The abyss beckons

Another school shooting in America. Why? Humans don’t live very long anyway, why are we so intent on making it shorter?

This is once again an argument for gun control. I’ve never owned a proper gun and don’t want to. I used to have airguns (called BB guns in the US I believe) but sold the rifle when it was clear that Scotland wanted to bring in licencing for these toys. They did. It now costs £25 a year for an airgun licence and mine only cost me £30 so it wouldn’t have been worth keeping and licencing. My son took the rest to hand in – including the toy ones that shot plastic BBs that wouldn’t penetrate paper. Anything air powered needs a licence in Scotland now.

That’s because Scotland’s new terror of guns includes plastic toy ones. Does America really want to take this road? I sold my crossbows too because Scotland will ban those next.

Our UK ban on handguns (you can still get a shotgun or hunting rifle if you want to go through all the hoops) came in after Dunblane. That was a school shooting, a loony who should have had his guns confiscated long before but was allowed to keep them. He shot a lot of children and teachers and hey presto – one man going nuts meant that nobody in the UK is allowed a pistol.

Well, as I said, I never had one and never wanted one. So it made no difference to me, right? Wrong.

Before the ban, anyone thinking about breaking into my house had to factor in that I might have a gun. They don’t have to worry about that any more. And people get shot in the UK still. The criminals’ guns weren’t legal before the ban so it made no difference to them.

Still, having no gun meant I learned other things. Archery isn’t much use in a home invasion. I’d have to assemble the bow first and the long arrows would limit where I could use them. But I’m pretty good with a throwing knife and can swing a sledgehammer in one hand and a long handled axe in the other. The past year of chopping wood and splitting logs has made me a lot better with that. I’m not defenceless.

I watch with interest the attacks on the NRA (The American national rifle association) as if they are the sole purveyor of guns. None of their members have been involved in any of the gun attacks. Shutting them down will do nothing to stop these attacks, but it will help the anti-gun fanatics to disarm the American people. Then they can be controlled so much more easily. Just ask Hitler, Pol Pot and all the other totalitarians who started by disarming any possible opposition.

Dodgy guns are available anywhere, in any country. As is dodgy anything else. Muslim countries who have entirely banned alcohol have problems with people drinking rough hooch and getting hospitalised or dying. You cannot stop people getting what they want if they want it enough. You can ban drugs and everyone will stop trying cocaine or heroin? Really? Does that work? Of course not. They just turn to ‘other sources’ and it doesn’t go well.

Norway, I am told, is delighted that its massive taxes on booze have cut down booze sales. Sugar sales are booming. They are brewing their own unregulated booze. It’s not hard. Get the right fruit and you don’t even need sugar and you’ll get brownie points from the health police for buying so much fruit. It does not matter what you put in the way, humans will always find a way around.

It’s not hard to make a gun either. I’ve seen articles on 3D-printing a gun. It’s a fairly primitive device really and a plastic one won’t show up on metal detectors. It might only be good for one shot but close enough and that’s all you need. Do we really want to encourage that?

Guns will disappear naturally in time. As soon as we find a better way to kill each other. You can ban that too if you want. Those who ignore the law won’t care.

There was an SF series of books based around ‘The Weapon Shops of Isher’ where a disarmed society was served by a clever underground weapon shop system. This is exactly where we are headed.

There seem to be a lot of school shootings in America. This is because schools are gun-free zones. The shooter knows there will be no resistance. Nobody else has a gun. These loons still have enough brain cells to know that if they tried it in a police station they wouldn’t get more than a couple of shots before they were dead.  The lesson is – don’t let loonies have guns and pay attention when they are repeatedly reported for their looniness. Then again, the best way to get a gun ban is to let the loonies loose with guns. It worked in the UK…

One little observation. Democrats in America refer to Trump as ‘literally Hitler’ and as some kind of oppressive dictator. Then they want the population to give up all their guns so only the government (led by Literally Hitler) will have guns. I don’t know about you but something seems a bit off here. A bit of sitting and thinking is in order, I’d say.

If Trump really is ‘literally Hitler’ he’ll want to disarm the population of America. He’s smart though, so he might let the Democrats do it and take the blame for it if he really wants that. I don’t think he does, but then he might be smarter than I give him credit for. Getting your opponents to do the dirty work would be a killer move – literally. I’m really hoping Trump isn’t playing that game but if he is, he’s playing it masterfully.

You will have no guns and then you will face an influx of immigrants who are determined to turn your country into the desolate hole they came from. No, they are not refugees. Refugees are not all men who leave their families behind in what they claim is Hell. Men who would do that cannot claim to be men.

They are an invasion force. An invited invasion. Look at the state of Sweden, France and Germany now. Do you want that, America? Really?

Look into the abyss. Look really deeply and pay attention to it. It’s been looking at you for quite some time now.

It’s coming.

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Normality approaches

It’s been a hell of a start to the year. First grandchild, father reaches 80, another grand niece imminent (they know it’s to be a girl and they will all get train sets), and much more. Finally things seem to be settling down a bit.

I was supposed to get Lee Bidgood’s book finished in January but it didn’t happen. January was a bit of a blur, full of things I didn’t expect as well as things I did expect. Hopefully February will see it in print. It’s a damn good one.

Meanwhile in the real world, more and more political corruption is coming to light and those who didn’t win elections are still acting as though they did. Those who were never elected to anything still act as if they actually matter. The only change is that it’s all getting worse and fast.

We now have the spectacle of antismoking groups focusing on vaping and pretending it’s a problem that more and more people vape instead of smoking. It’s all ‘for the cheeeldren’ as usual.

Australia still bans the only successful quit-smoking method ever invented. Why? Is it because everything is upside down there? Has the Christmas-in-summer thing broken their minds? They have so many deadly creatures on land, sea and lurking in the dunny that smoking is nothing to worry about really. Can that be the reason? But they still push the patches and gum and Champix and still demonise smokers as harbingers of the Six Hundred and Sixty-Sixth Hand Smoke of Satan, all riding white supremacist racist pale horses with a bit of yellow staining around the hooves.

Australia pushes the stop-smoking methods that don’t work while banning the only one that’s been a success. They are not alone in this.

None of those methods were ever intended to work. The patches only work if you stick one over each eye so you can’t find your fags. The gum only works if it leaves such an awful taste in your mouth that you don’t want to put anything else in there at all. The pills only work because they make smokers kill themselves and the antismokers add them to the ‘stopped smoking’ list. Antismokers don’t want those things to actually have any marked effect on the amount of tax being sucked out of a legal product.

They are really pissed at ‘heat not burn’ gadgets. I looked at them but they are expensive so haven’t tried one. The antis are really upset at those because they are made by tobacco companies. Well, this is harm reduction being practiced by the tobacco companies – but that sort of spoils the illusion that all tobacco companies have one central head office in the deepest pit of Hell and that Satan laughs every time we light one up.

Satan hates smokers. We turn up asking for a light and he can’t pretend he doesn’t have one.

I bought another Electrofag recently. I’ve already mentioned it in the previous post. You can get a basic setup for less than the ludicrously inflated price of a pack of cigarettes in the UK. USB charger, battery, clearomiser and one bottle of vape juice will set you back £6.99 in a lot of the pound shops. There is no (legal) pack of cigarettes cheaper than about £7.50 in the UK. Vaping has not yet taken over from smoking for me but the prices mean it’s damn well worth a try.

You are advised to replace the clearomiser every few weeks. Replacements cost £1. A tiny bottle of juice costs £1. For those wanting to stop because of price, your initial setup is less than one pack of cigarettes and your weekly spend thereafter is way less than a fiver. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than trying to do it with patches and gum and it has a success rate that leaves those methods in the dust. Yet the antis are outraged that the NHS even considers saving a fortune by prescribing these instead of Big Pharma’s overpriced useless junk.

If, like me, vaping doesn’t stop you smoking, you have risked less than one pack of cigarettes to try it. If it helps you cut down a bit you’ll save money. Switch to vaping for one day and it’s paid for itself!

So why do the antismokers have such a big problem with it?

Money.

If everyone switched to vaping, the tax take would plummet and the tax-funded antismokers would have no more reason to exist. When the problem is solved, the problem solvers have no more reason to be there.

It’s like UKIP. Their principal reason for existence was to get us out of the EU. That is now happening – it would happen faster if we had a Prime Monster with a bit of brain power but that’s a separate post – so it’s no surprise that UKIP are down in the polls. They’ve done what they set out to do.

However, the many antismoking groups, and those parasitic on the NHS for lifestyle control, depend on there being smokers to harass. They depend on there being fat people and Iceland shoppers and burger eaters and salt lovers and those who take two sugars in their tea. If everyone was slim and fit and Aryan, as they want (sound familiar?) the problems are all solved and they have no more reason to exist.

I think every smoker should switch to vaping for a week, maybe a month. We can all go back to smoking after that. By then, the Dreadful Arnott and her gang of Puritan zealots should have been totally defunded.

Or at least, we could grow our own or buy them in the EU – we are still in that monstrosity so let’s take advantage. Nip over to Denmark where a pack of Vikings or Skjold is under £4 in the corner shops. Don’t waste your time in duty free, you’re in the EU so it isn’t cheap in there. Get a month’s supply (it’ll probably cover the cost of the trip) and buy no fags in the UK for that month.

Watch the taxman panic. Watch the antismoking funds disappear. Watch them flounder around when the smoking taxes fall to zero. I’d predict that by the end of the month there’ll be no antismoking groups and no smoking ban. No need for them if nobody is buying cigarettes, right?

You’d see government actively encouraging smoking. They need us even though they hate us.

If you prefer rolling baccy or tubing, those are half the price on most of the continent too. A 180g pack of tubing baccy (makes about 360 cigarettes) costs well under £40 in Denmark. Corner shop prices. 18 packs of 20 for roughly £2 a pack. If you smoke a pack a day you just saved £95 on the UK prices over 18 days. Buy two and in just over a month you saved £190. Your plane ticket is paid for. You can get the tubes in Poundland at £1 for 200, and the tubing machine (Bull Brand) is also £1.

Can we organise this? It would be a killing blow for the antismokers. No tobacco tax for a month. We don’t all need to go overseas. Some will try vaping and like it enough to use it for a month – perhaps for good. Some are already getting theirs in the pub car park. It’s just us mugs paying UK tax that need to organise.

No tobacco tax for a month and the antismokers will be wiped out. Government will be on its knees. The NHS will be broken to the point where it has to shed the lifestyle parasites and get back to what it’s supposed to do.

Come on. Let’s do it.

 

Tiny trains and cheeseboards

There’s a really hard frost out there tonight. The heating is on and the wood burner is going too, so it’s nice and warm in here. I’m glad I don’t have to drive tonight.

I did drive last night. Well, afternoon, evening and night. The total driving time is usually around 10 hours but with plenty of rest stops and the inevitable dead-slow driving on the M6, it took more than 13 hours to get home from south Wales. The car’s acceleration was affected by the luggage load, which included around 15 cheeseboard sets and a carrier bag full of cheeseboard tools. Also, an enormous quantity of N gauge track and some tiny trains to run on it.

There were weather warnings yesterday. Snow! Hail! Torrential rain! I drove around half the vertical length of the UK and didn’t see any of that beyond a few patches of drizzle at the Scottish border. If it hadn’t been raining I wouldn’t have realised I had entered Scotland.

There was a pretty strong wind late at night. No weather warning about that. It matters in the car I drive because it’s basically a box – fairly streamlined at the front but not at all at the sides. An invisible force trying to push you off the road does tend to keep your speed down.

Today, there is a smattering of snow outside and it’s freezing to the point where the driveway might be impassable in the morning. No warning about that either. The forecast for tomorrow is more snow and gale force winds – these do not merit one of the ubiquitous warnings.

It’s the north of Scotland. It’s February. Anyone who has lived here for more than a week knows the weather is going to be horrible. We do not need constant warnings that it might be a bit slippy outside. It always bloody is at this time of year! One day they’re going to warn about something really serious and nobody will pay any attention at all.

Anyway, that’s the standard British moan about the weather. We moan about it a lot because we do seem to get a hell of a lot of it and it’s mostly terrible. But if the weather was always nice, what would we moan about then?

I didn’t get any spectacular photos in Wales, most of the week was spent being sociable so I’m now enjoying not being sociable for a while. It could be a few days before I see my new granddaughter again because the roads are likely to be treacherous, especially at night, and I’m not going to risk it. I’d also be very much against my son and his family driving out here at the moment. It’s only just over a week since the birth. A bad time for a bit of slippery driving.

My granddaughter is nearing two weeks old. I wonder if she has a cheeseboard yet?

By now I expect you are wondering why I returned from Wales with fifteen cheeseboards and about five scale miles of N gauge track. Oh, I also have six chopping boards. I forgot about them. And a new dishrack. None of which I paid anything for.

Sometimes I have to just stop and wonder why I never seem to think any of this is in any way unusual, you know.

The trains first.

Oh wait, I have another Electrofag. It’s another 88-Vape one like the one I bought in Poundland some years back. This one was in Poundstretcher at £5.99 for the Electrofag and USB charger cable, £1 for a bottle of juice. Not quite the £1 Electrofag but it’s still available and cheaper than the cheapest pack of cigarettes for those who want a trial run. Poundland still have the juice, clearomiser and a ‘disposable’ battery for £1 each but selling the full kit at £1 clearly wasn’t feasible for long.

Digression over. I promise.

When I was really, really skint (I was living on food from Iceland) I sold off most of my N gauge railway stuff to pay bills. I sold a lot of tiny things I’d made that I no longer have the eyesight or rock-steady fingers to make again and I’ll probably always regret it but well, I was skint.

I didn’t sell it all. There were a few I couldn’t bear to part with. However, I had decided that if I was to make another railway I’d go for OO gauge instead. Prices are about the same but the pieces are a lot bigger. I can pick up a lot of stuff cheap on eBay since I don’t care about the modern DCC thing, so older models that don;t easily adapt are cheaper to buy. I’m currently working on replacing the awful Hornby Volvo-bumper couplings with Kadee buckeyes. They are more like American couplings but hell, I’m not sitting with tweezers joining up chain link couplings on a 20-wagon train. Oops, digressing again…

Okay. A friend of mine visited in the summer. This is the friend I bought some N gauge stuff from many years ago and some of that stuff was still here. So, as I didn’t think I’d use it again, I sent him home with a load of track and some trains.

Not all of it. I had plans to make a little N gauge setup, nothing like the one I had before which ran around the attic to the point where you could send off a coal train and not see it again for five minutes or more. There’s a sample of part of it (before the skint years) on YouTube.  A later one shows it after I’d sold the station buildings. I was thinking more of a little 4’x 2’6″ setup like one I made once before. Portable and can be stacked out of the way if necessary.

Well, it turns out he has no time to set anything up so he gave it all back to me. The train stuff I shipped from Wales to Scotland, then he shipped it back to Wales, I have now shipped back to Scotland. Some of the trains in this lot have done more miles than a few real ones, I’m sure.

This same friend was responsible for the cheeseboards and chopping boards. Also the bag of cheeseboard tools.

He has a woodburning stove, like me. Unlike me, he does not live on a farm with a load of ton-bags full of wood that is just there to be disposed of. This means he is always on the lookout for free wood.

His job takes him to various firms and he found one with a skip full of wood. Reject blanks that cannot be embossed with the company logo because of small flaws. He’s been using them as firewood, hence the bag of tools.

I’ll probably burn a few too but my son can make something else out of some of them. They are round so with a set of depressions and some marbles the tops would make good solitaire boards. I’ll use the tops of some to make pot rests, to protect the work surfaces from hot things. The bottom halves will be fuel. My son can use the tools for his own line in cheeseboards.

I can’t sell them as they are. They are designed by a specific company so are copyrighted. The cheese knives in them are pretty standard but the way the boards are made is company property. The same is true of the chopping boards. They are too good to burn but they can be made into something else.

So you see, there is a reason behind even the cheeseboard glut. It all makes sense in the end. well, it does to me.

That just leaves the dishrack. It’s a two layer one, and while I have a large kitchen I have a small draining board at the sink. My mother had one of these tower affairs and I made the mistake of commenting that it was a good idea. Next day, a new one arrived.

Never let your mother discover internet shopping.

 

The Silence

Well, granddaughter is home and busy tormenting her parents with sleep deprivation. There was a lot of hanging about the hospital because she’s my granddaughter and wasn’t going to start out the easy way. She’s fine now and is already trying to lift her head, and has a delightful scowl and a wicked smile.

It’s safe now to go and visit my parents for a little while. I’ll still have internet but not all the time. I will be expected to be sociable.

I have signed a contract as an editor for a small press, which might bring in a few pennies and will be good practice for editing the submissions to Leg Iron Books.

Speaking of which, I feel I should employ a cover artist. I can’t pay much but I don’t expect free work. You can opt for a share of royalties (these are small but ongoing) or a flat one-off payment. This will not affect author royalties, it will come out of my share. I’m looking particularly for a Tom Sharpe style cover image made up of scenes from the book. I’m sure there are those with far more talent than me who can do a better job than I ever could.

The recent quiet on the blog will continue for a week or so. Mid February, everything should be back to normal. I hope.

In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the baby born on the full blue blood supermoon. No hairiness, no tail, so she’s not a werewolf.

Why has my dad handed me to this homeless hippie?

Could be the Antichrist though. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

Ageing…

I have become a grandfather.

Congratulations are not really necessary, I had nothing to do with it – I did my part 30 years ago.

Well, I already have several pipes and several walking sticks (the one with a skull on top is likely to be favourite). I have a trilby, of course, but have lost my flat cap. Must get another.

I still have to source a bag of Werther’s Originals and a cardigan with leather elbows.

I hope this doesn’t mean I now have to drive everywhere at 20 miles an hour, hunched over the wheel and peering through classes that look like the ends of milk bottles.

Anyway, that’s one grandchild for me. Hopefully the first of many.

It’s a girl, by the way – but I will not be covering her in pink fluffyness. I have already begun explaining the classification system for steam engines and will soon move on to diesel wheel arrangements so she will be able to correctly differentiate between Co-Co and A1A-A1A. She’ll be able to stun a train geek into silence on any railway platform.

There is no reason why girls shouldn’t learn about archery, wood chopping, engine maintenance and repair and how to swing a scythe or extract a splinter.

This is going to be great, especially since I can pass her back to her parents whenever she needs a nappy change.

It might slow the publishing work for a few days but I’ll soon get it back to speed. She’ll be mostly sleeping and eating at first. She should make the most of this time, it’s the easiest part of life.

Well, now you can officially call me old…

Votes at 16

In Aldi today (they have a nice little circular saw this week, small enough to swing around and pretend you’re in the Texas Circular Saw Massacre while culturally appropriating your most recent victim’s face) there was a sign above one of the products.

You must be 18 to purchase this item.

It wasn’t above the circular saw. Nor the power drills, not even above the gas powered portable heater. Which, in the wrong hands, could be an especially vicious weapon. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t buy one of those. But then I used my gadget budget on the circular saw.

The sign was nowhere near those things. It was above a box of cutlery.

These weren’t carving knives or cleavers. They weren’t razor sharp ceramic knives. Table cutlery. Eating irons. The knife and fork you eat with. The knife that is usually not all that sharp because it doesn’t have to chop or carve, it’s dealing with cooked food. You have to be over 18 to buy it, along with the forks and spoons in the box.

Look, if some young thug wants a knife to attack people with, he, she or it is not going to buy a box of blunt knives that comes with forks and assorted spoons. He’s more likely to lift one from his mum’s kitchen drawer.

Our politicians and other assorted mindless control freaks now believe you are mature enough to shape your country’s future at 16 but far too young to set the table. This is before we touch on smoking and drinking and every other absurdity out there.

Quick digression – today I found a new whisky I hadn’t tried before . A vatted malt called Copper Dog. It’s very nice but if you’re 16 you can’t have it. You are only mature enough to make decisions affecting everyone in your country, you are still too much of a child to take control of your own life.

Look at porn. Not now, wait until after the blog post. You have to be 18 to view porn but you can get married at 16 and fumble about for two years because you can’t see the instructions yet. You will get sex education from the age of 5 now but you aren’t allowed to do anything about it until you are 16 and you can’t watch anyone else do it until you are 18. Apart from the instruction videos you were shown at 5 years old – after that you are magically a child again and you must forget that you were once mature enough to view sex videos. Also you have to keep teacher’s special secret  😉

Testicular cancer is something that mostly affects men. Specifically young men. Us oldies are familiar enough with those bits that we’d notice an extra hair, never mind a lump. And it can be hard to check because, as Dylan Moran once said, you’re looking for a lump in a bag of lumps.

The risk period starts at age 15. There are videos that show you how to check your plum sack but you aren’t allowed to see them until you are 18. So if you have testicular cancer at 15 you’ll be dead or castrated before you are old enough to know how to check for it. But hey, you’re old enough to vote at 16. You’re just not old enough to be shown how to prevent your early death. Given the choice, kids, which of those – voting or the cancer check method – would you like to have available to you at 16?

There are moves to raise the age for smoking to 21 and beyond. Signs in supermarkets tell cashiers to ‘Think 25’ when deciding whether to ask you for booze-ID to prove you are 18. Recently, Experts have Said and Studies have Shown that you are not an adult until at least 23 years old. “They grow up so fast” is a phrase for a bygone era. Soon it will be “When is this idle fucker going to grow up?”

Only a few years ago, the legal age for smoking was 16 – except it wasn’t. That was the legal age for being able to buy cigarettes. As with booze, which you can buy at 18 at the moment, there is no legal age for using the product. You can give a beer to your 10-year-old and you’re not breaking any laws – although if the prodnoses find out you will get reported and investigated for ‘child abuse’. Not for ‘giving booze to a minor’. Unless it’s someone else’s kid, that’s not illegal.

16-year-olds are not prosecuted for smoking because that isn’t illegal. Shops are prosecuted for selling to under 18’s. That is the part that is illegal. The lines have been cleverly blurred.

In the 1960s there were no age restrictions on buying cigarettes. My brother and I were routinely sent to the shop to get Dad his pack of ten and we could get sweets with the change. We could have bought ourselves cigarettes and matches if we wanted. We didn’t. We could buy sweets though, which is another thing frowned upon now.

I was buying fireworks at age 10. Nobody minded. That whole ‘don’t put a banger in a bottle because it will explode in a shower of glass’ thing? It didn’t work. The banger in a cowpat was much more fun.

I’d buy whole packs of boxes of matches for explosive experiments at age 15 or so. Nobody thought twice about it. I could have bought cigarettes if I’d felt the urge then. I was already frequenting pubs at 16. That wasn’t technically legal but as long as we didn’t cause any trouble, nobody minded.

Now, if you want to buy cutlery you have to be 18. You can marry at 16, join the army before you’re 17, but you can’t buy a fork until you’re 18. If you do marry that early you’d better have cutlery and other kitchen knives on the wedding gift list or you’ll be ripping that roast chicken apart with your fingers.

At around age 11/12 I was taking woodwork lessons at school. Saws, chisels, spokeshaves… and those things are no use unless they are properly sharp. Metalwork class, we brazed, forged, tempered, cast, hammered, lathed and used something called a shaper that if you leaned a tiny bit too far forward, would smash your brains out.

We were old enough to handle all those things. There were no major incidents. Everybody survived. But should we have had the vote at 16? Of course not, that would have been dangerously insane.

Most of the kids that age had no interest in politics. My group of friends were so right wing that the centrists couldn’t see us. We would have installed a monarchic empire run from a small central cardre and the rest of the world could deal with its own problems. Actually we probably wouldn’t have taxed very much, just enough to keep us supplied with things that go bang and plenty of sharp stuff. No need for private jets, we aren’t bothering to go around giving speeches. Dissent would have been quashed with extreme and very public prejudice but basically, don’t piss off the bosses and you can do pretty much as you please.

Would you really have wanted me to vote when I was 16? I know it’s the Socialists who want this because they think all 16 year olds are socialist but it’s an idea that could backfire very badly indeed. The socialist teens are vocal but the other side are not and never were. See, teens are not all socialist. The ones even slightly interested in politics are, however, all extremist. And, despite the left’s imagination, not all of them are extreme left.

I had mellowed by the time I was 18 but I have never voted Labour, despite growing up on a council estate in Wales in a Labour-voting family based on the mining industry. I have occasionally voted Tory but only when I don’t expect them to win. Usually I pick someone based on them having policies I like. I am not interested in party politics. I don’t join gangs.

Modern 16-year-olds are not allowed to do most of the things I did at that age. Off into the woods with a box of bangers and some bottles. Buying a whole load of matches. Buying camping knives that would make Jim Bowie jealous. Becoming a pub regular. Playing around with all sorts of red hot steel, molten aluminium and very sharp tools and dangerous machines. Buying explosives components in hardware shops and chemist shops. At home, sharp modelling knives and soldering irons. Oh yes, and I was playing with mains electricity too. Building my own railway controllers in old biscuit tins…

They can’t do any of that now. Childhood is now extended to age 23 and keeps going up. I had learned not to damage myself and how to handle dangerous things by the age of 16 and the one thing I would never have trusted my 16-year-old self to do was to vote.

And yet now, with all those things pushed away past the age where they would be most fun, with childhood extended to 20-odd year olds in onesies, drinking milky coffee from sippy cups, we are to let 16-year-olds vote.

The Left thinks all those 16-year-olds will vote for them.

How about all those thousands of girls groomed and gang raped by the people Labour demanded have special status, while Labour ignored – and continues to belittle and scoff at – those crimes?

How about their brothers and sisters, many of whom are now over 16?

Who would they vote for, I wonder?

If they succeed in giving 16 year olds the vote, I have a feeling it might not go the way they think it will.

But then, nothing else they do has gone as they planned, has it?

 

Short story competitions

Dirk has brought to my attention some short story competitions. These are only open to already-published authors so those who have published through Leg Iron Books might be eligible.

I’m not, because they only want authors who have been published in the UK and Ireland, and the novels I had published were put out by an American publishing house. Republishing my stuff under Leg Iron Books doesn’t count – as I am both author and publisher it would still be self-publishing.

For those with a scary story in mind, The Horror Zine will soon be looking for stories for a ghost anthology. Must be a ghost story, must be scary. The general e-zine is horror fiction, poetry and art – the ghost limitation only applies to the anthology. This is a highly rated e-zine and well worth getting into if you can. The details of the anthology aren’t on the site yet. I’ll put up details when they appear. This one takes stories in English from anywhere in the world and welcomes first-timers. No need to be previously published, but the standard has to be really good. New stories only.

Back to the competitions. I did have a moment of wondering at the point of only accepting entries from established authors. That’s no way to find new talent. Still, their gaff, their rules. It does ensure all the entries are from someone who can write to publication standard so they have less filtering to do.

The Sunday Times competition is a big one with a massive prize so you’re going to be up against some really talented writers. You guys can do it though. It’s open to anyone from anywhere but you must have been published in the UK or Ireland. Not self published, not vanity-press (the ones where you pay someone to ‘publish’ you, when all they have really done is print a few copies for you). Leg Iron Books is possibly the tiniest publisher on the face of the Earth but it still counts.

The Sunday Times one is closed until June, they open for entries in June and close in October. Plenty of time to get something really polished up. And if they don’t like it, it’s still useable for an anthology.

The BBC/Cambridge University competition is likely to require you to be politically correct. It doesn’t say that but it’s the BBC and a university so keep the stories leaning to the left or totally politically neutral.

The deadline is 12th March 2018 – just over a month. Read the rules carefully because the first filter for any competition like this is – does it fit the rules? If not, then it’s dumped without reading it. They have to filter the submissions down and that’s the easiest first test. Everyone will do this, it’s not sinister or sneaky, it’s how it’s done.

Sections 2.8 and 2.8.1 are where the publication part comes in. Leg Iron Books fits the criteria for ‘established publisher’, surprisingly enough. It certainly surprised me. However, it means any author published by Leg Iron Books is eligible and I think that includes the anthologies, not just the single author books. Your short stories were published by Leg Iron Books, not by yourselves, and you were paid (almost everyone took it in books but that still counts). Nobody pays to be published here so as far as I can see, the criteria are fulfilled.

Not by me, unfortunately. I can’t go for these unless I get my stuff published by a different UK publisher. The rest of the LI Books authors are okay though.

The Edge Hill University award is a little different. All the others I mentioned want original, unpublished stories. This one wants single-author short story collections published by UK-resident authors during 2017. Mine are not eligible, they’re older and they were self published. The Underdog Anthologies are not eligible. Only Mark Ellot’s Blackjack or Sinistré collections fit the criteria from the LI books so far published.

If you’re not already published and you can write a scary story, the Horror Zine is the best one to get into. The really big competitions are only open to those who are already published and the criteria can vary a lot between them. The prizes, though, are often substantial and worth trying for. Even if you don’t win, you might get noticed.

Just be sure to read the rules very carefully. If you don’t fit the rules, the story is out in round one.

Round two is where they read it.