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.

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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.

 

Books and deposits

Many years ago, back in nineteen-mumble-mumble, glass bottles had a deposit paid on them. You got that back when you took the bottles back to be reused. There were few, if any, plastic bottles around at that time. Everything came in glass.

We kids loved it. We could take found bottles to the shop and get a few pennies for sweets. Looking back, it was like a reward for litter-picking. Anyone who discarded a bottle, as long as it didn’t break, was funding our sugar habit.The environment was kept clear of bottles and we got free sweets. Everyone’s a winner.

Then came the terrible day of the ‘no deposit – no return’ bottle. It was moulded into the glass so there was no way to get anything on them. Bottles accumulated because nobody had any incentive to collect them any more.

Then came the plastic bottles. Again, no deposit, no return. Worthless, once empty. Some glass ones were good for beer making but the plastic ones, well they were no use at all.

So recycling began. We were to wash out all that glass and plastic and pay the council to take it away so they could sell it to recyclers. It was a great con. Here, the council doesn’t collect glass any more. We are expected to take it to the bottle banks and not put it in general rubbish. The nearest bottle bank is 3 miles away… needless to say, glass recycling doesn’t happen as often as it should.

I have a plan for the accumulated empty bottles. I’m going to try setting them up in the woods with the necks in different directions so no matter which way the wind blows there will always be a ‘woooo’ sound out there. They’ll gradually fill with rain, which will evaporate in warm weather, so the tone of  the ‘woooo’ will change over time and vary depending on the levels of water in each bottle. I’d call it an art installation. I suppose many would call it ‘that damn freak and his lunatic ideas’ but art is often misunderstood.

Recycling hasn’t worked. All the crap is shipped to China and Africa for recycling and the overflow gets dumped into rivers and then into the sea. China and Africa get the blame for this while we pretend to be all clean and holy. The truth is, it’s our crap plastic that’s coming down those African and Chinese rivers.

China is getting sick of being sent contaminated and generally crap stuff for recycling so are clamping down on what they’ll accept. No more of the shitty stuff.

Recyclers are complaining that the councils sell them crappy stuff. Councils complain that people aren’t washing out the plastics etc before putting them in the recycle bins.

The ones at the end of the line are at fault. These are the people who make no money from the recycling game and who actually pay to have theirs taken away. But they are the ones at fault.

On that basis it’s never going to work. Not while those at the end of the line are expected to not only work for free, but to pay for the privilege. That won’t change.

It was therefore good to see the return of deposit-paid bottles. Some are calling it a tax. It isn’t. It’s a deposit. Basically you pay a retainer to have the bottle and if you bring back the empty bottle, you get that retainer back.

If you just throw the bottle out of your car window or drop it in the street, someone else will collect it and get the deposit money. We can look forward to a return to volunteer litter collectors who turn that litter into sweets.

It would be good to see this applied to glass bottles too but one thing at a time, eh? Besides, glass is not a big deal in the environment. Chuck a bottle into a river and it will soon sink to the bottom. The river will gradually wear it down back into the sand it came from. No toxins, no floating around getting tangled up with marine life, just a gradually eroding bottle.

I’ve seen the plastic bottle deposit in action in Denmark. Other European countries use it too. It does need a good network of the machines that accept the bottles. The machine checks the barcode to make sure it’s not an imported bottle (it’ll spit those back at you). If it’s a legit bottle, the machine shreds it. It doesn’t give cash, it gives a voucher to use in the shop. Well no problem, you’d have used some cash in the shop anyway and not giving cash means junkies can’t load up with bottles to get a fix.

It also means there’s no purpose in printing fake barcodes for a load of imported bottles. Oh, it happens  😉  but only on a small scale – one or two that someone brought back from a holiday. There’s no point in organised crime getting involved, it’s pennies per bottle so once you take off paying for the printed barcodes, paying someone to print them, paying patsies to take them to the machine, there’s nothing left. Besides, it’s all in vouchers.so no cash. You can sell the vouchers at a fraction under face value, sure, but you’ll be lucky to make a penny a bottle. And you have to ship in a load at a time from somewhere that doesn’t have the deposit. No, the crims won’t be interested.

Of course, if the idiots in charge ramp up the deposit enough, it could then become of interest to the Mafia…

It’s a good idea. I’m all for it. The deposit is not a tax, it’s entirely refundable on the return of the bottle just like in the old days. Rather than pay the council to take away our recycling and earn money on it, we get a refund on the used plastic. It will work better than the present system.

As for the vouchers, well, we used to spend the deposits in the shop where we took back the bottles anyway. Vouchers or cash, makes no difference to me. As long as the vouchers aren’t banned from use on baccy and booze, which would be a silly but predictable move on the part of our lunatic government.

Even sillier but impossible to rule out – you’d take back ten Coke bottles and can’t use the voucher to buy Coke. Oh I can well believe the dickheads we have in charge now are capable of making a rule like that.

If the vouchers turn out to be only good for salad and vegetables, I might add plastic bottles to my glass-bottle ‘woooo’ machine.

Or maybe retry my old attempts at melting them down into bricks for garden use.

***

Books –

Underdog Anthology 5 is a definite. There are more than enough stories to make it a ‘go’ but it can always take a few more. Deadline is midnight GMT on the 1st April and if you’re a few hours late, I’ll still consider it. It’s Easterish timed but not Easter themed. This one is the one filling the gap between Christmas and Halloween and I think I’ll keep it that way. The Spring non-themed anthology.

Price rises at the end of this month will not apply to the anthologies because the authors are paid in advance, there are no royalties, and the prices are as low as I can make them. None of the anthologies have made break-even, possibly because I keep giving them away, but that is not what they are for. They are advertising for Leg Iron Books and its authors.They might take a decade to reach break even, if ever, it doesn’t matter.

The price rises will also not apply to books by me. The only ones I have to increase are the ones I pay royalties on – the novels and single author story collections. They won’t go up by a lot but I need to pay my authors more than they get now. They aren’t going to be keen to send me more books if they get a pittance every quarter, and I don’t want to lose any of them just yet.

I only want to lose an author when they get an offer from a big publisher. That’s the point of this venture. I don’t want to be a big publisher, I don’t want to be rich, I don’t want to be in the 40% tax bracket. I’ve been in it twice and it was horrible both times because I don’t want to succeed for half pay. I’d like to make enough to live on, eventually, and see the Leg Iron Books authors make it into the big time. I am not the big time. I’m a step on the way, I hope.

I have been staying up far too late working on Lee Bidgood’s ‘You’ll Be Fine’ because it’s a compelling read. A complex story, tightly written, where even the most apparently irrelevant detail is woven in to a logically bizarre tale. And it has an orange Lada. I actually once worked with someone who had an orange Lada and he took a lot of stick for it. It was a uniquely revolting vehicle.

I hope to finish my so-far trivial edits by tomorrow. Then I have my son’s 30th birthday to deal with (yes, I am old enough to look unironed and well slept in) and then the anthology.

Today I was up in the horrible early time when the sun was on entirely the wrong side of the sky and the car was still frozen to the ground. It was day-job stuff, actual microbiology, but it won’t take effect for a while yet. It will not stop the anthology and will not stop Lee Bidgood’s book work. It won’t even affect Longrider’s next one, which is imminent. It just meant that tonight has been a bit of a wipeout because I’m not designed for mornings.

If you have something for Underdog Anthology 5, get it in by midnight on April 1st. There is a +/- day or so tolerance on this deadline, since it’s not specifically linked to a calendar event but a week late is far too late.

The next anthology will be Halloween. If you have a good scary one, you might want to save it for that.

The 23-hour day

Tonight, in the small hours of Sunday morning, 2 am becomes 3 am in the blink of an eye. There are only 23 hours in this Sunday. And I have to be awake for most of them. I know, we get the hour back in the 25-hour day in October but that is six months away so it’s cold comfort.

My parents are visiting. As I expected, they wanted to spend a lot of time with their new great-granddaughter, but this has meant me driving a lot. There are two buses a day out here, no trains even within earshot and the nearest taxi firm is 12 miles away. So I have achieved bugger all publishing work this week and since the office is also the guest room, haven’t even been able to keep up with emails.

Still, the enforced holiday has done me some good. It’s like a refreshing dose of procrastination and I’ll be back with a vengeance after Monday, when they fly away home.

Granddaughter is doing very well and at seven weeks, already has the beginnings of a particularly wicked smile. She is having reflux issues at the moment and wearing her parents out but that will pass. It’s ‘only’ heartburn, which to an adult is a bit of discomfort. To a seven-week-old it is the most agonising thing life has thrown at her so far. And she is very, very capable of expressing her displeasure with a level of unbridled rage that makes her granddad very proud.

Tomorrow is their last full day and they want to spend as much of it as possible with the new arrival. So I have to drive them to Son and Daughter-in-Law’s house and I don’t mind at all. I hope, if I make it to great-granddad age, my son or daughter will do the same for me.

Monday, they have an early flight (by my reckoning) so I might be shattered Monday night but then, it’s back to business.

Having a new granddaughter does mess with a one-man business but I hope everyone finds that understandable. I couldn’t prioritise anything over training a new family member in the Way of Dume. She has to learn taunting, double entendre, insulting the pompous in ways that sound like compliments, and much more.

She’s probably too young to appreciate a toy shrunken head or to inherit my first war axe (I still have it, now well over 40 years old) but I think she needs more gore around her room.

It’s a bit girlie in there…

 

Knackered, but news of a new type of Electrofag

It pissed down all day yesterday. Since the concrete area outside slopes towards the house, the water from that and all the roof drains into a trough outside the door and combined with the melting snow, there is now an inch of water in the utility room. I have given up trying to mop it. I’ll get the wet vac out today.

It’s not the first time but it’s the worst one so far. Fortunately the washing machine and dryer are already up on blocks after last time. The drain all this water goes into isn’t blocked, it all goes away quickly once the rain stops, it’s just that the one little drain can’t cope. I’m going to do some redirecting on those drainpipes if I ever see good weather. Fixing the rest is the landlord’s problem.

CreateSpace has been down so I still don’t have final figures for sales for last quarter. They aren’t likely to be much but I have to keep this accurate. The taxman will insist.

It has been a crap week or so. All the wood store got damp because the easterly wind blew right into the barn where it’s stored so it took a lot of snow and now rain. Local Shop was out of logs, they only had coal. Okay. My burner has a grate so it can deal with coal.

Smokeless coal is smokeless because you can’t light the damn stuff. Why do I need smokeless anyway? There’s nobody around to moan about it. It’s all that was left in the shop and now I know why. Today I’ll start by lighting a charcoal bed for it. I have a bag of charcoal for the Barbecue that Never Happened last year.

I need to cut a channel in concrete (or persuade the landlord to do it) to let the excess water wander off into the garden. Any tips?

Bah. I am shattered and seriously pissed off.

But there is one bright thing. I have invested in a new type of Electrofag. One that uses real tobacco. It should arrive in a couple of days.

I was put off by the expense of heat-not-burn, I admit. It’s no cheaper than buying real ones but hey, they want to sell me the machine and 100 ‘heets’ (tobacco tubes) for under £50, I’ll risk it. 100 is equivalent to five packs of cigarettes which in the UK is tapping hard on the door of £40 anyway for the lowest priced ones. And it’s a gadget. A new gadget. There will be a review.

I will also investigate whether it’s currently possible to make your own refills. If not, it soon will be. Probably far easier than making your own e-juice too.

Vaping is fun. I like to ‘smoke’ a brandy, then a roast chicken, then apple pie and then a coffee and an absinthe. Public Health should be promoting this because the calorie count for that whole meal is zero. Unfortunately they have proved themselves to be clinically insane so they never will.

Still, vaping has not taken me away from smoking. It’s just not the same. It’s fun but something is missing. Maybe HnB is that missing link. We shall see.

Today the sun is out. Maybe, finally, that damn snow will finish melting and we can get back to something approaching normality here..

Bad news and good news

It is unlikely that regular contributor Mark Ellott will have a story for the next anthology. Not impossible but very unlikely. He has had some very bad news of his own and will need time to deal with it.

As bad news goes, it just doesn’t get any worse than that. I have never lost anyone so close and so young and can honestly say I have no idea what he must be going through now.

I have offered condolences of course but I never know what to say in this situation. I try to stay silent for fear I will say something inappropriate or try to crack a joke to ease the tension. But then staying silent is seen as not caring, which isn’t the case at all, so it’s a no-win one. The shutting up is probably the best option though.

My own beliefs about what happens after death are generally not well received by any group anywhere so it’s best I just keep quiet about that too.

***

The good news is that the anthology has eight stories already (three of them are me, I’m not going to be the last minute one this time) and there’s over a month to the deadline. It’s set to come out a little after Easter but the Easter theme is not fixed. Easter is a tough one to place a story into so it’s an ‘anything goes’ (within reason and legality) like the first one.

Plenty of time for a cover too. I’m drawing a cover for Lee Bidgood’s book, there have been a couple of out-takes but I now have a canvas and my old Windsor and Newton inks, the ones I used to draw cartoons, and am practising that ancient ability once again.

This is good news for me, as is my rekindled interest in model building and railways. I had lost interest in pretty much everything except whisky for a few years back there but the down-spiral is now on the way back up. Oh I still like whisky, I just don’t finish bottles of it nightly any more.

I am not buying brand new railway stuff unless I can find it very heavily discounted. This only happens with older models and sets that can’t be fitted into the new DCC control system. Controlling multiple trains looks pretty cool but it sounds like too much work for me. I prefer multiple controllers where I know which dial runs which train and there is no danger of collision. I can concentrate on shunting while another train runs around a loop. I know it won’t hit anything.

Maybe that makes me a Luddite but it’s supposed to be a relaxing hobby. Being, effectively, a signalman at a major railway junction is not a relaxing thing. It’s like being an air traffic controller but you can’t instruct one train to go higher to miss running into the back of another one. They can’t swerve out of the way either.

Mostly I get job lots on eBay. These go cheap because they are often a mix of things. I bought 20-odd wagons for £20 recently and almost all of them are in excellent condition. Two of them are ‘Yeoman’ mineral hoppers. I can’t use those. They run in long trains of the same wagon and are pulled by an engine in Yeoman company livery. They are no good for my usual GWR mixed freight trains.

So I’ll put them back on eBay. From the auctions I followed on those wagons it seems they’ll sell for about £10 for the pair which gets back half of what I paid for 20 wagons and I still have 18!

I also have some Hornby Dublo from the mixed lots. Good quality stuff but the couplings don’t match anything else so either I change the couplings or I sell them. Changing couplings is hard on these because they have cast metal underframes that are hard to modify.They aren’t doing well on eBay at the moment so I’ll save them for later.

I’m moving to Kadee couplings because the standard Hornby ones look like Volvo bumpers and if you want to remove one wagon from the middle of a train you need the fingers of a Rubik’s Cube champion.

Engines, I look for non-runners or spares and repair. If the valve gear is hanging off, forget it. If there’s a bit of bodywork damage or it just ‘doesn’t run’ I can often fix it. Well, look – you want a new one, be prepared to shell out £100+ for a little tank engine. Risking a fiver or a tenner on a non-runner is well worth it on that scale. Besides, most of the non-runners just need the wheels cleaned or have been over-oiled. They are running fine in a matter of minutes.

Some are listed as ‘untested’. Sometimes that’s true. People get a job lot at auction, they have some trains in there, those people have no model railway and can’t test them. The eBay mind, though, immediately thinks ‘you tested it, it doesn’t work, you don’t want to admit it’.

Easy test – what else are they selling? Mostly railway models or just random stuff? If the engine is the only railway item in their lists then they are probably telling the truth.

I bought a Fowler 4F from a seller I fully believe didn’t know how to test it (touch a 9V battery to the wheels for most old ones). It looked like it had been dropped; needed a new funnel, repairs to cab roof and tender, easy. I paid under a fiver for it and it ran perfectly first time. Repairs are under way. Then a repaint and a new number and it’s a coal train header for me.

If you’re going to railway-up on eBay, beware of brake van syndrome. Everyone has too many of them. They are in most job lots too. Also brake-end coaches – one per train is all you need, two (one at each end) if it’s a long train. Many people sell one open coach and one brake end together. Then there are occasional American ones – I have two Triang caboose cars from job lots, one in near perfect condition, but nobody wants them.

It is hard to sell brake vans and brake end coaches because you don’t need very many. So avoid job lots full of brake vans – you are not going to turn a quick buck reselling them.

Coal trucks, well, everyone needs loads of those. If you have a childhood train set in the attic with lots of coal trucks then get it on eBay. Look at the average 50s/60s train. One engine, maybe 40 or more coal trucks, one brake van. The coal trucks are what sells.

Take the prices off. If you stopped railway playing before 2000 you are going to be shocked at modern prices. I was, when I sold off my N gauge to pay bills some years back. I had a set of six Pullman coaches I’d bought for about £20 the lot in the 1980s. It sold for over £80 and at the prices of the time, someone got a bargain!. I wish I had never bothered with share dealing in those days and just stocked up on toy trains. The returns would have been far better. Probably too late now though, modern prices are already daft and a crash in the toy train market must surely be due.

I saw an N gauge engine on sale for £120 new. More if you wanted DCC fitted. It’s about 12 cm long – a pound a millimetre! No thanks. I’ll stick with the old stuff, no fancy remote control, which costs so very much less.

I have also invested in magnifiers which will help with the smaller scales. There was a time when I could focus on things about an inch from my eyes but those times are in the past forever. Magnifiers let me get back to working on that tiny submarine I once drilled a 1 mm hole through so I could put a smoking captain in the conning tower. The good part is that in the meantime, LEDs have become so small it’s going to be a lot easier to light his pipe now.

Yes, it’s a ramble. A babble of inconsequence. I don’t like deaths. They remind me of my own mortality and – especially – that of my children and that’s scary as hell. And I have never been able to cope with them.

But ignore all I’ve said and put your thoughts Longrider’s way. He needs your support now.

Normality approaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come on. Let’s do it.