Human crowd behaviour is often like whale-watching on a boat.

Bear with me..

When you go whale-watching (or seal-watching, or dolphin-watching, or crocodile-watching..), the first thing you’re told as you get on the boat is that there will be sightings and breaches expected on both sides, so remain in your seats and do not rush over to the opposite side.

As usual, at the very first sighting there’ll be a moron who rushes over to the opposite side.

Moron would have reasoned (hah!) thus:

  • “I know I’ve been told not to rush over to the other side, but surely one person can’t matter. It’ll probably be some Health & Safety nonsense anyway” Moron is spotted in the wild wearing velcro as they can’t be trusted with shoelaces.

Unfortunately Moron will then be followed by Entitled Person who will have rationalised (hah!) thus:

  • “I’ve paid the same as Moron; I’ll be damned if I don’t get a view of what I’ve paid for, no matter what I’ve been told!” Entitled Person is also often seen in the wild jumping queues because “Why should I have to wait?”.

Entitled Person is immediately followed by a group of Sheep (of which there are a lot) who will have thought (hah!) thus:

  • “Someone’s going somewhere and I shall follow”. Sheep are often seen in the wild joining queues because “Everyone else is”.

Meanwhile us few Rational Beings will be looking around for the lifejackets in preparation for the boat capsizing.


“Nothing’s new anymore.. everything is derivative.”
Well, that’s not true; because everything has always been derivative, it’s only that now we notice it because we have better records.

For example, tropes of genesis and extinction events are so similar across cultures today that they are as unimaginative as the aliens in Star Trek (who all have two arms and two legs and a face easily altered by 20th century cosmetics instead of being, you know, alien!)

A trope that has resurfaced in the news recently is a certain Meghan as Jezebel. Look it up: Wikipedia African Stereotypes/Jezebel.

Lockdown Loneliness Library

qrfJust going through my old Sci-fi short story collections; there are some fascinating post-apocalyptic stories that make for vivid and haunting reading in the current lockdown.

Read them for free at the Gutenberg Free Press:

The Music Master of Babylon by Edgar Pangborn

The Scarlet Plague by Jack London


Que sera, sera

When I was just a little boy
I asked my father: “What will I be?
Will I be handsome, will I be rich?”
Here’s what he said to me:

“The value that society imparts to both beauty and wealth is derivative/comparative and shifting. Find value in yourself and you’ll never have to waste your short time on this planet chasing shifting fashion modes, trying to keep up with the neighbours, or satisfying other people’s goals.”

Knowing when you’re beaten – Su Do Ku

There’s a quality called ‘knowing when you’re beaten’.

And I think I should learn this.

That statement might make it seem like I’m endowing myself with all these seemingly-positive attributes that are associated with the phrase… like “fighter”, “survivor”,”warrior”…

But to say you know when you’re beaten means you recognise the limitations of your ability to solve a problem. From which you might start to ask for opinions, change strategy, dump preconceptions… all which sound good when the objective is to solve a problem.

I have a love/hate relationship with sudoku (I have some withered pages torn out of newspapers in 2008 that I haven’t solved. I haven’t ever revisited them, but all the same they are still, by me, unsolved.) If you ever watch me and spot a missing number, keep it to yourself because I will motherchucking gut you if you try and help me.


Every time I hear the word ‘Purgatory’ I feel the need to say the following:-

There is no such thing as Purgatory.

There is no mention of it in the Bible (and if people who claim to be religious actually read that book they would know).

It is a Medieval Italian construct, made up because people were asking what the point of praying for a dead person was if after death the judgement was made to send them to Hell or Heaven. And priests were making shit loads of money (still do) for paid intercessions on behalf of dead people, so they invented Purgatory as a kind of holding pen where the dead could wait while the priests and church and choir and altar boys would pray for God’s leniency. For a price.

P.s. Purgatory is also a great song by Iron Maiden from the ‘Killers’ album with Paul D’Anno.

Two recent changes

I’ve noticed that two changes have made quite a difference to my life recently.
1. The theft of my motorbike means I visit my friends much less frequently, i.e. never. I’m happy commuting to work with my bicycle, but popping over to friends seems to need a motorbike. Indeed I used to complain about not having enough people I could vroom my bike over to. But now I have to pedal, everyone is too far away.
2. The closure of Abdul’s means I’m no longer comfortable staying out too long drinking in town. Abdul’s was the guarantee of quality food (which somehow still felt like rat meat the next morning) I could grab on my way home. Without that safety blanket I seem to prefer heading home and securing a meal before it becomes too late for me to bother.

Tribute or Crass Commercialism? You gotta have faith.

I heard two George Michael songs today.

Both were played out loud on retail premises; one a clothes-retailer founded by a musician, and the other a large food-retailer. My first thought, given the recent news, was to wonder whether these premises had always played those songs, or whether they were tributes. Or. Something. Else.

Since, through familiarity, I was confident enough to rule out at least one of the premises having ever played a George Michael song recently, it got me thinking about the coincidence/probability of having heard those two songs the day after his death.

Then I remembered the nature of truth is that it is ephemeral. That there can always be a line drawn that connects any two chosen extremes, and the truth will be somewhere along that line. Closer to one point than the other, but probably never exactly at either point.

But I have a feeling someone somewhere decided to crank up the George Michael because he has just died.

Because there are gains to be made from this.

The first Irishman I met made me cry

Gosh, it must be almost twenty years ago now.

My sister and I were travelling to Moscow from Mumbai; almost-adult fledglings in the departures hall at the airport waiting for a delayed flight, we were leaving our Indian family home for our Russian student one with our heads full of tales of caution about the crooked ways of strangers and the dangers of the wide world.

He was flying on from Moscow to Dublin; a small, quick person, carrying a sort of banjo and talking to all and sundry. He was inquisitive (nosey! I thought) and chatty (suspicious! I thought) and I tried to ignore him politely.

Then he started playing and singing songs of his home and we were captured in a sad and sweet trance. I can’t remember a word nor a tune, but I remember how I felt that day, when the first Irishman I met made me cry.

Funny how the thought of him just popped into my head now.

Poetry in a Scots dialect

The idea is good, as is the expression of it. Read it aloud, as poetry is meant to be.. and feel the Scottish dialect. The author Robert “Rabbie” Burns has spotted a louse on a lady’s hat in front of him while attending church. These is his gentle musing, that ends with a kicker.

To A Louse:
On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church

Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho’, faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her-
Sae fine a lady?
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Swith! in some beggar’s haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi’ ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now haud you there, ye’re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rels, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye’ll no be right,
Till ye’ve got on it-
The verra tapmost, tow’rin height
O’ Miss’ bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an’ grey as ony groset:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie you sic a hearty dose o’t,
Wad dress your droddum.

I wad na been surpris’d to spy
You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
On’s wyliecoat;
But Miss’ fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do’t?

O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie’s makin:
Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

Yes, I’ve blogged this before: