Rest period

All the books in the backlog are published so I’m taking a break before the next ones arrive. I should work on some of mine in this hiatus too. I am also transferring the mass of accumulated crap from my old computer onto a new one but I’m planning to sort through it on the way rather than transfer everything, including the stuff I don’t need any more. I don’t want to bog this one down like I did with the last one!

I have also finally relented and bought an Android phone to replace the Windows one. So I’ll have to move all that shit too. The Windows phone still works fine but it’s way too limited in terms of what apps it can access. My refusal to buy any Apple products still stands – the time they declared their warranties void for smokers is never going to be forgotten. I don’t care if they relented, I don’t care if they ever apologise. People who believe a molecule of nicotine can get into a phone and then kill the phone repairer are not the kind of people I will ever buy expensive electronics from. Being a gullible idiot is not a good marketing strategy.

I’ll now have time to look at how crazy the world has become while I was too busy to take much notice. A quick glance suggests that some parts are getting crazier and other parts are moving towards a bit less crazy.

Austria and Italy seem to have taken the stance of the Eastern European countries and are not taking any more nonsense from the EU, nor from the mass of ungrateful bastards they have given a new home to. Sweden, too, seems to be moving towards a less tolerant attitude to rape, murder and general violence. About bloody time.

That won’t happen here in the UK as long as Jackboots May is in charge. She’s still obsessed with controlling the internet and with buggering up Brexit negotiations. It won’t happen with Crackpot Corbyn in charge either. Our best bet is, unfortunately, Jacob Rees-Mogg. I say ‘unfortunately’ even though I agree with almost everything he says (apart from the religious dogma stuff) because he almost exactly fits the character description of Chancellor Sutler in ‘V for Vendetta’. I’d vote for him, yes, but with reservations.

Anyway, there are likely to be a few weeks of rage fuelled blog posts coming up, interspersed with some model making stuff. This is because I have had some G scale stuff here for some time and swore to do nothing with it until all the current publishing was done. Last night I set up a small test track in the kitchen…

The track gauge is 45mm and the engine (I have two now) is radio controlled. This means I can use plastic track which is a hell of a lot cheaper than brass track and since there are no power lines to the track, foldback loops are possible. A loop that goes back to the same track. Live track can’t do that without serious and fiddly wiring and operation. Any track configuration is possible, there is nothing to short circuit.

Points are way cheaper in plastic too. You can get one for about £8 while a brass one is going to hit you for £30 or more.

Both engines can be run from one controller, even though they are on different frequencies. Alternatively they can be run from two controllers so there is scope for two operators. They do have sound, which can be switched off. I like the sounds but CStM says they sound like they’re haunted. That might be why I like them…

Scale is 1:22.5 so all those 1/24 scale truck models are close enough. They’ll fit on the flat wagons.

Expensive? It can be, but I’m using mostly Chinese models sold by EastCoastRotor on eBay. Supplemented with whatever I can get cheap on eBay. Sure, it’s not as good as original LGB or Piko but it’s pretty damn good anyway. I have a box car with sliding doors (no big deal, I had vans with sliding doors in N gauge) but in this scale the door latches work. Yeah. You close the door and latch it closed.

A coach is about £30, a box van around £20. This is really not much different to what you’d pay for OO gauge brand new. I had an advantage in that I sold a website (gutbugs.com) so had an unexpected source of play money but really this is not out of most people’s range. Unless you want brass track and the really high end stuff – which, if I could afford to splash out that much, I would have. This stuff is plenty good enough for me though. The doors on the coaches open and the roof unclips so you can put people inside. The upgrade possibilities are huge.

Oh I still have all the 00 gauge stuff, some of which I will sell off because I have way more than I’ll ever use now. I had started picking up a few bits of 0 gauge but I’ll sell those on because 0 gauge has now been eclipsed by G. There are quite a few bits of N gauge around including a 9F that I just can’t part with (I still have the 00 gauge 9F I bought in 1976, and there are two of them now).

I even have an 009 engine I made many years ago but never did anything with. It still works, I think, but I’d probably sell it. I’m never going to build an 009 narrow gauge railway now I have a G scale one.

Quick bit of geekery – Gauge 1 uses the same track as G scale but it’s to scale with the ‘real’ trains. G scale is bigger because it’s narrow gauge on gauge 1 track. 009 is basically 00 scale narrow gauge using N gauge (9mm) track. If you’re lost here, you need to take a course in geekery.

Okay. I have not looked at the Daily Outrage for a long time. It’s time to get that rage going again. At least until I immerse myself in the world of publishing once again. It’s a welcome break, I must admit, from a business that is 100% white and straight (I believe the new word for ‘normal’ is ‘cis’) and I fully expect to have to paint half of myself black in the name of diversity any day now. I’d go for the bottom half, if the rumours are true.

Not tonight though. It’s way too late for such madness. Instead, have a look at the ‘also available’ page for the next Leg Iron Book.

I don’t yet know what the next one will be but I know this will be the final page.

 

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Outage

Something, most likely a tractor with a wide load, has knocked over the phone pole at the bottom of the drive.

No landline or internet for a few days. This will delay author payments this quarter and I have no access to the main email accounts either so hopefully they all still read the blog.

It’s tough enough just putting this post up using the phone. I’ll be back when the wires are fixed. Hopefully soon! 

 UPDATE It’s already fixed! Just over 24 hours – pretty impressive.

Starbucks’ bogs

I spent four years as a janitor in the down times. This is no time to discuss the reason I fell, she’s gone now. Before that I was a successful microbiologist, working as a lecturer, researcher and consultant and I still am, really. The ‘doctor’ title is one I earned. It’s not linked to the job. Sometimes the spectre of microbiology work resurfaces but I’m not sure I care any more. Science is so thoroughly ruined by all the well publicised fakery out there I’d rather not be one. So now I’m a publisher. Fledgeling but getting the hang of it.

I worked as a janitor in a shop. The bottom of the pile, the Dalit of the retail world, despite being slightly better paid than most of the shelf stackers and till bleepers. It took them a year to find out I was a doctor. It took one of them two years to find out my name wasn’t Alan because I kept answering to it.

I learned a lot. I learned why shop-based food poisoning occurs. I learned how the very structure of a food shop makes such outbreaks close to inevitable. I’m not parting with that for free. I might drop bits here and there to get the right people interested but if you ever want a full report it’s going to cost. I also, subsequently, found out that nobody gives a shit. So I’ll probably never write that report.

Anyway. The shop had a small cafe and also a small toilet block. I wasn’t happy with the arrangement, the toilets should have been attached to the cafe not off into the food aisles but they rented the premises so couldn’t really do much about it.  Management at least had the sense to surround the toilet entrance with greetings cards, wrapping paper and household goods like paper towels. So you didn’t come out with shitty hands and immediately paw the precooked meats. Management, in some areas, weren’t total idiots.

We Secret Ninja Cleaners cleaned those toilets once an hour. Does that sound excessive? Someone shitted up one of those toilets five minutes after I cleaned it. Once, at the end of a shift, I had refilled the paper towel holders and when Mopman took over, he said the paper towels in the gents had run out. Impossible. I put three packs in the dispenser only an hour earlier.

It turned out an OCD sufferer with handwashing problems had used all the paper towels and flushed them. The resulting blockage backed up all the toilets and required expert plumbing assistance to sort out – at massive cost.

There was a time when someone’s arse exploded in the disabled toilet. The consequence was indescribable. As someone who has spent his life dealing with intestinal contents I was the most qualified person within 30 miles to deal with this situation – but not on janitor pay. I refused.

They had to get in a professional shit-stirrer in a hazmat suit who demanded a signature for disposing of hazardous waste. I was right – and so was the assistant manager who would not let his staff touch this. If someone’s arse exploded like that then the spatter (pebbledash, there was a hell of a lot of it) might well be infected with something horrible and staff handling food for sale should never be anywhere near it.

The overall manager disagreed. He thought that if the (doctor of microbiology) janitor won’t touch it, his (largely school kids on pocketmoney) staff could easily deal with it. Fortunately he wasn’t on that time.

The toilets were not technically open to the public but the buggers used them anyway. You couldn’t stop them. How can you prove they weren’t planning to go to the cafe or load a trolley after they had a dump? There was one suited shit who’d come in, pick up a basket, and leave a few minutes later placing the empty basket back in the stack. He probably still does it. Not my problem now.

We didn’t have an entry code for the bogs. You didn’t have to buy anything to use them. So we got all kinds of weirdoes in there. I once found a drunk asleep in there and throught I had found my first Bog Body. Unforunately the chavvy cunt was alive. He was picked up by the police (they used to care about real offline crimes) a few shops away where he was being extra cunty.

Starbucks, after a single incident where a non-customer was refused the pee code, now have their bogs open to all and sundry. So they are full of junkies and dirty protestors. Who would expect that?

Now… Starbucks are virulently antismoking so I don’t go there anyway. This whole story has no relevance to me personally. I have no reason (apart from a bit of gloating) to delight in this news.

I see it more as a warning to other businesses who are planning to capitulate to the New Puritans.

They want to destroy capitalism and that’s you. Yeah. That’s you, that is.

And you silly fuckers are agreeing to it.

Lucozade, Ribena, Starbucks, bye bye you capitalist self righteous suicides.

We know a song about that, don’t we?

Not the best of days

Today was fine and sunny but I have achieved very little. Why? Well, I woke up with a gut rumbling like Vesuvius. Then it erupted (I made it, just in time).

It didn’t feel like an infection, more like I reacted badly to something I’ve eaten. No idea what. Still, it left me feeling literally drained all day. I’m now recovering with some chilli peanuts and whisky.

Mark Ellot’s book ‘Rebellion’ now has the right ‘click to look inside’ on Amazon but is still linked to two five star reviews from an entirely different book. Sigh. I expect they’ll work it out eventually. At least they are five star reviews so as long as nobody actually reads them we can take it as the ‘bank error in your favour’ card in Monopoly. It’s still wrong though – that book deserves its own five star reviews.

Outside, the grass mocks me. It’s fine enough to cut it and I have begun the process of digging out the intense weed infestation of the flower beds but I dared not stray too far from the bathroom today. Hopefully I will be in gardening mood tomorrow. I am using my favourite flower bed technique – scorched earth gardening – in which I entirely remove the top layer which is full of weeds and weed seeds. It’s very effective. And when the flower beds are clear I have a small bag of seed potatoes to put in. Well, they have flowers on them eventually so it counts.

There is always a silver lining though. My physical incapacitation means I have made progress on Lee Bidgood’s cover image today. Pencil drawings are now being inked and will soon be ready for colour. I could short-circuit this one with a photoshop cover but it needs something much better. Eyecatching. Boobs.

Also an orange Lada, a transsexual policeman and a Fred Flintstone slide. There are many more elements from the book I’d love to include but  it would take months so I have forced myself to limit the hints.

I could have done without a day of exploding arse but it’s in the family. Dodgy guts are an occasional reminder of my genetics. I have no idea what sets them off – I’m not lactose intolerant and not allergic to gluten although I wonder if an overload of those things might be responsible. Lactose and wheat are in so many things now.

Once Lee’s book is done I am considering revamping some of the earlier books with original artwork covers. It’ll take time but could be worthwhile.

Changes at the top

Quick update on the publishing first – I have completed proofreading on Longrider’s new novel and sent it back for final checking. He has provided covers which saves me a lot of time. Lee Bidgood’s interior is finalised, I just need to finish the cover. I seem to have been over-ambitious in trying to do it on canvas so have reverted to paper. I am nowhere near skilled enough to draw fine detail on canvas! So both books have missed my hoped-for April finish but not by very much.

Once these are done I’ll take a couple of weeks off. The weather is still cold here, we had a torrential hailstorm on Friday which penetrated the roofing tiles (fixed now, I hope) and flooded the utility room again. Gardening isn’t really getting far this week. Plus, a load of big model trains is due soon so I have to get this workload finished!

Most current events have passed me by in this intense work period but I did note the departure of Amber Rudd as Home Officer. I had, I admit, hoped she would be replaced by Jacob Rees-Mogg but May won’t let him near the cabinet. He’s far too big a risk for her to deal with, he might undermine her plans for ‘Brexit in name only’ and, as she is now under the Thatcher-like Sword of Damocles, he would be a natural replacement. She’ll keep him in the shadows.

The House of Lards, populated with dusty codgers, ex-Cabinet criminals and EU stooges for the most part, seems to think it can overturn Brexit. No, it can’t. The leaving is irrevocable. However, with May giving in to any and all demands of the EU, we could end up as a vassal state. Forced to implement every deranged rule from Brussels while having no say.

Politicians never learn, do they? They watch those wedges driven in, they comply with all demands and they actually believe it will be the last one every time.

Minimum pricing for alcohol is now in effect in Scotland. This is not going to only affect cheap hooch, it will put up the price of whiskies too. A 70cl bottle cannot be below £14 unless they dilute it and none of the grain whiskies (a few were below £14 when on special offer) will want to be labelled ‘minimum price booze’. There is unlikely to be anything priced at exactly the minimum.

The good whiskies will maintain the price differential by increasing their prices too. But – only in Scotland. Amazon are likely to see a lot of activity from me soon, since they sell whisky at English prices. If I lived closer to the border I’d soon be a familiar face in Carlisle but I’m a good way north of Aberdeen so that’s not a serious option.

This measure will do nothing. It’s not intended to. It’s the thin end of a wedge that has already involved calls for ending all booze sales at 8 pm and banning any kind of offers (for the booze already above the minimum price). Minimum pricing was just to get the wedge in. Now they start hammering.

We saw it all happen with ‘oh but we just want a non-smoking area, surely that’s not asking much’. We’re seeing it happen with soft drinks and ready-meals. The same thing, over and over again. Our mindless politicians fall for the same trick every single time.

It’s no surprise that the EU are using the same technique on Mindless May. She gives in to one demand to be immediately faced with another. She gives in to that too – oh, and there’s another. We are led by utter morons.

So now we have a new Home Secretary. Sajid Javid. I haven’t seen too much of him so will reserve judgement until he’s done something. Okay, my default response to any politician is ‘despise’ but it seems this one used to work in banking. He was very good at it too, earning £3 million a year apparently. Giving that up to be a politician is something to be respected.

He is also the son of a bus driver who arrived in the UK skint. No silver spoon there – he brought his family from rags to riches in a very real sense.

Labour hate him. They have called him an ‘Uncle Tom’ on Twitter and moaned that he has voted against a cap on banker bonuses. Personally I don’t give a shit what bankers earn. I’m not one so it has no effect on me at all. If their business makes enough money to give out bonuses, good for them. I hope, one day, my business can do that for me. It’s currently looking like a very long-term thing though…

There  was also a suggestion on Twitter that he might have been appointed ‘cos I is black’ to divert from the Windrush scandal. I don’t think even Mindless May would be that stupid. He’s not from one of the Windrush countries, he’s from Lancashire. The Home Office is in a mess and she really needs someone to sort it out. This is no time for identity politics.

Actually, with his successful banking career, I’d have made him Chancellor. It’s about time the post was held by someone who actually knows how to handle money.

Then there are the Twitterers calling him British-Pakistani. The Labour mob doing him down. He is British, from a poor family, a self-made millionaire who quit to go into politics. That gets a lot of respect from me no matter how I feel about politicians in general.

Shouldn’t Labour be delighted? Working class kid does well? Huh. I was the first in my family to go to university and get a degree, then another one, back in the days when they meant something. Council estate kid, son of a coalminer, invited to lecture in several places including Beijing, now running his (second) own business. Labour despise me. I escaped being one of their pets. They despise Mr. Javid for the same reasons – plus one more. He’s not white so in their minds, he should belong to them.

I think the End of May should see the end of May. Or sooner. She doesn’t want Brexit even though it’s inevitable and she’s going to fuck it up. Well, she’s already fucking it up.

And now she doesn’t have her mini-me in the Home Office continuing her work of total surveillance and internet control, she is weakened.

I don’t know much about Sajid Javid but I hope he’s not going to be another Jackboots May in his new job. Probably not since he has actually worked in the real world and done very well at it.

Time will tell.

Not too much time, I suspect.

Quick update on emails

If you have any of my @gutbugs.com emails in your address book, please delete them.

I bought the domain name a very long time ago for my intestinal microbiology work. I’m damn well close to being totally retired from that now and someone contacted me with a very good offer for the domain name. So I have sold it. I hadn’t done much with it for years and wasn’t likely to revive it, so I took the offer. Any email addresses on that domain will soon stop working unless, by coincidence, someone has one I used to have. Then you will get a WTF? response.

It does involve another time-consuming thing, chasing down accounts that use that domain’s email and changing them all to a currently active one. Also informing longstanding correspondents that it soon won’t work.

I plan to use the money to clear my council tax for the year and spend some of the rest on G scale trains.

And take CStM out for a good time too.

It’s nice to have a windfall.

A Preview

I never thought of myself as a workaholic. My natural state is lethargic, idle and usually a little bit drunk. Well, no time for that these days!

I off-roaded the old car in December 2016 when I got the ‘new’ one (which is the same age as the old one but has better ground clearance). It went into the garage with a dying battery and there it stayed until a few days ago. I finally got around to putting in a new battery and… it started first time! I actually sat there in stunned disbelief for a few minutes.

Of course, the brakes had rusted so it took a bit of effort to get them to pop free and it’ll almost certainly need new brake discs and a full service. Oh and an MOT – fortunately the garage in the local Tiny Town does them so I won’t have to risk my life by driving it too far. However, I need to get it back in the garage before my son fills that with wood for projects. The farmer has been engaged in an extensive deforestation program and there are huge piles of dismembered trees here now.

Along with the car and other stuff, I am currently working on three books at once. Actually that’s not as bad as it sounds. Lee’s is in final edits, Longrider already has his edited and has covers etc. all set to go, and the latest Anthology is in its final stages too. I aim to have them all out in April and as long as nothing terrible happens, that’s definitely possible.

Having said that, I did buy a machete and a flamethrower this week so…

Anyway. As I said, the latest anthology is in its final stages. Here’s the contents page:-

Emma Buttery
– The Police Interview

H. K. Hillman
– Feedback
– One Way Trip
– My Bitter Valentine
– 23-David and 81-Mohammed

Roo B. Doo
– Jackanory Jackalope
– Nine Lives

Cade F.O.N Apollyon
– Sometimes a Door
– Hee Haw Hockey
– Pour Know….Poor, No.

Dirk J. J. Vleugels
– Bali Hai
– Sumba, a Tropical Paradise?
– In a Pub in Bali
– The Old Dutch Lady in Surabaya
– The Ear
– The Queen of the Bricks
– The Death Penalty

Justin Sunshine
– The Dancing Lights
– Tigers’ Lair

Dirk is a new addition this time around. His stories are English translations of a few of the real-life events he recounted in Dutch in ‘Feesten Onder de Drinkboom’. I hope he eventually translates the whole book, although I now that will take time. ‘Tales from Under the Drinking Tree’ is a catchy title.

I put Justin Sunshine last this time because I really wanted to end on ‘Tigers’ Lair’, a tale that could well have a basis in reality (it’s fiction, honest!) in this modern world. The book therefore finishes on a chilling note. I like it that way.

Three of my own stories in this issue have not appeared anywhere else before, but that’s about to change. Here’s one of them as a sample. It just a short one, won’t take up too much of your time.

Relax, have a drink and enjoy…

 

Feedback

Derek closed his front door and threw his keys down next to the telephone on the small table. He aimed a kick at Badger, his wife’s black and white cat, but missed. Badger scurried away into the living room.

“Penny? You home?” Derek shouted while he took off his coat. “Penny?” No answer, so Derek made a quick circuit of their small flat: his wife didn’t always answer; she might not be speaking to him again. “Great. She’s not home.”

In the living room, Derek poured himself a whisky and took it into the tiny spare bedroom where he had set up his computer. Webcams surrounded his chair, one atop the monitor facing him, one trained on his fish tank, two aimed in opposite directions out of the window, and his favourite – the one behind his seat, so that when he tuned it in he saw himself watching the screen, with himself on the screen, and so on into infinity. A feedback loop was the technical term, but to him it was an infinity of Dereks. Ego beyond the scale of the universe. Derek sipped his whisky and watched himself do the same infinite times. So much whisky. So many Dereks.

He set the whisky down, turned off the webcam and connected to the Internet. Penny hated the sites he frequented. Some of them could get him arrested, he knew, but he just couldn’t resist. He flicked through pages of images where the predominant colour was flesh, but settled on the best live-action cam site he had ever seen.

Death in Life. The site’s name described exactly what it meant. For a fee, anyone could arrange to have someone killed. In itself, that was nothing new – there were pubs in the seedier part of town where such things could be arranged for a few hundred pounds – but Death in Life had one quirk. How the authorities had failed to track the site was beyond Derek’s ability to comprehend, but it still existed.

The site’s gimmick was simple. Someone arranged a hit. The site owners not only carried out the hit, but their assassin wore a head-mounted webcam. Everything was streamed live to the Internet. Derek clicked through options until he found a current hit in progress. He sipped his whisky and settled back to watch.

The screen showed paving slabs. This was normal: they never identified the street in case the police were monitoring them. Derek chuckled. There must be police officers glued to screens all over the country, hoping to identify the location before the killer could escape.

No chance. These opening shots served one purpose only – to reveal the weapon of choice for the current hit. A gloved hand came into shot, holding a long thin spike.

Derek grinned. “Ooh, that’s gonna hurt.”

The camera turned off, so Derek took the opportunity to run to the living room and collect the whisky bottle. There’d be a few minutes’ pause while the killer gained access to his victim’s home, and they never showed the location until the end. Derek returned to his seat in time to see the gloved hand insert a key into a lock.

Derek sat up straight. When they had to burst into a home, the victim always fought. These stealth operations meant that the hit was paid for by a family member. The last one had been a cheating wife. Derek leaned closer to the screen and scratched his crotch. He hoped this one was in the shower.
The door swung open. A small table came into view, bearing a phone and a bunch of keys. The killer moved without looking from side to side. He must have been well briefed. He knew exactly where to find his target.

The victim came into view. It was a man. Derek released his crotch and started a groan, but it caught in his throat.

On his screen, past the back of the victim’s head, was another screen. It showed an identical picture, including another screen. Derek set down his glass. The victim did the same. Unable to tear away his gaze, Derek stared into the infinite feedback loop before him.

An infinity of ending.