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The Ministry of Silly Walks

Two days ago the British government announced a strategy to stop people feeling lonely.  In a time when public services are being cut down like enemy soldiers in Rambo III, it seems utterly preposterous that the government now intends on spending money in an effort to identify precisely why people are feeling lonely.  It does not require twenty million pounds to realise that human contact is the cure for loneliness.

When I first read an article about the strategy for loneliness prevention I thought it was a joke.  In one article it made reference to the minister for loneliness I could not help but laugh.  It could not be true, so I thought.  A few minutes later google confirmed that the UK does indeed have a minister for a basic human emotion.  It troubled me on many levels.  First and foremost was the name.  If the minister for health was responsible for making us more healthy, and the minister for trade for making more trade, surely the minister for loneliness was meant to make us more lonely.  Would she travel the country executing our spouses and telling our friends that we secretly hate them?  The second and most troubling thought was the fact that the government are looking to minister our emotions.

Loneliness has not been the only somewhat peculiar topic on the agenda.  In the same week the government has announced a minister for suicide prevention.  Granted it is a significantly more appropriate name, and yet it also left me with a sense of disquiet.  When the two new ministers are considered together it becomes apparent that the government has become acutely aware of a mental health crisis across the UK.  The pertinent question is whether there is a genuine crisis or is this a case of a government encroaching on Big Brother territory.

In 2017 there were 5,821 suicides in the UK.  In a country of over 65 million people it sounds like a drop in the ocean.  When you look across Europe you find that although it is the fourth highest total in Europe, it is also the fourth lowest suicide rate in Europe.  Therefore, it seems strange that the government has chosen to pursue these two policies in a time of austerity, whilst slashing so many other services.

It is evident that across the country the budgetary cuts have played merry hell with mental health services.  It perhaps would be wiser to give the services that are in dire need of more funding the money earmarked for figuring out why people are lonely.  The fact is a lack of access to therapists and counselling, as a direct result of a lack of funding causes loneliness.  Overstretched mental health departments having to prioritise people’s problems causes loneliness.  Stupidly long waiting times for people suffering anxiety and distress cause loneliness.  Worst of all is that all of these problems, if fixed, would likely contribute to a lowering of the suicide rate and save actual lives.  It is not rocket science, it is basic human empathy.

If you like me are feeling exceptionally lonely, feeling isolated by a government that throws money at identifying the problem with people, rather than the problems caused by the system, feel free to contact our minister for loneliness.  I’m sure she will do her best to help…

That Difficult Third Book

It’s about here I need some heralds to blow some trumpets or some bells to sound or some drunken cherubs to fall from the sky, swigging whisky and vomiting ‘he’s done it’ in formation. Seeing as I do not have any of those all I can do is announce that the first draft of book number three is complete. Of course this is where the hard work begins.

The truth is that people often imagine writing to be a sexy, exciting pursuit. The fact is that it is often like having a prolonged period of constipation, finally emptying your bowels, only to be told that you have to take your newborn turd and polish it into a diamond.

It’s is a peculiar feeling. On one hand there is a sense of achievement. On the other a funereal sense of sadness as in some respects you have to begin preparing yourself to say goodbye to the assortment of characters that have preoccupied your mind. Such is the nature of life that the moment you finish something you already have to start preparing for the next step. In this respect writing models life; it’s cyclical, a project is born, breathes, and its death is found in its completion. And there’s the truth. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

How to be Racist

It seems near on impossible to flick through any social media site without finding continued references to racism.  The common factor between the vast majority of such posts is that are almost all completely, and absolutely wrong.  It is striking that a word that used to have such potency has been overused and obfuscated to the point that it has been rendered meaningless.

The simplest and clearest definition of racism is thus:

prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Please note the last word in that definition.  […] based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.  In recent times we have had the scandal of Boris and the Burka where former foreign minister and London Mayor, Boris Johnson suggested that women that wear the burka look like letter boxes.  I have seen countless accusations that these remarks are racist.  First and foremost it is worth considering that Islam is a religion and not a race.  Thus we have a more accurate term that at a push, if you wish to reason that there is a heinous motive behind the comment, may well fit better.

dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.

For islamophobia to be accurate it is necessary to demonstrate that Boris Johnson has a dislike of Muslims which is not implausible.

Similarly there have been countless accusations of racism against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.  These claims fall down for the very same reason.  Judaism is a religion and not a race, despite what Halachic Law states.  Accepting the noxious idea that dipping your head in water changes your ethnicity would be the equivalent of acknowledging Jihadi as a race.

One of the biggest of the antisemitic rows within the Labour Party is the adoption of IHRA guidelines that most civilised countries have adopted to define what antisemitism is.  One of the key issues is that Labour have removed a line that warns against ‘claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’.  antisemitism is defined in the dictionary as:

hostility to or prejudice against Jews.

This is where lines begin to blur.  Stating that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour does not make any sense as simply the idea alone does not express any form of superiority, Judaism isn’t a race, Israeli is a nationality and the statement is just plain stupid.  However, it is absolutely antisemitic as it demonstrates clear hostility towards the notion of a Jewish state.

The common thread between islamophobia and antisemitism is a single word – prejudice:

preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

The truth is that not only that the vast majority of opinions we encounter online and in real life are blatantly prejudicial.  In the Boris example the snippets from his article that have been shared online are from an article entitled ‘Denmark has got it wrong.  Yes, the burka is oppressive and ridiculous – but that’s still no reason to ban it’.  Thus the quotes that are being banded about in the press demonstrate dislike but it is hard to argue prejudice, nonetheless, it is a clear example of islamophobia.  The notion that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour demonstrates a blatant hostility and subsequently can be defined as antisemitic.  The fact is that arguing that either of the aforementioned examples are racist is unequivocally, unquestionably, inarguably, absolute bollocks.

Funnily enough there is a word that comfortably describes people who falsely accuse others of racism without throughly considering the meaning of their words, whose actions, indignation, and feigned offense, is actually driven by their own ignorance as opposed to actual fact.  It is a word more closely associated with racists, homophobes, extremists, the pious, the holy, and the damn right vile.

bigot
ˈbɪɡət/
noun
a person who is intolerant towards those holding different opinions.

Summer Holidays

I’ve been quieter than a mouse trying to suppress a fart as it sneaks past a sleeping cat.  There are a myriad of uninteresting reasons for that and strangely none of them involve a potato.  Alas I am the bearer of some tidings.

For all of you buggers that read eBooks of an electronic variety and are off to lounge around the pool for a week or two sipping cocktails with the sole intention of coming back the colour of the average Essex girl in mid November, you can find practically my entire back catalogue for free throughout July right here on Smashwords.  That’s the Non-stop Dancer, PiSlamistan, Mia, All Hallows’ Eve, Existence Is Futile and the Story of Albert Ross absolutely free to your eReaders.  If you don’t do eBooks but know somebody who does share this good news.  And if you or anyone you know happens to give them a try, please don’t forget to leave a review somewhere or God will quite probably kill a kitten.

In other news, rather unlike me, I have actually been writing.  Book number three is well underway and features high commerce, gratuitous sex and mildly depressed fruit.  It is quite obviously somewhat a niche market, however, I believe that if the world has a place for dinosaur erotica, I’m going to be just fine.  In the meantime, be nice to each other and read books.

Read an Ebook Week

Today marks the beginning of read an Ebook week.  Over on Smashwords.com they are offering an array of great titles for absolutely nothing.  As I am a massive Ebook fan I have teamed up with Smashwords to give Existence Is Futile, The Story of Albert Ross, The Non-stop Dancer, Mia, PiSlamistan and All Hallows’ Eve away for free.  The offer ends next Sunday.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an Ebook reader.  It isn’t just for the Kindle, Kobo and Nook owners.  If you have the ability to read you can read the stories through Smashwords own online reader.  If you prefer the feeling of paper in your hands you can even download them in PDF and print them.  So go forth my pretties and read read read.

You can find a list of all the titles on offer here

You can find the links to my work here