suitable face covering and have looked at many other eBay options – Leatherface, Michael Myers, Alien facehugger, the Joker’s clown mask… well I’m going to need spares. I do have the plague doctor mask, several gas masks and of course, my own heavy hat. I just need a few variations so it doesn’t get boring.

Not that I’ve been in many shops since March. Local Shop occasionally, Local Petrol station once, that’s it. I have withdrawn no cash since March either. Still, they want to be silly about it, let’s ramp the silly to the max. If you have to wear a mask get a funny one.

Yes, I know, I can hear the nasal whine of ‘Oh but those masks don’t protect against the virus’. Neither do any of the others. Not one. No matter how much you pay for them. If you are wearing a mask a virus can’t get through, you can’t breathe through it. Every damn mask out there is, to a virus, like a mouse going in through an open barn door. They are all, every one, completely and absolutely pointless.

So. If we are to play silly games, why not play them in a silly way?

It’s not a game though, and it is far too serious to be silly.

There is no end date for the compulsory masking with fines for non-compliance. There is no disposal mechanism for these supposedly biohazard-laden used masks. People just throw them on the ground. They are not autoclaved or incinerated, they just go into landfill or get dumped in the sea. Nobody seems to mind.

Does that sound like management of a highly infectious disease to you? To someone like me whose entire career was in microbiology, it does not. At all.

The lockdown started in March. It is now July and compulsory masking is still over a week away. It looks futile and it would be – if the masks were about any kind of protection.

Okay, I know, from here on there will be some snickering about tinfoil hats and that’s fine. Those already assimilated have no way back, forget them, they have lost the ability to think beyond their masters’ commands. Let them bask in their collective, it’s all they will ever have.

So. Who remembers the Moonies? It was a cult some decades back and it conscripted in the usual cult manner that is still in use by cults today. Of so very many kinds.

First thing they did was to isolate you from families and friends. Yeah, they put you in lockdown. For months.

Next, they told you your old life was all wrong and you had to leave it all behind and accept a New Normal.

Many cults did this masked. Including the initiate. New face, new life, the old ways are gone, the cult is family now. The way you lived before is gone forever.

At this stage of contagion, masks are entirely futile for stopping any virus. It cannot be their purpose.

It isn’t. You are being initiated into the New Normal. You are joining a cult you don’t even know exists. And it gets better.

You are already demonising friends and family who don’t join the New Normal cult. You are already screaming at them and panicking that they are Disease Spreaders.

It’s an old game, a familiar game for those who remember history. The non-compliant will be hated, tortured, burned at the stake all over again. I see your face! Heretic! Witch! Disease spreader!

There is no end date for this new mask law. There is no end date for any of the new laws. They will remain as anti-heretic laws, forever.

The cult has won. Embrace Panoptica, it is here.

Comfortable Compliant Conformity

Yesterday I bought petrol. I filled the car, it had used half a tank, and loaded a 25 litre jerrycan for the mowers. Yes, they will need that much, cutting it all means filling the mower tank at least eight times and that’s before I get the ride on mower going. The garden looks like harvest time.

This would not normally be worth mentioning but the last time I bought petrol was in early March. I could not go very far in this lockdown, and the car was out of action for over six weeks because of a broken transmission cable. It’s a dealer-only part and the dealers were all closed, so I got one on eBay from a dealer in United Arab Emirates. It arrived before the dealers reopened and, even with import duties and postage, worked out about £100 cheaper.

Anyway, during that time I could not go anywhere so could not get petrol for the mowers. This meant the grass grew unhindered in the North Scottish spring and summer with 20+ hours of daily light and incessant rain. A lot of it is now waist high. The parts I managed to cut (scythe, then rake, then mowed with the last of the petrol I had) are already growing back although the mower on high setting will bring them under control. The big lawn, however, is likely to take a couple of days of scythe work to get it into mower-ready shape. It has to be dry weather or the cut grass (now officially hay) will be hard to lift.

In some countries in Europe I would now be facing heavy penalties for failing to keep the grass trimmed even though I had no way to do it. Conformity is already a big thing and has been for a long time.

When I went to the local petrol station, the owner was wearing a mask. Around his neck. Technically he was ‘wearing a mask’, so was following the letter of the rules. Likewise, Local Shop has all the plastic barriers at the tills but nobody wears masks and they don’t have the ‘one way’ shit in the few aisles they have. Out here, nobody is giving a crap. Social distancing? We’ve been doing that all along.

Compliance is optional way out here in the countryside, but the cities are not like that. The cities are full of terrified drones who will enforce compliance and conformity, soon by pointing and screaming like Bodysnatchers. Actually it seems that is already happening. It’s even cleverer than the smoking ban, in which it’s the owner of the premises who gets fined, not the smoker. So the owners are unpaid enforcers of the law because if they don’t they will be punished.

The masks started out as ‘for your safety’ but that doesn’t work, so they turned it around. Now it’s ‘my mask protects you so it’s your duty to wear one to protect me’. This is bollocks of course, since the masks do nothing to stop any virus. Yet you now have an army of Witchfinders who will gladly snitch on, harass and hound anyone who does not comply. You don’t need to pay them, you don’t even need to threaten them with fines. This new Stasi are delighted to have gained this petty power over others, and the fear instilled in them reinforces their righteousness. If you don’t wear a mask you are selfish, a spreader of disease, and must be shunned.

Did you ever see a film called ‘The Mask’? Very funny film, very enjoyable. Put on the old wooden mask and you are transformed into the character the mask represents. It’s not entirely based on fiction – the old witchdoctors and other old religions believed that when you wore a mask, you became the mask’s character. So the witchdoctor believed he had magical powers when he wore a mask depicting a magical being. Wear any mask long enough and it becomes part of your character. You become the mask.

The character of Bane in Batman also wore a mask. As he said, ‘No one paid any attention to me until I put on the mask’. I might not have the quote exactly right but that was the gist of it. The modern mask does not protect you from anything at all. It changes you, it makes you part of the collective, it turns you against those who do not conform. Eventually, the mask is you and then you cannot take it off.

Couple of points though. I think the perspex barriers are a good idea. Never mind the current virus, there are all kinds of respiratory infections that could pass between a customer and a shop worker. Local shop has few employees. As far as I can tell, Local Petrol Station has two. They don’t see anywhere near as many customers as a town-centre Tesco, of course, but it would only take one infected customer to bring down the entire staff. Then the shop or garage is closed while they recover. They are not big businesses but if they closed, well, everyone around here faces a 30-mile round trip if they run out of milk or cheese or fuel. So protecting them is good for everyone.

The perspex barriers also mean it’s much harder, if not impossible, for a shop raider to reach over to the till. Not a big deal out here, of course, they are likely to get a shotgun or at least a hay fork poking them in the arse if they try. Those barriers are going to be a lot more useful in towns and cities and I think they should stay.

Then there’s the mask thing. So far it’s up to the shops. I carry a mask in my pocket but do not wear it, especially when driving. The restriction on breathing is uncomfortable, I can wear it in a shop for a short time but really dislike it. So, if a shop I need to enter insists on masks, I’ll wear it even though I know it is useless.

Now, you can argue that it is your right to not wear a mask. Fine, you’re correct. It is also any private business’s right to refuse entry to anyone for any reason. You’re not the only one with rights. Private businesses have had dress codes forever. I remember a nightclub in my student days where anyone wearing trainers was turned away. I routinely wore highly polished steel toecapped work boots so I was always allowed in. Until I was banned in absentia. Yeah, that’s another story for another day.

So I will wear a mask if the business I need to enter requires it. They have the right to demand it, I have the right to go somewhere else if I don’t like it.

You might have heard ‘the customer is always right’. It is bollocks. Most customers are idiots. Especially the ones who quote this. They think it is a law. It is not. It is the business model of Marks and Spencer and nobody else. Not a law, not even a suggestion. The business model of one company.

The customer is a customer only if they want to buy from you and only if they agree to your terms. You, as the business owner, are free to make those terms as free or as onerous as you choose. If you have a ‘no hoodies’ rule you can chuck out Warren Buffett if he turns up in one.

If you have a ‘must wear a mask’ rule you are entitled to turn away anyone not wearing one. Even though masks are demonstrably silly and in most cases, harmful. If that is your rule on your business premises you have the right to demand it.

I have the right to refuse to wear a mask, but you have the right to refuse me entry to your business without one. Too many people think rights work for them but not for others. I would call them idiots but really they are not. They have just been taught that way.

So far there are many types of mask out there, none of them effective at anything more than restricting your breathing. This will change. There will be ‘studies’ showing that one mask is better than another and then those with the wrong mask will be villified. Eventually the One True Mask will emerge and then we will have total compliance and absolute conformity.

‘Comfortable compliant conformity’ is one of the slogans in ‘Panoptica’. Watching current events have really helped with that story. I found it hard to get into the mindset of the character I was writing. He wasn’t a Winston Smith or a Montag. He was a fully compliant drone and happy in that life. He went to work, he went home, next day he did it again. No socialising, no family, no holidays, nothing. There are so very many people like that and watching their fury at the slightest deviation from how they think people should act has been most informative.

I didn’t think it would come true so fast. I thought, at times, I was going too far into the unbelievable. The brain chip, with wires deep into the brain, seemed a step too far but then it seems it wasn’t after all. Likewise the machine-gun-carrying flying drones. Those are now real too. The slogan from a story a couple of years back, ‘Be better’, is now spouted by the Righteous all the time.

Comfortable compliant conformity is coming. We’re going to have to get very good at pretending to fit in, or we’re going to have to get out of the cities and hide.

My father’s death in February broke my run at completing that book but it’s time to snap out of the doldrums and get back to it. I have to write the next page of the horrors to come.

Before they happen.

Can of worms

So Ghislane Maxwell has been arrested by the FBI. For the few who have not heard the name, she is implicated very heavily in the child-abuse cases involving Jeffrey Epstein.

That the abuse took place, and the scale of it, is hardly in question any more. It was on a very large scale and implicates a lot of very powerful people. Apparently Epstein was a remarkably useless individual in business but of great use in setting up blackmail games with the rich and powerful. The Maxwell woman was his sidekick, his ‘fixer’.

Epstein ‘committed suicide’ in prison. He timed it perfectly – the cameras were off and the guards were on a break so nobody saw it happen. He would not have had any way to know that the conditions were perfect for him to ‘suicide’ unobserved and yet he timed it perfectly.

Of course, nobody believes he killed himself. He may well have been severely depressed, he was facing a very long prison sentence, and he might indeed have been suicidal. Still, no guards and no cameras for someone on suicide watch, just at the time he committed suicide, well the ‘suspicious’ meter just goes off the scale.

Who would have wanted him dead? Any of the names on his flight log to his paedo island. Maybe even a name that is not on that list. Where to start? Who actually killed him? Not a clue. An inside job at the prison or an assassin whose visit went unrecorded? There is not a shred of evidence so far.

Maybe he really did commit suicide at just the perfect moment. If he wanted to leave a cloud of suspicion over many people, he succeeded.

Oh several names have been suggested but with no evidence, shouting those names is simply libellous. And the people involved can afford very big lawyers, so accusing them without evidence is unwise. You really do need an absolutely unassailable case before you drag any of those names into court. If there is one flaw in your case, their lawyers will find it.

That never stops the Twitterati, of course. Tonight it is full of pictures of Trump with Miss Maxwell and Mr. Epstein, all of them many years old. So, if he was in a photo then he must be guilty too?

Well, there are also many photos of Piers Morgan with Epstein and Maxwell as well as with Gary Glitter, Rolf Harris and many more who were later ‘outed’ as child molesters. Now, I don’t like Piers, he acts like a hysterical thirteen year old girl and I think of him as panic on steroids. Even so, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that he was ever in any way involved in child abuse. I really don’t think he would have been, I just don’t believe he’s actually that evil. He’s just a tantrum in a suit. Just being in a photo with Gary Glitter years before he was found out means nothing. Heck, how many people were photographed with Jimmy Savile? Are they all guilty too?

People in those circles go to parties and meetings and get photographed with other people. If the other person later turns out to be a vicious abuser of children, does that make everyone in the photo guilty? Heck, there are old photos of me with many other people. There probably are of you too. If somone you knew twenty years ago is now convicted of abuse, does that automatically make you guilty too?

We could all fall into that trap.

So, Trump knew Epstein. Did he know about the child rape part? Was he involved? Or can we convict him without evidence beyond an old photograph? If so, Piers is in big trouble and so are an awful lot of other famous people.

Ghislane Maxwell’s arrest was not a slow, deliberate thing. The FBI were on her tail as soon as Epstein was caught. She hid out in a remote part of America until they tracked her down. Was she hiding from the FBI? Or from the names in her diaries? Both? She will have known that she knows too much and that her ‘disappearance’ would benefit a lot of powerful people. She would also have known that a lengthy prison sentence awaits her.

There has been talk of potentially 30 to 40 years in jail. That’s not going to happen. That’s an opening gambit for a plea bargain. The FBI want names and evidence. She has an awful lot of both. They will need rock solid proof if they are going after the names on her list. Hearsay evidence will be torn to shreds.

The impatient wonder why the FBI have not already arrested and charged a lot of famous names. They need proof way beyond what they need for a back street drug dealer. The rich and powerful have lawyers who can rip an airtight case a new arsehole. The evidence has to be rock solid. Film, photographs, not just blurry YouTube recordings that sound like they ‘could be’ someone. Clear face shots and clear proof that the images were not tampered with.

Epstein might have provided that. Maxwell might be able to. If so, I will not be surprised if an ‘accident’ befalls her in the coming days. Who will be responsible? We’ll probably never know.

It’s not just about those being blackmailed by Epstein’s evil games, although I expect there is a lot of excess sweating going on just now.

It’s about the names who controlled him. He wasn’t smart enough to set this all up himself. It was entirely about control, and all he wanted was money. Someone was running the show from the wings. This goes beyond simple politics, no matter who you hate. This is about controlling governments. The names involved don’t care about party or policies. They don’t care which side you think you are on.

Those names never want to be linked to this.

Division in your head

Fear not, I am not going to make you do long division in your head. They stopped teaching kids how to do that a long time ago. This is a different kind of division.

When my son started school, very early 1990s, they still learned ‘times tables’. One five is five, two fives are ten, and so on. The difference I noted was that they only went up to the ten times table, whereas I had to learn eleven and twelve. Well, I was there pre-decimalisation so we had to learn Imperial units. Twelve was a big thing back then. Twelve inches in a foot, twelve pennies in a shilling.

So I taught him the easy way to multiply by eleven. I didn’t push him for twelve, he won’t need it and twelve is a bastard of a table. Eleven though, is so easy to do if you know the trick.

But I digress. This isn’t about numbers and yet in a way it is. It’s about the divisions being applied to the world now. Divisions you never knew existed. All imaginary, all in your head.

We have just seen the spectacle of Black Pound Day. Spend your money with businesses owned by black people to boost their custom. Nobody, at all, seems to have noticed that this is in support of a movement that wants to abolish capitalism. They want all private businesses destroyed.

Some black business owners noticed. Some decried the silliness of anticapitalists demanding support for private businesses, and some simply responded with ‘we do not want charity, we want to succeed because our business is a good one producing stuff people want’. They see the attempt at division and patronising pet treatment and they do not want it. Good for them.

In the end, since Scotland is still in Alcatraz mode and getting worse (Wee Nippy now wants to enforce quarantine on visitors from England, so if you were hoping to help out Scottish tourism you will spend two weeks locked in a hotel room and then go home), I didn’t spend anything in any business that day. They are almost all closed. Local black-owned businesses are thin on the ground, most people of recent African descent don’t like it this far north. Heck, most British people don’t like it this far north. It’s not at all unusual to put the heating on on Midsummer’s Day. If it hits 20 C it’s a heatwave. If you’re used to tropical temperatures this is like an inverse Hell for you. In winter it’s the ninth circle.

Digressing again…

Black Lives Matter has begun to fragment. There was a march in support of Black Trans Lives Matter and I have to say, it was well attended. Mostly by white people, at least 90%, but well attended nonetheless.

The Mayors of London and New York both issued statements in support of Gay Pride, and both had the same message. They lauded the black trans men who started the gay pride movement.

Yes. Read that again. That is what they said. I have seen pictures of Peter Tatchell, the biggest name in Stonewall and he looks pretty pasty to me. I have never seen him express any desire to change sex either. He is happy as he is.

Now, being not-gay and not-trans and on the Pantone scale, probably the total opposite of ‘black’, you would be forgiven for expecting me to give no shits at all. None of this should matter to me.

Yet, I am a smoker and have experienced the ‘unpersoning’ first hand. I am also a white straight old male and am villified for that too. The old rhyme ‘First they came for the…’ well, I am the one they came for first. So I can see it when it comes for others.

Straight white males are called ‘transphobic’ if they won’t date ‘girls’ with dicks. That’s been around a long time. I’m not single so I have an easy ‘out’ there. Even if I was single, if the thing dangling between your legs looks a lot like what dangles between mine, we really don’t have a good starting point for a relationship here.

Does that make me a ‘transphobe’? In this modern daft world, yes it does. I can be friends with gay men and trans women but I have no interest in sleeping with either. Not that they’d want to if they saw me anyway, but we are talking about principle here.

The BBC published an article claiming gay men are transphobic if they refuse to sleep with ‘trans men’ (women who decide they are men). They have deleted it now so I can’t link it. You have to be a fast watcher these days.

Coupled with the mayoral rewriting of gay history as black trans history, it seems gay white men can now join the smokers, drinkers and straight white men on the wrong side of the ‘deleted’ line. Welcome, brothers. I wonder who they’ll send over the line next?

Divide and conquer, that’s the old saying. And it has worked, many times.

It does not work when the attackers divide themselves and unite the defenders.

Another ending

There is a theory, not entirely without merit, that humanity has reached impressive levels of technology in the distant past and then lost it all and regressed to pretty much caveman status. The big issue with this idea is – where did it go? Why are there few, if any artefacts of that past civilisation? Where are the books, the buildings… the statues?

The idea that they destroyed it all themselves before falling back to a primitive state has always been the source of ridicule. Why would they do that? What possible motivation did they have for abandoning the pyramids, including the buried ones in other parts of the world? Why was Gobleki Tepe deliberately buried? Did the hunter gatherers of the time suddenly develop extensive stonemasonry skills, or was it the other way around?

Civilisations have risen and fallen throughout currently recorded history. Many have conquered the known world of the time, only to lose it and fade into obscurity. You don’t see a lot of Byzantians or Romans around these days. So many great civilisations, fallen into dust, in just our short record of human history.

Every one of those past civilisations believed they would last forever. None of them did. So why do we believe ours will be the ‘special one’? Because all the old ones did. It’s human nature. And yet every civilisation falls in the end. They become complacent. They become tolerant. They become weak.

This time feels different. It’s not just like the fall of Rome, it’s global. The whole shitshow is falling all at once. They are smashing their statues, renaming their past, destroying their history. Burying their monuments and closing down their civilisation. They have nothing to replace it with.

Most of modern knowledge is in digital form. What if it was in that form in the past too? Paper books will rot away anyway, but digital? How can that be lost?

Who has a BBC computer with a Cumana disk drive and Cub monitor? (hint: me). 5.25-inch floppy disks. The bee’s knees 40 years ago, hardly anyone would know what they are now. How about cassette or even VHS tapes? Betamax? Laser disk? 3.5-inch disks? All gone, a whole generation has no idea what those things are and yet none of them existed when I was a teenager. CDs. Invented and gone. DVDs losing out to streaming. Vinyl, tapes and CD music… are there many households still using them? (hint: there’s one, it’s me)

What will future archaeologists make of CDs? Some kind of decorative mandala perhaps? They will have no means to play them so they are likely to assume them simple jewellery items made by primitives. With that in mind, look at what they consider ancient jewellery now.

People now store information, documents, photos, in ‘the cloud’. When the power source fails it’s all gone. No need for mass burnings and destruction. Flick a switch, all traces vanish. Nothing for a future archaeologist to find other than some mysterious boxes with wires and disks inside. Well, those that haven’t rusted into dust, if any. There might be an Antikythera mechanism still around.

Will they be able to figure out how to read them? We have 8-inch disks and reels of computer tapes from the past we cannot access now, and we are talking much less than a century. I personally have files in WordStar on 3.5-inch disks that no modern computer will accept, much less read. I’ve already burned a lot of them, they are of no use now.

I have lost whole years of digital photographs while my mother has traditional film and print photographs from before I was born. Digital is so very easy to erase. One solar flare and this world is lost. The paper photos will last a few hundred years but not much longer.

What if it was like that before? An information storage system we cannot access because we have no idea how it worked, nor even that it existed? We have lost so many of our own information systems in a few decades, how can we hope to guess how the builders of Gobleki Tepe stored theirs?

Oh sure, we can say ‘but they were primitive people’ and pretend it’s not simple arrogance. Those ‘primitive people’ built enormous pyramids with geographical precision in a way we ‘advanced’ people can neither replicate nor understand. The temples of the Incas were built on top of stones that were laid in a way far more advanced than they were able to replicate. Even so, we cannot even replicate the Inca methods of building now. Can we be really sure we know all there is to know about those ancient people?

There are many theories as to how, why and when the pyramids and other structures in Egypt and all over the world were built. Not one of them stands up to scrutiny. They were not tombs, that is now clear. They would have taken a very long time and a hell of a lot of work to build, so they must have been important. For what? We might never know.

Gobekli Tepe is an intricate structure with many carvings, some of which are echoed on other ancient monuments. The ‘handbag’ image is particularly interesting in this regard. What is it? I have no idea. And neither does anyone else, including those who have spent their lives studying this stuff. Maybe the 3.5-inch disk will gain similar notoriety in ten thousand years. Already it’s hailed by the young as a 3D print of the ‘save’ icon. Its real purpose has already been forgotten.

Many times, including in recent memory, we have not just forgotten our past, we have actively deleted it. Iraq pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue. How many of the under-20s even know who he was? When the Soviet Union collapsed, many statues of Stalin fell. Germany refuses to allow any mention of Hitler and model planes of the second world war have no swastika decals for the tailplane. Every second world war plane of the Luftwaffe had that insignia. It’s history. Deleted. They have deleted the past, so future generations are doomed to do it all again.

Now we are in the process of deleting all of it at once. All power generation failing due to an imagined apocalypse that has been ten years away since at least the 1950s. All food production to be deleted because ‘why do you need farms when you can just buy it in a supermarket?’ I am not kidding, that is a genuine argument.

The world has gone insane. Except in parts of Africa, that reservoir of humanity that still lives in the old ways and is ready to repopulate the world once this all falls to the ground. They will once again meet neanderthals, the residue of the white race in the northern lands and it will all start again. Different technology, most likely. Maybe it will work out next time, or the time after that.

It is not inevitable. People could still come to their senses and see they are heading back to massive starvation and a residual hunter-gatherer life. They could still avoid it, although the signs are not good. They seem to want that ending, they want to go back to primitive life but they want someone else to pay for it. They are going to be unhappy to find that that is not how it works. They have brought their own destruction on themselves.

I have lately written about a character called Moros. This character is not fiction, it’s mythology. The difference is that fiction is entirely made up, like my dishwasher goblins or the genie in a beer can story. Mythology is often based on a fictionalised remembrance of something in the past. A story passed down like a Chinese whisper, embellished and sensationalised on the way.

Moros is a character in Greek mythology. He does not kill you, he drives you to destroy yourselves. In this modern world he might have accumulated enough wealth to simply pay you to destroy yourselves while taking no part himself. He might even use a twist on his name.

I know, I know, take out shares in tinfoil companies but do you really think the human world isn’t in a super-self-destructive mode? Do you believe history is not being rewritten and deleted before your eyes? Do you have to wait until the Empire State Building is felled and buried?

There is much talk of ‘people will rise up’ but you know they won’t. They never have. So many believe in the indestructibility of their way of life and consider history ‘the past’. The Fall of Rome. the destruction of the Library, the collapse of the Pharoahs, it’s history, it can’t happen again. Even though it has happened every time before.

The ones who take over think it can never happen to them too. It always does.

Then you get the global one. The ultimate deletion. The one that wipes out everything right down to knowing how to grow plants. As in Seattle’s ‘death zone’ now. Not one of them will survive a reset but that is what they want.

I think the reset is coming. I also think it will not be what those who demand it expect it to be.

The secret is, bang the rocks together, guys.

Career suicide

You want to be published by a big name publisher? Here’s how it works.

The likes of Penguin Random House are not going to talk to you. Send them your work, they will ignore it. They will only talk to agents. Why? Well, any agent will tell you why.

A good agent is going to get a bag full of submissions every day. Just imagine what Random House would get if they were open to authors directly! The agent does not read the submissions. They go into the ‘slush pile’.

The slush pile readers will then sort through the submissions and will pass the good ones on to the agent for consideration. The agent will sort through the filtered submissions and pick maybe one or two to answer.

Now, those slush pile readers have a big mound of stuff to get through. They are actively looking for a reason to ditch every one they pick up. That’s not malicious. They might have a hundred, and the agent wants five or less. They have to sort out the dross quickly. Is the cover letter slapdash, is the first page full of spelling errors and bad grammar, is it a tedious opening? You could go in the reject pile in the first three lines of your story.

You have to get past those overworked slush pile readers. Then you have to get the agent’s attention. Then, if the agent takes you on, they have to try to persuade a publisher to take you on. All this is hard to get through. You have to get through layers of filtration before you get to the big publishers. Even then, if the book flops, they won’t be interested in your next one.

So, getting into a big name publisher is hard. It’s worth it, you’d get a big marketing department, seriously professional editors and cover artists, all for free. But it is really, really hard to get in.

It’s also worth considering that agents and publishers are a fairly small industry. They mostly know each other. If you behave like a dick to one agent, your name will be mentioned over coffee and other agents will recognise it when you try submitting to them. Agents are busy people. They don’t have time to assuage egos or play politics or deal with dicks. They have so many submissions that having a name they can ditch at the first hurdle is really helpful to them. Don’t be that name.

Given that it is murderously difficult to get a foot in that door, who would be so stupid as to throw it all away over a tweet?

These four authors just did exactly that.

They think they are making a point but they are not big names. There won’t be a huge list of agencies begging them to sign up – and they have just marked themselves as ‘difficult to work with’. One of them has three novels published. Well… so do I. So does Mark Ellott. Three is not a big number. When you are at Neal Asher’s level of output then maybe you can afford to be a bit shirty at times (he never has been, as far as I know) but three novels? No, you are not a big earner for the publisher nor for the agent. You could have been if you hadn’t bailed over a hurty tweet.

These four authors were signed up to the same agent as J.K. Rowling. I quite like the films, never bothered with the books or merchandise. CStM is a big fan though. J.K. Rowling, loathe her or hate her, is a big name in the publishing world. Being with the same agent is a big win for any author whether they like her or not. It doesn’t, or shouldn’t matter what she thinks of trans people to the other authors.

Heck, I don’t like Stephen King’s ‘woke lefty’ attitude. I still read his books and I would love to be taken up by the same agency. Stories are not real, sometimes authors are not the wonderful people you want them to be, but this is your career here. Are you really going to throw it all away, after getting over those massive hurdles, just because you’re a bit miffed by what another author has said? Well, apparently so. I wouldn’t. These authors just cast themselves adrift over a tweet. Good luck getting another agent.

Heck, I don’t even want them at Leg Iron Books. I am not going to play political correctness, I am not bending my knees unless I drop something. I frankly don’t care about anyone’s sexuality or melanin quotient or whether they have all their limbs in the right order. Leg Iron Books is about writing. If the writing is good, it’s in. If the story is good but the writing needs a bit of work, still it’s in. So far I have enough submissions to keep me busy but not enough to need slush pile readers to filter them.

I am only interested in the writing. I do not care if the author writes while candles burn at an altar to Satan. I don’t care if they have posters of Hitler in their kitchen or Che Guevara in their bedroom. Not my business. Only the story matters. Naturally, I will not publish either white supremacy nor black supremacy nor any colour supremacy nonsense. I will not publish anything that deliberately sets out to incite hate or division.

But… if someone sends in a ghost story they wrote while cross-dressed and listening to Stalin speeches and the story is a good one, the author’s personal preferences are not my concern.

Would I publish an overtly religious book? Sure, but there are religious publishers far bigger than me who would take it on and it would do better with them. The same is true for an overtly gay or gushily romantic novel. They sell really well but there are much bigger publishers specialising in those books. So if you were to send me a story in those genres I won’t reject it (unless it’s a crap story) but I might recommend you try the bigger boys first. They aren’t all tied to agents like the top presses.

The point of Leg Iron Books is to get new authors into print. To give them something they can put on a CV when applying to an agent. To get them noticed by the big names. It’s never going to develop into a rival for Penguin Random House. It’s a starting point. If a big publisher ever wanted to buy out an author contract I am not ever going to say ‘no’.

I don’t care what authors do in their private lives. I am not going to police their social media and I will not be impressed if other authors do that to them either. I am not going to install any kind of ‘diversity programme’ and I am not interested in re-education of any kind. I have a PhD. There is no more education I need.

An author walking out on an agent is of no consequence whatsoever. There are a hundred in the queue behind every single one of them. Every day. It is not only a pointless gesture, it is an incredibly stupid one. These four have just trashed their hard-won careers for no benefit at all. Nobody will even remember them, the agency will take on four new authors and those four ‘woke’ ones will disappear into obscurity. J.K. Rowling continues unaffected.

Still, if you are an author looking for an agent, this one has suddenly acquired four vacancies.