The Cat Wore Electric Goggles – I’ve got you (re)covered. #T4US #IAN1 #ASMSG

The Cat Wore Electric Goggles, by Ian Hutson

The Cat Wore Electric Goggles, by Ian Hutson. Cover Design by James,

We’ve gone green.

I don’t mean that gangrene has set in or that we have suddenly started using hybrid cow-fart power for the office.

No, what I mean is that The Cat Wore Electric Goggles has turned a shade of splendidly bilious blue/yellow, and now reflects wavelengths in the 495–570 nanometre range. Our Hex triplets are now #00FF00 and, should anyone be impolite enough to ask, we may be found in the vicinity of sRGB co-ordinates (0, 255, 0).

Green is us, with regard to the Goggle-wearing cat, we is green. Am green. Are green. Wintergreen. Green as grass. Seen to be green. Green for “go”.

A new cover is born.

While we loved the old cover, it didn’t say quite the right things about the collection that is The Cat Wore Electric Goggles. We needed a cover that said “woof”. We looked for a cover that said “rocketships” and “robotic dogs”. We found a cover that says “Victorian aliens tried mankind in the Industrial Revolution but then replaced him with orang-utans”. We found a cover that said “if you’re going to fake a Moon landing then be sure to lock up the studio after you leave…”

We found it from James, James of

James is a man of many parts, most of them broken or missing, and yet he produces a fine selection of covers for a cove to choose from or to commission. He writes a bit too. You can find James’s’s’s’s books here, and I recommend that you do.

The Cat Wore Electric Goggles is a book of many parts, and most of those aren’t so much broken or missing as curious and odd and worthy of a raised eyebrow (preferably your own, although if you have servants to raise eyebrows on your behalf, then kudos and good staff relations to you).


  • The Cat Wore Electric Goggles
  • One Saturday, Almost 2,000 Years A.D.
  • VTC = 1:1 +/- H times ATP
  • The Improvement Engine
  • One Small Step for Ma’am, One Giant Leap for Ma’amkind
  • The Unfortunate Fatal Incident at 7 AU
  • Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright
  • Shall I be Mother?
  • The Especial Relevance of Cowpats
  • You fools! You fools! You insensible fools!
  • The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth
  • The Almost Omnipresent Omniscient Monks

Do you see what I mean? The contents already look better in green…

Alien invasions of England; secret government satellites causing mayhem; insane COld War time-travel; steampunkish aliens manipulating Mankind; fake Moon landings; disastrous “first contact” in our own Solar System; evolution gone… different; how to sink the RMS Titanic twice; human crash-test dummies; viruses on the loose; electronic detectives and even a few monks doing strange things. It’s all in there!

And now, thanks to James of, it all looks so much more plausible.

Links to the book, of course, are over on the right…


Cover Reveal for Dark Shadows of the Past @AngelSefer (The Greek Isles Series IV)

Dark Shadows of the Past (The Greek Isles Series Book 4)

Dark Shadows of the Past (The Greek Isles Series Book 4)

A deadly conspiracy…
Stunning jewelry designer Christina Connors wakes up laying on a freezing hard surface surrounded by spine-chilling darkness. Realizing she is dumped in an alley next to a dead body, she searches her mind for answers of how she got there but it’s terrifyingly blank. As the fog lifts, memories of dreadful events come crashing down on her.

A secret identity…
Christina finds herself caught in a deadly game of conspiracy, murder, and vengeance. She must discover how to play the game while concealing her real identity as Sophia Rosetti, the daughter of Mafia lord Paolo Rosetti.

Love or betrayal…
Seductively handsome police detective Dan Mallory takes over Christina’s case and vows to protect the feisty enchantress. But when her real identity is revealed, the betrayal is mind blowing. Who is Christina really? Is she the innocent victim running for her life, or is she a deceitful charmer who stole his heart and led him into a conspiracy that could cost him not only his job but also his life.

About the author

Angel Sefer

Angel Sefer

Angel Sefer was born in Athens, Greece, and has studied and worked on both sides of the Atlantic. She holds a degree in Economics and divides her time between the corporate world and her true passion: reading and writing mystery romance novels, full of heart-racing action, suspense, twists and turns, and breathtaking romance.

Angel is an award-winning, bestselling author, a blogger, and a member of ASMSG, WLC, and several other writers groups.

She lives in Athens, Greece, with the two loves of her life—her son and her husband.

The Greek islands—alluring destinations that cast a spell on the visitor from the very first moment—are among her favorite settings. She has written a whole series of standalone mystery romance novels—The Greek Isles Series—each taking place on a different island.

In this series, dark mysteries mingle with sizzling romances, while the reader enjoys the virtual experience of visiting some of the most enchanting Greek islands. The impeccable beauty of those islands—where nature exists lavishly in hundred shades of green and blue, and centuries of Greek tradition coexist harmoniously with cosmopolitan activity—will steal the reader’s heart away.

Award-winning, bestseller Spellbound in His Arms is the first novel published in The Greek Isles Series. In this suspenseful tale of murder, deceit, and political cover-up, sexy investigative reporter Jackie ignites the fury and stirs the passion of mysterious police detective Michael. The action unfolds on majestic Corfu in the dazzling aquamarine waters of the Ionian Sea.

Bestseller Deadly Secrets is the second novel published in The Greek Isles Series. Stunning Helena and seductive Captain Dimitris confront each other—and make sparks—in this suspenseful tale of murder, deceit, embezzlement, and treachery. The action unfolds on picturesque Mykonos—one of the most beautiful islands in the sparkling sapphire waters of the Aegean Sea—and is supported by a steamy story of forbidden love.

The Heiress of Santorini is the third novel published in The Greek Isles Series. The startling truth about her billionaire client drives breathtaking insurance manager Alexandra over the edge but cannot quell her desire for sinfully handsome and off-limits Mark. This tale of non-stop action, suspense, deceit, and murder unfolds in Atlanta, New York, and on the awe-inspiring island of Santorini—a precious gem in the Aegean Sea that is still an active volcano with spectacular rock formations, impressive lunar landscapes, and breathtaking red and black sand beaches.

Dark Shadows of The Past is the fourth novel in The Greek Isles Series. Dazzling Christina is caught in a deadly game of conspiracy, murder, treachery, and vengeance while desperately trying to conceal her real identity. Seductively handsome police detective Dan puts his job and life on the line to protect this feisty enchantress from the threat hovering over her. The non-stop action and steamy romance unfolds in Atlanta, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Georgia, and the island of Cephalonia—the fascinating setting of “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” in the amazing aquamarine waters of the Ionian Sea. Dark Shadows of The Past will be available Spring 2015.

Links for Angel Sefer:





Google+ Page


Amazon Author’s page

W.I.P. Blog Tour: The Dog With The Bakelite Nose #British #SciFi #shortstories

#WIP The Dog With The Bakelite Nose by Ian Hutson

#WIP The Dog With The Bakelite Nose by Ian Hutson

A gennelmun by the name of Mr Aaron David has pressured, blackmailed and generally bullied me into participating in a “Work In Progress Blog Tour” – his website and blog may be found here:

Mr David, a notoriously #comedic writer from something called “The North of England”, was himself lashed to the WIP Tour gun-carriage and given several laps of the barracks by what may only be described as a “Christoph Fischer”. Fischer specialises in pulling the wings off fairies, in tearing the skin off slightly cooled custard desserts and in writing historical fiction, and his website and blog linger like the aroma of garlic here: WriterChristophFischer.yadda.yadda. With friends such as these who needs enemas eh?

Now the basis of this tour is to plug a little of one’s novel with a few lines from each of the opening chapters. However, I am still young and handsome enough to live in #shortstory land, so instead of this I shall divulge (squeal, blabber, sing like a gang-land canary) the titles of the contents of my W.I.P. collection, a collection what do go under the name of “The Dog With The Bakelite Nose“. What is this collection? Well, it’s a little bit old-fashioned blathering #British #Scifi and a lot of blathering humour and comedy – with some serious concepts thrown in as an underhand trick to see if oneone spots them. Is it serious? No, not in the least. Is it “literary”? I should cocoa. No, it’s intended as entertainment in much the way that stripping naked and riding a bicycle with loosened wheel-nuts is entertainment, in the way that waiting for an electrical storm, dressing in a long black cloak, carrying a scythe and standing outside the local OAP home, pointing a boney finger at the inmates is entertainment.

So. The contents… will probably include:

  • Woomera, we have a problem
  • The Dog With the Bakelite Nose
  • The Curse of the Mandarin
  • The Man Who Invented Extremely Wet Water
  • Practical Disaster Ltd.
  • The Maharaja of Mars
  • The Heinkel Bubble
  • The Cheshire Alien
  • Hindsight in Wartime
  • The Man in the Penguin Suit
  • Ms. God Moves in Mysterious Ways
  • The Perfect Crime Squad, Sweeney Todd

… and it should be obvious from this that I have far too many titles of the “The XYZ” variety, but then this is a Work in progress.

To explain further, in order:

  • The Moon goes a bit odd
  • Alien invasion of England is thwarted
  • Genuine curses are flung around by oriental types
  • I visit upon you a touch of eco-warriorism
  • The notion of women, children and even humans first in emergencies is examined
  • Mars is red, very red
  • Time-travel isn’t the fun that it’s cracked up to be in textbooks
  • Aliens – for once, being truly alien in nature
  • Weaponry, reinvented with love
  • Pavlov’s humans – does that ring a bell with you?
  • The obligatory side-swipe at god-bothering
  • Futuristic police work

So, when will this W.I.P. be ready? Gawd knows. Summer 2015, I hope.

Why is there a baby elephant on the cover of The Dog With The Bakelite Nose? Your guess is as good as mine; there’s no dog with a bakelite nose in the book either.

Nonimations? Oh yes. I do hereby and with Alice Aforethought (my stage name) nominate:

BiffRavenHill 1. Biff Raven-Hill, a Wartime Housewife with stout ankles and an explosive brain.

Biff is required by international treaty to have a website about her person at all times, and here it is: Biff Raven-Hill, old values in a modern world. It’s electric, and I know that Biff has books in the pipeline as well as books already all over the library floor.

Biff describes herself as 38-24-36, blackcurrant-blonde and desirous of helping old ladies across the road and inspiring world peace.

Biff’s hobbies are cleaning toilets, archery and translating ancient Mesopotamian tabloids and magazines.

Biff’s books may be found here, on the Amazons UK and the Amazons USofA.

WoodTalcMrJ 2. Mr Christopher Rose, a man ravaged by the effects of the passage of time and by years of Northern Soul applied directly to the spinal column.

Mr Rose has always had something in the pipeline since an unfortunate injury sustained in a small but hitherto perfectly formed Triumph Vitesse, and it’s usually a book.

Mr Rose never describes himself but fortunately, Police sources advise me that he bears more than a passing resemblance to that bloke who works in the chip-shop, the one who looks a bit like Elvis.

Tagged electronically, Mr Rose may be tracked via his own website here – Wood, Talc and Mr J dar de dar de dit dit dot com and there’s a book to be found on the Amazons UK and the Amazons USofA too.

3. I nominate anyone who cares to have a go! Just link back here please, give some detail about your W.I.P. and then, to avoid the bad luck associated with chain letters, nominate at least nine or ten modern “billion” other people to continue the chain. Or to pull it, if you have old-fashioned plumbing and no respect for the environment.


A serius epistemological qestion on gramer 4U froma puzled gammar Narzi

Shooting myself in the foot with a blunderbuss.

Shooting myself in the foot with a blunderbuss.

This is a serious question, and one that has always puzzled me. It relates to the increasing number of folk who consistently use your, you’re, their, there, they’re, lose, loose, affect, effect, its, it’s, ensure, insure and similar terms incorrectly.

What do these folk think when they see the terms used correctly? Do they cringe and wonder why most folk have no idea, or do they just not notice? Are they oblivious, or are they wilful?

11111 In England the overwhelming majority of motor car drivers cheerfully, thankfully, simply copy the actions of others and drive on the left-hand side of the road. They move in a clockwise direction around roundabouts, stop at red lights and screech off only at amber. The vast, if not actually overwhelming, majority will follow a crowd through doors marked “Entrance” and leave via doors marked “Exit”. The be-hooded youth (the “yoof”) have taught each other an entire, if utterly meaningless, panoply of strange finger-signals quite inaccessible to anyone of more mature years who may have a touch of arthritis or incipient carpal tunnel syndrome. Virtually our entire population move as a herd, stampeding towards their credit cards at the merest hint of the release of a new electronic toy. Damn it, millions upon millions watch the same television programmes, they go to work within a hour or so of each other, they come home in a mob and they all shop for food at ASDA or TESCO or HARRODS or wherever, buying the same oysters, drinking the same wines and wearing the same UMBRO tracksuits. If someone shouts “jump” they all, as one, jump.

Why then does this growing army of language-shagging numbnuts not also follow the mode in the matter of the very simple terms there, their and they’re?

Why has exposure to the [largely, still] correct environment of advertisements and product markings and magazine or newspaper articles not encouraged the theiy’re masses to simply follow, for fear of being seen as separate from the herd?

Carefully, carefull-ah, careful-ah hah ha ha hah...

Carefully, carefull-ah, careful-ah hah ha ha hah…

When such folk hear others in the asylum exercise yard saying “There are nuts over there, they’re nuts, let us go and kick them in their nuts” why do they never seem to wonder where the “are” disappears to, or how there/they’re/their to them seems to mean three different things, or why other people have three variant spellings of what they think is just one word?

I dunno [sic]. I’m serious though in my curiosity. What is the thought process? Is there a thought process? If they stumble across these words (and others) in isolation or without context, do they just guess at the meaning?

99999 Given the level of wax in most people’s ears these days it’s quite understandable that some of these errors have arisen with homonyms. Most people these days speak as though moving their lips, tongues and epiglottis requires some unthinkable waste of energy. The difference is surely obvious though on first glance at most FaceBook posts, so why is it not obvious enough to trigger the herd instinct?

Language is a code, and the more you bugger about with the rules the less intelligible the code becomes. As a certain gentleman once said on the radio during a time of some tribulation:

I have, myself, full comphidance that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arangements are made, as their being made, we shall prove arse elves once again able too defend are Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tympany, if necessary four years, if necessary a loan. At any rate, that is what we are gonna try too do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Goverment – every man, of them. That is the will of Parliment and the nation. The Bridish Empire an the French Re-public, linked togever in they’re cause and in they’re need, will defend to the deaf they’re native soil, aiding each other like good comrades too the utmost of they’re strengf. Even though large tracks of Europe and meny ole an fey mouse States are falled or wilfallin to the gripe of the Gestarpo anall the odius aparattus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail We shal go on to the end, we shal fite in france, we shal fite on the sees and oceans we shal fite wiv groweing confidance an groewing strengf in the air we shal de-fend are eye land watever the cost may bee we shal fite on the beeches we shal fight on the land-ing grounds we shal fite in the feelds an in the stretes we shal fite in the hilles we shal nevva surender and evenif which I donot four amomentebeleivethis I land ora largepartofitweresubjurgated an starvin,thenOurEmpirebeyondtheseesaremdand garded by the BritishFletewouldcaryonthestruggeluntillinGodsgoodthymetheneworldwivallit’spowerandmitestepsfourthtotherescyouandthelibationoftheold oiiagv[o08ut4q0484nlgn[oa83u83nflanepi4iuuwpitndgih etcetera, etcetera, etcetera as the King of Siam once said.

[not forgetting, of course, the rising pitch at the end of what is not, in fact, a question, yeah?]

Ugly, innit? Lose the code, lose the structure and you lose the message. You might as well just put your hand on the cave wall and spit ochre all over it, because that’s the only way you’ll ever transmit a message to the future.

74735664564 Grandma matters, an if you fink it dont then all I can say is juhdfsgohrwojbege3kenc ewe.

All I ask is two fings.

Firstly, for the sake of my gnarzi blood-pressure, please just do your best.

Secondly, someone please, please, please tell me why seeing decent grammar in the majority of communications doesn’t seem to raise so much as even a mild concern among those who loose they’re mind when their writing.

Talk clear. Do right. Write grammatical.

E&OE, fnarr fnarr.

[Wanders off towards the horizon with a tear in this eye and a quite uncontrollable demonic chuckle rising in his froat.]


As the Seekers once so pithily and presciently observed, the carnival is over.

As the Seekers once so pithily and presciently observed, the carnival is over.

A bewildered bloke with a tampon string hanging down his chin #dentist

Ah, teeth. Tushy-pegs, the old ivories, the pearly whites, the fangs – call them what you will. Where would we be without them eh? Once upon a time we used them to chew on the sinew and gristle of woolly mammoth and wild animally things, these days we vegans use them to execute raw carrots and dispose of cabbage cadavers. Sometimes, in some humans, teeth can be a component part of some curious thing called a “smile”. I’ve never been a serial smiler. For one thing, I’m English and I know that smiling is over-demonstrative and just plain gauche. Smiling is something that foreign persons do, usually when abroad.

Reginald, smiling.

Reginald, smiling.

I have given smiles, on occasion, under duress. Just the right, thin smile at just the right, vulnerable moment can destroy someone without the need for fisticuffs. I have all of the necessary equipment, albeit high-mileage, and I can peel my lips back just as well as any chimpanzee. It just doesn’t feel natural though. Why bare the old gnashers in non-violent greeting or to signify approval when I can so much more easily raise an eyebrow or take a little of the cold steel out of my glare?

Anyway, I digress. Teeth and I have been together and in an intimate relationship since early childhood. We have seen a succession and a mind-boggling variety of dentists come and go over the years, from Army dentists who filled teeth at gunpoint to, lately although sadly, not latterly, a private practice in Norfolk where the carpets were plush, the music tasteful and the bills akin to international telephone numbers. The current dentist is one of necessity, provided very kindly indeed by the National Health System courtesy of my taxes. Frills and frippery and staff who address you as “Sir” or “Mr Hutson” do not overburden the NHS package, brilliant though it is.

About fifteen years ago I broke a tushy-peg. The uber-expensive dentist of earlier years rebuilt it for me. A while back the ravages of time broke the beast again and, even to my unprofessional and squinting myopically in the mirror eye, broke it beyond hope. Removal of the remains was the only decent option. An appointment was made. An appointment was kept – and this is where bewilderment crept in.

The appointment was at a specialist branch of the surgery, in what looked like a once-grand terraced house in a Lincolnshire seaside resort. I haven’t seen quite such organisation and efficiency since the days when I worked for MI4½ and circumstances required us to interrogate all persons with the surname “Smith” then living in the Home Counties. A conveyor-belt system without the conveyor belt, running at warp speed and timed to the highly complicated, multi-tasking second. To make more money, private dentists just pad the bill whereas NHS dentists must see more patients (the NHS prices are fixed by the NHS, not the dentist). In, sit, drill, fill, out – NEXT!

I knocked on the door and a latex-gloved hand reached out and pulled me in. Bang, wallop. Sign here, sit there. Hutson? The Dentist (caps intended) will see you now. Hmm – tricky one this. Sign this extra waiver indemnifying Her Majesty’s Government’s Dentists against any and all risks associated. Open wide – WIDER! – in with the needle. Go sit in the waiting room while The Dentist processes two other patients to various stages of their visit. Hutson? Back into the treatment room NOW – AT THE DOUBLE, LADDIE! Open wide… wide enough to dislocate that weak jaw you wuss… nurse – pin him down. Pliers, tug, crunch, crack, pull, yank (I had by this time retired to my happy place, cowering behind my trembling Corpus Callosum and thinking about bunny wabbits).

All gone, root and all.

Before I had time to re-engage wholly with my body and re-take control I found myself outside, on the pavement, wiping blood off my spectacles and wondering why I had a tampon stuffed in my mouth with the little string hanging down my chin.

Passers by were tittering. I tried once or twice, in vain of course, to point with a trembling finger at the brass plate indicating that I was stood outside Messrs Dentist & Co, Tooth-Pullers and Tampon Dispensers. It did me no good, you just can’t reason with strangers when numbed from the neck up and with a bit of string hanging out of your lips.

Radium Toothpaste

Radium Toothpaste

My lonely dilemma was of course, as I stood half anaesthetised out of my gourd on the sunny seaside pavement, should I remove the tampon from my face or leave it in? If I tucked the sting inside my wholly numbed mouth then there was every chance that I would swallow the ruddy thing whole, or worse, choke on it and become the stuff of A&E legend. If I removed it, would the cavern that had previously been home to a recently-deceased tooth of mine – of which, while it lived, I had been very fond – gush forth the old AB/O Rhesus-Indeterminate oxygenated bloodykins and make me look like some sort of especially incommunicative, thick-cheeked zombie swallowing the nether regions of a vampire? If I removed the little beastie what might it look like I was doing inbetween yanking it out and finding a public bin in which to dispose of it? Such a bin would no doubt be far away from the dentist’s emporium, opportunities for misunderstandings many and public opprobrium can take such bitter, hurtful forms. If I left the thing in for too long would the healing process subsume the thing into the fabric of my jaw, landing me with a stringy chin for some time to come? What is the half-life of wadded cotton?

Of course, with my decision-making faculties as numbed as my face, I stood there far too long, so long that I was in danger of being thought of as some avant-garde feminist human statue or as perhaps some catatonic escapee from some local nursing home. I have no idea how long I behaved like a meat bollard parting the pavement traffic until my lift mercifully arrived and whisked me away. Perhaps one of the hypodemic nerdles used for the injections was too long, and Mr The Dentist injected my brain-gland. Perhaps I was just in shock.

Now of course, until I can get one of those screwed-into-the bone replacements, I could only give the merest of smiles should the happy madness overtake me in some social situation.

Getting Even: Revenge Is Best Served Cold from @issyblack #murder #mystery

Getting Even by Pat McDonald

Getting Even by Pat McDonald

There’s a quality to the timeline of this book that you just don’t ordinarily see in other books, or in television series or even films. Murder; violence; intrigue: these sudden outpourings of action are all here – but so is a flavour of the real-world sequence, of the gaps between crimes into which all of everyday and not-so-everyday regular human life is poured. It’s a skilful balance, and it’s struck here well. As murder-mystery tours go, this bus takes in just the right number of crimes while leaving time for tea and reflection in-between.

Forget flashy, glitzy and in-your-face dramas. This is a book with more of an edge, and with deeper foundations. It is a book to make you finally replace the bulbs in the PIR security lights, to make you actually make a genuine effort to teach the budgie to bark like a Rottweiler, to make you think before you open your front door wide to the world after dark. Forget sanitised, everyone except the victim and the criminal live happily ever after dramas. Real life isn’t like that and neither is this book. Half of the characters didn’t live happily before, half of them will never live happily again and the remaining half just don’t live through the action long enough to be able to check my arithmetic. Professionalism is challenged, neat and tidy stereotypes of relationships are challenged and, in a realistic way, Police procedure is challenged just as it must surely be during each and every real-world day.

Getting Even by Pat McDonald

Getting Even by Pat McDonald

This is a book that will transport you to the roads and streets, the houses and nightclubs and even the Portakabin temporary offices of England. You’ll be mixing with plausible people, not with stylised caricatures and showy provincial or parochial offerings – this demographic is the middle ground, the modal ground, the larger portion of the bell-curve, the reality that is so rarely seen in the media. The crime hurts, it offends sensibilities, it’s painful to think about and the wrong people often get killed while the wrong people walk free. This realism, as much as laying the series foundations in this first book of the trilogy, is why not all loose ends are tied by the end of the book, why not everyone has a happy-ever-after ending.

The author’s writing style is highly readable and the plot builds itself as neatly and as solidly as a professional brickie builds an outhouse when he knows that the boss is watching. The formatting of the book is spot on – and you do get a lot of book for your money. The violence, while horrific, is not graphically described or over-played. The sexual content is minor, in context and tastefully written. While this is a book for adults it would also be accessible to a mature teen. Splendid stuff.

Pat McDonald on Amazon here.


Early-morning badger lobbing in my Rupert The Bear onesie

Wacky Ruddy Races on the rural rat-run.

Wacky Ruddy Races on the rural rat-run.

Monday morning eh? Still, for a writer it just means getting dressed again in one’s favourite smoking jacket, knocking back a breakfast Absinthe or twelve and sitting down at the entypinatrix machine, doesn’t it? Well, no, not really. For one thing, I take Methylated Spirits for breakfast, not Absinthe.

Seriously, this morning began in earnest long before respectable folk had so much as taken a bathroom triple-S, let alone had brewed coffee and squeezed the dog’s bowels empty under the roses in the back garden. Yours truly noticed that the rat-run, Wacky-Races-esque traffic in one of the lanes passing one of the entrance gates to Hutson Towers was behaving oddly. Every vehicle slowed down, some stopped for a moment, and then they accelerated back to their customary eleventy-twelve kilometres a second. This behaviour means one of several things. Tramps may have put out the old “soft touch” marker again (tramps of the road, not tramps of the red-lit night), the Local Health Authority may have painted “Unclean – Quarantine – No Admittance except in Isolation Suits” on the gatehouse again, or there was a blockage in the lane that none of the prissy little twonks in their Nissan Commuter 4×4 LWB GTi mobiles would touch themselves. Sadly, twas the latter.

A dead badger.

I’ve only ever seen one live badger in this lifetime, and that was a real treat. He was like a flattened mongrel dog with stumpy legs, and in broad daylight came hoofing out of a hedgerow, ran a hundred clumsy yards down the lane and then disappeared into a driveway leading to more woodland. He was on a mission, he was moving.

A badger.

A badger.

Sadly, this morning’s Mr Brock was very much deceased (although thankfully largely intact), and I had the sad duty of scooping up the remains on a shovel and lobbing him out of sight, over the verge and into the hedgerow. Now “lobbing” is a term that covers a multitude of muscular activity – and bear in mind that we are talking sparrowfart, pre-coffee, obscenely early morning, and we are talking chap-who-pushes-a-keyboard-for-a-living, not Rocky Balboa after a plate of spinach. This adult beastie weighed about forty pounds or on the order of seventeen “European kilograms” – at least as much as a half-full sack of moderately well-fed cats.

Picture the scene then, if you will. Yours truly still in jim-jams (Rupert the Bear onesie), without my customary six mugs of thick, hot Kopi Luwak sloshing around my consciousness. Stood standing in the middle of a very rural lane, dodging local arsepits hell-bent on driving to their jobs at the Halal abattoir or wherever in personal-best record time, saying ‘Sorry old fella, nothing more that I can do for you’ to a dead badger as I lob it overarm on a spade as far out of sight as possible…

Such traffic as there was generally swerved around me, bounced up either verge and cursed at my sabotage, annoyed that they would get to work in thirty-eight minutes instead of their target of thirty-seven minutes and fifty-three seconds. One chap, however, stopped, and rolled down the window of his Ford Somethingorotherdreary Ghia hatchback.

‘Badger is it?’ he asked.

‘Yes’ I replied.

‘Dead was it?’ he enquired.

‘Oh no – I’m training him for the badger high-jump at the Rio Olympics in 2016′ I offered in jocular, if obviously unkind, riposte.

‘Ah, the Olympics’ he replied in all seriousness, wound up his window and went on his way with ne’ery a mention of my onesie outfit or the slightly bloodied, badger-hair bedecked state of my lobbing-spade.

Such is life (and, sadly, death) in rural England.

Nota bene: immediately properly caffeinated and properly dressed, fully cognizant of the legislation (huge, multi-thousand pound fines for civilians who interfere with a badger’s day to day business or etceteras versus payment of a bounty to government-employed thugs who kill badgers on the spurious grounds of some farming disease nonsense) I have reported Mr Badger’s demise and location, not to the (putative) “authorities” or to “H.M. Government”, but to a body that actually likes the beasts. The Badger Trust.

Mind you, I do wonder if deceased-badger lobbing really ought to be an event at the Rio Olympics.

Monday, Bloody Monday. It’s a rat-trap, Doris – and we’ve been caught.

If the Universe is listening, please, no more dead badgers. Not on my watch.

The Best-Made Worst Film EVER – 100 Degrees Below Zero

100 Degrees Below Zero

100 Degrees Below Zero

100 Degrees Below Zero.


I have an addiction. I am addicted to what ‘Mericans term “B-Movies”. Disaster films where a large proportion of the disaster lies in the fact that the film was made. Apocalyptic dramas where the sense of apocalyptic doom has largely been brought about by knowing that someone, somewhere, funded the dismal epic being watched. Films where the funniest thing is perhaps the doorbell ringing or the dog needing to be taken out for a pee (or, I suspect, the dog needing to step outside for a rest from the film).

This one needs a wild assumption making before I can tell you what I thought of it. Let us presume that the script writer (if there was one), the Producer (if there was one), the Director (if there was one), the adolescent who created the special effects (the “special” adolescent) and the actors (if there were any) were all serious. Let us presume that they were doing their very best. Seriously. That is the only polite assumption, so I make it, and I thank them wholeheartedly for making the best worst film I have watched during this lifetime. It was hilarious, it was fascinating in the way that having your liver removed under local anaesthetic is fascinating, it was entertainment better than any evening spent straightening the bristles on the Dyson’s brush attachment.

I have no idea what the basic premise was (something about volcanic eruptions, tornados, high winds, low temperatures, some wet scientists, some even wetter “military” types of indeterminate nationality, that sort of thing). From the description it seems to be archetypal American “nuclear” family, Daddy d.i.v.o.r.c.e.d. and shacked up with younger woman, kids from first marriage (one “boy”, one “girl”) in “Paris” (more of the rabbit-ears later) and a big plan to move everyone to lovely warm Australia should a fresh ice age occur (aren’t we in one, technically, at the moment or the tail end of one or something – 11,000 year cycles?). Forget the storyline, let’s get straight to the delicious action, the groan-athon to end all “B-Movie” groan-athons, brilliantly taken to a new level here.

Opening scene – Daddy and (New) Mummy (oops – “Mommy”) flying, as one might, their twin-engined turbo-prop light aircraft from somewhere in America to a nebulous “Europe” for honeymoon with the kids (both kids being of university age, at least on paper if not actually in maturity). What could be more romantic than to honeymoon with the kids eh? The couple meet a spot of bad weather – so air traffic control from London City Airport radios them to “reduce altitude to 30,000ft” (remember this is a light aircraft, non-pressurised, supposedly having made it 3,000 miles AND at something over 30,000ft, fnarr, fnarr…). The weather gets worse as they then begin to fly over Eire… and they do indeed end up landing at “London City Airport”, an airport with no runways and that looks like a cheap hotel. Gosh, what to do, what to do.

Fiat Seicento

Fiat Seicento

Well, to do they decide to do rent a car and drive to Paris to meet the kids. Alright, forget about trying to rent a car in England and telling the rental agency that you’re “just popping across The Channel to la belle France with it”, I don’t think. Anyway, this minor commercial hiccough aside, they somehow rent a Fiat Seicento. Most of you won’t be familiar with this little example of Italian automotive humour; it was one of the few cars that distinguished itself in Euro NCAP safety tests as being one in which you were more likely to survive an accident if you got out and ran alongside the car instead of sitting in it while the bus/lorry/train hit you both. Somehow, they also manage to rent a left-hand drive example (oddly, with a dog-guard twixt the front seats and the rear). The registration number on the plate is not a UK format, but Hungarian… Daddy then proceeds to drive them to the Eurotunnel on the right-hand side of the road and he does so somehow without meeting traffic head-on, all the way out of London and through Kent to the Chunnel. Neat trick!

For some reason, the English side of the Channel Tunnel consists of a Portakabin with a wire grill, behind which a young ticket collector sits, being very rude in an accent that changes from unidentifiable to unidentifiable something else to Irish Generic and then back to unidentifiable. The whole arrangement is guarded by a chap in camouflage fatigues, holding a machine gun as though it’s an escaped python – and his accent is an unholy mix of Eastern European “something”, although I think that we’re supposed to think that he’s Icelandic and is just down here guarding the Channel Tunnel because he had some free time on his hands. Anyway, long story less long; Daddy and New Mommy drive across a spot of grassland into the open to the elements “service tunnel” to avoid the queues. It’s a two-lane tunnel apparently, and Daddy is still driving his left-hand drive Seicento on the right-hand lane… During the quiet drive through a non-secured international tunnel the car changes registration twice, and from scene to scene the headlight are on, headlights are off, on, off, on, off – you get the idea. An earthquake then ruptures the tunnel but instead of killing them instantly as eleventy billion pints of H2O flood in, it just gets a bit wet. Mommy says “aarggh” and “ooh” and “do something you testosterone-fuelled ape” and “drive faster”. Daddy replies that he “has got it at maximum”. A peculiar phrase, made all the more so by their obviously being on the slow side of 20mph (and even the Seicento can better that without raising a sweat).

Meantime, the kids (both of whom look as though they’ll never see at least their thirtieth birthday again, if not their thirty-fifth), are in Paris. Except that it isn’t Paris, it’s Budapest with a wobbly Eiffel Tower faked in the background of every scene. Yup, an entirely different city in an entirely different country. Not Paris, not even a whiff of France. All of Europe looks the same anyway, so why worry about it eh?

Once you encounter these two vacuous little darlings you’ll want them dead within eighteen seconds of their first scenes. Were this a 3D film you’d reach out and beat them to death yourself. Don’t try to count how many times they “fall down”. I say “fall down” because, while the chap, dear love, is obviously quite used to being flung on his back with ne’ery a by-your-leave, the “girl” always just sort of gets down, Bunny Club knees together style, and then arranges herself on the pavement so as not to bang an elbow or break a nail or anything horrid.

Now, having mentioned that they spend a lot of time lying down awkwardly I should point out that, while their characters are brother and sister, I suspect that the actor and actress were in fact shagging like rabbits off-camera. There’s an uncomfortable amount of body-contact, inappropriate hugging, strangely creepy staring into each other’s eyes and general ickyness about their pairing. When they’re not hugging in a decidely non-sibling fashion they are being thrown upon one another by earthquakes, and thrown into juxtapositions that do not look at all unfamiliar to them Suffice it to say in that department; ugh.

The kiddiwinkles spend their entire time in t-shirt and jeans, this despite the blizzards and “Day After The Day Before Next Wednesday” new ice-age cold and gales. During the “Parisian” scenes with these two all other characters (and there are at least a brief five or six others in toto) come and go like snowflakes – like the snowflakes in the blizzard that were obviously too expensive to arrange, so everything is filmed in bright and dry conditions. This hapless pair steal a couple of fur coats, lose them immediately, steal some bicycles and lose them immediately, get arrested by some chaps in a large 4×4 – who then die immediately in a 10mph accident involving a building leaping out in front of the vehicle, or something – and on and on and on ad nauseam until they eventually find their way to the Eiffel Tower where Daddy will be collecting them in a heckilopter. They do, however, utter what is possibly the best line of the film; something to the effect that the French must have a plan specifically to help Americans caught in Paris during just such a crisis. Quote unquote, as they say.

Oh yes. Every country overseas has special plans in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Americans and every other specific nationality while abroad during apocalyptic extinction-level natural disasters. Meanwhile, the ‘Merican Embassy is deserted save for some Frenchman who turns out to be an American who came back to the “ruined” city for some important files (and once he’s used the defibrillator – in the manner of a Luddite crossed with Nurse Ratchet’s technophobe grandmother – he’s never seen again).

Shall I mention the throwing of a cable from the hovering helicopter to the kids on the Eiffel Tower, kids who then slide down the cable to the safety of the helicopter, somehow missing (damn it) being sliced to ribbons by the rotor blades? Have I mentioned the many scenes where mobile telephones suddenly spring back into life and conversations are held about how “everything’s gone” [in the earthquakes and storms] – while Paris [i.e., Budapest] is in full technicolour glory in the background of the shot? Did I mention the French chap who, seeing a “la girlie in distress” having fallen over during one of the many, many earthquakes, can think of nothing better to do than to tempt her back to his “le country maison” for a spot of “le grubby nooky” – and who, in a disgusting example of visceral female violence, receives a kick in the “les balls”? No? Well I must leave some things to your imagination.

This film is splendid. It’s crap. Pure, unadulterated, well-made crap. It’s a hoot. I heartily recommend it, and I am now deleting it from my collection. I never want to see it again.

I rate it in terms of stars with the same tongue-in-[face?]cheek attitude of the professionals here involved – Zero stars out of eight billion.


[Well, you didn’t expect me to use the new faux “billion” did you?]

Chin-chin, onwards and upwards. Now, where is the film listings… I need more… more more… which will hopefully be less.

Ian H.

The 7 Things About Me challenge – including Trypophobia & Jerusalem Artichokes

Clyde_The_Bulldog Ooh – a challenge!

The 7 Things About Me Challenge – thank you for nominating me, Biff Raven-Hill.

Biff is The Wartime Housewife – with a fascinating blog.

1. I was once (falsely, very, very falsely) accused of a “hit and run” – the police accepted my innocence only when they saw how indescribably filthy my car was; it was obvious that it hadn’t so much as run down a damp sponge for about 100,000 motorway miles. The loony who accused me was never prosecuted… although he was found to be less than living some months later, with the tyre tracks from an Austin Montego across his forehead.

2. I have an unfortunate allergy to Jerusalem artichokes. Suffice it to say that I once thought that I was going to die from flatulence (no laughing matter – even the dog went from “well impressed” to “seriously worried”). During the… “incident”, aside from being convinced that I was dying, my next greatest worry was what the heck I would actuallysay to the operator if I dialled 999 for an ambulance (yes, it was that bad). You haven’t truly experienced near-death until your buttocks have been wholly out of conscious control.

4. I’m good with numbers.

3. When I was a young sprogling I was in a church choir and we sometimes formed part of a much, much larger choir that sang in King’s College, Cambridge – except that I never sang there; the music was too fantastic and I didn’t want to spoil it so, in full regalia, I just mimed and listened and appreciated. I think everyone was grateful. Photo of me in a cassock, surplice and ruff with-held for obvious reasons.

5. I once slept (drunk as a skunk) in a telephone kiosk (one of the old-fashioned red ones). I say “slept” but I actually made many incoherent phone calls during the night, prompting a county-wide search by my friends. Inbetween calls and passing out again I remember often wondering why there were white lines and cats-eyes (road markers) down the middle of the pavement and why I couldn’t manage to walk on them…

6. I am an atheist with a puzzle to solve – the puzzle being why I’ve seen dozens of “ghosts”, including once standing up to greet The White Lady of Winnington Hall in Cheshire, only for her to disappear as I looked down to gather my papers. For the rest of that exhibition the staff at the hall stopped their regular public tours and made me give an account of what I’d seen before they’d move their party on.

7. I have a somewhat disconvenient … condition? What ever you want to call it – trypophobia. Patterns of holes, regular or irregular, from the purely domestic to the queasily biological – cause my mind to flip inside out and also produce a physical discomfort, a generalised, all-over body-ache. If you ever see me transfixed in front of the chrome mesh grill on a Bentley or looking queasy and about to faint in front of a supermarket tray of mince, or frozen immobile staring at some poor accident victim with puncture wounds, well – please drag me away and be prepared for me to a., vomit and b., actually faint. Weird huh? I promise you, peculiar though it be, it is very real and most unpleasant!

Here endeth the seven things.

Chin-chin eh?

Biff is The Wartime Housewife – with a fascinating blog.

The Wartime Housewife: A No-Nonsense Handbook for Modern Families

The Wartime Housewife: A No-Nonsense Handbook for Modern Families

Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor @AllisonHawn #kindle #comedy wibble moo

This is a book for anyone whose life came with only three wheels

Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor, from Allison Hawn

Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor, from Allison Hawn

There is sometimes a point at which, when reading a book, you know that you’re home. In the case of reading Life is a Pirate Ship run by a Velociraptor this moment came for me when the author was describing her reaction to looking out of a window to see a “crazy cat lady” sitting on her car. A full-blown crazy cat lady; dressed in a spandex cat-suit, sitting on the car and licking her “paw”. What to do, what to do? The only thing logical of course – run out armed with a water-spray bottle. Anyone playing the part of a cat so proudly and completely would be utterly obliged to react to being sprayed with water in the same way as any real mouse-munching poop-burying furniture scratching midnight yowler. Job done. Simples.

The saying that when life gives you lemons you should slice them into your G&T isn’t appropriate here. Life hasn’t given this author lemons, far from it. Life has thrown lemons at her, squeezed lemons on to her head and chased her while brandishing lemon trees. Some people’s lives are lived on the straight and narrow, lived in a contented – if rather dull – space where up is opposite down and black is not white and the human species works, rests and plays in contented – if rather dull – ways. There is another space, a space less travelled, where the author and a few happy, happy souls live. A space concocted from the frayed ends of reality, from the odds and sods of existence, from what was left over on a Friday evening when the shop-floor workers at World Builders Incorporated knocked off and went home for the weekend. A life lived among spandex cat-ladies, among preternaturally sentient laboratory rats, among cartoon caricatures made incarnate by mad cousins of Frankenstein while paying human homage to Salvador Dali and Henry Moore.

Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor, from Allison Hawn

Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor, from Allison Hawn

This is a book of Mental First Aid for anyone with just such a life. The rather magnificent cover should, in fact, be replaced by the familiar, if somewhat portentously grave-marker like cross on a blood-red or gangrene-green background. Libraries should have copies of this book – near to the emergency exits and stencilled with the legend “In case of confusion or bewilderment, break glass”. Fire Services, Police Services, Paramedics and the R.N.L.I. should carry sterilised copies to administer to those in peril on the sea, most especially to those on peril on the sea of life, somewhere inland and nowhere near the sea. High Court Judges should hand down copies along with custodial sentences while giving the condemned Confucian gestures and kindly expressions of “oy, when you’re older already, then you’ll know, then you’ll know”.

The author’s style is both relaxed and playful; words roll about before your eyes like peas on a prison plate or discarded swabs on a speeding ambulance floor. Were this book to be murdered then an autopsy would find no fault with the editing or the formatting, the literary liver, spleen and coccyx etcetera all being in their proper places. There is, happily, quite a lot of this book. Should you keep it about you like a quarter of boiled sweets then you’ll still be cheerfully chomping on a humbug or a pineapple chunk even after dipping in and out of it at two or three dozen moments of need. My only caveat is this; do not read it while in the Silent room of your gentlemen’s club, or while in the waiting room of the Priory Clinic endeavouring to gain admittance to be treated for depression.

In short, I quite liked it.

Available all over the show:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

for example.

Or you could always twitter Allison or visit her blog here.