Saturday, 31 December 2011

Deserted London, and prawn boxing

Two interesting things, courtesy of mefi.

A photographer goes out early on Xmas morning, and photographs an eerie, deserted London.

(photo by Ian Mansfield)

And an astonishing new blog from Adam Curtis, in which he does the Adam Curtis thing linking 50's East End gangsters, property speculation, debt-based capitalism, the film industry, quantitative easing and films about boxers who happen to be giant prawns.

Monday, 26 December 2011

A quick Xmas tip

Alan Ryker's latest, Blood Tells True, has just gone live on Amazon. Go and treat yourself.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Family routine, Christmas Eve. Girls go get hair done at some ridiculously early hour. We drive through to Durham, pretending to the kids that we're not going to the panto that we've been to every Xmas Eve for the past six years. They pretend to be fooled. We sit in the front row, and this year get covered with shaving foam, and repeatedly harrassed by a man dressed as an elderly woman (my son, grasping for the correct panto terminology of dame, simply described her as 'the ladyboy'), and have a great time. Then we go to the same Italian restaurant we've been to every year, eat big, late, lunch, marvel that it's actually Xmas Eve already, and where the hell did December go anyway? Then drive back home, sort things out, settle down. Which is what I'm about to do now. Things are done. Things are sorted. I am knackered. We are all knackered. But things are ready.

So that's me done. See you on the other side, thank you to everyone who reads this, and I hope you all have a great one.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

December catch-up

Been on travels a little bit - Yorkshire for a few days, and down to London for a couple of days to have family reunion. Good times. Had tour of parliament courtesy of my sis, and we sat in on a debate in the House of Lords, only to be taken a little by surprise when Floella Benjamin stood up to speak. No Lord Cant, though, or Lady Hamble.

My books have been getting some love recently - Nowhere To Go has featured in a couple of best of the year lists over at Luca Veste's Guilty Conscience, and there's a lengthy and lovely review of Ice Age by Eva Dolan. As an experiment we've put Nowhere To Go into Amazon's new Select program, and made it free for a couple of days as a one point in the Amazon UK short story charts free category Nowhere To Go was number one and One Step Closer was number six.

I liked this set of New Year's Resolutions by Woody Guthrie. Speaking of Woody, I also really enjoyed last week's This Is England '86. The characters feel like a bunch of old mates now, and Woody most of all, because he reminds me of someone I knew in real life.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Gone all CBGBs this weekend

Time for another music post. Here's some of the soundtrack to the last few days.

Television - Days 

I love the guitar on this, it's just beautiful.

Richard Hell and the Voidoids - Love Comes In Spurts

There is nothing you could change that would make this song better, even the flaws.

Talking Heads - A Clean Break.

The Name Of This Band a fantastic album. Youtube fails me on this one, so here's a link to the audio on Songzilla. And here's a picture of David Byrne channeling Anthony Perkins.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Introducing Penny Dreadnought

I mentioned a little while back an exciting new project that I was involved with. It's now burst into life, with the first in a projected series of books: Introducing Penny Dreadnought, Insidious Indoctrination Engine of the Abominable Gentlemen.

From the malignant minds of the Abominable Gentlemen comes the first volume of Penny Dreadnought.

Within these pages you’ll find the following seeds of madness:

“Lilies” by Iain Rowan
“Cargo” by Aaron Polson
“First Time Buyers” by James Everington
“Invasion of the Shark-Men” by Alan Ryker

Introducing Penny Dreadnought, Insidious Indoctrination Engine of the Abominable Gentlemen is approximately 22,000 words, or 88 paper pages, and can be purchased at:

Barnes & Noble

Great things are planned for the future of the series, and I'm delighted to be keeping the company of such talented writers.

The Abominable Gentlemen will also be blogging

Monday, 5 December 2011

Bank robbers

“HSBC, Britain’s largest bank, has been slapped with a £10.5m fine by the Financial Services Authority for selling unsuitable products to almost 2,500 elderly customers…In many cases the five-year investment period for the bonds was longer than the individual customer’s life expectancy…a review of a sample of customer files found unsuitable sales had been made to 87% of customers.”
(Guardian, 5th Dec)

So, let me just take a minute to get this right. On massive scale, a subsidiary of HSBC has been making a fortune mis-selling a financial service to vulnerable, elderly people near the end of their lives. The service is intended to help people pay for their long-term care, but in many cases the investment period for the bonds exceeded the fucking life expectancy of the people to whom it was sold.

Am really struggling here. If someone preys on the elderly via a doorstep fraud, or a bogus roofing job, chances are they'll get sent to prison. The difference here is..?

I can't see it.

And the fine? Big fucking deal. I know £10.5 million sounds like a big deal, but this is a company that made a profit of £12 billion in 2010. Put it this way, it's like someone on £20,000 a year being fined £160.

That'll show 'em.

(I've just heard that the fine is less than the commission that would have been earned on the investments. Words fail me.)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

A Month In Music

A Month In Music is my favourite discovery of the last few weeks.

The author has thirty days of music in his iTunes collection, 10,513 songs. He switches iTunes to shuffle, and presses play. The result is a very well-written, sweetly melancholy blog that riffs off the songs played across the month to talk about music, and memories, and how life turns out as it goes past. As you read on, you realise that the blog tells the story of the end of a marriage, and the songs that soundtrack first meetings, time together, time apart, time done.

Good photography, good music, good writing. Check it out.