Unanswered questions behind the failed witch hunt of Iraq veterans

Unanswered questions behind the failed witch hunt of Iraq veterans


A shambles.

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Tara PT, the original It Girl, could have reinvented herself as an ‘Insta-girl’

Tara PT, the original It Girl, could have reinvented herself as an ‘Insta-girl’


I feel sorry for Tara… it didn’t have to end this way. At the same time Tara’s tale is cautionary.

To live in the bubble of your own success – how attractive. Yet this can also cut you off from normal, day-to-day interaction with people. You are constantly under the microscope. The Telegraph article and the many others like it demonstrate the consequences of fame: they flow on and death is no bar. The paparazzi are responsible for their  own actions yet, as the death of Princess Diana shows, they are quite adept at passing this off as purely a response to public interest. Each tragedy is an opportunity for the major media players to set an example. On the evidence, it’s a case of think hard before letting fame open up your life; from that point every friendship – old or new – will become suspect. Having your actions and motives portrayed in a distorted way will become par.for he course and attempting to set the record straight will expose you further. How much do you value your privacy? 

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HS2 is monumentally wasteful, outdated, and will do nothing for the North – it must be scrapped

HS2 is monumentally wasteful, outdated, and will do nothing for the North – it must be scrapped


Tut tut Mr Heifer. It is all very well to argue against infrastructure spend she it carries no benefit to you but this project has a good deal of value – to shove it to the back of the queue as you propose (forget the technology nonsense: what other countries do is relevant to them, not us) does no one favours. 

There are many government initiatives which have little or no intrinsic value; HS2 is not one.

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Jean-Claude Juncker ‘doubts EU will remain united during Brexit talks’, as he says he will not run for another term

Jean-Claude Juncker ‘doubts EU will remain united during Brexit talks’, as he says he will not run for another term


In the face of long term problems such as high unemployment, unsustainable levels of debt, the hollowing out of economies, to which can be added migration… all in the context of a lethargic decision making process in an increasingly bureaucratic Brussels… one would expect evidence of efforts to tackle these issues. These issues are a direct result of Brussels action (or inaction) and line taken by Juncker needs to embrace reform so that things can be fixed. If the EU had embraced reform there would be no Brexit… perhaps that might galvanise reform. The EU is a millstone to the Club Med economies – perhaps Brexit will precipitate change.

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John Bercow in new Brexit furore over neutrality after admitting he voted Remain 

John Bercow in new Brexit furore over neutrality after admitting he voted Remain 


  1. Mr Bercow should reflect that the position of Speaker is not the same as that of an MP. Though an MP may act as a sounding board for issues of the day,the Speaker does not
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Xeno-archaeology: the study of strange ancients.

Explanation: a future science that deals with the past. The study part of it has a logical framework: i.e. it can be undertaken on dead planets or on places still capable of sustaining life. Either of these has intriguing possibilities. For strange ancients, read aliens. Xeno-archaeology is a big part of The Tau Device.

Take a dead planet: If it’s got signs of former habitation, why is it dead? Are there other, similar dead planets in the interstellar vicinity? What if they died out at approximately the same time period… would that suggest a pattern of events… even a cause?

If you go back in Earth’s history, dead civilisations die for a reason – usually they were pushed. There are dead regions on the Earth’s surface. The Mongols wrecked irrigation works in Central Asia that had been in place for thousands of years; as a result of internecine Muslim strife in the 11th Cenury, much farmland in North Africa became desert (check out the Banu Hilal).

Live planets present their own problems. The living take precedence over the dead; you just crushed your arch-enemy, do you keep reminders… trophies? Even if you did, over time they lose significance; day-to-day life takes priority. Reminders of the past become folk tales, myths and legends or are obliterated from memory. Land gets dug up, reused — at least on an airless world, everything is pretty much as it was when Armageddon came.

In the larger scheme of things, humans haven’t been around long. Space is vast with the possibility of lots of extinct civilisations over billions of years. There’ll be more things than just human agency to wipe out life and destroy planets: exploding suns, collisions, interspecies struggles… plus any other observations a budding xeno-archaeologist can come up with. If she (or he) is lucky, she comes across an artefact that has somehow survived over millions of years.

Jih Liasse, xeno-archaeologist in The Tau Device, is an alien; she doesn’t know Earth’s history and so doesn’t know we’ve made parts of our planet unfit for habitation. However she gets the principle. Civilisations have competition, the struggle to survive is life or death. Xeno-archaeologists can assume that what is examined is long dead… nothing can come from it. This turns out to be not quite the case in The Tau Device. In space, nothing is as it seems.



Taken from my site: The Tau Device

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Under Winter’s Bough

Winter’s Holme went very well – I stuck to the descriptions of winter and festivities around it. Few picked up on the scandalous sub-text. This calls to mind a line in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, always winter but never Christmas. A casual line (well-remembered) that explains well the Western myth that places Jerusalem at the centre of creation and the Earth at the centre of the universe. Depictions of other societies (no matter how prettified) might benefit from wiping that slate clean. Anyhow Winter’s Holme rolls back the smorgasbord that Christmas has become and, for good measure, places the the idea that women control their bodies – as was once the case in many nomadic societies – at the centre.

Festivities are pretty much over. A death in the family plus an increase in business activity is putting a brake on things however, work on the my latest piece: The Turning Stone has evolved into The Quest of Enekele. The Quest of Enekele is partly set in Central Asia. It describes how a spell that has kept great evil at bay for thousands of years is unwittingly broken, and how the guardians, set to prevent this happening, are subverted.

Talking of nomads introduces the desire to know more. They were moved around a great deal by the Mongols – something less well known in the West than it ought to be. This resettlement left the Uzbeks pretty close to the Central Asian setting for The Quest of Enekele which is more or less towards Urumqi. While checking around traditional Uzbek music, I came across this video by Sevara Nazarkhan. She definitely gets my vote.

Just finished Man of the Cloth which should offend pretty much everyone who reads it. Still debating whether to stick it in my upcoming collection: Under Winter’s Bough. The running order for this collection is:

Story list

and the theme is winter.

Elmbak Hotel window from stairwell

Elmbak Hotel window from stairwell

I haven’t forgotten Burnley Literary festival and Sufi music. It will come to pass.

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Winter’s Holme

Broke off The Turning Stone – now at 13k words – to do a Winter themed story. This began with a visit to Farnworth Library three days back when we took Ted Hughes November as a starting point.

Ted Hughes with added gloom, after Reginald Gray (2004)

Ted Hughes, after Reginald Gray, 2004 (go see the original: Bankfield Museum, Halifax)

My creation became three linked stories set in a fantasy world where only the nomads of the Northland Steppes are fully free from the power of the all-conquering Kaiph. These take place in the Northland Steppes and consist of:

  • Winter’s Spite
  • Winter’s Gift
  • Winter’s Child

I’ll present my offering: Winter’s Gift, this coming Friday at Farnworth Library when Julie McKiernan hosts our second Winter Workshop. This will be 10am to noon..

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The Glass Fly

Took Irwell Writers session today and read from Kalila and Dimna — Selected Fables of Bidpai, as retold by Ramsay Wood*. Went on to an exercise in retelling fables, folk tales, sayings – let’s pretend we’re Walt Disney. My offering was The Glass Fly.

Kalila and Dimna, selected Fables of Bidpai, Retold by Ramsay Wood, Introduced by Doris Lessing

Kalila and Dimna, selected Fables of Bidpai, Retold by Ramsay Wood, Introduced by Doris Lessing



Paladin 1982 edition – ISBN 0586 08409 6

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Young Adult Novel

Am Writing

Following the Burnley Literary Festival I got an idea for a young adult fantasy novel. YA is something I’ve not really tried and my experience of reading that is years past – so why not? I started just over a week ago – the initial story line will look at how the fey were banished from earth, letting humans dominate the planet. Then it’ll move onto what would happen if they came back. I’m not settled on the outcome yet (i.e. does Faerie make a full return into the present) but it’s exciting and  should come to a good few books.

What’ll it be called?

The working title for the series is Elf Wars with The Turning Stone as the first book.

Fantasy has myth and heroic fable at its heart. What’s behind Elf Wars?

Real history. Just as there was a time when nations reached their greatest extent, e.g. Greater Persia (back before Alexander the Great conquered it), or a Greater Armenia (around 200 years BC); there’s also the concept of a Greater Europe. It’s only since the Renaissance that those with European roots were pushed back, West of the Urals. Pre-Mongol times it had a greater extent, taking in the Kazakh Steppes through to the Tarim Basin. Empires rise but and fall.


At Empire’s end knowledge and ancient artefacts are lost or destroyed. Sometimes not everything is lost — even it it’s better that it is.

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