Monday, 13 February 2012


Trouble is, all I ever wanted out of life was to be the full time parent/ work part time.... mever gonna happen though. oh well.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Fear and self loathing in St Leonards.

I'm a weird sort of chap, (cue sniggers) No, seriously, I am weird. And I think I know why, it's because after years of wanting one, having a design in my head, I have never had the balls to walk up to a tattooist and say "Do it. "
Right, now the laughter has died down, let me explain. It's not about the tatt, it is something that goes deeper, it's about having the balls to stop drifting, and actually go ahead and do something, something important, potentially life changing, That was my raison d'etre when I applied and took on my uni course. I emerged from the 1st year with 3 a's and a B, solid results, and encouraging for one who hasn't set foot in an educational establishment for two decades.
So, I am back, And simply, I am cracking up over it all, why? What am I afraid of? Why am I thinking of running away from it? Because that is what I do when career stuff goes right, I retreat, because retreating from a strong position is a choice, whereas carry on and fail, the choice is made for me, I have an overblown sense of my own inferiority, I walk around thinking "Oh, they will catch on sooner or later and then that is it, I'll be gone" Instead of actually say I can do this, I can make this work.
So, yeah, nothing has changed about my enjoyment of the course, it's taking me in a great direction. I have the support of a fantastic woman by my side, and yeah, I can handle the distance, "gawd bless you modern technology" so, what the hell is stopping me? Fear of the unknown? or fear of not being in control? Probably a bit of both.
So you see, getting that ink that I have wanted for ages is a symbol, A symbol that I can make that leap, I can take control of myself now by promising to lose that small amount of control over a tiny aspect.. And you know what, I have the luvverly new Mrs Soak to thank for that.....

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Anti Semitism? WTF

Following the protests at the proms earlier this year, four musicians of the LPO have been suspended for adding their weight to the protests with a letter to the telegraph. Their suspensions have been reduced from 9 to six months, This whole episode has provoked angry responses from those who call the four , and their supporters Anti-Semitic ( for example Adrian Hilton writing in the excellent Dale & Co blog, and Igor Toronyi-Lalic in the Telegraph.

Whoa. Anti-Semitic? for publicly supporting a protest against a Government using one of it's cultural exports as the focus? That is a bit strong. What these two are doing is following the trend that if you dare to criticise the Israeli Government, by inference, you hate everything Jewish, and have a belief that all Jews are inferior -. that is the definition of Anti-Semitism.Therefore, by that definition, Rabbi Jonathan Sachs. was Anti Semitic for his remarks reported on the BBC in 2002. As are the Plethora of JEWISH campaigns against the path that the Israeli Government are taking.  (Not In My Name, Jewish Voice for Peace are two examples.).. WT and F.

Here is the rub, these people are confusing Anti-ZIONISM with anti-SEMITISM. The former is being against political Judaism, which, in it's various forms, is the basis for the Israeli Government's policies since the creation of the state. The latter is just vile racism, which needs to be stamped out. There is a BIG difference, and I wish that Bloggers and Columnists alike would see that. 

Pick and choose feminism.

I was going to blog about the so called " unfair " changes to women's retirement ages for state pensions. you know, something about equality meaning just that, equal pay, equal conditions. but instead, I will leave it to American comedian Bill Burr to say it for me. He is funnier than me after all.

Oh, and by the way ladies, he's right. Titanic IS a horror film for us guys. OK.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Don't forget the basics.

After the reception that yesterdays short story (Here if you didn't read it) I have been re-invigorated about my writing. My short stories (also on the site) seem to work really well, but when I go for longer works, they tend to fall apart, falling into seemingly inescapable plot holes. The one that I have finished, Staymaker, seems wrong somehow, maybe I'm thinking that because I really didn't  make a good job of selling it to agents, I still think the story works, but the marketing letters didn't - I got dispirited, and gave up on it. My Bad.
My problems are twofold, first, I am dyslexic to some extent, My proof reading skills are awful, I am too reliant on a spellchecker, and miss words that are words, but the wrong ones. (keen eyes will have spotted some errors in "Fall from Grace". So, I need a tame proofreader, plenty of people I know that I can coerce into that. 
The second reason is something more basic, more fundamental. I am impatient to start. I have the rough idea, and I just get on and write, ignoring the Basics - plotting, character lists, that sort of thing. That is my biggest failing in longer works, and the reason why I have (at the current count) four abandoned books, with various word counts, sitting on my Computer. Indeed, Staymaker only got to it's conclusion because it is a historical Novel, and as such loosely follows real events, so the plot is there, all I have to do is write the missing bits. Still difficult, but I had that framework to turn to when things went wrong.
Lesson to be learned here, I need to make that framework before I commit anything to paper. Instead of taking an Idea, and going BANG into chapter 1, I need to spend more time on building that framework, that timeline. develop that idea in note form, then flesh it out.
Sounds simple, sounds basic, Sounds like a plan 

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

My Writings

For some time, I have been writing, Short stories, Humorous skits and am working on a novel. See the sidebar l;ink to my website to read them.

The latest here: was based on the thought that what happens to career criminals in their old age?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Politics of fear, the Media and how it relates to BSL.

Another week, another Media story about a dangerous dog. It could be a Collie or an Akita or a Jack Russell, but a bull breed is more likely to provoke cries of outrage. The story will gather pace, the words Pit and Bull, Status and yob culture will invariable follow, public outrage comes next, followed by clampdowns and cases like Lennox, Bruce and Hooch.
So, BSL was brought in during 1991, and that is what is to blame for everything right? Well, almost. It was brought in as a kneejerk reaction, like the gun law changes after the Dunblane massacre, but unlike the gun laws, BSL isn’t based on something tangible, something you can readily identify, like a gun.
So, what is sustaining this? Look at the buzz words we are surrounded by in the media…. “Hoodies” ; “Gangs” ; “Status Dogs” ; “Crime” “Violence” “Dangerous” “Pit Bull” . Those buzz words, repeated again and again, in story after story are becoming ingrained within us, and we are becoming unable to separate them. You walk down your street, and there is a young lad in a hooded top, and these words jump into your brain . Have that Lad walk a Bull breed type of dog, and your fear is doubled. You hold your dog close, your children closer. You cross the street, afraid of an attack, The dog on the lead is suddenly a slavering beast, it’s owner a criminal.
But what is feeding this? Well, Frank Furedi (The Politics of fear 2005) discusses the way governments use fear to create a feeling of vulnerability amongst their electorate, and in this, the media helps. People’s frustrations and emotions can be directed towards outrage to particular issues, such as child obesity, Extremist sects, and dangerous dogs. The outrage gets pushed into demands that the Government needs to do more to clamp down, the machinery of the state, the police, health and security services, needs to be tougher on these issues, We accept that these “experts” Know best, and our best interests are served by government policies based on their advice. Attempts to criticise are lambasted; critics are labelled as militant, the media stereotypes those who speak out.
And there is the rub. Fear sells papers. Celebrity gossip vies with stories of injury, death and violence as our daily diet of current affairs. No-one wants to read the headline “Young man with Staffie cross is quite nice actually” People want to read about slavering beasts, bred to fight other dogs, bred to attack people to safeguard a dealer’s stash. People WANT to read that these animals are devil beasts with Jaws that lock; that will attack anything that moves and the media delivers. Those in authority need their “experts” to reinforce that fear, because if they don’t, the media will be upon them then next time a dog does attack, closely followed by the public.
“Do you not see what kind of world we are creating? {…} A world of fear and treachery and torment; a world of trampling and being trampled on, a world which will grow not less, but more merciless as it refines itself” George Orwell wrote in his novel 1984. This then, is what we fight - a culture of fear, created by a media desperate to keep itself going to influence its readers/listeners/watchers. In this digital and internet age, the fight for audience is big business. The “Raising awareness banner” has become a cover for what was once classed as propaganda. Interviewees talk about being afraid to use parks because of these “status dogs” and Children are used as they provoke a more emotive response. The tone of the articles is all about provoking the “correct” response amongst the readership.
So, to win hearts and minds, to convert so called “middle England” to our cause what do we have to do? There should be no "us and them". No one wants a person to be hurt by any kind of dog and there are aggressive dogs, and bad owners. We have to show the link between the law and how this encourages the wrong sort of owner to certain types of dogs. We have to show that while a rise in reported dog bites has been seen, so has a huge rise in dog ownership and more importantly a huge rise in irresponsible or uneducated dog ownership.. We have to show the cost of this law, we have to highlight the stories, bring out our little old ladies, our middle class couples, our families with children, all affected by the legislation. We have to give them the voice that no one wants to hear. We have to allow them to speak of fear, of images of dead puppies, of crying children, and, in this present economic climate, the “hard working taxpayer” needs to see the expensive side of enforcement, when cuts are in the air.

We have to tell the truth.
(C) Andrew John Millen 02/04/2011