Category: Personal (Page 2 of 18)

Okay Then, Let’s Talk About Students And Fees And Taxation

There is, as readers in the UK will be aware, currently an enormous amount of debate about the issue of funding of students in University; unfortunately, much of it is reduced to being debate and nothing else, as the coalition government seems intent on putting through legislation to remove funding, and make students have to pay for their courses (despite recent protests on the streets and pledges from members of the coalition, during the election campaign, to oppose such measures), and so it looks horribly like a fait accompli. And I think it is a very bad thing indeed. For reasons I shall explain.

History lesson, in which the edges of things go blurry and wibbly: in the olden days, if you were lucky or smart (or both) enough to get good enough grades to go to college, you could get your fees paid to do so, and also a grant to enable you to buy books and the like (okay, so much of it probably went on beer and chips, but let’s not pretend that all money allocated to a specific purpose necessarily goes where it should: if that was the case, UK taxpayers would have been aware of a ‘propping up the banks’ aspect of their taxation system in the past few years). After a while, this became means-tested, so that if you were academic but from a family of limited income, you’d get a full grant, or if you came from a family of millionaires, you’d get no grant on the basis that your folks could afford to pay for your rent and food and the like. Or, if you were somewhere in the middle, there was a sliding scale, with the grant expected to be made up by parental contribution.

If you’re wondering about my personal experience of this – and all too often people seem keen to look at the anecdotal or personal at the expense of the overall picture, so let’s get this clear now – I fell somewhere in the middle; I got a partial grant, which my parents were expected to top up, and my fees were paid. This was probably fair, though at the time I railed against the system a bit, as my local council decided, in the first term of my second year, to go on strike, so I didn’t get my grant cheque through until two days after term had finished, so I had a very thin term financially (who, you ask? Sheffield City Council, I reply). Anyway, my parents had to make some sacrifices to support me, and I had to use some money I’d inherited from my paternal grandmother too, but that’s how it was for me. And, I suspect, for many others. How do I feel about this? I’ll get to that in a moment.

Anyway, back onto the history lesson: during the last decade or so, the idea of the state (through tax revenue) paying for young people to go to college has gradually been chipped away at (oddly enough, coinciding with successive governments striving to get increasing numbers of 18-year-olds into higher education; a cynical man would suggest that they were doing so to keep them off the unemployment totals, but that’s a discussion for another time). And the current governmental thinking, in line with the fact that the UK economy was as badly hit by the recent economic crisis (read: the markets being shocked at the impact of market forces),is that students should have to pay for the courses themselves. The maximum amount being bandied around is Ł9K per year, for three years, so Ł27K.

Leaving aside for a moment the fact that – no, in fact, let’s not: the fact is, it is a complete and utter disgrace that politicians, many of whom reaped the benefit of the old system, should put through legislation to stop current and future generations of young people having the same opportunities and advantages they had. If any of them had any trace of self-awareness, they’d offer to pay back the money they received in fees and grants, adjusted for the RPI and inflation since that time. As it is, they’re all right Jack, thanks for the free money, and now it’s time to pull the ladder up. Appalling.

One argument which is currently, constantly, and I believe disingenuously, made is that it’s unfair for the bulk of the population, many of whom will never earn as much as a graduate will, to be expected to pay for the education of someone else in this way. Which sounds spurious to me – I don’t know about you, but paying in a bit to ensure there are a lot of smarter people, be they in factories or hospital wards, sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Insurance, if you will.

But – and this is the key thing referred to in the title of this post, and one which I believe the coalition government is either unaware of (unlikely, I’m not the blinding-insight-merchant I wish to be) or wilfully obscuring (far more likely, as it raises awkward questions about taxation in general as a system) – what actually happens is that graduates pay tax in a variety of forms, which pays for the education system. And the NHS. And the police. And defence. And government. And, in a strange and confusing recursive loop, the system of taxation itself.

You hear a lot of people – especially politicians on the stump – talk about “hard-working families”. And that phrase is very probably true, many people with families are run ragged just trying to keep everything going on a day-to-day basis, let alone on a financial and employmental level, but a lurking and rarely-spoken truth is that families are a complete pain in terms of their effect on public services: kids need hospitals to be born in, parents need support in the initial years and vaccinations to be given, and then there are schools to be attended, street lighting to make sure the kids don’t get knocked down by cars, books in schools and libraries to teach the little blighters to read, and then when they hit the teen years, they may even need assistance from the emergency services after they’ve been out binge-drinking… okay, I exaggerate, but not much. Families may indeed be hard-working (I was an often-indolent child, so I suspect the adjective often applies more to the parents than the children, at least since the days of child labour ended), but they don’t half create a drain on the public purse.

As someone with no kids, do I feel the same way about paying for these families as I apparently should about funding people to go to college? No, of course I don’t, because I’m not a moron. I pay council tax for the lighting of streets I don’t walk down, I pay tax which the NHS spends on helping smokers and drinkers and the morbidly obsese and those born with mental and physical difficulties, and no, I don’t feel resentment about that in the slightest. Because I’m able to recognise the fact that paying tax into public services is a great big insurance policy – one day, I may have kids who need vaccinations and schools and lollipop ladies, or one day I might fall over in the street and need an ambulance, and the same goes for all of us.

The argument that ‘ordinary people’ shouldn’t play a part in funding other people to go to college strikes me as a totally fallacious one, for three further reasons:

1) There are very few people in the UK who haven’t benefitted in some way from a service which has been supplied as a result of taxation. You may have private healthcare and have been educated at a fee-paying school, but I’ll wager you’ve walked on a pavement, travelled on a road, or walked down a street which has been illuminated by street lights. Show me the person who has never benefitted from a publicly-funded service in their life, and I will show you a millionaire recluse, or a liar.

2) If you’re going to argue that people shouldn’t have to pay tax for causes which they disagree with, you’re asking for trouble. Many people disgree with military action in Iraq, and they’ll presumably be entitled to reduced taxation as they don’t have to pay the money that goes towards the MoD budget. If governments are going to start suggesting that you shouldn’t pay tax on things which you don’t like or don’t personally benefit from (I think that this is generally known as ‘hypothecation’), they’ll see a lot of people objecting to a lot of things (I’d start with the fact that the 20 or so bars within the Palace of Westminster are subsidised by taxpayers, but – again – that’s a topic for another time).

3) Are the government seriously trying to pretend that ‘ordinary hardworking families’ will see the benefits of this scheme? They’ll still have to pay the same amount of tax (because there’s no way that the government will say “Well, the money you’re paying to fund colleges isn’t needed any more, here’s Ł[n] back”). You’re not going to get a refund cheque, so let’s not deceive ourselves that the outcome of the “I don’t see why I should have to pay for…” debate will actually mean more money in your pocket.

In summary, I have no problem at all with paying tax on things I don’t – or, to be more accurate, don’t currently – use, because a lot of public services are there for other people. Which is fine. I don’t mind paying to ensure that there are hospitals and schools and police and libraries and public transport and museums and street lights and roads and so on, but what I do mind is when people pretend that there isn’t a need to pay out for these things, just because they’re not using them.

And, of course, I mind when politicians try to simplify the debate and obfuscate the fact that most people who pay tax (and that includes graduates, past present and future) are, in some way, subsidising people they don’t know who are doing things they won’t necessarily feel the immediate benefit from.

It’s society, or community: a group of people pulling together, or getting in place the means to pull together, to ensure opportunities for as many people as much as possible, due to sacrifice being spread across the group. Pulling together like this in an organised fashion is, I suspect, what separates us from the animals.

And millionaire recluses, I guess. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

A Delay, Not A Denial

Just to update you on Persona : there’s been a slight delay in the app being approved by Apple (this sentence may hold the blog record for the most uses of the letters ‘app’), so the revised start date is currently 15 January 2011.

I will, of course, keep you fully informed.

In the meantime, though, more pictures from Persona – some from Jane’s story – are available to view here.

This is likely to be the final post of 2010, so have yourself a cracking start to 2011, and may the year bring you everything you could hope for, and a few surprises (pleasant ones, of course).

If you’re out tonight, here’s hoping your evening doesn’t lead to you looking or feeling like Lucy, the Persona character pictured here.

See you in 2011.

Persona Update: Teaser Trailer Now Available Online

As I mentioned in this post, I’m one of the writers on the smartphone drama Persona, which is coming in January 2011 – and here’s the teaser trailer:

It’s the first time I’ve seen anything I’ve written being performed, and I can’t wait to see Jane’s storyline brought to life – I’m super-pleased to see Amanda Sterkenburg in the role, as she has exactly the kind of look I was hoping for in the character.

And is it childish that I’m amused that the Youtube ‘freeze screen’ shows Jane? Very probably… but it’s true.

It’s Christmas Weekend, Right? So This Isn’t Really Late…

A very happy holiday to you, my faithful and shockingly patient readers.

Hope you had a good day yesterday, and that any more time you have off between now and the end of 2010 is positively bottom-kicking.

I raise my steaming mug of tea to you, whoever and wherever you are, and wish you the best.

Not So Much A Forgotten Future, More An Overlooked One, I Like To Think

Recently, New Scientist ran a Flash Fiction Writing competition, which invited entrants to speculate about futures which never were, or could have been.

Well, I entered, but as the shortlisted folks have now been contacted and it doesn’t appear that I was one of them, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my entry with you lovely people. Waste not, want not, as they say, and hopefully it’ll amuse you…

I Still Dream Of Orgonon

Deciding that Operation Paperclip had been very successful, in the mid-1940s the US government ran another operation collating scientific knowledge, once again targeting foreign nationals resident in the USA.

An admin error put Albert Einstein and Wilhelm Reich in the same group, but the two had met previously, and got on well. They talked about how Reich had fudged his figures last time, and Einstein candidly admitted that he’d pretty much done the same in introducing the cosmological constant, and they laughed, and set to work.

Within a few months, they announced that Reich had been right about Orgone after all, and whilst the UK set up a Health Service, the USA provided tax incentives for the mass manufacture of Orgone Accumulators. By the early 1960s, there was an accumulator in every home, and the average life expectancy had increased by 23 years.

Other countries followed suit; in 1983, the UK used Reich’s cloudbusting technology to improve their weather, and other countries used the same technology to counteract droughts and turn deserts into meadows.

Global population levels, but most notably those in societies with a strong religious influence, stabilised once it became clear that channelling sexual energy served the common good, and in many countries state-funded single-sex boarding schools for teenagers replaced power plants, boosting power reserves and education levels alike.

Einstein and Reich both lived to be centenarians, though tragically neither saw Project Iapyx, and the launch into space in 1999 of the first Orgone-powered spacecraft towards Barnard’s Star.

Iapyx I is expected to report back in 2012.

Coming Soon To A Phone Near You…

I’m pleased to be able to tell you part of the reason why I’ve been so absent from blogging recently, and it’s legitimate and real and relates to actual writing and everything.

I’m one of the four writers on the daily smartphone drama Persona, which is coming from the lovely folks at App-Media in January 2011. There are three other folks contributing words (Phill, Ronnie, and Adam), and between us we’ve written the first ‘season’, which will cover the whole month of January.

It’s been genuinely interesting writing my ‘slice’ of the show (the various strands weave in and out of each other, and new episodes – or, rather Appisodes – will be released on a daily basis. As I understand it, you’ll be able to buy the app from the appropriate online place, and then you’ll automatically get the new show delivered to you. Sounds a lot like the Cracked Reader for the iPhone which I have, and am very happy with.

As you can see from this set of photos, a rehearsal was held on November 27, though I won’t say (or perhaps can’t say?) which cast members are involved in the storyline I wrote. But if you want to see the character breakdown, it’s here, and those of you who’ve followed the blog for a while will probably be able to guess which characters are ones I’ve come up with (clue: look for the usual verbosity)…

Shooting is taking place this week in London, and if you’d like to be an extra, I believe they’re still looking for people to do just that. You will, of course, get to feature in a pretty revolutionary bit of drama, but more than that you’ll get to meet the nice people involved (I can speak from actual ‘IRL’ encounters with them, they’re lovely), plus you’ll receive a credit and get food and travel expenses paid for. If you’re available this week in London and interested, the best ways to get in touch with them seem to be either Twitter or Facebook. Tell them I sent you.

Anyway, it’s been a genuinely interesting (and hopefully for all involved, productive) time writing the scripts for Season One (or ‘January’, as it’s more commonly known), and I’m looking forward to being involved with Season Two – and, of course, seeing how the cast play the lines I’ve written. One thing which it’s certainly reinforced in my mind is the fact that redrafting is vital for me, and as much as I might like to think it’s the case, the first thoughts out of my head onto the page are very rarely the best. Even the brightest jewel, I like to think, needs a bit of polishing to shine (ahem).

I’ll tell you more about how to view the show, and where to buy the app, and the like, as soon as I know more. And, of course, if you are an extra, do drop me a line and let me know how it goes, eh?

Big Ups To All My Haters, As I Believe The Song Puts It*

Well now. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? If it provides any kind of justification for my absence, I’ve recently had a job which took me out of London (and away from easy access to a full-size keyboard), but now I’m back.

And what, you may wonder, have I decided is the best way to re-commence regular blogging activities? Why, tis nothing less than the perennial subjects of love and hate… well, kind of.

Love and hate, we’re often told, are two sides of the same coin. Or there’s a thin line between them. And so on. Basically, we’re often fed the idea that the two of them are very close together – it’s simple enough to see why, they’re both extremes of feeling or opinion, and particularly in the field of emotion, disappointment and annoyance with someone we’ve formed an attachment for can easily cause us to become equally vehement in our negativity towards them; in films and TV shows, it’s often quite common for characters who spend a long time being antagonistic towards each others to end up smooching, though I have to say that (relaxed licensing hours notwithstanding) I haven’t seen that happen quite so frequently in real life.

If we’re going to be honest about it – and I think we ought to, as life is often more complicated than simplistic presentations of emotional duality in programmes such as the Jeremy Kyle Show would have us pretend – there’s actually a long distance to travel between love and hate, if we’re using the words in their strictest sense. I love reading, and it would take quite a lot of negative reading experiences (that is to say, bad books or whatever) before that affection for the activity turned into hate. I’m sure you can think of things which you enjoy immensely – would it really take the equivalent of a coinflip, or a hop over some imaginary line, to make you hate them with equal intensity? I doubt it.

In reality, the line between love and hate, when viewed in three dimensions, manifests as a vast plane, with slight disaffection and indifference and irritation with at various stages between the two extremes. And if love and hate are sides of a coin, we should be honest enough to admit that it’s actually more of a cylinder than a coin, with enough stages and distance from one side to the other as to make the particle acceleration corridors at CERN look like a cupboard for the electricity meter.

I increasingly feel that there’s a problem with people presenting arguments or opinions in a way that suggests you either love something or you hate it; you’re either a fan or a hater. And whilst we’ve often seen this used to simplify political debates – in 2002, a popular simplification was to suggest that any doubts about military action in Iraq equated with approval for the regime of Saddam Hussein – it also seems to be used increasingly in relation to more everyday issues.

Let’s take an issue which, in and of itself, doesn’t really matter, but which is often portrayed as some kind of ideological battle; the question of whether Apple products are better than PCs. To read a lot of review columns, or to hear people talk, you’d think that one was vastly superior to the other, and that using the opposition’s products is the action of a seriously ill-informed person, whose brand allegiance (in whichever direction) is akin to that of a brainwashed dupe. The reality, of course, is a lot more nuanced – let’s be honest, both have their merits (Apple’s stuff is visually appealing, reportedly more stable [the iPhone 4 signal problems and iOS’s tendency to eat battery life could be argued to have undermined this in recent times, though], and generally held to be technically superior; PCs are cheaper, and used in more workplaces and so more familiar) and their flaws. But the problem is, nowadays, you’d think that people either have an Apple or Microsoft logo tattooed on their heart, and this means that the discussions tend to be polarised – and this simplification means that facts get overlooked – such as the fact that Microsoft helped Apple financially in the 1990s by giving them $150m to bundle Internet Explorer with new Macs as the default browser; so, that big hatred and fighting between them you read about in the press? Probably more like business rivalry, but of course that’s not so interesting, and it’s more fun to portray their customers as engaged in some teeth-baring hatred.

The major problem I have with this situation is the way it reduces everything to a non-discussion, and removes any possibility of people conceding that their so-called opponent has a point (watch the way politicians will invariably try to ignore facts or events in debates, even if empirically and provably true, which don’t make their argument look entirely true, as opposed to the best-guess opinion it really is). It means you can’t point at flaws in anything without being labelled a ‘hater’ or ‘anti’, even if you’re only trying to say that something has weaknesses in certain areas (cases in point: Lady Gaga is really not as stunningly original as many people insist, and Steig Larsson writes a lot of exposition).

As I’ve mentioned with tiresome regularity on the blog, my favourite TV programme of all time is Twin Peaks (it is my equivalent of Mark Kermode’s love for The Exorcist), but I’ll cheerfully admit that it’s got flaws (the second season loses its way, certain storylines are just risible, and it’s painfully clear at certain points that they’re just making it up as they go along). As long as the catalogue of weaknesses in something doesn’t overwhelm the things we like in it, then there doesn’t seem to be any problem in liking it, but there’s equally no problem in admitting it’s not perfect – very few things are unimprovable (despite what the most vocal supporters might say).

Am I asking too much? Is it really now the case that you’re either a rabid fan of something or a hater? I’d like to think not, and I’d also like to think that it’d be possible to see discussion of topics (and by ‘see’ I mean ‘encounter’, though if televised debates – on whatever topic – would like to actually show people admitting the strengths in their opponents’ arguments and the weaknesses in their own, I’d welcome that) which actually reflect that there are many waystations between the positions of support or loathing for something, whether it be a political stance or a work of art or a brand of cola or whatever. Much of the time, opinions on things fall into the median, grey band of ‘meh’, and it feels to me that pretending that you have to pick a position at one end of the spectrum and fight it doggedly with closed ears and mind is oversimplifying, and doesn’t actually enable a proper discussion to take place.

Although – ahem – I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that I’m not so convinced of this that I don’t welcome discussion of it. That would be hypocrisy, and of course the Post Comment button exists for your input (and not just about Apple, Gaga or Larsson, ideally)…

*That would be the number “They Know”, by Shawty Lo Featuring Ludacris, I believe. Not really a fan, but it seemed appropriate to refer to it, by way of illustrating that merit may lurk where we don’t expect it.

I Am Not Dead

… and nor is this blog, I assure you.

So, apologies to regular readers for the hiatus in updates – consider this, if you will, my summer holiday – and there will be a return to regular blogging soon.

After all, if I didn’t post my idiotic and fleeting notions here, they’d just be lost to time and memory, and that simply would not do.

Thanks to those of you who’ve been so sweet as to send me a message asking if I’m okay – I assure you I most definitely am – it’s just proving difficult to find time to blog in recent weeks. But that may change soon, and who knows what nonsensical thought-posting, its hour come round at last, slouches out of bedlam to be typed? BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

I Have No Mic, And I Must Speak

Back in the 1980s, my family went to stay with some relatives for New Year’s Eve. I don’t remember much of the festivities itself, but one thing I do remember – for reasons that will become clear – is that nearby, about five minutes walk away in fact, was a comic shop.

Now, I’d been reading comics for a while, but my ‘local’ shop in Sheffield wasn’t very local at all – it was a couple of bus rides away, and of course that kind of travel ate into the potential spending money (this was after Sheffield’s insanely cheap bus fares had been abolished – boo! A flat fare of 2p was a fab thing to a cash-starved kid), so I tended to walk there with my friend Simon. Which took about an hour there and an hour back, so you can see why a shorter walk was so appealing.

This comic shop – I don’t think it’s there any more – had a pretty decent selection of recent comics, and also, as was often the case back then, also sold a lot of paperbacks (mainly SF, fantasy and horror), which you could then sell back to them for half the price in credit. So, being a bookish child and having a bit of Christmas money, I bought myself a book and a comic: All The Sounds Of Fear by Harlan Ellison, and the Warrior Summer Special (both pictured). Small pressies to myself, as it were.

I think I can, without fear of exaggeration, state that it was the greatest couple of pounds I ever spent, and that the combined effect of the two did strange things to my brain for which I will always be grateful.

The Warrior comic featured some stories by Alan Moore, whose work I was already starting to look out for (from the cover-date of that comic, I guess I was something like 12, and was just learning that certain names recurred on the credits of things I liked), and other writers as well, all of which made it a pretty heady brew, and then when I started to read the Ellison, my noggin was permanently bent out of shape.

If you’ve never read anything by Harlan Ellison… well, obviously, I think you should, but there’s a fair chance you don’t recognise the name, especially in the UK; this is pretty odd really, given that he is one of the most-recognised writers ever, but he tends to fly under the radar for a lot of people. Still, have you seen that original Star Trek episode with Joan Collins in? He wrote the screenplay for that? Seen The Terminator? Yeah, he provided (ahem) ‘inspiration’ for that. What about Babylon 5? He consulted on that, and the new version of The Twilight Zone and heaps of other stuff – and that’s just his filmed work, his short stories are allegedly among the most reprinted in the English Language. So yes, I think you should read his stuff – it often has futurist backdrops, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s science fiction. Cos it isn’t.

Anyway, I read the collection of stories in All The Sounds Of Fear, and whatever else that new year brought, it certainly opened with me having a new and strange outlook on just what the written word, when combined with imagination, could do. It’s probably very much one of the reasons that I started writing – not because I sought to emulate his work, or anything so straightforward, but rather because it suggested there was a place in the world for writing down the more spiky and awkward of ideas, if you could do it. And that’s why I cite him as my favourite writer, when asked – it sounds wilfully obscure to most people, but I like to think it’s actually the truth.

Jump forward many years (past 1986, incidentally, when The Singing Detective made me realise just how unlimited the medium of TV could be), to last Friday night, on London’s Southbank; it was raining, and England were playing a World Cup match, and that’s why there was a limited turnout at the screening of Dreams With Sharp Teeth, a film about Harlan Ellison.

There were probably about 30 of us, plus screenwriter and friend of Harlan Ellison James Moran and the film’s director, Erik Nelson, but the limited numbers weren’t any kind of damper on the event – the film was funny and smart and showed HE in what looks like a fairly balanced light. Yes, there were scenes where he was a bit short-tempered, but there were others where he spoke about writing and literature with a passion, and when he read sections from his stories the talent was painfully evident. So yes, it was a good film.

Afterwards, Messrs Moran and Nelson asked the audience to come nearer the front, as they were going to do a link-up to LA, where they’d ask Harlan some questions. I moved down as requested, and indeed got a front-row seat, which I was pretty pleased about. They linked up okay, and asked him a few questions, and then they asked if anyone in the audience had any questions. There was a pause, and then I realised that my hand was up, and they were nodding towards me.

I’ll freely admit I was quite nervous about asking my question, not because I was speaking in front of a small crowd (as anyone who knows me will be aware, I’m a hopeless attention-seeker), but rather because this was probably likely to be my only actual interaction with Harlan Ellison, whose work I’ve enjoyed for over a quarter of a century. If there’s anyone whose work you admire, imagine how you’d feel in a similar situation. Yep, there you go, now you get it.

Anyway, with both the film and my own personal ‘history with HE’ (recounted above at length – and you probably just thought it was the usual self-indulgent rambling, but hopefully now it reveals itself as the vital backstory it was intended to be) in mind, I asked my question, which came out in a slightly gabbled and nervous way, and sounded something like this:

“We see you in the film speaking to college students, and a couple of people in the film say that your work should be taught in schools – what, do you think, would be the ideal age for people to first read your work? When would you most want to get hold of their fragile minds? Teenagers? Ten? Eight? One?”

As those of you who can read will probably note, this is actually a series of questions, mainly because I was gabbling to fill the gap caused by the satellite delay, and I didn’t actually have a microphone, so it was a bit uncertain to me whether Harlan could actually hear any of what I was saying. But he’d heard some of it, it seems, because he asked “Was that a question, or a diatribe?”

Erik then summarised the question, and Harlan answered it, giving a solid and considered answer – but then again, I probably would say that, as he seemed to suggest that the age of 14 or so was about right, thus making me ahead of my time as a child – and I was suitably pleased, on a number of levels.

And as the second – and only other – question was about the long-delayed third volume of Dangerous Visions, which is decades past its due date, and HE tends to get a bit fed up with being asked about (and showed as much on this occasion), I think that I probably did all right, all things considered.

Apologies for length here, but I was really rather chuffed about it, and wanted to record the event in what, I guess, is probably the closest thing I have to a diary. Given that I’ve met Alan Moore a couple of times, and that Dennis Potter has been dead for a number of years, I guess I’ve completed my interaction with the people whose work remoulded my thinking in the 1980s, which feels oddly satisfying.

One final point: if you want to see a terrific example of HE’s writing, read the short story I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream, from which the title of this post derives. The title’s remarkable enough, but the story itself… well, to say “it lingers in the mind” is several kinds of understatement.

Future And Past: The Name May Be Its Future Chart Position (1), And The Form In Which It Would Have Been Sold Until A Few Years Ago (45)… Perhaps.

Longtime blog readers with appallingly long memories will recall that a friend of mine Ian is a singer by trade, and lookylook, his band’s video is available to view online (ignore the fact that the frozen image below appears to show him doing an impression of the Joker, he’s actually a very presentable chap):

That’s rather good, innit? The single’s out on 5 July, and will be available from iTunes and other places like that. If you like it, please buy it. And even if you don’t like it, please buy it just to please me, for my wrath is great and far-reaching and painful for those who displease me.

As the aforementioned longterm readers will also be well aware of.

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