In the land of the Vikings

I took a roundabout route to Denmark this time. Amsterdam for a change of plane. I don’t understand why it was several hundred pounds cheaper to do that than to just fly direct, but it was.

This time I was left to my own devices in Copenhagen. Trusted to get the right train and not end up in Sweden. I managed this surprisingly well despite the trains running the wrong way on the tracks.

So far I have managed not to die when crossing the road even though the traffic, like much of the world, drives on the wrong side of the road.

The trains have a sign inside…


CynaraeStMary could translate this in a moment but I had a few hours on the train so I decided to try. I know only a few words of Danish and none of them were on the sign but what the hell.

The first two lines I guessed as saying that the rail company had adopted this old Viking king as patron or logo in 1991. This was going to be easy.

Next, King Harald, dead since 988, was one of the greatest Danish Viking kings. He reigned for about 50 years ad made Christianity the official religion of the country in 960. In that bit were the words Gorm den Gamle. That’s where I got stuck and eventually gave up and free-associated the rest.

He was an old slut who became known as the nastiest Viking buggerer in Trelleborg. Nonsmoking, aggravating and fucked by hobbits. At the time, some fortune tellers and runescripts describe him as ‘That Harald who sickened Denmark and Norway with his god damned Christmas’.

To get decorations for his basement he buggered the gardener then stuffed his store with jellybabies, a little mannequin dipped in gravy then some jellyfish finally detailing with a sandwich of mammary glands.

Okay, it’s probably not a perfect translation but I think it’s pretty close considering I don’t actually know a single word.

I should have left this until I was safely back in Scotland. The next post might be about my trip to a sickhouse to have a tablet computer removed…

This escalator only goes up

The terrible Paris attacks are all over the news. I don’t see any need for links, if you missed this one you don’t have TV or the internet and most likely live among the slowly whispering reeds on a sunny riverbank somewhere. You lucky bastard.

Predictably there are the ‘nothing to do with Islam’ stories and the ‘everything to do with Islam’ stories. Obviously it is to do with Islam. That is what the terrorists are using as their excuse. Whether Islam agrees or not is of no consequence unless Islam comes out as a whole and says ‘No, this is not our shit’. They haven’t… yet.

I can’t do anything about it, and neither can anyone outside Islam. It is an internal matter that Muslims have to solve. Otherwise every Muslim will get the blame and this will escalate until most of the Middle East is radioactive glass and we have a new Holocaust that will put the last one in the shade.

It’s already begun. A woman in a hijab was attacked (verbally, not actually physically as far as I know) by a man shouting ‘Why can’t I see your face?’

Yeah, what a big man. Attacking a woman. I notice he didn’t have a go at the bearded gang in white robes. No, the woman in a veil is so much easier. He should be arrested for being a weak little shitebag in a public place.

I don’t care if a woman wants to wear a veil. Even men. I know some men who should, in the interests of public digestion. Wear what the hell you want. Okay, it might get you barred from the bank and the post office because they have a poor record where people in masks are concerned. It also should not be worn in photos on identity documents such as a driving licence or passport. In the street though, wear what you like.

Visit the north of Scotland in January and you’ll see people with a hat pulled down to their eyebrows and a scarf over their nose and mouth. They aren’t Muslim. They’re just very, very cold. The difference? At a basic level, there is no difference. You can’t see their faces either. I suppose if there is a difference it’s that those people have no problem showing their faces in the bank or the post office and would not even consider sending a photo to the passport office in their winter garb. Yet in the street, no difference.

Really, if a madman in Paris blows himself up at a rock concert and you have a good shout at a woman in a Manchester Asda, how does that help? When deranged Arabs shoot people in French cafes and New Yorkers refuse to take a cab with a Muslim driver, is that actually solving anything?

It’s alienating the non-radicals. This is what the radicals want. Push moderates over to radicalism. When you won’t go to Abdul’s corner shop in Newcastle because a gabbling maniac cut the head off an American in Syria, you are the one connecting Abdul to the crime. He had no more to do with it than you did. You’re the one pushing him into a place where he has no choice.

Yet, it’s Islam’s problem and Islam must deal with it. All we non-Islam people see is the outside. We neither know nor, to be honest, care very much about your religion. It’s yours, not ours. When we see a guy in a Semtex waistcoat shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ and blowing himself into something resembling the innards of a haggis, we see Islam.

Is that what you want us to see? Really?

It’s your problem, Islam. The West has a solution, the first part of which is currently bombing Syria with garlic breath pilots and finely fried frogs legs in the in-flight catering. This can only escalate and the West has bombs that will give you two suns in your final sunset.

There is worse to come. I know much of Islam denies the Holocaust, but it was real. It was something Westerners did more than once. The last time was very big and very nasty and they’ve been getting bigger and nastier over time. I know we call the Islamic terrorists brutal but really, looking at our history, we should be calling them amateurs.

We in the West are good at finding final solutions to real and even imagined problems. We’ve been at it for a very long time and we can be merciless and shockingly inhuman in their application. Look at our history. The bleeding hearts will tell you we’re not like that any more but we haven’t really changed.

Please, please, Islam. Don’t find that out the hard way.

The health fiasco

I got a new paintbrush today. It looks like this –


Yes it’s incredibly tiny and unlike model brushes of this size it’s really cheap. It’s for nail art and it’s perfect for tiny model work. Tiny model makers, look for nail art brushes on eBay. You’ll be surprised. Very delightfully surprised.

Okay, yes, it’s pink and has a pointlessly sparkly handle but it does what I want to do so that’s okay with me.

I also received a nice warm winter coat from my mother because mothers never believe you’ve grown up enough to survive on your own. It’s a good jacket though and probably cost more than I’d have paid for a jacket, and better than I would have bought myself. Maybe mothers have a point…

So today, even though it was Friday 13th, it was a good day. Aside from the internet going down for the first time. Well it seems appropriate for it to do that today and it wasn’t down for long.

But then I looked at the Daily Mail. I should have known better, it’s true. Looking at that hack-rag is high blood pressure time anyway but on Friday 13th it was a killer.

Did you know it was World Vasectomy Day? On Friday 13th. Who the hell thought that was a good idea? No way I was getting involved in that. You never know what you might wake up missing.

It was the health stories that really got me curling my lip, as usual. This idiotic diet plan in particular. They say that if we eat like they did before the invention of the motor car and the discovery of antibiotics, our lives will be just like theirs. Short and brutal.

Yes, it is true that mediaeval skeletons showed no sign of tooth decay but that was because they didn’t use them much. They had bugger all to eat.

Yes, it is true that in Victorian times they had less cancer and stronger immune systems. Few of them lived long enough to get cancer and there were no cars around until Daimler (I think) made some in the early 1900s. They only had little engines, they were rare and expensive and a man had to walk in front with a red flag to tell people ‘Danger, these things will go fast enough to kill you one day’.

My grandparents were alive before the invention of the motor car. But then I saw the invention and destruction of cassette tape, the 8 track car tape player,  the rise and fall of Betamax and VHS and the invention and demise of the CD. I think I win.

Now we have traffic fumes you can smell if you open a window on the third floor in this small town. At the time of this new-touted silly diet the only thing I’d have smelled on opening a window was horse shit and sweaty peasant. Not nice, but genuinely harmless.

As for the stronger immune system, I have one that’s stronger than most because I spent decades working with horrible infectious things. So did everyone in Victorian times. No antibiotics, no serious disinfectants, no realisation of the deadliness of bacteria. You had a strong immune system or you died. It was that simple. The human race selected for the strong only a hundred years ago. Now we select the weak.

It’s not the damn diet. Everything in that diet is available now and most people already eat most of it. Even me. Okay, the fish is often deep fried in batter but it’s still fish. I actually like beetroot. You can grow watercress on damp paper. Every kid did it – mustard too – when I was little. You can still get it for sod all money and a bit of growing.

And a ha’penny is not half of a modern penny. It is 1/24th of a modern 5p that used to be known as a shilling and which used to be damn well worth something. Do they teach these little fuckers anything any more? I should be a teacher. But in this modern silly world I would be lucky to last an hour.

I have a farthing somewhere. It is 1/48th of a modern 5p. Do the math, if you still can. Most my age will have no problem with it but you youngsters grew up with everything divisible by 10. The easy way. The drone way ;)

Model scales become clear when you know about the old 12 inches to a foot. 1/24, 1/72, etc. They are easy in Imperial units. Easy for the old mind. Not so easy for the new.

Anyway, back to the health bastards. They claim that eating anything with sugar in it makes you eat more things with sugar in them. They forget to mention that a) sugar is what every cell in your body runs on and b) it’s in all the damn plant material you eat because plants make it out of CO2 and water.

Look at this. Your taxes paid for this.

Studies have found that increased snacking is correlated positively with obesity, and obese individuals snack more frequently than people who aren’t obese.

Fat people eat more things. You paid someone to work that out. Studies have shown – they even used the phrase that translates to ‘the following statement is made up bollocks’. It’s nonsense. I snack all the time and burn it off. I know people on salad diets that look like they could successfully apply to be another of Jupiter’s moons. We are not all the same. Can science and medicine one day grasp this simple concept? It seems unlikely.

Pure rationing is coming. Courtesy of idiots pretending to be scientists.

And you know, you keep voting for the morons who believe all this shit.

Would you mind not doing that, please?


My eBaying continues at a fairly relaxed pace. Money isn’t as tight as usual at the moment, I’m just keeping pace and keeping the eBaying moving. There is only one of my own constructions on there, a repainted class 47 body shell that might interest an N gauge model railway enthusiast. The rest of that engine is a class 56 now :)

The little Austin 7 van is complete but it’s not for sale. I gave this one to my son, who has steadfastly refused to take any boat or truck models into his house. He knows if I get one in there, it won’t be the end of it. The van now looks like this –


Ignore the dust and fluff. It’s N gauge, 1:148 scale and only 2 cm long. I didn’t notice dust when I took the photo. I took it off later. And yes, I glazed the windows and I’ll reveal the trick in a later model making post. There is another little van in preparation. It’s even smaller.

Making these little things is relaxing. It’s like meditation but there’s a product at the end of it. Something I can give away… or sell. It occurs to me that all railway modellers love this kind of tiny detail but most just want to concentrate on the trains. Background stuff – buy it and put it on the layout. There is a market for my ability here.

The point though is the relaxation part. Life is stressful these days and not just at work. We have people telling us what to eat and what to drink and how much exercise we should do and how much salt we are allowed to have and we mustn’t smoke or drink booze or eat meat or we’ll die.

You know, if you follow all the health rules to the letter, you’ll still die. You realise that, right? And you won’t necessarily die any later than you would have if you didn’t stress about the made-up crap that poses as science and instead just did whatever you felt like. In fact you’ll probably die sooner than you would have if you could just chill, and live. Live your life, not the one scripted by arses who think they know best. You never know, you might even enjoy it.

They don’t like the idea of you enjoying your life, these Righteous. They want you controlled and living as they direct. They will tell you you are fat when you aren’t, they will tell you you’re stupid when you correctly ignore the crap they spout, they will tell you that your life is unhealthy and wrong but who should decide that? Who decides how you live? You, or someone else? It’s up to you. Nobody controls you unless you let them. Do you really want to live as someone else’s puppet?

There is a doctor who doesn’t think prescribing pills for everything is the right way to go. There used to be a lot of doctors who thought that way. Now there are few. And yet even this one has missed the point.

Only his meditation suggestion has real merit. I don’t have my blood pressure or cholesterol checked. I think my cholesterol was checked once and it was normal, whatever that means. I know my blood pressure tends to be low and I compensate so I don’t spontaneously fall asleep too often. A good dose of salt in my diet helps with that – and you’d be hard pressed to find a modern medic who would dare suggest that an essential nutrient like salt was in any way good for you.

Sure, I’ll take medicine if I get sick. It’s rare but it can happen to anyone. I’ll take antibiotics if I have an infection. I’m not totally anti-medicine. What I will not do is take drugs ‘just in case’. I was not born to fill Pharmer bank accounts.

I am over 50. I am on no routine medication at all. I weigh a touch over 12 stone and there isn’t a lot of fat on me. There used to be when I was deskbound but not any more.

I only ever use real butter. I use salt whenever I feel like using salt. No measuring. I use real sugar, no chemical sweeteners. I drink energy drinks and other fizzy pop. I eat bacon and burgers and curry and chips and ready meals and crisps and chocolate and biscuits and cakes and I have never, ever counted a single calorie.

I eat deep fried haggis in batter, dipped in curry sauce. If you haven’t tried it you really should. I eat pakora and pizza and pasta. Tonight I had fried bacon in a garlic and coriander mini naan bread followed by tortelloni in a bacon and tomato sauce. Olive oil and butter included.

You can ram your lifestyle advice where the sun don’t shine as far as I am concerned. I will smoke and drink and eat as I see fit. I will not count calories. I will not measure how much salt and sugar I am eating. I don’t care.

That’s the only secret as far as I am concerned. I don’t worry about any of it. I can chill with model building or writing or just relaxing with a smoke and a whisky. None of this ‘you will live as directed’ shite bothers me because I ignore it all, and I am fit and healthy at 55. The NHS would love to deny my existence but here I am.

Forget all the diet plans, ignore anyone who tries to live your life for you. This is your life. Who is running it, you or some scriptwriting moron who neither knows nor cares what you want or what you enjoy? Someone who wants you to be an obedient drone and who cares nothing if that makes your life an absolute misery. Who is in charge of your life?

In the end, it’s up to you to decide.

Sentient smoke

I don’t have a TV and don’t even own a radio. At work though, the radio in the stock room is always on. Mostly music, mostly stuff that is new to the young staff but which I have on 7 inch dusty vinyl. But then there is the news. And the ads.

Including, of course, the antismoking ads. Oh they haven’t stopped attacking us yet and probably never will. They have the vapers on their side too, apart from the ones who have woken up to the ‘next logical step’ trick that has been going on all along. They have already fired warning shots, guys. Didn’t you notice?

Anyway. The latest antismoker drivel has people saying they only smoke when the kids are at school or after they’ve gone to bed. Weak willed bastards with no minds of their own and who believe the crap foisted on them by a health service that is now anything but. Plonkers who will soon support a ban on smoking in the houses they paid so much to own, but which really belong to the NHS. As they might one day realise.

It is now established that second hand smoke has no smell and is not visible and hides in your house waiting for your children to breathe it. Really. It is sentient and evil. Experts have Said and fake science has made it up.

You believe this? You really believe it?

Oh I  have such delightful terrors to put in your mind if you are that stupid.

You deserve them all.

The Auton Muse

I’m not much for self-analysis. Stuff happens, I deal with it. Why it happens is of no real consequence – how I deal with it is all that has ever mattered to me.

Lately I have been forced into self-analysis and frankly, I’m a weirdo. I seem so sweet and harmless and then I write stories of terror and despair. I have occasionally wondered though, why it is that the scariest of my tales have no death in them. Three in particular have characters who don’t even get bruised.

What could have inspired me to put such terror into the mundane?

I have been in discussion with CynaraeStMary about Dr. Who often. She is a recent convert while I have watched since it started in 1963. The Daleks were an early event, I think in the second ever episode and they didn’t scare me at all. Others have told me they hid behind the sofa when the Daleks came on but really? Bumpy talking dustbins armed with a sink plunger and a bent wire coat hanger? Scary?

They were impressive though, and they remain so. The first truly alien monsters. Not just someone in a suit.

Incidentally, all the Dalek problems were caused by the Doctor. When he first found them they were in a city on Skaro and couldn’t leave. They were powered through the floor like Dodgem cars and were quite content to be evil in their own little place. It was the Doctor who let them know there was a universe of time and space to conquer.

But no, they weren’t scary. Neither were the Cybermen. The ones I found scary were the Autons.

The Autons hid as shop window dummies then came to life and started killing, for no apparent reason other than that is what Autons do. They were there, in the high street, when we little kids went shopping with our mothers. They weren’t like the Daleks or Cybermen, fictional things that could not be real. There they were, staring with blank eyes through shop windows. At any moment they might start moving…

I think it was the Autons who inspired the scariest of my tales. The Hand that Feeds, The Beer Monster, One Stop after Marchway, Telephone Pest, A Christmas Contract… the ordinary and everyday made into something more, something monstrous.

Just like those shop dummies coming to life. Give the reader something real to fear, something they see every day, and you have the gateway to some really dark imaginings.

Oh sure, there’ll always be a place for the demons and the ghosts but those are easily laughed off at bedtime. Not so the twists and turns of a half-seen reality.

Look back at that clothed mannequin. Is it in exactly the same position it was when you last looked? Has it turned its head towards you, just a little? Did its hand rise or its arm turn a tiny bit? No?

Are you sure? Really, definitely sure?

It’s not the monsters that are the effective part of the scary story. It’s the uncertainty. The possibility that maybe, just maybe, it could be real.

The tiniest possibility that maybe I’m not making it up.

I am, though. Probably.


Traditions and cover songs

Have you guys ever wondered about how some holidays make perfect sense up until the point you have to explain it to someone who’s never heard of it before.
We have Morten’s evening coming up. It’s an old story about a priest who was chosen to become bishop but he didn’t want to so he tried to run away. As the local villagers were out looking for him he tried to hide with the geese but they made so much noise that he was found and he ended up having to become a bishop. So each year on this day we eat duck roast with all the trimmings. Somehow the duck became guilty by association.
And we have loads of those traditions or small holidays like that. I talked about Fastelavn last time with the live cat in the barrel that would get batted until it broke. These days it’s a paper cat.

I’ll be celebrating Christmas with Leggy this year in Scotland and I realised that how ever strange these traditions may seem I am actually a sucker for them. What really made me see that was when I told Leggys that I’d make him the traditional Danish duck dinner for Christmas. So of course wanting to be prepared I went on Google to see if I could get everything I needed in Scotland. Most things were readily available but two things. The cherry sauce for the rice and almond pudding and to my horror the red pickled cabbage was all wrong. It was actually red and not purple as it is here and it looked like big chunky cabbage and not “hey I just got a food processor let’s chop everything into tiny bits” cabbage. So yeah, when Leggy goes home from his birthday visit I’m sending pickled cabbage and cherry sauce with him because that is what tradition calls for.

Lilly Allen – Somewhere Only We Know

I must admit that I really like the John Lewis Christmas adverts. Especially last years one with the penguin . This Lilly Allen cover is from the 2013 advert and is a cover of this song by Keane

Ane Brun – Halo

I’ve mentioned Ane Brun in an older Wednesday music post. She did a song with Madrugada that I posted. Here she’s made a cover of Beyoncé’s song Halo
I’m personally not a big fan of Beyoncé’s music but I really like this cover.

Lisa Ekdahl – It’s Oh So Quiet

Now I think most of us know the Björk version of this song. Which if some of you didn’t know is actually a cover song in itself. The original English version was made in 1951 by Betty Hutton which was according to Wikipedia a cover of a German song called “Und jetzt ist es still”
I chose Lisa as it is a slightly lesser known version and a bit more jazzy and slow than the Björk and Betty Hutton versions.

Jasmine Thompson – Take Me To Church

I adore the Hozier version of this song but Jasmine Thompson does something to it that just makes me like it that much more. Hard to believe that she’s only 15.

Hugo – 99 Problems

I’m not entirely sure if this is a true cover song as it has had a bit of a rewrite from the Jay-Z Version and I may have used this version before in another post but I like this version so much that I’ll risk it.