Escape From the Country

There is something very hurtful about having the concept you’ve been embracing being used as little more than an irreverent comment by someone whose ethos you despise.

A few days ago, I emigrated to Sweden. I was on one of only six planes leaving the UK for Sweden that day, and Sweden decided to join the growing collection of EU nations that had a blanket travel ban on journeys from the UK, effective from the midnight after I landed. The concept of escaping the UK was very real and apparent, and when you include my desire to not be on the receiving end of willfull neglect and persecution by the UK government, “escape” – particularly in the context of being “just in time” – takes on a very clear and real meaning.

So you can imagine how disgusted I felt when I saw that a right-wing journalist had tweeted a picture of a plane coming in to land over what looks like a tropical paradise claiming that she had escaped just in time.

Escaped? Really? What exactly did you escape from? The opportunity to make hundreds of thousands of pounds a year by spewing your vile opinions to people who don’t have the critical thinking skills to see what a pile of shit you are? The opportunity to live a life of luxury when the vast majority of those around you are in poverty/starving/diseased? Would there ever have been a thunderous knocking on your door at the crack of dawn because something you said disagreed with the government’s propaganda? Would that knock have come because you are disabled? Has a UN special inspector ever declared that a demographic group that you belonged to is being persecuted or treated inhumanely by the government?

You fucking piece of shit witch.

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The Sick Man of Europe

A hundred-plus years ago, that nickname was applied to the Ottoman Empire. It was over-stretched militarily and financially, and facing internal unrest on both ethnic religious lines. Today, it is applied to the UK, and it is applied literally.

The highest death toll from COVID-19 in Europe. The highest infected total from COVID-19 in Europe. And now a new strain, spreading 70% faster than before, has apparently evolved in the southeast of England. In consequence, more than half a dozen European countries have closed their borders to means of transport leaving the UK.

I was on one of the last planes out of the UK to Sweden. I was originally meant to be flying out tomorrow via Amsterdam, but the Netherlands was one of the first countries to enact a UK travel ban, so I had to change my plans. This meant things were somewhat rushed at my end, and I got even more stressed out. If it hadn’t been for my sister’s generous help, I probably would have had a heart attack due to panic.

I am now in Sweden, and I am here to stay. The UK is going to wither in its’ own pestilence, because the government thinks that doing nothing until the available choices have been whittled down to one (or none) is a good strategy. I can tell them from personal experience, that it is not. Until the UK government stop lying about “following the science”, stop giving medical contracts to companies run by their mates who have no experience in medical practicality, and start properly furloughing people on a survivable pay rate, the public will not have any recourse but to continue violating the quarantine procedures that could slow and stop the spread of COVID-19. Almost every other comparable country (area, population, island, technology) has either halted the pandemic in its’ tracks or has contained it effectively.

And then, in ten days time, Brexit hits. There are already 700-truck queues in Kent. There are already supply shortages. Food shortages, fuel shortages, medicine shortages, all will start to be felt more and more deeply from January the 1st. Martial law may be imposed to prevent rioting and/or to ensure supplies reach where they are needed – if it is, I doubt it will ever be lifted under the current government. Certainly, the overall death toll in the country will rise, and they will all be preventable deaths, with the blame landing squarely on Brexit and the fascist narcissistic government that brought it about.

I won’t let them make me go back to that. I can only see myself returning to UK shores as part of a brief holiday, or when an independent Scotland becomes part of the EU.

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Brexugee

Six-or-so years ago, a very dangerous idea was brought to prominence in the UK. It was the idea that a foreign superstate was controlling every aspect of the UK’s governance, allowing us to be flooded with immigrants and drowning us in red tape while limiting us to unfavourable trade deals. The idea had been around for many years before then, but what brought it to prominence was the fact that said foreign superstate was preparing to enact legislation to enforce corporate and personal tax transparency, close tax loopholes, and eliminate offshore tax havens for member states. Guess where most of the people who brought the idea to prominence have most of their financial assets? And guess how much tax they pay in relation to their income?

Right.

So, four-and-a-half years ago, a non-binding referendum was held, and the result was a 4% margin in favour of Leaving the EU.

Four per cent. A difference of 1.2million people, most of them (statistically) pensioners. Final result 52-48, turnout just under 75% of a reduced electorate, overall just under 25% of people in the country wanted to Leave the EU.

The government looked around and panicked, they clearly hadn’t planned this. They had entered into this as a means of re-solidifying their own party, and maybe as a way to strengthen their hand in negotiations for further membership benefits with the EU. They certainly hadn’t banked on all the racists in the country shouring louder than everyone else. So, they were got rid of, and incompetent people who wanted to compromise were brought in – never mind that the result of the non-binding referendum was powered by illegal funding and brought about by people who would be dead of natural causes before anything could be negotiated, the UK was Leaving the EU double-quick, only just wait a bit to sort out some sort of palatable exiting arrangements. Only, they didn’t turn out to be palatable to anyone. So the new lot were got rid of as well, and were replaced by a coterie of rabid ultra-capitalist lying sociopaths whose only care was their personal enrichment, never mind the laws they had sworn to uphold when they took office. They dived right in, took the brakes off, and started heading as fast as they could for No Deal, whilst shitting on and tearing up protections for human rights, equality of all kinds, personal privacy, environmental legislation, and workers’ rights. And everybody who voted – no matter who they voted for – knew that that was exactly what they were going to do.

And this is the result. An incompetent crony-capitalist government, led by a misogynistic, racist, compulsive liar and egotitst with no sense of personal responsibility, doing his very best to destroy the economy of the UK, because that’s the result that will get him and his mates the most money. No Deal Brexit not just looms, it beckons, and it beckons with the twin spectres of a pandemic and the climate change crisis looming over its’ own shoulders.

It is documented by multiple sources that Brexit will cause food shortages. The UK government has done absolutely nothing to address this problem – nothing to ensure that food is delivered to all parts of the country, nothing to ensure that those who cannot get to distribution points receive food anyway, and has not even begun looking into a system of rationing to ensure that everyone can receive sufficient food to survive. Anywhere more than 30 miles or so from a major port (London, Dover, Felixstowe, Bristol, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Hartlepool, Grimsby) is going to experience extra difficulties in being supplied with food, due to the extreme delays caused by border/customs checks meaning that if the food hasn’t gone off by the time it reaches its’ destination, the cost of the truck driver’s wage will make completing the delivery prohibitively expensive, and therefore making the stuff being delivered prohibitively expensive as well. Where I live is more than 30 miles from the coast, and even further from a major port. It has been rumoured that martial law may be imposed to ensure that food supplies reach where they are needed – if it is, I do not think it will ever be un-imposed.

The UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been execrable. No one has been sure of exactly what restrictions or advice applies to whom (apart from the members of the government and their friends – no restrictions or rules apply to them). Areas of the country that traditionally vote Conservative are given less-restrictive preventative measures; areas that don’t are given harsher lockdowns. There has been no effort to ensure that everyone receives prompt and effective treatment or testing – how soon and how effectively you are tested and treated depends on how much money you have given to the Tory party. The NHS, already chronically under-funded, under-staffed and under-equipped, is being put under even more pressure correcting the mistakes of the private companies with no healthcare experience who have been handed tender-free contracts to supply PPE, run test & trace schemes, and provide treatment. The UK may have been the first country to authorise use of the Pfizer vaccine, but no provision has been made for prompt or full distribution, there are no systems in place for proper transit and storage of doses, and there is a lack of appropriately trained people to administer them.

In the last six years, the UK government has been investigated at least three times by special investigators from the UN, on suspicion that the UK government is willfully neglecting or outright persecuting certain demographic groups. On all three occasions, the UN special inspector found that the UK government were indeed persecuting certain demographic groups – to whit: Disabled people, people in poverty (ie. with an income less than 2/3rds of the national average), and people who are long-term unemployed. I have a disability, my only income is state benefits, and my last paying job was in 2007, so I am in all three groups.

Over the last four years, and particularly during the last year, the government of the UK has moved away from being a laissez-faire capitalist flawed democracy, towards being an ultra-hard neoliberal-capitalist fascist dictatorship. It has repeatedly made statements to the effect that Brexit will give them the chance to remove the last safeguards and barriers between the current veneer of participatory democracy and open totalitarianism. It is a matter of historical record that governments of the type such as that which the UK one is heading towards have purges of people who disagree with them, of people who criticise them, and of people who they deem to be “other”. “Other” being whoever they feel is a suitably despised demographic that they can safely be blamed for all the problems the government has created for the average citizen. Preivous “others” used by the UK government include (but not limited to) benefits claimants, the poor, and the disabled.

Therefore, since I have no wish to be purged, or caught in the car-crash that is Brexit, or left to the spoils of COVID-19, or simply tormented by the government for not being a WASHMwnPoMDaaDI (White, Anglo-Saxon, Heterosexual Male with no Physical or Mental Disabilities and a Disposable Income), as of this time next week, I will be in Sweden on a more-or-less permanent basis. But mainly Brexit.

Sweden is regularly rated as one of the top ten places to live in the world, whether the criteria be air quality, general education levels, health service, eco-responsiblity, whatever. They have no ridiculous ideas about selling their public services and infrastructure off to the highest bidder, who then recoup their investment by over-charging the public and receiving state subsidies. Sure, taxes may be higher, but that’s because they pay for a lot more things than in the UK, and a damn sight more efficiently than the UK does too. And, yeah, I will have to learn to speak a foreign language (have been learning since I made the decision to go, about a year ago), but that’s a pretty small price to pay to be free from persecution and state-planned starvation. Kronor may not be Euros, but both are a damn sight more stable than than the Pound, and within a year even SEK may be worth more than GBP.

You may perceive that this is rather sudden, and late-in-the-day. You may be right – I have never really got the hang of doing things before the last minute. But if it hadn’t been for COVID, I would be there already. I started the process of applying to live there before the UK left the EU, before the Transition Period started, and I will be there before the Transition Period ends. I didn’t want to tell anyone before now because I have been worried about repurcussions.

The UK twice refused to take the only option that could have stopped this madness, by electing a Labour government (as detailed here and here, they really were the only chance of stopping Brexit), and so I wash my hands of this benighted country. And if you disagree with any of the above, particularly the bits about rising fascism or Labour under Corbyn stopping Brexit, then do feel free to fuck right off, because you are part of the problem.

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Petition to revoke Article 50

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584

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Christmas

So, it’s Christmas day, and, as, if not exactly usual then at least it’s better than the alternative, I’m bored out of my skull. Better than depression.

I’ve had occasion to rant about this subject before, but Christmas as a whole gets me down. So what do I do over Christmas that could cause this?

There’s slightly more on telly, and I usually buy the Radiotimes so I know what’s on and what I’m missing (not much). Christmas is one of the few times when I actually watch TV. Top Gear, Doctor Who, maybe the occasional documentary, drama or detective series, and if Star Trek Discovery or a new sci-fi TV series ever makes it to terrestrial digital free-to-air then I’ll probably watch it. Otherwise the main use of my TV is so I have a decent-sized screen for watching DVDs on. There’s always Die Hard.

I treat it as a holiday, in general. I take it easy, try to do something a bit different to what I normally do. More and better food. One of the few times I’ll actually have alcohol. Listen to different music. Have the heating on all day for a change.

Maybe it’s the more food thing. Usually, my weekday meals are toast for breakfast, crisps, cheese and sandwiches for lunch, pasta/rice and peas for dinner. Over Christmas, chocolate is liberally added, and dinner expands to involve meat – mince or sausages generally. And that’s the thing – more effort to cook, more washing up needed. You know how easy it is to cook rice/pasta? Boil a pan, bung it in, few minutes later bung in a handful of peas, another few minutes and drain & serve. You can safely leave it and ignore it between those brief bursts of activity. Not so when cooking meat, you have to stand over the frying pan constantly, stirring or turning, making sure it all gets done properly and not burning it. Then there’s the washing up; an extra pan to wash, and it needs to go straight to soak, it can’t wait for the next evening’s wash. The plate used needs to get cleaned properly as well, a pasta bowl barely needs more than a wipedown after a day sitting in the sink.

But no, it’s mainly the crappy weather and that everything’s shut and the thick clothes. White Christmas? Only to the extent that the clouds have come down right low and you can’t see anything out of the window.

So, yeah. Merry Christmas.

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Who’s the real traitor?

Yesterday, I was playing Star Trek Online. Despite it being based on a TV show structured around a socialist utopia, there are a large number of right-wing trolls who play it. Someone made a comment involving the words “treasonous remoaners” in world chat, so I replied with “Which is more treasonous, supporting the deliberate destruction of the country’s economy, or protesting it?” I didn’t see the reply because I blocked the idiot (I play STO to unwind, so I don’t need the stress of a political argument).

But it got me thinking.
In October 1918, a peaceful socialist coup occurred in Germany that removed the aristocrats from power. Germany had been under blockade for four years, it was financially and resource-bankrupt, the population was starving, and its’ renowned military was getting it’s arse kicked – as a state, as a military power, as a country, it was on the point of collapse. Unless the country wanted to be invaded and destroyed brick-by-brick and the population massacred, the only sensible choice was surrender. So the MDSP and UDSP signed an armistice, and a few months later began morphing into the Weimar government as they negotiated the Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler called them traitors. That was one of his key points on his rise to power, that traitors had signed away Imperial Germany’s greatness. Technically, he was correct, in that it was a coup – but given that the supreme chancellor voluntarily turned over governmental powers to the leader of the MDSP after telling the Kaiser that his services were no longer required, it was considered by the rest of the world to be a legitimate transfer of power (especially as, at the time, no democratic mandate was required for the German government to do anything). Hitler’s actions when in power caused to happen to Germany in 1945 what would have happened in 1918 or 1919 if the armistice hadn’t been signed.

I really hope that in 25 years time, World War 3 doesn’t start with a home-grown Fascist dictator in London ranting about traitors dropping our country in the shit.

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Birthday

I have a significant birthday coming up in two months. If you feel the need to buy me a present, buy via the following link and support Alzheimers Research UK

http://amzn.eu/2LvTV7I

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Mort at SLT

Producing, directing and appearing in this

theatremonth-m.jpg

“Mort” by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, part of PTerry’s Theatre Month 2018. Skipton Little Theatre, 7.30pm Tues 17th – Sat 21st Apr 2018. Tickets £10. Book on 0752 714 1176 or skipton.little.theatre@gmail.com or http://skiptonlittletheatre.co.uk/next-production/times-and-tickets/

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HS&S:WT EBooks!

A whole series of NaNoWriMo novels, now available as EBooks!

Book I – Please Kill the Neighbours

Most nuisance neighbours can be dealt with by a court order. When your neighbour is a country ruled by an evil wizard, we recommend a demon.
Of course, you need someone … disposable … to summon the damn thing.

Meet Cullan and his companions, Alys and Kenyon, and follow their adventures when they’re blackmailed into escorting Morgan, a gifted young mage, into a hostile country so that she can fulfil her Destiny.

 

Book II – Finish the Job So We Don’t Have To

Whenever you kill an evil wizard, there are three things you should remember:
1. Kill his bodyguards and sidekicks as well;
2. Steal all his treasure;
3. Have an escape route planned in advance.
So… Second time lucky?

A second chance arrives for Cullan and his companions to loot the Tower of Morss – not that they really want to go back there after what happened last time. Especially with an invading army in the way. Oh, and having to kill the three most well-protected people in a besieged city first.

 

Book III – All’s Fair in Love and Politics

Inter-monarchial relationships can be tricky things. There are all sorts of things to consider concerning alliances, succession, trade, and so on. Not to mention security – with all the travelling between two countries that will be going on, it makes it easier for someone to, for example, kidnap someone.

When Queen Elspeth is abducted on a state visit to Galorndan, Cullan and his companions are ordered to once again travel several hundred miles to find someone – this time to rescue, not to kill. Although, someone probably will need killing while they’re in the area.

 

Book IV – Things Never Go Smooth

Gods exist. Some of them are family. And all families have squabbles. Some might say there’s profit to be made from them – others say that now’s a good time to hide in the cellar.

A chance sight of a Princess on the streets of Doronatha causes big problems for Cullan – not only do two Gods have their eye on the Princess, the Princess has her eye on Cullan. And to make matters worse, the only ones willing to rescue him aren’t going to get paid for it!

 

Book V – Cult Following

People keep getting kidnapped. It’s not usually an occupational hazard when you’re a mercenary, so when it happens to you, it usually means your friends have to go and do the rescuing.

An obscure cult from the mysterious continent across the Eastern Ocean has decided that Morgan is the one spoken of in an ancient prophecy. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s been fingered by Destiny, but at least the cultists could have asked before taking her back home for training.

 

Book VI – Customs & Duty

There’s a vicious new bandit chief operating in the area. There’s also a conspiracy to usurp King Dashell and prevent his marriage to Queen Elspeth (for economic reasons, not political). Guess who gets hired to sort it all out?

If there’s one piece of advice a young soldier of fortune might get from an older one, it would probably be, “never mess with religion, politics, or trade”. This does tend to cut down the available avenues of work, though. So with a coup being plotted and not much time left before it swings into action, Alys, Cullan, Kenyon and Morgan have to take their new mercenary company after the ringleaders, and hope they don’t get involved with all three at once.

 

Book VII – The Dragon, Shrouded

An exhausted and desperate man staggers out of a mountain pass bringing dire news from the South. Ancient legends are re-awakening, and dark forces are mustering to bring them into the light.

The Burning Rose Armed Company, now a Royal bodyguard detachment, are sent to investigate the man’s story. With very little solid information to go on, and people disappearing, they nevertheless follow the trail into the vast Kcodi desert of the South.

 

Book VIII – The Dragon, Rising

War is coming to the North, whether it wants it or not. They are ill-prepared, fragmented, and unenthusiastic about the prospect – unlike their opponents. As the powerful joint Kingdom of Turnobae-Galorndan scrambles to forge an alliance that will give them the men to oppose the Sword Bearers’ Army, what they need most is time…

Rather than face a massive army of religious fanatics who have found a symbol to rally behind, the Burning Rose are sent into Ras Natara on a twofold mission. First, a diplomatic approach to the Sultan to persuade him to diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand. Then, a clandestine trip into the heart of the Nataran desert to find the prophecised dragon and kill it.

 

Book IX – The Dragon

War! Invasion! Massacre! Betrayal! Mercenaries!

The Burning Rose have quite spectacularly failed in their mission to avert a war with an enemy that has a dragon. As a punishment, they are not allowed to take part in the desperate defence of the North against the massive army of fanatics fielded by the Sword Bearers. Instead, they have to journey into a legendary wasteland and find a talisman that can help them defeat the dragon. Without the dragon, it might just be possible to defeat the Nataran army that outnumbers the armies of the North by at least two-to-one.

 

The Original Trilogy

A single volume collection of Books I, II and III, with a new introduction, and an exclusive short story.

Available as paperback only

 

The Budding Rose Trilogy

A single volume collection of Books IV, V and VI, with an introduction, and an exclusive short story.

Available as paperback only

Available through Lulu, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and Kindle.

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HSAS:WT 2018

Good news! I have re-worked the ebooks (again) so that iBooks and Kindle won’t throw a wobbler and refuse to accept them.

Bad news: It’s the Christmas holidays, so they are still being assessed by the QA teams.

All my books, both ebook and print are available through Lulu, and as soon as the ebooks get accepted for Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo and Amazon Kindle, I will let you know. All ebooks are £1.99, print versions range from £8.75 to £11.49.

More good news! In April, the final trilogy will be published in one big volume (paperback only). It will contain the entirety of Books VII, VIII and IX, the complete map with everything named on it that came with Book IX, an introduction, and an exclusive short story that will be found nowhere else.

More bad news: It’s so big it will cost £25.

Even more good news! I will be publishing one new short story a month online until September. At some point after that, I will be publishing them all in something for you to buy, including at least one story that has not been put online. The book will include notes on where each story lies in the general chronology of the Have Sword & Sorcery: Will Travel™ world.

So, Happy New Year! Lots of things to look forward to from it!

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