A Self-Harming Society

337px-US_halfstaff_sunsetThe media are going to concentrate on the intentions of the shooter. They will make sure the story is all about ISIS, but it so isn’t. They are so wrong. The issue is how many atrocities does it take to realise your ‪#‎gunculture‬ is broken? If you were a self-harming teen, we’d take the knife away, but you’re allegedly the world’s biggest and best democracy. Really?

I don’t believe you understand the strength of a democratic society. If you did, your majority would have overturned your archaic gun laws already. Your majority would have, long ago, put a stop to the manipulation, hounding and dictatorial outpourings of a minority of lobbyists and extremists who have maintained a false fear in you. When will you realise that you can change things? I suppose probably never, for you have had it in your power for so long and yet you fail at every turn.

I grieve for the loss of so many, but I can’t sympathise with the USA anymore. As a nation you are failing in your number one requirement, to protect your citizens. Well done. I am sure the founding fathers would be impressed. I see no life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness in ‪#‎orlando‬ or the other 14 places where more than 4 have been injured or killed by guns in the USA, THIS MONTH alone (and we’re not even halfway through).

I have no doubt the media will underplay, if even mention at all, the fact that this guy bought an ASSAULT RIFLE from a shop in ‘Main Street’ America. I have no doubt, that if this post gets shared, commentators will remark on the intentions of the shooter, not the means. But the means is the issue. If he was a crazed, zealot homophobe with a knife, then we wouldn’t be looking at 50 dead. And yes, sadly, scale is meaningful. It is a tragedy when one life is lost, how much more so when it is 50? Why do you need the right to buy an ASSAULT RIFLE anyway? Really, why?????

The red coat militia are not coming over the hill and even when they did the majority of you didn’t bear arms to fight. The rest of the great democracies are looking at you now and shaking their heads. You, the USA, are meant to be the World Leader. World leadership? Really? You can’t be trusted to lead. You can’t be trusted with sharp implements let alone ASSAULT RIFLES. At some point the sympathy stops because there is only so much that can be explained away by a piece of legislation drafted in 1791. You don’t think times have changed? You don’t think some laws are worthy of re-examination? Obviously you don’t. So all we can do is wait for the next mass shooting. In a day. Or maybe two. When you can blame the intentions of the crazy man, or the sad man, or the lone teen and forget entirely that in other societies, where you can’t get your hands on that type of weaponry, the bodies do not pile up. ‪#‎RIP50 

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Ali – A Good Man – The Greatest

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I know we have all figured out that 2016 is a potentially hazardous year to be famous, but it isn’t that famous ‘ish people are dying that is surprising me. It is the iconic status of those who are being recalled to … (insert your own thoughts here, God’s Bosom, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Atomic stardust, wormfood). Seriously… Bowie, Prince, Professor Snape, it’s like the Grim Reaper has turned on Icon Recall mode… Yet all these, the rest and more, pale to a fragment of a sparkle compared to the shining brilliance that was Ali.

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 (Photo credit -/AFP/Getty Images)

He was the first global superstar that I became aware of. Yep, I know there were other sporting legends I was aware of prior to him, I mean, seriously, I grew up in Northern Ireland, a tiny place that gave the world the Best football player ever, the most maverick snooker player, the finest pentathlete and the most iconic biking road-racers, but these were homegrown. I was later aware of Borg and Năstase, Pele, Beckenbauer, Spitz, Dawn Fraser, Shane Gould, Olga Korbut and Nadia Comăneci but they were mostly later and none of them, not one, reached into my consciousness like Ali.

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1974 – I was eight (and a half) and there was a fight in Africa. The Rumble in the Jungle, Kinshasa, Zaire. Held at the 20th of May Stadium on the night of October 30, 1974 and I remember it like it was yesterday. But not just the fight. The build up. This brash, boastful, loud yet fantastic and lovable man, telling anyone who would listen (including the brilliant Harry Carpenter) that he would come back, (he had been stripped of his title for conscientiously objecting the draft) and now, after battling up through the contenders, he would beat a younger, bigger, stronger and arguably faster George Foreman.

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The night, the fight, the tactics and the result are iconic in themselves and need no further explanation, but it was this man, who shouted after that fight that he was the Greatest and I and the world quickly understood it to be true, it was him that would be the centre of the world’s attention. The most famous, the most iconic and in the spotlight, the simple truth; this was a good man. Kind, considerate, caring..

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This incredible power of nature, who transcended the ring, his sport, all sport, the colour of his skin, the faith he held and the people who undermined him. This man, later to become a close friend of his beaten opponent, held an Olympic title, regained the world title an unprecedented three times, overcame persecution, ridicule and disbarment. He talked loud, move fast and light and hit hard, yet when all was done, this man was a true sportsman. Embodying the aggression and passion to win and immediately, on completion, being respectful and serving his fellow human beings.

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I never met him, I didn’t know him in any way other than what I saw on TV, yet I felt like I knew him. I felt like he was a good man. I understood him to be the true meaning of a good man. That is why I felt so much empathy and sympathy for him when he was struck with Parkinson’s. Why I cheered and cried when he lit the flame in Atlanta. Why I did the same when they restored his Gold Medal and now, on the 4th of June 2016, why I mourn him in a way that is much keener than it should be for just a famous person I never met. He was Ali, a childhood hero, a good man, the Greatest. Rest in Peace.

Ian
Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purposethe detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Pathand the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media:

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(Photos may be copyright – no infringement intended.)

An Indy Book Tour – 10

3d Adventurer waves a friendly hello

“Just a few meanderings and musings about London…”

Face Value and Flight Path have a lot of London locations. Today I went and had a proper close-up look at some of them for the first time in quite a while. I also took in a whole bunch of other London sights. Nothing to do with books, but it prompted a small list of things that have struck me since being back in town:

  1. Lots of people still smoke.
  2. Lots and lots of people use those vapour stick things.
  3. There are a lot of foreign workers. Now… this is not an anti-immigration statement. It is just an observation that in cafes, restaurants, hotels and pubs there are a lot of Eastern Europeans, Italians and other nationalities working. In case you still think this is a negative comment, it really isn’t. There are some notable positives from the situation:
    1. Tourists in cafes and hotels can now be fairly confident someone on the staff will speak their language. (That alone is a HUGE boon for UK tourism). No longer will visitors get shouted at to speak English. In the “Great British Fish & Chip Shop” in Leicester Square I heard Italian, Spanish, Russian and one unidentified language. The customers being addressed were relaxed and happy.
    2. Most hospitality jobs are filled with people keen to have them and keen to do a good job. Standards of service are way better than they used to be.
    3. Give them a generation and the UK will have a whole new middle class 🙂
  4. London Underground Transport staff are plentiful, happy, polite and really, really helpful. Fantastic.
  5. Technology on display in the streets is quite innovative. Hologram greeters and video adverts are beginning to make the place look like a sci-fi movie.
  6. Standard of TV has crashed. Seriously, with the exception of a couple of good dramas, what on earth are you doing to it? Maybe it was always like that and I just never got to see daytime TV?
  7. There are lots of ladies with accordions and little dogs on street corners. Is there a factory production line churning them out?
  8. There are a lot less McDonald’s restaurants than there used to be.
  9. There are a lot more Union flags on buildings and generally on show.
  10. Oyster cards are cool.

Ian

Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purposethe detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media:

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An Indy Book Tour – 9

3d Adventurer waves a friendly hello

“Cromwell lived round here… But he’s dead now…”

Pictures from the Huntingdon Independent Bookstore Event. Thanks to one Mr Webb, a navy Photog who in no way was the inspiration for a character in Face Value 🙂

Thanks to all that turned up and those from all around who sent messages of support 🙂 Next up is the London Book Fair then the St Ives Corn Exchange on the 17th…

Ian

Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purposethe detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media:

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An Indy Book Tour – 8

3d Adventurer waves a friendly hello

“Green hills that back a special place, the homeland of Latharna’s race…”

Home. Or at least my original home, for I have had many and have been fortunate with them all. I’ve spent the last week there, catching up with family, friends, drizzle 🙂 Yep, Northern Ireland in the spring can be glorious. It can also be overcast, wet and cold. I lucked out this time and got the latter. It does serve well to remind me of the benefits and glories that Western Australia offers 🙂

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But, the weather did occasionally show flashes of brilliance, and having a book launch in the old home town, in the old home town’s old library (Carnegie Hall – yes that Carnegie, but not “that” hall) was great fun.

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I was a little disappointed that the crowd was maybe not as big as it could have been, but the thirty that did attend were most welcome and I was very grateful, especially as it was the Easter week, it was wet on the night and it was fairly short notice. All that aside, I was thrilled to see some family members I hadn’t seen for a long time and meet a few “new” editions to the clan as well as friends and acquaintances. Must say a huge thanks to Marian and Rachael from the Mid-East Antrim council as none of it would have happened without their efforts, and also to Alderman Tommy and Councillor Beth who popped along to kick-off proceedings.

My bit was much the same as the rest of the events on this little tour, but I suppose with one major difference… I didn’t have to explain my accent or interpret the Norn Irish pronunciation of eight, now or mirror… Ah, the joys of attuned ears. 🙂

The only hiccup was a lack of photography during the event but sometimes unavoidable things happen. There were some portraits taken later and I await the finished versions soon. 🙂  I am hoping a bit of photoshopping will make me look windswept and interesting… I’ll post some of the proofs at the foot of the page.

Much of the rest of my time in the auld country was spent catching up with friends, launching a new creative initiative called the Latharna Creatives Collective (much more of which later) and catching up with the Linen Hall and Belfast Central Libraries. Proper libraries that smell of books and reek of history. Much like the old Larne Carnegie hall used to. However, the Carnegie now fills the need for an arts and museum centre, so it is still serving the public’s need for education and enlightenment… I hope my launch didn’t detract too much from those lofty ideals…

I left NI on Monday, thanks to a French Air Traffic Control strike I sat in the plane, on the tarmac for an hour or more (don’t think the upcoming in or out of Europe vote will affect the French ability to mess up NI Air Traffic slots…) but eventually arrived Stanstead, (Travel tip – hire cars are in a hire car village… the bus for which is right down the far end of the terminal and badly signposted…) then off for a mini-reunion with a former colleague. Nothing like a spicy curry and half a crate of Grolsch to set one up for the next leg of the tour 🙂

Onwards to Huntingdon and the scene of a murder…

Ian

Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purposethe detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media:

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An Indy Book Tour – 7

3d Adventurer waves a friendly hello

“We’re all of to Dublin in the green, in the green, where the rifles glisten in the sun…”

Monday, April 24th 1916 and the sun may well have been glinting off the bayonets and rifles of the Irish Volunteers and Citizen Army soldiers, but as I travel across to the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations in Dublin, it isn’t April, isn’t a Monday and there is no sign of the sun. Glad to say, on board the Irish Ferries’ Ferry Ulysses, there are no signs of rifles or bayonets either. There are signs of a nervous watchfulness in some of the passengers, and the occasional hefting huey of vomit, but that is due to the massive car ferry pitching about quite a bit in the grip of a force-7, often gale-8, sweeping the Irish Sea and us in it.

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Thankfully, big ship stabilisers, which alas are not little wheels like those fitted to a kids bike, but thankfully are incredibly good technology that helps to straighten things out quite a bit, have been fully deployed and are keeping us fairly steady.

On the assumption I “make it” I’ll try to upload more blog posts when I get to dry land 🙂

Okay, ….. so that post and all the rest I did at sea, didn’t actually make it onto the Internet until just now, in the full force of a hotel wifi. I obviously did make it to shore. I did wait for an hour for a taxi… what the f*** Dublin??? Is it a surprise that passengers get off a big boat and need transport… eejits.

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And don’t be mislead by that photo above. The sun was being coy and poking out between showers. See below for the real view…

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Anyway, looking forward to tomorrow and a gale-lashed parade 🙂

Ian

Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purposethe detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media:

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An Indy Book Tour – 6

3d Adventurer waves a friendly hello

Llandudno…

“Lewis Carroll’s old stomping ground, although the Mad Hatter and Alice have nothing on the Colwyn Bay Murder & Mayhem group…”

The second book event of the tour was in a town I’ve known since I was a boy of seven. I spent many a summer holiday there and then later, during the early years of my RAF career, it was a home away from home. My younger sister still lives locally with her family, and I thought it would make a great stop on my travels. Luckily, Anne and Elin and all the rest of the Llandudno Library staff thought so too.

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I must say a huge thank you to Anne for all her efforts in getting things to work so well and for all the help she has provided connecting me up with various reading groups. One of which, the Murder & Mayhem group from Colwyn Bay, were well represented on the night. (Okay, that’s not their real name, but it worked on the evening, so I want them to adopt it).

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The library is right bang in the middle of the main thoroughfare, Mostyn Street, and is housed in, what on the outside appears to be, a traditional Victorian building, but inside has been completely and fantastically refitted. Bright, light and welcoming it’s a great space for readers of all ages.

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The event itself was good fun, people laughed at my rambling stories, they seemed to enjoy the book readings, I signed a lot of books and all in all, it went swimmingly. Some of the “Murder” ladies were even persuaded to pose for a photo 🙂 Alas, by the time I realised, I had missed the opportunity for a photo with another attendee who I was delighted to see on the night.

2016-03-24 19.43.29Eric, a representative of the local National Service association and an RAF veteran from the 1950s, had driven himself through a very cold, stormy and rainy night all the way from Anglesey because he had read in the local press I was ex-RAF. It’s men like Eric, secretaries of the veterans associations and their like, that keep the camaraderie of the Service alive and well. I am sad he left before I got the chance for a photo.

I wish you well Eric. Thanks for coming and thanks to all that turned up. Now, a day of rest before the trip to Dublin…

 

Till next time…

Ian

Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purposethe detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media:

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