Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More From Crete.

Just during the last few days I asked Mikalis, the guy who built our ruin, to do some work on the walls surrounding our house. It's nice to have someone we can trust to get things done and who sticks to an agreed price (something of a rarity there). Here's the pictures he recently emailed me of work in progress and completed

I've now managed to send him the money for this work, and I wonder if he'll immedately be pulling out of his bank and putting it under his bed, which seems advisable considering the state of the Greek economy...

Petrol Price

Oh isn't George Osborn generous in not putting up the tax on petrol. Now, when you buy a litre of fuel at the pump for £1.40 you're only paying at tax rate of 142% - that's 83p in tax. But of course you need to pay such huge rates to finance all those enormous and completely unfair public sector pensions. But we must also not forget the billions the DFID is throwing at other countries, what we are paying for more fucking useless windmills and for another climate change jolly somewhere, or the billions thrown at the corrupt and totalitarian EU, or that biased advocate of leftwingery the BBC, or the lazy fucks on welfare, or the overpaid jerks in our councils, or the... ok, I'll stop there.

Back to work so I can pay for all those dicks out there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Foreign Editions

An email from one of my German readers has reminded me that I'm being neglectful of my foreign readers. I do have numerous books that can be bought, signed, in German and French, and a smaller number of them in Russian, Czech, Portugese and Japanese. Here's a selection:

Of course, perfectly demonstrating just how multilingual some nationalities are, an awful lot of my German readers don't bother with the versions in their own language and read them in English.

Monday, November 28, 2011


It’s been quite surprising to read what those who have been buying books in the recent sale have been saying. Some of them read my books from the library and now want their own copies. Some bought them for kindle and now want the material thing. A few have thanked me for how open I am on my blog, and I am also ‘the man’ or ‘I rock’. And one of the killers is those who have worn out their copy of their favourite and now want a replacement. Also, actions speaking louder than words, I’m astounded how some American readers are quite happy to pay extraordinary postage.

It’s quite humbling to have become an indelible part of some people’s lives. I know what that means when I open up one of my collection and remember the reading pleasure. It is quite an honour to be in that position. Aw, I’m getting all soppy now. Thanks people!

Now, I need to have a rant about something…

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Books For Sale

Here’s a reposting of my reply (slightly edited) to one Neil who asked in the comments on a previous post why so many books are sent to the author:

It's in the contract, Neil: 10 hardbacks on first release and 20 paperbacks a year later when the mass-market paperback comes out. In my case the hardbacks go to family and friends but the paperbacks linger. I then get up to 10 of the foreign editions when I only really need 1. Tor US send me the 10 & 20 of my British contract on top.

If you're a writer who writes one book every two or three years, then that's probably okay. Since through Macmillan I've done about 15 books in 11 years (I think) I've built up a bit of a backlog.

Here are some pictures of that backlog, and why I fear the ceiling might collapse at some point.

So, it’s time I cleared a few of these out. If anyone wants to buy a signed copy of any of my books, well, my email is over on the right here at the bottom of my profile. I’m selling them at cover price (if $ then converted to £) plus postage and packing. Just detail what you want and I’ll check to see if I’ve got it – my aim in the end is to retain just two copies each of my English language books and one each of the foreign language ones.

Also, I’ve had requests for signed photos, so I can only assume someone wants something to scare their children with. I’ll be printing and laminating some of these shortly should anyone want to do likewise.

I've just checked on stuff in the loft and this is what remains available:

6 copies USA Paperback £6
8 copies USA Bookclub Hardback £14
5 copies USA Hardback £17

3 Copies UK Trade Paperback 2nd Edition £12
4 Copies USA Bookclub Hardback £14

7 Copies UK Paperback £8
1 Copies UK Trade Paperback £12
8 Copies USA Paperback £6
10 Copies USA Trade Paperback £12

4 Copies UK Paperback £8
1 Copies UK Trade Paperback £12
13 Copies Sullivan paperback £8
20 Copies USA paperback £6
7 Copies USA Bookclub hardback £14
20 Copies USA Trade paperback £12

9 Copies UK Paperback £8
10 Copies Sullivan Paperback £8

7 Copies UK Paperback £8
13 Copies Sullivan paperback £8

5 Copies UK Paperback £8

10 Copies Sullivan Paperback £8
9 Copies Limited Edition

3 Copies UK Hardback £15
7 Copies UK Paperback £7
25 Copies Nightshade edition £10

13 Copies Sullivan Paperback £8
4 Copies Trade Paperback £12

7 Copies UK Hardback £18
14 Copies UK Paperback £8

14 Copies UK Paperback £8

20 Copies UK Paperback £8

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Space Ships

There’s an interesting article over at the Register about the progression of the design of spaceships in science fiction. This comment struck me:

“The silliest thing about alien spacecraft, which are designed only to travel in space, is that they are made to look aerodynamic, which is of course unnecessary, since there is no air… remember the Apollo LEM? That is how aerodynamic a spacecraft needs to be...”

Well, no, actually. In fact that statement in and of itself shows a lack of imagination. Certainly, something that’s travelling slowly through vacuum doesn’t need to be aerodynamic, but if you’re nudging the speed of light it’s probably not a good idea to present a large flat profile to even disperse interstellar matter, in fact streamlining seems like a good idea. And who says ‘designed only to travel in space’? Why shouldn’t these ships also be designed to enter all sorts of atmospheres, penetrate dust clouds, even surf in the fire of a sun?

And let’s not forget that the statement above is all about utility, about what ‘needs to be’. If you are capable of building interstellar vessels I submit that you’ve probably moved a bit beyond that. Why shouldn’t you do the Klingon thing and make your vessel in the shape of a hawk or similar. Why shouldn’t you, if you want, build your starship in the shape of a sailing ship, a shark or even a Ford Fiesta?

There is a large gap between what you must do and what you can do. And, let’s face it, when it comes to interstellar flight, we’re a long way from knowing what needs to be incorporated.


Nice interview here at the Register on the same (sort of) subject: Gavin Rothery was visual effects supervisor on the British sci-fi smash Moon, and has been a creative force on a welter of hit video games, and so has a lot to say on the subject of spacecraft design.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Mass-Market USA Brass Man

Blimey, it seems they are now printing or reprinting mass-market copies of Brass Man in the USA, which means I get my free books. This is great, I really love free books, but what the hell do I do with them? And how much longer before my loft collapses on top of us one evening? I guess I could try selling them as signed copies over the Internet. Mmm, perhaps it’s time to put up a list again of what I have available…

And here, of course, is a blog post demonstrating how I am trying to escape the mind-numbing tedium of editing. However, I should not complain! Because there’s a danger here of me turning into one of those effete writer pricks who complains about how he suffers for is art and how it is all such a terrible trial.

What I need to firmly plant in my mind is grafting all day digging a foundation hole in clay, for £30; strimming round trees and, because I was wearing goggles only and not a full-face visor, discovering what dog shit tastes like; pulling off a glove, after foolishly trying to reposition a running mower deck, and seeing the end of my finger split open and the bone frayed like a paint brush; never seeing the sunlight for most of the winter working in a machine shop, and perpetually stinking of coolant oil … I’ll stop there, you get the idea.

So, back to editing with joy in my heart!


Or maybe not. A friend of mine posted this on Facebook. It must be getting on for a quarter of a century old when I was young, and couldn't be bothered to shave...

It was a football match played for charity, but in an extremely muddy field with about fifty people on each team and a ball that was about six feet across. And no referees.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

FTL Neutrinos Update

Apparently the ftl neutrinos have been refuted:

Their claim is that in getting to superluminal velocities, the neutrinos should lose energy by producing photons and electron/anti-electron pairs (“e+e- pairs”), in a process “analogous to Cherenkov radiation” (the “blue glow” in nuclear reactor water, so beloved of movie-makers).

“A very significant deformation of the neutrino energy spectrum and an abundant production of photons and e+e- pairs should be observed,” the ICARUS group says.

This hasn’t happened, they assert: “We find that the neutrino energy distribution of the ICARUS events … agrees with the expectations for an undisturbed spectrum of the CERN neutrino beam.

“Our results therefore refute a superluminal interpretation of the OPERA result,” the group writes.

Okay, who can see the huge hole in the logic here? Let me explain: by conventional theories the neutrinos can't travel faster than light but, by conventional theory, if they do go ftl, they should do the above. This is what is known in physics as having your cake, the other guy's cake, and eating both while disappearing up your own arsehole.


You know, I still don’t know what to make of this. Search the Internet and you’ll find loads of articles, both for and against:

But the inventors do have something going for them. They have demonstrated the device publicly numerous times and their claims are looking more credible as more tests validate them. Video and reports of physicists who were present confirmed that electricity was produced.

The latest tests on the energy catalyzer by NyTeknik took place in Bologna on April 19 and 28. The test, as with previous tests, aimed to measure the net energy that the device generates as accurately as possible. The results of the tests from both dates showed a developed net power of between 2.3 and 2.6 kilowatts with and input electric power of 300 watts.

Either a couple of inventors have produced something totally game-changing, which of course I would love to believe, especially as that kind of thing is a science fiction trope, or they are completely deluded, or they are running a massive con.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bubble Metal is Old News

I picked up on the idea of bubble metal maybe twenty years ago (possibly in Omni Magazine) in an article about space industries. The simple idea was of foaming molten metal with inert gas in zero gravity, which would allow for an even distribution of the bubbles (they wouldn't float to the top), to produce a light and strong either closed or open cell metal. Great idea, and one I've used loads.

Now you've probably read about this already, but I feel it's worth a mention here just to prove my aphorism that nothing dates faster than science fiction:

 “The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometres, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler.

The resulting nickel matter has a density of just 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimetre.

Warp Factor One Million

So the guys at CERN did another test with their superluminal neutrinos:

By tweaking the experiment in an attempt to address a potential flaw in their original experiment, they again showed that the neutrons arrived at the Italian site some 60 billionths of a second faster than if they had been travelling at the speed of light.

I do have to wonder with measurements like this if they’re getting into some error bar, some tolerance limit on actually measuring the speed of light. It’s the kind of thing that rears its head quite often in science and is quite often ignored by the mainstream media. Anyone who has worked in engineering knows about tolerances and the impossibility of exact measurement.

Nevertheless it is all exciting stuff (for a nerd like me). The MINOS team at Fermilab are going to try and replicate the results, but it’s interesting that they had similar results before but which lay within a margin for error. So, what does this all mean? Some people are already speculating:


The new findings, available here, also further strengthen a particular scenario: The neutrinos do not travel with superluminal velocity all the way. They only ‘jump’ a small initial distance shorter than 20 meters, after which they settle back and travel as usual with speeds below that of the speed of light. This initial jump would occur at speeds that are more than ten times the speed of light, perhaps even millions of times the speed of light.

I don’t really have to elaborate on why I particularly like this speculation, do I?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Website Question.

Okay, I know there are plenty of IT guys who visit here so I have a question. I built by website using FrontPage - a program I no longer have since changing computers. What would you recommend I use now? I want an OFFLINE website builder that's simple to use and doesn't require me knowing html. I'm not interested in free hosting, since I have my webspace. I'm not intersted in free email addresses and all sorts of other dangly pointless bits. I'm also, I have to add, not interested in paying large amounts of money for a website building program for a site that will essentially be just for reference - we all know that websites that are updated maybe monthly don't get a lot of traffic. It's all blogs now, well, in fact it's mostly social networking that gets that traffic. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Who Reads My Books: Chris Haringa

I am Dutch, 65 years of age and what Neal would call a ‘stinking old hippy’. I read heaps and heaps of SF until I was 20-something, then suddenly had enough, and never touched the stuff again apart from some fantasy. I studied chemistry without realizing what I was in for, then after half a year I found out, and dropped out. Since then I’ve worked as a labourer, factory worker, white van driver, salesman in a DIY shop, and a patient transporter for a hospital, but spent at least half of the time not doing shit but talk with me mates stoned out of my mind….

I got married in the UK to an English lady somewhere along the line and, when our first son was due to arrive, decided it was time to take life seriously. I went to a state subsidised school to become a carpenter, again without a clue what it meant to be a carpenter in everyday life. So there I was at 7 in the morning amongst my fellow carpenters, who could only talk about sex, cars and sports, which made me feel kind of lonely…but I was a responsible person now so had to hold on. I did so for 3 years until one November morning – zero degrees above zero, 7 in the morning, a touch of flu but not enough to call in sick, me standing on a ladder in the door opening of a vast building screwing in a rail to hold up big sliding doors, with wind howling past me. I felt so desperate I started to pray ( never saw a church from the inside hahaha), ‘Please dear god help me out of here, can’t stand it anymore!’ At that moment one of my co-workers came up to me and said, ‘Chris please step down from the ladder, I have something to tell you.’ So I did, and when I reached the ground he talked to me for a bit and then suddenly pushed me in the chest because he saw the big metal ladder being blown over by the wind and coming in our direction. It hit me on the big toe and broke it in two places, and would have smashed my head to bits if he would not have pushed me….

So there I was with my foot in plaster, right next to the heater being served nice cups of tea by my lovely wife… and I never went back. My next job was as an EEG/EMG technician in a general hospital. I went to evening classes for that for two years, and kept the job for ten years. Nice and warm inside the hospital, friendly people, but I got bored and, because the Misses was English and kind of homesick, we decided to give it a go and try to make a living in GB. So off we went with our, by that time with 5 kids, to a winter let in the Cotswolds.

We had a good friend there: a very successful graphic designer who promised us to set up a business together, but he failed to do so because his marriage sort of exploded. The only work available at that time was carpentry again, for much less money than I would have made doing the same in Holland. And apart from that I’d done that, seen that. So back to the Netherlands again where an old friend told me that a local comprehensive school, close to where I lived, needed a teacher to take care of the practical part of the physics lessons. To be honest I don’t think they would have hired me was it not for the fact that one of my closest friends was on the board of directors at that time…

So that’s what I did for the last 25 years and now, being 65 and all, the big holiday has started! Met Mr Asher and his wife in Greece a couple of years ago, didn’t know he was a writer at first, pleasant people to talk to over a pint or a glass of wine (contrary of what one would expect reading his blog….hahaha) One day he told me to read one of his books, but I had my doubts not being interested in SF anymore (I prefer modern American literature like John Irving, Tom Wolfe, Donna Tart and the like) but thought, whatever, I’ll give it a go. After a few chapters of Gridlinked I thought that I made the right decision a long time ago, enough SF, but I felt I should finish the book. The funny thing was that although I was not interested at all in the story, the writer managed to grab my attention so I turned a page and another page until I realized I had a page turner in my hands, well done Mister Asher!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dystopia Myopia

Okay, back to a bit of blogging every day. There’s an interview with me over here at Worlds in Ink where I ramble on about The Departure and where you’ll find the blurb for Zero Point. I also make some comments about ebooks, but nothing ground-breaking because I’m still undecided about the various issues that arise from piracy and DRM. I would like to believe that without DRM piracy would act as publicity and result in more sales for me, but I’m afraid I have a low opinion of human nature. Then again, this morning I got paid $40 by a reader who emailed me earlier in the week with this:

I need to send you some money, I "ahem" got your books at the library, and they are all fucking brilliant.

…so perhaps I shouldn’t be such a cynic?


What else? Oh yeah, we’ve had two democratically elected leaders ousted and replaced by ‘technocrats’. We now we have the BMA pushing the government to ban smoking in cars and doubtless the government will bow to this then to the later total ban on smoking i.e. your car will not be your own and later your house won’t be. Another one is the idea that unless you opt out your organs will automatically go for donation, so your body belongs to the government too. How long before you are legally obliged to keep that government property in top-notch condition? All of these are putting more power into the hands of the state, taking away our freedoms, and examples of how we move ever closer to the world of The Departure. As for the BMA, I think Underdogs Bite Upwards covers that organization in a recent post:

What is the point of going through medical school if you end up being less reliable in your diagnoses and advice than a rune-casting Druid? Alcohol units recommendations are made-up numbers. Five-a-day is a made-up number. Second hand smoke is entirely lies and third-hand smoke is beyond derisory from a profession that calls homeopathy bunkum. There is no science behind any of it. It is personal prejudice based on spite and malice and what is now called 'science' and the utter morons who now make up our government accept it all. The exclusion and demonization of huge tracts of the population is justified on the basis of... nothing.


I’m currently working through the Peter Lavery edits of Zero Point and finding that he hasn’t been quite so demonic in his application of his ‘scary pencil’. He tells me that this is because it doesn’t require so much editing, so hopefully this means I have learnt something from him over the last ten years.

Right, an hour of learning Greek now, then shopping, then back to work.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Neal Asher Video Clip 13/11/11

Here I am again fumbling and bumbling through the questions. If you have questions for me to answer on my next video clip put them in the comments below. Also, try to make your questions concise. If you want to comment about something leading up to a question or inclusive of one, please separate out the questions at the end. Cheers!

Updated Carousel

Here's an updated carousel of my books from the guy who signes himself here as Xanares:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Well Spotted

Jin Liqun, chairman of the board of supervisors of China Investment Corp., slammed the welfare systems of European countries and said the continent must address its own problems to attract outside investment.

“If you look at the troubles which happened in European countries, this is purely because of the accumulated troubles of the worn out welfare society,” Jin told Al-Jazeera television in an interview broadcast at the weekend.

“The labor laws induce sloth, indolence, rather than hardworking.”

Spot on, but we'll be a long time waiting for any such sanity from our 'leaders'.

Incidentally, two elected leaders have been chucked out and replaced by Europhile shills (I will not call them 'technocrats' because the word implies a pragmatism that just doesn't exist in the EU elite). How long do you reckon before they'll start calling them 'delegates' ... and how long before they start suggesting ID implants as a practical solution to border control?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Waterstones, Chelmsford

We popped into Chelmsford yesterday, mainly so Caroline could renew her driving licence (nearest post office with the facility to take her photo too) and, as is usual before these trips, I first printed up some of my bookmarks. I then went to Waterstones and offered to sign my books there. They were fine with that as usual and I went through about the 10 - 15 copies on the shelf. Meanwhile I was passing a greedy eye over a big fat Vernor Vinge tome, but on closer inspection discovered it to be a repackaging of Fire Upon the Deep & Deepness in the Sky, so gave it a miss. However, while browsing I did see some stuff I wanted to try. In the end I left Waterstones with the lot below:

Nope, I screwed up. The Vernor Vinge one isn't a repackaging - I must have misread on the quick glance inside I had. I'll be buying a copy shortly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Get those Tobacco Seeds in.

The future of The Departure is closer than you think. Take for example this little wheeze (excuse the pun) suggested by Simon Chapman in that hotbed of totalitarianism, Australia. Now, maybe you don't agree with smoking, but remember that where the anti-smokers lead the anti-alcohol, fat, sugar (name your poison) brigade follow:

Under the proposal, a license would give the smoker a right to a limited quota of tobacco supply, say 10 cigarettes a day or 20 cigarettes a day and so on. There is a fee payable to government to give the consumer the right to use tobacco. The more tobacco the license holder pre‑commits to smoke, the higher the license fee involved.

Under the licensing plan consumers would be asked to pass a test, 'not dissimilar to a driving test' Chapman stated, to qualify for a right to receive a license to legally purchase tobacco.

Based on the questionable notion that smokers lack an awareness of at least three decades of heavily publicised research about health problems that smoking causes, the government would see itself fit to decide for the smoker the amount of cigarettes he or she is allowed to smoke.

Read this guys additional comments below as well. Coming your way soon: a licence to fart.

Last Kazani

Here's a few pictures from the last kazani of the year we went to, a couple of days before heading back here. There's some blurring in them, but there's probably a good reason for that:

Linear no Threshold Hypothesis

From a Sierra Club insider:

With junk science, it is easy to scare people. There are many things that are bad for us that are present at low levels in the environment -- for example, mercury, lead, radiation, or tobacco smoke. The junk science approach to trace toxins is to claim that if a high level of the bad thing would cause X people to get sick, then a level 10,000 times smaller must cause 1/10,000 as many people to get sick. Given 300 million people in the country, this math can give you thousands of people getting sick from low levels of mercury, lead, radiation, or secondhand tobacco smoke. This approach is known as the linear no threshold hypothesis.

So considering this approach, don't you think this toxic substance should be banned or controlled?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gotta love Fusion

This looks promising (check comments).

They are over halfway through this funded (about $8 million) project. This part is just one step towards commercial fusion and if successful could justify a $200 million follow up to develop a full commercial scale system.

As one commenter notes:

In earlier statements it was explained that WB-8 was only going to be produced if WB7/7.1 were successful -- i.e. validated WB-6 results. I think we can assume that happened. WB-8 is to determine scaling. This means a lot of testing to provide a lot of conclusive data for peer review. The fact that the research is ongoing, means they've hit no serious snags - the contract would end if they did. This is a very very positive report, do not listen to the naysayers.

We Ain't Looking Hard Enough!

Here's a little bit over at The Register related to the Fermi Paradox:

The problem, according to boffins Jacob Haqq-Misra and Ravi Kumar Kopparapu of Penn State uni, is that it's entirely possible that our Solar System is littered with ancient alien space probes and we simply haven't found them yet. Haqq-Misra and Kopparapu have investigated this mathematically.

Of course it might also be the case that we have no idea what they might look like. Maybe they wrap them up in a big black rock the size of an aircraft carrier...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Too Close for Comfort

Bloody hell. I caught this out of the corner of my eye on a recent news report but didn't follow up on it. So, from The Register:

A vast, inky black sphere approximately the size of a nuclear aircraft carrier is plunging through the void of space towards planet Earth, though NASA rather panickily insists that it will definitely not smash into our planet with devastating force.

"The asteroid safely will safely fly past our planet slightly closer than the moon's orbit on Nov 8", says a NASA statement issued yesterday (our emphasis), perhaps indicating a certain level of flap at the space agency's press office.

Now excuse me 'slightly closer than the moon's orbit'! In astronomical terms that's what called too fucking close for comfort. No wonder there's a bit of buttock clenching going on, and that'll increase if someone's calculations are a bit off. Of course, if this 'blacker than charcoal object' were to slightly alter its course and fall into orbit around Earth I suspect there'll be a bit of pants filling too.

For Frack's Sake

On (I think) April 2nd last year this happened:

While we sat in the sunshine sipping cold beers the earth shrugged, grumbled then continued shaking. Some people ran out into the street – one Greek woman all hysterical and crossing herself and doubtless praying to the god who chucks tsunamis about. We remained seated, since we weren’t anywhere anything was going to fall on us, and watched the street lamps whipping about like reeds and nearby trees thrashing. I’ve experienced quakes here before but never seen that.

As far as I recollect this was an earthquake of 6.3 on the Richter scale. On April 1st and May 27th fracking in Lancashire caused, respectively quakes of 2.3 and 1.4, and immediately the media and green hairshirts were shouting for a moratorium on this country accessing an energy supply that might just drag us out of the pit (in fact, do a search of 'fracking' and you get pages and pages of hysteria).

Here is the simplest explanation of the Richter Scale:

A logarithmic scale used to express the total amount of energy released by an earthquake. Its values typically fall between 0 and 9, with each increase of 1 representing a 10-fold increase in energy.

So, the earthquake I experienced in Crete was roughly 10,000 times stronger than the strongest one caused by fracking. In fact, as you can see from the graph the lowest one is in the region of ‘not felt’ and the highest one is ‘minor’.

Now go read Counting Cats and the comments. This one I find particularly illuminating;

A butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico will cause small seismic tremors in Lancashire. Even the lefty dolts at wikipedia know that earthquakes under 2.0 occur “continuously” and those of 2.0-2.9 are ‘Generally not felt, but recorded.’ with 1.3 million of them per year.

Let’s do some maths. A 2.0 quake has 63 MJ of energy, a 2.5 one has 360 MJ. Gasoline contains about 35 MJ/L. Every time some lefty jerk drives to a demo and burns 2 litres of gas he releases as much energy as a 2.0 quake. For a 2.5 quake the dolt has to drive for a couple of hours. Big deal.

Devil's Kitchen also has something to say...

Here's a link to an interesting report passed onto me. If this sort of stuff is of interest to you then read it carefully and consider the words 'correlation is not causation', or even, 'which came first the chicken or the egg?' Remember too that one of the big criticisms of the alarmist film 'Gaslands' was that people had methane in their water supply before any fracking.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


A lot of people tend to make New Year resolutions but for me it’s becoming the ‘back from Crete’ resolution. After my initial greedy splurge on the Internet, reading sometimes as much as seven months’ worth of various blogs, and discovering as always ‘same old shit; different month’, I resolve not to spend quite so much time on it. However, that’s just the same as my, ‘I’m never drinking again!’ after a particularly bad hangover.

Resolutions I will stick to are these: I will continue with my twenty sit-ups and twenty press-ups every morning, I’ll cycle during from Monday to Friday as much as weather permits, and I’ll do two weight-training sessions a week. Another thing I resolve to do, because I was lazy this summer in this respect, is spend one hour a day learning Greek. I want to return there (unless of course it becomes dangerous to do so) with at least every single phrase from my Rough Guide imbedded in my mind. Starting Monday I’ll get my head down with Jupiter War, finishing working backwards through it, and writing the rest of the chapter starts and inserting all of them. After that I need to write blurbs for Zero Point, and perhaps a synopsis, then it’s either time for some short stories or work on Penny Royal.

Another thing I’ll have a pop at will be more of those video clips I did last year, with you providing the questions and me either answering or muttering my way out of trouble. To that end please start asking your questions in the comments section here. Try to be precise and try to bear in mind stuff already known, like, yes I am returning to the Polity – I said so in the paragraph above.

Friday, November 04, 2011


So, first shopping trip here and, really, I haven't noticed much of an increase in the prices of what we buy since last year, except that the £4 jeans are now £5. Certainly most of the stuff is still cheaper than it costs on Crete. Caroline did pause on the way out to buy sparklers and was told she could buy them but couldn't take them back into the shop, which was silly. She also noted Old Holborn at above £14 for 50g and Super Kings at £6.98 for a pack of 20, but the first we never buy here and the second we don't buy at all. Bloody daylight robbery and, of course, loads more business for the smugglers.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Greek Odyssey

I just watched the episode of this program with Joanna Lumley and had to laugh. Bob Lock jokingly commented that he was disappointed not to see me at the raki-making session she attended. The raki kazani shown is about ten to fifteen minutes by car away from our house. And for those Makrigialos residents reading this, Joanna Lumley ended up dancing with someone who looked suspiciously like Fanis.

Back in Blighty

I’m back in England (that place where No Smoking signs actually breed) where it is actually a bit warmer than in the mountains on Crete. However, as I noted to Caroline recently, when the temperature here is, say, 18 in the shade it’s probably only a few degrees above that in direct sunlight, if there is any. On Crete for an equivalent temperature in the shade the direct sunlight temperature can be 30 or above.

First job upon getting back here was sorting through the mail. Damn but I wish all our junk mail could be diverted to Crete. It would keep the house there warm for days. Next was food, and how wonderful it was, upon our return home and not having had much to eat, to phone the local Chinese and order a meal for two – delivered to our door just half an hour later (and scoffed at great speed). After that I had to retune the TVs because of the digital changeover, and my goodness isn’t there a lot to watch (an expected reaction after a diet of BBC World, Greek TV and DVDs). And now, of course, I have constant Internet.

I give it just a few days before I start shouting at the TV, a month before I decide I really need to stop eating so much, and a few months before I get disgusted at the amount of time I’m wasting on the Internet.