HEAVY BRAKING. A cautionary tale for our times.


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Mike did not see Sir David Attenborough until the moment he stepped in front of Mike’s speeding Lexus Hybrid NX 300h.

Thankfully Mike did what every right-minded father-of-two raised on endless episodes of Life on Earth would do when a force of nature steps in front of your vehicle.

He braked; heavily.

Truthfully Sir David was never in danger. A combination of a fierce primal instinct to preserve Sir David’s life and the superior braking system of Mike’s new hybrid Lexus SUV meant that Sir David was successfully avoided. Mike was highly attuned to forces of nature. He recycled – and drove a hybrid, albeit a self-consciously ‘desirable’ one.

No, It was the occupants of Mike’s car who experienced the full weight of this event. In so many different ways.

The first fact we must absorb is that Mike is speeding. No surprise there. It’s not that Mike is irresponsible. He is a very cautious man in many ways. But. The smarter the technology life gives us, the simpler and more effortless our ability to accelerate to fibre-light speed, and the more cocooned we are made to feel as we do it, the more oblivious we are. And ultimately, the faster we go. It’s a human thing. It’s what we do.

Now to Mike’s driving. Is he fully attentive to the road? Kind of. Truth be told, he is perhaps a little preoccupied with how things are going right now. Mike is a reasonably senior director in a small local firm. And BREXIT has been a little bumpy – but things are sort of OK. They’d only had to lay off Sharshi, but frankly that was more to do with her being a gob-on-a-stick as well as being highly inappropriate with the logistics manager over company email than it had to do with any financial pressures bought on by ‘BREXIT. But Mike cannot shake this creeping feeling that failure is lurking around every corner at the moment.

The other occupants in Mike’s speeding Lexus NX 300h with superior braking are: Tilly, Mike’s partner. Tilly is an exceptionally rigorous and controlled laboratory director at the local University. And part time keep-fit instructor.  Though right now, data sets and crunches are the furthest thing from her mind. She looks blankly at the txt. thread she should never have answered talking back to her now in highly physical terms. Words like sucking and pumping shouldn’t be in her message threads, especially when accompanied by a picture like that. Jesus! Her laboratory was potentially losing funding – cheers BREXIT – so everything is a little crazy.

Next is Kiera [yes, really. Blame the film Love Actually.] Kiera. 15 years old. Up to her ears in GCSE study modules, performance anxiety and Spotify playlists [her most recent being MentalSplinter – music to die for.] At this very moment life is a mixture of ear-bleeding headphone-induced oblivion, fierce self scrutiny, a particularly tricky spot on her hairline and a pubic pimple that was frankly freaking her out. Fuck growing up if this is what it had to offer.

And then there is Rachel. The ‘clever’ one. Rachel is 13 and better read than Mike currently. Two more text books and she will over-take her mother. She is startlingly astute, with a vocabulary and syntactical sensitivity that could fell Stephen Fry. BUT. For all of Rachel’s blistering astuteness, learned appreciations and curious ability to breakdance, she cannot fathom what to do with the complete B in year 8 making her life an utter hell on SnapChat. Speccy virgin. Shoot yourself. Skiddy Knickers. Nightmare. And no idea how to stop it. Yes. I know… I shouldn’t even be on Snap Chat but COME ON people. Anyway, right this minute, the sun’s streaming across her and ABBA are on her playlist. LOVE Mamma Mia!

And now to that series of events:

Well, heavy braking creates a rather remarkable succession of immutable truths – unstoppable occurrences that one always hopes will end well. So with an optimistic note, let’s unpack them a little more. 

The minute Mike hits the brakes two things happen. And they happen in hyper-slow motion.

Firstly everyone in the car is dragged [sometimes screaming] at hyper-speed from whatever thought, moment, reverie, dream, fantasy, space or private perceived hell hole they’re in into the Now. Boom. And what a Now it is.

As the driver’s reflex dictates, Mike puts his left arm across Tilly’s chest to potentially stop her over-accelerating towards the dashboard and, hopefully, the airbag – and in doing so comes far closer to her breasts than he has been for quite some time.  

At the exact moment Mike stamps on the brakes, Tilly’s txt concerns become utterly irrelevant as a mixture of gravitational pull and sheer momentum pitch her towards the dashboard in a rather twisted and uncomfortably movement caused by her badly positioned seat-belt [Tilly always slightly wriggles the seat belt down and across her so it doesn’t cut into her gunmetal silk blouse.] The raised airbag logo on the dash board is something she has no wish to become more closely acquainted with but equally appreciates that she may well end up emblazoned on her forehead. What’s more it will be reversed in much the same way that AMBULANCE is written to be legible in the rear view mirror. Nonetheless forwards she goes. And she is uncertain as to what is less welcome, the word airbag tattooed on her forehead, or Mike’s hand hovering in intimate proximity to her breasts.

Rachel’s master plan of destroying Yr 8 B in a firestorm of BRILLIANT Snap Chat ripostes simply leaps from her mind as she starts a low-rider body slide towards the back of her mother’s seat. The combination of highly-synthetic patterned jeggings and the leather-creamed sheen of the open-stitched leather seats quickens her already pacy trajectory as the lower seatbelt-strap ratchets up over her hips as its diagonal strap hovercrafts upwards over her wrinkled chin towards her pert nose. The phone that’s in her hand is now just another item in the vehicle heading forwards at a greater velocity than the vehicle in which it is currently travelling. Mamma Mia, here I go again…my my… how can I resist it. For Rachel resistance is futile as forwards she goes in super slo-mo, her wide eyes furiously snapping a million single images in quick succession to turn into some survival slide show for  a later date.

Kiera’s mind’s eye has dumped the multiple threads of general teenage angst, confusion over two-timing Archie, the pubic pimple debacle and exam horror to concentrate solely on her trajectory towards the back of her father’s driving seat and the small plasma screen currently showing High School Musical 3 with the sound off. In this moment Kiera is focused on the general dynamics of her motion towards an irritatingly perfect Troy Bolton as her seat-belt steps into the role of Sharpay, holding her back from an accelerated rendezvous with Troy’s plasma-screen lips. This series of unfortunate events is accompanied by the 4th random play track on her Mental Splinters playlists. As it turns out, Stormzy’s Heavy is the Head is the perfect anthem, given that her heavy head separates from her headphones like Usain Bolt on a very good day.

The second thing that happens in times of heavy braking is an exercise in relativity. When seen from the outside world through which it moves, the car slows rapidly, but when viewed from the inside we see that the the occupants inside the slowing vehicle experience the polar opposite physical phenomenon as they accelerate through the cars space, embarking on a whole new journey through space and time. And not only the occupants, but every other thing in the car that is not of the car.

As the Lexus screeches to a halt things fall open, fall apart, tip over, reveal themselves. Objects roll out from under seats and from behind head and arm rests and door side pockets – things once considered lost, or misplaced, or nicked by one’s siblings: Those special Lego characters thought pilfered. A small corner of an ancient blueberry muffin, a load of CDs [wot they] that simply got transferred from the old car to the new one and got dumped in the boot. Three random and now chalky Maltesers. A pen. Old car park tickets. Carb Killa wrappers. A branded gym water-bottle A scrunched and discarded note, written by a teenage admirer. A copy of a ‘no idea, never been there’ restaurant payment receipt for a meal for two. And a Final Reminder letter that proved to upsetting to open. 

Once these are seen, they re-enter the lives of the car and the occupants, evidence of other times and moments until recently lost to them.

In a time of heavy braking, as the speed of life both reverses and accelerates, the unseen become seen. Things reveal themselves to Mike, Tilly, Kiera and Rachel – material things, physical things, emotional things, spiritual things – things that they might otherwise miss, ignore, over-look or feel able to hide in the usual speed of life.

And in the midst of this moment, their minds will demonstrate exactly how quickly we adapt – how we create expanses of inner space in what we thought was a mind full up with life’s really important stuff – an expanse of inner space that gives us the room to take up new threads, scrutinise events, record information, and expand to accommodate all of those tasks and complex conundrums and puzzles to solve in the next few nano seconds.

In a moment of extreme reflex survival, our hearts and minds demonstrate how resilient they truly are – how fast they can operate, how much they can absorb, how much thinking they can do, how much consideration they can muster and how many decisions and commitments they can make in the lifetime of infinitesimal moments that occur in times off heavy braking. And in that moment we are re-stitched into the fabric of each other’s lives in the most profound way.

All of this seems clear enough.

The big question is this – when the period of heavy braking is over – once the agile, highly engineered and resourceful Lexus NX 300h comes to a stop [beautifully of course, as the hi spec ABS and sports suspension has fulfilled its role] – once everyone is checked and found to be OK, other than the odd scuff, chaff and wrench – what will Mike, Tilly, Keira and Rachel have learned? About themselves and those in the car with them? What life lessons and outtakes can they pop in the back of their memory for later?

Will the shared moment of dramatic suspension – the memory of their collective journey through space and time, hurtling through the inner space of Lexus engineering towards the unknown [the cosmic unknown that is – there is very little unknown about a windscreen, air bag or dashboard], the intimate proximity of it, their shared expulsions of breath, their primal exclamations, all mixing in some primal soupy in-car atmosphere of survival – will those things positively imprint on Mike, Tilly, Keira and Rachel? 

Will the experience make them see how some things are barely worth the anguish or the upset – and how sometimes our vanities and inflated expectations of ourselves and what life serves us are just that and with the gift of a clarifying experience to guide us, should be set aside and good things embraced.

Who knows? But you can only hope. 

In these times of heavy braking, take the time of slo-mo living that it presents to look to those closest to you, open your eyes to them – freeze frame these moments. And try and catalogue the gifts this time gives us. Starting with the realisation that the previous speed of life was bullshit really. And all that shiny ‘look at me’ momentum was simply that, the veneer of our vanity. Take the time to think What If… what if we managed to capture even the smallest of the gains from this time of heavy braking – insights, realisations, commitments, behaviours, resolutions, even the smallest of transformations in ourselves, our families, our communities and our societies. That would be good. That would be something.  

Author’s Note: I apologies if the use of Sir David Attenborough as the human embodiment of Nature’s volatility. Sir David is Nature to millions of people – so I popped him in there. Though he may not like being used to represent COVID 19 – and some might even question the ‘natural’ nature of the virus given humanity’s ability to turn it into a blight.

Spams, Scams, data & the clicky tricks of E-vertisers


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It seems we are only ever one click away from digital heaven or hell – the chiaroscuro of polluted data bases, email hijacks, scams, dark trading and the ugly beauty of spam and click-bait either flinging us skyward or casting us down into the digital lava of e-hell.

Internet searches can get dicey even with the most innocent of search terms. So staying vigilant and being careful helps. 

God help you if you’re stupid enough to glaze over while scrolling emails [that’ll be me] or even staggeringly dumb enough to click on one that reads ‘Your Amazon Order Update & Competition Exclusive’ [that’ll be me again] especially if, on thinking about it, you weren’t actually expecting an Amazon or any other kind of order for that matter!! [And yes, still Me!] 

But Lordy lord does your gut know the minute you click on that icon that you’ll rue the day you ever did. Perviously this kind of stuff would really irritate me – my inbox suddenly filled to spilling with mindless and pointless pap – honking scams, over-promise and tat. But as life goes on, I’ve started to quietly enjoy the spillage and taint of the ridiculous and spurious missives that land in my box.

And I’ve even started taking to building out a sort of emotional logic around them just to amuse myself!

So here is my take on the most recent batch of e-joy that’s popped into my world. I’ve snatched the most important first few lines just to show flavour. Enjoy! 

Erase my Back Pain

1 weird stretch DESTROYS Back Pain & Sciatica 

Pain Free!!

Delicious! Free anything is good – but PAIN and FREE and two screamers? Wow. I just feel the need to use 13 ‘screamers’ in celebration!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And this one’s actually relevant to me.  I had a prolapse L1/L2 disc some years back, and the terrible sciatica from it destroyed me. So the chance to DESTROY it back with an obtuse physical gesture makes me very happy. 

Get perfect Little toes in as little as 3 days 

Nail Vitamin Deficiency 

Mother natures recipes

But not as happy as the idea of perfect little toes. Anyone that can save me from my Frodo feet gets a prize.  And there is a certain messianic thread to the 3 day promise. And on the third day my feet will effectively rise from their calloused, shoe-stuffed grave to throw light and beauty into the world. Who knew. And that it is Mother Nature doing the raising of my dead feet, all the better. 


You read the paper Genetic Risk and Reproductive Decision Making:

Read this paper too!

Punchy. And you are correct – yes I did. But that doesn’t mean I would subsequently like you to send me an update every time someone puts out a white paper with the words ‘genetic’, ‘reproductive’, ‘decision-making’ or ’Risk’ in the title or sub-head. Or for that matter any derivative of the above, words – e.g. gene, or risk – or associated key words, compounds, synonym/antonym comparatives – or any random fridge-magnet approach to key word search stuff you may choose to push at me. Come to think of it, perhaps a peer-reviewed White Paper on The Impact on Intellectual Discourse of the Vulgar Monetisation of Academic Mediocrity might be a whizz.  

Diabetes will kill you! 

Blood Sugar Formula – Mother nature’s recipes

No shit. Will it? I absolutely never, ever knew that. My mother was diabetic – late onset, in her 60s by the time it snuck into view with its thin-lipped, mean-spirited needling and blooding. But she managed it with remarkable elegance and aplomb. And no, it did not kill her. But its presence in her life did really, really irritate her for a while, much like the reoccurrence of all this scruffy E-vertising in my life. 


One of the best smart phones in the world

Offers a true visual experience at a very cheap price

Lummey. An X phone. What, like an X Men phone? Incredible. No? Oh, or X-rated? Weird. But strangely modern. Anyway. None of this matters. As this is one of the best. But not the best though? I think your ambitions are a little frail at the end there, guys. Or are we worried about over selling – in email – spam? How can this matter when a phone offers a true visual experience. What does that even mean? Are the pictures and films true to the originals? Like they actually play them without creating untrue versions of them? Do phones do that? Play unreal films? Like, swapping out original content and playing a pirated or faux version of it – to avoid licensing fees? A sort of digital mobile BeKindRewind strategy. Hmmm. This X Phone is a conundrum.

Invest in bitcoin and the life of your dreams 

Earn 13,000 in exactly 24 hours riding the bitcoin wave

Only 3 free copies still available

But not as much of a conundrum as deciding what dream life I’m going to take a run at with the 9 bucks a minute I’m earning investing in bitcoin over the next 24 hours. Get In. And, note, it isn’t 23 hours and 49 minutes – or 24 hours and 32 minutes. Be very clear – this is ‘exactly 24 hours’. And it is 24 hours with attitude. This 24 hours is no slacker – no slouch. This 24 hours surfs! This 24 hours carves off the lip of the bitcoin WAVE! How cool is that! Every minute’s worth of that $13,000  – every 9 bucks of it – comes dripping with bitcoin spume. BUT hold on. There’s a sort of Stranger Things thing going on here, no? I could have SWORN that the only 3 free copies still available went weeks ago. So there must be a universal 3 somewhere. Like deities perhaps. Eternal. Invisible. A trinity of Bitcoin Divinity existing only in Upside Down world.

DRONE 4K Camera

Best affordable drone just hit the market

Adventure unfolds with the MACVAIR

Got it. I know how to find out whether the Trinity of Bitcoin Divinity exists in Upside Down world – send in the DRONE 4K camera. And not any old DRONE 4K. We’re talking the most affordable – which means cheap, right? As I really don’t want to be splurging even one cent more than I have to of my 13,000 bucks – no way. But MACVAIR gets that, right? They know that searching for a Trinity Divinity of Bitcoin in Upside Down internet world is an ADVENTURE, right? And that shit is going to UNFOLD. And let’s face it – if I pull this off, find the trinity of bitcoin divinity, convert the 13K in 24 hours [exactly], I am hot stuff. I am off the scale desirable. EVERYONE will be chasing me down. Wanting a piece of me…

Positions available – YOU’RE HIRED

2 position available GOOGLE & facebook

So let’s put it another way GOOGLE. Lets re-frame this facebook. I’ll decide whether YOU’RE HIRED. Hows about that? Not the other way around. Do you know who the actual f%&* I am? I am the wave-riding, drone-flying Bitcoin Trinity Divinity Slayer. I have the last 3 copies, purged from Upside Down World. I DECIDE who hires and fires. Not you. And just by-the-by, if you are going to even dare approach me, I suggest you make that 100 positions available – as I am now obviously worth a hundred of your usual talent quality. Just saying.


This drink is the answer to becoming skinny

Your stomach will shrink fast 

Shark Tanks new product is a diet sensation!

Oh I see. So you’re implying that I not only carry the intellectual mettle and heroic weight of one hundred people but also the physical mass of them? Well, if the Shark Tank thinks it’s a diet sensation, how could I possibly refuse. These people are the leading, bleeding edge of entrepreneurship and business nous. Sharks, Dragons, Tigers. They are a menagerie of business brilliance. And if they say that this will indeed be the answer to becoming skinny, how could I question that – other than asking on which planet the originator of the delusional waffle lives? A dystopian one liberally scattered with Crystal Meth and freely available prescription opiates, punctuated with double-fronted fixed trailers lying unnervingly close to a breastaurant, a breakers yard and a penitentiary I’d wager. But hell – let’s try it! 


Rest easy and never worry about your car being stolen again

Richard Berg says

It works like a charm! CAUTION  Make sure you really want to know what you might find out. This thing tracked my wife and her boyfriend into the middle of nowhere

If this push email trail is anything to go by I probably NEED to drink myself skinny, as my united-state-of-largesse has patently rather put off my other half, potentially to the degree that, much like Mr Berg here, if I were to track them to the middle of nowhere I might otherwise find my loved one in fiercely repeated receipt of someone else’s largesse. But hey, you know what? Knowing the exact GPS location of that rutting betrayal completely takes the sting out of it. In fact, it allows me to rise above it all through smartly applied technology. Track allows me to be the bigger person and take the bigger view. Thank you Track.

Stop Snoring device

The mist that stops you snoring

New invention gives hope to all of those suffering from chronic snoring 

And now that we’ve broached the issue of the fading and faltering nature of personal desirability, this email allows me to embrace the wider ambition. Why stop at just getting skinny quick to alleviate the possibility of philandering and betrayal. That over-carbureted nasal exhaust is hardly likely to get the lower engine running and the pheromones firing, unless one finds oneself lying furtively next to a member of the Sus Scrofa family. So the misty blue yonder of non-snoring hope is beckoning me.   


The smart watch that watches out for your health 

The smart watch that big tech companies don’t want you to know about

Have you been wanting a smart watch. Well now you can afford one!!

Now, fatuous, fat, snoring, dream-life-living greatness aside, I have never claimed to be smart enough for my phone. I am indeed a stupid man in charge of a smart device. At most recent reckoning I have estimated that I use, at best, about 3% of the functionality of my phone.

So IMAGINE what I felt when I saw that a watch, smarter than my phone even, will look after my health. And what’s more, it will do it TO SUCH DEGREE that Apple and Microsoft just won’t want me to know about it. Wowsers. Could it get any better?


Theres a new smart phone. You can’t ignore its performance and price

Wow-wheezers. It just did. Game change! I agree. It is night on impossible to ignore the words performance and price. Well, that’s what it says in Killing it in the Email Sales Dept 101 Guide to Successful product sales. Helluva key word focus. How do they do it? It would be so easy to stumble into mediocrity in this game, sliding down the greasy chute of indifference towards lowest common-denominator schtick and sleazy selling – but all these guys manage to keep that quality bar so high it makes me dizzy.

Drone X Pro 

Limited time sale on drones

Foldable quadcopter with wide angle batteries [US]

Speaking of which, the DRONE X Pro just feels like its going to take me up to a whole new level. Foldable! What the wahoo is that all about? But it sounds really exciting. But if I’m really brutally honest, the thing that hooked me through the lip like some digital grouper is the idea of ‘wide angle batteries.’ Frankly that is simply genius. Not only is the lens wide-angle but the batteries too. I’ve no idea of the technical nature or material build or the power engineering required to enable a battery to both power the unit AND expand the retinal capacity of the lens on the on-board camera. But that’s got to be worth stacks! Thats worth swag-money. 


Shark Tank Investors LOVE miracle weight loss pill

50 lbs. in 61 days: No New Exercise Skinny Pill melts Belly fat

And swag money is the name of the game with these Shark Tank kids. KETO slim diet is feeling like my kind of miracle weight loss pill. And the Sharks LOVE it. That makes this one hot. So hot in fact, that it ‘melts’ belly fat. ‘Melts!’ How cool is that. A kind of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Nazi-Face-Melting moment…but for belly fat [national socialist or otherwise]. You’d need something pretty powerful if you’re going to lose 50lbs in 61 days so something akin to the power of the Christian faith’s Almighty God as vested in the Ark of The Covenant seems like a pretty sensible choice. I mean it could be a scam but there’s something so trustworthy in phrases like No New Exercise Skinny Pill. It just SMACKS of integrity and professional discretion. I’m in.

Ryan Oliver 

Get this new diagnostic Tool and Save Money 

Prevent car repair scams …as opposed too online ones…

Hang On. Ryan. You beauty you. Scams! You read my mind. And not just those of the car variety. Car scams. Diet scams. Technology scams. Bitcoin scams. Ryan you are the man of the moment. So, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to suggest something. Might you ever consider getting together with Sheila, MACVAIR, the Shark Tank guys, Richard Berg and Lillian and create one universal Diagnostic Tool that prevents all and every kind of scam? That would be thrilling.

Meet a Lovely Russian Woman Today


International Russian And Ukranian dating

Free membership will close in 01:02:47 

Now this is fascinating on three levels. First of all I sense there may be a role for the Universal Diagnostic Tool here as the countdown clock seems to be stuck at 01:02:47 – so free may not be as free as you think anymore. Secondly, I find it remarkable that one needs a site to meet Russian ladies. There was a perfectly charming young Russian lady on the train the other day, travelling to the airport with her father I believe. [It demonstrates just how conservative and old fashioned the Russian culture is.  A young 20-something Western-European woman wouldn’t be seen dead going on holiday with her father!] And thirdly I am quietly surprised how blatant the Russian Annexation of the Ukraine has become. I mean land is one thing but appropriating the woman as yours seems rather arrogant and presumptive if you ask me, especially if you then flaunt them on a dating site.   

Sheila Andrews

Logo and Website design for my business

Attract more new customers …

But bless Sheila for being the absolute antithesis of all that arrogance and sleaze and complex Ponzi style selling schtick. Simple. Straight up. Honest. Logo and Website design for my business. Do you know what Sheila – if I had a slew of small, low-level, low-grade slightly shady, grubby businesses all scrabbling to make a good impression in an on-line world, before I let them send one email, I’d have them sitting in front of you talking logos and websites. And that’s a promise.

 Ergo Relax

Best travel pillow that ever hit the market

Rest even in difficult conditions

Phew. All of this typing on trains is making me rather sleepy. Can you imagine then how thrilled I was when I saw this. I am in a chair. I can sit back. It is possible to close my eyes – ergo, I can relax. But what really snagged my curiosity on the broken fence of promises is the fact that Ergo Relax tells me that I can rest even in difficult conditions. Holy Moly. So, though I may have made an inappropriate slur for which someone chose to press charges, I would still sleep like a baby! I could tuck in for 40 winks with flood water rising about me. And a good night’s sleep in the midst of a climate crisis beckons. Amazing. Ergo Relax is not to be sniffed at, either with or without Snoring mist.

3D Airplane games 

ProFlight Simulator 

Presenting the most realistic flight simulator ever created 

I can’t pretend to be anything other than a tiny weeny bit suspicious of this. I have a lot of love for simulation tech in all of its guises. And I know that the track records of the USAF and Boeing leave a lot of room for people who might create superior flight simulations and trainers that prepare people to a] not crash and b] not bomb the wrong people. But when I’m told that this is the most realistic flight simulator ever created I am stunned into humble silence. Perhaps this is the issue. The real geniuses are to be found not in Bomber Command or Boeing’s testing team but here, discreetly and humbly selling the most realistic flight simulator ever quietly in the furrows and margins of the internet and my inbox. No accolade chasers or plaudit junkies them. A small profitable stipend from an email campaign is more than enough.  

Herpes Simplex

Medical Mystery. How did their Herpes disappear

Hi If you or a loved person suffer from herpes simplex it is urgent that you do not go another day without the powerful information in the following lines

Didn’t you see the news? Its a revolt!

Perhaps this might explain the shyness of our majestic simulator designers. They may have been so busy creating the most realistic flight simulator EVER that they missed the revolt, the news passed them by and they continued to live another day and another day without this powerful information in the following lines [whatever that might mean.] Can you blame them for choosing to stay rather discretely out of the glare of fame and fortune.

Canvas Print Ads 

Add to your holiday collection

Hmmmn. I wonder whether our reclusive simplex flight engineers might just be a little down. Perhaps they might just need a lift of some sort. Something to jolly them up a bit. Digging out a picture of favourite holiday moments and suchlike can be a real tonic especially when rendered across the highest quality synthetic canvas. I know someone whom has two rather fetching canvas prints of themselves throwing what someone mistakenly referred to as a VOGUE shape at the Casino club, Guildford on MADONNA NIGHT, while sporting a wet-suit and a rather fetching fedora. An easy mistake to make but, for the record, they report that they were simply gesturing to the fire exit due to the fact that the person in front of them looked so HOT they thought they might well burst into flames. That the person happened to be both my associates boss and also their bed mate probably explains why said associate got a raise and was fired, all in one 24 hour period. But to be clear, it wasn’t EXACTLY 24 hours. No bitcoin investment there. Nor a professional Reference for that matter   

Professional Who’s Who

Nominated for inclusion

On the subject of professional credentials, imagine my surprise when the e-call came to join the rarified ranks of the professional aristocracy. But Who Knew Professional Who’s Who even existed? And a nomination for inclusion no less. I am always up for inclusive action. Diversity is a really strong suit at the moment in corporate circles so nominating people for inclusion strikes me as a very enlightened action on Who’s Who’s part. Thank God their email arrived frankly. I was starting to think ‘What? Is every email a scam or a prank?’ So here’s to your professional rigour and enlightened inclusivity programme Professional Who’s Who.  

Ultra Boost WiFi

No More Buffering! WiFi boost speeds up your internet 

Your cure for spotty internet

Buffering. I must confess I LOVE this word. [Note to self: beware excessive use of screamers, capitals and absence of punctuation induced by protracted periods of time looking at push emails from shite businesses, products, faux brands and personalities.] Buffering implies a fierce circular attention to something, involving friction and some form of rotation or animation. So I can imagine that once someone’s stopped buffering this liberates a massive cache of energy to apply in some other direction – to power the WiFi connection for instance. That we can give that surge of redirected energy a boost just fills me with utter joy. Currently my wi-fi wheezes along at barely a breath. If I was of a mind to take up contouring as a new face-forward make-up solution, I’d be stuffed. It would take an age to play even the smallest section of a 2 hr 32m Contouring Tutorial – to such degree that I would probably take to spending enormous tracts of time seemingly in a creeping state of tribalism – given that, at any point in the day, the marks on my face would have developed in some really slow flick-book animation of an abstracted patch pattern effect – a sort of snail’s pace Tyson-face tattoo – part Maori part Bobbi Brown part Shrigley.

But nonetheless, all’s well with Ultra Boost. And that it cures spotty internet is a matter for religious level celebration. Hallelulia. No more teenage internet angst. No more screen scrubbing. No more microbeaded bandwidth. Internet spots are gone forever!    

De Pigmentation

I am vitiligo free and so much healthier and confident overall.

Vitiligo Miracle

Cure Vitiligo holistically

Much it seems as will be the ones on my hands face and other extremities, very, very soon. As the words set out, I may well be Vitiligo free with this holistic miracle. I have had Vitiligo for a few years and it is spreading. Though I am aware of it, especially when I have been in the sun, it has always been a visual thing for me. So LORD, I never knew that I might be unhealthy because of it? Unhealthy? How? Herpes. But I’ve got news on a natural remedy revolt for that. Obesity? Screw that, as I’ve got two Shark Tank approved skinny making pills and something from a lady called Lillian for that baby. Diabetes? I can kill it before it kills me. Back Pain? Again, one ninja move and a weird stretch and that baby’s history – so not that. Which leaves me little to worry about. My anxiety seems to have ebbed away.

And how amazing – my confidence… has soared! It’s true. I am going to be absolutely fine!

As all of the wonder emails have told me. I am the answer. I only need act. Perfect.  

Seems simple enough to me. But hang on. Just got to read the 347 emails that have just popped up in my inbox.

But then I’m getting RIGHT to it.


er compromising on quality

Being  organised with time and resources

Utilising available learning

Taking care of EHL property

Making productive use of available technology

Being productive with time

Sharing knowledge

Living the 7 steps of service excellence every day

Ensuring processes are implemented and followed

Meet your deadlines

Understand our business

Be a champion of sustainability

Measure and evaluate the impact of your decisions

Never compromising on quality

Being  organised with time and resources

Utilising available learning

Taking care of EHL property

Making productive use of available technology

Being productive with time

Sharing knowledge

Living the 7 steps of service excellence every day

Ensuring processes are implemented and followed

Meet your deadlines

Understand our business

Be a champion of sustainability

Measure and evaluate the impact of your decisions

Look Up, BREXIT & the great healer.


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The sun strikes the Corinthian uprights of Barry’s Royal Opera House building.

And unless the world spins on its axis, gets jolted by a passing asteroid or we find we are  inadvertently sitting on the fault line between two tectonic plates, nothing will change in the nature of how the sunlight falls across these columns from when morning breaks across them to when nightfall takes them back again. [Other than when London’s cloudy temperament muddies the moment.]

To feast on London, to receive her positive charge, is to look up, especially on a crisp blue-sky day like today as the sun fires up the masonry above and around me.

And at no time in recent history do I think we need a little upward-looking optimism.

The art in this though is to prime this upward-looking optimism in ourselves without waiting for anyone else to delver it to our door – especially anyone from our political classes. And there’s plenty to distract ourselves wit is we choose.

To walk [especially in the quieter hours of the morning] past the fascia of the Opera House, to then turn left down Long Acre, cutting through Mercer street to Seven Dials – and then along Earlham Street to Cambridge Circus and to the Palace Theatre in front of you, is to find your eyes constantly being drawn upwards.  

Porticos, balustrades, fascia decorations and old advertisements painted on the walls above the line of shop fronts. 

To cut through to Old Compton street as the collision of scents and aromas rolls up to meet you – of restaurants prepping garlicky delights, bars scrubbing off ale-soaked floors, the warm wrap of air from the Chinese bun bakers, and the beep beep beep of Vans reversing into lay-bys with crates boxes and bags of ingredients and supplies – all mixed with the sharp acrid bright citrus of industrial bleaches and disinfectants slopped into doorways and across the restaurant and bar thresholds. To swim in this soup and yet to look up and watch the light as it crosses buildings [much as it has done so for some hundreds of years] is truly a beautiful thing.

To find a complex yet staggering simple beauty in London, one need only swim in her streets while looking up at how the sun light falls on her building tops. 

To immerse yourself in this continuum can smooth even the bumpiest times and the greatest turbulences out of your mind – like a de-wrinkler for the soul. 

As I walk through the streets I hear people barking BREXIT platitudes for and against. People crouch crowd and squat over their screens sniggering at cruel memes, bathing in podcasts and trading ugly human politic in gif format.

And as these people teem about me, snippets of conversations are scraped. A slathering of WTF! and ‘its all gone to shit’, with a fistful of Keep Calms and a mouthful of ‘They’re all as bad as each other’s.

Off-hand paens to BoJo float towards me as devout van drivers flick a V to both cyclists, foreigners, and ‘the lot of ‘em’. 

Pacifists and anarchists fight each other with words and slogans shouting off the front pages of newspapers as wi-fi-eared drones march ever forwards to the beat of their spotify drum.

London teems with the bleary eyed and the upright, the dishevelled and the dandy, puffer jacketed tourists clutch street foods as TV producers and media types clatter across paving stones vaguely chewing-gummed together. But they are all simply the colouring in. They are the water running through it, human flotsam and jetsam that either surges onwards or washes up at the edges of the streets in cafes and bars and restaurants. The true riches lie above the screen line of ordinary people.

A sharp neon hum over Bar Italia draws our eye to the blue John Logie Baird plaque above it. Twas ever thus. Almost all of London’s most famous sons and daughters are   celebrated in blue and white above our general eye line. And something pushes our eyes up to meet them.  There is an irrepressible something that comes up through the ground London walks on. Something that vibrates up through it. Pushing our thoughts and dreams skywards. And none more so than in Soho. If ley-lines are a thing, then I sense a cluster of them collide under SoHo’s streets.

Theres an over-powering sense of timelessness here. The past and future are one – tied together by the Now. Today is simply a bridge between yesterday and tomorrow. And on we go.

And, in much the same way, so do many of these buildings, enduring as they have always done – weathering the collapse of societies, the chess game of Royal In and Royal Out, decay of Empire, financial crashes and crunches, street riots and both World Wars of course, especially the one that peppered London with every nature and type of bomb, incendiary or otherwise, and on the back of which and calls of Never Again led directly to first the Treaty of Paris in 1951 and the reconciliation of France & Germany as promoted by Winston Churchill and closely followed by the Treaty of Rome in 1957, in which European Union was made material and binding.

In much the same way these streets and buildings have weathered one European firestorm, I am certain they’ll weather this one. And in much the same way that they now simply carry the echoes of the many who lived through those times and whom are now long dead, they will carry the echoes of my footsteps and the noise of our current european furore that echo up and around these streets..  

In the long run October 31st. will be a date like so many others whose import will whither and fade. But right now…

Sticks & Stones & BoJo’s bitter pills.


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So. Apparently bluster, divisive phrasing and inflammatory language do nothing to stoke any kind of aggressive nature, hate or violence against the person or property.

Well that’s frankly bollocks as we all know.

Both sides of this current ugly debate make a lot of decrying their adversaries in the most pestilent terms . The only thing that is slightly disappointing is how easily BoJo can scatter a few Churchillian phrases around the place and get such an immediate and rousingly patriotic response regardless of the veracity of what he is spouting.

It seems you really do just need to walk around shouting patriotic anti-foreigner things and everyone is there flags a waving and bunting a buntin’

Never Surrender. Traitors to a man. It’s them foreigners wot done it G’vnor, and no mishtakin’!’

The language seems to have become a vague collision of Churchillian oratory and some form of patriotic Tourettes as dispatched by what I can only assume to be Bert from Mary Poppins.

It is a short hop from ‘surrender’ language to ‘traitor’ – that ultimate betrayal

[The loose use of the ‘T’ word does though seem rather rich given the Judicial view-point of the Prorogue of Parliament as having required BoJo to ‘sham’ the Queen; surely the only person in pole position to comment on what traitorous behaviour might look like. But I forget. The judiciary are just another part of the Liberal Global Jewish Conspiracy – more of that later]

Traitor is a word that carries. And if you happen to be Jim Cornelius, a pro-Remain Liberal Democrat living in Lewes East Sussex, it is carried on both sides of a brick and hoofed through your window.

Ugly blame games are an ancient human art of divide and rule.

We’ve been using blame, public decrying and propaganda to take the spot light away from the real crooks and miscreants for centuries. And we like nothing more than a highly complex set of adversaries and a complex conspiracy to fuel the moment. The more ridiculous and elaborate the better.

Lewes in East Sussex is traditionally a hot spot of radicalism. From hosting one of the founding fathers of the American Revolution to happily embracing the Anti papist firebrands in support of the protestant Martyrs [we like to burn Papal effigies in Lewes] it is home to some rather punchy political dissent and exclamation.

Traitor Bricks are just one accessory for the discerning Lewes radical. A good old fashioned tin of spray paint is another. Thought the content, as a modern media person might point out, needs a little work. Or does it?


This was emblazoned across a new fence of a perfectly nice house in a perfectly nice road in Lewes the other morning.

Now, once the surprise of what it says wears off and one starts to dissect it, it would be rather funny, if it wasn’t so desperately sad, deeply sinister and a blatant outcome of the kind of divisive crap people are increasingly spouting in the cold light of day.

The current climate has without question let some rather unpleasant people out of their fetid rat-pits of trollery and ugly blame into the waking world.

So lets start with the EJEWS. Did the perpetrator simply miss-spell I-JEWS. Did I miss a new product  accessory from Apple’s Israeli market, available with every new i-phone?

Or are EJEWS simply electronic Jews, like emails are electronic mail. And if so, what are they? Where do they come from? Why do EJEWS exist? And how exactly are EJEWS different to non E Jews? Are they electronically generated Jewish people – like alter ego avatars in Sim City? Or is it the platform name for real jewish people whom exist in virtual environments?

Or are the EJEWS jews from the E.U. or Pro European jews. Simply put, are they jews who’ve moved here from Europe or British jews who voted Remain?

So many questions.

Whether Pro EU, European, electronic, wholly virtual or simply virtual versions of a real person, the one thing we know from this graffiti is that these EJEWS are busy. Boy are they busy. And it seems they are in cahoots with one George Soros.

Now, for anyone not paying attention, George Soros is a Hungarian-born jewish Holocaust survivor who has made billions speculating on the currency markets. More importantly he is vilified by the Alt-Right as being at the heart of the global jewish conspiracy, blaming him in no uncertain but rarely proven terms for everything from the Charlottesville Rioting to Fake Bomb plots against himself and Barack Obama – and whom is presented  in the social posts of one Robert Bowers, murderer of 11 jews in a Pittsburg Synagogue, as the ‘jew that funds white genocide [the global jewish liberal conspiracy] and controls the press’.

So in the heart of an East Sussex town, on a fence are words that echo the disturbing belief system of a dangerous and sometimes murderous cabal, obsessed with some global jewish conspiracy and whom in this time of division feel free to publicly and explicitly conflate it with the BREXIT sentiments and traitorous brick throwing events.

To posit that the two are separate incidents and not linked by any direct evidence would be to deny historic hindsight’s tendency to show us after the fact that human beings act in waves and urges – their sentiment coagulating in emotional clusters of activity that though in some ways seem at the time unconnected prove themselves retrospectively to have been part of there same toxic malaise or momentum.

In some ways the EJEWS piece with its shoddy spellings smacks of the Goulston Street graffito scrawled on  a wall near one of the Ripper Murders in Whitechapel in the late 19th Century. The graffito stated that  ‘the Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing’.  Ironically it was written at a time when frankly the jews were being blamed for most everything, and subsequently has been viewed as Anti Semitic propaganda that was designed to stoke ill feeling and create an uprising against the new arrivals.

In much the same way that White Genocide and the Global Jewish Conspiracy is increasingly present in the ghoulish theatrical nightmares of the likes of Robert Bowers in our here and now, so it was in the late 1800s in the East End.

The jewish influx, though seen initially with sympathy due to the pogroms and harsh treatment they had received in Russia Poland and Germany from whence they fled, was soon to be seen, first as a blight, then as both a soft invasion and a commercial coup [Jews were blamed for increasing output and decreasing quality, flooding the markets with cheap shoddy fare to the detriment of older East End manufacturers and producers] Eventually, as the anti semitic sentiment increased and locals became more incensed, the Jewish problem was to be regarded as an affront to all that was truly British and wholly against the social balance and social improvement of the East End. As unemployment rose and housing became scarcer the usual spectres rose up and the jews were blamed for indigenous East Enders increasingly precarious and perilous existence.

John Law AKA Margaret Harkness, in her book Out of Work, put the sentiments of many residents of the East End of London into the words of one of her characters – the wife of a radical carpenter:

“Why should all them foreigners come here to take food out of our mouths…” 

Twas ever thus.

So when BoJo spouts Surrender schtick and fires up the mood against Johnny Foreigner, and when he attaches the memory of the murdered Jo Cox to a successful BREXIT – and when traitor bricks get thrown through windows while troll conspiracy theorists scrawl EJEW graffiti on fences in sleepy Sussex towns, it is time to be alert.

Because we can be sure that those words can become sticks and stones can all too easily. Sometimes murderous ones.

So lets tread carefully and take responsibility for what comes out of our mouths. Starting with our ‘leaders’. And when I say that I mean all of them. Not just the flaxen-haired Trumpeteer.

Bash Street, The B Word & a search for Castlereagh.


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It’s 7a.m. in the sauna at the Leisure Centre; a tight dog-leg affair tucked into the corner, to the left of the baby pool.

It’s 7 a.m. and someone said the B Word.

It’s 7 a.m. and someone said the B Word and things are hotting up.

It’s 7 a.m. and someone said the B Word and things are hotting up – and the temperature is rising. (This is somewhat of a first as usually the temperature in this sauna would barely warm a cockle let alone boil a shrimp. If the least that the B word might do is to bring the sauna to a serviceable and job-fulfilling temperature, I’m all for it.)

Someone said the B Word.

And silence falls. 

From me at least. To begin with.

I choose to stay out of it [which for a very over-opinionated man takes some doing]. 

This sauna resides in a broadly LEAVE realm, heavy with the fust of Faragista.

In this particular sauna, tucked as it is into a small green corner of East Sussex, a mix of ages, genders and ethnicities all broadly ascribe to an Anti-European, Self-Determining future with incumbent bumps, recessions (double dip or otherwise) and social crunches as a wholly acceptable part of the bill for the heady freedom.

We’ll struggle through.

We’ll manage.

Sure we’ll figure it out

Ok so it’ll be tough but we’ll soldier on.

And, much like flatulence;

Better out than in.

In the sauna the language is of a wartime nature. Valiant struggles. The underdog. The enemies abroad. The vision of prevailing. The idyll of remaining free! 

What did we fight for in the first place? 

In some ways the years from 1945 to now seem to have simply fallen away.

The odd usurper brings a whiff of Remain into the room, emanating enlightenment. They are mostly brimming with humanitarianism and belief in diversity of culture as a healthier model for that inclusive society. Many of them work in and are supportive of the Public Sector, a strong  social contract, and an inclusive society.

Sensibly [I sense], they hear a whiff of cod Farage/Bojo speak and just stay silent or leave. 

These are not wall flowers – simply people who mostly prefer to discuss the complexity of this matter in a rather less heated, cramped and sometimes overbearingly ‘righteous’ atmosphere.

Now our LEAVERS, lets be clear, do tend to index towards the cliche – being older, white males and females of what someone once cruelly described as the ‘Little Englander’ variety. They are [publicly at least by their own admittance] Express and Mail readers, or, otherwise, don’t read the news at all: 

Its all bullshit

Can’t trust a word of it

All written by lefty Guardian types.

So in the Leisure Centre sauna, as the Weather Girls sang, the humidity’s rising – barometer’s getting low…and, in BREXIT terms, politically at least, its raining men.

White. Privileged. Righteous. Right leaning. Men. To be precise.

Which brings me to the point of this piece, and the types of leader we desire and aspire to. And the issue of whom do LEAVERS respect and laud – and why?

My concern is that the nature of our current slew of would-be LEAVE heroes strikes me as the antithesis of what we need to get through this coming B Word Debacle by the skin of anyone’s teeth.

BREXIT is not a simple puzzle to crack whatever the common wisdom or otherwise about No Deal Dead Stop all out departures


  • the complexity of the Exit Agreement;
  • Legal mandates, preexisting agreements and precedents; 
  • the supplementary conditions & back stop issues;
  • the number of British & European stakeholders; 
  • the back room Trade Bloc chess game of Yes trade Deal No trade Deal played by everyone including our Special Relationship cousins;
  • the subsequent civil strife, bad feeling, victimisation, bullying, vitriol, political mismanagement, jingoism and blame throwing generated by a referendum based upon a rather spurious question surrounded by disinformation, propaganda, and smoke and mirrors on all sides;

it’s a wonder anyone in the normal world has even half a handle on what’s going on (and some would say that, given the nature and degree of popular feeling, most do not.)

At a time when we need steely resilient statesman-like acuity, a labyrinthine capacity for detail, a prodigious Machiavellian sensibility and most importantly an ability to ‘stick with it’ – the banality of it, the wheezing mind numbing boredom of it all in room after musty, hot-shoe room – to secure the right exit for Britain, what do we have?  

Well at first glance it seems the majority of England have abdicated responsibility for robust discourse, reasoned debate and seasoned global geopolitical nous to the writers of The Beano and Topper.

And it is their characters that we now see striding towards Downing Street, keys jangling in their fat sweaty greedy hands.

And the ‘unts and the Bojos are not the only power players here – we must include the minstrels in their populist galleries, Farage and Rees Mogg. And though down, His Right Royal ’my hand is on the tiller of environmental destiny’  Gove is certainly not out. [I am uncertain as to whether he or anyone else realised that his sole task was simply to make Bojo look more presentable and capable.]

It seems that at a time when we need the zenith of political nous, insight, application and a tireless irrepressible pragmantism, we have:

  • A philandering, straw haired clownish buffoon with a Churchill fetish.
  • The greatest reoccurring spelling mistake in British politics
  • A Gin, Jag & Fag spiv in a camel coat,
  • A turncoat with a cocaine stain on their heart
  • A monocled monochromatic Victorian Undertaker with a taste for off shore trading

Frankly between Bojo’s ego libido sandwich salad combo, ‘unts self righteous ‘only real alternative’ sorry that’s my Olympic accolade shtick, Gove’s yearning hands & insincere masque, Farage’s blatant people-powered self-interest [and tendency to run for the hills at the first sign of real responsibility] and Rees-Mogg’s fun-fair side-show Victorian Toff (there’s definitely a market in putting coin-operated ‘Victoriana Stove Pipe Hatted Rees Mogg Fortune Tellers on every British Seaside Pier), we really have all drawn the short straw.

I said.


In the sauna.

My Inside voice outside voice mechanism had failed me.

Ah well. In for a penny in for a pound.

Yeah and it would be a cent and a euro, not a penny and a pound, if you lot had your way.

The immediate flavour of the room was not favourable

After some uncomfortable shuffling and murmuring I was able to point out that, given the result and what we need to do as a country, I was in fact simply offering an opinion (which in a democracy that sanctifies the freedom of speech I feel more than happy to do). I was offering an opinion on the quality and measure of the politicians the LEAVERS were celebrating as our potential leaders out of this fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, Stanley. Leadership Quality of the right calibre and nature to be specific.

My punt is that what we really needed all along was not a Churchill or a Disraeli. We needed a Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry. 

A much maligned yet highly influential British politician of the 18th and 19th Centuries, it is is not for his suppression of the Irish Rebellion, Act of Union, Treaty of Chaumont, Engagement of Wellington (a fellow Northern Irishman) against Napoleon or his forthright Leadership of the House of Commons that I invoke him. 


It is specifically for his dogged resilience in carving out the greatest and most stable outcome possible for post Napoleonic Europe at the Congress of Vienna. In collaboration, collusion and sometimes in spite of and against Metternich, Castlereagh forged something unheard of out of a snake pit of self interest, bile, vengeance and self service: a long-term period of stability in Europe that united the great powers. And he did not forge this through compromise of our trading position. His vigilance in regards to Britain’s imperial interests was unsurpassed.

It is unsurprising that Henry Kissinger, whose Harvard Dissertation was an idealistic entreat in support of the realpolitic of pragmatists like Castlereagh said of him that ‘he developed a reputation for integrity, consistency, and goodwill, which was perhaps unmatched by any diplomat of that era.’ [Kissinger’s re-invention as a widely misunderstood politician and statesman is brilliantly set out by Niall Fergusson in his book Kissinger: 1923-1968:The Idealist]

So, no-ones perfect, but some people are perfect for their time. Castllereagh was just such a man, destined to be in the right place with the right influence to do something humanity struggles to do all to often when left to its own devices. Get over itself.

To exit where we are requires I believe, the irrepressible pragmatism and the stoic ability to ‘stay in the room’ that Castelereagh exemplified in his engagements in the Congress of Vienna – an ability to keep talking, and to not allow a descent in to some bar-room oratory or scrappy jingoistic sleight every time we don’t quite get out way. [Sound familiar?]

When using those leadership criteria, I do not see a man or woman for our time.  I do not see in our ‘leaders’ the requisite traits and character.

If we’re lucky we’ll scratch under the cod Churchillian crack and reveal a streak of Castelereagh in someone somewhere and we might all be better off for it. If not I say lets match the Topper Toff throwbacks like Rees Mogg and raise them – and get The Bash Street Kids to take over the Commons. (Though some might venture that between the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour Parties we have already got that strategy pretty much covered off  – which begs the question who Danny, Plug, ‘Erbert, Fatty, Sidney, Smiffy, Spotty, Toots, Wilfred, Wilfred, Cuthbert are currently masquerading as?)

The sauna fell silent.  


Too clever by half.

Got a right to his own opinion though.

Fair enough.

Anyways, Castle who?


More from the Sauna soon.

Unicorns, Humanity & the Voices of our Redemption


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We are funny.

We’ve spent thousands of years navigating the theologically and intellectually boulder strewn path from the pagan arts and necromancy of the darker older world through proscribed religions to finally arrive at a what we think is a mostly enlightened secular state unfettered from the domain of Church and the blind abstractions of the Faiths they vaunt.

And in doing so we have notionally put most other faiths in the same hell-bound handcart on which we dumped our own spirituality.  This is not necessarily always a disrespectful or dismissive pursuit, though the “My Books better, older and more profound than your Book/Scroll/Tablet” sociopathic bullshit of the more bellicose monotheistic religions might make it seem otherwise.

We tend to quite favour religions other than the one’s we are born into. Vast quantities of westerners raised as goodly Christian and Jewish children have embraced other faiths. We’ve had a good old roll in the karmic hay with all forms of Buddhism recently, and plundered some rather shiny variations on an existing religious theme – Kabbalah for instance – courtesy of Madge and a few A Listers.

But certainly in the predominantly Christianity rooted West, bar the odd few tens of thousands of God fearing Commie hunting, Koran burning, Gay baiting, Abortion stoning, Feminist damning, 21st Century hating, gun totin’ rootin’ tootin’ yihaws; some fiery Baptists; and a clutch of die-hard papal purple purists with a fist full of dollars and an incense ball and chain keeping the dream alive in most of Middle and South America, western religion is broadly redundant intellectually speaking other than as a point of plane to pivot and lever off. 

It has become a vestigial spiritual tail – a divine obsolescence from our millennia in the metaphysically charged dark forests and the last three thousand years under the auspices of ‘pick an Abrahamic Faith, any Abrahamic Faith.’

But in doing so, we never really think through the contingency and legacy planning. Mostly we lean on Science as the replacement – the thing that will fill the void left by what has gone. Bt that is to assume that everyone responds in a non metaphysical left brain attenuated manner in times of distress and duress.

So where do we look to these days when all the dark truths of our humanity hove into view? Where do we cast our eyes when our profligate destruction of the beauty of the planet we inhabit overwhelm us and the darker recesses of our human psyche demonstrate themselves in brutality, cruelty, rape, torture, murder, genocide and war?

Morgan Freeman.

Yes. Morgan Freeman.

In the absence of God, many multiple thousands of us look in reverence and seek reassurance from the 81 year old son of a teacher and America actor and star of Shawshank Redemption fame.

OK. To be fair, the substitute religious reverence things is a little muddy here. Morgan has ‘played God’ which might confuse many – and in a far less destructive way than most of his species and more importantly his gender.  But there is something more about him than his Oscar and nominations and  loose, white, open shirted God performances might predict.

Morgan Freeman’s voice alone can salve the most anxious heart and fevered brow. 

Something I called the Morgan Freeman Effect, when discussing how one might make a film that helps patients to relax and perhaps focus of take in information in the midst of being told some very distressing, complex and frightening news rooted in genetic science. Bring Morgan Freeman into the room and into that moment to pop the bubble:

Morgan: Hey…

Patient: hey…

Morgan: Now…you’re not really listening to what that smart doctor lady’s saying are you?

Patient: No

Morgan: Kind of confused and scared?

Patient: I’m really scared.

Morgan: What say you and me take a walk and just talk – about anything – your favourite John Denver song – favourite Toy Story Character? I don’t care. Anythings fine with me.

Patient: OK then.

And with that, most of us would mostly probably get up out of our chair in that Medical Consultant Specialists room and take a walk with Morgan. With no rational reason for doing so.

His calming modulated tones and open expressive and gentle face are a modern human phenomena.  It is a form of gift – one that is hard to explain in our hard edged data fuelled rationally obsessed world.

There is the sense of everything is going to be OK while Morgan is in the world.

In that way he is remarkable. In that way he is no different to the Unicorns of myth, whom some believe to be a sign of the world being in balance – and their death or absence being indicative of the world tipping toward the dark.

And in Unicorn terms I am most assuredly referring to the horsey single horn mythological creature type as opposed to the over blown silicon valley algorithmically charged frothy Investment stock type of the new digital world order.

Granted – Unicorns can make many people respond with anything from a bluster to an outright screech of derision, and, if the following answer to the question Are Unicorns real? posted on answers.com were to be taken at face value no-one would want to be identified as a believer in any kind of Unicorn:

Actually if you are christian you should know that they did exist well the story begins back with the story of Noah’s ark see the animals were going on the ship but the unicorns just stayed there and played and Noah couldn’t get them aboard so he had to leave them to drown. but many people think (including me) that the unicorn still lives somewhere possibly on an island because unicorns are magical nothing will stop them.

But saying that [and someone really did], lets take this in the spirit in which it is meant. AKA just go with me on this for a minute.

Unicorns represent a sacred creature to whom the prospect, balance and spiritual well being of the world are inextricably attached. Unicorns merely by their presence predict good things – even the briefest glimpse of them augurs a world where good prevails.

On that basis, Morgan Freeman is a Unicorn for millions of people – in that his presence in the world offers us a sense of salve and reassurance. But thankfully for him, he is not alone.

Another of our Unicorns is David Attenborough. One of the most remarkable creatures we share this planet with. His one man crusade to bring the truths and beauty of the natural world to bear across millions of screens in millions of homes is a staggering act of will and craft.

That he creates such compelling and mesmeric filmic storytelling without the sickly sweet confection of Anthropomorphism favoured by Disney et al is even more remarkable. 

Unlike Morgan Freeman, David Attenborough carries the added hindrance to his fantastical mythical Unicorn status of being a die-hard sharp-cornered scientist rooted wholly in the rational world. There isn’t even a whiff of the spiritual about Mr Attenborough. [Even if there was, I sense it would be a be of the swift-5-minutes-of-High-Church-C-of-E-chapel variety, with a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the sacristy to smooth out the God wrinkles in it all.]

But none the less, there he is: the voice of such superior human vantage, such purview, creature insight, expansive understanding and natural intimacy that grown men and women almost weep when they hear him, and people clamour to be near him in much the same way they would pilgrimage to touch the sleeve of their most revered prophets sages and saintly personae.  

Now, is this a male dominated domain, like some throw back to a paternalistic misogynist church or medieval men and their power lusts?

Nope. Oprah is right up there for me on the runway to Unicorn. And Michele Obama [though sadly not the next POTUS – but how we pray!!] is also a Unicorn in waiting.

And death will not silence the Unicorn, however sad its coming. Maya Angelou, though gone from this mortal coil has [and I use the present tense knowingly] a similar effect – her words and recordings chiming the zenith of our humanity and the depth of our feeling in such a way as to give people succour and support and bolster them for what life may bring. She is alive in, with and through them. 

Equally I cite the saintly phenomena that was Mother Theresa, even with all of her subsequently revealed peculiarities and sharpness [who wouldn’t be consumed and sharpened by witnessing and carrying so much suffering].  

So I’d like to give a small ‘praise be‘ on this Easter Sunday, and say, in the increasing absence of any kind of faith in advanced cultures, let alone Abrahamic ones, and in the face of the staggering circus act of hubris currently being demonstrated by left brain reasoning and a blind faith in science knowing all, thank deity for Unicorns in all of their wondrous being.

Something tells me that, as more fires and floods ravage, as more religious fundamentalists scour and murder, and as the pillaging self interest of corporatism supported by the likes of the straw haired idiot to the West continue to thrive, we’ll need as many of them as we can get. 

The Evil Mdudu, Political Correctness & sustainable storytelling


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Sustainable storytelling doesn’t really feel very, well, sustainable. Not in the ‘joyous, must watch, slightly addictive, surprised me’ department anyway.

There’s lots of one off pieces that capture people’s attention. But I’ve seen little in the serial, episodic department to thrill and inspire me to consider a slightly more resilient and sustainable existence.

And my last blog reminded me of some of the reasons for why.

I faintly praised the recent alignment of the Thomas The Tank Engine franchise and the 17 Global Sustainability Goals. The reason for the faintness lay in the need of someone to reengineer the narratives and characters to make them more ‘correct’ – balanced, even, fair and ultimately, possibly anodyne?

Re-engineering narratives and characters to remove friction, discomfort, distaste – the inappropriate and the sometimes highly imperfect humanity of them – leaves a massive hole in the realm of sustainable communications.

In the blog I referred to what I see as a fundamental truth. Doing good does not require everyone to be insufferably ‘good’.

Bad is good, especially in storytelling. Bad provides friction. Discomfort and imperfection make for more interesting narratives. Fact. Ask anyone who has to do this for a living.

And ironing out the creases of our imperfect humanity –  our need to swear and cuss, our inappropriate and sometimes sleepwalk stereotyping; our baseness, our old prejudices and new loathings; our lazy referencing; erasing all of that makes no sense to me. 

People love a good baddy. In fact our waking dislike of goody-goodies mostly outweighs our dislike of baddies.

This came to me like a rather late, lazy lightning bolt [ my lightning bolt had obviously chosen the slowest Southern Rail train, two buses and a walk] as opposed to the one that once released from the hands of the gods, scorches through the sky to light up what it strikes like a Christmas Tree [a theologically and culturally specific reference that may exclude some rather arch followers of monotheistic faiths other than the Christian one that bore the cultural ritualism of the Christmas Tree but I’m not changing it – as in this lies half of my point].

The lazy bolt struck me while in the middle of a conversation with Mark Downes, an old colleague and friend of mine. We were discussing how to develop his Alphabravos idea further – develop the story arcs and the characters.

Now the Alphabravos is Mark’s idea for an episodic Children’s film/tv series designed to entertain and educate children about creating a more sustainable world, using 5 key Alphabravo characters and a slew more for good measure.

What struck me was that our focus lay in the purposefully decent, cool and quirky good guys – the Alphabravos themselves. And therein lay a missed trick.

The baddie was our best bit. The mad, bad and dangerous to know Mdudu was the greatest unrealised character in the whole idea. In fact, in true megalomaniac socio-psychopathic fully paid up narcissist fashion, it was all about him. 

Yes, the individual Alphabravo characters would allow various children of various [self identified] genders to choose their favourite character to emulate and through which to learn the behaviours of a more sustainable life, but Mdudu was the flame that the moths would fly to. The deeper, richer, most enduring and attractive human element in the whole thing.

Because thats what we do. We need the baddie to be the best character because in most traditional storytelling, the baddie is usually us at our ugly worst. Our unvarnished heavily flawed now – the perfect arrive starting point – and the heroes are us as we could be. The baddie is the measure by which we mark our hope; our optimism of what could be and the journey to it.

So baddies are the best.

So in Alphabravo world that meant that Mdudu, in all his camp, scratchy, self-obsessed sightly savant, childish, distracted, brutal and nihilistic ugliness was the most beautiful thing that we have.

And he must be developed. But more importantly than that, he must be protected. Because if the PC Police got half a whiff of him, heres how the conversation might go:

So Mdudu, great name. What’s that about?

Mdudu. yeah he’s our big bad baddie. We love the name. Its actually a Swahili name, originally from the Arabic, for a large parasitic insect.

Hmmmn. Well that’s not very cool. A little ethnic stereotyping there perhaps? 


The blight on the world comes from Africa and the Middle East. Is that your point? A continent exclusively populated by despots, megalomaniacs,tyrants, environmental spoilers and murderers?  That won’t do. Especially when your baddie is shaped by a western, white hand. Oh no. No No No! Thats just perpetuating ancient prejudices and colonial propoganda. So there’s a real ethnic defamation issue here. Anyway. Let’s keep it positive. Lets see if we can salvage this. Why is he called that?

Because it rhymes with ‘poo’.

Well thats very mature!

Well its not meant to be. This is for 6-8 year olds. Everything is a fart gag and a poo joke.

Is it though? Really?

Yes. And I forgot to include bogies [boogers to our American cousins]. 

But that is so…so, infantile

We can’t go telling a 6 year old that Mdudu is a socio-psychopathic megalomaniacal destroyer of the planet’s natural capital, who lays waste to communities through flood, famine, war, pestilence and environmental degradation. Its far easier to say Mdudu is a big fat poo.

I’m sorry – a what?

A big fat poo.

Well that’s incredibly insensitive.

What is?

Calling someone big and fat? We just don’t appreciate that kind of language. Very negative. Judgemental. That really won’t do.

He’s a giant, animated, vaguely camp, clumsy baddie who’s a bit crap at his job. C’mon!!

No, really! First off, why is he a He? Pretty standard gender stereotyping of human tyranny and venality as being the sole domain of the male if you ask me. Psychopathic elitism. Ergo; Man strong woman weak. Sexism – pure and simple. And its all so SENSATIONALIST! Why can’t it be more, well, relevant. Laying waste to the world? Who does that? And I really don’t appreciate the recidivist cliche of baddies being camp – obviously playing back into some post-WWII caricature of the cruel, lisping Nazi Gauleiter – and making him clumsy to boot – an object of ridicule! Surely we are more advanced than this? 

Nope. And I didn’t mention the speech impediment by the way. You said lisping. Not me. But I like it!

That’s not helping. And ‘big’ and ‘fat’ are clearly, well, fattest and sizist, so they are a No from us.


And ‘poo’? Really. Can;t we do better than Poo?

We? When did my Me idea become a We idea? 

Wisdom of the Crowds is everything – surely you know that? And wheres the redemption in all of this. Surely Mdudu is on a journey to redemption, no? On a journey to, errmmm, a less pooey future?

Not really. His job is to be what we kick against. What we fight. The possibility for bad in all of us. His job is to be BAD!!! What do you want him to be? A giant, humourless, flawless, good natured global gender-fluid mostly misunderstood Being (as we wouldn’t want to offend a species or genus – insect or otherwise – now would we): a Being of no real provenance or roots or ethnic specificity, with redeeming features like attending Mindfulness counselling when he’s not trying lay waste to the world?

You’re doing that sensationalist thing again – but yes, so let’s work with this. Collaborate and co-create it. So Sure. let’s say for example we keep him in the rhyming world. You could call the baddie Being ‘Do’ instead of Mdudu. It’s positive, action orientated, non gender specific. And if you really have to make a poo rhyme you still can. And yes, mindfulness counselling sounds terrific. Positive attributes. Striving for better. Optimistic.

OK so let me get this straight: the baddy is called Do, as in ‘doing’; is a broadly good natured slightly misunderstood gender non specific with no ethnic or genus specificity, whom, between doing vaguely unpleasant non-sensational things, attends self-help groups for mindfulness and anger management. And perhaps runs a Clean Up campaign in his local park?




You just sucked the light out of the world. I want to go and hide in a very, very dull, dark room.

Now you’re just being childish.

Yes. That’s the point. Its called aligning with your audience.

Still childish

Fart face

I rest my case.   


To find out more about the Alphabravos, go to: https://alphabravos.com

Lego Batman, Man Crushes & the original Sustainability Vigilante.


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Ok, I admit it. I have a huge Man Crush on Lego Batman.

Yes, Lego Batman.

Nope. Not Batman. Or the Dark Knight. This is not a homo-erotic entreat to the wiry, muscular Christian Bale, or a slightly sloppy hug for big bad Ben [pre or post cocktail].

And though I feel that Keaton’s socio-psychopathic gift to the Burton Batmans was remarkable [is it me or do the Burton-Batmans sound like a rather smart family from Cape Cod?), and gorgeous George is always worth a mention, it is the small plasticky, modular superhero who has my heart.

Lego Batman is petulant, childish, misguided, isolated, narcissistic to the level of a clinical pathology BUT he’s still fundamentally a good and fun guy – and the ultimate role model, both literally [he’s modelled out of plastic pieces] ethically [he’s aways trying to shut down or thwart some toxic shocker or other] and symbolically [the Bat Sign is a beacon in the world that says bad awful things will always get their just and plastic desserts in the end].

Unlike the Dark Knight – he who broods in an enormous bat-winged cape on various V tall buildings – Lego Batman’s super-power resides in his all round, kinda clumsy unfunny dork-like coolness – or as a social strategist might say, his social reach. He is simply a lot more attractive and palatable to a far wider range of type and age-groups of people.

Lets face it, the highly cinematic and terribly troubled Bruce Wayne can get a little ‘BORING’ – but as soon as he is rendered in very shiny black plastic, has ‘Nope nope nope no no nope no Nope’ tantrums  and crunches his way through microwaved Lobster claws, shell on, whats not to like?

Lego Batman’s love of industrial metal & grind core, and working with black, black, black and very dark grey, though broody and nihilistic in some ways, is really quite chirpy and redeeming.

And sure, he has a tendency to pop off with his Star Wars buddies just at the moment when he’s meant to be helping his Lego Movie buddy Emmet save everyone – and he struggles to maintain a text-book balanced and mutually beneficial relationship – but who wouldn’t; and doesn’t sometimes.

But my main love for characters like Lego Batman is rooted in their ability to be transcendent – to be able to be dark and light and left and right and rare and middle and base and grubby and funny and sad and inspiring; all at once.

It is an ability that the realm of Sustainability, Social Impact and those who’ve tasked themselves with rebalancing society could do with embracing far more.

The sustainability agenda needs all the transcendence it can get in the human department.

Though enormous steps forwards have been made [even getting it on the agenda of some corporations took decades of work and the relentless commitment of some very professionally brave people], there is still a deep division between the engineered integrity of the organisational, systemic and material change being undertaken at scale in large organisations and corporations and the insight and subtlety of the communicating voice and tone of the messaging that announces and celebrates these transformations for all the world to see.

It is the lightness of touch and the ability of characters like Lego Batman to appeal to all age groups in a very human and funny way that I find the most powerful. Especially in this space. The chiaroscuro of human nature, including the more childish and incorrect aspects of who we are as creatures needs to be front and centre to engage people.

But there seems to be a view amongst those trying to do something serious in the world that levity and playfulness diminishes or infantilises otherwise serious issues or points to be made. And that even when something childlike is to be used, it has to be ‘corrected’ in a trough of vanilla moralising and social engineering to make it finally palatable to a pungently consensual audience of rare intelligence. 

The recent Thomas The Tank work around the Global Sustainability Goals, though wholly admirable, still ended up quite prim, was overly gender engineered, and in doing so ended up lacking humanity for me. 

Friction is a human truth – friction tension and raw energy are essential in characterisations – even in children’s characters. The Homogenisation and cultural symmetry being inflicted on a lot of characterisations in pursuit of correctness these days seems inhuman to me. Humanity is imbalanced in so many highly nuanced and inextricable ways that to remove all imbalance between good and bad seems a fruitless pursuit.

Roald Dahl was the master of exploring dissonant and highly complex narratives inside beautiful whimsical and ultimately charming storytelling. The unvarnished nature and grimness of some of his characters made the stories all the more compelling.

Is Lego Batman on a par with the conflicted beauty of BFG or the moral ambivalence of Willy Wonka, the staggering and mystical precocity of Matilde and the creature narcissism of the Fantastic Mr Fox? Probably not.

But I’d still like to put Lego Batman forwards as the new prince [or princess; croissant or cork wedge shoe, depending on what gender he is identifying with at any given time] of sustainable communications.

I would rather have the 17 UN Global Sustainability Goals unpacked by the schlocky, childish, self-obsessed and mostly black plastic Lego Batman to a soundtrack by Ensturzende Neubauten than be cudgelled quietly by the imperious correctness of the reengineered Thomas The Tank Engine.

The Sustainability Vigilante picking on poor unsuspecting people with utterly inappropriate levels of vigilantism, weaponry and violent attrition for even the smallest infringement of a Global Sustainability Goal objective could be VERY funny. 

Commissioner Gordon’s wife bins three perfectly recyclable containers…dun dun dahhhhhhh…without rinsing them!!!……arrggghhhh …cue trip hammer drum riff and crunching guitars…the roof ripped off the apartment block, a salvo of bat rockets pummelling the front room, followed by bat-swooping beatings metered out to her and everyone else in the block for good measure.

Lego Batman stringing up the old man from the Soda Shop as a highly sexually-suspect chauvinist and patroniser of women [how can I help you this fine sunny morning little lady?] or battering three men to a pulp with Bat hammers because they were found to be using face Scrub with Micro-beads could make for highly entertaining mini episodes of a whole series of ‘GSG themed’ Lego Batman content. We’d still get the point. But we’d also manage it with a little bumpiness and some conflicted humanity.  

Doing good things and being a force for good in the world is not predicated on being insufferably GOOD. Goodness needs a foil to be real to the majority of people. People can learn immeasurably good things from bad or flawed people. And good people can only find their edges when confronted by bad things and people. The friction is essential.  Adopting a Pilgrim approach to communicating good things is not the answer. But we are still doing it.

Perhaps the pilgrim piety that is still shaping sustainability communications is the same malaise that is rendering out safe space thinking in universities so that children and young people grow up believing that it is also possible to get through life without ever having to listen to something we disagree with or find unpalatable – simply by forcibly exorcising it from our immediate society – and see that as a ‘good’ thing. Dunno. But, as history has shown us, both the ‘Crusader’ thing and seemingly benign regimes where control is increasingly applied to blot out dissenting voices, when done with little or no humour and a highly tuned sense of irony, tend to end badly most of the time. 

So blah blah blah. We must learn to speak of sustainability in human terms without homogenising and cleansing it of all human flaw and friction.

If we are to cross the chasm and move to engaging a far, far broader church of people and inspiring them to happily act upon more sustainable lifestyles it has to feel less goody goody and less pious.

We need to ‘lighten up’ and be prepared to be messy – because being human is messy. And we’re humans first and foremost.

Now where’s that Lobster Claw?

‘Funny’, Political Correctness & Modern Family humour.


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So shoot the dinosaur if I am not understanding this correctly BUT I am wholly confused about how humour and the topics of gender fluidity [in which I include LGBT as a ‘topic’], ethnicity, disability and beliefs collide. There’s a rule book somewhere that is, from what I can fathom, as fluid as the Gender identity it sometimes defends.

So, I understand the opening premise. That we are all human inside; the universal organism truth of us in which lie the seeds of Equality for All. Clear. And agreed.

And in the immutable words of a 90s Blur anthem, regardless of whether I am a boy who likes girls like their girls like their boys; or a girl whom wishes to be a boy; or a boy who wishes to dress like a girl; whether I have a Koran or a bible or a Torah or a light sabre (jedi numbers in the UK stood at 176,632 in the 201census, the 7thlargest religion in the UK after Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism); whether I have black, brown, olive, bluey white, or any other skin colour or patina you can name; regardless of how I speak – by accent, idiom, dialect or impediment; whether I have all of my limbs or just some of them, flaws, glitches, disease, chromosomal or neural disorders or again, any other condition or illness that renders me ‘imperfect’ in the eyes of the zealots, we are still all the same sentient human creature and should be treated as such.

This is where normailsation or universality should apply, calibrate and enforce itself. At a regulatory, political and constitutional level.  This is the nature of Human Suffrage. And these are societal and cultural truths that need to be enforced if needs be, especially if someone in flouting these human truths chooses to act maliciously against any one party to the detriment of that party and the benefits of themselves.

But the tension point on all of this for me is around humour.

Humour is a kicking post. A buffer to what sometimes feels like an imbalanced world or our own individual tribal and societal failings or myopia. Yes, it is turned cruelly against some people and beliefs – as is every technology humanity has ever created [ and yes I am referring to humour as a technology]. But broadly, humour is as much a tool of the oppressed, the marginalised, the down trodden, the forgotten and the set against as it is a tool of the bully and the racist.

Satire has been used as apolitical weapon for millennia, especially amongst those who felt they were incapable of confronting on equal terms a politic, leader, party, belief or philosophy that they found diminished their equal right to inclusion,  peaceful living in equality with their neighbours.

Is satire a moral instrument? Yes. Whether it is being wielded by some homophobic, racist, right-wing, liberal-hating cyclops, or by some bullying, socially psychopathic vegan eco-fetishist, it is being used to promote a particular moral/immoral/amoral world view or perspective that truly believes in its righteous self. [We must remember that morality, like sexuality, is fluid.]

But it seems that one of satire and humour’s redeeming traits is that it is mostly fired up in favour of the underdog or the insurgent spirit in any given situation.

From the walls of the palatine Hills or the Senate baths; Diogenes in his barrel in the square, the rapier wit of Rowlandson and the satirists of western Georgian society all the way through to the agitating propagandists of ‘pick a world war any world war’, the revolutionary guard of 1968 and the journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo; humour is a leveller and a balloon popper; a stick with which to hit the stuffiness and humourless, po-pious self-righteous pomposity of those people seeking to rule through some self-ordained permission and assertion.

I love humour. And the more edgy and raw and punk it gets – the more hackles it raises – the more I like it.

Perhaps I just don’t like the smug controlling satisfaction written over the faces of what seem quite joyless people in any given situation.

Agreed. The catch all of the foot-in-mouth ‘truth as bullets’ insensitive twat ‘humour’ of ‘I was just saying what everyone else was thinking’ …displays a crass insensitivity and lack of even a shred of the kind of diplomacy that is a primary facet of any socialised human being. But my greatest issue is that it is frankly usually just lazy. And it is rarely funny. [The greater sin.]

But back to the upside.

A lot of humour for me is predicated on challenging every norm, status quo and given wisdom around identity truth, practice, posture, habit, behaviour, viewpoint, politic, assumption and directive. Anything that seemed to adopt a tyrannical, humourless, bullying self-referential righteousness.

It is there as a relentless counter balance to what is presented as ‘right’ or ‘normal.’

It is at its least a projection on to a higher plane of ‘taking the piss’ – a pastime created to keep people from getting ‘ideas above their station’, ‘too big for their boots’ or ‘too clever by half.’

In recent times once we’d cut out way through the smoky bullying humour of the working men’s clubs of the 1970s, aimed at ‘er indoors, the mother-in-law, women drivers, people of colour, homosexuals, ginger haired kids and the ‘t’ick’ Irish (or the Polish in North American Society) we got to the stand-up revolution of the 1980s.

Barbs and parodies and small humorous cruelties where now aimed at Maggie Thatcher, racist coppers, bent politicians, pig-ignorant gin & jag Middle-Englanders, Kebab Shop Men, gobby builders, Gap Yar students, Hoorays, PR queens, and every other shade of the establishment (who could forget Alan Beresford  B’stard).

Then the Noughties switcheroo mix-up of geo-gender-livestock-foodstuff-education-politics had us all getting more and more confused. Suddenly Left was Right. Up was down. In was out.

One example of this lies in the roots of the recent Anti Semitism row in the Labour Party.  And there ain’t nothing funny about that.

Was a time when supporting Palestine against state-funded [The American state to be precise] Zionist incursions and hegemony in the Middle East was particularly a stand against Israel’s state-terrorism [as it was perceived], not against the Jewish people. That support became an alignment with the PLO, who tripped and passed the baton to Hamas, who buddy up to the Hezbollah, who’re in bed with nascent IS militancy and suddenly a lot of people in the Labour Party are all confused. Pro PLO was not meant to be anti-semitic. But then again was it? If Israel is a secular state, then everyones fine. If it’s the homeland of the jewish people then that gets complicated. Back then Pro Palestine was definitely anti America and Anti Global Money. But it certainly wasn’t meant to be pro Hezbollah; and as for IS, well… Anyway. pick the comedy bones out of that if you can.

And the idea of sustainable lives and living within our means was a good thing. Cheap meat and its industrial production was killing the planet and our health and well-being. A more balanced diet was called for. More vegetables. A more vegetarian diet became suitable and vegetable-led diets are becoming far more normal. But the Vegans got super militant and a lot more aggressive. And suddenly they are the tyrants encroaching on free will. WTF?

And then as the Gay Agenda is usurped by the Gender Agenda, who’s rights come first? LGBT thankfully stepped in as the umbrella collective to champion all rights equally but the Gender Agenda could not be denied. And its confusing out there. [As Joe Lycett, the currently Bi-sexual comedian pointed out on Radio 4 recently, the Gays are controlling the Bi agenda, so Bis have to speak up for themselves.]

Although statistics reveal that 1 in 16 people are either gay or lesbian, we are yet to see what the true number of the transgender population might be.

We also need to allow for what I like to think of as  ‘settlement’ – where the very universal nature of youth’s fierce pursuit of identity might predispose more than are actually truly transgender to pursue it as an option of identity while ‘churning’ through their individual activism years.

Yes. That idea of transgender possibly being a phase– shoot me now for suggesting that just maybe, transgender, like many other things, sometimes politics, sometimes philosophy, sometimes religious, sometimes physical, can be put in the tumble dryer of puberty and the fierce crucible of early identity and come up looking like an absolute, an emphatic truth; and feel that way for some years.

Do I believe that people can fundamentally find themselves in the wrong body? Yes. But equally, do I also believe that transgender has popped itself on the shelf of turbulent identities that youth might reach for? Yes. And that needs to be remembered before we steamroll anything in any direction without letting it ‘settle’. Less haste to the scalpel and more power to the emotional support systems while going through this stuff seems sensible to me.

Veganism and Vegetarianism unsurprisingly also feature heavily in the individual activism years, as they are also most likely to set young people ‘against’ their parents and the existing Order’s politics, beliefs and behaviours.

So what is activism linked to identity and being? And what is activism linked to humanity and existence?

The lazy answer would be ‘its all shades of the same.’ They’re not.

Regardless, that the new tropes of gender, veganism et al are being rendered through the social smack down of the social channels and the twitter model of ‘no right to reply’ leads us to the role of humour and satire.

Tyrannies of social inclusion and exclusion are being undertaken. And revolutions are being foisted on communities and societies.

Small problem is that the gathering norm is coming from the kind of people the humour of the 80s and 90s once set out to liberate.

And the rule book is currently either being used as loo paper in the gender neutral khazi or hung on a hanging tree next to the most recent #metoo protagonist.

Humour is now as likely to target gay rights activists, gender neutral toilets, tech entrepreneurs, hipsters, uber-feminists and fragile millennials as it will the old favourites of Proscribed Religion, philandering and (criminally) bent politicians, oil moguls, bankers, war mongers, child abusers, and Doctor’s Surgery Receptionists.

So does that mean teasing and taking the piss out of transgender is a return to the old days of right wing homophobias; or is it simply humour doing what it always does?

Which brings me to the catalyst for this blog.

Modern Family.

Or should I say my family’s interpretation of Modern Family and particularly the humour involved.

After a particular binge-watching weekend [Bad parenting] we realised that my daughter is sensitive to how women are portrayed in Modern Family. Neurotic Claire. With her over-controlling mania’s and aggression issues. Over-inflated Gloria with her ‘goose honk’ Columbian tone, towering heels and malapropisms. The two Dumfy daughters – one stupid and loose, the other geeky and up tight. So a wholly reasonable perspective and opinion on my daughter’s part.

But she equally seemed somewhat oblivious to the rest of the comedy cavalcade of swipes – the gay stereotypes of Cam and Mitchell and their fatuous statements – “the only gay men to leave LA  on pride weekend because we don’t like crowds” “Oh no, Lesbians” – and hybrid Gay-Asian jokes – “the only two gay men in America to have raised an underperforming Asian child”– the old school, rich white myopia of Jay (he’s a brash crass self-made man with intimacy issues and he did marry pneumatic Gloria after all) and of course, Phil Dumfy’s deeply flawed world view on subjects such as the menstrual cycle and its effect on women – “monstruation” –  his staggering stupidities, fawning salesmanship and general foolishness.

At which point my son chimes in and says perhaps there are gender stereotypes but everyone’s being targeted. And while we are at it, no-one seems up in arms about the prevailing wind in tv drama and comedy of stupid, self-interested, unhygienic, venal, childish male stereotype with a one track mind [whether that be shabby cheap sex, donuts, skipping work, or playing golf.]

We have Brian Griffen in Family Guy; the less said about Homer Simpson the idiot child abuser the better; Richard Watterson, the dad in Amazing world of Gumball demonstrates a staggering level of parental irresponsibility and idiocy; and even Peppa Pig’s father, Daddy Pig, could do with a bath and a fresh injection of brain cells.

The female riposte to this is often ‘well, you guys identify and laugh at those male truisms – and anyway, it’s about time you got skewered after hundreds of years of beating down women’s self-worth and identity – emotionally, intellectually and physically if needs be.’

Fair cop. But if we’re all equal. Surely we’re all up for the rules to be applied equally?

Anyway, where we netted out on Modern families humour imperative was, in my opinion, the right place.

In turns each of the stereotypes is hammered but it is done with a redemptive and cautionary tale ending in mind. Ultimately it says, reach beyond the short-sightedness and human frailty and flaws and we are all equally and without exception allowed and capable of a shot of redemption if we choose to take it.

It is the equanimity of deft cruel parodies, stereotypes and clichés and the purpose to which these comedic cruelties are played that allows all things.

As long as humour is applied equally, and no one stereotype is singled out, then anything goes, the only filter then being to what tonal extremity do you like your humour to play.

South Park far outreaches Gumball in extremity and crass stereotyping. But the premise of using stereotypes is much the same.

But this is a liberal choice. Some would say that as in literature, what constitutes funny it is a question of quality not morality or ethics.

It is the quality of the writing and framing and characterisations in the comedy that should be judged. Not the morality. As Oscar Wilde was said to point out when discussing the morality of a particular book:

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book.Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

The source code of humour is the human condition, in all of its flawed, raw truth and sometime often-time ugliness and inappropriateness.

Lazy humour tends to just be cruel for cruelty’s sake. Humour that tends to just seek to make people feel less shit by demeaning someone else to make them feel shitter – that’s not only lazy but spiteful and negative. That’s not OK. There is no counterpoint or greater purpose to it.

Even if the purpose is just to put a pressure valve on something that would otherwise explode into something far more destructive, at least it has a role in society.

Humour with purpose is a beautiful thing. Because it reminds us that power in all its forms, shiboleths, hysterical and aggressive assertions, trumpeting identity and righteous untouchables are all fodder for the excoriating blade of wit and humour.

Humour is the raw blunt edge of humanity. And like all evolved practices behaviours and traits, it exists for a reason. As I have said. Humour is a Human Technology.

As Sy Benson, the erstwhile Head Comedy Writer character in the film My Favourite Year promounced:

“You don’t cut ‘funny.’”

He also pronounced on the morality of a philandering Actor’s right to appear on a family show:

We’re discussing morals. We’re talking generations to come here.

To which Alice, another writer, responds:

“you’re not qualified to discuss morals, Sy”

to which Sy intelligently replies

“Up yours with a Mello Roll, Alice!”

Now what are we to do with this? Accuse him of misogynistic and aggressive use of language and making threats with a pastry, and have him arrested? Undertake a thorough investigation to define which ‘hole’ he is referring to, to define whether this is indeed gender specific abuse or a more universal aggressive attack? Shame him on twitter in the absence of context? Send him home with a pat on the head saying time to hang up your comedy typewriter? Or accept that humour like humanity has rough and imperfect edges, points of discomfort and areas of uncertainty, and having accepted that just apply a little wit and wisdom in the judging of it.

Anyone one for a Non Vegan, Camp Comedy Night Out?



Class, satire & the dark art of playing the gallery.


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At a point in history when the nuance, deft politic and human insight of a Castlereagh might come in handy – and the strong hand, fierce purpose and earthiness of a Boudicca wouldn’t go amiss; what do we have?

Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Our representative for the broad constituency of ordinary people in the UK is a comical Toff who seems to have fallen off the pages of Topper Comic (well, the 1970s version).

There is a sublime logic in this as the Brexiteers seem to have decided that, if we’re going to apply a Back to the Future strategy, 1970 seems like a good Back to start a Future from; This obviously falls far short of the idyllic late 1940s and early 1950s that some Brexiteers would rather hark back to, the zenith of our victorious pre-Windrush Post WWII Golden Age, when you could still happily and openly show prejudice against anyone you so chose while playing an Over on the Green under a Spitfire sky, eating trimmed sandwiches of fish paste and cucumber and sipping lemonade and lashings of ginger beer; all played out amidst the buzz of an endless British summer.

There are the upsides: Britain in the 70s was a crash of paisley purple and burnt orange, brilliant Bowie,  Prog rock, Punk, Disco and the chiaroscuro of British Light Entertainment: the brilliant beacons of the Two Ronnies and Morecombe & Wise peppered with the misshit social commentary of ‘Til Death Do Us Part (Alf Garnett being to the 70s what Loadsamoney was to the 80s – both caricatures being an exercise in sharp satire gone horribly wrong.)

But it was also the decade of sclerotic public services and infrastructure, lazy builders, 3 day weeks, dusty industry (why change what’s worked for 100 years), street battles between Right and Left and, of course, Maggie Thatcher, the goddess in Jacob’s temple.

So our champion – Jacob Rees-Mogg – whose first tweet was in Latin. What a knob.

One would hope that the lower echelons of the Daily Mail readership (as they choose to self identify) will welcome having a bucket of cold water poured over them and a toe swung towards their arse for good measure when they realise what’s being done to them in the name of BREXIT.

But I have a feeling they are going there willingly.

This kow-towing and fawning adulation is simply the saloon-car-driving, beige-coated, ploughman’s eating, comfortable-walking-shoe version of the chimpanzee putting their wrist up towards the alpha and bowing their head. Or arse kissing upwards to put it in coarser, more feudal terms.

Far too many of the Great British public are playing out some twisted piece of Tom Brown and Flashman theatre – and gleefully so.

It seems a large swathe of the Great British public are seemingly more than happily prepared to play ‘Jean Ainslie’ to Rees-Mogg’s ‘Graham Dashwood.’

In the film, The Most Exotic Marigold Hotel, the Jean Ainslie character is the epitome of the small-minded, deluded, disappointed and utterly class-fixated snob (a rather smarter and more polished version of Hyacinth Bucket – pronounced ‘Bouquet’ – from Keeping Up Appearances). And Graham Dashwood is the dashing, elegant, intelligent, worldly (and quietly gay) Barrister from a much higher social order.

Everything crushes into one moment where she states in a moment of professed love and adulation:

“In fact I think I’ve been looking for you for a very long time.”

There is the populist voice speaking.

Right now it seems that the Great British public are staring into Rees-Mogg’s eyes and professing much the same sentiment.

So how has Jacob conjured this whorl of feeling? What is it about him, his nature or his background that makes the masses lick upwards?

Well he ticks every box, in many more ways than Boris.

He is of good stock – but not a toff by birth. Tick.

(His father was only made a lifetime peer in 1988. So an ‘arriviste’ by old money standards. And they bought Ston Easton Park in Somerset, not inherited it. So in Alan Clark’s world view on inherited class, Rees Mogg’s family ‘bought their own furniture.’)

Jacob attended Eton and Trinity, Oxford. Tick.

Jacob made an extraordinary amount of money in Fund Trading, so he can claim the status ‘self-made man’. Tick.

But most importantly he ‘looks and sounds’ the part. Double Tick.

Jacob is the epitome of the Comic toff caricature that many over 40s grew up on. He is in that way a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Rees-Mogg realised long ago that image is everything (whilst still at school if the highly confected nature of the Eton College Collections portrait is to be believed). And presentation is nine tenths of the social law.

If you believe that people are still inherently feudal and like the idea of some Brideshead meets Downton Abbey world of ‘them in the big house up there and us down ‘ere doffing our caps’ model of social order and happiness – then you play to that gallery. Starting with your veneer.

Jacob realised the value in looking like you are from central casting’s stable of fragile toffs with a wilful streak and a stubborn self-righteousness born of an irrepressible Right of Entitlement. People look backwards at times of volatility and chaos. They seek older orders and touchstones to reassure themselves – even comic book ones. Nostalgia is a powerful opiate.

But that on its own is not enough. There is a darker, smarter judo move in Rees-Mogg that points to a very media savvy individual ‘playing the moment.’

Rees-Mogg has self-selected himself to be parodied, lampooned and satirised – he has made himself the butt of his own jokes. Genius.

This garish characterisation delivers on two counts. It makes him highly visible and discernible. And it presents him as self-deprecating – a faux proxy for humility in this case.

Everything he does presets him to ‘control’ the satire against him. (Sound familiar?)

So while Boris attracts all of the rockets with his stamping politic and straw-haired buffoonery – and Farage continues to present himself as the self-interested, small minded provincial barracker that he is (noticeably still collecting his MEP cheque and watching the World Cup from another EU subsidised bar in Brussels), Jacob slithers into every vapourous opportunity and out of anything solid or substantial with a whiff of the snake charmer wafting about his overly-combed head (brilliantine wouldn’t go amiss).

He is the quietly sneering, self-preening critic sitting in the corner seat at the dinner party, using the compound effect of his coy theatre of fragile child, his ‘blinking’ intellect and uncomfortable pauses to be eviscerating while seemingly ameliorating.

Some would venture that we get the politicians we deserve. If that is the case then the UK is generally suffering from a desperate case of ‘doffing’ – junked up on the need to be ruled by some retrograde smugness of the ‘Big House’ variety.

Thank heavens for that. There was a danger there for the briefest moment of us looking like an advanced, enlightened society with a clear understanding of the diversity of humanity that shaped us and a clear line of sight on the delicious collision of natures, skills, outlooks and open optimism we need as a nation to evolve and thrive.

But sanity prevails. And with the rise of the Rees-Moggs of this world we show ourselves for the fawning, recidivist, class-riddled, insecure ‘know your place’ society we really are.

Irritatingly I have to take my hat off to him. He knows his audience and their fragile desires intimately. He’s good. Really good.

So I’m off to buy a new cap to doff!