My Review of “The One of Us” by John Needham

oneofSynopsis:

An achingly poignant tale of identical twin boys adopted separately, who are eventually, heart-wrenchingly reunited.

Jim and Maureen Harrison ache to have a child. Glyn and Sioned Rees want a brother or sister for their daughter Lowri. But for both couples, further pregnancy is impossible. So what to do?

The answers to both their dreams are sucking their thumbs in the Strawberry Field children’s home in Liverpool: foundlings, twin baby boys. Glyn and Sioned adopt one, whom they bring up in Wales. Jim and Maureen adopt the other, rearing him in north Yorkshire.

And so the boys are brought up in very different social and family environments, developing markedly different personalities and aspirations. But are they entirely different? After all, they are monozygotic: identical. Does their genetic commonality confer similar character traits deep down? John Needham’s third novel explores nature/nurture theory, weaving it into an absorbing, at times exquisitely moving tale of brothers.

Readers of his previous book, Forebears, will be re-acquainted with warm-hearted, buff, call-a-spade-a-bloody-shovel Yorkshire lass Helen, now taking a larger role, telling her story from an earlier time.

This gentle, compelling, sometimes poignant novel tells the boys’ stories in parallel as they grow to manhood, converging to a dramatic, heart-wrenching reunion that will wring your emotions dry.

My Review:

This book is a beautifully observed study of the human condition: thematically, it applies to us all in that it examines how the choices we make, the choices that others make for us and are own actions and inactions have ramifications that can come back to haunt (or even bless) us many years down the road.
This emotional tale of twins separated and reunited weaves a compelling and well-structured tale over the years, the writing is of a high standard and there’s obviously a degree of research gone on into historical detail and human development which seems accurate and is definitely laudable.
What stands out most about this book for me, though, is its sheer humanity: the author is adept at portraying the inner emotional life of his characters and portrays them with a lightness of touch, realism, empathy and compassion. This book has a great emotional pitch and I have to say that, even though I’m a bloke, I did on occasion feel a tear or two welling up!
This is a gentle, intelligent and compelling book about people, people that the reader can identify with sympathise with, that is both heart-warming and emotional. Highly recommended

My Rating:

FIVE OUT FIVE: A MUST BUY!

Buy “The One of Us” on Amazon.com

Buy “The One of Us” on Amazon.co.uk

 

25 ways the GREEDY ONE PERCENT have hollowed out America’s economy and society.

onepcent

“Drag them out into the street and….”

Back in the 1980’s, the rich and the wealthy, the ONE PERCENT, determined to reverse post war social mobility, welfare and the development of civil society, reversed up the arse of the political class and has operated it like a glove puppet ever since. Politicians, corrupted by money and ambition, now serve exclusively the wants and desires of the One Percent and the economy too has been retooled to serve their purposes. In short, we are ruled by a clique of Oligarchs and plutocrats. These people are sociopaths and their avowed aim is to turn back the clock to the good old days of feudalism and, most importantly, make themselves even richer. They are already rich beyond the dreams of avarice, but they want more, more, more. All they understand is more and in the perma-quest for more of everything they have undermined and corrupted capitalism, creating a smoke and mirrors economy of illegality, lies, deception, propaganda and debt…an unsustainable Zombie economy that is now teetering on the edge of a cataclysmic crash that could take as all with it.

Here’s what these disgusting people have done to America in just 30 years: note to Europeans…don’t be smug: where America goes, we follow.

*The American Dream is dead. Social mobility in America has collapsed to the lowest in the industrial world. If you are born poor in America, you will likely die poor in America.

*The rate of small business ownership in America is now lower than it has ever been.

*49m people in America (including 16m children) are experiencing food poverty.

*There are more women in America receiving food stamps than there are in full-time employment.

*The Pentagon (i.e the military-industrial complex) now spends 70% of all American tax receipts.

*Nine out of ten of the top ten occupations in America pay less than $35k per year.

*Allowing for inflation, average household income in the United States is still 8 percent lower than it was before the 2007 crash.

*In 2007, approximately 17% of all unemployed workers had been out of work for six months or longer.  That figure is now about 34%.

*The number of part-time jobs in America has increased by 54 percent since  2007 but, at the same time, the number of full-time jobs has decreased by more than a million.

*According to the U.S Census Bureau, 23.4% of California residents currently live in poverty.

*New jobs created since the 2007 crash pay in average 23% less than those lost in the crash.

*Half of all college graduates in America are, due to lack of jobs and decent paying jobs, still financially dependent on their parents twp years after leaving college.

*The New York Times has stated that the average American household is now 36% less wealthy than it was 10 years ago.

*66% of American households CAN’T RAISE $400 CASH without selling possessions or borrowing from friends.

*However, the 113 highest paid employees at the Federal Reserve headquarters in Washington D.C. make an average of $246,506 a year.

*And 40 million dollars has been spent on vacations for Barack Obama and his family.

*In 2007, the top 5 percent of households had, on average, 16.5 times more wealth than the average household overall.  Those households now have 24 times more wealth than the average household overall.

*31% of all American car loans are sub-prime.

*The average American household credit card debt stands at $15,607.

*In terms of purchasing power, China has a bigger economy than America.

*Just 5 of America’s big banks have exposure to debt of $40 TRILLION dollars.

*America’s national debt increased by 1 TRILLION dollars in the last financial year alone.

*America’s GREEDY ONE PERCENT possess 39.8% of all U.S. wealth.

*Just 16,000 American families own $16 TRILLION in assets, equal to the combined wealth of the bottom two-thirds of all American families.

*Wealth inequality in America is now back to the levels of the 1920’s…and increasing!

“Please don’t think that the politicians can help you, we own them body and soul, they work for us, not you. Don’t think for a moment that elections represent a genuinely democratic choice, rather see them for what they actually are, a reshuffling of pig snouts around the trough. Don’t you see, people like you should be dragging people like me out into the streets and kicking us to death, people like you should be invading the City of London, pulling the bankers and hedge fund managers out of their plush offices and hanging them from lamp posts. Do it. Don’t do it. But if you don’t do it, you are so, so fucked.”

-Andrew Manning, “I Really, Really Want It.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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reallyJAMESJPSome celebrities behave very, very badly. Andrew Manning is the man who picks up the pieces.

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Boris Johnson: “No poor people in London, please.”

boris-johnson-yawn_667484n

“Cripes..it’s one of those Ordinary People, quick, chaps, shoot the blighter!”

Reading The Guardian I see that one of our esteemed ruling class has just gone and excelled himself. Boris Johnson has just given approval for the building of 98 “affordable rent” apartments on the site of the old Royal Mail Mount Pleasant depot in North London.

But that’s good, you say. Prices as high as they are in London, you say, we need more affordable housing. And I quite agree.

Unfortunately, Boris’s idea of “affordable” is not quite the same as yours and mine.

The rent on these “affordable” flats will be £2800 per month. That’s £33,600 per year. For that to be affordable, you would need to earn, before tax, £100,000 per year.

In other words, Boris is an arsehole. Boris doesn’t come across as a shambling, moronic buffoon as part of his “image,” he comes across as a shambling, moronic buffoon because he is one. Like many of his ilk he’s wonderfully educated and can talk about concepts like “Latinate words” in everyday conversation (apparently he believes politicians should not use them as ordinary common folk are too thick and only understand words with vulgar Anglo-Saxon roots) but he’s not particularly clever (which is not the same as educated) and in terms of emotional intelligence the guy is severely retarded, barely functional in fact.

For fucks sake. How out of touch is this twat?

Completely is the answer. Boris wouldn’t know what an ordinary person was if one came up to him and smashed his teeth out. And why would he be?

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (to give him his full name) was born into money and privilege in 1964. He is a descendant of King George II and (disturbingly) 8th cousin to David Cameron (with whom he shares the Stupid Gene…). He went from Nanny to Eton to Oxford to journalism (a well-known refuge for the well-educated idiot children of the Upper Classes) to politics. In other words, he’s never done a proper days work in his life and has never strayed out of his own cosy, secure world of wealth and privilege.

So, yes, to Boris £33,600 a year is not only an affordable rent, it’s a bargain.

Or at least it is to one of his Oligarch mates. Because besides showing up Boris as an out of touch, emotionally-incompetent arsehole, the £34k a year affordable flat also reveals his true colours. Boris is a representative of his own class and represents only his own class. Boris is the man who has sold London out from under the feet of ordinary Londoners, parceling it up and doling it out for rubles, dollars and renmimbis to the Global Rich. Now with his £34k “affordable” flats has signaled determination to make sure that there’s no way those nasty poor people can afford to live in London: I mean, poor people, oh good grief, we don’t want that, they might bring down Property Values. Let them fuck off to Luton….

 

 

How the Media, Politicians and Plutocrats have conspired to kill Western democracy.

obama shoots himslef in the foot by delisting mek

Obama, shooting us all in the foot in the name of “freedom.”

Okay. I’m calling it, the Western Democracies are good as dead, Zombies shuffling towards inevitable financial and social collapse.
Our political system has been hijacked and corrupted by the plutocrats and corporations, governments do only their bidding, ignoring electorates, controlled by the bribes (be they direct monetary bribes or lucrative executive directorships) and blackmail (stand up, Angela Merkel…) of the One Percent (blackmail material obligingly provided by the ceaseless, illegal data-mining of the NSA and GCHQ).
America, once proud “leader of the free world,” bludgeons its way around the world led by its puppet president, Obama, acting as Global Terrorist-In-Chief, spreading destruction, chaos and misery in its wake as it pursues the mindless and dangerous “Wolfowitz Doctrine” in a vain and doomed attempt to preserve its dwindling global power. In reality America is bankrupt, an empty shell, aggressively hollowed out by the plutocrats, its industrial base exported to low cost producers, 70% of all its tax dollars being consumed by the Pentagon, its educational system the worst amongst leading industrial nations, its aggressive, out-of-control police force armed with flak jackets and machine guns whilst its middle class is collapsing and civil society has descended to second world levels. The only growth industry in America is the Rape and Plunder of other countries.
In Europe, our politicians are a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the plutocrats and US foreign policy. They have no independent thought. Washington snaps its fingers and they jump: Britain used to be America’s poodle but now Washington has a whole kennel of European pets. Our politicians go along with the US inspired fascist coup in Ukraine, damaging their own interests by joining in sanctions against Russia. When America’s mad dog, genocidal ally, Israel, slaughters hundreds of children and babies, they say nothing. In secret they are negotiating a trade treaty (TTIP) with the US that will open up Europe to such goodies as privatised health systems and GM crops. Their own financial interest comes before that of their country, of decency, honour or humanity. Plutocracy knows no national boundaries, has no patriotism, principle or care bar self-interest and greed.
And the journalists (with some notable exceptions) and news organisations that could expose the absolute corruption and dishonesty of our “democracy” are willfully asleep on the job. They too, like our politicians have their snouts in the plutocrats pig trough, snuffling out money, prestige and reward. In return they’ve forgotten that journalism is supposed to be about bringing the truth to light, instead a once proud profession has been reduced to mindlessly regurgitating government-approved press releases. For example, they don’t tell you in reality Flight MH17 was not shot down by a Russian missile but by a Ukrainian fighter jet or that the ISIS terrorist movement was financed by Saudi Arabia (a vicious, theocratic dictatorship which last year put ISIS to shame by beheading 79 people, previous greatest achievement…the financing of 9/11) and Qatar, trained and armed by the United States. Nor do they mention that the aim of the current western bombing campaign in Syria/Iraq is not the destruction of ISIS but of Assad and that within 6 months Western troops will be fighting and dying in Syria. All this because Qatar wants to build a gas pipeline across that country to supply Europe (which the US hopes will further undermine the Russian economy).
Finally, if the US installed fascist government in Ukraine doesn’t tip us all into an “accidental” war with Russia first, there’s the bomb that’s primed to blow us all to fuck knows where. Our rotten financial system. This is a system created by the One Percent solely to enrich themselves, it is opaque, dishonest, often illegal, so complex that no-one fully understands how it works or what will happen when it implodes: it creates nothing and eats everything, it exists by hoovering money from society, it gorges itself on tax revenues, cuts in social services and decreased living standards. It is addicted to debt, debt, debt and central bank money printing. It is la la land economics that enriches the few at the cost of everyone else, and it’s about to explode in all out faces.
Having read this little post you probably think I’m mad. But before you mail me, I’m gonna say…wait and see. Wait and see.
And what to do about all this? Well, one of the characters from my book I REALLY, REALLY WANT IT (celebrity agent extraordinaire, Andrew) got it about right when he wrote this little piece..this was actually written a couple of years back now, so he was pretty prophetic:
“Whilst you are distracted by the antics of characters such as Shelley, and by your own dreams of celebrity, me and my kind are siphoning ever more power and wealth upwards to ourselves, ensuring that more and more windows of opportunity in your life slam shut, and stay shut. I don’t know if you’ll believe any of this, but I place it here in the genuine hope that it might spark in you some understanding of your woefully disadvantaged position in life. Please don’t think that the politicians can help you, we own them body and soul, they work for us, not you. Don’t think for a moment that elections represent a genuinely democratic choice, rather see them for what they actually are, a reshuffling of pig snouts around the trough. Don’t you see, people like you should be dragging people like me out into the streets and kicking us to death, people like you should be invading the City of London, pulling the bankers and hedge fund managers out of their plush offices and hanging them from lamp posts. Do it. Don’t do it. But if you don’t do it, you are so, so fucked.”

Six Failproof Tips Guaranteed to get you signed by a Literary Agent… & how agents operate a MIDDLE CLASS CARTEL!

cartoon-publishing gonna passIn the days when I (naively) still entertained hope that a literary agent somewhere might be interested in my work I came to form my own impressions of them and how they worked.

Drawing on the benefit of that experience, I’d like to present to you my own (not entirely) tongue-in-cheek list of tips that WILL get you signed up. And that’s a 100% money back promise!

The most important to thing to remember, if you want to get signed, is that literary agents are almost stereotypically white, middle-class, conservative and highly risk-averse ladies and gentlemen who lunch and they probably went to a better school than you did. It’s these particular characteristics of agents that have informed the construction of my list….

Here we go, top tips to get you a literary agent:

1. Have a BA (Hons) in Eng Lit from Oxford or Cambridge. This means that an agent can be sure that, even if you churn out plot-free, turgid nonsense at least it will be turgid nonsense with good grammar and spelling: and even if the grammar and spelling isn’t actually that good that’s because you’re being “clever” and “ground-breaking” in your “manipulation and reinvention of the English language.” In a literary agent’s eyes an Oxbridge BA Eng Lit (Hons) is the equivalent of Beatification and Papal Infallibility all rolled into one.

2. Be a celeb. Pretty obvious one this, really. You’re a celeb, people know you, you have a ready-made fan base who will buy anything with your name on it. To an agent, publishing a “book” by a celeb is a no-brainer (literally…). And if you have absolutely nothing to say and your writing skills don’t extend beyond “the cat sat on the mat,” don’t worry, it’s just your name we need, darling, and, anyway, that’s what editors and ghostwriters are for.

3. Be a journalist. Once again, pretty obvious. I mean, if you’re a journalist you’ll definitely be able to write a good book, right? After all, as a journalist, you will have had years and years of utilising your famed journalistic abilities of critical thinking and “having a great nose for a story”  by reproducing other peoples’ press releases word for word and surely all that copying must have taught you something about writing? Surely? Its also useful to note here that you will get double points for being a journalist if you work for the BBC (that being the most middle class of media outlets…) or a nice magazine like The Lady or The Spectator.

4. Be “P.L.U.” This is a slightly more complex concept. Let me explain. “P.L.U.” means “People Like Us.” This is the question a literary agent would have, invariably, asked him/herself before casting your unread manuscript into the never to be read slush pile. Agents like to deal in known quantities, they don’t like straying out of their comfort zone and they’re not happy dealing with people who, well, who just aren’t like them. So, how do you make yourself P.L.U.? Here’s a checklist:

  • Be (at least) middle-class.
  • Live in London or the nicer parts of the Home Counties (not Luton).
  • Express an interest in wholesome and class appropriate activities such as horse riding
  • Ensure that your targeted agent is a friend, a friend of the family, or the friend of a friend.
  • Do not be working class.
  • Do not live in The North.
  • Be white (which is blindingly bloody obvious, really).

5. Do not write about (I can barely bring myself to type the word..) homosexuals. Writing that features homosexuals scares the life out of agents. If they should accidentally pick up your manuscript because they’ve confused it with a copy of The Lady magazine or Sporting life they will, upon spying the gay bit, throw your work into the air and run screaming from the room. However, there are exceptions. You can get away with gayness if you’re an already established and famous gay media figure (preferably a bit silly and very camp, like proper gay people are supposed to be…) or your portrayal of gays might be acceptable if it features them:

  • Being extremely unhappy and tortured individuals.
  • Only able to find a modicum of happiness when they settle into a relationship and adopt/surrogate/steal a child (it being a well known fact that all gays are actually really desperate to have children to bring meaning to their otherwise empty lives).
  • Getting beaten to death by rough trade pick ups/rentboys.
  • Receiving their just desserts and dying horribly of AIDS (this is a particularly effective tactic for sneaking gayness into your work).

6. Be “gender-appropriate” in your writing and, for God’s sake, don’t write anything that mixes genres. This means that, if you’re male, you should only write books that involve guns, fighting, detectives and monsters. If you’re female you need to stick to romance, children and female detectives. Remember, blokes write certain types of books, and women write other types, do not confuse your potential agent by trying to blur any boundaries here…oh, and if you are a bloke trying to write a book for kids, you had better soooo forget that idea…and whatever your sex, do not challenge a literary agent’s (usually somewhat limited) intellectual capabilities by writing a book that mixes genres, that is entirely too complicated and just is not the done thing (unless you satisfy Point 1. above, in which case any old piece of meandering crap is wonderful, darling).

That’s it! Simples! Adopt my 6 tips and I guarantee that an agent will sign you up in six months…..probably.

Pic: writingpublishing.com

The BBC lets slip the truth about Flight MH17, gets told off, changes its mind.

MH17_cockpitThe nepotism and crony riddled journalistic disgrace that is the BBC is still lying about Flight M17 and who shot it down. It seems, though, that at one point today they weren’t lying quite enough and somebody had to have a word…

Earlier this morning the BBC reported that evidence from Dutch flight investigators pointed to a large number of “high velocity holes” in the fuselage of the plane had caused it to break up in mid-air and crash. These could be (let’s be honest they ARE) consistent with canon fire from a fighter jet or shrapnel from an exploding air to air missile, but (here’s the important bit…) that there was no sound of an explosion in sound recordings taken from the flight deck, which there would be if an air to air missile had exploded meters from the plane. The implication of the BBC report, then, was that Flight MH17 had been shot down by a fighter jet. Now, of course, the story that the Western presstitute, compliant, plutocrat-serving scum media have been told to tell is that MH17 was shot down by a surface to air missile launched by Russian-backed rebels, or the Russians themselves.

Oh, dear, seems the dear old BBC accidentally strayed off-script.

And somewhere in the depths of Whitehall, some slimy, scaly-skinned civil servant flicked its pointed tail in irritation and put a call through to its counterpart at the BBC.

And, surprise, surprise, a mere three hours later, BBC coverage of the Dutch crash investigators report has changed completely. There is now no mention of the lack of an explosion on the sound recordings and the “high velocity holes” are definitely, without doubt and in the name of all that is holy, entirely consist with the plane being hit by a surface to air Buk missile and, more to the point, Western governments have masses of evidence that the missile was fired by Russian separatists/the Evil Russians/Vladimir Putin himself.

The truth is Flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet, as shown in Russian radar imagery.

Still don’t believe me? Then answer these questions:

*Western governments have “evidence.” Okay, what is it and why don’t they release it?

*Three famous facebook conversation between a Russian commander and a Russian separatist in which the shooting down of MH17 is discussed…why was it uploaded to facebook the DAY BEFORE MH17 was downed?

*Why was the US State department “satellite image,” with the Buk missile trajectory handily photoshopped in, subsequently shown to have been taken in 2012?

*Why has America not released any other satellite imagery?

*Why did Kiev air traffic control divert MH17 300 miles off its planned route?

*Why does Kiev air traffic control not want to release transcripts of its conversations with the pilot of MH17?

*Why does Russian radar imagery show MH17 being tailed by a Ukrainian fighter jet?

*Why is damage to the fuselage of MH17 consistent with fighter jet cannon fire?

*Why was “photographic” evidence of a Buk missile launcher (which the rebels have consistently denied having) in rebel-held territory disproved when people noticed the road signs in the picture showed that the picture was actually taken several hundred miles away in government-held territory?

Lastly….remember that the current Ukrainian government was installed by the CIA and various American Neo-Cons, the same people who bought The Fabulous, The Amazing, All Singing, All Dancing Saddam Hussein Weapons of Mass Destruction Roadshow.

If you’d like to know WHY flight MH17 was shot down, please read my previous post:

Is Obama’s meddling in Ukraine leading us down the road to Nuclear War?