Sunday, 12 February 2017

Another Gold Award Winner! My author's interview.

The Time Slipsters spans science fiction, travelogue, historical fiction and comedy while showing a vibrant world of the future and the past. What is the funnest part about imagining and writing the future?
The fun is in seeing things that are commonly regarded as Sci-Fi beginning to happen. I believe that research on the web reveals what a wonderful world we live in. If you look for articles on medical research, the motor industry and technology in general, it also indicates where the human race is heading.
We are already seeing Nano robots being used for keyhole surgery, drugs being tailored to combat and kill cancer cells, and the early diagnosis of dementia, to name but a few. Plus the whiff of flying cars and free power is in the air!
Imagine a world where the health service does not feel overwhelmed by an aging population, because old people are no longer suffering the ‘ravages of old age’. Why would that be? The answer is: treatment of their various sufferings is being mastered, until death they do part! By the way, I come into the latter category.
Envisage a world where travel is from home to destination, in minutes. No airports, no connecting flights or trains or buses or taxis. No squandering of natural resources, no electricity costs, no power stations needed, no pylons or towering wind vanes blotting the landscape. Much of what I describe has been available for over a century, if it were not for intervention of vested interests.
The characters end up traveling through time, and like many stories, their actions in the past affect the future. What was the most interesting part about writing a time travel story?
Getting into the heads of the characters on both sides of the experience of time travel. Drawing word pictures of the experience and conveying mental images to readers was fun too. It challenges my imagination to run riot. By the way, unlike Professor Hawking I do not believe that the death of an ancestor caused by a time traveler would have any impact whatsoever on his or her descendants.
The threat to Earth is revealed by uncovering the mystery of the aliens who have been living under the auspices of the Sombrella Syndicate. What was the inspiration for the Sombrella Syndicate?
I once worked for a Lloyds of London group of insurance syndicates, so am familiar with the concept. The deserted brickworks near where I live in Spain was an ideal undercover location for an alien base, but not big enough to house it, on the surface. Who better to man it, underground, than dwarfs, who have a reputation for mining and gold!
Time Slipsters is book three in the Dreadnought collective. Where does book 4 take the characters?

Book 4 takes the characters in an entirely new direction that totally engrossed me for a while. I took great interest in the feasibility of psychic involvement in crime detection. This added another dimension to the evolution of the Dreadnought Collective. The various characters in all the books are intertwined in book 5, the Sightseers Agency, which is now run under the auspices of the U.S. government, as is the entire collective. The individual agencies in the collective instantly become more effective as the two genres are mixed.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Yippee, an Award for The Inlooker!

The Hungry Monster Book Award
Congratulations!
We are proud to present you with our Hungry Monster Book Award.
Your book deserves extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge
your dedication, writing skill and imagination.
The Gold Award is bestowed on books that we found to be perfect in their delivery of original
content, meticulous development of unique characters in an organic and striking setting,
innovative plot that supports a fresh theme, and elegant prose that transforms words into
beautifully written novels.
Thank you,
Thomas Anderson
The Hungry Monster Book Review

 And the review itself:

***** The Hungry Monster Review

It all starts with a dead cat. Thomas Beckon is a father of two daughters, a husband to a kind, happy woman named Pat, an IT Manager, and a seemingly nice man who many fondly refer to as “Tommy.” His life changes when his daughter’s cat dies, and he realizes that the dead cat’s soul temporarily inhabits the body of another cat in the house. It’s always been his belief that even the smallest creatures have souls, so this discovery intrigues him more than it surprises him. His curiosity leads him to attempt a soul transfer of his own, taking over the body of the remaining cat. After much struggle, he’s successful.

This early success gives him the confidence to move on to humans. He comes to believe that he’s trained his entire life, through his interactions with his co-workers and his ability to understand them, to take on the role of Inlooker. An Inlooker is an immortal supernatural being which has the power to take over the souls of others. Beckon works to enhance these powers, not just reading souls and manipulating his own, but taking control of other people, body and soul.

He starts out using this power for what he believes is “good,” but even his idea of good is twisted around his own self-interests. He moves from doing “good” to purposely doing evil. As Beckon explores his abilities and learns the extent of his power, he will face many enemies, the strongest one of all, himself and his baser instincts. When the future of the world and humanity hangs in the balance, the question for him becomes: can he overcome his greed and hunger for power and chose to utilize his superpowers for the greater good?

Set mostly in England and written by a British author, The Inlooker has a distinctly English voice with a dry sense of humor readers often find in British mystery novels. I enjoyed the voice most of all. It’s humorous, dark, clear, and ironic. At first, I didn’t like the narrator’s intrusions into the story, but I soon grew used to them and enjoyed the quirky voice very much.

The author, Terry Tumbler, is able to move around in time without confusing the reader and without making unnatural or abrupt scene changes. I like the way he reveals Thomas’ true nature slowly, first showing us how he became the Inlooker, and then backtracking to illustrate how he was kind of always an Inlooker, or at least an Inlooker-in-training. His skills didn’t just appear in an act of God type of moment; rather, they were always evolving, always building until the moment when he took over the cat.

This idea of latent powers is further explored when Thomas uses his powers selfishly and heartlessly. Early in the book, I was reminded of the quote by Sir John Dalberg-Acton: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." I at first believed that ultimate power corrupted Thomas, but as the story went on, I realized that self-centeredness and the lack of conscience he displayed always existed within him. Societal norms, familial pressures, and office etiquette had served to control his baser instincts, but once Thomas achieved absolute power, he no longer needed to work within those parameters, so he didn’t. In an ever-evolving world that grows more complicated with an alien invasion, Thomas must decide if dominating the world or saving the world is his ultimate destiny.

I like the format of the book, specifically the short chapters and the descriptive chapter titles. Both kept the story moving at a steady pace. My own personal preference would be for the book to end with Chapter 25 and to not include the Addendum and the five Reference chapters. Beckon does a splendid job in Chapter 25 of wrapping up all the major themes and storylines of the book in a satisfying, yet unexpected way. Readers who like to dive in deeper and learn all the ins and outs will likely enjoy the evolution of the story in the remaining sections.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Love it or hate it - Brexit in two countries

I’ll bet the same thing is happening in America, as permitted by the ruling classes.
Just in from an expatriate Brit! Read it and weep!

A short list of financial and industrial FUBARs from the EU...

- Cadbury moved factory to Poland 2011 with EU grant.
- Ford Transit moved to Turkey 2013 with EU grant.
- Jaguar Land Rover has recently agreed to build a new plant in Slovakia with EU grant, owned by Tata, the same company who have trashed our steel works and emptied the workers’ pension funds.
- Peugeot closed its Ryton (was Rootes Group) plant and moved production to Slovakia with EU grant.
- British Army's new Ajax fighting vehicles to be built in SPAIN using SWEDISH steel at the request of the EU to support jobs in Spain with EU grant, rather than Wales.
- Dyson gone to Malaysia, with an EU loan.
- Crown Closures, Bournemouth (Was METAL BOX), gone to Poland with EU grant, once employed 1,200.
- M&S manufacturing gone to the Far East with EU loan.
- Hornby models gone. In fact all toys and models now gone from UK along with the patents all with EU grants.
- Gillette gone to Eastern Europe with EU grant.
- Texas Instruments Greenock gone to Germany with EU grant.
- Indesit at Bodelwyddan Wales gone with EU grant.
- Sekisui Alveo said production at its Merthyr Tydfil Industrial Park foam plant will relocate production to Roermond in the Netherlands, with EU funding.
- Hoover Merthyr factory moved out of UK to Czech Republic and the Far East by Italian company Candy with EU backing.
- ICI integration into Holland’s AkzoNobel with EU bank loan and within days of the merger, several factories in the UK, were closed, eliminating 3,500 jobs.
- Boots sold to Italians Stefano Pessina who have based their HQ in Switzerland to avoid tax to the tune of £80 million a year, using an EU loan for the purchase.
- JDS Uniphase run by two Dutch men, bought up companies in the UK with £20 million in EU 'regeneration' grants, created a pollution nightmare and just closed it all down leaving 1,200 out of work and an environmental clean-up paid for by the UK tax-payer. They also raided the pension fund and drained it dry.
- UK airports are owned by a Spanish company.
- Scottish Power is owned by a Spanish company.
- Most London buses are run by Spanish and German companies.
- The Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to be built by French company EDF, part owned by the French government, using cheap Chinese steel that has catastrophically failed in other nuclear installations. Now EDF say the costs will be double or more and it will be very late even if it does come online.
- Swindon was once our producer of rail locomotives and rolling stock. Not any more, it's Bombardier in Derby and due to their losses in the aviation market, that could see the end of the British railways manufacturing altogether even though Bombardier had EU grants to keep Derby going which they diverted to their loss-making aviation side in Canada.
- 39% of British invention patents have been passed to foreign companies, many of them in the EU.
- The Mini cars that Cameron stood in front of as an example of British engineering, are built by BMW mostly in Holland and Austria. His campaign bus was made in Germany even though we have Plaxton, Optare, Bluebird, Dennis etc., in the UK.
- The bicycle for the Greens was made in the Far East, not by Raleigh UK but then they are probably going to move to the Netherlands too as they have said recently.

Anyone who thinks the EU is good for British industry or any other business simply hasn't paid attention to what has been systematically asset-stripped from the UK. Name me one major technology company still running in the UK. 

We used to contract out to many, then the work just dried up as they were sold off to companies from France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, etc., and now we don't even teach electronic technology for technicians any more, due to EU regulations.

I haven't detailed our non-existent fishing industry the EU paid to destroy, nor the farmers being paid NOT to produce food they could sell for more than they get paid to do nothing, don't even go there.

I haven't mentioned what it costs us to be asset-stripped like this, nor have I mentioned immigration, nor the risk to our security if control of our armed forces is passed to Brussels or Germany.

Find something that's gone the other way, I've looked and I just can't.

Still want to stay? Well it must be some consolation that you have Cameron to negotiate in Europe on your behalf.

And of course, the real deal-breaker.... Democracy, transparency and independence.  We can vote out our MPs - BUT the European Commission who dictate 55% of UK laws, which are legally binding, are..... guess what, untouchable, unelected and hidden from view.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Future Science that is Available Today

Recently, in a national newspaper, I commented on aspects of future science that are, in my humble view, being suppressed from use today.
     To take one in particular that I find most annoying. It concerns vehicles. My car is a Ford B-Max which is fitted with a 1 liter engine that can accelerate at greater speed than my previous Ford Focus. I was recently offered the chance to adapt its front and back sensors to make it self-parking; I chose to wait, after trying to park my previous vehicle in a badly lit underground space next to a large van and severely scratching the side against a concrete pillar, which sensors would not have detected. In spite of my reservations, self-parking and driverless cars are emerging on the market, and I look forward to the time when I can use one.
     But are you aware that vehicles have already been invented that are powered by electro-magnetism and cost nothing to run? I kid you not. In fact they can also fly. Wouldn’t it be a dream to either rent or buy such a vehicle? Imagine not having to go to airports, be stuffed in the contagion-spreading flying cattle trucks, and fly from your door to your destination without all the associated hassle currently involved with mass transit. Door to door, yum yum. No trains either, because you wouldn’t need them. What a dream, but it needn’t be, today, now.
      I can imagine you scoffing at my assertion, but it is indeed available technology that is being suppressed by the parties who would lose out, mainly the providers of fossil fuels.  I shall now try and dent your skepticism.
John Searl is even older than I am! He’s not a fraud, and is from a humble background, but is seems that you North Americans have seen fit to bring him from the U.K. and give him a corporate identity. As I understand it, he once began powering his home for free, until the electricity company found out what he was up to and forbade him from continuing. Imagine, not having the countryside littered with pylons, nor needing power stations.
     The last but one time I looked, he was being showered with accolades by some official association of American engineers, but that site has since been closed down. You can guess why, if you’ve got an open mind, but don’t worry if you haven’t. We’ve been conditioned in some way to treat all such events with oodles of strong doubt or indifference, and pretend things like this haven’t happened – yet, which is why new technology is introduced at a snail’s pace.
     Free power? No such thing? Cobblers! On the contrary, Tesla had it going at the turn of the 20th century, well before he died. He was closed down be a certain merchant banker by the name of JPMorgan, no less, in the best interests of his investors. Read the books about Nikola Tesla if you are still scoffing.
     Oh, by the way, have you read about NASA’s advanced, successful tests with the ‘EmDrive’’? It’s a self-generating propulsion system that is umpteen times faster than using rocket fuel and provides free power. Don’t hold back if you want to scoff…sorry; I’ve already said that!
NASA is the organization that stated ‘There’s no atmosphere on the Moon’, which is why it’s an optical illusion when the flag planted on its surface flutters. Oh dear, they got it wrong.
Yes folks, we’re stuffed in primitive times having to endure all manner of things until the powers-that-be can get round to serious population reduction. As Mark Carney, the Canadian Governor of the Bank of England, stated recently: thousands of jobs are going to go when we are replaced by robots using artificial intelligence.

How are we going to cope with all these eventualities? Read my book called THE INLOOKER and see my humorous but incisive take on future science, and how we should end up running our respective countries before the politicians decide our fates for us. Painfully.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Reviewers are a mixed bag.

Book Reviewers can be a confungled mix. By that, I mean you end up asking yourself, “What the hell is going on?”
     You finish your latest book, after endless revisions to make it nigh-on word perfect, well-rounded and highly appealing, and release it in various formats. The objective is to achieve ‘marketing success,’ and you are determined to learn from your mistakes and omissions.
     Recently, I enrolled on a marketing course, which began with stressing the importance of having an email list of contacts. I soon realized I was doing everything that was stressed as being important. However, my results were less than sparkling. One reviewer on my list merely commented, “He makes me laugh.” Another read the only first few chapters, like a literary agent would, and criticized another reviewer for praiseworthy comments he had made. Clearly, some sort of vendetta was going on and I was in the middle of it. In fact, the critical reviewer was in the habit of changing her name, as I subsequently found out when I made direct contact with her, and had used the same words in her review of my book as had been levelled at one of her books, so I believe she has issues in her personal life.
     A third noteworthy reviewer made a point of criticizing my lack of definition of the characters featured in one book, where I had gone to great lengths to describe them physically and concentrated on their quirky interactions that led them to deeper relationships. I would have loved to contact this reviewer and challenge him to explain what he meant, but to no avail. Like the majority of reviewers on Amazon, he remains anonymous.
     Another criticized me for detracting from the storyline by including what he described as ‘vignettes’.  These were in fact chapters devoted to describing how the recipients of certain charitable activities felt about being provided with free, eco-housing. A closer study revealed he is a retired pathologist, and was the last person I would choose to review my humor-based books.
     Then, I discovered that the founder of the book review company I use to farm out reviews of my books was reading them and filching my storylines – or so I have good reason to believe. I now have a distrust of giveaways for a similar reason: too many people are out there ready to swoop and poach your ideas, selectively.
     I wait with interest to see what the writers of the TV series, Doctor Who, get up to in the future.
     If I had my way, no reviewer would be allowed to post entries on Amazon or other outlets anonymously, and be banned if they refused to reply to authors, using their posted email addresses. Too many authors are afraid of a making a robust response and regard silence as a badge of honor, whereas I think unwarranted detractors should be challenged. It worked for me on Trip Advisor, where I was a top reviewer for a long time without abusing the privilege.

Amazon reviewers get away with blue murder.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

I leave you with a thought.

I leave you with a thought. It is about the possibility of afterlife.
My parents-in-law were married for 63 years and lived until into their eighties.
     My mother-in-law, Nancy, died first. In hospital. She was unconscious, but waited hours until my wife, her eldest daughter arrived and whispered to her, “It’s me, Sandra, I’ve just flown over from Spain to be here with you.” 
     Within minutes, she sighed her last breath and passed away peacefully in her sleep.
     My father-in-law was distraught, but was kept company by his younger daughter and her family as he shuffled around in his small flat. Within six weeks, on the exact date of their wedding anniversary, he also died in hospital at the same time as she had.
     Call it coincidence if you wish, but all of us were convinced that she called on him to join her, on their final journey together.

Sometime later, I’ll give you my views on what happens to all of us.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Do Aliens Exist?

I ask this question. Knowing that many of you haven’t seen any evidence to confirm that they do, ergo your logic may be: they don’t!
     I spend a lot of time researching the subject. This is because I write Sci-Fi novels, and I like my work to be as authentic as possible. In fact, what I write is not really Sci-Fi. But speculative fiction, which most book publishers do not recognise as a genre. I regard it as this because, believe it or not, most of what I find as I research the subject already exists or is on the verge of becoming reality.
     Recently, I watched a new episode of Ancient Aliens: Series 9 Episode 15 that was about Alien Abductions. I am therefore presenting you with some of its content for you to consider – rationally I hope.
     To start with a contentious example: it is related to a decomposing body of a 60 year old man found dead in a car in Pacific Palisades, California in the summer of 2015.
His name was Jeffrey Lash and he left behind a 1,200-plus firearms, tons of ammunition and $230,000 in cash that were in the Pacific Palisades condo.
I kid you not, he claimed to be a hybrid human and apparently had no fingerprints.
It seems daft, doesn’t it, but where did the stash of weapons and cash come from? Why was he accumulating them?

Okay, it’s a one-off, but read on.
Some years back. I read a report that ex-Russian President Medvedev let his guard down after an interview with five Russian television stations when he failed to realise the cameras were still rolling. He stated that when being handed power, the first file he received was the nuclear codes for starting WW3; the next file contained a list of known aliens living amongst us. I didn’t place much credence on this, thinking he was being jocular, until I saw his face and heard the discourse for myself.
See

Read on.
In July 2007, President Kirsan Ilyumzinov of Kalmykia, Russia, said he had been abducted a decade earlier by ETs in yellow outfits, who took him on board a UFO that jetted off to a star far away. They shared with him information of mutual concern before returning him home.
See
He sounds and looks like a serious man to me, not prone to flights of fancy. He is certainly high profile.

Read on.
Look up the work of Dr. David Jacobs including abductions and the potential for hybrids living amongst us.
See
Read on.
I’ll throw another name at you: it is John E. Mack, MD, Professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, who threw himself open to criticism when he turned from skeptic to believer after interviewing alleged victims of alien abductions. (Incidentally, the word skeptic can also be spelt as sceptic, depending on which side of the pond you live.)
See
Still scoff? There’s lots more ammo out there.

Friday, 3 June 2016

The German iron fist is smashing Europe apart - READ ALL OF THIS

The German iron fist is smashing Europe apart: Merkel's brutal treatment of Greece means a peaceful and prosperous EU is a pipe dream 
By ALEX BRUMMER FOR THE DAILY MAIL

Amid the tumult over Brexit, an annual ritual is being played out which demolishes the notion that Angela Merkel’s Germany is a benign power working for the greater good of its partners in the European Union and the eurozone.
Berlin is demanding its pound of flesh from the government of Greece, which is beset by high debts, economic desolation, broken banks — and the flood of migrants that resulted from Merkel’s catastrophically mistaken open invitation to refugees from Syria.
June and July are when repayments on Greece’s loans are due, and when future repayment arrangements are negotiated. 
And Germany, as Greece’s main creditor, is playing hardball — as it has every year for the past five years.
On Tuesday, the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis warned that Chancellor Merkel’s relentless insistence on keeping to strict repayment agreements was a ‘loop of doom’ for his country, in which the only flourishing industry today is soup kitchens.
The German [repayment] condition amounts to imposing permanently escalating austerity on Greece,’ he said, adding that it was spreading new misery through a nation that is already Europe’s most depressed economy.
No one can doubt that Merkel, together with Germany’s hard-line finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble and the Bundesbank (the German central bank), rule the EU and the 19 countries of the eurozone with an iron fist.
The German Chancellor even issued an ominous warning to Britain yesterday about leaving the European Union. 
Speaking in Berlin, she said the UK was ‘part and parcel of the EU’, before adding: ‘You can have a much better influence on the debate when you sit at the bargaining table . . . the result will invariably be better than being outside the room.’
The truth is that Merkel wants to run Europe her way, whether we are inside the camp or out, and she is determined to impose tough medicine to bring basket-case economies to heel. No matter that these ruthless policies are seriously jeopardising the very countries they are designed to restore to a sound financial footing.
The harshness of German policy has increasingly opened up a chasm between the haves and have-nots in the European Union.
It has poisoned the political atmosphere and led to considerable acrimony between countries like Greece and their unbending paymasters. Every year, as the date for repayments looms, the bitterness increases.
Far from building bridges among nations and advancing peace, as Remain campaigners insist, the EU and the single currency are provoking deep divisions in Europe and impoverishing large regions of it.
The great irony is that Germany recovered after World War II to become Europe’s richest and most powerful nation only thanks to the immense generosity of the allied nations, which forgave large chunks of German debt and funded the country’s reconstruction in the Fifties.
More recently, Britain experienced its own example of unashamed German bullying in the run-up to the UK’s ignominious 1992 departure from the Exchange Rate Mechanism, the predecessor to the euro which pegged sterling to other European currencies.
Our humiliating exit was forced upon us by Germany’s determination to raise its interest rates to curb inflation in the face of pleas by the then Chancellor Norman Lamont to cut Britain some slack.
The subsequent economic and political convulsions led to a 17 per cent devaluation in the pound. But the silver lining was that, once we were outside German influence in the ERM, this weaker pound enabled our sinking economy to make a dramatic recovery from which we are benefiting to this day.
The trouble is that, because it is trapped in the eurozone, Greece is unable to devalue its currency — the best way to boost exports, encourage trade, investment and tourism, and thereby help its economy to recover.
The only alternative is for richer nations in the eurozone to help it out. This, surely, should be the essence of a currency union in which the better-off countries make sacrifices to ensure weaker members survive and the union flourishes.
Yet Germany makes no such sacrifices. Despite the turmoil that has beset Greece since the eurozone crisis flared in late 2009, Germany consistently blocks efforts to relieve the country of its debt burden — an act that would allow it to recover and grow again.
It is true that, before the financial crisis, Greece was appallingly corrupt and profligate, with huge numbers failing to pay taxes, and state spending and borrowing running completely out of control. But the country’s predicament today paints a very different picture.
In the six years since the eurozone crisis erupted, Greek economic output has plummeted by 27 per cent — about the same as for the U.S. during the Great Depression.
Unemployment remains stubbornly high at 25 per cent of the workforce (more than five times that in Germany and the UK) and the youth jobless rate is 51.1 per cent, condemning generations of young Greeks to hopelessness.
Meanwhile, cuts in public spending mean that less than 10 per cent of those who are out of work receive any unemployment benefit.
As Yanis Varoufakis puts it: ‘An ugly reality looms . . . Small businesses have been crushed by punitive taxes, and a wave of foreclosures is on the way. Greece’s hospitals are running out of basic necessities, while universities cannot even afford to provide toilet paper in their restrooms.’
Greece has a debt mountain of €323 billion — 176 per cent of its total output. The hard truth is that it would be almost impossible for any country to repay debts of that level.
Even the Washington-based International Monetary Fund, known for its commitment to financial responsibility and austerity, argues that Greece needs some breathing space.
Indeed, it is demanding that Europe frees Greece from all of its loan payments for decades to give it a chance to repair its economy.
A debt moratorium of this kind, in effect a declaration of bankruptcy for the country concerned, is the classic way of giving heavily indebted democracies a second chance. Yet Greece’s eurozone creditors, led by Germany, are holding out against the IMF plan.
If any country ought to understand the importance of debt forgiveness it should be Germany.
In February 1953, a German External Debt Agreement was signed in London, which cancelled half of Germany’s loans of 30 billion Deutsche Marks to the rest of the world and stretched out repayments of the rest over many years.
I keep a copy of the 145-page document near my desk as a reminder of how statesmanship should work.
A huge act of generosity by Germany’s biggest creditors, including Britain, the U.S., France and Greece, helped clear the decks for a war-destroyed nation and led to the most remarkable economic renaissance of modern times.
The IMF proposes that Greece’s creditors should offer a similarly generous deal as an alternative to the stuttering, stop-go efforts to bring closure to the Greek crisis.
Under its plan, Germany and other creditors would have to wait until between 2040 and 2080 for repayments to be triggered on existing loans. Interest would still accumulate at 1.5 per cent a year, but would add to the total outstanding and would not have to be repaid now.
Such a scheme would give Greece a quarter of century to restore its economy, as the value of the debt would be eroded by inflation.
Germany fears, however, that such a debt moratorium within the EU would spark a domino effect and encourage other struggling eurozone nations such as Portugal to demand similar forbearance.
Yet if Germany does not compromise, the IMF will walk away and the proposal will be dropped, leaving Athens without the cash it needs to pay bills that fall due in July — triggering a political and economic crisis across the eurozone. For the moment, the impending doom in Greece is being overshadowed by the debate over Brexit. Britain, after all, is the world’s fifth largest economy and the second biggest in the EU, and its departure would be a seismic event.
But we should not underestimate the crisis that would result if Germany, forgetting how it was rescued in its darkest hour, confines Greece to a pit of despair while continuing to punish Spain, Portugal and other more peripheral eurozone countries for their failure to obey monetary rules made in Berlin.
These are rules drawn up by the Bundestag and executed by the European Central Bank and the hapless European Commission.
There is no doubt which country and which leader calls all the shots in Europe. Just look at the geopolitical, humanitarian and budgetary mess Germany has unleashed over open-door immigration.

Its insensitivity to Greece is truly chilling — and tells us why the Remain campaign’s glowing picture of a harmonious, secure and prosperous EU is quite simply a preposterous pipe dream.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

A letter to my youngest grandson on his birthday

Deah Toobey:
¡Ola!
I ees a littel Spanish señorita wot as seen yewer foto an licks the like of yew.
Yewer grandfarter is elping me wiv my ingleesh an that is wy I am so gud at it.
¿The next thyme that you is obar ere praps we can play wiv each uver?
I ham a gud licker as yu will zee from MY foto zat yewer mudder will zoon giv tew yew, butt yewer grandfarter feelz zat yu mai not be alowed to zee it but it ees yewer rite, so kip arsking.
Yewer grandfarter olso ses zat he feals zat zer iz an ingleesh proberb zat aplize in zis situazion: “O deah: zee sheet ees gowin to it zee fan” but yerwe mudder wil hexplain. Arsk er.
¡Alo y luv!

Dolores

The photo attached was:



Monday, 26 May 2014

The Paradoxes of Time


The love of the written word came early in my life, and I remember spreading out on the floor to read broadsheet newspapers well before I left junior school. My father ended up taking me to a huge bookshop stacked to the ceilings with second-hand books, where I could select whatever I wanted without charge. I chose classics, which is why I talk funny.
     Now I am a pensioner I have indulged my desire to write stories, and I do it with gusto. It is gratifying to be told by the limited friends with whom I can communicate that they like my work, which normally focuses on the near-future and believable Sci-fi, heavily laced with quirky humour.
     I base my stories on research, and avidly read about UFOs and new technology to give them a believable foundation. This brings me to the subject heading of this blog, since there are paradoxes associated with time that make my mind go into meltdown. Not that it needs much help to do that, since I suffer from brain damage.
     My initial concern lies with the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second (rounded), in a vacuum. To calculate the equivalent miles per hour, this would be multiplied by 60 seconds x 60 minutes, giving a rough speed of 67,000,000 mph. Thus, the Zeta Reticuli system of Sun-like stars is only 39.5 light years away from planet Earth. Hence, I presume that a spaceship travelling at a sustained 67 million miles per hour would take 39·5 light years to reach us.
     My problem is that we seem to be drowning in a sea of UFO verifiable reported sightings and alleged confirmations by various governments, which are subsequently and hastily retracted. This assumes that inter-planetary travel is a regular occurrence for our alien visitors, via wormholes, warp-speed devices and perhaps other dimensions. No wonder the sceptics are having a field day scoffing at others!
     In my naivety, I wonder if the speed of light is an appropriate, provable measure of distance. It does seem to me that 67,000,000 mph is unachievable by any method of propulsion, sustained for any worthwhile period. Yet, there they are, these aliens, flying in our skies, rising from our seas, mutilating our animals and, I am reliably informed, mutilating us as well.
     One problem is that I am convinced of their existence, since I have been in company where we have witnessed their spacecraft in action. This was in the days before Photoshop could be used to confound everyone with fakery.
Last week, I saw a TV documentary featuring Professor Stephen Hawking expounding on time travel. He insisted that it could only be done “by travelling forward, into the future.” This theory is based on the paradox that if a person could travel into the past, and chose to shoot his grandfather, he would cease to exist.
     Which leads me to wonder, if a person travels into the future, and someone living in that future shoots him (or her), wouldn’t the same paradox occur? Surely Professor Hawking is not as daft as I am?
     As regards alien visitors, there is another plausible explanation for their regular and repeated visits to our wonderful planet. They could have been here for a considerable time already, living undetected by the masses but with the tacit agreement of some of the powers-that-be, who are technologically powerless to prevent it, and are their intellectual inferiors.
    At least, that is what I gleaned from President Reagan’s speech about aliens at the UN. No wonder the US Government allows its citizens virtually unrestricted access to guns, in case things get nasty.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A FLIGHT OF FANCY

My poor wife is recovering from her recent hip replacement operation, and is hobbling along with the aid of her wheeled “walker”. Watching her improving pace, I was struck by the power we take for granted in our hips and upper thighs, and the reliance we place on them.
     In one of my more exotic flights of fancy, I remembered a visit we made two years ago with our younger daughter and our two grandsons to the City of Science and Arts in Valencia, which is a couple of hours from where we live. Near the entrance a Dinosaur Park has been built, which features life-sized replicas of repulsive creatures that roamed our World many millions of years ago.
     One in particular caught our attention, and that was the fearsomely aggressive Tyrannosaurus Rex. Its outer skin had been enhanced to replicate the latest findings, which were that it contained small feathers. My mind went into overdrive, as I envisaged being chased by something that resembled a giant, fledgling cockerel.
     The thought of this spectacle changed my attitude to the extinct species, and I burst out laughing. Can you imagine being chased by something that looked like that?
     This was all going through my mind, as my wife disappeared into our kitchen to get herself a drink. I must emphasise that in no way am I comparing her to a T-Rex. However, my timing on this occasion was bad, as she turned back and poked her head around the corner to ask me, “Why are you laughing?”
     How could I possible tell her, without causing grave offence? After all, it was only a flight of fancy.
     One final point; I was watching the Discovery Channel a few months ago, and was told that modern day dinosaurs are all around us: they are the birds!
     I therefore think it is relevant to tell you a factual story based on my early years. This is recounted below.

I found out that a legal footpath existed between our house and the nearby village. It led from our immediate neighbours' properties, through their gardens, past a chicken run and pig sty. It continued down a trail in a small wood, over a sign-posted wooden stile and then through the back garden of another house before emerging into the main road, above a railway bridge.
     There was another sign identifying the footpath outside this house, but I often felt slightly embarrassed about taking this route; however, it was a considerable shortcut on the normal lane that we took by car, and no one seemed to mind.
     Next door’s sty contained the biggest pig that I had ever seen, reminding me in size whenever I saw it of P.G.Wodehouse's fictional sow belonging to Lord Emsworth and called “The Empress of Blandings”. The chicken run contained a noisy cockerel which was not near enough to our house to be a bother.
     One day, as I passed this menagerie, the wire mesh door was ajar, and the hens were wandering around pecking the ground outside, as is their want, supervised by the “cock of the roost”. This bird, to me the size of a pterodactyl, started making a threatening, high-pitched sucking noise, flapped its feathery and leathery wings and took off in my direction.
     I took off too and was chased up the garden path at extraordinary speed by this prehistoric monster, which was flapping its wings to maintain low-level flight, and scratching the backs of my bare legs with its talons until I was bloodied.
     I always checked cautiously in future, to make sure that all the gates were closed before entering this arena.

    Who knows, the neighbour might inadvertently let the Empress out as well? Pigs were reputed to eat all traces of a human, without leaving any part to identify.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

And all the horses were blessed

This Sunday 2nd of February 2014, Sandra and myself walked into our local Spanish town, sat in a favourite café for a welcome cup of coffee (these costing just over a euro each and of a sensible size - not those soup-bowl sized insipid drinks they serve in England). Afterwards, we went out to watch a parade of horses passing the local priest, who threw holy water over them and blessed them. This annual attraction is called the Romería (or Pilgrimage) of San Antón, which is devoted to the local equestrian community.
The sun was shining in an almost cloudless blue sky, the bands were playing, and a cold wind was blowing from inland.
     It reminded me of my early youth 54 years ago, when I last rode a horse in Wales. My motive for doing so was less than honest, as I related in my first book, The Rough & Tumbles Of Early Life, which was intended to be a family momento for the grandchildren.
     This story is shown below, for your amusement. I hope you enjoy it!

Riding as my New Love
After my previous, unrequited attempt at love, I decided to tackle the problem of finding a playmate head-on. “Where do these delectable young females congregate?” I asked myself, and realised the obvious place: riding schools.
The nearest one was not far from where we lived, situated on the fringe of a nearby and more upmarket village next to our ex-mining community and en route to town. The following day, I approached the owner, who was the only instructor as well, and found that he would take me as a pupil the coming Saturday for the princely sum of five bob (a quarter of one pound sterling, which was worth much more than it is today). I accepted and looked forward to my new sport, and to the close proximity that I would soon enjoy to my new companions.
To my humiliation, the trusty steed which was deemed appropriate to my level of untried skill was a pot-bellied Shetland pony; a donkey was not much smaller than this well-fed dumpling. In spite of my embarrassment, none of my all-female companions seemed to be least interested in my plight and retained a superficially placid composure that was similar to mine.
I suspected that some of the slightly older ones, as I looked suspiciously at their dead-pan expressions, were concealing their unbridled mirth and would be cackling with laughter after the lesson.
The basic skills were explained to me alone, like which side of the horse to mount, how to hold the reins and get the steed to start, maintain movement and stop, as we set off to the true countryside that was literally around the corner.
For three quarters of an hour we rode through woods and across moorland, with me playing the role of “tail-end Charlie” (or last man in an aerial-combat formation of aircraft), with the instructor coaxing us along as if we were a herd of cattle being driven along a well-trodden trail.
When we returned to the stables, I pitched in with the others and helped remove the saddle and rest of the tackle from my sweating partner, groomed it with a brush and fed it, aping the movements of the others as they tended lovingly to their own shapely steeds. I resented this to a small extent, feeling that I was being taken advantage of and acting as an unpaid skivvy, but logically accepting that this was part and parcel of the range of activities associated with owning one’s own horse, which I had no intention of doing.
Oh did I ache the next day as I got out of bed; it seemed to be affecting parts of my body that until then I thought only contained bones. How was it possible for me to be aching here, there and everywhere, I wondered, localising each source of pain, and realising that there was more to this new sport than I had reckoned beforehand. Regardless of this, I vowed to continue, and booked lessons for the following weeks.
After some time spent riding the same, mellow creature, the instructor brought out the biggest, snorting stallion that I had ever seen before, which was tugging with its muscular head at the reins being held tightly by him. He nodded to me and said, ‘You are going to ride this one today.’ I thought, ‘Ah, this is more like it,’ inwardly thanking my new friend, and mentally rubbing my hands with glee at what the girls might be feeling now.
The ride that day was marvellous, as my flying carpet unwrapped itself and flew across the moor, with the instructor looking on as our backsides disappeared in the distance; pot holes that might have tripped the airborne animal were a vague consideration, but that fear diminished as the pace of the horse did not slow down once during flight.
After exhausting the moor, Champion the Wonder Horse came to a halt, and we patiently waited for the rest of the herd to catch up. The instructor looked as if nothing untoward had happened and, after we returned to the stable, I was wary when removing the tackle from this volatile animal and grooming it, not to stand near its legs in case it lashed out.
The following week, it lost all patience as we were riding on a narrow bridle path through the wood, veered onto a turning to one side, and tried deliberately to throw me off by bucking, and racing under tree branches that brushed against its lowered head.
I ended up several times by riding the vicious thing with my body at right angles to the saddle, leaning one side or the other as circumstances dictated, and hanging on with grim determination, feeling that it would turn back and kick me if it succeeded in throwing me off.
After an eternity, it realised that its current attempt had failed and I fought hard but successfully by pulling the reins and pressing on its sides with my stirrups to return to the others, where the instructor looked totally unperturbed by events. By now, I had developed enough of an empathy with this rogue creature to be wary of it, and to understand its moods.
We graduated to leaping over low fences in an enclosed meadow, and I did not enjoy this at all, being fearful of landing hard on the body area in front of my buttocks with the attendant risk of damaging my pubescent manhood. The life I would have preferred with horse-racing, if it were going to happen, was clearly going to be confined to racing on the flat, and would certainly not extend to steeplechasing.
During the intervening period, I had bought riding jodhpurs, a quilted jacket, and black purpose-designed helmet, all from my accumulated pocket money.
When my Welsh grandfather was told what I was currently doing as a hobby, he donated two whips that my youngest aunt had left at home when she married and fled the nest.
One was a flexible whip, that I could imagine being used to urge a horse to go faster, but would never dare to apply to the enormous specimen that barely allowed me to sit on its back; the other was short, inflexible and thick, and braided its entire length with a strong cord. I could only assume that the latter device was intended to club an errant horse on the head, if it misbehaved, and might even have served as a weapon to deal forcibly with the lustful advances of my aunt’s previous boyfriends.
With my original intention in mind, I looked forward to developing a fledgling relationship with the other riders receiving tuition at the stables, but found it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand with the strong, horsey smells assailing my nostrils.
The fodder itself smelled uniquely rich and savoury, but not so that I would entertain the idea of sampling it myself; the odour of animal perspiration was more of a distraction, and the smell of horse dung was in a class of its own.
This melange of horse smells was not in the slightest degree conducive to my amorous ambitions, but I remained optimistic of my chances. However, none of the girls showed any symptoms of suffering from nymphomania; not one of them had a tendency to caress their aching thigh, or had a mischievous gleam in their eye as they stretched seductively, or wore lipstick, or offered any other encouragement that could give me a glimmer of hope.
Our conversations focused solely on the behaviour and wellbeing of our four-legged friends. The girls' high–pitched tinkling voices were beginning to irritate me like church bells, with a detectable twang to them that I thought to be unattractive.
No doubt they found my pronounced accent not to their taste either, but by this stage I had lost interest in horse-riding and abruptly packed it in, which must have disappointed the Old Man, who I found out later had been showing interest from afar in my new pastime.
However, he had not financed it, and as far as I was concerned, the choice was therefore mine as to what I did with my personal life.
Nor did I have any intention of revealing my continuing interest in the opposite sex, after his earlier aggressive reaction when I had done nothing more than look admiringly at the young lady outside our house.
_____________________________________________________________



Friday, 13 December 2013

Letters at Xmas from and to student Granddaughter

Hi Mam and Bamps,
     Just finished for Christmas term but I still have so much to do! I am working on live briefs for some Big Companies as part of my studies at the moment which is pretty exciting and lots of dissertation feedback to sink my teeth into and lot's to re-write and research.   That blog you sent me is very good, as a matter of fact I just turned down specialising as part of my course.
     They wanted us to chose either typography, branding, video or 3D and I said no, I would rather not specialise in only one thing and reduce my job opportunities. A varied portfolio matters more than one with tons of pages of typography or branding as what if 
A) I applied for a job that wanted more from me.
B) If I wanted to change specialism I would have restricted myself and lost out on learning other specialisms.
C) It gives me a higher scope for job searches.
      Very interesting that you should find that blog, so thank you very much for sending it to me. How have you both been? How is Mam's hip and Bamps how is the old ticker?
Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Much love 
XXXXX xx

Dear XXXXX,
Mam is turning into a real grumpy, cos of her hip. I've got her labelled as a 'Lippy Hippy', which stops her in her tracks. I'm going to ask the surgeons to give me her dead hip so I can turn it into an umbrella stand if she keeps picking on me.
     She's finally asked the airline and airports to give her a wheelchair, since she can't possibly walk the distance from gate to customs, It was either that or skates, and me pushing with my foot as I wrestle with the cases.
     I'm fine, apart from nearly fainting off when at the wheel of the car (only joking, apart from the fainting bit). 
     Mind you, it might be because of the smoke filling the house, now that I'm keeping a fire going because we don't have any central heating, Would you believe that this flaming country is the second highest in Europe, after Switzerland. Bruce almighty!
Love,
Bamps
PS 1. Is your boyfriend, Thomas the Tank Engine, still reading my book, even though he's anorexic?
      2.  Do you realise that Mam is going to have ONLY a local anaesthetic for the hip operation? Ye Gods. That's her Xmas presents sorted out - a fan to reduce the smell of bones being fused to metal, and earplugs to reduce the noise as they hammer and drill things in place. Ho ho ho.



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Curse of Amazon Strikes One of my Books

All was happy in my life. I had finally finished my second book, Santiago Stories, and published it in its original incarnation on Amazon Kindle.
     Slogging away through endless lists of reviewers, as recommended by Amazon marketeers, I finally found one who was prepared to review my treasured labour of love. Yes, I had hit paydirt!
     A week later, the good lady announced that she had finished her review and loved my book, giving it a full blown 5 star rating that was duly published by her below my book title.
     Like a shot, one of Amazons anonymous editors (in the USA no less!) pronounced it "Book of the Month - so far" and I sat back waiting for the lolly to roll in. Then, to my added astonishment, it was promoted to "Book of Year 2013 - so far..." and I was in seventh heaven. I was basking in false glory, until I found out that the accolade was somewhat tarnished by its concealment from the public; it did not appear until the actual book page was finally reached.
     Now there is something that I should tell you about my book: it is a spoof of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The short stories in both books  make no mention of the actual pilgrimage, and are bawdy in their contents. Mine were if anything even more bawdy than Chaucer's, since I was seeking to cash in on the same type of market as 50 Shades of Gray.
     However, I did point out early on that no mention of the actual journey was mentioned by Chaucer and my offering followed a similar style. In any case, one only had to flick through the free read to deduce that mine was primarily concerned with telling risqué stories intended to make people laugh.
    As time progressed, I even gave would-be readers the chance to download the book for free over two days. It was duly grabbed up by quite a few readers, none of whom saw fit to write a review of the contents. I read afterwardsthat someone who had written and published a steamy love story had been rewarded with 45,000 downloads, but only a measly 45 reviews. My experience was clearly not unusual, but you have got to wonder at the mentality of readers who cannot be bothered to respond as a token of their appreciation.
    Anyway, in the meantime I had found a publisher who liked my work, read it thoroughly, and sent me an editorial review. This required me to provide a detailed itinerary of the actual pilgrimage. I had been hoping to avoid doing this, but was rewarded with a much improved story that reads something like The French Lieutenant's Woman; that is, the individual short storied were now wrapped in an overall sequence of events acting as a well-told "wrapper”.
    In the meantime, some evil person masquerading as a reviewer called Liloladyhoo, or something like that, had vindictively posted a review stating - in a nutshell - "This has nothing to do with walking the caminos of Santiago. It’s just a book full of stupid stories. Don't buy it!"
    Rapidly, my overall 5 stars diminished to 3, and I was outraged. I asked Amazon to delete the adverse comment, on the grounds that my well-crafted stories are anything but stupid and the buyer should have been aware of the nature of the book from my warning. They refused, citing their guidelines and rules for reviewers as justification. I studied these conditions and found that their ruling was perverse and inconsistent.
     For example, one rule specifically cites that comments must not be made that are spiteful; couple this with the guideline that any adverse comments must be supported with clarification supporting and explaining them, and the situation is clear. Whatever else surrounds the list of rules and guidelines, these are irrefutable and unambiguous conditions for accepting reviews. Yet three times Amazon staff have refused to delete the review on the grounds that it complies with their requirements for a review to be accepted.
     Clearly, the nellies at Amazon are a law unto themselves, to the point where they are in flagrant breach of their own guidelines. The review I object to is even written under an alias, which is a shameful way to behave. Liloladyhoo has only ever written two reviews and the other was even more scathing than the one written about my year's worth of effort.
     What to do is the question? Well, I have written to Amazon again, and posed the question: "If you want to take that attitude, you won't and cannot mind if I too indulge in the same behaviour and begin a mass campaign of giving reviews that basically state, 'Don't bother to read this book. It is from a stupid company called Amazon and is just a stupid story,'  signed by Liloldmanhoo. My wife is a voluminous reader of Kindle books and can soon get stuck into her task with relish. I take it as read that you cannot complain and will take no action?"
     To date, no reply has been received. I have since reviewed 20 books so far  that my wife has read, using these expressions and under the guise of Liloldmanhoo, and will see if Amazon attempts to suppress them. If they don't, the reaction from fellow authors should prove interesting.
     My fear is that if nothing is done to curb Amazon's repeated bad judgement, this type of dilemma can occur ad nausea for any book that any author publishes with this monolithic monster of a company.
     Now I am about to start looking at the Editor's Picks of new releases. Study them yourselves for a short while, and you will wonder at how many books are in the top 100 Paid Bestsellers with scarcely a handful of reviews to their credit. Something very odd is going on in the world of Amazon, and it flies in the face of logic.


Sunday, 3 November 2013

An extract fromThe Rough and Tumbles of Early Life - Yo-Yos and Model Aircraft



The yo-yo in its simplest form is an object consisting of an axle connecting two disks, and a length of twine (usually called a string) looped around the axle. It is played by holding the free end of the string typically by inserting one finger in a loop) allowing gravity or the force of a throw to spin the yo-yo and unwind the string, then allowing the spin of the yo-yo to wind itself back to one's hand.
The craze for spinning and dangling a yo-yo from the end of a length of string was in full swing in the late 1950s. Our school yard was full of exponents of this new toy, playing competitively with their yo-yos (if you can excuse the pun) and surrounded by groups that varied in number according to the dexterity of the individual players.
Yo-yos were flying in and out horizontally on their cords, up to a typical five hundred attempted times, or upwards vertically for a few times (being a much more difficult feat to accomplish repeatedly), and even crawling along the ground – known as “Walking the Dog” - or between arms and hands where the player was especially skilled and in tune with his yo-yo.
Typically, I would play with my bright red yo-yo at every spare moment in my bedroom, bouncing it up and down, in and out with self-absorbed concentration; unfortunately, when fully extended, it reached the ceiling and soon left a lot of bruise marks on the white painted surface. It did not occur to anyone that the yo-yo might prove to be an effective martial arts weapon, but I had been tempted once or twice to lob it at someone’s unwary head when they annoyed me.
Of course, this type of skill pales in comparison with the modern craze for skate boarding, but in those days there was nothing that really compared with it. That is, apart from the hula hoop, which is a fairly rigid and large plastic-covered hoop that is twirled around the waist, limbs or neck, but this sport was typically in the domain of the fairer sex and never really took off with us boys.
To help hide the marks on the ceiling, which began to puzzle my mother, I started assembling plastic fighter planes from the first and second World Wars, buying as many Airfix kits as I could afford without dipping into my bicycle fund; these were then attached by sewing thread from the ceiling, using drawing pins to make the connection and hide the original yo-yo marks.
My collection of model aircraft soon became impressive, ranging from the pretty Sopwith Camels, to Baron Von Richthofen’s triplane, the legendary Spitfires and Hurricanes, to their German counterparts, the Messerschmitt fighters and Stuka dive bombers. The smell of the glue provided was also intoxicating, and I developed a fondness for it that has spanned the years.
I then decided that I wanted to build a model aircraft that could fly, and bought a much larger kit that used a rubber band which would be attached to a propeller. Rotating the propeller wound the rubber band tightly; releasing it made the propeller whirl at high speed, and we would have lift-off.
For weeks I laboured over this primitive aircraft, sniffily gluing together the balsa wood frames of the fuselage and wings, spreading the provided tissue paper over the skeletal joints and coating it with dope it until this flimsy covering stiffened and hardened.
Finally, one balmy summer’s day, I felt that it was ready for its maiden flight; winding the rubber band by turning the propeller, I achieved maximum torsion. Aiming the little beauty at our field, with the railway embankment in the distance, I launched it into the blue horizon.
It was a marvel to behold, as it flew in a straight line ever upwards. Across the field it went, with me in hot pursuit, and disappeared over the tracks. I never saw it again, and felt devastated.