Election Countdown – Not Long Now!

Sad old man
The electorate react with ever increasing excitement as the race for Parliament heats up!!
Nine days until zero hour and the election is hotting up to be a sort of grey shaped lump that sits in the corner and tries not to bother anyone.
Where are the faux-pas that have livened up previous elections? Where’s the part where May is recorded without her knowledge after speaking to a prole and her strange, electronic voice demands ‘Death to the fleshy one!’? Where’s the footage of Corbs giving a rambling fifteen-minute speech about macaroons in an Alan Bennett accent before a nurse comes along and puts a blanket around his shoulders. Where’s Tim Farron? The whole process has become one big shoulder-shrug.
Anything exciting to report from yesterday’s white-knuckle shenanigans? No – just a bit of a kerfuffle over an old man forgetting his figures and May banging on about Brexit because her media advisors have told her that’s what the punters want. May might have the shapings of a human on the outside, but inside her beats the heart of a toaster.
All we have to report on is May talking about why she’s not a big, brown-trousered fool for not going up against Corbs in a face-to-face slapdown, and Clegg having a go at the Tories for proposing shoving free school meals in the bin, which at least has the makings of angrying up the blood. Other than that it’s a washout.
So, I’m calling on the political elite (stop sniggering at the back there) to climb down off your comfy pillars and go and fuck up in the name of entertainment. Let’s have more top-tier suits saying ludicrously bullshit promises about how they’re going to make the NHS into a giant robot which shoots rays of healing out of its arse, or someone from Labour talking about bringing the corpse of Stalin back to shit on Thatcher’s grave, or someone from the Libs to handglide nude over the houses of parliament with ‘Vote for Farron’ tattooed on his knob.
Then again, maybe this plodding dullness is a legitimate reaction against the tub-thumping bollocks we’ve had to endure over the past few years, what with Trump and Brexit and all manner of caricatures ramping up the eye-spinning rhetoric. I just hope things liven up a bit, or these next eight blogs are going to be ruddy well, flippin’ dull!
Footnote: They’ve got another leaders debate on the Beeb tonight, which I usually like watching to see the grey suits chunter through their mechanical answers, and it’s especially noteworthy as it’ll have Paul Nuttall on again, blaming immigrants for everything, including the time he shat his caks when he was four, but part of me – considering how dull everything is – just CANNOT be arsed with it all. However, we shall see. And it’ll be over by 9.00 so plenty of time to hit the pubs afterwards and sob uncontrollably.

The Corner – Election Special – Labour Show Humanity, Shock Horror!

It’s been awhile since the last Corner, mainly because the papes are a big pile of steaming Thachers (yeah, take THAT, satire!), but mainly because I can’t be arsed to get up in the morning and plough through the same old lies. But old habits die hard.

Much like The Metro, which should have died off ages ago before turning into a feacal freesheet given away on public transport to sicken the minds of anyone who can read more than one syllable. Today they stick the boot into Corbs because he’s an old man who can’t remember his own name and thinks the nurses are after his money.


The Telegraph have realised there’s gold in them there bigotry, and ploughed out the sort of tabloid fodder you’d expect the Mail and the Express to be pushing, with their not-expose that Labour have ‘secret plans to increase migration’. Labour says it’s not a policy document but a study, but that won’t stop The Torygraph from making up some scary headlines to terrify the blue-rinse brigade who buy this shit.


The Mule, as expected, latch onto this like an Archer to a prostitute. I can only imagine what kind of spinny-eyed bollocks the paper is pushing inside, but I can guarantee it’s free of facts.


Which The Arsepress duly propagate. If it’s one thing the tabloids love, it’s the lack of factual reportage that makes being a modern journalist such a delight. I wonder if any of their writers are struck with a bout of integrity and refuse to print this racist shite, or whether they just grit their teeth, trouser the zlotys, and churn out another issue full of cak and wee (to quote George Bernard Shaw).


So, there we have it. Not much to do with the election, but plenty of election-related xenophobia. Only 9 days to go after today. Gord ‘elp us!

Election Debate – My Rehearsed Answer Is Better Than Your Rehearsed Answer


“Interesting point about fiscal policy. NOW FIGHT!”

Ten day countdown to when Skynet finally takes over the world and May finally gets in to instigate her robot apocalypse, and she deigned to try and calm the fleshy ones with an impromptu display of her humanity, only to be tripped at the last hurdle with her mechanoid actions and rusty delivery. Truly, the Dawn of the Machine is upon us.

On the other hand, Corby Trouser Press did a passable job of slapping the brickbats an ever-desperate Paxo launched at him out of his way and kicking the scrotey old ballbag right in the knackers. I used to like Paxman back in the day, when he would lean imperiously back in his chair, slap his wang on the table, and then ask whatever visiting pen-pushing political bureaucrat just what in the name of God’s holy knackers they thought they were doing trying to foist their infantile manifesto onto the public. Now he’s resorting to calling Corbs a Republican and then flicking the V’s from behind his chair. Pathetic.

For those who failed to catch the scintillating, no-holds-barred, twelve-rounds-of-Mad-Monkey-Kung-Fu, kick,-down, drag-out, mega-blammo ninja-squad daredevil nightmare ride into hell’s underpants that was the election debate, you didn’t miss much. Each of the party representatives was brought on, asked a few questions from various plebs in the paup-o-sphere – to which they duly rolled out a pre-prepared answer – and then hustled offscreen in time for the commercials. After that, they were slapped on the end of a large table so they couldn’t get their hands around Paxo’s neck as he dribbled out some pretty piss-poor questions and made to perform like dancing monkeys for his Imperious Wizards sarcastic delight.

The prevailing mood at Sortitaht Towers was that Paxo was asking this gibbering tripe to Corbs in an attempt to embarrass him into throwing his toys out of the pram, but the Human Trouser Press took it all his stride and treated Jezzer with the required disdain for his rudimentary questions with little relation to policy as they deserved. It was all rather bog standard, until May came on and Paxo really let loose. We were expecting an easy ride for the John Connor-destroying-automaton, but it was nothing of the sort. Admittedly The Paxy ran out of steam towards the end, but it was a good innings and a reminder of why Newsnight used to be a treat before they flushed all their credibility down the toilet with their Halloween dances and bollocks reporting.

Nine days left of this travesty of an election, and The Labs are slowly eking closer to the Tory lead in the opinion polls, which we all know and massively credible and not at all shit and misleading. I’m expecting the campaigning to get more desperate as the last days of the Empire draw to a close, but saying that it’s all been rather subdued around the small town where Sortitaht Towers resides. Normally the streets are peppered with a variety of campaign posters, but this election – after Brexit and the previous one JUST TWO FUCKING YEARS AGO! – it seems to have sucked all the interest out of the occasion.

On the plus front, UKIP seems to have been well and truly kicked in the unmentionables, but that’s only because the Robot May has nicked all their policies and instituted her own brand of divisive rabble-rousing populism into proceedings. Overall, it’s not looking good for Corbs, but then they said that about Trump, and look at how that gimpy, tiny handed orange gonk did. The floor, as they say, is open.


Triage by Richard Laymon, Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum


Triage by Richard Laymon, Edward Lee and Jack Ketchum

A man walks into your workplace, calls your name, and starts shooting. That’s the starting point of the premise of this collection or three short stories/novellas by three luminaries (it says here) of the horror sphere. Except it’s not, although it is, in a way.

Laymon goes for his normal, bog standard ‘this thing happens, and then this happens, and then people spend a lot of time thinking about what they’re going to do, and then act like morons’ thing. Lee goes Super Sci-Fi in Planet Cliche, and Ketchum does a gritty lowbrow post-modern tale concerning writers and guns and basically cheats by having the opening premise be a dream and then knocks out some predictable story about a disaffected bellend with a taint of a hard-boiled edge. All of the stories are nothing more than okay.

I have a history with Laymon, in that the first book I ever read by him was The Cellar, and it kicked arse, and then the rest of them were a bit of a dice-roll between whether they’d suck the big meaty one or they’d be enjoyable low rent slashers, which is mainly what he wrote. Laymon was a writer of the moment – they were films in book form, with very little characterisation or plot, but a lot of forward momentum. Sometimes they were great, and sometimes they were shit. Like Shaun Hutson he could deliver some absolute crackers, and at other times you wished the bugger had tried harder.

Anyway, Laymon’s story takes the literal route. Man turns up with gun, starts shooting, main character spends the rest of the story trying to escape. Bosh.

Not read Edward Lee before, and even though his story is the most intriguing in terms of scope, it’s written by a small child who has just discovered boobies. It involves a religious order finding God, and then it all goes to the wall, and everyone is a stereotype, but it chunters along quite nicely without taxing the grey cells too much.

Jack Ketchum kicks arse, apparently, but from the meagre offerings I’ve read so far (his story in this collection, and The Offspring) he’s over-rated. He’s meant to be the shock-horror-ghastly-terrible-scene-too-horrid-to-mention writer, but the worst scene Ketchum’ ever come up with I will compare to anything James Herbert or Shaun Hutson has done when they’ve got an angry o, and it will piss Ketchum out of the water. Ketchum is like someone dipping his toes into horror, rather than grasping it by the balls. Then again, with no disrespect to US horror authors, who I freakin’ love (take a bow Lansdale, Skipp & Spector, King, Schow, Straub, et al), they get their arses handed back to them when it comes to the REALLY grisly horror.

In a nut-shell, Triage is a minor work. This was the last piece of work Laymon wrote, and both Lee and Ketchum write of him fondly, so it’s sad that his story – and theirs – are so rudimentary. As for Laymon, I would recommend his Beast House books for a good, gory ride, and Funhouse and The Woods Are Dark, for a fast-paced, straightforward horror. As for Lee and Ketchum, I’ll have to read more to pass judgement. And if you’re a proper horror fan then there’s no point in recommending Herbert, because you’ll have already read him.

Post Truth by Matthew D’Ancona

Post Truth

Post Truth by Matthew D’Ancona

Not so much a book as an extended essay, D’Ancona – book is a sharp summation of where we are in the post-truth world, why we are in the post truth world, and finally what might be done in an effort to combat the post-truth world.

The first section is the most interesting, concentrating on the flurry of bullshit which Trump and Brexit used to bully their way into power. The second part hones in on the historical reasons for this tide of shite, and the third offers a way out of it, which mainly seems to involve getting the heart as well as the mind interested from an oppositional stance.

One of the points which irritated me where the Brexit vote was concerned was the endless facts and figures from the Remain side, which were all true and good, but it did nothing to combat the bare-faced lies of the Leave campaign. On the one hand you had Uber-Twat Nigel Farage declaiming immigrants, frothing about shutting the borders, and bending over to release the gaseous arse-cloud that was the promise that all the monies being sent to the EU was going straight back into the NHS, honest guv’nor, would I lie to you, etc. And on the other hand you had a lot of dry sounding people being very dry about the dry statistical economic factors which the Brexit would propagate, which had the combined effect of being factually accurate and boring as toss. I wanted someone to strap on their size 10 Doc Martins and go stomping all over Farage’s stupid frog face, whilst booting Ian Duncan-Smith, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove collectively in the knackers until they stopped fibbing.

It must have been the same in the US with Trump and his Klan-apologists, with the universal renting of garments from the sane as he burbled out another blatant arse-faced lie about Muslims and crime and whatever diseased unicorns were bouncing around in his empty noggin at the time.

D’Ancona gets down to the core of why these bastards were able to spread their disinformation so readily, and why the majority seemed to heed their crap, and links it to a general mistrust which has risen in those entrenched in society who felt left behind.  He touches mildly on the funding-to-the-tune-of-millions which the right wing bullshit-mongers have been getting over the past few years, but mainly seems content to narrow it down to the disaffected rather than the blatantly lied to as the reasons for the swing to the right. 

But there is hope. The rise of the right has emboldened the left and those who are sick of being shat on my bastards in suits who rope in fascistic ideology to feather their own arses whilst claiming to be ‘one of the people’ from their luxury mansions. Mind you, Le Pan and Geert Wilders getting a spanking in the elections is hardly a sop against the mighty Twattishness of May, Trump, Putin – et al, but it’s a bloody start.

Far from a definitive work – more of a skirting over the bullet points look at bullshit media and the fuckers who abuse it – but a nice little essay with a positive war cry to fight against the arses who push their right wing agenda through outright crap.

Tuff by Paul Beatty

Tuff - Paul Beatty

Tuff by Paul Beatty

Second Paul Beatty of the year – outside of The Sellout he’s only written four other books, so I’ll have to pace myself.

Written way back in 1998, Tuff is principally the story of a disaffected minor criminal aiming for a role on the New York City Council and his semi-reluctance to do so. The reviews would have you thinking this was a rip-roaring satire on politics, but in truth the satire takes a back seat to what Beatty does best, which is ludicrous characters and comedy set-ups. When it does get to the politics the book drags out into polemic rather than satire, and it ends up being a series of soap-box denouncements of the way the political elite churn out the same old platitudes for the mainstream voter rather than the people they claim to represent.

Saying that, though, it’s bloody funny for most of the ride, and manages to redeem itself right at the very end with a bit of farcical tomfoolery, like something out of an Ealing film.

What makes Beatty a great read is the same thing that makes Jonathan Franzen a great read; the story itself isn’t the main focus, but it’s the way these misfit characters react within the scope of the story which gives their work the momentum. It’s how the characters screw up or succeed which gives their tales the bite, and how their own prejudices and foibles shape the world around them. And they’re both very, very funny.

Although Tuff doesn’t have the same piss-myself-laughing quality which The Sellout did, it still managed to make me laugh like a drain in several places, and you can see the way his style has developed between the two books. There are even a few moments in Tuff which seem to prefigure The Sellout, principally when Tuff thinks about chalking a demarcation line around Spanish Harlem to make the area separate from the rest of the city.

The absurdity of the characters carry through from Tuff to Sellout, but it’s in the situations Beatty conjures up where you can see how his style has evolved. The storyline of Tuff is basic ‘The Voice of the Streets Sticks it to The Man’, whereas Sellout just goes crazy apeshit bonkers with its plot.

Tuff is for those who want a good laugh, with a few stern lectures mixed in, whereas The Sellout want the lectures and laughs living as a symbiotic whole. With swears.

End of Watch – Stephen King

End of Watch

 End of Watch by Stephen King

Stephen King is a little known writer from the wilds of Maine. Possessed of an active imagination, this plucky new voice on the literary landscape offers readers… ah, who am I kidding? King is obviously a writing juggernaut. Currently his book tally, with collections, is nudging into the 70 mark, and he’s done enough short stories that, when put end to end, you could reach them moon if you stood on them.

End of Watch is part three in the Bill Hodges trilogy, centred around a curmudgeonly but likeable old retired policeman and his sidekicks. Everything is pretty front and centre with End of Watch – you’re not going to get any surprises here. This isn’t Under the Dome, which had a ruthlessly nihilistic attitude to life. This is one of his cuddly books, albeit concerned with teenage suicide, but King isn’t out to batter you over the head with his horror.

The Bill Hodges trio is principally concerned with Bill’s fight against The Mercedes Man, who ploughed through a queue of people at a job fair (apart from the second book, which only features The Mercedes Man briefly). All three books are page turners in their own right, but all three books left me feeling a little ‘meh’. They’re well written they chug along at a reasonable pace, but they’re all a bit vanilla. I kept expecting something more to happen in End of Watch, but that was partially down to the blurb on the back cover which spoke of events which could bring a city to its knees, which never actually happens.

Saying that, because of the skill with which King crafts his characters, I still ended up caring what happened, which put me in the unusual position of thinking the book was a bit average, but wanting to read more. If you’re a King fan, you won’t be disappointed, but if you want something with a bit more zap to it then try somewhere else. What we’re left with is a rather nice story with compelling and likeable characters where the minimum of peril actually happens. And no surprises to upset the apple cart.