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A northern man

As this story is released, the UK’s transitional deal with the EU will end, and we will step out, blinking and dazed, into a strange and unfamiliar world. For many of us, first the EEC and then the EU has been a low background thrum in our lives since childhood. The United Kingdom joined the EEC a couple of months before my third birthday, and confirmed our continued membership a little over two years later, just as I was about to start school.

All through my school life, as we learned metres alongside feet and inches, there was a sense…

I saw this on twitter this morning

I wonder if,
as they wheeled their trollies around the shop, mask-free and chuckling,
did they think about the little casters, wanting to go their own way,
but yanked back in a direction they didn’t wish to go by an angry tug,
forcing some poor skittering wheel to go the way they chose.
But not its own.

Did they wonder what the staff,
mutely stacking the shelves as they passed,
thought of this glorious charge for freedom? …

The Phoney Forever Culture War Continues …

Yes, I posted a Union Flag. Correctly named. and even the right way up. That must mean I love my country, right? Because the the only way you can possibly love your country is to wrap yourself in the flag, isn’t it? Oddly enough, right now I don’t really love my country very much at all, but that is mostly because of the kind of people who keep telling me I don’t love my country if I don’t love the flag. They’re every-bloody-where. …

The “Culture War” Mic Wright so eloquently talks about simmers on like a persistently grumbling appendix, and as a counterpoint to the inadequacies of the ruling party(1). Oddly, now there’s a bit of vaguely positive vaccine news, or they’re announcing the “absolutely final, for definite, not going to change” (^Yeah…riiight^) plans to come out of lockdown, all the shouting about the Culture War has gone a bit quiet, hasn’t it? …

Can we Stop Showbiz for the Ugly bleeding into actual Showbiz, please?

The first thing I saw when I switched the telly on this morning was Ed Balls cooking dinner. And Rachel Johnson. Thing is, it bothers me. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a bit uncomfortable watching them capering about on cooking shows. It didn’t bother me for long because I switched over fairly quickly, but it did for the moment I lingered.

I get that there is an element of “humanising” politicians (1), and those who talk about politicians and political culture becoming increasingly distant from most people’s everyday experience may have a point when they say that this…

The Biggest shaggy dog story ever written. And then some.

Artwork by Chad Essley. source:

There are books and there are books.

There are books that you love; books that you read over and over again; books that mean things to you. And then there are the books that change how you see the world forever. For me, Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World is one, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to Galaxy is another, but Illuminatus! is very definitely in that very special little group of books that has affected me in a profound way(1).

One of the key things to remember about the Illuminatus! Trilogy is that it started life as a running in-joke between…

You are not a label,
A statistic,
A category,
Or an avatar.
You are unique.

You are not a stereotype,
A class,
A case study.
Or a trope.
You are not a thing.

Labels are for others,
Who don’t much care to think.
A box to put a person in.
A convenience, a link.

You are not a template,
In someone else’s head.
You are you.
You are here.
And that is all that counts.

DS 2021

Robert Galbraith

Oh boy has this one ever turned out to be controversial. Even before launch people were queuing up to throw out opinions on its subject matter, mostly based on the strength of a second-hand reviews from less than entirely reliable sources. The dust has settled a little now, and so it’s probably a good time to to talk about JK Rowling’s fifth novel writing as Robert Galbraith.

It’s the summer of 2013, and a year has passed since the events of book 4, Lethal White. The detective agency in which Strike and Robin Cunliffe (1) are partners is doing fairly…

The thing that was supposed to set us free, has done anything but

One of the great pillars of the neo-liberal worldview that has been the dominant socio-economic driver in the UK over the last four decades is about the benefits of choice. It’s almost been a mantra since the days of Margaret Thatcher, and her political successors have gone with it, in some cases to an almost insane degree. It has affected almost every aspect of life, from education, to healthcare, to transport. …

My introduction to manga and anime


I’m not quite sure where I saw the videos of Love Hina first, probably in an idle few moments browsing youtube after work before nipping out for the bus. But very soon I’d watched the whole of the anime series, and gone browsing round to find out more. The first thing I found out was that though people liked the series, the English dubs of Love Hina sucked, according to most. This didn’t bother me, because I tend to like original language voice actors, plus subtitles. Fansubbed videos made life a bit more interesting because of the variable quality. But…

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