The Bad Mornings

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Some mornings are bad. Some mornings you wake up happy, charged and ready for the challenge….but you just know that things are going to go South. Here’s how they went South for me, today…

7am – Alarm goes off, which is irritating as the horror story I read last night in bed woke me in a cold sweat twice during the early hours. My wife is heading to London today for a conference, so I’m getting the sprogs ready for school. I usually make breakfast for them and prevent any short term conflicts, but today I’m Disco Daddy for the entire school run. No biggy.

7.45am – My wife’s father arrives to take her to the station. I’ve done the breakfast, but Evie is wearing most of the weetabix and Bast has a cookie crunch disc stuck to his forehead. Otherwise, everything’s okay.

8.20am – We’re getting ready to leave for school, brushing teeth and washing faces, when Evie suddenly announces that she’s done a poo. As I’m changing her, Bast pounds across the changing mat and runs THROUGH the dirty nappy. He now has poo on one of his school shoes and everyone is screaming.

8.35am – Bast is dropped off at school, following a lecture about being more aware of his surroundings as running over a dirty nappy equates – in my head – to running into a busy road. He’s still sulking when we reach school.

9.30am – Take Evie to a gym class in Margate, but she runs headlong into another smurf and there are horrific tears: only last night she fell off the sofa onto the hardwood floor and this bump is in the same place. The father of the child who ran into her feels terrible, and I end up having to counsel him as well as my daughter.

9.40am – My mum phones to tell me that my terminally ill grandmother had a bad night. I promise to call in on my way back from dropping Evie at her granny’s house, even if it’s just to give her a kiss.

10.25am – Drop Evie off at her granny’s, then dash across town to my mum’s. My nan is barely conscious and some sort of nursing assessor has arrived, so I give her a kiss and tell her I love her before getting in the car and heading off to do some writing at Costa.

10.45am – My publisher calls, but I send it to the answerphone: I know it’s a reply to an email I sent, and I don’t want to get into a pointless arguement about book titles after just seeing my nan. It is just paper, after all.

11.10am – I arrive at the new Costa in Broadstairs, and I can’t get the wifi to work. When it does connect, it jumps around like a complete bastard and keeps dropping off the internet. I never have this problem at Costa, so I assume it’s the new shop and head to the drive thru at Westwood instead: same issue there.

12pm – I give up on the day, retire to my house and begin an hour’s worth of exercise before answering a bunch of offensive emails and starting on the smurf pickups and the after school run. On the plus side, tonight is pizza night…and it’s only six hours until mummy gets home.

The Witches of Wyvale

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I don’t really like visiting the local garden centre: the coffee is fine, the staff are friendly and the environment is bright and inviting….but it feels like you start to prematurely age just as soon as you’ve taken a seat. People always accuse me of exaggerating, but I once left that building with a full beard after going in only an hour before, clean-shaven. I’m not saying that there’s something in the plants like – oh I don’t know – a sort of spore cloud miasma that withers the flesh, but I did see an attractive, redheaded woman of youngish middle age turn into a blue rinse bingo-winner just by sniffing a purple rose. It happened right in front of my eyes, and three staff members had to help the poor cow back into her car.

On the subject of curious and ancient enchantment, I’ve come to the garden centre to meet three of the area’s most powerful witches. No, seriously. There are three local witches who meet up at the garden centre for a monthly consultation. Unlike the Shakespearean crones or Pratchett’s Discworld witches, these three are quite young (for a given value of young), adorned from head to foot in some seriously fashionable clothing and are, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit on the sexy side.

Wicky-wow-wow type witches. Is that a thing?

When I was invited to join them for coffee, I was faced with a bit of a conundrum, not merely because I’ve written quite a few posts gently ridiculing Wicca and the ‘the craft’ but also because, since becoming a Master Mason, I’ve found myself a bit more interested in ancient practise and the art of ritual in general. No, please don’t touch my nipples: I hate that.

Plenty of people reading this are already shouting at me for describing Freemasonry or Wicca as ancient (many argue that true Freemasonry only dates back to the 1800s and that Wicca was entirely invented as a pagan sub-religion by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s….but as both are mere extensions of a series of genuinely archaic rites, I tend to see arguing the toss on these things as a bit like arguing that any given god or gods are the ones that everybody should be worshiping. You can’t really say that my Magic Toad of the Crooked Staircase is any less holy and powerful than your Scarecrow of Lightning without then being asked – very politely – to prove it.

Nevertheless, here I am at the garden centre to meet up with three serious, genuine witches. They’re not the only local bunch practising the art of Wicca, as I’m told that at least one other group meet (or met until recently) at the Red Lion pub, but as far as I know the Red Lion doesn’t do cappuccinos so I’m meeting up with this bunch instead.

I’m in trouble only five minutes after sitting down with them, as I fancy the one sitting opposite and I’m so mind-meltingly shallow that this fact is strongly affecting my desire to start the meeting with some of my more challenging questions.

Yes, I know….but I’m a young(ish) full-blooded male, and I don’t get out much (unless you count my daily trips to Costa or Harris & Hoole).

These women are absolutely not what I expected, and I mean that they don’t seem to fit into any of the established categories that I’ve foolishly come to associate with the dreamy practitioners of witchcraft. They look more like Carrie Bradshaw’s support group from Sex and the City. I expected Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick: I’ve got Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson and (yeah, okay – admittedly) Katie Hopkins.

After introducing myself and my little friend (wait – I’m getting to that), I ask them to tell me about themselves.

There’s Mary, whose real name is apparently Meredith, Beth, whose real name turns out to be Suzanne and Shelley, whose real name – rather disappointingly – turns out to be Shelley. The older two are somewhere in their early to mid thirties, but Shelley looks considerably younger.

Mary is single, runs an online witch forum and hangs out in Second Life, the internet’s leading virtual world, but not with (and I quote) ‘any of the established groups’. Beth seems like a member of what I tend to think of as the ‘range rover gang': her husband works in publishing while she spends a lot of time ‘sorting out the stables’. Shelley is a complete mystery, and gives away very little about herself beyond admitting that she owns a ‘shop in Maidstone that isn’t easily classified’ (I’m translating that as ‘one of those shops you stand outside for ten minutes before deciding that nobody is really in the market for a banana shaped backscratcher or one of those ugly punch dolls that sit on mantelpieces for thirty years and scare two generations of children).

I want to ask some really challenging questions, because I love the craft and have dabbled around the edges of it for years without ever really becoming a true solitary practitioner or joining a local coven. However, I also want to take a light-hearted look at what on the surface appears to many to be a very strange pursuit so….
….wait for it…..because there’s something I’ve left out….
I’ve actually brought along my most juvenile friend, a guy who – despite his big heart and puppy dog eyes – just has absolutely no idea when he’s overstepping the mark, upsetting people or generally putting his foot into any given situation, usually up to the knee. I know he’s going to ask some really ignorant questions, and that’s exactly why he’s here. I don`t set out to make fun of people, but this is a blog about the oddities of life….and sometimes you have to hold firm to the mast on that one.

These ladies turn out to have a wicked sense of humour: they’re all really clued up and within a few seconds have reduced both myself and my mate to dust. Due to the fact that they asked, politely but firmly, that I be sure not to pass on any of the specifics they gave me regarding their work in the community or the makeup of their particular order, here’s a choice selection (presented as a Q&A) from the battering we took in the conversation relay:

“Honestly, do you think Gerald Gardner made the whole thing up?”

“People believe lots of different things. We are not Gardnerian witches, but we do believe that Gerald was himself initiated by a much older coven of genuine witches. So the short answer is ‘no’.”

“I understand that the main witch group in the UK has a High Priest. Gerald Gardner was a witch. Is witchcraft basically something men join to get girls? I would.”

“It has been suggested that the coven who initiated Gardner was mostly full of quite elderly women.”

“Maybe he was into that.”

“You must draw your own conclusion, but we believe it was the rites, the rituals and most importantly the Goddess that enticed Gardner to adopt Wicca as his religion of choice.”

“Have you ever successfully healed the sick?”

“We have aided in the healing of others, both individually and as a group.”

“Does there have to be three of you? We’re asking because the world knows that there can only ever be two Sith…”

“The goddess has a triple aspect, but we meet together here because we run the working side of our own Coven. Oh, and the Sith have a stupid rule: if there were more of them they would have wiped out the Jedi before the end of the first episode.”

“Who is the most powerful witch you know?”

“We don’t say her name, but she’s Scottish and she writes children’s books.”

“A serious answer?”

“It’s not a serious question, as power is a term that we would see very differently from you, but our most successful member is a witch called Hilary: she has done more for the craft that anyone else locally that we’re aware of.”

“Can she ride a broomstick?”

“No.”

“Do you do your rituals skyclad? That’s witch-speak for naked, right?”

“Yes: we do, and the photographs are £10 each or three for £20.”

“Have any of you ever done really dark magic?”

“Not with any great results: Nigel Farage is still alive and well.”

“Can you reverse a curse?”

“Occasionally, but I’m afraid that we can’t do anything about ginger hair. The dark power that creates it is beyond any of us.”

“Would you say Hermione Granger (from Harry Potter) is a traditional witch?”

“No. Hogwarts is described as a school for witchcraft and wizardry, but all the pupils and teachers are what you would traditionally think of as wizards. The boys and the girls. We do use wands, but we seldom point them at people and shout things: Kent Police frown on that.”

“Do any of your rituals involve sex?”

“Sadly not, but even witches believe there should probably be a lot more of that about. It doesn’t look like either of you two are getting nearly enough yourselves.”

It was a good morning’s chat. All in all, I’d say we learned a bit about witchcraft, a lot about the garden centre and maybe even a small amount about the way that those with very individual pursuits have become accustomed to dealing with the ignorance and bumbling sarcasm of outsiders.

Incidentally, it’s worth pointing out that I asked one of the ladies to heal a really bad bruise on my knee: when I got home, the purple patch had gone and the skin around it no longer hurt when I pressed down on it.

I only wish I was joking.

NOTE: If you’re interested in studying Wicca or Witchcraft, whether for genuine worship or academic endeavours, The White Goddess Pagan Portal can be found at http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk/

Goodbye, McDonald’s!

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McDonald’s in Ramsgate looks set to close. As soon as I heard this news, I immediately asked my wife to tie me up: it was a trip down memory lane.

I can remember the first and the last time I ever went in there: the first as an 8-year-old kid and the second as a 22-year-old man gaffer-taped to a wheelie chair.

Let’s take those events in order.

The first was on (and for) my 8th birthday. Somebody had bought me a really shitty book about pigeons, my mum and I were ten minutes early and I was just thinking how terrible it would be if nobody showed up to my party when Hamid appeared. Hamid worked at McDonald’s. He was probably a floor manager or a front of house manager or a food manager or a quality services manager (in those days, everyone at McDonald’s was a manager and, if you wanted to speak to the actual manager, you needed to ask all the right questions: in that respect, it was getting into the Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. If you wanted to speak to The Manager – capital letters – you had to find out where the dude was and THEN have it out with him). I’m not sure what title Hamid had, but I know what he did: he did everything….not just cleaning, preparing food, serving customers, opening the shop, closing the shop, managing staff, balancing food orders and dealing with emergencies, but actually everything.

He even did kids’ parties. He sat down with us, told jokes, inflated balloons, played party games and even showed us magic tricks. There were about seven or eight of us, and we had the best time. I remember thinking that McDonald’s was the most awesome place in the world.

Then I stopped eating fast-food as a general rule and never really went in there again…

….until my last day as the Assistant Superstore Manager at Blockbuster Video.

Now, let’s put this in context: I wasn’t hugely popular at Blockbuster Video, because I was a bit like Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf. As soon as I put a foot in the door, I got out a little report book and started to decide that I basically ran the place and that everyone else needed to tow the line. I was a snitch, a cutpurse, a cad, a backslider and a lunchroom gossip of the worst kind…and I was like that before anyone gave me a promotion. By the time I got to Assistant Manager, I was a right little bastard. Then I secured my first publishing deal and turned into the employee from hell, letting people off fines, picking my nose and flicking missiles at customers, talking to angry members of the public using a strange sock puppet: the works. Thus, it transpired that – on my very last day in the company – the staff had planned quite a send-off for me.

The other Assistant Manager at Blockbuster was the biggest practical joker in town, and I’ll give him this: he executed his plan so perfectly that I didn’t have a clue.

Not.

A.

Clue.

I walked in, gave everyone that pathetic hug that signalled some special bond and not – as the truth would have had it – a gentle rebuke towards lots of people I’d failed to sleep with. Then I left….

…and I very nearly made it to the door when I was grabbed roughly from behind and shoved into an office chair that had been wheeled in just long of my peripheral vision. I was then gaffer-taped into the chair, gagged and hurtled through the front doors into King Street.

A sharp left, and the charging lunatics propelling me forward picked up the pace, scooting past newsagents, opticians and the Grott Shop, harsh left…

…and into McDonald’s at the height of Rush Hour.

It was chaos.

It was frantic.

It was like a scene from 24, but minus Kiefer Sutherland or that incredible tech girl who keeps favouriting my tweets on Twitter in order to keep my fanboy behaviour a decent, law-abiding level:

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Eventually, the staff of McDonald’s cut me free with a pair of scissors, but they had to cut THROUGH my jacket in order to get me out.

The jacket I thought was real leather.

The jacket the guy in the shop SWORE to me was genuine leather.

The jacket that literally disintegrated as the gaffer tape came off.

Most humiliating day of my life.

Bloody McDonald’s.

Good riddance to it.

Not really, though: it actually feels like the town of Ramsgate loses another tiny part of its identity every single day. Let’s just thank the gods that they can’t take the sea away……yet.

 

Does Broadstairs Need a Costa?

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Picture from Thanet Gazette.

Here’s a conversation that took place at a small, independent shop in Broadstairs about twenty minutes ago. I support independents as and when I can, but I’ll put up my hands right now and state that I don’t make special trips in order to do so.

Anyway, it’s Sunday lunchtime and, as I approach the counter with a bag full of stuff, the owner starts:

“Dave! How have you been? We don’t see you in here very often.”

“No, to be honest I don’t come into Broadstairs very often. I’m going to start now, though!”

“Why’s that?”

“You folks are getting a Costa. I dropped by today because I thought it was supposed to have opened yesterday.”

“So we’ll be seeing you a lot more often?”

“Yep. I’ll be using the bakery here, too….for my lunch!”

“You don’t eat at Costa?”

“Not as a rule. I’m not crazy about their food….but I can’t do without their coffee.”

“Have you tried the local coffee shops?”

“I’m afraid so. They’re mostly okay, but the coffee isn’t as strong….and, besides, I just went up the High Street and most of them are closed.”

“Well, it is Sunday!”

“You’re open.”

“Good point.”

Do I think Broadstairs needs a Costa Coffee? Yes, yes I do. The people who live there might be against it, but I doubt that visitors will feel the same way. At the very least they will have public toilets down near the clifftop, which would have helped my little boy out today when we needed to run to car after the public ones were – inexplicably – locked.

Neil Gaiman and the Holiday from Hell

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The year was 2004. Thanks to letters of encouragement from Terry Pratchett and Steve Jackson and lot of perseverance from my tireless mother, the walls of rejection were tumbling down. I’d been signed by Ed Victor Ltd, had an incredible agent (Sophie Hicks had recently been appointed MD of the company) and a sizeable three-book contract with Hodder Headline for The Illmoor Chronicles.

Then it happened: the game changer.

Disney.

Having signed me for a six-figure book deal at the Bologna Book Fair, the Disney corporation and my agent were both (quite rightly) a little put-out by my sudden refusal to make a scheduled appearance at the Chicago Book Expo the following month. Agreeing to go would have meant getting on a plane, and I’d always promised myself that this was something I would never do.

I wasn’t simply scared: I was terrified, and even Paul McKenna’s insistence that I was more likely to be kicked to death by a donkey than die in a raging sky inferno were falling on deaf ears. Besides, if I was being kicked to death by a donkey, there was a very good chance that I could sack up and take the little bastard with me.

I was also in a very difficult position: my girlfriend, who I had asked out mere days after the events of 9/11 had always accepted my flat-out refusal to visit her extended family in Brindisi, Italy…and if I suddenly accepted a trip based largely on money, fame and success, I would quickly reveal myself as the ultra shallow little backslider that I occasionally see in the mirror when I’m shaving.

I was genuinely determined never to get on a plane, but I did it. Too many people had helped me to forge a career in order for me to piss all over their efforts with my cowardice. Besides, I was also scheduled to meet Creative Artist agents Shari Smiley and Rich Green, and there was talk of a movie.

So….flash forward a year or so and my girlfriend approaches the subject of visiting her family, doing so secure in the knowledge that I quite literally cannot say no.

I went to Brindisi, met my new wife’s incredibly welcoming family and had the best holiday of my life. I did it again the following year, then flew to Sofia in Bulgaria to be a literature ambassador for the British Council. I was getting confident.

Then it happened. I was at an airport, getting ready to fly out to Italy, when a friend called me and said: ‘What do you think of Neil Gaiman?’

I always thought of Neil Gaiman as a writer of short stories at the time, but he – along with Michael Marshall Smith – was the reason I scrambled for the pages of Stephen Jones’s regular horror anthologies. I loved Neil’s work, and said as much to my mate. It was only when I was clicking off the phone that I saw, on the shelves of the WHSmith express store I was in, a copy of American Gods.

I had always avoided reading American Gods because it was one of my specials, a set of books I’d deliberately put aside in my mind for reading at the right time.

I picked up the copy on the shelf, and starting reading about Shadow’s journey on the flight…which, if you know the book, is an incredible place in which to begin it.

I was really looking forward to this particular holiday, as we had booked an enormous suite in a beautiful hotel near Brindisi Harbour. I felt great as I disembarked from the plane, and the book was so immediately engaging that I’d barely even noticed the flight. I went for a lovely meal at the apartment of my wife’s aunt, before heading back – exhausted and happy – to the hotel.

The following morning, I felt a bit unwell: nothing terrible, but a little sick and a bit dizzy and just generally below par. Coincidentally, Shadow’s journey in American Gods was becoming noticeably darker. I was, by now, literally lost in the book: it had become a compulsion and I was picking it up every few seconds.

By lunchtime, I was really quite ill: sickness, diarrhoea, disorientation, blurred vision. I was still reading the book, when I could, but there was one point where every half page was interrupted by a violent attack of one sort or another.

Time passed, and I got sicker…and sicker….and sicker.

By the time I discovered I had a severe strain of E. coli poisoning, I just didn’t care what happened to me. I had never felt so ill in my life, and I discovered at that point that you sort of lose your identity when you’re overwhelmed by sickness: things blur, and although you still love the people you love and are essentially the same person, when you’re in the middle of the maelstrom nothing matters. I was still following Shadow. At one point, my wife had gone out of the hotel to fetch emergency medication when a maid came into the room. She had been alerted to the fact that the door to our suite was wide open and that there was ‘a naked man visible from the hallway’.

It was true: I was lying on the bed, face down, naked, weak, unable to make it to the toilet before even the most basic functions just happened automatically. I was a skeletal wreckage when the maid, an incredibly attractive young woman, carefully approached the bed with one hand over her mouth, presumably afraid that she was about to discover her first corpse.

She asked me twice if I was okay, but I didn’t care. This lovely young lady had ventured into an uncomfortable situation to check that I was okay and, despite the embarrassment I should have been feeling at the state she found me in, I simply had no regard for her or anything she was trying to do in my best interests.

She asked if I wanted the door closed, if I wanted a doctor, if I needed her to contact anyone, all in fragmented but detectable English.

Then she picked up my copy of American Gods and tried to put it out of my reach on a cabinet.

I (quite literally) reared up out of the bed and snatched it from her hand.

‘I haven’t finished this,’ I said. Then I emptied the contents of my stomach onto the floor: to this day, I’m not sure what orifice they emerged from.

I thoroughly enjoyed American Gods, a book I will never read again because the events that made it so crucial for me can never be repeated.

Being violently ill in a foreign country lends a new terror to the experience of such sickness. After this trip, I inexplicably promised myself that I would never again get on a plane or take a foreign holiday. To date, I’ve remained faithful to that promise.

If you haven’t read American Gods, you might like to. It’s a strange story, beguiling and captivating in a way that’s difficult to describe almost as soon as you’ve read it. Look out for those short stories, too: The Wedding Present, The Guest and Click-clack the Rattlebag are all worth hunting down.

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In Trouble? Better Call Hannah

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When I get into legal trouble – and I get into quite a bit – I tend to call my solicitor. His name is Ethan, and he’s basically a shark in human form. When I get into psychological trouble – and I get into that even more – I usually dial up Melissa: she’s all warm and fuzzy and spiritual in that way only the very fluffiest of us are. When I get into physical trouble, I call John (if it’s my health), Sarah (if it’s my back) or Floyd (if I need someone bounced off the pavement).

When I get into dinner trouble – and I need (I mean desperately NEED) to present a really good meal, I don’t go for one of those cop-out ‘finest’ ranges from the supermarket. These days, everyone can immediately tell if they’re eating that stuff.

I call Hannah.

Have you heard of Hannah? Sure, you have: I mean ‘Home Cooked By Hannah’ Hannah.

Let’s take a second to go over this. I don’t throw dinner parties very often, but when I want to impress people: publishers, agents, journalists, friends I refuse to admit to my wife that I fancy, I like to call up Hannah for a number of reasons. Here’s a quick lowdown:

1) She’s a local business. This translates as ‘she’s working really hard against extremely tough competition’.

2) She’s the most outstanding cook in Kent. Her food doesn’t just taste good, it tastes Good. The capital letter is important, and justified.

3) She produces the only food that you can keep in the freezer and then serve as if you’ve literally just cooked it and taken it out of the oven.

4) She delivers the food, invariably on time for your special night of indulgence.

5) She uses traditionally sourced, local ingredients.

6) She does ‘free-from’ meals. Those are meals from people who have horrific reactions to the ordinary stuff: most of my friends, in fact.

7) She provides nationwide delivery. Did you hear that? Ha! In your face, Tesco.

Here’s the crucial bit about ‘Home Cooked By Hannah’. You can lie and tell people you made the food. No, seriously: we do.

People at our dinner table look at us with their mouths watering and say ‘Okay, wow: this tastes incredible.’

At this point, I lean back in my chair, smile at them and say: ‘I’m not just a great cook, I’m also a hardworking, emotional guy who loves his mother.’

Yes, I know: I’m a complete tit. Still, I stand by the point.

The only problem with the fantastic discovery of Hannah as your secret cook of choice is that people tend to keep Hannah all to themselves. Well, it’s time for us all to put up our hands and admit the truth…and here it is:

PRACTICALLY EVERY DECENT MEAL SERVED IN KENT HAS, IN TRUTH, BEEN COOKED BY HANNAH.

There; I’ve said it. Thank the gods for that.

What an epic, epic relief.

Here’s her online kingdom:

Website: http://www.homecookedbyhannah.co.uk

Twitter: @homecookedbyhan

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HCBYHAN?fref=ts

Russell Brand: Revolutionary or Idiot?

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There’s something terribly wrong with Revolution.

Russell Brand wrote it.

I think the great tragedy of Revolution is that it’s a beautiful, beautiful book that would beyond any shadow of a doubt improve the world immeasurably….if it hadn’t been written by Russell Brand.

I could go to great pains to tell you that the book isn’t constructed entirely by Russell, that it isn’t a huge ego trip or an attempt to dabble in some light-hearted bating of the big corporations or the right-wing elite. I could assure you that it is packed full of the combined wisdom of leading environmentalists, scientists, spiritualists and lateral thinkers, or that the ideas contained within the pages really are as ground-breaking as the blurb and title suggest.

You would be thinking ‘Yeah, but it’s written by Russell Brand.’

And it’s not your fault that you’re thinking this: it really isn’t.

Russell, as he would probably be the first to admit, has gone to great lengths to establish his character through the medium of TV, films, glossy magazines and the pumping power of social media. The problem is that he has been so successful in doing this that it has undermined every subsequent action or commentary that he now chooses to make.

…and what a commentary that is.

You see, Russell Brand really does have a very important message…and Revolution genuinely is a very moving, deceptively innovative and quite incredible book. It’s a book that lots of people genuinely wouldn`t want us to read or in any way cogitate upon, because it’s a book that throws open locked doors, shatters enforced windows and says to the world ‘Can you SEE what is actually going on here?’

It’s a book, sadly, that people will enthusiastically slag off without every actually reading…

…because that’s what people do, isn’t it? They attack what they perceive and think about it – if there’s time – a bit later on.

Revolution is not a book of conspiracy theories, because you don’t need a secret network of underground hackers to uncover the fact that governments and big corporations are eating up the world’s resources and literally treating us like mindless automatons: just switching on a TV will show you that.

Remove Russell Brand from Revolution and what you have is a revolutionary book.

The thiing that worries me so much about #parklife tags and all the hilarious attempts to put Russell down and make him seem like an idiot or a huge hypocrite is the nagging feeling that these efforts are not the work of the people they would seem to originate from, and are in fact from the very people that most of us hold in common as enemies: the people who joyfully keep us exactly where they want us to be: confused and directionless.

Let’s all label Russell Brand for what we might believe that he is: a dandy; a rich, egocentric, jovial, overconfident movie star who is simply going through his pre-scripted `spiritual phase’.

…but let’s still read the book, because the world is in a truly terrible state and we should probably pay attention when anyone – when A N Y O N E  – says ‘Hang on a minutes, folks: why don’t we try this…..’

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