money value  

   THE YEAR WAS…well…the year isn’t important. In fact, I don’t even know what year it is.

Imagine that for some inexplicable reason, money, in all its variants vanishes. You insert your card at the ATM, you thought you just got paid yesterday. You’re not even in debt. The balance is zero.

Surely a mistake? Then you look in your wallet. No notes, not a coin. You are not the only one. This has happened to everybody. Money as we know it has disappeared putting the brakes on the world. Stock exchanges go silent. Economies no longer exist.

All of a sudden, what people value is flipped.

Luxuries are pointless because there is no real need. What we need to live is essential: food, water and shelter. Who has these in abundance? Not the UK. We import so much of our resources and rely on office jockeys to such an extent, food in itself would be worth killing for. Without money only tangible goods have any value, a reality which we have been detached from for some time, like a sticker in a car window, gradually peeling away.

Rich people would be land owners, farmers, the producers, people who work the land and have an end product beyond some words on a document, which in themselves cannot sustain a thing. Wealthy persons whose net worth is represented by stock markets and virtual entities such as Facebook would be as poor as you or I.

It’s strange how one thing could singlehandedly change how we live, and in many ways would make us realise what the important things are above all else.

Just a thoughts.

political benchI SAT ON a bench.

I looked to my left. Sitting next to me was a liberal.

I looked to my right. Sitting next to me was a conservative.

I grinned to myself.

 

I looked to my left again. This time a conservative was sitting there.

Confused, I looked back to the right. The liberal was now there.

My smile vanished.

Next thing I know, the conservative is trying to sit on my lap.

The liberal is sitting closer and closer.

 

Anything, for a vote.

 

   the-guest-film

   CURRENTLY THERE ISN’T a great choice of films at the local multiplex. Last Wednesday, using the EE 2 for 1 ticket deal, I went to see The Guest.

Unlike many movie releases which get promoted to cinematic death, The Guest has gone under the film-radar like a stealth bomber. That simile loses some impact when I tell you The Guest, as a film, hasn’t killed anyone from 60,000 feet, but it does deliver some serious impact – or am I missing the ‘DVD falls from plane’ news story?

A brief breakdown of the plot: A man who was friends with a soldier who died in combat, turns up at the dead soldiers’ family home. What he does is tell the family he has a personal message to deliver. One thing leads to another and he makes himself quite at home, only for things to go very, very wrong. If you liked Drive this will be right up your road as there is a themed soundtrack throughout the flick from the seventies and the violence is equally graphic in places. The best thing about The Guest is the dark comedy spread throughout the movie with just the correct dosage in just the right places.

Dan Stevens is unrecognisable from his Downton Abbey character. I assume it is a deliberate ploy to avoid the horrendous Hollywood typecasting that plagues many films and actors careers. Well played. His acting is terrific in this, he really carries the film and becomes his psychotic character. The rest of the cast are solid except for the mother who’s best described as wet but don’t let that put you off. The guest makes for refreshing viewing and is one of the best releases this year.

Verdict? Guilty! – of being a top class thriller. Go and see it, it won’t disappoint, unless you are averse to violence in which case, why would you watch it anyway?

Keep an eye out for Chloe-Moretz’s male doppelganger!

Inside BBC New Broadcasting House, Manchester

WELCOME MR. PATTERSON, to Pear headquarters, I am Sheena!” She looked every part the PR woman, a smile for a face, glinting eyes and dressed immaculately in matching garb. We shook hands and she led the way through a recently polished revolving door into the main building.

A lackey of some sort followed her but never introduced himself. At best it was mildly off-putting, at worst a waste of his time.

“Would you like some refreshments Mr. Patterson? We have organic fruit juices, Sumatran coffee, Sri Lankan tea – French water.” All of these were present on a shiny  trolley next to reception.

“I’ll have some…is that Pear juice?”

She chuckled, yes of course it was.

“Well,” I said, “It only seems appropriate…” I nearly gagged but kept my composure; it was repulsive, every last ml of it.

“So, to business!” she smiled at me. “Let’s begin the tour!”

We chatted as we walked along a perpetual corridor. As yet we hadn’t passed anyone else since reception. We twisted and turned, she talked about Pear’s history. Fascination was not something she was capable of evoking. Yawns were masked by looking away from her radiance.

Suddenly we were walking down a strangely dilapidated, dingy corridor that had paint peeling off it. My observations hadn’t gone unobserved. “Workmen are coming in tomorrow, I’m afraid we weren’t able to have this area refurbished for your visit.” Without warning Sheena opened a door and shot a look at the lackey as if he had forgotten his place.

Her smile returned instantly. “This – is the ethics room.”

I walked inward. What lay within was a room with one miserly fluorescent tube missing its cover. There were no windows. The décor was all a bit eggshell white. In the middle of this oversized room sat a man, who made eye contact from behind a rickety desk adorned by a white telephone, its wire snaking straight toward an outlet ten feet away. I’ll never forget those eyes. If I was asked to recall what colour they were, I’d say desperate.

He said nothing, but looked in need of help. A red striped tie hung crooked from a shirt of wrinkles.

“You might not believe it, but we only require one telephone for all the Pear’s ethics enquiries. Our seed answers any enquiries, but of course we don’t get many. But the job is very important and most importantly rewarding to the seed.”

“Seed?” I asked quizzically.

Sheena smiled at me with twenty I-teeth, “All of our basic level employees are referred to as ‘seeds’ because we are all a team at Pear’s, so there’s no need for names you see.”

“Or individuality..” I mumbled audibly thinking aloud.

“Excuse me?” said Sheena, politely, before moving on.

“He is seed, and he is seed.” She indicated to the man at the desk and the lackey standing feet away, eyes fixed on the dirty concrete.

“So how many complaints do you receive each day?” I asked this to the seed at the desk.

“I’m sorry, but please direct all questions to me Mr. Patterson,” said Sheena evenly. “I’ll let you in on a little secret Mr. Patterson, we haven’t had a call here in nearly two years. I think you’ll agree, that speaks for itself.”

“That seems impossible!”

Sheena answered while scooting us out of the room and continuing the tour. “At Pear, nothing is impossible! We conduct ourselves impeccably as a company. Our employees report the highest satisfaction rates also. In fact many seeds will work overtime for free because they value their workplace so much. It is a mutual dedication. At the risk of sounding overly sentimental, there is a love between seeds and working for Pear.”

This was followed by footsteps echoing off the walls, as a rare silence began.

“Where are we going now?” I said minutes later.

“Deeper,” she said.

“Deeper?”

“To the core.” In the poorly lit corridor I no longer saw her smile. Her facial skin was tight, footsteps quicker.

It seemed as if we’d walked miles past door after door and still nobody else had been around.

“So how many seeds are there?”

“Never enough.” Her voice was colder.

“It’s very quiet down here, not many people around. Or windows…where are we going?”

“You, are going where all the other factory inspectors go.” She glanced sideways at me. “Somewhere safe, ethical. A place away from home.You’ll have all the time in the world to inspect the factory…”

The lackey smirked at this. The atmosphere changed for good.

“I don’t follow..”

“Do not address me unless spoken to…seed. You’ll enjoy it here, because that’s the Pear way, the only way.” She laughed the crazy laugh of a well dressed chameleon.

 

 

 

  Alex Salmond

(A small chuckle at having the option of placing Salmond in the Center, Left or Right)

    AFTER THE 2014 referendum on independence what are the facts?: 55% of the turnout voted NO, 45% voted YES.
The ten percent difference is not indicative of a large disapproval of independence, but decisive enough to end Salmond’s reign as SNP leader and the dreams of many.
What saddens me is the NO vote was never about Scotland’s best interests and anyone who thinks it was, is stepping out into a delusion. When has England, let alone Wales and Northern Ireland, ever cared about Scotland’s welfare unless there was something in it for them? That is the crux of the issue for me in the decision to go solo or remain a part of average, I mean good, no, I mean ‘Great’ Britain.

Certainly Salmond could have had a more transparent financial solution to going indy. I think that in itself may have been his downfall. People started worrying about what currency they’d be using. What implications would this have for savings etc? As if somehow Scotland would become independent and not have a currency to use, as if the SNP were that stupid and disorganised. It’s almost laughable. People do not think like that however, people want concrete this or that, the simple A or B option. Anything else confuses a lot of people.

There was a huge amount of short termism at play alongside voters being suckered in by fear tactics – nothing gets them like fear! Salmond never promised instant returns and improvements to life (in the 14th wealthiest nation out of 200+). Independence is the long game, it’s a vision for the future as well as today. All the UK, Westminster and lobbying-Better Together campaigners care about is short term profits, Scotlands oil resources and…actually there is no and, that about sums it up.

The United Kingdom has never been fully at ease as a union barring perhaps WWI and WWII when we were forced to repel genuine threats to our countries (not perceived threats from, let’s say, Afghanistan). There are of course benefits to being part of a four country merger, no rational person can deny that, just as there are pros and cons to everything in life. Again, the main issue is that Scotland is not getting a government that we voted for.

Voting for independence is a chance for self rule, a chance to influence your nation, a chance for 5million Scots to feel accountable for the society they live in, an opportunity to feel like we are in control of the ship through whatever seas lie ahead. As part of the union we are anchored to England which means London in essence.

I live in Leith. It is about three miles from Holyrood. Westminster is over 400 miles away. Which one am I more likely going to be able to feel connected to and influence? It’s a no brainer. Even the north of England feel totally disconnected.

What has been lost? A golden chance for Scotland to govern itself in full, without having to worry about what London thinks. A chance to govern five million people – surely that is preferable to being run by a UK government (Scotland never elected) that deals with 64 million+?

a good ear

 

   I SAT OPPOSITE my wife in a steakhouse – in itself not the most intriguing anecdote to be retold at parties – we were waiting for our drinks order. A rum and coke for myself, a G&T for her in case you wondered. The taxi man was driving, in case you thought we might be risking DUI.

What happened two tables down was equally Tuesday-night-dull. Two guys; one in leather, the other suited, sat down. They looked serious.

Our drinks order arrived complete with wet napkins thanks to the Parkinson’s waiter. Apart from the recent spillage his service had been great as usual. Kevin was his name, just working away like everyone else to put some cash in his paw, so he could go and get wankered Friday to Sunday.

Now, when a place is quiet, and your wife is tired from a twenty four hour shift, voices can be heard, up to at least five tables away. Leather and Suit were deeply engaged in a conversation. Not one for invasions of privacy I wasn’t deliberately earwigging, I had no Facebook in me in that regard, but you know when you overhear people talking and it is captivating and mysterious? Well theirs grabbed me by the ankles and dragged me over. Olivia was too far gone to notice.

“Did you drown the kittens?” – Suit

“Of course I did, I told you didn’t I? Trust me when I say I’ve done something, it’s unbecoming of you not to.” – Leather

“What about the everything? How many tyres are on the road?” – Suit

I shook my drink, mixing the ice and dark seven year rum just as my Olivia excused herself to go to the toilet with a weak but genuine smile.

“Tyres, tyres! It’s not about the tyres, it’s the size of the trailer.” -Suit

“If I had a Panda for every time you mentioned tyres…” – Leather

Chuckles. Some sort of inside joke.

“…but seriously, I have sunlight hitting skin allll overrr. People are feeling my heat, and yours of course.” – Leather

Kevin approached and took their order. Hungry fellas. Two 21oz sirloins and a couple of double whiskies.

“I do love steak.” – Leather

“So, did I understand Robs take? He will cut off the head if we pluck the chicken?” – Suit

“Well I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. We might not even be talking chickens because of that last agreement. But! – no matter what, he will renegotiate, because, like we’ve seen in the past, bumpers will touch bumpers and sometimes the side airbag goes off.” – Leather

Suit nodded vigorously at this evidently important point.

Olivia returned along with a new coating of lip gloss. She timidly sipped at the G&T as if there was a fly at the bottom of the glass. She said something barely audible but my ears were too busy concentrating on the convo down the way. She twisted around in her crinkly dress, wondering where my attention had gone.

“Let’s leave!” she demanded, once facing me again.

I had little choice. What do you say in this circumstance? Sorry my lovely, but I was most intrigued by the indecipherable and insane back and forth of those two suspect characters…do give me a minute.

I downed my juice, slapped twenty five on the table, slipped my wife and myself into our jackets and headed out, past the two guys. I heard one last string of words before I left.

“..well, I’ve heard the wife is called Olivia. No idea what he looks like, shouldn’t be hard to track him though…small town, tight community. Once the cement sets we’ll be under a moon far away… shame about the kids..” – Leather

scotland-referendum-   WELL, ONLY AN hour and a half to go until the final votes disappear into the ballot boxes across Scotland.

Irrespective of the outcome, there are huge positives to the referendum:

  • Record turnout of voters
  • People are talking politics again
  • It has given Scots the chance to decide the future of the nation

In the current state of the world and the way things are going in the UK and globally, this is Scotland’s last chance for independence for decades.

Some say Scotland cannot run itself effectively, that we don’t have enough money, that the back end of a recession is not the ideal time to split from the Union. I don’t feel that these are valid or true. Scotland can run itself well and deserves the chance that every nation should get: to govern itself 100%.

Scaremongering from the Better Together has been the epicentre of all of their campaign, classic fear tactics by a London centric Tory government who are scared of Scotland breaking away and for their own selfish reasons do not want independence to happen. Sadly Northern Ireland and Wales have barely been mentioned in the entire run up to the referendum tonight, as if they don’t exist in the supposed ‘United’ Kingdom or ‘Great’ Britain. The British Empire has been in steep decline for decades and Scotland leaving the Union is another indicator that external governance is no longer an acceptable state of being for a nation, but is in fact a modern step toward self rule.

Let us see where the cross of a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ takes Scotland and the UK. What will be will be.

 

sun

A repost to take the edge off autumn :)

The Shining

Ra’s rays cascade,

A dying star, firing Vitamin D past my face,

All the way beyond, to the grass blades,

On which I lie, denying them the promiscuous light,

It wins every staring contest, ridiculous, too bright

So I close my eyes, absorbing it’s comfort as ‘lids turn rose red

Winter killed off the flowers, now it resurrects a rose bed

Burning incessantly, turning skin pleasantly, darker

Until I’m ready to scarper from the park

Awaiting the moon to reflect its glory after,

Plucking it from the sky, for turning the horizon pink.

 

 

big words   I HAVE READ good books; my eyes have been cast across pages of bad books, and those inbetween – regardless of writing style, the stories can be brilliantly told and executed. But sometimes, from time to time, when busting out a short story, I start to worry that my product is basic and not at all like the ‘mature’ books or classics beloved by nobody (well a few, because they were told they were classics ergo quality writing).

Ok, ok, I don’t really want to write like Dickens or Thomas Hardy, their writing styles are irrelevant in our age of books – I’m not saying they aren’t fantastic examples of literature from that era. The prose is sluggish and difficult to get through. People had more time then to develop characters and describe every crack in the floor of someones house, or the number of stitches in someone’s jacket. Books were different then but well used language provided it isn’t excessive, is a delight to read.

What I really mean is I find it difficult/ troublesome/ problematic/ or operose writing stories that are sufficiently verbose to interest the reader and keep everything interesting, without arrogantly overusing large words to make myself seem more intelligent. It seems to be a fine balance. An OCD part of me cringes everytime I use ‘the’, ‘and’ or other basic words, yet they are obviously necessary and I didn’t have a problem with these until someone pointed it out – not in my own writing- but in someone else’s.

Do you simply keep a thesaurus handy and add in the odd juicy word? It shouldn’t be forced obviously, and of course there are writers who stick to ordinary language like Stephen King, who’s a real up and comer so I’ve heard. What’s your verdict when it comes to bolstering your writing while avoiding looking like a spelling bee’s practice sheet?

IMG_0454.JPG

<pLET IT GO. You can operate without it. I know for a fact that there will be times when I am tired and lacking in the mental energy to write interesting material whether fictional or real. While my wandering creativity can sometimes have the reliable nature of a pet cat that lives near a busy motorway, when my mind is engaged and full of ideas jostling to exit my headspace, then, I can get my ideas out, often enough to inspire a dozen new posts.

I don’t even have to publish them in one swoop, I can save them for another date so I have a steady stream of posts throughout the week or month. If I pump out six posts in one day, my viewing figures might not be as great as if I released a couple a day for three days.

I actually wrote this days ago, when I had the spare time and had already published several pieces. Just remember to create a new post, as your old draft, if published will appear in the Reader from days ago, and nobody will see it except your dedicated followers unless you change the schedule date for publishing.