I was on a ferry in Denmark. It didn’t catch fire. That’s a fifty percent record for me for being on ferries in Denmark that didn’t catch fire. Not too shabby, given my past form.

Anyway, this was on the way home from CynaraeStMary’s birthday party. At which I met many of the family and survived. So far, so good. I just have to learn Danish so I know what they are saying about me but maybe it’s best I don’t know.

I liked them all, I have to say. Especially Uncle Hairy Blonde Beard from Copenhagen who could be a whisky night pal when CStM is looking the other way… Okay, I confess I don’t remember many names but it usually takes more than one meeting/mention for names to sink in.

There might be a CStM veto in there but you never know. He might like the land of whisky and he might like my biker pals. I am just doing my best to fit in here.  Even though I don’t fit anywhere.

I am not a natural sailor. Rough seas might be fine for Vikings but I’m a Celt. A dry land man. Well, I’m not sure the term ‘dry land’ really works in Wales or Scotland or indeed much of the UK because it’s usually raining. Solid ground then, even if it’s a bit mushy at times. It doesn’t move around as much as the sea. Yes, I build model boats but being on one is different.

But I digress. Rather, I am way ahead of the story.

This trip started with a panic, as all good trips should. I thought last Friday was the dreaded Black Friday when shops offload all last year’s outdated crap to make room for the new crap in time for Christmas. I expected to have to contend with appalling traffic on the way to the airport so set out early. There was no traffic. It was only Grey Friday. I was at the airport far too early and their free wifi is crap. It kept kicking me out. Still, a couple of double espressos and a tuna sandwich for breakfast and all was forgiven.

I also bought a bottle of Welsh spring water in Aberdeen airport and carried it all the way to Denmark. Not that they were short of water in Denmark, it drops out of the sky there too and as any map will tell you, much of Denmark is made of sea.

The plane I was on didn’t go to Denmark. It went to Amsterdam. For a reason I cannot fathom it was much, much cheaper to go that way than to go direct to Copenhagen like I did last time. Last time the roundabout route was more expensive. This time it was an awful lot cheaper.

The plane landed in Amsterdam and after what seemed like fifteen laps of the airport it finally pulled in at a terminal. I suspect it landed at the wrong airport and taxied the rest of the way along the motorway with the pilot muttering ‘I meant to do that, honestly’.

I looked at a map of Amsterdam airport before I started the trip. It’s huge. You could fit three of the towns I grew up in inside it and still have room for a shopping mall and Cardiff airport.

I had to get to a different gate. Amsterdam tell you the gates are A, B, C etc but when you get to the letter (I had to go to C) then they tell you that C1-C50 is this way and C51-Cinfinity is that way. There are many, many gates. That airport might have more gates than there are planes in the world.

I had 90 minutes. Plenty of time as it turned out. I could have sought out a smoking area but didn’t bother. No chance of a coffee, I had British pounds and Danish kroner and not one single Euro. I should maybe get a few of those.

In the middle of my panic rush walk from one gate to a distant gate in an airport in a country I had never visited before, there was a passport check. The guy looked at my boarding pass and passport and said ‘Where are you going?’ It’s on the boarding pass. I was tempted to sigh wearily and say ‘I have no idea’ or perhaps intone ‘I am the passenger and I ride and I ride’, but I said ‘Copenhagen’ because these people have no sense of humour.

One thing in Amsterdam’s great favour is that their free wifi is easy to use. No spontaneous booting out, no complexities, just a click and you’re in.

I wasn’t there long. Soon I was on a plane to Copenhagen and then had to find a train.

Now the last time, CStM met me in Copenhagen and took care of all the train stuff. But she’d shown me the way once, surely I could be trusted to do it on my own this time?

I got it right. I didn’t end up in Sweden and didn’t have to spend the night in a shut down train in a siding somewhere. Danish trains are easy, really, as long as you realise the up and down lines are the other way round from the UK. And I have a map of the entire rail network of Denmark, as you would expect.

(  CStM – shhh ;)  )

I must have been on the train at least an hour before I thought to check for wifi. It was there, so I could reassure CStM that I was not arguing with border control in Malmo nor arrested for being Welsh in a public place. Everything was under control.

The way back was a little different. It was cheaper to go by bus and took no more time but it meant a ferry in the  middle.

You get on the bus, the bus drives to the ferry, then onto the ferry. Then everyone gets off the bus and goes to the seating area in case the ferry catches fire. That does happen, it happened last time I was on a ferry in Denmark. That time the ferry made it from Newcastle almost to Esbjerg before combustion stopped our trip. Lots of little boats came out. We thought they had come to help. They took photos and went away. But that was a long time ago.

This time I knew where the ferry departed from but was on it before realising I had no idea where it was going. The bus was going to Copenhagen airport so I suppose the ferry went in that general direction. All the announcements were in Danish so I just watched what everyone else did and left when they did. All well and good, made it to the bus. Which also had wifi. CStM was able to tell me where the hell I was from the clues I could see.

Back to Copenhagen, which had snow and darkness. You can check in there without ever seeing a real person. Even the bag drop is automated. The security isn’t – the queue was immense. The wifi is crap too – like Aberdeen, it spontaneously kicks you out for no reason. I had to rush to the gate so skipped duty free. Pity. I had plans for duty free. Next time…

So, Amsterdam, and another fifteen laps of the airport before parking. This was a nervous time, I had one hour to get to the next gate and it might be the other side of the airport, which you need to charter a flight to get to. The suitcase was less of a worry on the way back. if it was delayed, too bad. They’d send it to me at home. I did wonder if it might be held back because it had cherry sauce, pickled red cabbage and a big bottle of Remoulade in it. Which might be considered unusual by some people, or so I understand.

I was lucky. I landed at gate D60 and only had to get to D14. Only about a mile or so. I had time to stop off at civilisation, aka the smoking area. There are several in Amsterdam airport, but only one in Aberdeen. The Aberdeen one is behind a frosted glass door and exposed to the elements because the UK hates its people. So far we seem to be the only ones to have the Doors of Shame over the tobacco displays and our baccy prices are double everyone else’s. I bought a supply of tubing baccy in CStM’s local small co-op and it was half UK price. And that’s just a local shop, not a supermarket!

In Amsterdam, opposite gate D10 you will find Murphy’s pub. Go through the bar to the back, through another door and there is the smoking area. Indoors, fully enclosed and well ventilated and with a handy pub attached. I wasn’t in Copenhagen very long so the only smoking area I found was outside. It was amusing to see they had yellow lines painted around it to keep the smoke in. Someone will believe it works. Probably someone in high office.

Unfortunately I could not make use of the pub because I had to drive home when I got to Aberdeen. The Spiteful Nannying Party have now made it so you dare not even take cough medicine if you’re driving. I remained utterly sober the whole trip. Well, truth be told, I didn’t drink any booze at all in Denmark. I only had a few days this time so couldn’t afford to spend any time drunk or hungover. I left the whisky at home.

The departing plane only had to taxi about ten yards to reach the runway in Amsterdam, which merely reinforced my suspicion that the landing plane had done fifteen laps before getting  to the gate. The buggers did it on purpose.

Well, that’s my account of my trip. Some will be disappointed at the lack of detail on anything at all in between the travelling bits. CStM will give you an account of the birthday at some point and as for anything else, I’m sure your furtive imaginings will fill in the gaps to way beyond anything that really happened.

I was happy to find that burning ferries are not a Danish tradition. They don’t always do it. Not even when I’m on it.

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.