Hunger strikes and internet

The final round of visitors for the year have left. Nobody else is likely to want to visit now – it’s cold and wet and it’s dark by 4 pm. We’ve had our first icy patches, a taste of the coming winter, and the days have not yet finished shortening. Peace at last. Just to be sure, I will be circulating rumours about demons prowling the grounds in winter.

My mother has suggested we turn this place into a bed and breakfast. We’ve had a taste of what that would be like this year and it’s an absolute ‘no’ from both of us. See, neither of us actually like people very much and we don’t like getting up early. We don’t like the extra laundry generated by rapid changes of bedding and possibly most important of all, we only have one bathroom.

Add to that the absence of heating in the upstairs rooms and it would take some serious building work to make this place habitable for more than just a few people.

Anyway, the visits are over until at least late March, when the weather usually starts to become a bit less horrible, and that means lots of writing and publishing. I have a short story collection by the somewhat eccentric Gastradamus and editing is under way on the submissions so far received for the Christmas anthology. It’s going to be a big one and submissions are still open.

I have been trying to catch up with the news. Apparently Donnie Trumpton is now to be impeached because of something to do with Ukraine, but I can’t pay too much attention to other countries’ politics. Ours is in such a shambles it’s all anyone can do to keep up with it all.

Boris the Spider has promised to restore 5000 miles of railway and all the stations associated with it for 500 million shiny British pounds. We’ve all had a laugh at Diane Abbot’s flimsy grasp of real life costs, but Boris seems to be no better. 500 million would lay about a mile of track after they’ve paid for and demolished all the buildings that now exist on the old track beds. Most of the old bridges are gone, the ones left won’t be safe after half a century of neglect, and many of the tunnels have been filled in. 500 million? Hahaha.

The Keith and Dufftown Railway is a privately owned preserved line. It runs from the old Keith Town station, through a couple of wayside halts, to the old Dufftown station. It’s a favourite trip for me because it runs the old diesel multiple units I loved travelling on in the Welsh Valleys – the ones where you can sit right behind the driver and get a view through the front window.

Also because Keith is the home of Chivas Regal’s distillery and Dufftown has the Glenfiddich and Balvenie distilleries. It’s where the exceptionally smooth Singleton of Dufftown comes from. If you like ancient buildings, the ruin of Balvenie castle is also worth a visit. It’s very close to Glenfiddich’s distillery.

Now, just for once, there is a point to this digression. The old Keith Town station, now privately owned, is not too far from the main Keith station that is still operated as part of the national network. There is no longer any track between them, but the track bed is intact. The private railway would dearly love to reconnect to the main line but it costs far too much. If they could do it they would be able to provide the distilleries in Dufftown with a rail link to the main line. Yeah, there would be considerable profit, allowing the private line to actually pay the volunteers who run it now, and it would also reduce the numbers of huge trucks leaving those really big distilleries to transport whisky along the terrible roads in the area.

Boris, that might be a good place to start.

Jerry Cordite has promised free broadband for all. Yeah, right. We are still on copper-wire phone lines on posts out here. I don’t think he’s costed the more remote areas, you know. I actually get faster internet using the phone on 4G as a hotspot – but that only works in the right parts of this place because mobile reception is shit too.

Besides, as several commenters on Twitter have pointed out, if you’re going to make something free, why not water? Or electricity or gas? You know, stuff everyone needs. Not everyone uses the internet, even now, yet everyone will have to pay outrageous taxes so Jerry can give out his freebies. The taxes wouldn’t seem quite so bad if they were covering something as basic as a reliable water supply.

Ah, but it’s not really about free broadband. You’ll never see that. The first stage in making the internet ‘free’ is, of course, for government to take total control of it. Then they won’t make it ‘free’ in any sense. The government once owned British Telecom, the railways and the postal service. Was any of that ever free? Once they own something, they profit from it. You pay the costs, they take the profit. That’s socialism.

The internet under government control will be censored, monitored, and, as has just happened in Iran, switched off when the population cause the government problems.

Don’t imagine the Tories are any different. Tessie Maybe salivated at the prospect of internet control for many years, and tried to get it more than once. Government control of the internet is a terrible idea, no matter who is in charge.

I see Extinction Rebellion have rebranded as Election Rebellion, which is no surprise. They were always obviously communists using any pretext to force their ridiculous and deadly world view on us all.

They are now going on hunger strike for a week for some reason or other, I don’t know what they hope to achieve and don’t care. A week? They’ll be in Pret as soon as the sun goes down on day one. They cannot go 24 hours without their avocado toast and gingerbread lattes.

A week. I am singularly unimpressed. Muslims do this every year and they do it for a month. So the feeble watermelon warriors are going to try it for a week, once, and I bet not a single one of them makes it to Wednesday.

I once co-supervised an Indonesian student through his M.Sc. Brilliant guy, we ended up with a very good paper on ruminant microbiology from his eight weeks with us. Needless to say, he passed easily.

He was Muslim. This was back in the 1990s when we weren’t assailed with Islam this and Islam that from all sides. We thought nothing of it. He was a devout Muslim but he never mentioned it. Never tried to convert anyone. Never threatened anyone. Never demanded a prayer room or any kind of special treatment. His religion was personal to him, as it should be. And he was a very nice guy in general.

It was Ramadan, in June, in Scotland. The sun was up before 5 am and still there at 10 pm. He wasn’t eating or drinking anything during daylight hours. The poor bugger nearly passed out before we figured this out. And yet he produced work of a quality good enough to publish. While slowly starving to death.

The Watermelon Warriors, the ones who haven’t given up by Tuesday, will, on Wednesday, be on Twatter and Farcebok telling the world how they are suffering for their cause. I’ll tweet them pictures of plates piled high with food to help them cope.

Still, I suppose they’ll be well practiced for their dreamed-of Socialist future under Corbyn.

Then they’ll finally find out what ‘hunger’ really means.

Money

One of my favourite Pink Floyd songs ever.

I’m told there is an issue with commenting here, apparently Google and WordPress are each calling the other invalid. Best guess: one of them updated and ballsed something up. That’s usually the reason. Hopefully it’ll be fixed soon.

Anyway. Money. My favourite quote on the subject came fom an Andy Capp cartoon many, many years ago. Flo returns home from shopping and says ‘It’s frightening how the pound’s going down in value’. Andy responds: ‘Well it’s a good thing we don’t have many of them then, isn’t it?”

It’s pretty much how I’ve always felt about it. This feeling has only been increased by finding out about fractional reserve banking and how most money is simply created by typing numbers on a screen. I don’t need very much money. In fact, I need other people to have cash to spare because I’m always trying to sell something. If other people have no money, they can’t buy from me.

In the past I sold my knowledge as a microbiologist. I’ve retired from that now, not least because science has, by and large, become really quite silly. Food, drink, smoking, climate, and now vaping – it’s clear they are just making shit up. Not even very convincingly, I was more convincing when I explained the lack of roundabouts in America in terms of Roman invasion. This reflects on science as a whole so nobody trusts science any more. Maybe that was the plan.

These days I sell books. Mine and other peoples’ too. If there was nobody out there with disposable income, nobody would buy them. It’s tough enough now – I really don’t want other people to be poor!

Jerry Cordite has declared that there are 150 billionaires in the UK. There won’t be if he gets elected, they’ll be packed up and ready to go just in case. Can he stop them moving money? Hardly. It only takes a few keypresses these days and it’s moved to the other side of the planet. Billionaires don’t even need to book flights. They own planes. And yachts the size of cruise liners.

He also says there are 14 million in poverty. Poverty is when you have no shoes and you ride out the winter under a bridge dressed in rags. The New Poverty is where your iPhone is last year’s model and you can’t afford the latest Reeboks. There are real poverty-stricken people living on the streets but not 14 million of them. Thanks to the Green Agenda, this winter will reduce the real number significantly, as well as clearing out many of those over-70s who are too smart to vote Labour.

So Jerry thinks a fair country would have no billionaires and everyone is equal in the bread queue. Who the hell does he think owns the factories and other businesses that employ so many people and produce all that stuff? When he flushes out the billionaires, they take their business with them. There won’t be any bread at the end of that queue. Nobody is employing anyone to bake it.

I don’t care that other people are billionaires. I’ll never be one, I don’t want to work that hard and I certainly don’t want to employ other people. Not now that the Entitled Generation is looking for work where they expect to get paid for looking cool on Facebook and playing online games. I don’t want a yacht, I don’t need a Lear jet, I have no interest in owning a football team, I just need enough to pay the bills and have some left over for baccy and booze. Oh and toy trains.

In my almost-60 years I have paid higher rate income tax twice, both times on redundancy payouts. I will not work to reach the level of working for half pay. What’s the point? A huge house? The one we rent now is too big really, there are five rooms used only for storage of accumulated junk (must get around to clearing that out) and there is a vast attic we haven’t used at all. Cleaning it is a nightmare, you knock down cobwebs at one end of the house and by the time you get to the other end, the spiders have rebuilt the first ones.

How about a fancy car? Well I have a 2005 Toyota, it starts every time, it’s cheap for servicing and parts, and I don’t care if you drop a sandwich in it. I really do not want a car that I have to worry about, that I would have to maintain like a living room and which is worth more than most houses. Besides, those low slung things would lose their exhaust on the way up this driveway.

I never understood why millionaires have cars at all. Why bother? With that much money I’d just call someone and have the stuff delivered. I don’t need to go there myself. And I could take taxis to and from the pub. I’d never sober up again.

The whole world is obsessed with money. Most of which doesn’t actually exist. Everything is about money. It’s the biggest social construct of all and everyone acts as though it’s the only aim of life.

In one of the Batman films, the one with Heath Ledger as Joker, Alfred tells Batman that ‘Some men don’t care about money. Some men just want to watch the world burn’. The two things are not connected. I don’t care about money beyond having enough to live on but I don’t want to destroy things. I just want to be left alone.

The obsession with money is the downfall of all the political parties. It ‘costs the Treasury’. No it doesn’t. The Treasury takes in other people’s money. It isn’t a ‘cost’ if it takes a bit less. It ‘costs the NHS’. Well we’re all paying for it so it costs the NHS nothing. It costs us – and we’ve already paid.

All these policies, all these manifestos, are all about money. It’s not even real! It’s an agreed means of transfer, so a carpenter doesn’t have to build a chair a day to pay his rent. He can swap the chair for money and pay his rent with that. Since rent of a ‘chair a day’ is probably somewhat excessive, the carpenter can use the extra cash to get food and more wood for the next chair. It’s convenient. It is not meant to be your God.

When people like me say we don’t care about money, it’s like we are Money Atheists. ‘Oh so you can live without money eh?’

Well no. I have to pay council tax no matter what. I have to fuel, insure and maintain my car if I want to go anywhere. Especially here – two buses a day and the nearest railway station is 15 miles away. I have to buy food. I can grow and catch only so much here – and if I want fish I need to buy a permit to fish in the river.

It’s not the same as religious atheism. I can live without worshipping or even acknowledging any God. I can ignore religion entirely. But money, you can’t ignore. There’s always someone who wants to be paid for something – or in the case of politicians, they want to be paid to tell you how much to pay them. If you can’t pay they send the boys round to throw you in jail. It’s a feedback loop you can’t evict.

Corbyn and his drooling idiot gang seem to think that you just have to give everyone the same amount of money and it’s all fixed. Capitalism will be gone. But money is capitalism.

If you pressed a button and everyone had the same amount of money, what happens? Some will piss it away on fancy cars and booze. Others will invest in things they can then sell for more money. In a matter of weeks you are back to having a few billionaires and millions who are broke. Russia found this out, as did China, and they modified their systems to accept it. Neither are truly communist because communism cannot work.

It works for bees and ants because within those colonies, the workers are all the same. Humans are not all the same. Communes can work on a small scale if like minded humans get together to make it work, but on a countrywide scale, no chance. It has to be forced, as in North Korea.

If you have to force people to follow your Utopian dream, then it’s not Utopia. And it’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare.

The obsession with money is already killing the planet. Look at what the Greens are doing with their cobalt and neodymium mines and their hundreds of tons of concrete under every windmill. You know dead windmills go to landfill, right? The Greens make money on that too. Where does the money come from? Why, it comes from you, sucker.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were politicians who cared about people more than money?

Pipe dreams. Sometimes it’s all we have left.

I have a dream…

…that one day, in the distant future, humanity will once again discover the principles of science and apply them without emotion and without the influence of money. That there will come a Real Scientist who will throw the money-grabbers from the laboratory and – wait. This is getting a bit messianic.

Well that’s not too surprising. As soon as ‘the science was settled’ it stopped being science. It became religion. Like any other religion it needed an Armageddon that could only be averted by obeying (and paying) the High Priests to appease the god of the day. It also needed a Saviour.

I know, you’re immediately thinking of Little Greta and the Church of Climatology, in obeisance to the unquestionable word of the Green God. It’s so much more.

The vapers will tell you of the ‘scientists’ who claim that vaping is worse than smoking and drinking combined. To any rational mind this is utter bollocks but people in ‘respected scientific positions’ have said it so it must be true.

I was once tasked with a menial job for my qualifications, it was a few years before I gave up on science altogether because of the increasing silliness of it all and because of an idiot in charge. I had to check the antibiotic effects of four different antibiotics that were included in pig feed. The project was set up by a different idiot (believe me, it has become so much worse since then) so each antibiotic had a zero sample.

Later I was quizzed by no less than the Head of Research as to why I had not checked all of the zero samples. My response of ‘Well zero of compound A is the same as zero of compound B…’ was met with a shouted ‘I know that!’. Something that told me at once that, no, he didn’t. I later discovered that the Head of Research had absolutely no understanding of statistical analysis, but that’s another story.

Myself and my boss at the time were called into a meeting where an epidemiologist had come up with a great idea he wanted to explain to us. His idea was, in fact, something we call ‘gradient plates’ and which had been in use even before I started my first degree. We were frowned upon for pointing this out.

My final boss took early retirement. He said ‘When we started we were chasing kniowledge. Now we’re just chasing money’. That was 15 years ago. Look at the state of it now.

This is all in the distant past.

Yet we have people saying that ‘scientists have said this so they must be right’ even though science is never ‘right’. Science is never ‘final’. Science is absolutely never ‘settled’.

The general public think all scientists are Spock, working with pure emotionless logic. No. Scientists are human and in any human profession there are shysters and money-grabbers. The problem is that the shysters and money-grabbers are the ones who make the news.

I spent my entire career in science. And yet I am told by those who have never studied science to ‘do some research’. It’s all I’ve ever done and I’m told to do it by people who don’t even know how.

I’ve been sent ‘proof’ of global warming based on ice caps since 1979. I asked why they didn’t want to go back past 1979 and I got a graph of ‘global warming’ from 1880. The end of the Little Ice Age. That was when the Thames froze over. You want to go back to that?

Not that you have any real choice. Humanity’s effect on climate is so tiny as to be irrelevant. We are not as important as we like to pretend. One volcanic eruption pumps out more of the magical ‘greenhouse gases’ than all of human history. I know it’s hard for some people to accept but we just don’t matter at all.

Oh, and the whole ‘greenhouse effect’ was debunked decades ago, even though it’s still around in fashionable pretend-science circles.

Remember the ozone hole? CFCs? Acid rain? Miami underwater by 2000? Remember the New Ice Age of the Seventies, caused by rising CO2? How can you still be falling for this scam? All thse things stopped when funding ran out, and not one of them ever came true. Yet the New Lie is still potent.

Yes, we have a problem with non-recyclable plastics and pollution in general. Nobody can deny that. Yes, we should do something about it before Mother Nature slaps us and tell us to clean our room.

This has nothing to do with climate change. Not a damn thing. It is an entirely separate issue.

Pollution is something we could deal with if the political will was there. It’s not though. Instead they call it ‘climate change’ knowing full well that this is something inherent to the planet and which we can do absolutely nothing about. So the thing we have no possible control over is used to avoid doing something we can control. And there is a whole congregation of the Church of the Green God to support it.

The climate changes. Always has and always will. Holding remembrance services for glaciers is astoundingly silly. Claiming you can change it by installing communism is frankly insane. Nature does not care what we do. Nature does not care about us at all. We are one species among many and Nature has eradicated most of the planet many times and started again.

The ones that survive are the ones that adapt to change. The ones who deny change go extinct.

We are not a special species. Adapt or die.

Oh, and don’t forget to give the glorified weather forecasters more money on your way.

Greenland

I’ve never been there. It’s in the news a lot lately though.

It’s summer so there are glaciers on Greenland dropping icebergs into the sea, as they have done for a very, very long time. Suddenly it’s ‘a catastrophe’. What a pity it’s not actually a new phenomenon. If the Church of Climatology had a shred of credibility, if their claims were even remotely true, we’d still have the Titanic to sail around in.

Meanwhile the total tonnage of frozen water on Greenland has increased this year. No, I’m not going to bother finding the reference. If you want to pretend the world is warming when it’s rapidly cooling, you carry on. I’m not here to save you, I’m making preparations to save myself. You are free to believe whatever you like. Oh, and the obituary for the glacier on Iceland? That glacier was 700 years old. So, 700 years ago, there was no glacier there. Explain that in terms of SUVs, private jets and Elton John’s magic CO2-absorbing money.

Greenland was in the news with a bigger story this week. Coincidentally, CStM and I were in Denmark while the news broke that Donny Trumpton wasn’t joking – he really did want to buy Greenland from Denmark. Danish news responded with the story that since Greenland was discovered by the son of the man who discovered America, then according to inheritance rules, America belongs to Greenland’s founder. Greenland has therefore offered to buy America.

Donny was due to visit Denmark but has pulled out at the last minute. Why? Ostensibly because Denmark refuse to even consider selling him Greenland. Another possibility is that he realises the massive bollocks he’s made and knows he’ll get a poor – to put it mildly – reception.

I wondered if it was one of his ‘Art of the Deal’ games. ‘You won’t sell me Greenland? Then I’m not coming to visit until you do’. To which the Danes will respond with ‘Well fuck off then, fat boy’ and crack open another Carlsberg. Or maybe pour an Akvavit. They will not play that game. They have no intention of ever selling Greenland. Denmark is not a poor country – and no, it’s not socialist. It’s a kind of directed capitalism. You can set up any business you like, taxes are high but benefits are consequently plentiful. You never have to queue for bread. And there are tax breaks for all kinds of business related things.

These are Vikings, remember. They colonised Iceland and Greenland before anyone ‘discovered’ those places and there is some evidence they were the first Europeans to reach America. Oh, and they called it ‘Greenland’ because it was green. They had crops and cattle on there before most of it froze over. A little bit of history helps put the Church of Climatology in perspective, doesn’t it? That’s why they don’t like you looking at it.

You can’t just buy a country and its inhabitants. If you want it you have to invade and take over. And be ready for a lot of death and destruction and expense. Donny doesn’t seem to have considered for a moment that maybe Greenlanders don’t want to be Americans. Sure, he thinks it’s the greatest country on earth but there is a world outside the USA containing lots of other countries. The people in those countries mostly have them set out and organised the way they like them. They aren’t for sale.

The Trumper isn’t the first to try this. A previous American president – I am told it was probably Truman – tried to buy Greenland and had the same ‘*snort* no’ response. It’s not going to change.

There would be a definite military advantage to the USA if they owned Greenland. Between that and Alaska they could target almost all the northern hemisphere. Do we really want any country to have that kind of power? Sure, you might think of Trump as bumbling but basically benign, but twenty years from now, who will be in charge of all that strategic power? They could target all of Russia. Surely anyone can see that’s going to make Russia a bit edgy and start another arms race. Even though it’s militarily sensible from the USA military’s point of view, overall it is a very, very bad idea.

It is fortunate that Greenland is owned by the Danes. They don’t cave to outside pressure easily. They don’t give a flying fuck what the rest of the world thinks and they are not impressed by the posturing of either Trump or Putin. You don’t like it in Denmark? Leave. No hijab, no Halal, no Euros. They have kept their currency so they still have that option to walk away from the EU. There’s been no sign of them doing so, yet, but they have sensibly kept the option open.

If Donny Trumpton thinks he can worry the Danes by refusing to show up to some pomp and ceremony occasion, he really doesn’t understand those people at all. Denmark is a remarkably flat country, all the more remarkably flat to someone who grew up in Wales and now lives in Scotland. And yet I have never seen a golf course there. I don’t think Trump has anything they want. Not a thing. Not unless he can make a better Remoulade.

I love it there. I can buy whisky at lower prices than I can get it at the distilleries making it in Scotland – and I live a couple of hours’ drive from most of them. Cigarettes are half the price. Literally. And they don’t have the Doors of Shame (although I noted this week some supermarkets have started to install them, but the local shops don’t have them).

I have brought back a good supply of smokes. I didn’t bring whisky back – bringing whisky to north-east Scotland just seemed silly and anyway the price differential was enough to be amusing, not enough to be worth loading up. It’s really down to Scotland’s silly minimum pricing, which means I can get whisky cheaper in another country than I can in the distillery down the road.

Trumpy, no matter how good he thinks he is at manipulating deals, is not going to get Denmark to sell him Greenland. It is not going to happen. So will he refuse to let them buy Ford cars? Pffft. They prefer Volvos, for the most part. There aren’t all that many Ford drivers there.

Greenland is not going to be US State 52. He’d be better off shoring up Puerto Rico if he wants another state as his legacy.

_________

It has been a chaotic summer. CStM and I are just back from a week in Denmark where we visited her family and spent most of the time sitting around being all hygge and doing not much of anything. It was great. Even with Psycho Dog keeping us company and occasionally vanishing to shit on the neighbour’s drive. It was a long way back to the airport though…

We have had almost continuous visitors here since April. These visitors came from Wales and from Denmark (family, both sides) and all expected to be shown around a lot. On a map, Denmark is about the same size as Scotland but what the Danes never realise is that the uppiness and downiness of the Scottish landscape can at least double the driving distance shown on the map. Also, any Scottish long straight country roads always, without exception, lead to an unexpected and unsigned 90 degree bend at some point.

It’s been fun, I’ve seen things locally I hadn’t seen before and revisited some favourites but it has taken up a lot of time. Our week in Denmark was specifically intended to be a resting week (the highlight was CStM’s grandfather’s birthday). No tourism apart from a trip to the beach for a spectacular ice cream. We’re both all touristed out.

We even had a visit to the police station after one Scottish trip. There was a maniac driver who didn’t slow down for a roundabout, passed us, hit the chevron sign, rolled eight times and landed on the far side of the roundabout. He apparently survived but as we had front row seats and he was all on dashcam, we had to give a statement when we volunteered the footage. I’m not putting it online, that would just be sick. Last we heard he was alive, but only just.

Anyway, all of this has slowed down the work enormously. So there will be no more tourism until mid October when we will go to Wales to sit about doing bugger all for a week. Also no overnight visitors.

From tomorrow I have two books to finish work on for other authors, the Halloween Underdog Anthology (number 9) starting up in earnest and more of my own to write.

I also have to get the damn grass cut. And beat the grapevine into submission.

So, no more tourists this side of Christmas. And that’s final.

Farcebok

Some time back, Farcebok decided to drop the auto-link from WordPress that automatically linked blog posts to your Farcebok account. So I put them up manually. A minor inconvenience.

It seems they really, really don’t want to link to WordPress because today, every single one of those blog posts has been marked ‘against community standards’ and nobody can see them. No warning, no explanation and no recourse to appeal as far as I can see. I could contact them but I just don’t care enough about their site to bother.

Well, it’s only Farcebok. I won’t bother putting these posts on there any more. It doesn’t matter if they change their minds, I won’t change mine. I have also put a contingency plan in place in case the entire account vanishes, so I don’t lose access to the Leg Iron Books page.

Just to make it a bit more interesting, an email then arrived from Farcebok asking for money to ‘boost’ a post on the Leg Iron Books page. Very poor business skills there. Their censorship department really should let the marketing department know who they’re currently hitting. There’s no point in boosting a post when that post could be made invisible at the drop of a hat, with no warning nor explanation.

I will persist with the Leg Iron Books page on Farcebok but my own page won’t link to here any more. I will also have to be very careful about what I link to from legironbooks.co.uk since that’s a WordPress-based site too. Farcebok clearly don’t like that.

Or maybe they just don’t like me. Either way, asking me for money at this point is not their smartest move.

UPDATE: I have removed the ‘share on Farcebok’ button from the bottom of posts. This is not some petty revenge. If someone tried to share one of my posts on their Farcebok account now they might get the same swivel-eyed censors swivelling their deranged eyes their way.

I’m not dragging anyone down with me.

Boycott Suicide

It’s all the rage now. Boycott this or that because they are connected, sometimes tenuously, with something or someone who is the current focus of today’s Two Minute Hate.

I’ve been feeling a bit left out. Everyone is boycotting things I’ve never bought anyway so I can’t join in.

Not that I would anyway. I can’t be bothered with boycotts, other than personal ones. The ones where I get shitty service in a business and simply go elsewhere. I’ve never demanded anyone else boycott that business. Maybe I was the only one to get shitty service. Maybe most people are happy with shitty service. I strike them off my list of shopping places and move on. Life is too short to get involved in organised boycotts and silly vendettas.

I’m not talking about the supposed ‘boycotts’ of reduced-sugar fizzy pop or breakfast cereals. People have stopped buying them because the new taste is awful, not because of any organised boycott.

I have also not boycotted pubs. I rarely visit since the smoking ban but it’s not a boycott. I just don’t feel welcome in them any more. It’s no longer an enjoyable experience so I don’t go there.

This has been made worse by the Spiteful Nannying Puritans of the Scottish government and their recent lowering of the alcohol limit for driving to where one beer puts you over the limit. The local pub is two miles away. I could take a 40-minute walk to a place I can’t smoke with my drink, or drive to a pub in which I can now neither smoke nor drink. What would be the point? The same drive takes me to Local Shop where I can buy a bottle of whisky, drive home, and then drink and smoke indoors in comfort.

The real boycotts are coming from howling Twatter/Farcebok mobs. None of them work and most seem to have the opposite effect to that intended. A recent one involved an American burger takeaway called ‘In and Out’ or some such. Sounds more like a brothel name to me but we don’t have that company in the UK so I couldn’t have boycotted them anyway. Apparently business has boomed since they got all that free Twitter advertising. They are now out of the shadow of MacDonald’s and the other really big franchises. Boycott? They’re lovin’ it.

I can’t remember what that boycott was about. It was, most likely, something very trivial. They usually are.

There was a call to boycott Amazon some time ago. Well I’m not going to do that. They sell Leg Iron Books! Boycott my biggest outlet? That would be as much of a commercial suicide as, say, Lucozade selling energy drinks in which they have reduced the sugar – the primary source of energy in the drink. It would be a stupid thing to do.

Incidentally, I have noticed some so called ‘energy’ drinks describing themselves as such, then boasting that the can of chemical fizz is sugar free and calorie free. So there is no energy in there at all. It’s just chemical fizz with caffeine. It’ll keep you awake and tired. I fail to see the advantage in this.

Back to Amazon. I live about 15 miles from the nearest town that’s big enough to have an Aldi and Tesco. Two miles away is Local Shop and it’s actually called that. Prices in there are not sky high. They are quite reasonable. Also they have cut price whisky sometimes and I’ve become quite partial to a drop of Glen Keith whenever they have it at £20 instead of £30. It’s one of the few places I’ve seen Glen Garioch on the shelves too. They don’t have a big range… of anything. It’s a small shop. You can’t really stock up your kitchen there without emptying their shelves.

Actually, as long as the bridge is out, Local Shop is 8 miles away along single track farm roads at harvest time, which is very inconvenient as it’s also the post office.

So if I need something that’s not stocked by Aldi or Tesco, I can drive all the way to Aberdeen (nightmare!) or I can bring up Amazon on the browser, click ‘buy’ and it’s delivered to my door. I don’t care what they’ve done to upset the perpetually offended. I am not boycotting them.

The most recent boycott involves some football bloke with big hair called Colin Kapplenapple or something like that. I wasn’t really paying attention. Seems he got fired from football for being useless and a pain in the arse, and lots of Americans despise him. So Nike, the sports mob, have taken him on to advertise shoes. Now, lots of Americans want to boycott Nike. I may be a bit sketchy on the details because I don’t actually give a shit. I don’t know anything about American football (it’s a bit like rugby for girls, I think), I’ve never bought anything by Nike and I have no interest in any sport that involves no sharp objects.

The bit that got my attention was all the idiots on Twitter videoing themselves burning their Nike shoes. What is that about? You do not hurt a shoe company by buying shoes from them and then burning the shoes. You still have no bloody shoes, have you? So now you have to go and buy more shoes. The shoe company doesn’t care. They have the money you gave them for the shoes. So you burned the shoes. You cannot cost them a sale by reselling yours.

If you don’t want your Nike shoes any more, give them to the homeless. They don’t care about fashion or politics or boycotts. Trust me on that, I’ve been there. You would wear Lady Gaga’s goat-hoof shoes if that was all you had.

I wonder if I can convince these maniacs to burn books. Get them to buy all the books I publish and burn them all. That would be fantastic. I’d get paid, the authors would get paid, and those books won’t be floating around the second hand shops cutting down sales of new ones.

The best part is they are all print on demand. Keep buying them and we keep printing them. And getting paid.

We make more per sale on the eBooks. Are there people stupid enough to buy fifty copies of an eBook and then burn their Kindle? There has to be at least one out there.

The search begins.

White Christmas

That phrase is probably banned now, along with the croony, depressing song that goes with it. These days we have to dream of a diverse multicultural pansexual Christmas in which Santa is a slim black sober antismoking transgender redistributor of presents. So if he visits and you have too many presents… well kids, you get a quick lesson in socialism. Oh, and paedophilia is being touted as a good thing now so when Santa says ‘keep quiet’, you keep quiet. For the sake of diversity.

All this crap has accelerated in this last year. As Alan says in ‘All the Strangers’, “What the Hell is coming next year?”

That line is from the new story, the one that’s in the latest book. I’m not putting it up yet. If I think of something new for Christmas day, I might not put it up at all. If I’m going to make a business of this I have to stop, or at least limit, giving stuff away for free

It’s officially rest time for Leg Iron Books. With a catalogue that went from zero to twenty books in the first year, I think I’ve earned a day off for Christmas. Okay, some of those books were my previous publications rebranded, two of which were novels that were out of contract with their previous publisher and are now out again with new covers and lower prices, but even so. It’s still a good start.

The last one for 2017 is ‘The Good, the Bad and Santa’ and I have now received print copies from Amazon. With help from CStM, they are now loaded into packaging and ready to send out to authors.

There was a reason I needed CStM’s help. I placed the order with Amazon – copies for the authors at two books per story, one for me of course, some to send out to family and friends to help get the word around… I ordered 36 copies in all. In one order.

I had 36 emails telling me the books were dispatched and 36 emails telling me they were out for delivery. I thought ‘Surely not?’

They arrived today. 36 books from a single order… in 36 separate packages. The Amazon delivery guy wasn’t even surprised. It’s apparently a common thing.

Well I have a lot of cardboard to burn now. Might as well get some heat out of it as I turn it back into the CO2 it was originally made from.

I wonder about the current hate directed at wood burning stoves. They don’t burn fossil fuels (my oil fired central heating does though), they burn recently-converted-from-CO2-to-wood fuel back into the CO2 it was made out of. Which is then used by other trees to make more wood. That’s about as sustainable as it gets. So why the hate?

Well, the cynic in me wonders whether there’s a bit of the old hatred of independence in there. Out here especially, I have endless wood supplies. The farmer has been renovating some of the very old buildings and has huge tonne bags of wood cut into easy-to-manage small pieces. He doesn’t want to keep it, it’s just in the way so the more of it I burn the less he has to pay to dispose of.

Some of the buildings in question have been unused for many years and are surrounded by trees that are also just in the way. They are also cut into easily managed chunks and stored in the barn. As long as I don’t try to burn the fresh ones (too wet) and use last year’s or older, that supply will go on for a long time too. I don’t, technically, need to split most of the chunks with a huge axe but it’s fun so I do it anyway.

Rather than all that old wood going into landfill, it heats my house for free and leaves ash that I can use (after I sieve out the nails) to add some friction to my driveway. At the moment that is very necessary since the whole place is currently surrounded by a treacherous sheet of ice. Even the dog holds it in until she is so desperate she’s willing to risk a frozen arse.

If wood burning stoves were banned I would be entirely reliant on oil deliveries or electricity for heating, both of which could be stopped at a moment’s notice and would then let this old guy freeze to death. They can’t cull me efficiently as long as I have an independent heat source. That’s why there’s no such thing in ‘For Whom the Bells Jingle’ – also in the Christmas anthology.

Tomorrow I will attempt to get to the post office to post all the author copies. On the main road, well the tarmac one at least, it’s not too bad. It’s just a matter of getting to the road without sliding onto it sideways and tipping over. That would be embarrassing. It would also piss me off enormously if I totalled a car that has just passed an MOT without even an advisory note attached.

Hopefully, the books will be on the way tomorrow and even more hopefully they will arrive in time for Christmas – at least the ones in the UK. Outside the UK, there’s pretty much no chance.

Twenty books. I can hardly believe it myself. I have offered my services to another small press who are struggling to keep up with publication. More on that in the New Year.

Well, I have to get the list of Leg Iron Books updated and get around to developing a website – or paying someone else to do it. Nothing more will happen on the books front in 2017 though. It’s holiday time at last.

Here is the Leg Iron Books current catalogue, in case you’re stuck for a Christmas present. There’s still time.

Underdog Anthologies:

The Underdog Anthology, volume 1
Tales the Hollow Bunnies Tell
Treeskull Stories
The Good, the Bad, and Santa

Novels:

Cultish (Hugo Stone) Now revised and at a lower price.
The Goddess of Protruding Ears (Justin Sanebridge)
Ransom (Mark Ellott)
The Mark (Margo Jackson)
Es-Tu là, Allah? (Dirk Vleugels: in French)
Jessica’s Trap (H K Hillman)
Samuel’s Girl (H K Hillman)

Short story collections:

Blackjack (Mark Ellott)
Sinistré : The Morning Cloud Chronicles (Mark Ellott)
Feesten onder de Drinkboom (Dirk Vleugels: in Dutch)
Fears of the Old and the New (H. K. Hillman)
Dark Thoughts and Demons (H. K. Hillman)
The Articles of Dume (H K Hillman)

Non-fiction:

Ghost Hunting for the Sensible Investigator (Romulus Crowe) first and second editions.

Biography:

Han Snel (Dirk Vleugels: in Dutch)

 

Twenty books in a year. No wonder I’m knackered. Still, the challenge is clear. Twenty-one next year. I can do this thing. Others may feel satisfaction in moaning at protests while claiming benefits but my satisfaction is in taking on a challenge and beating it. Or if not beating it, knowing I gave it my best shot. Twenty-one books next year.

There will be another anthology around March/April, not specifically Easter themed. an ‘anything goes’ like the first one. One at Halloween and one at Christmas. That’s three.

I have a novel by Lee Bidgood for the new year, that’s four.

At least two of my own are very close to finishing edits. Six.

One more and I’m a third of the way there already. And it’s not even 2018 yet. Random House, watch out. Here comes Leg Iron Books.

But if it does get successful it won’t be based in Scotland. I’m not paying extra tax when I could move back to Wales and pay less.

Scotland is determined to push new businesses south. Fine with me, I don’t have a house to sell and this business can work anywhere. I expect the SNP (Spiteful Nannying Puritans) will work out why Scotland is turning into Venezuela one day, when pet haggises are roasting over fires fed by empty promises, but by then it will be far too late. I can’t find it in me to care any more.

Let it die. The Scots can’t be bothered fixing it so why should anyone else?

I like living here. It’s cold so I keep longer. I like this house I’m renting. But make it hard for me and I can just load up a truck and move out.

I’m not the only small business thinking this way.