Crashed America – Dark Comedy


I’m crap at marketing so Crashed America – my first, biggest and baddest book seldom gets the love it deserves. Especially now that we’re hurtling towards the point where ‘Crashed America’ may become a meaningless title once the entire country sinks into the sea under the weight of Donald Trump’s mighty, throbbing ego. If/when that happens I may just re-write the whole thing, change everyone’s name to ‘Yuri’ and see if I can get myself assassinated by Putin for slighting Russia. I’ve given up on Obama drone striking me after all.

Televangelist 2Until then though this is my heavy handed sales pitch because if you want to be the person your momma always hoped you’d be then you need to buy yourself a copy of Crashed AmericaIt’s a rollercoaster ride from beginning to… ah shucks, I’m no salesman – but if you like your comedy dark, your world surreal and if Neil Gaiman, Robert Anton Wilson, Jasper Fforde, Robert Rankin, Warren Ellis or Terry Gilliam* are names that arouse curiosity in your jaded, internet fatigued mind then you could do far worse than giving it a look.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, you can have a brand new, exclusive, limited edition, early access, ultra rare, black market only, previously not-much-seen synopsis for free too. But don’t go telling anyone about this, or everyone will be wanting one – and then I’d have to kill you.

Crashed America Web CoverWhen Joe sets off for those United States of America he has a whole list of plans, dreams, schemes and delusions to be lived out against an idealised Americana backdrop. Killing Jesus isn’t exactly among them but, as ever, life does its own thing.

After crashing in Alabama Joe finds himself caught up in the prelude to the End of Days, with the Devil on one side, a Hillbilly clan on the other and the whole spectrum of crazy in between – from a Satanic Reagan to good old boys Waco and ET. None of which makes any sense to him, or his new found companion the born again atheist Father Fitzpatrick but with enough moonshine, guns, nuns, demons and backwoods mysticism he might just make it through. Although the rest of the world might not.

Crashed America is available as an ebook or paperback, so you can respectively hide it or show it off depending on how clever you think it makes you look and for every copy sold a small amount of money will go directly to me. And I will spend it. Unwisely.

Now, go and read a book. This book, not any of the other books, they’re all terrible, mine is the best book, everybody says so – because I have really great books and my words are the best. I know lots of them. MAKE ME GREAT AGAIN! #VoteCrashedAmerica2016

*Nothing is worse, or less meaningful than having to list names of writers who might write a bit like you – especially because you always nurse a nagging suspicion that you’re either far better, or far worse than they are. The bastards.

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I Saw Them


In beauty I saw them
in beauty they lived
and just for a second
they had all I could give
But the real sorry truth
of the human endevour
is that nothing like beauty
can last forever

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News of the World

War Journalist

“Go and get some close ups. Don’t forget the faces, always get the faces.”

The cameraman nodded and ran off through the wreckage. He was the perfect tool for her, he did whatever he was told and didn’t hesitate. She had no idea why, most of those she’d found herself stuck with on assignment fitted a familiar mould of moral squalor and self-doubting crusading, the hallmarks of those who seemed most drawn to and repulsed by the work she did as a war correspondent. Everything had to mean something to them, gnarled and numb as they got, there always had to be something for them to prey on in their own internal monologues. Not this new guy though, Ed, a browned and leathery Australian foisted on her on arrival in the war zone, apparently hand picked to work alongside her. From all she’d seen Ed had nothing to him beyond the actions of the job, every trip just a repetition of a well rehearsed routine.

Alone now she could survey the scene of, theoretically, unintentional carnage around her. There were corpses, lots of them. Rubble, dismemberments and still roaring fires made numbers hard to guess at though. A stray arm, a fragmented mosaic of bones, they could mean one death or half a dozen. A drone strike. Perhaps a well planned one but this was a civilian target, a market, even if they’d hit the victim they’d intended a lot more had perished at the same time. Regrettable, collateral damage, a tragedy and no doubt fleetingly mourned by those who’d pulled the trigger even if those giving the orders denied all knowledge of the potential for loss of life. That’d be the way it was sold at least, when a dour faced General delivered his monotone judgement on it.

It had happened less than an hour ago, she was first to arrive. First of the journalists at least. Improvised emergency services, survivors, crying strangers and traumatised looking passers by were all around but they hardly counted. No, from what she could see she was alone in the midst of it all and knowing that a smile crept across her face.

This was the purpose, this was the time, this was what drove her onward. There was something in the air as she walked through the destruction in the supreme isolation of other people’s distraction. Something vibrating through the air and resonating itself into her pores, tensing and easing muscles into a half-nervous peak of… something.

Her last cameraman had called her ghoulish, but then he was a prick. Self-involved and desperately trying to cultivate a drink problem to make up for his glib emoting in the face of anything and everything they confronted on the job. He’d been sad, constantly, nothing deeper than that but that wasn’t enough for him, it had all had to be elevated into something bigger and more special. Natasha had hated him and he’d hated her in return right up until he’d been shipped off to take picturesque long shots of tracer fire from hotel balconies. No loss, not to her anyway.

There was a body besides her. She hadn’t noticed it initially as she’d drifted forward amidst the rubble. Half buried and coated in white dust only the torso and face were showing, the rest covered by concrete blocks and steel fronds from the fallen trunk of a support beam. A man, in his twenties perhaps although death made it hard to tell. Natasha felt another shudder of that something as she looked down at him. How long since he’d died? An hour at most, she’d gotten the call seconds after the explosion and she moved fast. His life had ended and he’d never have realised it. That’d make people sad, if she told them about it, and she might – far be it from her to deny the dead their moment but there were other bodies too, other stories here and only a handful would reach the transmission. The saddest ones, the ones with the most grieving survivors left in their wake, not through Natasha’s choices, that was just the way it was. Networks and editors and audience ratings ordered the meaningful away from the sorry but forgotten detritus. She just stood in the stories, watching them swirl around her, she didn’t decide what they were.

There were sirens now, the last few ambulances that were still working probably. Or the police, or the military, rushing to stand where she was, to make their own contribution to the passing tragedy. That’d mean an end to her solitude as the distracted victims were replaced by a surplus of uniforms, each one eager to feel they could contribute even if it was far too late for the little they had to offer. She had to enjoy the moment while it lasted, enjoy her place in the heart of the already ebbing punctuation mark of minor human history.

Ed appeared in front of her, face as blank as ever, camera levelled and ready.

Like my work? Check out my latest book, support always welcome…

NCfSS cover


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Political Division

Trump Power

Politics, at the moment, is defined by division. In the US Trump and Clinton are coming to represent to antagonistic portions of a polarised society, with Sanders as a theoretically retired figurehead for a third faction which is in opposition to the other two, even if some of them have begrudgingly endorse the Democratic candidate. In the UK Labour is battling it’s own internal identity crisis as self-proclaimed ‘moderates’ rally, ineffectually, against the party’s Socialist conscience and history. The Tories too are delicately treading around their own alter-ego, as if Theresa May’s unity act is a cure rather than a bandage for the divisions wrought by the Brexit vote. All around everyone hates everyone and the usual vague sense of consensus – be it legitimate or imposed – is fading away as sides form. In the media too loyalties are being declared along predictable lines, highlighting the joke that is journalistic impartiality when ratings and owners both demand echo-chambers, a protection of personal interests and a neat story line to keep 24 hour news rolling.

None of this is news, really. Anyone can see the divisions manifesting and most people realise that they didn’t appear out of nothing. Nor did they appear out of a Brexit vote or Trump’s candidacy, they’re reflections of societal issues that have been brewing for decades now. And there’s plenty written on which side could, would and should win any one of the factional struggles which have recently clawed their way into the public perception.

The only thought I have to add is one of concern to be honest. The problem with political polarisation isn’t so much that someone will win, although there’s definitely plenty to fear there given some of the challengers. That’s a given though, that’s an observable battle where we can each choose our logical and moral ground and stand on it. What’s more worrying is that other people will lose and, in losing, look for ways to strike back. A mild example is the internal Labour struggle where, by the looks of things, Iron Corbyn will crush the opposition under his brutal Stalinist boot – well, I’ll be voting for him at least. What follows that is the issue though, as the right of the party either leave as they split the party and attempt to drag support away and towards some SDP reboot or stay and repeat the tedious process of challenges, coups and undermining. Embittering their own backers and alienating their opposition as they go, making their own defeat an act of self-sabotage against the Left wing as a whole. That’s a mild example though if you compare current UK politics to what’s surrounding the US election. There defeat for one side or another isn’t going to be a blow against a fairly small political elite who have the power to wreck on a day to day level. There the losing side is going to contain a huge number of voters who’re going to be angry, scared and bitter about the potential results of their candidate missing out. Perhaps rightly so, depending on how fatalistic you want to be. Either way though the illusion of a looming apocalypse is enough to make people act as if the stakes are high and react to them to whatever degree they imagine to be reasonable.

In both countries it seems that those in the media and those in politics are confident in the capacity for the structures of state and society to absorb all this dissent. People will be pissed off, sure, but they’ll accept it and carry on. Most probably will, although some undoubtedly won’t – and even for the vast majority who prefer to live their lives as best they can rather than hand it over to political anger it’ll be another layer of resentment and of disdain for those structures which they’ll feel have misled and cheated them, be it in the media or at the ballot boxes. It’s another sawing away of the support struts of the established structure of state and given the unlikeliness of any real unity or consensus being found whoever wins in these sort of disjointed struggles it’s hard to see anyone moving to repair the damage. And sooner or later that damage undermines the whole thing.

There’s an upside to it all too I suppose. The breaking of the two party system in US politics, the reclaiming of the Labour Party as a Left Wing entity, even seeing the Tories confront their own inner demons regarding neoliberalism and Thatcherist ideals, they could all bring about healthier and more representative landscapes. But the nudging game of hoping for destruction as a precursor to rebuilding is a dangerous one. Again, with the immediate political wranglings you can see the sides, see the issues and see the potential end results. But when it comes to society as a whole and large swathes of the population? There’s no telling how things will fall. And some analysis of that would, for me, be far more interesting than the partisan sniping that surrounds those loudest in their commentaries.

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Immigration Police


I’ve had a few friends over the years who’ve fallen prey to the UK Border Agency. I’ve seen them take people away for good and I’ve seen people successfully appeal, I’ve known people who’ve spent years evading them too. It’s always an unequal struggle though. And it’s seldom a question of immigration policy or the relative benefits or failings of it. They, like most figures of authority, act to project their own power as much, if not more, than anything else. The case with Byron Burgers the other day is one example of that, but so are their fishing trips to certain areas or their check points at train stations and transport hubs.

Exercises like that do nothing to limit the flow of people into this country, or to mitigate the factors that bring them here, or open legal avenues for them to come, or hinder those who profit off of their transportation and frequent exploitation. All they do is instill fear in normal people whose status may be uncertain and project a false image of strength and control from the government and its agencies. Which is nice for headlines, if you’re playing to a certain audience, but worthless as far as effecting any real change goes. What does happen though is that it takes those lacking security and makes their lives harder, it makes normal people living normal lives and working normal jobs have to worry on a daily basis about where they go and what they do. An easy example of authorities punching down rather than trying to face the root issues and causes.

There’s no point in trying to demonise those who work for UKBA, no doubt many of them are just doing a job themselves, or believe that what they’re doing is good. But as with any organisation granted power by the state the personal matters far less than the institutional and the results matter far more than the intent. Which in this case makes it hard not to resent them when they bowl up on another speculative hunt for ‘illegal’ human beings.

It spreads beyond the victims too, that resentment and paranoia. Knowing that there are groups of people setting out to grab your friends, co-workers and even strangers you pass on the street is always going to carry a weight on the way you think about the world. Presumably it gives a sense of justice and security to some out there, although I can’t speculate on who or where, but certainly in London, for me, it does the opposite.

Immigration is a big issue these days, subject to endless debate on all levels and that’s a different matter for a different day. The behavior and approach of the authorities though, the actions they take on a day to day level, that’s something easier to judge. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t help and it makes life harder, more suspicious and poorer for all of us. All thoughts to bear in mind when the next ‘tough’ headline on immigration crops up, or when you next go to get a train and see them plucking people from a crowd.

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