I'm an author, humourist and raconteur with five books on Amazon Kindle, and I love to hear from readers

What is it Between the Jews and the Arabs?

So what is it between the Jews and the Arabs? Why don’t they like each other? Human beings aren’t born with an inherent capacity to hate, by the way. It has to be taught.  So who taught them to hate each other, and where did it all begin?


It’s difficult to know where to start. What’s an Arab? What’s a Muslim? Why are they so angry? What makes them think they have the right to insist everyone else believes what they believe? Is it really that important? Why are they so rude? The answer, of course, is that they’re not. It’s only the radical Islamists who are losing the head about it. The rest of them seem pretty cool to me.


So let’s get our facts straight first of all. What’s a Muslim and what’s an Arab? Okay, well the word ‘Muslim’ is the Arabic word meaning ‘One who submits to God.’ Simple as that. Got it?


Arabs are a panethnic group of people with multiple racial genes. You can mostly find them inhabiting Western Asia, Northern Africa, parts of the Horn of Africa, Sparkhill and Bordesley Green in Birmingham. The term ‘panethnic’ in this context is really no more correct than labelling all Spanish speakers as Latin American or Chicanos, but it’s going to have to do for now because although they share a common language, a common religion and similar physical characteristics there are tribal affiliations and intra-tribal relationships that play such an important part of Arab identity that in all honesty it’s just one big melting pot. Most Arabs, however, have direct or partial tribal relationships to the nomadic indigenous occupants of the Syrian Desert and Arabia. And these are the Bedouin nomads.


The word ‘Arab’ has had several different meanings over the centuries, but at times 'A'raab' was used exclusively by the Bedouin. And this mob has been around forever. The name actually means one who lives out in the open, as in the open desert. Most people preferred to settle near a river which kind of makes sense, but the Bedouin preferred to live in the Arabian and Syrian deserts, the Sahara Desert of North Africa and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. They had a rich oral poetic tradition and traditional, if somewhat questionable, codes of honour.


Now this is where it gets interesting because the Bedouin claim their ancestry from Ishmael, son of Abraham and ancestor of Muhammed, although the Christians view Ishmael as the ancestor of the Biblical Ishmaelites. Now you see Ishmael’s mum wasn’t Abraham’s wife, Sarai (who was Jewish, by the way), but Hagar her handmaiden (who was Egyptian), which wouldn’t have gone down too well with Sarai at all, who by all accounts was drop-dead gorgeous.  But there’s a little bit of incest going on here that’s worth recording because Sarai was actually Abraham’s half-sister. They shared the same dad, you see, and his name was Terah. So Terah’s daughter was also his daughter-in-law, which would have saved money on birthday and Christmas presents.


Now Sarai may well have been a hot number, but she was barren until she was about 90, when she gave birth to Isaac. Abraham held a great feast for Isaac, but Ishmael started taking the piss. Sarai was so hacked off at this that she asked Abraham to get rid of both him and Hagar, which he did, sending them both out into the desert. And remember the word ‘Bedouin’ means one who lives out in the open, as in the open desert.


Both the Quran and the Bible agree on the story so far, but in Islam Ishmael is viewed as a prophet, and both Jewish and Islamic traditions consider him as the ancestor of the Arabs.


So while Jews traditionally see themselves as descendants of Isaac that would make his mother Sarai ancestress of all Israel. Arabs and Muslims, however, trace their lineage to Hagar and Ishmael.


And many people today regard the Arab-Israeli conflict to have its roots in the ancient rivalry between Isaac and Ishmael, or more accurately between their mothers, Sarai and Hagar.


(African-Americans, by the way, have assigned Hagar as a symbol of the plight of the slave woman).

ISIS - They're Like the Mafia

If, like me, you’re confused about ISIS; i.e. who they are, where they came from, who funds them, how dangerous are they, and what the hell is going on in the Middle East, I’ve done a little bit of research and I think I’ve got it sorted.

ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), depending which newspaper you read.

They’re incredibly ambitious, and they hold a fair amount of territory already. They own chunks of land bordering Iraq and Syria - equal to the size of Belgium actually - but they want more. They want to stretch right the way across the Middle East and even into North Africa, because fairly obviously there are a few oil fields in there. But, as I understand it, they’ve got absolutely no chance whatsoever. They’re nowhere strong enough to topple either the Iraqi or the Syrian governments, but this expansionist Islamist ideology is still pretty worrying.

Now just like gangs of Bloods and Crips in L.A. where there are actually dozens of gangs at war with each other, there are actually different mobs of Muslims having a tear-up in the Middle East. You’ve got Iraqi Sunnis and Iraqi Shias (or Shiite). Both share Islamic beliefs but their differences stem from arguments after the Prophet Muhammad’s death. Muhammad, by the way, is just one more prophet in a long list mostly shared with Christianity; i.e. Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad.

Having meditated for years on the ignorance and superstition of his fellow Arabs, Muhammad felt called upon to teach a new faith. He began to receive revelations of the word of Allah, the “one and only God,” who had chosen him as the prophet to convey the eternal message to his people the Arabs, just as Moses had brought it to the Jews and Jesus to the Christians. Allah is simply the Arabic word for God, so we shouldn’t read too much into Muhammad’s claim that ‘He’ is the one and only God. The interpretation is simply in the language

Muhammed, who came from the city of Mecca, was actually quite surprised when his early preachings were rejected by the Jews and Christians of the neighbouring city of Medina. As a result he accused the Jews of misinterpreting the Old Testament, of turning the religion of Abraham into an exclusive nationalistic system, and of rejecting the virgin-born prophet Jesus who had already been sent by Allah to show the Jews where they had gone wrong. He accused Christians of blasphemy against Allah by saying that His prophet Jesus had been defeated in the humiliation of crucifixion, and of idolatry.

Islam is regarded by its adherents as the last of the revealed religions (following Judaism and Christianity), and Muhammed is seen as the Seal of the Prophets, building upon and perfecting the examples and teachings of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. So as Christianity and Islam both share the blood of the same family tree, you wouldn't be too wide of the mark describing them as kith and kin. In fact, the word ‘Islam’ is simply the Arabic term for "submission to the word of God."

I only mention this in passing because certain Anglo-Saxons should stop accusing every Muslim they come across of being a terrorist, and radical Islamic extremists should just piss off! We’re all the same! We’ve got the same religion, or rather the same prophets, and the only difference – the ONLY difference mind – is that of Sharia Law, which is evil.

Sharia Law dictates death by stoning, beheading, amputation of limbs and flogging for crimes of sin such as adultery. The bible dictates stoning to death for adultery. No difference, you see. Just that advocates of Sharia law take what it says in the Koran literally, whilst Christians do not take what it says in the Bible literally. That’s the only difference.

Muhammad was a camel driver, the son of a poor merchant, and trip on this, he was also white! His son-in-law, Ali, described him as, "…..of middle stature, neither tall nor short. His complexion was rosy white; his eyes black; his hair, thick, brilliant and beautiful, fell to his shoulders. His profuse beard fell to his breast."

So when the Honourable Elijah Muhammad, son of former slaves and the father of Muhammad Ali's boxing coach, Herbert Muhammad, was to proclaim to Malcolm X thirteen hundred years later that the Nation of Islam is the "natural religion for the black man, anti-white and anti-Christian," he was either seriously misinformed or he was being quite disingenuous.

But back to the Sunni and the Shia. When Muhammad died of fever in the year 632, it was little more than a family punch up at the funeral between the Sunni and the Shia, each of whom wanted to be known as top dog. It’s more political than anything, and has been going on for almost 1400 years. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni, and nowadays ISIS are Sunni.

Now it was Iraq’s Prime Minister who really screwed things up. His name was Nuri al-Maliki and he absolutely refused to take steps to accommodate the Sunni. He used anti-terrorism laws to mass-arrest Sunni civilians and Iraqi police killed peaceful Sunni protestors. Now that’s not good, but you’d think arresting terrorists would be a positive move, wouldn’t you. But it wasn’t, because once arrested they started torturing them and clever Sunnis used this to start recruiting ‘freedom fighters.’

ISIS had first shown their face in 2000 when a geezer called Abu Musab al-Zarqawi formed an al-Qaeda splinter group, although as such they weren’t officially named. He was killed six years later in a US air strike and a fellow called Abu Ayyub al-Masri announced the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI). In 2009 ISI claimed responsibility for suicide bombings that killed 155 people in Baghdad, as well as attacks later in the year killing 240. In 2012 Bombings targeting Shia areas in Syria killed more than 500 people. Al-Baghdadi, the Caliph (Politico-religious leader) of the Islamic State renamed it ISIS. Al-Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, ordered that ISIS be dissolved. Al-Baghdadi told him to piss off.

These were violent times. In 2013 alone 3000 people were killed (and 7000 injured) through suicide attacks, car bombs and assassinations. And the fact that President Obama was assisting the Shia majority didn’t help either. The United States released a huge number of al-Qaeda prisoners from jail giving ISIS an infusion of skilled, terrorist manpower.

Then Syria happened, which only served to benefit ISIS because they’re currently sitting between Syria and Iraq, attacking both countries, who if they weren’t at war with each other would be able to crush them. But ISIS has now become like the Mafia, except more violent. To fund their militant activities they collect taxes, sell electricity from captured power plants (to the Syrian government they’re fighting) and export oil to Turkey through an Iraqi pipeline that was delivering 600,000 barrels a day. They can now pay better salaries than the Syrian or Iraqi army, causing mass desertions on both sides as ex-military personnel join ISIS. These people have now become mercenaries. ISIS confiscates property and money from Christians and Muslims alike. They don’t give a shit.

If they get hold of all of Iraq’s oil the whole of the Middle East, let alone the world, could be in serious trouble. Imagine what effect that would have on global oil prices alone.

ISIS aren’t the only Sunni rebel group by the way. You’ve also got Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia (JRTN), many of whom are former members of Saddam Hussein’s mob. The two groups kind of tolerate each other at the moment, but they’re not best mates. ISIS are more organised and their fighters are match-fit, having spent years fighting in Syria and Iraq. JRTN doesn’t really have the financial resources either, but they’re not to be underestimated.

So things aren’t looking too good. However on the plus side, they’ve got to contend with the Kurds, who down through the centuries have never been known to take any shit. They’re an ethnic group inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which spans parts of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, although they’re more Iranian than anything, and there’s about 30 million of them. They’re a bit wild and there are some great legends about their origins.

One legend claims they’re descendants of King Solomon’s Angelic Servants, the Djinn, or Djinni (or Genie), who were supernatural creatures in pre-Islamic Arabian mythology. The Djinn were born out of ‘smokeless and scorching fire,’ and are mentioned frequently in the Quran (in particular the 28 verses of the 72nd chapter). The Djinn were sent to Europe to bring King Solomon 500 beautiful maidens for his harem.

However, when they returned the king had already passed away, so they married the women themselves and settled in the mountains. Their offspring came to be known as Kurds.

Now this in itself is fascinating because if we put aside the hatred, intolerance and bigotry this was a truly magical and enchanting era. You see how even Arabic Genies are very similar to ours. Ours live in a bottle or a lamp and by rubbing the lamp we allow the Genie to escape, for which he grants us three wishes – the biggest castle, the most beautiful princess and an unlimited amount of gold are usually favourites. Unlike the giant, blue-skinned, muscular Genies westerners are familiar with through Disney films, the Arabic Djinni are often invisible, although they have the power to shape-shift to just about any form they like, even human. Many people still believe they are with us today, although mostly living in deserts, mountains and caves.

A fellow called David Morehouse claims to have seen them when he was in the military and camped out with Jordanian troops. They were in a valley called Baten el Ghoul, which the Jordanians believed to be haunted. Morehouse had been shot in the helmet, leaving a lump on his head which seemed to give him temporary psychic vision. He described sighting the Djinni below;

“Sometime in the night, my eyes opened to a surreal light outside the tent. It was like the light of an eclipsed sun and wasn’t coming from any stove. It filled the night sky. The entire Baten en Ghoul and the hills beyond were bathed in the strange bluish gray light; I walked to the edge of the bluff and stared into the valley. Dark figures moved effortlessly across its floor, like apparitions. They poured from the rocks in various heaps and shapes and moved about the clusters of tents. I could hear muffled cries from the Jordanian encampment, and momentarily I thought we were being overrun by thieves or Israelis. Panicked, I turned to run for help. Colliding with one of the figures, I reflexively closed my eyes, except I didn’t collide. I walked right through it. Turning around I watched the figure disappear over the edge of the bluff.”

Djinni are difficult to control and even when granting favours have been known to have a trickster nature. One of the few people said to be able to control them was King Solomon, and it’s said that this was by use of an iron and copper magic ring given to him by God. Legend sometimes states that the ring was inscribed with a pentacle and had a living force of its own. Solomon set the Djinin to building the first Temple of Jerusalem and even the actual city of Jerusalem.

One story tells of a Djinni who stole the ring and reigned over Solomon’s kingdom until God made the Djinni throw the ring into the sea, from where Solomon retrieved it. As a punishment Solomon imprisoned the Djinni in a bottle.

Djinni can even possess humans for a variety of reasons, sometimes just because they’ve got a crush on them. The joining of humans and Djinni in marriage is still practiced in some parts of the world, and the Queen of Sheba was rumoured to be part Djinn by both the Jews and the Arabs, although no one seems to be able to agree as to whether she had a relationship with Solomon or not.

In the Bible she’s assumed to be Ethiopian and various revisions of the Songs of Solomon describe her as “Very dark, but comely,” or “Black and beautiful.” Legend tells that the Queen of Sheba brought to Solomon the very same gifts which the Magi later brought to Christ. However, even though there is no mention in the bible of any relationship between the two of them, the Quran discusses a child she had by him, and the Ethiopian holy book, the Kebra Nagast, discusses how Solomon seduced her, the Ethiopians believing Menelik I to be their offspring. And even the Luhya people of Kenya claim her as one of their own. They claim she was a noblewoman known as Oloye Bilikisu Sungbo, and certainly that name is very close to the Jewish and Arabic name for her, which was Bilqīs. An anonymous medieval text known as the Alphabet of Sirach actually claims that Nebuchadnezzar II was the offspring of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

You want my opinion? I’m with the Ethiopians on this one. They view Sheba as the mother of their nation, and because the kings of the land are directly descended from her, they have divine right to rule. Emperor Haile Selassie had that enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution of 1955. And as Rastafarians revere Haile Selassie as the returned messiah - and he’s certainly a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history – it’s possible that the routes of Rastafarianism are deep-seated in a queen who was part Genie!

But back to the Kurds. An Armenian historian tells a different story concerning a fellow know as Melik Kürdim. He was apparently one of Noah’s community and ruler of the town of Judi, the first town to be built after the flood. He lived 600 years and finally settled in a place called Mifariqin, raising several children and inventing a completely new language of his own, independent of Hebrew, Arabic or Farsi. He called the language Kürdim, although there are apparently twelve different dialects.

Putting these legends aside for the moment, although they’re semi-integrated into the Iraqi culture there are somewhere between 80,000 and 240,000 Kurdish Peshmerga militia who answer to no one. The name Peshmerga literally means ‘Those who confront death.’ They're well trained, well equipped and represent a serious military threat to ISIS.

The Peshmerga helped the United States in their mission to capture Saddam Hussein, and they also captured Osama Bin Laden’s messenger, Hassan Ghul, who after being held at a C.I.A. Black Site for a couple of years handed out information which led to Operation Neptune Spear, in which Bin Laden was located and killed.

And to be fair to the geezer, if I were held in a Black Site amongst a bunch of other ‘ghost detainees’ I’d give them whatever information they wanted in two minutes! Forget two years!

Anyway, with US and Iraqi support the Kurds have pushed ISIS out of the area and are gradually pushing them further back. Both America and Great Britain have now launched a mission to train and equip the Peshmerga, and they could very soon be in a position to launch a wider campaign against ISIS. All great stuff!

Estimates of ISIS fighting strength ranges from 10,000 to 50,000 battle-hardened troops. Iraq has 250,000 troops plus armed police, so realistically ISIS doesn’t stand a chance of challenging them, especially when you consider Iraq has tanks, helicopters and airplanes

But – and this is a BIG BUT – the Iraqis are really shit soldiers. When ISIS took Mosul in Northern Iraq in June they were outnumbered 37:1, but 30,000 Iraqi soldiers ran from 800 ISIS simply because they dropped their bottle and didn’t fancy dying for their country. In fact they ran away so fast that they left several tanks and helicopters behind!

Despite the United States spending billions of dollars training the Iraqi army before the American withdrawal in 2011, their still bottle merchants. But even so I seriously doubt ISIS could take Baghdad.

Iraq has Iran on its side as well, because Iran doesn’t want any Sunni rebels toppling a friendly Shia government. In June Iran sent 500 Revolutionary Guards to help the Iraqis. And these aren’t just any old troops. They’re a special elite operations group known as Quds Force, supposedly one of the most effective military forces in the Middle East. They can easily outclass ISIS on the battlefield, but memories of the Iraq/Iran war haven’t completely faded, and there are a lot or Iraqis who are a bit pissed off that Iran is now being asked to take charge.

America and Iran have been at odds for decades but the two powers now find they want the same thing, and that’s for the Iraqi government to start pushing ISIS back. On September 10th America announced a comprehensive strategy for destroying ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Obama announced a six-point plan;

1. Significantly expand the bombing campaign in Iraq – “We will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists”

2. Train and equip the Iraqi army and Kurdish troops – “American troops are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.”

3. Begin bombing in Syria – “I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are” (okay, well at least that’s a little more honest than President Bush in 2001 who after 9/11 stated, “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” Big words at the time, but where was America in the 1970s and 1980s when the United Kingdom needed their help? I’ll tell you. They were funding the IRA so they could carry on murdering innocent people in the shopping centres and pubs of Great Britain. Didn’t matter back then, did it? America wasn’t bothered at all in the 1970’s and 80’s, were they? These were just English people being murdered. But they soon came running for help when they found themselves attacked on their own soil, didn’t they? At least Obama makes no pretences about giving a shit about any other countries except the USA).

4. Train and arm the Syrian rebels – “Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I again call on Congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters”

5. Get regional actors like Saudi Arabia and European allies on board to counter ISIS regional and international influence – The Jordanian monarchy has already committed to assisting America in arming, training and funding Syrian rebels. He also requests the UK increase their ‘on-the-ground efforts’ in Syria and Iraq, also acknowledging that roughly 1500 Europeans have already travelled to fight in Syria, and these may well be coming back to plot attacks in the Europe. He pledges to cooperate with Europe in order to stop these attacks. Which sounds good, but ….

6. Keep US troops out and stay away from the Syrian and Iranian governments – “American forces will not have a combat mission - we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” Whoa! Now wait a minute here. He wants the UK to up their ‘on-the-ground efforts’ but in practically the same mouthful promises the American people he won’t be putting any combat troops on the ground. So Britain gets shit on again!

Now into all this mix we’ve also got the Yazidi, who are pretty cool. They’re an ethno-religious community living primarily in Iraqi-Kurdistan. Their religious beliefs are a mixture of Zoroastrianism and Sufism. Zoroastrianism had profound influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and is also thought to have inspired a belief in a savior to come in both Hinduism and Buddhism. For over 1000 years it was the official religion of the eastern Persian empire; i.e. Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sufism is kind of like a mystical dimension of Islam, although some contend that it views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, universal truth on which foundation all religious knowledge and doctrine has grown. Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam.

So with a heritage like this, which you have to admit is pretty cool, you can understand why a bunch of head-cases like ISIS would feel threatened by them, can’t you? The Yazidi have been persecuted for centuries, but more recently ISIS has targeted them in their campaign to “purify Iraq and neighboring countries of non-Islamic influences.” A bit nutty, I know, but that’s ISIS for you.

They’ve taken 1500 Yazidi women and children as slaves, and these have been divided amongst the fighters. They’re either used as concubines or are being sold on by them. The United Nations has stated, “We are gravely concerned by continued reports of acts of violence, including sexual violence against women and teenage girls and boys belonging to Iraqi minorities. Atrocious accounts of abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner”

ISIS pushed into Kurdish territory and secluded thousands of Yazidi on Mount Sinjar without food or water, so a US-Kurdish-Iraqi cooperation was formed to break the siege.

On August 6th ISIS took Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian town, and there’s been very limited access to food, water or power ever since. Some of the Christians have been given the ‘choice’ to convert to Islam or be killed. Khalil Touma, a 43-year-old driver, told The Independent, “I was given three days to decide whether to become Muslim, pay jizya – a special tax imposed on Christians under Islamic rule – or leave.” Adamant that he and his family shouldn’t have to pay such a tax they’ve now left for Lebanon.

The tomb of Jonah (of Jonah and the whale fame) was bombed. Houses belonging to Christians were daubed with the letter ‘N’ – short for Nasare, a Muslim term for Christians which derives from Nazareth. And properties, including wedding rings, were confiscated, sometimes with fingers still attached.

And we then met Jihadi John, the black robed fanatical Briton who has so far murdered UK aid worker David Haines, US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and taxi driver Alan Henning in the most brutal fashion possible, possibly by beheading, and supposedly in retaliation for American bombings.

Unbelievably it’s now estimated there are 2000 Britons currently fighting with ISIS, but he is now one of the most wanted men in the world. Hostages freed earlier this year have described three UK-born militants who they nicknamed John, Paul and Ringo, although Jihadi John is said to be the most intelligent. There are French-speaking Jihadists and one Belgium, but it’s the British who are the most feared because of their “taste for the macabre.”

Academics have put his accent as ‘New Cockney.’ In other words a multicultural East London accent.

And in the last week or two Britain has taken part in bombing raids against ISIS positions in Iraq, although just yesterday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed America, the Jews and “especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions, the wicked government of Britain” for creating divisions between the Sunnis and Shi'ites. Sorry, old son, that goes back centuries, you should know that.

There are currently 12 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment on the ground, along with non-combat army trainers who are providing the Peshmerga with heavy machine gun training for guns that have been gifted by the UK last month.

There is growing concern for British photojournalist, John Cantlie, who is still in captivity, and with British soldiers heading to northern Iraq to help train Kurdish forces fighting ISIS he warned in a recent video that ISIS are “dug in for the fight.” He has also warned that it is “conceivable that foreign jihadists may return to their home countries to launch attacks.” In other words those 2000 Britons could somehow find their way back to these shores. Already a leading counter-extremism think-tank estimates that out of 300 Brits who have returned from ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq only 60 have been arrested. That thought alone is quite terrifying!

The UK terror threat has now been increased to ‘severe’ from ‘substantial’ (just below the highest level of ‘critical’) and Home Secretary Theresa May has announced this is as a “direct result of the threat posed by Britons returning from Syria and Iraq where they have fought alongside ISIS combatants.”

The story of the two Austrian teenage girls, Samra Kesinovic 17, and her friend Sabina Selimovic 15, is distressing. They’re both attractive girls and left notes for their parents saying, “Don’t look for us. We will serve Allah – and we will die for him.”

Once they arrived it’s rumoured they’ve been married off and are both now pregnant, but they’ve now had enough and want to come home. Unfortunately for them, Austria isn’t going to allow this. So here’s my take on it. Anyone who leaves their country to join ISIS should have their European (or American or Australian) citizenship taken away. They want to become Jihadists then let them stay there for good. Let’s see how they like living the rest of their lives out in a country that allows none of the freedom of their birth country.

Freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of dress, freedom to sit on the toilet seat instead of standing on it and freedom even to wipe your arse with whatever hand you want.

They want to become terrorists, well it’s their choice, BUT these are children. They’re not old enough to make informed decisions about the rest of their lives. They should be allowed back home to raise their babies and allow them to speak out about the mistakes they made (if it’s considered safe to do so).

They’re children for Christ’s sake. Austria should not be allowed to throw them to the wolves for a mistake that’s harmed no one except themselves and their families.

That’s how I feel about it anyway.

Finally some Tweets from a jihadist who used the name Abu Musab al-Jazairi before his Twitter account was shut down;

“To the people in the UK – because of the actions of your government it will be you who will pay the price, blame them and not us.”

“Everything and everyone will be targeted; it is only a matter of time before it happens inshallah.”

“Don’t know why people in the UK think they can speak for us, we’ll come back to the UK and wreak havoc bidnillaah (if God wishes). British people watch out.”

So there we have it. A bit convoluted but at least I think I understand it all a little better. ISIS can’t win. They’re battle-hardened, cold-blooded and barbaric. Completely psychotic actually. But they can still cause a lot of problems and a lot of deaths.

I don’t see the attraction. I don’t get the radicalization. But then again Hitler was incredibly persuasive, as was Ivan the Terrible (who pronounced his first death sentence at the age of 13).

The biggest concern is if these radicalized killers arrive back on our shores with access to money, weapons and dirty bombs. They we could see true terror!

The Writer

Between the innocence of infancy and the recklessness of humanity lies a wild-eyed unsung hero known as a writer. I detest the word author, it sounds far too pretentious. I’m a scribbler. Thanks to the plethora of recent self-published books, there are many misconceptions about the writer’s role and what he is really like.

Writers can be found in bars, in arguments, in bed, in debt, intoxicated and sometimes in their study. They are tall, thin, dark, fair, but never normal. They hate tax returns, sympathy, and the written word presented poorly. A writer’s secret ambition is to be loved by everyone who reads his books. A writer is a psychoanalyst with a battered old copy of Reader’s Digest on the table, Don Quixote on his days off, the saviour of mankind with his back teeth awash and democracy personified when dealing with the authorities, whatever form these ‘authorities’ take.

No one is subjected to so much abuse or wrongly accused so often or misunderstood by so many people as the writer. He keeps the Brazilian coffee plantations, the aspirin factories and the midnight oil manufacturers in business. He writes his truth quietly and never backs down.

On a daily basis he converses with people who are convinced they know more about writing than he will ever know. He can never be right. When he simplifies, he's patronising. When he gets a little technical, he's talking over their heads. Half the people wonder what he does for a living while the other half think they know exactly what he does but are convinced he's doing it wrong! He has more critics than Osama bin Laden, Colonel Gadaffi and Barack Obama combined.

A writer is a provider when you want something to read and a parasite when he wants paying for the hours he puts in. He has the patience of Job, the honesty of a fool, and the heaven-sent ability to laugh at himself.

At varying stages at the computer the writer will feel irritable, confident, tired, emotional, intelligent, articulate and isolated. Until finally he is weary of the whole human race.

I know because I am one of these great men.

A Question for the American Government

It’s not true that every Muslim is a terrorist.

But it’s currently true that just about every terrorist is a Muslim.

Why this is, I don’t know. I fail to see the significance of using religious beliefs to kill, maim, torture and hate. To murder on either such a gargantuan scale or in such barbaric fashion for no other reason than because someone shares a different belief system from your own is evidence of a faith without any civilising influences whatsoever. Inhuman is possibly the word I’m searching for.

But then when I think about it, I also fail to see why most Christians seem to be on such a mission to alter other people’s beliefs. Live and let live, brother.

Does it really matter whether you're a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Taoist, a Zoroastrian or a Jehovah’s Witness? Not in the slightest. Does it matter if you follow the teachings of Confucius, Buddha, Ramakrishna or Mary Baker Eddy? Of course not. Does it matter if your ritual object or talisman is an amulet, a tabernacle, a horse shoe, holy water, a wishbone, a St. Christopher, a rabbit's foot, rosary beads, a broomstick or a seven-branched candlestick? No at all, it's just something to focus your mind on. The real power is within you.

But I digress. Back in 1095 the Roman Catholic Church commenced a 200-year campaign in the Holy Lands. Historians still argue as to the reasons for this and the subsequent six major Holy Wars. Some see them as a defensive war against Islamic conquests, while others view them as intrusive, papal-led expansion attempts by Western Christendom. Interesting how the perspective changes with the point of view.

Either way, the objective of the Crusades was to crush all Muslims in the Holy Land, and the Christians attempted this in what can only be described as a genocidal war. The whole of Western Europe marched against the Middle East in what is now known as the Dark Ages with the express purpose of killing Arabs, and of doing so in unbelievably brutal fashion – torturing, raping, enslaving, burning alive and eating (men, women, children & babies). The war crimes are well documented, so it will serve no purpose to elucidate further here.

Now I’m not accepting this as an excuse, or even a reason. All I’m saying is that we’re not whiter than white ourselves, and there’s very little in the Koran that isn’t also in the Bible. The difference, of course, is that we’ve moved on. By we, I mean Anglo-Saxons and those of Western descent currently living in Christian countries.

But what does this have to do with the American Government? Very little actually, but it does lead into my point, concerning the culture of hatred, intolerance and terrorism based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic teachings, leading extremists to believe in the legitimacy of war, hatred and murder.

By the way, human beings aren’t born with an inherent capacity to hate. It has to be taught. And terrorism is a crime committed out of irrational hatred by people whose hearts and minds have been completely corrupted and chiseled into gross delusion of the realities. Terrorism is the fruit of blind irrational hatred. I hope you picked up on the word irrational, for currently England, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and France are ‘infected’ with those who resent our way of life and loathe us personally for absolutely no rational reason other than they’ve been taught to do so.

But you see, America, we’re accustomed to this in the British Isles. We’re an island race and deep-rooted within our psyche is the knowledge that we’ve been invaded for the last 2000 years by the Celts, Julius Caesar, the Vikings, the Great Heathen Army, King Canute, the Normans, the Danes, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Armada Española, Napoleon, Hitler and more recently the Irish Republican Army. More about the IRA in a minute, for while all that was going on we also had the Wars of Independence, the Crusades, the Hundred Year War, the Wars of the Roses, the Anglo-Spanish War, the English Civil War, the Anglo-Dutch Wars and plenty more.

But we’re still here, aren’t we?

Onto the IRA. In 1971 the Kilburn Battalion of the IRA exploded a bomb in the Post Office Tower in Central London (Kilburn is a multicultural area of North-West London with a large Afro-Caribbean population, and the highest Irish population of any London area).

In 1972 the Official IRA killed seven civilians – and wounded 19 - in Aldershot with the use of a car bomb.

In 1973 the Provisional IRA exploded a car bomb outside The Old Bailey, the central criminal court of Great Britain. That same year they set off bombs at King’s Cross and Euston stations by throwing bags containing explosives into busy booking halls. People and baggage trolleys were thrown into the air, but miraculously nobody died.

In February 1974 they blew up a coach on the M62 Motorway, killing nine soldiers and three civilian family members, including two young boys. Another 6-year-old boy was badly burned. In June they exploded a bomb outside the Houses of Parliament, injuring 11 people. In October they detonated two explosive devises in two separate pubs in Guilford, South-West of London. The pubs were popular with soldiers and the bombs killed four of them plus a 22-year-old plasterer. 65 other people were injured. Six days later two bombs were thrown through the windows of two ‘gentlemen's clubs’ in the West End of London. In November a gelignite bomb containing shrapnel of nuts and bolts was thrown through the window of a pub in Woolwich, South-East London, killing two people and injuring dozens of others. That same month bombs were left in two crowded Birmingham pubs, killing 21 people and injuring 182 others, including passers-by in the street who were hit by flying glass and those on a passing West Midlands bus that was wrecked in the blast. Several victims were actually blown right through a brick wall. Most of the dead and wounded were aged between 17 and 25. You see, they weren’t targeting soldiers or the military. Just young people out for a drink.

Seven days before Christmas two car bombs went off outside a shopping centre in Bristol, injuring 21 people, the second one designed to catch as many police as possible who were involved in the mop-up operation after the first.

It should be made clear that the term ‘injured’ in this document often serves to dilute the phrase ‘permanently disabled.’ Something to bear in mind.

This Active Service Unit of the IRA were actually responsible for 40 bombings, 35 murders, nine shootings, three kidnappings, and almost £20 million worth of damage over the next 14 months.

This is true terror. When car bombs are going off in the high street and no pub is safe from being bombed. A simple trip to the shops or the pub could no longer be considered the safe option it should be.

Five days before Christmas, 1975, the Ulster Defense Association bombed Biddy Mulligan’s pub in Kilburn. Five people were injured. The attack was ordered by the Protestant Loyalist Army Council against the Catholic IRA, and Biddy Mulligan’s was chosen because it was a favourite of Irish Republican sympathisers. Two days earlier the Protestant Red Hand Commando had bombed two taverns on the Irish border. England was becoming the battleground for warring factions of Irish extremists. Another war based on religion.

Three years later, again at Christmas, the shoppers of Bristol were hit again. The bomb went off in the department store, Maggs, injuring seven people.

Just after Christmas two pubs frequented by Catholics in Glasgow were bombed by the Ulster Volunteer Force because the pubs were used for IRA fundraising. Three days later eleven members of the UVF known as the ‘Shankill Butchers’ were sentenced to life in prison for 19 murders. They were famed for torturing and defacing their victims with butcher’s knives.

Airey Neave, British army officer and politician (and one of the few servicemen to escape from the German prisoner-of-war camp Oflag IV-C, otherwise known as Colditz) was assassinated in a car bomb attack outside the House of Commons. The Irish National Liberation Army, an Irish Republican organisation, claimed responsibility.

Neave had been decorated with the Military Cross, appointed a Member of the British Empire, awarded a Distinguished Service Order, appointed the Order of the British Empire and awarded the Bronze Star by the U.S. government. To have his legs blown off in a car bomb before being pronounced dead an hour later in hospital was an undignified way for a hero to die.

Margaret Thatcher led the tributes at his funeral, saying, “He was one of freedom's warriors. No one knew of the great man he was, except those nearest to him. He was staunch, brave, true, and strong; but he was very gentle and kind and loyal. It's a rare combination of qualities. There's no one else who can quite fill them. I, and so many other people, owe so much to him and now we must carry on for the things he fought for and not let the people who got him triumph.”

In 1981 the IRA detonated a nail-bomb outside Chelsea Barracks, killing two people and injuring 39 others, including two children. Two weeks later the IRA bombed a Wimpy Bar in London’s Oxford Street, killing the police officer who was attempting to defuse the bomb.

On July 20th 1982 the IRA killed 11 members of the Household Cavalry and the Royal Green Jackets during military ceremonies at Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. Seven of the Blues and Royals horses were also killed.

Eight days before Christmas, 1983, a car bomb planted by the IRA exploded outside Harrods, killing three police officers, three civilians and injuring 90 others.

In 1984 five people were killed and 31 injured in an IRA attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, where coincidentally this author stayed for two days last weekend. The whole mid-section of the hotel collapsed into the basement, leaving a huge hole in the façade. Thatcher’s bathroom was destroyed but her bedroom and sitting room survived. She left the police station at 4 a.m. and at 9.30 a.m. addressed the Conservative Party Conference by stating, “The bombing was an attempt to cripple Her Majesty's democratically elected Government. That is the scale of the outrage in which we have all shared, and the fact that we are gathered here now—shocked, but composed and determined—is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.”

This has been termed a ‘Churchillian’ moment that encapsulates both her own steely character and the British public's stoical refusal to submit to terrorism. A few days later she addressed her constituents saying, “We suffered a tragedy not one of us could have thought would happen in our country. And we picked ourselves up and sorted ourselves out as all good British people do, and I thought let us stand together for we are British! They were trying to destroy the fundamental freedom that is the birth-right of every British citizen; freedom, justice and democracy.”

God, couldn’t we do with someone of Thatcher’s grit at the helm now!

In 1989 the Provisional IRA blew up the Royal Marines Barracks in Deal, Kent, killing 11 Royal Marines bandsmen and injuring 22 others. In May 1990 they detonated a bomb under a mini-bus at Wembley, killing a soldier from The Queen’s Regiment. In June, at Lichfield City Railway Station, two IRA gunmen opened fire, killing an off-duty soldier and injuring two others. In July they detonated a bomb at the London Stock Exchange. Ten days later, Conservative MP Ian Gow was assassinated by the IRA when they detonated a bomb under his car outside his home.

In February 1991 the Provisional IRA launched three mortar shells at the rear garden of 10 Downing Street (the official residence and office of the Prime Minister) in an assassination attempt on John Major and his War Cabinet who were meeting to discuss the Gulf War. Four people received minor injuries. Eleven days later a rush-hour explosion at Victoria Station killed one member of the public and injured 38 others. One woman had a leg amputated below the knee and another had a foot amputated. The youngest victim was a 12-year-boy. Ten days later a bomb exploded at London Bridge Station during the rush-hour peak, injuring 29 people, four of them seriously.

In April 1992 a one-ton bomb in a white truck was detonated outside the Baltic Exchange, London, killing three people (the youngest was just 15) and injuring 91 others. The bomb caused £800 million worth of damage. Again, this was a Provisional IRA attack. In August the IRA detonated three bombs in Shrewsbury. Many priceless historical artifacts were destroyed but no lives were lost. In October a device exploded in the toilets of a pub in Covent Garden, killing one person and injuring four others. In November a huge bomb was planted in Canary Wharf, Docklands. It failed to go off, but experts have estimated that anyone within 200 yards would have been killed. In December they exploded two bombs in central Manchester, injuring 65 people.

In March 1993 two bombs exploded in litter bins outside busy shops in Warrington, killing two children and injuring dozens of others. These attacks again were carried out by the Provisional IRA. A month later they detonated another huge truck bomb, again in the City of London, killing a journalist, injuring over 40 people and causing £1billion worth of damage.

In 1996 the IRA bombed South Quay, London, killing two people. Nine days later an improvised device detonated prematurely on a bus traveling along Aldwych, London, killing the IRA operative transporting the device and injuring eight others. In June they detonated a 1500kg bomb in the Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester, injuring 212 people and causing £700 million worth of damage (£1.1 billion in today’s money).

And the list, believe it or not, goes on.

You’re probably wondering right now what this has to do with the American Government. Well, first of all the IRA's primary source of funding were Irish-Americans who, while claiming to be aiding the families of political prisoners, were actually helping to arm IRA terrorists. Before this, however, most of the funds collected to buy guns and explosives to kill civilians, police and soldiers in Britain and Ireland came from America. This was well known to the FBI and CIA but nothing was ever done to stop it until Margaret Thatcher put an end to it by demanding that President Ronald Reagan step in. Most Americans, even if they’re aware of this, don't like to think about it.

And how widespread was it? Well Republican representative, Peter T. King, visited Belfast several times, staying with IRA supporters and drinking in a club called The Felons, whose members were all IRA ex-cons. Speaking at a pro-IRA rally in 1982 he pledged support to “those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast.” Not good.

But the final insult to the British public was when Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, the political arm of the IRA, was granted an audience at the White House by President Clinton. They’d met a few days earlier at a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. Most of the guests were Irish-American members of Congress. British Prime Minister, John Major had requested Clinton not greet Adams cordially, but Clinton ignored cross-Atlantic diplomacy in favour of chasing the Irish vote. He greeted a murderer with a warm handshake and the room exploded with applause.

Britain was outraged.

I wonder how America would feel if John Major had invited Oklahoma bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols to Number 10.

And then September 11th 2001 al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States in New York City and Washington D.C., killing almost 3000 people. The world was appalled.

President Bush requested Britain and other countries stand shoulder-to-shoulder with America. Part of his speech to a joint session of Congress and the American people is quoted here. “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Big words America, but here’s my question for you. Where the fuck were you in the 70’s and 80’s when we needed your help? I’ll tell you where you were. You were pledging support to “those brave men and women” who were carrying forth “the struggle against British imperialism.” Your words, not mine. You were funding the IRA so they could carry on murdering innocent people in the shopping centres and pubs of Great Britain.

Where was your ethos of not resting until every terrorist group of global reach had been found, stopped and defeated then? Didn’t matter back then, did it? You weren’t bothered at all in the 1970’s and 80’s, were you? These were just English people being murdered. But you soon came running for help when you found yourselves attacked on your own soil, didn’t you?

But we did stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you. And we have done ever since. Because it’s the right thing to do. And now the whole of the Western World faces a much bigger threat. But the British will be alright. We’re built for this shit, you see. We’ve been doing this for 2000 years. And we’re still standing, aren’t we?

I can’t help wondering, though, if instead of funding and supporting the IRA in their culture of hatred, intolerance and terrorism, instead of acquiescing to their belief in the legitimacy of war, hated and murder, you’d actually stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us back in the 70’s and 80’s. How things might be very different today. We’d have had 40 years experience in fighting terrorism together. And that experience would have stood us in good stead right now.

Still, the Irish vote was important, wasn’t it? Who cares if it cost a few English lives?

Calico Jack in your Garden - Karl Wiggins
“Is it true? The penis mightier than the sword?” (If you say so, sure, but if I were you I wouldn’t go getting into any swordfights with just your dick in your hand)

My book 'Calico Jack n your Garden' upsets Hitler

Review Reblogged
5 Stars
Miss Match
Miss Match - Nicola Yeager

I absolutely loved this book. I shouldn't, because I'm a bloke and the story's told from the girl's point of view, but I fell in love - or maybe it was lust - with Tansy immediately. I think it was her description of herself as `Rubenesque' that endeared her to me; "Rubenesque is overweight but shaggable because of it. That's my definition anyway .... Lying down naked on a chaise longue, a hand discreetly placed across the crotch, partially draped in a black silk sheet with plump red lips, come-hither green eyes, sumptuous, grabbable boobs and long red hair."

Nicola Yeager has it right. Blokes don't really fancy birds who like Gandhi. We want something to grab hold of!

So why do I like this book so much when it's written from the female point of view? I think it's because for some reason I'm the bloke women come to when they're having problems with their own men. There's a danger I'll get the blame when other couples split up, but women seem to trust me. My wife thinks I attract certain types of women as friends, and that may be true, but I do enjoy their company. I would love having a few drinks with Tansy every now and again. We'd get drunk and she'd share her secrets with me while I'd try and catch a sneaky peek at her cleavage. She'd catch me looking, of course, but she's the type of girl who'd be flattered, and we'd part with a hug, knowing her confidences are safe with me. And I think that's why I like the main character here. Yeager has cleverly characterised her so you feel she's your mate.

Tansy is clearly a little nuts, demonstrated by her stalking of Dr. Jason Campbell - "All of this sounds like I'm stalking ..... what I'm doing is definitely not stalking. Not yet, anyway. I'm not mad" - although when the doctor's taking her shoe off to inspect her injured ankle I'd have expected Tansy, after several Aperol Spritzers, to raise her knee a little higher than necessary to allow the good doctor, who is behaving in an impeccably professional manner, to catch a glimpse of that little white (or black or sky-blue satin) triangle.

Tansy is incorrigible, you see, and that's part of her appeal.

I was surprised at her choice of spag-bol in the Italian restaurant for her first date with Francis. Tansy, for all her kooky ways, is a thinking girl's flirt and she'd be unlikely to choose something with the potential to get messy. I think she'd pick a boring item off the menu, even if she didn't enjoy it, just to ensure she doesn't get anything stuck between her teeth or, worse, end up spitting food across the table at an inappropriate moment. Not that there's ever an appropriate moment to spit food across a table, but you know what I mean.

When all's said and done and you wake up one morning to discover Tansy lying naked under the covers besides you, and you're both a little bit embarrassed because you'd agreed your relationship was purely platonic, you both realise that's no reason not to have one more shag before climbing out of bed and facing the day.

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
3 Stars
Lust, Money & Murder
Lust, Money & Murder - Mike Wells

You know when you watch those TV dramas, the ones that are on three or four nights in a week, or maybe once a week for a month, and you really get into it, and when it finishes you look at your spouse and say, "Eh? What happened there? Did he die? Did they get the money? Did he marry her? I bloody hate these TV dramas that don't end properly!" You know those shows, right? Well 'Lust, Money and Murder' is like that. It just stops half way through the story. Just like that. Right in the middle of the action, it just stops .....

The author's let himself down badly with this one. It actually deserves much more than a 3 Star because it's an intriguing storyline with a number of sub-plots, likeable characters and edge-of-your-seat danger. But it's not a trilogy.

Truth to tell, I'm not even sure Mike Wells claims that it is a trilogy, which by the way dictionary.com describes as "a series or group of three plays, novels, operas, etc., that, although INDIVIDUALLY COMPLETE, are closely related in theme, sequence, or the like." In ancient Greece a trilogy was "a series of three COMPLETE and usually related tragedies." And there's the rub, for when you pick up a book you expect it to be complete of itself.

The marvellous Genghis Khan series by Tim Ellis can be read as individual complete books, as can the fantastic 'His Dark Materials' trilogy by Philip Pullman (Harry Potter for grown ups). However 'Lust, Money and Murder parts 1, 2 & 3' are just one book (for the price of three).

I was really enjoying the book when it suddenly came to a grinding halt without even bothering to work its way down through the gears. No doubt Mike expects the reader to immediately download volume 2, but not me. I've got 100 books on my Kindle waiting to be read, and I won't read another Wells' book out of principal because I think this finished with a cheap shot

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
5 Stars
Collecting Dreams
Collecting Dreams - Sue Whitmer

Collecting Dreams is a wonderful book. As the son of a hoarder myself I totally understand the confusion, the total bewilderment and even the disorientation that is part and parcel of being a hoarder's offspring. I can't even begin to tell you how old some of the food was in my Mum's deep freeze, but she has rooms that have been locked for over twenty years.

Whilst myself and my wife enjoy clearing space out of lives, my mother sees that as being wasteful. A trip to the dump is simply frittering away stuff that "might come in handy one day."

I originally thought this happened to people who'd been through the war years when everything was rationed, but I no longer think that's the case. I think my own mother surrounded herself with 'stuff' as some kind of protection. Against what, I don't know.

I've tried talking to her. I've tried to understand what it is about old train tickets, old blankets, old jars that once contained jam, old manuscripts, old shit that comforts her. But she won't tell me. My mother has never been very articulate and I feel it's just that she can't explain. Unfortunately she lives in a house that is now unsafe. Everywhere you go there are trip hazards and fire hazards.

However, I'm supposed to be writing a book review, and I'm sure the prospective reader doesn't want to hear my situation. Collecting Dreams is a lovely book and I highly recommend it. Not only do we see glimpses inside the lifestyle of a person with hoarding disorder but Sue Whitmer digs deep into the persona of an individual whose inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects causes significant adverse effects on family members.

Most of us can move through our house with ease, but a hoarder's abode is so full of junk that cooking, cleaning and even sleeping that can present challenges that are not easily conquered.

Excessive acquisition is now a recognised illness but, as Sue so eloquently points out, one that is extremely hard to deal with because you don't have the co-operation of the patient, who will fight you tooth and nail.

So why do I say this is a lovely book? Because it's not all about excessive acquisition. In alternate chapters Sue allows us beautiful and touching glimpses into small town American life, and at times the storyline is quite stunning. And this is the magic in this book.

There are surprises here, diamonds in the rough if you like, but I'm no spoiler and you're going to have to purchase the book to find them. Suffice to say, this story captured me and forced me to think very deeply about certain issues that had never crossed my mind before.

Well done to the author. She really is a very good writer.

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
3 Stars
Peterhead Porridge: Tales From The Funny Side Of Scotland's Most Notorious Prison
Peterhead Porridge: Tales From The Funny Side Of Scotland's Most Notorious Prison - James Crosbie

Probably deserves a 3-Star. Starts off well, and it's not a really bad book, but it just gets a little repetitive. The author would probably argue with that assumption, disputing that they're all different stories, but (fairly obviously) the setting's the same, and so are some of the people. I was getting bored near the end.

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
5 Stars
September Ends
September Ends - Hunter S. Jones

A clever mix of two stories which dovetail together well. The Rock 'n' Roll Poet - or rather the poet with the rock 'n' roll lifestyle - Jack O. Savage, who seems to me to be the hybrid child of Charles Bukowski and Ian Anderson, the flute playing lead singer from Jethro Tull, who temporarily gave up the rock 'n' roll lifestyle to become a salmon farmer, and the chat room romance which begins innocently enough and cultivates into full blown erotica.

I'm no spoiler, so you'll have to buy the book to find out what happens next.

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
2 Stars
Bad Billy
Bad Billy - Jimmy Pudge

Well ..... What just happened? Did I just read that?

Er ...... This book kind of kicks off with a story and JUST GOES FRIGGING MAD!!!!

Pudge has a talent, but at the moment it's a wild demon, riding all the way to hell on the back of a screaming, three-headed skeleton that's coked out of its three skulls.

If you could lasso Pudge's talent, bang it up for a year in a bear cage right in the middle of a lunatic asylum and have psychotic maniacs throw concepts and theories and forms at it, and after a year take a million Jimmy Pudges and a million typewriters and throw them into the bear cage along with the brainchild of all the crazed, schizoid psychos, and lock the million Jimmy Pudges up for another year with their million typewriters and give them nothing to eat but ghosts and demons and banshees and instruct them to ...... type.

If you could do that, you might, just might, come up with a story that glues itself together.

I would not like to be inside Jimmy Pudge's head in the dark hours of the night when phantoms are abroad. They would be no match for him!

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
5 Stars
The Trouble With Celebrity: The World According To Charlie (Laugh Out Loud Comedy)
The Trouble With Celebrity: The World According To Charlie (Laugh Out Loud Comedy) - Charlie Bray

"Chris and Gwyn Split"

This was the front page headline in The Sun yesterday, coincidentally the day I finished reading 'The Trouble with Celebrity' and set down to pen this review. It was devastating news and I was unable to focus on the book I'd just read. I imagine most people in the free world felt the same. Indeed when I arrived at work and entered the canteen I was met by several dozen groundworkers, scaffolders, tower crane drivers and Romanian steel fixers, all looking at me in stunned silence. It's no exaggeration to say that more than one tear landed in a plate of eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, black pudding, bubble & squeak, hash browns, chips and half a tomato.

All other concerns such as family worries, money worries, car worries, which of the Big 6 to choose, the impending war between Russia and Ukraine, where to go on holiday in the summer, and even West Ham's chances of avoiding the drop pale into insignificance. Chris and Gwyn, I just can't believe it.

We work on a large London development and share the site with two other Principal Contractors, so I estimate there are possibly 1000 blokes on site, all practically speechless in shock. I myself was absolutely floored. I even thought about suggesting we fly a black flag and close the site for day, because it was clear not much work would get done.

My wife phoned about ten o'clock with the simple question, "Have you heard?"

I choked back a tear and was just able to assert a weak, "Yes," before putting the phone down.

I'd intended to write a review appraising Charlie Bray's book, adding something about the humour value of a good heartfelt and passionate rant about celebrities and the trivialities of their insignificant and meaningless lives, but I'm afraid my heart's just not in it.

Glenn and Gwyn. Who would have thought it?

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
5 Stars
The Highlander
The Highlander - Zoe Saadia

An excellent book.

Zoe Saadia has found a gap in the market and exploited it marvellously.

If I had to find a fault, and I'm not looking for one in such an superb read, I got slightly confused between all the different tribes, but this doesn't affect the storyline or the main characters which are introduced well, built with passion and linked together in a manner that promises more from this extraordinary author.

Saadia clearly has strong sensitivities for this era and I look forward to reading more books from her because I suspect forthcoming books will prove an enlightenment lasting several generations.

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
2 Stars
Whiskey Rebellion
Whiskey Rebellion - Liliana Hart

A Mediocre Book

This is such a shame, because there was no reason for this book to be so mediocre. I liked the character - she reminds me of someone I know - and I felt the plot was a good one. She starts of as an inexperienced and none too impressive stripper, so there's comedy there right from the start. However, despite the fact that I consider myself to be a man of the world I had no idea what a 'bustier' was or indeed 'pasties.' I assumed 'pasties' was a euphemism for her pale boobs but they're apparently decorative coverings for a stripper's nipples, so she's not exactly much of a stripper.

A 'bustier' by the way is a close-fitting strapless top worn by women in 1970's.

And this is what spoiled the book for me, in that the author uses ridiculous 'fillers' to bulk it out instead of cracking on with the storyline. We learn that large women shouldn't wear horizontal stripes, that Rose Marie has permed blonde hair, that Addison is wearing a short black skirt, a George Michael tank top that says FAITH in hot pink glitter, a pair of flip flops and an oversized straw hat and that Kate's wearing a pinstripe suit and sensible flat shoes.

We then learn that Addison has a 1950's wool day dress with a flared skirt and a thin black belt in her closet. WOW! How fascinating is that? I found myself forgetting about the plot, interested only in what else Addison kept in her closet, but I was distracted from these thoughts because Addison "skipped the pantyhose, slipped on a pair of three-inch strappy sandals, grabbed a pink rain slicker (that's a raincoat), and shoved a bunch of Kleenex in her coat pockets."

Do you see what I mean by 'fillers'? An absolutely useless paragraph that serves no purpose whatsoever apart from bulking out the book.

It gets worse. We have to endure a shopping trip to look for a dress for a hot date. She finds a suitable dress, by the way, but is advised by Rose Marie that it would look better with Spanx. Another word I had to look up. It's some kind of a corset or girdle, I think, with a pee hole that ...... Oh, what do I know? Anyway, who cares? It's got absolutely nothing to do with the plot.

Hang on, is there a plot? I haven't the faintest idea. I gave up at that stage. I just couldn't bear it any longer. I honestly couldn't care less what Addison was going to wear next, or Nick for that matter, or Kate, or Rose Marie, or anyone. I was unprepared to fight my way through all these fillers just to get to a plot ...... If there was one.

The author, by the way, prides herself on enjoying contact with her readers. I don't think so. I started following her on Twitter but she couldn't be bothered to follow back, which is unprofessional and rude. She has 5681 followers, and is following just 917 people, meaning that she only follows back about 17% of her fan base, so not exactly making too much of an effort to connect with her readership.

I'd give this book a miss.

Reblogged from KarlWiggins
Review Reblogged
5 Stars
The Village Idiots Ebay Club
The Village Idiots Ebay Club - Charlie Bray

Rohypnol for EBay Users

This is a cracking little read, and I even noticed I was chuckling away to myself a couple of times.

I've often woke up in the cold light of day casually wondering what my 'drunk self' bought my 'sober self' the night before, figuring I'll discover that in a few days. Well, in this book we follow the confessions of a group of self-imposed e-bay habitué, who are not just recreational EBay users, but are actually mainlining the online auction site.

The book follows an e-bay idiot's meeting in which members have to stand up in front of all present, admit they're an idiot and confess to their latest EBay acquisition. There's slight confusion here because everything's written in the first person, but once you get used to this its fun reading. The author has considered the characters well, ensuring there's a fine pot-pourri of personalities, one of whom even reminded me of Flash Harry from St Trinians.

The finale finds the club members setting off on a pilgrimage home in an EBay-acquired double-decker bus.


Reblogged from KarlWiggins