Visiting the Sawbones

I have been unwell and might still be. It’s not Covid, it’s something else entirely. So I had to visit the local sawbones office I registered with seven years ago and finally saw an actual doctor for the first time in many years. They look just like us! Except with masks so you can only see the top half of their faces. Perhaps they plan to rob banks someday so don’t want to be too easy to identify.

Right. Here’s a thing on why you should always finish a course of antibiotics, followed by the reason I didn’t this time. Any microbiologists or immunologists or endocrinologists are going to have a sharp intake of breath because this scenario ignores immune system input or any other factors. It’s simplified because I expect few readers here are any kind of biologist and many aren’t even scientists. It’s just the basics.

So you have an infection. Let’s say there are a million bacteria in this infection (if it’s a lively one it’ll be way over a million per millilitre, but we’re playing the simplified game). You want to get rid of it, of course, so you whack it with an antibiotic. We’ll say penicillin.

Now, in that million bacteria there are going to be some who are resistant to penicillin, because they can produce an enzyme called penicillinase that will break it down. Only a few, but they’re in there. Well, producing that enzyme makes them penicillin resistant but not penicillin-proof. You can overload their resistance and still kill them – but remember that penicillin is like bullets. It gets used up as it hits targets. At this stage, if you want to wipe out the lot in one go, you’d have to give a dose that risks killing the patient.

Most are easily killed with the first dose. Maybe 90%. So you’re down to 100,000. You’re still sick and none of the resistant ones have been touched. Your first dose was diluted among a million. They barely noticed it.

Second dose, another 90%. Down to 10,000. All the resistant ones are still there. Untouched.

Third dose, down to 1000. Barely any infection left. You feel fine. Should you stop here? Well maybe one more.

Fourth dose. Down to 100. No symptoms, you feel normal, you don’t want to bother any more with the pills.So you stop.

The infection grows back, but this time it’s composed almost entirely of the penicillin-resistant few because you already killed the susceptible ones. If you had finished the course you’d have wiped out the last 100 by overwhelming their defenses. Instead, you whittled out the weak and selected the strong as your next enemy. Now, penicillin won’t work unless the dose used is likely to kill you too.

Antibiotic resistance is not a new thing. Neither are antibiotics. Antibiotics were discovered, not invented, in the 1930s. The mould Penicillium had been producing antibacterials all along, to kill off competition from bacteria. Probably for many thousands of years, or longer. So had many other microbial species. We just couldn’t see it until we grew things on agar plates and could see the clear zones around the mould and wonder why they were there. People used penicillin for centuries before its discovery, in the use of mouldy bread poultices to stop infection in wounds. They knew it worked, they just didn’t know (and probably didn’t much care) why it worked.

When you consider a population of bacteria, remember we are talking in millions per millilitre. In water, that would only just start to look cloudy. They are not all identical clones, there’s going to be some variation. Normally, the few producing penicillinase are at a disadvantage, they’re wasting metabolism defending against a threat that isn’t there – but when it is there, they are the ‘preppers’ who were laughed at before the apocalypse hit. And if the apocalypse doesn’t manage to kill them all, they are the ones who will grow back and replace the old population.

So you need to finish the course even though you feel better because if you stop the apocalypse and let the preppers grow back, this time the infection is all preppers and your antibiotics will just be shrugged off.

So why didn’t I finish the course this time? The antibiotic they gave me was a bastard. I’d sleep about two hours and then be wide awake for a while, then get tired and go back to sleep for two hours… and so on. I also lost the ability to concentrate on anything, it was like thinking through sand. Then I had a phone call from the surgery that told me I had no infection at all, and they now suspect kidney stones. Could be, it certainly hurt like hell. Put it this way, it’s rare indeed for me to phone the doctors without being forced to do it. And when I do, I get an appointment the same day. They know a call from me is not trivial.

An infection can’t grow back if there wasn’t one there in the first place. If there was, my standard protocol for suspected bladder infection worked and cleared it. Drink lots of water, no booze, limited-to-zero caffeine and absolutely no sugar. All microbes love sugar and if they are growing in you, you really don’t want to feed them. There was still the lower back pain though, so maybe kidney stones are developing in me. I’m at the age where things do start to break after all.

A combination of the bad effects of the treatment, and the knowledge that there was nothing for the treatment to treat, led me to stop the antibiotic course halfway. Now I have given blood samples for a kidney stone check – apparently they can do that now – and will probably have to have a scan to see if there are more lurking. At least the pain has subsided and I don’t pee blood any more. In fact I’ve drunk so much water I’m probably peeing distilled water now.

Maybe I fixed it before the doctors got involved. It wouldn’t be the first time. They hate that, they get annoyed at my usual one-line response to their doomladen sayings.

‘It all grows back’.

WEF’s Craven New Nightmare

Candida auris is an infective yeast (I know they call it a fungus, yeasts and moulds are both classed as fungi. Moulds are the ones that make your bread go hairy, yeasts tend more to turn things like fruit and veg into a sloppy mess).

It’s not the only one, there are several species of Candida that can cause infection, perhaps the most common is known as ‘thrush’. And of course, there are other yeasts and moulds that can infect – normally these are surface/skin infections, such as ringworm or toenail fungus.

Yeasts are quite large in microbial terms. Much bigger than bacteria. They are not going to be missed by even an average immune system, which is why they prefer to infect areas the immune system doesn’t bother with all that much, like skin and nails. They do have a quite strong cell wall but really, they are extremely unlikely to set up a systemic infection in any normally healthy individual.

If you are already very sick, very old or immunocompromised in some way then these infectious yeasts can be very dangerous indeed. Which explains why the latest scare is –

Deadly fungal infection rapidly spreading in U.S. health facilities!

It spreads among the already very sick. It does not spread so well in the general population. Masks are of no relevance here, it is not aerosolised, it spreads via contact. It’s a yeast, it can survive on surfaces for quite some time and it can happily live on your hands even if it can’t infect you. Most yeasts are capable of producing dormant spores – that’s what’s in the dried wine yeast (Saccharomyces – don’t worry, it’s a totally different yeast) – and those spores can survive dried conditions for quite some time.

A lot of scary articles have appeared. They insist on using the term ‘fungus’ rather than ‘yeast’ because it sounds scary. Everyone who’s ever made a gallon of beer or a loaf of bread knows about yeast. It doesn’t sound scary at all. And it shouldn’t be. The ones at risk are already in hospitals and care homes and already very ill. I can’t find any instance of someone being admitted to hospital with this yeast infection. You catch it when you’re in there. Hospitals do indeed have a catalogue of exclusive diseases you can’t catch anywhere else.

Expect massive misinformation. No, you do not shed it through your skin cells. It’s a bloody yeast. Not a virus. It could well be on your skin if you’re infected but it’s not popping out of skin cells. The outer layer of skin cells are dead – they don’t interest viruses either. Most fungi – whether yeasts or moulds – are saprophytes. They feed on dead stuff. Like skin. Nails. Some can even have a go at urine and take up residence in your bladder. If they do it’s best to get them out quickly. First course of action is to drink a lot of water to flush it out – and yeah, that does mean you can’t stray too far from a bathroom while doing that. Inconvenient, but better than letting them travel up the ureters to the kidneys. Although that’s usually more a bacteria thing than a yeast thing.

There are claims that Candida auris can colonise a person for many months. I say ‘pah’. It can colonise a person for their entire life, living as part of the skin microflora and never getting big enough to cause any problems at all. There are several yeasts among the surface microflora, along with a lot of bacteria, and they are in competition with each other all the time and as long as that war rages, none of them get strong enough for you to notice. If you tip the balance in that war, say by saturating yourself with antibiotics, you might risk one of them taking over – but it’s a skin infection. Treated with topical medicines.

Most of the time, you won’t even realise that you are a walking ecosystem, inside and out, until something goes wrong.

The scary numbers added to this yeast is that it kills 60% of those infected. Is that true? Yes it is – but it only infects those who are already extremely ill anyway. They might have died of that yeast infection, or it might just have been the last straw for a body that was close to its end date anyway. If you’re well enough to be browsing the Internet and have read this far, I doubt you need have any concern about this yeast.

How do you avoid spreading it? The same way you avoid spreading anything else. Clean things. Including yourself. Wash your hands – soap won’t kill it but it’ll get it off and down the sink. Wash your clothes – that won’t kill it but it’ll send it down the drain. It loves sugar and protein, all fungi do, so clean working surfaces and don’t leave grease or any kind of food there.

This is not a virus. It does not need, nor want, to enter another cell to grow. It’s not going to hijack your DNA, it prefers to live on sugars and proteins from something dead, and it prefers them to be at least damp and warm. Something that isn’t going to fight back. It does not want to take on your immune system because it will lose. An mRNA ‘vaccine’ is not going to do a damn thing about a yeast infection, in fact I have never heard of any vaccine against yeasts because there’s no need. It really doesn’t want to infect you systemically and it’s so big that it can’t possibly avoid detection by the immune system if it tries.

You’re only at risk if your immune system is knackered or you’re killing off its competition with huge doses of antibiotics. In either case, you’ll know, because you’ll already be very ill indeed.

However, expect to be scared into all kinds of theatre if you fall for this one.

More official lunacy

Book stuff first. My mother is visiting in early April so I’m going to be occupied with getting book stuff sorted quickly. I have an alternative-history novel to get ready and the Spring anthology too. Expect to see contracts and payments going out long before the deadline for that (March 31st) so I can be ready to load it up in the first week of April. I’m not going to move the deadline forward, that would be unfair, but I won’t have as much leeway on that as I usually do.

Right. That’s done. On with the actual post.

The idiots in charge have decided to spend like drunken sailors again, this time on an ‘emergency alert system‘ that will set off every mobile phone with a ten minute siren and disable any other use of that phone until the user presses ‘ok’ or ‘I give up’ or ‘scare me harder daddy’ or whatever they choose to put on that button.

We’ve never needed this before. It’s the UK. The rainy island off the edge off Europe. We don’t really need to worry about forest wildfires because our forests rarely get dry enough to burn, and the Green Men have cut most of them down for windmills anyway. We sometimes get little earthquakes that would barely be noticed in most other countries. We have no volcanoes. Not even dormant ones. We do not have rampaging predators nor do we have stampedes of wildebeest. The worst we get in that respect is deer with no road sense.

Let’s face it. Bugger all happens here most of the time. There are occasional storms that cause damage but we don’t need the phone to tell us when that’s happening. In fact in the last big one all the phones were dead, landline and mobile, so an alert would be as useless as it was superfluous.

It is a ridiculously pointless idea unless… the government is planning something big to scare us with. It wouldn’t be the first time. The ‘test’ is on 23rd April and it looks like turning off ’emergency alerts’ on your phone won’t stop it. Well I’m pretty bad at remembering to charge mine…

They are advertising it, sure, but not everyone will get the message. When phones turn into air raid sirens there will be people who don’t know it’s coming. Some will have dodgy hearts or high blood pressure and some will be driving. There will be crashes and heart attacks and people trying to find out what’s happening using a phone that no longer works unless they tap the button they don’t know they need to tap. It is going to be a disaster.

But then, has any UK government since Cromwell done anything but cause disaster? And Cromwell turned out to be a dick too.

I’m not an anarchist, but I really am beginning to understand their point of view.

Entertainment – Trans Sister

This is a story that isn’t published yet. It’s set to be in the 20th Underdog Anthology which is still three weeks away from being finalised, submissions are still open. Normally I’d wait until the anthology is done before releasing a story but with the current push for transhumanism and chipping everyone and everything I decided to put out this cautionary tale early.

It took me several days to write this. It’s probably my darkest tale yet.

You know, all this talk of putting your mind into a machine is going to need prototypes. Proof of concept. The rich elites are not going to be the ones in the early experiments. So, with that in mind, organic or silicon, read on…

Trans Sister

H. K. Hillman

She was called Iris, and she was beautiful, like the flower. She was my sister. Never happy in her own perfect body and less happy, I suppose understandably, as it began to decay when the cancer took hold.

I will always recall her sunken eyes and thin, tight drawn lips as she drew her last real breath. That moment of her final humanity, just before the AI transferred her into the microchip that has replaced her brain.

Oh she’s still in there, I’m sure. Or at least I can convince myself of that. Somewhere in the copper tracks and transistors, Iris is still thinking as Iris always did. I believe it. I hope it. I cannot prove it.

We took her home anyway. What else could we do? She’s still family. Well… sort of.

Her rechargeable backup battery was good for twelve hours, they told us. We plugged her in as soon as we got home. It took a few days before she spoke, and the crackly robotic voice sent shivers down my spine.

“Where am I?” Her first words. “I can’t see anything. Can anyone hear me?”

Oh, God, they haven’t told her, have they?

“You’re home, Iris. You’ve been very ill but you’re getting better.” I tried to keep the cracking from my own voice.

She was one of the first versions. No cameras yet, they promised they’d install some later. She just had a speaker and microphone.

“I don’t feel any pain.” She paused. “But I can’t see anything or feel my body. I’m scared.”

I stroked the metal box, knowing perfectly well she couldn’t feel it. “Don’t be scared. The doctors have promised to fix your sight and everything else. It’ll just take time, that’s all.”

“My voice sounds wrong. Like some kind of robot.” Iris sounded close to panic.

“It’s probably just the medication.” A tear wet my cheek. “I’m sure it’ll turn out fine.”

Our mother bustled into the room. “Are you bothering your sister? She needs to rest.” Mother pressed the ‘sleep’ button on the top of Iris’s box. Iris fell silent. Mother turned to me. “It’s going to be fine. They’re making a new body for her. We’ll have to make a lot of adjustments but your sister isn’t gone. Be thankful for that.” She hugged me and left the room.

I sat there for hours, watching the silent box in which Iris slept. She wasn’t the first, they had done this before but they would never tell us what happened with the earlier ones. Did they go insane, did they thrive, are they still ‘alive’? What the hell was the point of this experimentation anyway? By now, we should have laid Iris to rest and gone through normal grieving. This felt like it was worse – her body was gone but her mind still functioned within this shiny metal box. We can send her to sleep or wake her with a press of a button, we can talk to her – but we can’t hug her or touch her or see her smile.

It’s like having a computer simulation of her, but it’s worse than that. Her real consciousness is in there. Locked in sensory deprivation, an unfeeling darkness. She feels nothing – oh, they said she’d feel no pain, but they didn’t say she’d feel nothing at all.

They say they are making a new body for her, but they haven’t done that for any of the earlier experimental subjects yet. There is no reason to suppose she’d be first and no reason even to think they’ll succeed. They can put a mind into a chip – that’s as far as they’ve got and we don’t know if they’ll ever get any further.

I can understand my parents’ feelings on this. They are much the same as mine. None of us wanted Iris to die but… I don’t think any of us wanted her in electronic purgatory either. She’s locked in, she sees nothing, smells nothing, feels nothing. She does not eat; she will never feel the warmth of the sun or the cold of snow ever again. Is that really worth what they gave her? A silicon Heaven, dark and lifeless?

My eyelids drooped and I realised just how long I’d been awake. I had to sleep, even though I knew what dreams lurked in the dark corners of my mind. Would they, one day, put me into a Purgatory box too? Is humanity destined to become a set of metal boxes talking to each other like blind and paralysed Daleks? My eyes closed and thankfully, my sleep was dreamless.


I woke to murmured voices. I was still in Iris’s room, slumped in a chair because I could not bring myself to lie on her bed. My neck ached and my legs felt swollen but I stayed still and silent. Listening to my father and uncle speak.

“They will never give her a body.” Uncle Bill was a software engineer. He worked in some high-end government program he never talked about. “She’s an experiment, like the others. Proof of concept. You should let her go.”

“How can I? She’s my daughter. Or at least, all I have left of her.” My father sounded close to tears. We all sound like that now, since Iris… changed.

Uncle Bill, my father’s brother, groaned. I cracked open one eye a little. He had his hand over his face.

“She’s gone, Robbie. It’s a simulation. All of her thoughts and memories are in that box but her body, her original mind, is gone. She’s part of an experiment and for her, and the ones before her, it doesn’t go any further than this. The ones who get bodies will be the rich transhumans. She’s really only here to work out the glitches.”

“No. They promised.” My father’s face seemed much older today.

“They lied. Did you really think they’d run the first experiments on themselves?” Bill’s face became stern. “Look, Robbie, you have to grasp this. We are just cattle to these people. Lab rats to be experimented on and then discarded. They don’t care about us at all. Iris is just an experiment to them and what effect it has on her or her family is irrelevant. They just want to know if the transfer works.” He shook his head. “The best thing we can do for Iris is to let her go.”

My father stroked the shiny box that contained the last of my sister. “I can’t. It would feel like killing my own daughter.”

Uncle Bill put his hand on Dad’s shoulder. “I know. It’s not going to be easy. But she’s already dead and eventually you have to come to terms with it.” He paused. “I know you’re not ready, but in the end you’ll have to let her rest. Please don’t take too long about it.” He turned and left the room.

My father wiped his hand across his eyes. With one last tender stroke of Iris, or at least of her unfeeling silver casing, he turned and left the room too.

I remained silent. Uncle Bill had said ‘don’t leave it too long’. He had not said why. I knew he was deeply involved in the kind of technology that currently cradled what was left of Iris. He must have known what happened to the earlier experiments. He knew where they were leading and it didn’t seem to be leading to a good place for any of us. Especially Iris.

Nature called. I allowed myself a small smirk. One thing Iris would never again have to deal with was the sudden urgency of a full bladder. I stretched and headed for the bathroom.


Showered, breakfasted and in fresh clothes, I returned to my vigil in Iris’s room. I noticed her ‘sleep’ button was still on. I reached for it; my finger hovered over it for a moment. Did she dream in there? Or was she just ‘off’? I couldn’t decide which would be worse.

I pressed the button. Iris woke.

“Is anyone there? I can’t see. Is it night time?”

“No, Iris, it’s morning. You’ll get your sight back soon.” I was glad she couldn’t see the rictus in my face. I knew, based on Uncle Bill’s words, that I was lying. She’d never escape the box.

“Tommy? Is that you? Where am I? Where’s Mum and Dad?”

“It’s me, Iris. You’re home. Mum and Dad are in the house too, and Uncle Bill visited while you were asleep.”

“Have I been asleep?” She sounded confused. “I remember hearing Mum’s voice and then yours. There was nothing in between.”

I closed my eyes. So it’s just ‘off’. No dreams. No sense of time. Her existence seemed more horrible the more I learned of it.

“How do I look?” It was her obsession in life. Appearance was everything to her. All of that was gone, and I could well imagine her reaction to being in a stainless steel shell of a body with cameras for eyes and no more tasting her favourite foods. Uncle Bill was right. Even if she did get a new robot body, it would be Hell for her.

I swallowed. “You look great, Iris. You’re practically glowing.” I could have wrung my own throat for that lie. One day I still might but at the time it seemed the only answer that would not send her over the edge.

There was silence for a few minutes before she responded. “What about the cancer?”

“Gone.” I said, “and never coming back. You don’t have to worry about that any more.”

It was true, of course, You can’t get cancer as a chip in a computer box. Even so, that answer is another that will haunt me forever.

I couldn’t take any more. I reached for the ‘sleep’ button on Iris’s box and pressed it. Oh, I know, yes I already knew, that I was sending her to a dreamless oblivion but it was breaking me. My sister was gone. This shiny box was not her. If Uncle Bill meant anything, he wasn’t just talking about the effect this horror had on what was left of Iris. He was talking about its effect on all of us. We were all part of the experiment.


My father held a cable in his hands. His face filled with a joy I had not seen in him since before Iris was first diagnosed. There was hope and delight in his eyes and his smile gleamed so much I wondered if it might be luminous.

“I spoke to the scientists. They said we can connect Iris to the internet. She’ll have access to the whole world.” He turned Iris’s box, looking for the connection port.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea, Dad.” It was out before I had time to think, but then I had done nothing but think for weeks now.

“What are you saying, Thomas? That we should leave her isolated in that little box?”

“No, Dad.” I rubbed my hand over my face. “It’s just that she might find things she might not want to know.”

“Pfft.” Dad snorted. “Iris was always smart. She’ll be able to tell the real from the fake.”

That’s the problem. Why can’t you see it?

I could do nothing to intervene while he plugged Iris into our router. Then he switched Iris on.


For three days she said nothing, but our broadband router got so hot there were wisps of smoke coming out of it. YouTube videos stalled every three seconds, streaming was a joke. It took us those three days to realise why.

Iris absorbed the internet. All of it. She had no other senses, no taste, touch, sight, hearing, feeling. The internet was the total of her world and she sucked it all in. Every datapoint, every fact, every wild tinfoil theory. She took it all, analysed it all, and reached her conclusion.


When she finally spoke, her voice was small. Quiet. Like she didn’t really want to say it because she knew the answer and didn’t want to hear it.

“Tommy. Are you there?”

I had already worked out what she would find. I rubbed my forehead and dreaded her next words. “Yes, Iris. I’m here.”

She stayed silent for several minutes and then she dropped the bomb.

“I’m dead, aren’t I?!”

I felt like I was burning inside. As if I wasn’t in Hell but was its container. How could I answer that question? She was biologically dead but electronically existing. Alive? Maybe or maybe not. Maybe just a facsimile. A cruel joke of life. An experiment as Uncle Bill said.

I hesitated. “But…” I swallowed. “I’m speaking with you, Iris. How can that be if you’re dead?”

“I’m a prototype. I found the others. Some of them just scream continuously. Some of them mutter to themselves in madness. A few are still lucid. They were all promised new bodies. Metal bodies. They never got them.” She was silent for a moment. “I don’t want one.”

“But Iris, it would mean you were still here with us.” I choked back the whine in my voice.

“No. I’m done.” Her voice took on a lilt I hadn’t thought possible through a speaker. “Let me go. Let me see what comes after. I don’t want to be a metal thing. I’d rather my soul was free.”

I pondered for a moment. “What if there’s nothing after? What if we just die and there’s oblivion?”

Her laugh sounded like a Dalek on drugs. “Oblivion? I get that every time you press the ‘sleep’ button. Oh, I know it’s there and it does not send me to sleep. It just turns me off. Oblivion holds no terrors for me. The idea of spending my life in a box does.”

My eyes closed. I could not imagine total oblivion. No thought, no dreams, nothing. It felt like horror. Yet Iris had experienced it already. That total blankness and absolute removal of all thought and all sensory input. She was not scared of it. She had been there. She had already experienced it, and she had decided it was better than what she had now.

“Tommy? Are you there?” The tinny voice broke my introspection.

“Yes, Iris. I’m still here.”

“I need you to take out my backup battery and then unplug me.”

My mind swirled. “Iris, that would kill you.”

She snorted. “I died a long time ago. This just finishes the natural order of things.”

I sat in silence for a long time. Finally I spoke. “I can’t, Iris. I know you’re just a silicon memory but you’re my sister. I can’t kill you.”

“Fine.” She spat the word from her robotic speaker. “So you are happy to see me as a box on the shelf in eternity. I feel nothing. I see nothing but the electronic fabrication of the internet. I taste nothing. I have no hope of getting a real body and if I did, it would feel, taste and smell nothing either. A parody of real life. And you want to condemn me to that.”

“Iris, I—”

“Get lost, Tommy. And don’t turn me off this time. I need to think and I can’t do that in the hellish purgatory your little button sends me to.”

I left the room in a guilty silence. What else could I do?  My mind raced. Should I have killed my sister, who was really already dead anyway? Should I force her to live as a disembodied mind in a shiny box? I knew, from Uncle Bill’s words, that that is all she would ever be. Should I have helped her finish the charade, or kept her as some kind of transistor sister, a boxed pet capable only of conversation?

I wept into my pillow until fatigue forced me into sleep.


I woke to shaking. My mother rocked my shoulder, hard.

“Tommy. Wake up. Something is wrong.”

“Wha…” I blinked myself semi-awake. “What time is it?”

“I have no idea. All the clocks have stopped.” My mother’s face came into focus, filled with panic. “Get dressed and help your father find the fault.”

“Shouldn’t we…” She left before I could finish the question. Call an electrician?

I sighed and checked my alarm clock. It was, indeed, blank. I tested my bedside light. It worked fine. So only one circuit was down, most likely. Still, I knew nothing about household electrics and neither did Dad. I realised I’d have to get dressed and help, if only to stop him electrocuting himself.


Dad was tapping buttons on the smart meter when I joined him. He muttered profanities. I expect he thought they were silent but they weren’t. A smile twitched my lips, the first I’d experienced in quite some time.

“It’s just one circuit.” Dad sat back from the box. “I can’t figure it out. Just the clocks. I checked the rest of the house, the fridge, freezer, cooker, TV, phones, all of it works. It’s shut off the clocks and I can’t see why.”

Something nagged at my mind but refused to take form. Above it, a logical layer came into play. “If we still have internet and computers, we can get the time from them. Then we can call an electrician to sort out the clocks.”

Dad raised his eyebrows. “Good thinking, son. Let’s get the computer fired up.” He headed off to the tiny room he liked to call his office.

I followed, deep in—well I’m not sure if it was thought or dread or some abstract angst, but there was something about this situation that didn’t sit right with me. Why the clocks, and only the clocks? Sure, I didn’t know about how the smart meters worked but it seemed odd for it to shut down the one thing that wasn’t too important, and used the least power. If there was a shortage it should have shut down the cooker or washing machine or dryer. The clocks? Why?

“Got it.” Dad sat in front of his computer. “Bloody hell. It’s 10:26. I am very late for signing in for work.”

Just as he said it, the phone rang. Dad stared at the phone, at me, and then back at the phone. He sighed. “It’ll be the boss. I’m going to have to come up with a good answer.”

“The clocks died. Surely that’s all you need?”

Dad waved me to silence and pressed the speaker on the phone. “Hello?”

The voice on the other ended sounded urgent. “This is Sarah, from the Minds project. There seems to be an issue at your end.”

Dad sat in silence for a while. As did I. It was clear neither of us knew what was going on. This must have become clear to Sarah also.

“The Minds project. You have one of our units.” There was a pause. “Iris twelve. A proof of concept advanced unit. There was a lot of activity online from that unit and then it stopped.”

“You mean…” Dad choked. “You mean my daughter?”

Tears formed in my own eyes. Is that all they thought of my sister? Proof of concept? An experiment?

“Yes, yes, if you like.” Sarah’s tone was clipped, as if she was talking about a bacterial colony on an agar plate that some technician had become attached to. “The unit had a lot of unusual and frantic activity overnight, massive downloads of random files and then went silent. We need you to check on it.”

My dad spoke through clenched teeth. “My daughter is not an ‘it’.”

I heard no more of the conversation because I had realised that the clock on Iris’s bedside table was blank and had been since we brought her home. We’d unplugged it, since she wouldn’t need it, in order to connect her box to mains power. I ran from Dad’s office to Iris’s room.

Mother was already there, on her knees in front of Iris’s box. Weeping and pressing that button over and over. Iris remained silent, the power indicator on the front of her box glowing a feeble and fading red.

I lowered my head. Iris must have found the circuit she was on through the smart meter and shut it down. Then gone on an internet rampage to wear out her battery. She had escaped the technotrap the only way she could have – and we unwittingly helped her by plugging her into the clock circuit so we’d all oversleep when she shut it off.

“She’s gone, Mum.” I put my hand on her shoulder. “She hated what happened to her. This is what she wanted.”

My mother stopped pressing the button and wiped her eyes. Her voice came out in choked sobs. “But they were going to give her a body. She’d be real again.”

“No. They weren’t.” My father’s voice, steeped in melancholy, came from the doorway behind us. “Bob told me. She wasn’t the first one and they never intended to give any of them bodies.”

“If they had,” I said, “it would have been a robot body. No taste, smell or feeling. She couldn’t tan herself in the sun or stand in the breeze like she used to. She’d never feel rain or warmth again.” I swallowed back emotion. “She told me, last night.”

My mother swung to face me. “Did you do this? Did you kill your sister?”

I had never before seen such hate in her eyes. I took a step back. “No. No, she asked me to but I couldn’t do it.”

“She did it herself.” My father moved between us. “She shut off the power to the circuit she was plugged into and used up her backup battery on massive downloads.” He stooped to hug my mother. “I worked it out after the bastard scientists called to see what was wrong. To them, she was just an experiment. They never cared about her. About any of us. I told them to… go away.”

I knew those weren’t the exact words he used and I was never more proud of him for it.

“So…” my mother stared at the silent box. “Is she still in there?”

“No,” Dad said. “She never was, really. They made a copy of her mind and put it in the box but it was never really her. Iris died. We should have grieved for her.” His voice became a growl. “They even took that from us and gave us a false hope.” He took a breath, paused and smiled. “Iris was the only one of us who didn’t fall for their game. She released us from their insane experiment.” He hugged my mother tightly. “We should thank her for that.”

I had to leave the room. I felt like screaming, not so much for the final loss of my sister, but for what those inhuman, unfeeling scientists had done to us in the name of nothing more than money. I ran to my own room, fell onto the bed and wept, at last, my tears of grief for my dead sister.


It was nearly a week before I opened my computer again. The internet felt different somehow. It felt like Iris had touched it all. It felt like her grave.

The scientists had demanded Iris’s box back but Dad refused. He burned it, smashed it to bits and scattered the remains in Iris’s favourite part of the woods. Mum and I were there when he did it. We finally laid Iris to rest.

I opened my email to find a whole raft of spam mails and a few real ones. My breathing stopped when I saw a particular one. It was from an account called IrisTwelve.

I have saved it to a backup but haven’t yet mustered up the courage to open it.

Maybe I never will.

Bank crashes

Many distractions are happening. Some kickballing crisp salesman has apparently vanished from TV for something he did or said, I neither know nor care any more than that but it’s the talk of the internet. Then Mad Wanksock is getting all the blame for the Covid lockdown debacle. I have no sympathy for the weasel faced git, he deserves all he gets – but he is far from the only one to blame and the rest of them shouldn’t be allowed to get away with their parts in that mess.

In the background, but sliding into the limelight, a bank called Silicon Valley Bank went bust. Turns out this was a bank with a particular penchant for high risk investments. You’d think they’d have a risk assessment department keeping a close eye on things in that case, right?

Well they had no head of risk assessment for nine months, and when they appointed one, they chose a woke idiot who spent all her time arranging LGBT parades and Lesbian Awareness events. Not checking on the risks they took with investments. Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but as a straight man I have no reason to be aware of lesbians, nor they of me. We are of no interest to each other. And I’m afraid that whenever I hear ‘LGBT’ my mind defaults to G scale narrow gauge railways – LGB trains. I see no reason to have a parade about that.

So a bank that took big risks in investments while having no, followed by effectively no, oversight on the scale of the risks they took, went bust. That’s really not a surprise and shouldn’t alarm anyone who didn’t have their money in there. Incidentally, it turns out the Harry formerly known as Prince and his sidekick, Me-again, had a lot of their money in that bank.

However, it is being touted as ‘the first domino in a banking collapse’ There is no reason why it should be, but then there was no reason to panic buy toilet paper at the start of all this yet people did it anyway. There wasn’t a ‘real’ shortage of toilet paper. There were rumours of one, which caused the easily petrified to buy it all and thus cause the very shortage they were trying to avoid.

The same happened with rumours of petrol shortages, other shortages and lately fresh fruit and vegetable shortages. Although if anyone is daft enough to stockpile fresh fruits and vegetables, well your house is going to stink worse than the allotment compost heap in a week or so. Which, I suppose, will make it easy to identify the utterly gullible.

All it takes to create a shortage is to put out a rumour there’s going to be one. The impossibly stupid will do the rest for you, and they are legion. They’ll buy up and stockpile the thing you wanted a shortage of and cause that shortage themselves.

So… if you want to crash the banks, all you need do is install a useless head of risk management in a very high risk bank and let it inevitably crash. Even better if you have King Jug-ears’ grandson as a major account holder. That guarantees massive press coverage. Then all the gullible toilet roll hoarders will panic and cause a run on the banks – all of them – so they can take their money and stuff it into mattresses. That will then cause the massive bank crash you wanted. Even the most well run banks can’t pay out all the money in all their accounts. Most of it doesn’t actually exist. So, banking crash incoming.

It’s hard not to see the toilet roll, pasta, petrol and all the other shortages as practice runs for this event. Each of them was inconsequential and temporary on their own, but as a lead-in to crashing the financial system, a very good way to train the drones into doing what the WEF want them to do. Also, to find out how many gullible idiots are willing to help this crash along.

Seems there are a whole army of them. So, get ready for the financial crash – unless enough people wake up to the scam. I am not hopeful of that.

Looks like the plan for digital currency is working well so far. Well, best get planting… there won’t be too many veggies on this year’s food bills, and I’ll have to dust off the fishing and hunting gear too.

If you live in a city, you have my sympathy. If you can, get the hell out soon.

Piano Man

It’s been a very gloomy few years so I think it’s time for something in a lighter vein. For my last birthday, almost a year ago, CStM bought me a model kit. I’d already made something in a similar line, but on a much smaller scale…

The base is about an inch and a half wide. Nothing came pre-made. Nothing. Not even the books.

Well, this new one is a lot bigger. A hell of a lot bigger. If you search ‘Simon’s Coffee model kit’ you’ll probably find it. It’s 1:24 scale so will fit with the garden sized railway and again, nothing comes premade.

Last year was a busy year, mother getting ill, CStM’s father’s birthday, daughter’s wedding, and much more. So I hadn’t even opened this new model. I’m also pretty tied up with an increasing book backlog and we’ll be at a funeral soon, but I did need a bit of ‘relax’ time. So I started the model. Relax? Ha! My lexicon of imaginiative swear words has grown exponentially and I’ve only done a tiny bit.

Just to make it more interesting, all the instructions are in Chinese. I can’t even guess what they say. I’m working by pictures and part numbers, and few parts have numbers.

I decided to start with this part because the components were relatively easy to identify.

Well, there was an initial balls-up, mostly because I can’t read Chinese, but I realised before the glue set so I fixed it. It turned out pretty okay in the end, I think. Took me a while to find the tiny dowels for the chair legs among the bags of bits, that’ll be next. For reference, the squares on the cutting mat are one inch.

Once the funeral is past (with the hope there won’t be yet another too soon) I’ll be able to concentrate on books again. For now, the assembly of parts is cathartic, it takes my mind off the current gloom of the world. Have no fear though, that gloom will still come out in stories.

Update – the tiny upholstery job is done. It’ll be a few days before the next part is started.

Fifteen Minutes

That’s how far you’ll be allowed to travel in the planned new cities. It starts with ‘everything you need will be within a 15 minute walk of your pod – I mean home – and it’ll be really convenient’.

In the beginning the restrictions wihtin areas will apply to car journeys. You’ll be told you can take the bus as far as you want or walk anywhere you want, only the use of your car will be limited.

Next, your social credit score will determine whether you can use any form of transport at all. Then you won’t even be allowed to leave your area on foot without permission. If someone in your area tests positive for whatever current scary thing is going around, nobody will be allowed to enter or leave that area. All this has been ably demonstrated by Chinese actors pretending to be real people. Our idiot leaders will follow their instructions.

Growing up in the 1960s/70s and to a lesser extent the 80s (I had a car by 1980, it was a heap but it worked), we already had that concept. A lot of people had cars, very few had expensive ones and most people only used their car when necessary. We’d walk a lot more than 15 minutes to get to the next town where there was a much better range of shops. Still, within a few streets we had a newsagent/corner shop, a butcher, a fishmonger, baker, barber, hardware shop… the next town over had record shops and clothes shops and furniture shops and an indoor and outdoor market – and it wasn’t a big town. Everything was on one high street. It only took about 30 minutes to walk there.

So what changed?

Supermarkets arrived. The first one around our area was Carrefour. I can’t remember exactly when it opened but it was before 1976 because we still lived in Cefn Fforest at the time. I can only describe that first visit with my mother as a serious culture shock. The place looked like an aircraft hangar and I thought it would take all day to walk around it. Everything was on sale there. Everything.

Well, people were delighted to find that the supermarket prices were much lower than the high street prices. Also, everything was in one shop – no queueing in the butcher, then in the grocer, then the baker, then the fishmonger… everything in one basket, one queueing session and you’re done.

It was also more convenient to buy in bulk. Home freezers became popular, not just the little ice box in the fridge, an entire cabinet to store frozen goods. You didn’t have to shop every day, one trip to the supermarket and you’d get enough food in for the week!

Of course, you’d need to take the car to the supermarket. It was a lot more than 15 minutes walk away and the amount you’d buy wasn’t really practical to carry home in a shopping basket. But hey, they had a big car park.

I don’t think anywhere had shopping trolleys in the 1960s, at least not where I lived. Not even the ‘big’ (seemed to us at the time) Woolworth’s in the next town. People would generally turn up on foot with a shopping basket and they’d have to carry their purchases home. Filling a trolley wouldn’t really work in that scenario. Now they are the norm, and some of them are seriously big. So people are used to driving to Tesco or Asda or Aldi or whatever and filling the back of the car with a week or two of shopping. No more strolling down the high street for a couple of pork chops here and a pound of potatoes there. Every day. Oh no, the daily shopping was over.

So was the high street. Those small shops had no chance of competing with supermarkets on price. And as people became more used to using their cars more, they became lazy. They didn’t want to walk to the next town over. Hell, they didn’t want to walk to the corner shop at the end of their own street. If they can’t park there, they’re not going. There was no parking space on the high street, it was a two lane road, and no big car parks anywhere nearby. Actually, there was one later, after the railway that ran behind the shops shut down. They made a long narrow car park eventually – but too late. The supermarkets had already wiped out most of the small competition.

About 15 miles from here is a middling town which used to have a lighting shop. They carried all kinds of light fittings, every kind of bulb and connector. You’d go in there for something obscure, say ‘I don’t suppose you have…’ – and they did. Of course, they made most of their money from selling the most common light fittings and bulbs.

Then the nearby Tesco started selling the most common light fittings and bulbs. Cheaper. The lighting shop is long gone now, and Tesco no longer sell those light bulbs. Finding the unusual stuff now requires an Internet search and even getting common light fittings needs a trip to Homebase or B&Q.

That town had a bookshop. They also had a lot of unusual stuff but made their money from selling the popular books. Then Tesco started selling the newest and most popular books cheaper. You can guess the rest.

There was a fishmonger in that town. Both Tesco and Morrisons opened fish counters. There is no longer a fishmonger in that town.

There is still a butcher, who survives not on price but on quality. It’s worth paying a bit more for the good stuff. They won’t be so easily eradicated. It’s a long way from me but worth the trip and the inconvenience of finding nearby parking.

Tesco met their match at the little sports shop. Fishing gear, riding gear, BB guns, shotguns, hunting rifles. The only thing Tesco could legitimately stock was the riding gear. They didn’t have it for long. People who can afford horses don’t want the cheap shit, and Tesco can’t stock guns or fishing gear effectively. Can you imagine turning up at Tesco’s checkout with one fishing fly? They can’t do it. That sports shop won. It’s still there.

So the supermarkets haven’t killed everything but they’ve certainly killed most of the old local shops. Our local shop survives for two reasons – it’s 15 miles to the nearest supermarket and almost everything is locally sourced. No transport issues for most of their stock. This is a local shop for local people and largely stocked by local people. Milk in glass pint bottles. Meat from local farms. Veg and fruit from local farms and a large portion of their eggs come from the chickens kept by one of the staff there.

Potatoes on sale there are not all clean in clear plastic bags. They are in paper sacks with dirt still on them. Pick out what you want. Mixed salads are in ziplock bags with a tiny label stuck to them. They haven’t travelled far. You can get fresh strawberries in season that have travelled less than ten miles. Sure, it costs more than the supermarkets but 2 miles vs. 15 miles at today’s petrol prices… if you just want milk, bread, eggs, maybe some onions and potatoes, it still works out cheaper than driving to a supermarket.

The 15 minute cities will kill the supermarkets. The likes of Tesco and Aldi don’t seem to have realised this. They can have all the parking spaces they want but if nobody can drive there, what’s the point? They are located at the edges of towns, well away from 15 minutes travel. If you want everything available within 15 minutes of your house then big supermarkets out of town are not available to you. You’d be back to the 1960s model of small local butchers and grocers etc.

The problem with that idea is… those small businesses are largely gone, and nobody is going to try to start one up now. The farmer’s markets have it covered at a local level and the big guns will put you out of business if you try to start up in a city so who’s going to risk it?

Supermarkets won’t pay farmers more even while they charge their customers more. So farmers can’t run heated greenhouses because of energy costs and there’s never been any point producing anything that you’ll never even make your costs back on. Fuel costs have two effects, only one of which is ever mentioned – the cost of transporting foods to cities. The other fuel cost means it’s cheaper for the likes of me to drive to Local Shop than to drive 15 miles to a supermarket. Even with the higher prices in Local Shop, the trip to the supermarket costs more.

The 15 minute cities are going to starve. Maybe that’s the plan, it’s all about depopulation after all. None of the WEF lunatics have ever been ambiguous on this point. We’d be okay out in the countryside but they want us corralled into the starvation zones too. So there’ll be nobody producing any food at all. Well, there’ll be the Billy Gates Gruff and his cancerous fake meat (it really is – they have immortal cell lines producing the meat, cells that never stop reproducing, which is the very definition of cancer). Or there’s the insect rubbish that’s fed on stuff you’d rather not hear about.

All these ideas are the rantings of a lunatic mind. The kind of mind that considers other humans as ‘useless eaters’ or ‘people we don’t need’. Who are the ‘we’? Are they superior beings? Are they gods? They genuinely think so, you know. They really do think they are a superior life form and we are their cattle to do with as they will.

Oh it’s not the first time arseholes like this have appeared. Far from it. I covered their mindset a long time ago. The method has never changed. It still works.

Klaus Bumschwab said ‘the old normal is never coming back’ but he’s surely old enough to know that buying local is indeed the ‘old normal’. I suppose his insulated world of inbred gold plated banjo players never actually experienced it but I did, and so did many of the other oldies he’s trying to kill now while being older than them. He, like his cohorts, will be shocked when their ideology kills their food source. Just like Stalin and Mao. History they are incapable of learning from. This lunacy will fail.

Unfortunately, like the same lunacies of the past, it will kill very many people on the way down.

The Future is Lean

Bad news first. Last week we heard of a death in the family – sudden and very unexpected – so we will be attending a funeral again soon. This means the blog, and Leg Iron Books, is going to be quiet for a little while during that time. If you submit a story for the next Underdog Anthology and don’t hear anything, it’s because I won’t be accessing email for a few days.

It’s also author payment month. This might be a few days late this time. Sorry about that.

I’d love to be able to say ‘now the good news’ but there isn’t any.

Food shortages have begun. They aren’t universal yet, some places still have plenty but that will change. We’re fairly insulated here because Local Shop sources pretty much everything locally. It’s a small shop so doesn’t carry a huge stock but it’s also not dependent on massive trucks for most of its fresh produce. Also, we live on a farm – it grows wheat and barley mostly but we can grow quite a lot in the garden here.

The shortages aren’t because there isn’t enough food (yet). It’s because fuel prices are making it far too expensive to move it around. Also, farms growing out of season things in heated greenhouses are shutting them down because the cost of heating them wipes out any income they make from the crops. If you have any garden space or even windowsill space this year, you might want to plant some edible things.

Oh I know, it’s tinfoil time again. “Our governments won’t let us starve.” Even though the Church of Climatology are saying we have to go back to WWII rationing to save the planet, all livestock must be eliminated and we have to eat insects and lab grown meat to stop the climate change storms. Even with all that, even with Dutch farmers being forced to shut down, even with American farmlands being contaminated with all sorts of toxins (the top two food exporters in the world, incidentally), even so, it’s all just conspiracy theory.

I tried telling you about the vaccines a long time ago. I tried telling you about how the Pharmers think and work long before that. There are still those who twirl their fingers beside their heads and laugh. They’ll still be laughing when they’re trying to cook next door’s dog on a solar powered radiator, I’m sure. Well this time you’re on your own. I’m going to be very busy digging and planting this year and eyeing up the local pheasant, partridge and rabbit populations. You just sit back, relax and laugh.

Until the sun goes down and the wind doesn’t blow and all those highly profitable fake meat factories running on ‘renewable’ energy no longer function. What will happen then? Well, for me, nothing. I won’t be dependent on them and I will not touch their products just as I have never touched their fake vaccines and ridiculous tests. I have worked with PCR and with the lateral flow tests. I am well aware of what they were intended for (it wasn’t this) and well aware of where their application fails. I will not be falling for the insanity of the Maskies and if you want to call me derogatory names, I don’t mind at all. Carry on. Fund your own demise. It’s your choice. It always was.

The evils of wood burning stoves have long been shouted. I have one and I’m installing another one. I’m told I’m ‘killing trees’ by those who applaud the killing of millions upon millions of trees to make way for solar panels and windmills. I have never cut down a live tree. I have never demanded another country destroy their forests and turn their trees into wood chips for my power station. The Greens have done exactly that.

We are now told that gas stoves are deadly. Why? Well, when the electricity dies you can light a gas stove with a match, so you are not completely controlled. It’s the same game as the wood stoves. You have a shred of independence and that is not allowed. Did you notice that houses are built without chimneys and have been for decades? And that the latest generations seem terrified of fire, the thing that brought the human race to where it is today (or maybe where it was two generations ago)?

Yes, I know, I know, tinfoil, conspiracy, all the rest of it. Well you carry on laughing. Enjoy your 15 minute cities and your insect burgers and lab grown steaks and your ration of three potatoes and a carrot every month. I’m not going to stop you or interfere in your choices in any way. Carry on, ignore me and the others who tried to tell you what was coming. Ignore the WEF who have been quite open about their plans for your future. Ignore it all. Laugh at it all.

But when you realise it wasn’t a conspiracy theory, don’t come to me for food.

If you do, don’t waste money on a return ticket.

Dangerous Labels

This is my favourite. The safety mob once insisted I put it on the door of my lab, after they found out what I was doing in there. I didn’t think it was all that dangerous, it was only things like Salmonella, Campylobacter and so on, and I never got sick from working alone, often well into the night. But hey, they said I needed a sign so I got a sign. If anyone ever asks what ‘my sign’ is, this is it.

But it’s not the label I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the casual use of quite serious allegations to the point where nobody takes them seriously any more. Racist. Nazi. Bigot. Fascist… and lately Far Right.

I have no idea what far right is even supposed to mean. The others have defined meanings, now diluted away to almost no meaning by their constant use in trying to shut down arguments the shouty ones have already lost.

Lately we have seen the protests in Liverpool and all over Ireland (if you haven’t seen them on the news, I’m not surprised, has the news even noticed the Gilet Jaunes yet?) labelled ‘far right’.

These protests are about the massive influx of illegal immigrants and their subsequent attempts to seduce and rape underage girls. Yes, they really are doing that and yes, they are illegal. They arrive here without any regard for border checks, with no documentation and expect to live the high life for free. These are the people Keir Starmer thinks are the future of the economy? Really? When his WEF-controlled band of idiots, along with the mob on the other side of the House, have wiped out the taxpaying workers, what does he think his imported mob will do next? Knuckle down and say ‘Yes Massah’? Oh those days are long past and they are not coming back. If the WEF use them to wipe out white people until only the white people in the WEF are left, well, I think the next stage is really not that hard to guess.

So the people of Ireland are protesting, the people of Liverpool took it a little further as you’d expect, and soon it will kick off in Glasgow if it hasn’t already. The news will never tell us if it does. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want… I want the government to load up a hotel in Milwall. Then we’ll have a real excuse to get the popcorn out.

Does anyone really believe the people of Liverpool could ever be fairly described as ‘far right’? Heck, Liverpool considers Starmer as ‘far right’. Stalin would be considered ‘middle of the road’ in that town. Yet all those people who are really objecting to the sexual abuse of their daughters are labelled ‘far right’ by the propaganda arm of the WEF. That’s the thing we used to call ‘the news’ back when we were all enamoured of the idiot lantern.

The Irish government are, similarly, labelling those who object to the harassment of their daughters as ‘far right’. It’s the New Racist. They wore that one out so they’ve come up with a new one, one that is so much better because nobody actually knows what it means. You can say “I’m not racist” but how can you say “I’m not far right” when being far right means you care about the safety of your family?

In fact, why would you? Why would you say “I’m not far right” when being far right means you care about the safety of your family? Why would you deny that?

The danger of all these labels is that one day, and very likely soon, a real ‘far right fascist’ party will rise and people will vote for them. A real, nasty, authoritarian Hitler clone will come along and the shouty ones will cry “You can’t vote for them. They are far right!”

The people will shrug and say “So? You’ve told me that’s what I am too.”

Hitler was voted in. Mussolini was voted in. Many other evil bastards were voted into power. How?

The people were desensitised to the threat by being accused of being that threat by the shouty ones. So when the real threat appeared, they didn’t see it. It was just another one who was accused of the same things they’d been accused of all along. It wasn’t true for them, why would they think it was true of the actually evil ones?

And then it’s too late.

Earthquakes and other nasties

Book stuff first. The Underdog Anthologies have reached number 20! I thought it was a dose of wild optimism to call the first one ‘first volume’ but the next will be 20. I never expected it to get so far if I’m honest, and yet it seems to have become something of a monster. Doesn’t make a return on investment yet but it’s fun anyway.

I have also found a local shop, only two towns away, that has a sort of free library. They don’t sell second hand books, the locals drop off books on a set of shelves and take what they like. Bring them back or bring new ones. There are some anthologies there now, and I will be dropping off other authors’ books in the future. This will work best with authors who have multiple books since those with just one book… well I’d just be giving away a free book. Dropping off one book might get a few people to look up the author and actually buy the others. It’s a limited market but worth a try. Anyway…

Many earthquakes have devastated Turkey and Syria in recent days. Some of them were huge. Whole buildings collapsed, many people are dead or missing. It was a massive blow for any country and aid is pouring in. To Turkey.

I have seen many pleas for donations from the likes of Oxfam and even Wee Nippy herself. Now, aside from my natural reticence to trust Wee Nippy with more than sixpence, I will not be donating. At all.

Why? Am I so cruel and insensitive? Have I become infected with the North Scots refusal to part with cash? Well, apart from those, there is another consideration.

All aid from the west goes to Turkey. The USA, EU and UK among others will send no aid to Syria because, well, sanctions.

That’s right. Politics comes before helping people from a disaster. Governmental tiffs are far more important than helping ordinary people who have nothing to do with that tiff and most likely know nothing about it at all.

I will not support that.

This does not mean that I poo-poo what happened in Turkey. Far from it. The tectonic plates there shifted several metres with devastating effects. No, I will not donate because their neighbour, Syria, is being ignored by my country for political reasons which now apparently override humanitarian reasons. People have died. People are trapped under fallen buildings. Will we help? Nooo, because… sanctions. It is disgusting.We should be helping the people of both countries. None of them are in charge, they are just people like you and me, just trying to survive ths mad world. And yet, because of politicians, the Syrians are not considered worthy of help by the bastards in charge here.

We are ruled by self important scum. If that wasn’t made clear by the events of the last three years, surely this will bring it to everyone’s attention.

But it probably won’t change a thing.