Loose ends

Damn, you won’t believe how much crap fits into one tiny flat. Now at last I’m seeing empty shelves and cupboards, but there’s a lot to do yet. And address changes! There are so many!

The most important ones are the ones you get fined for not doing, like the driving licence, car registration and insurance. I’m not sure if you get fined for not telling the insurance company or whether it just invalidates your car insurance. Neither option is good.

I’m working morning shift all week and moving house every afternoon. It’s a busy time, and I’m also working on the anthology. Naturally, this was the perfect time to sprain my thumb…

Before I move the book stuff (and remember to tell all those book sites my new address) I can at least get the author payments sorted out. I have almost all the contracts in now, and some have already told me how they want to be paid (books, cash or a combination). Almost ready to complete that part.

I’m also working up a few variations on the cover, which I’ll put up here for opinions before finalising it.

I’ll be looking for Christmas stories starting November 1st, and I’ll be in touch with the two novelists about contracts after the move is completed. I’ll have a lot more time then and I’ll be living somewhere so utterly silent you can hear a cockroach fart.

There is likely to be a period offline when the broadband switches over. I’ll be on a different phone exchange so they have to disconnect me from one and reconnect me at the other. I don’t know how long that takes. I’ll have a mobile phone but I can’t type on that thing for long. The on screen keyboard is tiny and I have blunt ended fingers from years of typing on a real keyboard.

I’ll also have to be available at the phoneless house next week for furniture deliveries. The second hand shop has found the house now so they won’t get lost next time.

Could be long silences here. Unless CstM gets the blogging urge😉

This place better not be pink and covered with penguins when I get back…

The smoker rebellion

Will there be one? I have wondered if we can honestly be arsed to bother. We’re a pretty chilled crowd, we smokers, even the ones who haven’t been tricked into permanent guilt by the Holy Antismoker Inquisition.

It’s a trick, yes. The guilt. It’s a way of controlling you. Keep you feeling guilty and repentant and then offer you forgiveness if you live your life as instructed instead of doing it the fun way. Come on, you’ve seen it over and over again. Isn’t it obvious by now?

Look, it’s simple. If you smoke and you don’t like it, well stop fucking doing it. It’s not brain surgery. If you stop smoking and decide all smokers are evil filthy bastards because you’re not doing it any more, kindly find a convenient high building and jump off it because you have become what you used to be scared of. You’re the monster now.

I like to smoke. It’s big and manly and cool and the chicks dig it. You antismokers are a bunch of dweebs the girls all laugh at behind your backs and you’re so filled with hate and spite that you can’t ever see real life. Maybe reality is too hard for you to take.


Basically, if you spend all your life trying to live other people’s lives for them, you have no life of your own. You’re just a leech sucking the fun out of the world.

I smoke. I drink. I eat crap food. I am not interested in forcing, nor even in persuading, anyone else to live like I do. It might kill a few of you. If you don’t want to smoke, don’t do it. If you want to be booze-free there are hundreds of types of teas and coffees out there. If you don’t want to go to the chip shop, don’t go. Do you really need a law to make you decide how to live? No. You want a law to make everyone else live your bland and hateful life.

All the force comes from the antismoker side. It’s always ban, ban, ban, Cost to the economy. You enjoying your life is a cost to the economy. Well fuck the economy in every hole and drill a few new ones for later. All ‘the economy’ has ever done is take a huge chunk of the money I worked for and given it to those who can’t be bothered doing anything for themselves but think they have a right to tell me how to live. I’m supposed to give a shit about the economy?

I’ll let you know if I start to care.

In the Philippines, their new president wants smoking to become a criminal offense while leaving baccy on sale to get the revenue. He has no idea what he is doing.

The sale of dodgy baccy in the Philippines will rival that of the UK in moments. Already, corner shop prices in most of Europe are half of the lowest supermarket prices in the UK, and we are the only country with the silly doors. Strangely that never seems to be mentioned.

It’s getting tense. The first smoker to be jailed for using a heavily taxed legal product in public could well be our Ghandi.

If it turns out to be a vaper – and it could, because they’re still smokers in the Anti eyes – I am going to laugh until I shit myself.

Author contracts

I know, I should have dealt with all this ages ago…

All author contracts for the anthology are now sent out. I did them while juggling several other tasks at the same time so please check them. So far, one didn’t arrive (it’s likely I forgot to attach it) and one had a story title missing.

If there are any issues, or any more that didn’t arrive, please let me know.

You can sign the contract and post it (the address is on it), scan the signed copy and send it as an attachment or just type your name in it and send as an attachment. The email it’s attached to proves it came from you. This time I’m backing up too.

Next, novel contracts. There are two to prepare, as soon as the anthology is completed.

I think we can still go for a Christmas anthology too, although this one won’t be as big a book. A stocking filler…

Back to moving house, publishing and simultaneously working 11 days straight, starting today.

It’s no fun if it’s too easy.

The electric sofa and the one armed man

Yesterday, or the day before, depending how long it takes to complete this post, the flat-landlord had to pay an electrician to test all his stuff for electrical safety. Portable Appliance Testing it’s called and it applies to anything plugged in and moveable.

The idea is that things that can move will have wear and tear on the cable and could wear through the insulation and short out. Fair enough, really.

He tested a bedside lamp, the fridge and the washing machine. None of my stuff was included (yet). I have moved the fridge, to be fair, to clean behind it once or twice. I have never moved the washing machine and the bedside lamp… who needs to move a bedside lamp?

So the landlord now has this extra expense as well as having to have useless smoke detectors installed. Useless because I’m on the top floor, the flat below me is owner-occupied and he is not legally required to have smoke alarms. If his place catches fire, my options are a) the blazing stairwell with metal rails or b) plummet to the concrete pavement below. Smoke alarms in this flat don’t help me at all.

It’s all part of the SNP government’s drive to push up rents to where we common plebs can’t afford to live anywhere but in a tent in the woods.

Every expense thrown at landlords gets eventually passed on to tenants. It has to. Otherwise the landlord makes no profit and sells off all the property instead of renting it. Then there is nothing to rent and you have to buy, even if you don’t plan to live in a place for long. Moving will mean selling, not just saying ‘end of lease, goodbye’.

Next will be the testing of the tenant’s stuff. Your toaster will be condemned and you’ll pay an electrician for the privilege, then have to buy another toaster. That’s socialism, you see. Keep the poor poor. Make sure they never turn into capitalists.

One advantage of buying from a second hand shop is that they already have to test electrical goods. They can’t sell it untested. So the electric sofa I bought from a one armed man has been tested and proven to be electrically safe.

It’s really not portable. Two guys brought it in, separated into five parts, and put it together for me. I can barely shift it on my own. It has test pass stickers on the parts that plug into the wall so it’s safe to use.

It’s not in the flat. It’s in the next residence – cheaper than the flat even though it’s vastly bigger, but mostly unfurnished. So the second hand shops will see quite a lot of me in the near future.

They deliver. They managed to find my new place with only having to phone me three times. That’s pretty good. They charge for delivery so I waited until I could get several items at once, and only pay one delivery charge. The charge was £15, not bad really, and delivery was – next day! I was most impressed.

The staff are mostly volunteers and those that are paid aren’t paid very much – but they are all cheery and happy in their work. The two who brought the delivery didn’t even mind having to get through the Grape Triffid in the greenhouse to get the stuff inside.

I have been trimming the Grape Triffid, gradually. I have found bunches of green grapes among the black ones and it turns out there are two of them, so neglected as to seem like one. Most of this year’s grapes are mouldy because the growth was so dense there was no air circulating. There are vents but the vines had filled them.

The one armed man obviously wasn’t involved in the delivery. His job was in the showroom, pricing and selling. He offered me a very good price on an unpriced coffee table, I got a good sturdy desk for £15 and a very nice tall corner unit for almost bugger all.

The sofa, I looked at a few times before deciding. It’s huge, leather and in exceptionally good condition, and they wanted £120 for it. What sold me was when I asked the one-armed man about it and he said “You mean the electric sofa?”

“The what?” I thought it was leather. My mind, naturally, sped to places where executions are at least comfortable.

“It’s electric.” He showed me the cables. Two mains plugs for one sofa. “It reclines,” he said.

Well that was it. A sofa with reclining seats for that price? This chance was never coming my way again. It’s mine now, delivered and in place. The middle seat doesn’t move but both ends do.


Luxury at pound shop prices. It’s electrically tested too. Yeah, I know, the place needs a bit of work to get the rest of the bland plasterboard off all that lovely granite, but I have pretty much carte blanche here.

As long as I don’t paint it black.

Why can’t it be easy, just once?

Appy polly logies to begin with, droogies. I have been so wrapped up with moving house and formatting the book and despising the idiot managers at work that I have clean forgotten author contracts. I’ll leave myself a note.

I ended up taking the nuclear option and deleting all formatting. Some stories came in Word (various versions) and some in OpenOffice (likewise) and pasted together it was a horror of a book even without reading it. So I deleted all formatting and am going through putting it all in the same format. This does actually help with the eBook version because random formatting can bugger those up far more than a print version.

Unfortunately… this also deleted any italics or other special format styles you guys needed. Fortunately I still have all the original stories in separate files so I can put it all back. It’s not hard, just takes time.

However… somehow I managed to lose the entire Leg-iron folder from my email. Even Satan doesn’t know how I did this. No he doesn’t. I asked. Forcefully. It’s not in the recycle bin, it’s nowhere to be found at all.

This is some minor angel going ‘Oh, you’re nearly there? Well, let’s see how you deal with this…’ Minor angels have that middle management thing going. They are all total dickheads and I bet they all drive Audis.

I used words like ‘Arsebiscuits’, ‘Fie and Forsooth’ and ‘You Dastardly Poltroon Of An Infernal Calculating Engine’ and other words of a disturbing nature so it’s a good thing nobody lives with me at the moment. They might have died of bad word syndrome.

It’s a real thing. So is second hand bad word syndrome so if you suffer from that, don’t read the paragraph above. You have been warned.

Okay, back to work. I can’t do much on Saturday nights because I work the big shift on Sunday… but not for long. Can’t even have a Saturday night tipple beyond a nightcap because I have to drive next day and Scotland, the home of fine whisky, hates everyone who drinks it.

Interesting variation on the idea of marketing, but it’s Scotland. You can’t expect sense from pissheads.

Okay, back to it. I won’t get far tonight because I have to wake in the morning tomorrow.

Mornings confuse me. All the shadows point the wrong way…


I haven’t kept a pet for a long time. There’s Boris the undercouch spider but I’ve had to evict him twice and if he’s come back again, he’s keeping out of sight. Can’t blame him I suppose. He’s not a real pet anyway. More a roommate.

As a teenager I had a budgie called Fred. A blue male budgie with attitude. He couldn’t fly, never bothered to learn, and he had a bald belly where his seed gut hung over the perch. His cage was on one of those chrome stands and when I opened  the cage and stood well back, he’d climb out, slide down the stand like a fireman’s pole and terrorise the Dalmatians.

There were two Dalmatians. William and Jason. Lovely dogs but thick as shit, even for dogs. They wagged their tails like an Egyptian pyramid builder’s whip so they always had a plaster on the end where they’d whipped a kitchen cupboard. Every bath time was the same. “We’re in the house. We’re inside. We even get to go upstairs! Oh fuck, it’s the bathroom”. Too late boys, it’s scrubbing time.

They were terrified of Fred. He’d waddle out from under a chair and screech at them and even though they were big enough to splat him with a paw, they ran.

Okay, everyone was scared of Fred. He outlived the Dalmatians and set to scaring my mother’s Siamese cat. It tried to do the cat thing but it was clinically insane anyway. It would run into the living room, do a Wall of Death around the sofa and run out again for no reason I was ever able to determine. Fred was having none of the ‘cat and bird’ nonsense. In his world, it was bird bites cat and the cat finally worked it out.

Fred died when my mother was in the room. He was hanging on for the right time. He let out a squawk and fell off his perch with a thud and an evil smile. Scared the crap out of my mother.

I’ve had budgies since. Ashtray and Souffle, a grey and a white, who even hated each other. But I got to where I had to sell them on, it was student time. Money was too tight for pets.

Then there was Agamemnon. A house spider in a maze made of plastic boxes. He was a happy spider, the flies I let into the maze weren’t quite so happy. A tip if you want to keep a spider – they can’t drink. They get their water from what they suck out of prey. They do appreciate a small bit of wet sponge to soak their fangs on though.

There were other pets, mostly fish because fish are easy to look after and rarely try to kill you. I had a pond in the garden for a time but two really vicious winters killed everything in it, so I gave up on ponds.

The most memorable, I suppose, was LHB the hamster. This was the ultimate grumpy pet, one to rival CynaraeStMary’s Igor. He once bit a sheepdog’s nose. The dog got too inquisitive, poked his nose at the bars and LHB must have thought it was a huge raisin.

He tolerated me most of the time but even I was a ‘handle with care’ owner. The slightest excuse to bite, he’d take it. Cage cleaning was a battle of wills. I wanted it clean, he wanted it filthy. Hence his name. Little Hairy Bastard.

I have to say I was impressed with his exercise ball skills. He could run that thing full tilt towards a wall and handbrake-turn it away at the last moment.

He started losing hair at one point. I consulted a vet. ‘Mites’ was the diagnosis. Very common apparently. They itch and scratch so much they actually end up almost bald. Without hair, it became clear that he was wearing the skin of a much bigger animal and had never thought to iron it.

The cure was, said the vet, very simple. “Take this powder, fill a sink with water and dissolve the powder in it, then lower the hamster in gently and wash him all over”.

Okay, that simply wasn’t going to happen. I needed to keep all my fingers intact and the thought of trying to sleep at night with LHB in a murderous rage… no. Yet I couldn’t let him suffer the mites. They were putting him in a much worse mood than usual.

So I compromised. I got him into his exercise ball and lowered him into the sink. He, of course, went ballistic. I tried to tell him it was a treatment for his itchiness but I swear he mouthed ‘You are so fucking dead’ just before his final dunking.

In the end, of course, it was him who died. Hamsters only have two years. In a final act of bastardry, he locked his teeth around one of the cage bars before taking his last breath.

Oh I wasn’t surprised. I’d have been disappointed if he hadn’t done something like that. I had to prise him off the bar, hoping all the time he wasn’t bluffing and playing dead just to get my fingers within reach. He wasn’t. I buried him.

Some might think this all a bit unlikely, but hey, at least I didn’t dig up his corpse and give it a wash…


For the record, I’m also Welsh and bought LHB in my mid twenties. It’s some kind of Welsh version of a mid life crisis or something.

One sided lobbying

I have the keys to my next abode. Since it’s not visible from the road so you can’t see it on Google Streetview, this is what you see when you emerge from the tree cover hiding my ‘in’ driveway –


It goes back a long way. 13 rooms in all, a garage, well water, septic tank, fireplaces with wood burning stoves and a huge diesel generator which looks like it hasn’t been used in ages. If I can get that working I’m independent of power outages.

Two miles from the nearest streetlight, pavement or any real civilisation. There is a neighbouring house, you can see it in the distance from the back of this one. I’m still amazed that this place is costing me less than the four-room flat I have at the moment!

Just across the road is a river. A salmon river. I will investigate fishing permits for that, but it’s past salmon season for this year anyway so there’s no hurry.

The Triffid occupying the greenhouse turned out to be a grapevine. Yes, raw wine🙂 I was going to erase it when I first saw it but now I’ll just trim it back. Make room for tomatoes. Tobacco will find plenty of space in one of the other gardens and I have a little bit of woodland where I can nurture a wild-growing strain…

I’ll probably have to get fresh seeds. Mine are a few years old now.

That’s the digression out of the way. Now I’ll get to the point.

The EU are being moaned at about lobbying transparency. Mostly the complaints are about food companies ‘blocking new sugar laws’.

We don’t need a law on sugar. It’s sugar. You buy it and eat it or don’t buy it and don’t eat it. Or you can plant some sugar beet and extract your own. Nobody needs a law telling them how much they can have and we really don’t need to start on food taxation. That way lies the starving poor.

It’s a two edged sword though. The EU will be under pressure to be totally transparent on lobbying from Big Food, Big Baccy, Big Other Stuff… but also under pressure to keep quiet about lobbying from Big Brother.

These sugar laws didn’t come from any government office. They came from lobbying by Big Nanny. The tax-funded lobby groups who want us all under the biggest thumb since Stalin’s.

If they want total lobbying transparency then ASH and the rest will have to declare how much they spend on lobbying governments, what they are saying and most of all… who’s paying for it.

Unlike private corporations, the ones paying for these nannying groups are… us.

Yes, you antismokers might be all pleased with ASH, you thinnies might be delighted with the sugar haters, you tea-total people might be rejoicing at the booze removers and well you might. You’re paying for them all. If all those groups didn’t exist you could be paying less tax. But hey, you love them all so much you don’t mind paying more income tax and more tax on your food on top of that.

I’m going to have a big garden. So far I have identified four apple trees and haven’t explored the wooded part much at all. There will be food grown there.

And tobacco.

Maybe sugar beet too.

Then… there’s the grapes… and you know what’s happening to them.