Andy Duncan
Monday, June 30, 2003

The Order of the Insomniac

Well, I'm very disappointed. After the first three marvellous Harry Potter books, followed by a good (albeit a bit long) fourth, I think the unravelling tale is starting to get a bit ragged now. I feel Bloomsbury's bank manager has made Ms Rowling go a novel too far, with the Harry Potter franchise novels, and certainly at least a year too early. Ok, so maybe we can forgive all the "Yeah"s, and "Nah"s, instead of "Yes" and "No", and using the same plot five times might be acceptable (though even Ms Rowling seems a bit embarrassed, often referring to the way the Dark Arts masters keep copping it), but this lastest tome seems unfinished.

I'm not too embarrassed to admit having read and enjoyed the first four novels, even though this puts me beyond the pale for Stephen Pollard, but this one is a struggle. As a life-long insomniac, I usually turn to economics masterpieces to send me into the land of nod, once the witching hour finds me wide-awake past midnight, but now I'm using "The Order of the Phoenix" to cure my insomnia. I'm up to about page 149 now, and nothing appears to have yet happened, except various whispers of various insubstantial plots. I make about 30 pages, before passing out unconscious onto the pillow, though I have to fight to stay awake to get that many done.

As someone struggling to write my own first novel, which let's face it, may never be published, with books I like, I just read them and enjoy them, getting into the plot like everyone else. But with this one, I can't help re-editing the book all the time, turning the passive verbs into active ones, removing ghastly adverbs being used to strengthen up weak constructions, de-steroidising "growled"s, "yelled"s, and "shouted"s, into "said", and trying to replace cliches, such as "like chewing a rug", into phrases just a little less predictable, "like chewing thick cork tiles" (or whatever).

She wrote three strong novels, when she was poor, but this one is weak, and now she is rich; this may all be connected. I suspect she's rushed out something she knows is an unfinished draft, or, possibly, she's so wealthy now, and so sick of Harry after a three year break, she's failed to push herself hard enough trying to make it as perfect as she would've, if she'd still been struggling and poor. I'm not a published novelist, and I'm probably just jealous of her first three novels, which I wish I'd written instead of her; but this one is the poor relation. It needs at least one more draft, to take out those passive verbs, and adverbs. The book also needs to be reduced in size by at least 10%, to tighten it up. Harry Potter used to cause me insomnia, making me read through the night. And now he's curing my insomnia. What has gone wrong?

I will struggle on though, in hope and expectation of improvement. John le Carre novels always take at least a hundred pages to firm up, and he's my favourite novelist. I'm hoping to write a glowing account of "The Order of the Phoenix", by the end, so wish me luck getting there. It may be a while. Although having blogged all this, maybe I'm just getting too old for children's books! ;-) 

You Know When You've Been Tubed

Go on, try to beat this. I arrived at Lancaster Gate station this morning, to find a fire alarm going off. Told to ignore this, by the man in front of the lifts, he then told me the lifts were out of order. I don't normally use them, anyway, but let's not let that spoil a good story. I then reached an unusually packed platform to read a message that the Central line was suffering delays because of late-running engineering works. Five minutes later, a compressed train arrived, impossible for even a small gnat to crawl onto. Crazy baby. Hardly anyone got on, except small japanese ladies bearing samurai swords, and the next train was due in 15 minutes. Remember, this is the Central line at 9:30. Sod that, I thought, leaving hundreds of case-carrying American tourists in a bemused state on the platform. I walked up the 78 stairs, out into the rain, and trudged up to Paddington, to get the Circle Line - no tittering at the back,there! :-)

Getting onto the half-wet platform, we were told Circle Line trains were suffering delays, and the next would be arriving in 20 minutes. Getting onto an Edgeware Road train, I got off at Edgeware, and crossed to the eastbound platform. To be told there were serious delays on the Hammersmith line. Ho hum. My patience began to unwind, but I thought, one day we will be rid of this nonsense, and calmed down. I eventually got onto the late Circle Line train I'd been told about earlier, after 15 happy minutes reading the sports section of the Daily Hate-Mail in a damp Edgeware Road station.

There was, remarkably, some breathable standing room on this train, and we eventually staggered into Farringdon Road station, only a quarter of a mile out from my target destination, 15 minutes later. And it had stopped raining! :-)

Blimey, publicly-funded public transport, don't ya love it. And this was a day with no "serious" delays noted on the Underground. How many billions does the Tube receive every year in subsidy from our taxes? God knows, but what a waste. Privatise the whole thing immediately, completely, thoroughly, and with absolutely no subsidy. Give that back to us as tax cuts, and let us work out any alternative. 
Sunday, June 29, 2003

BBC Poodle Being Brought to Heel

So, it seems the Labour Party dominated Foreign Affairs Committee, is going to absolve the Labour Party SpinMeister-in-Chief, Alistair Campbell, from any blame in "sexing-up" the first Iraq dossier, which has been causing harm to the Labour Party. Which will allow the two Labour Party appointees in charge of the BBC, to give the Labour Party the absolution they require. Which is all very convenient, for the Labour Party, and totalitarian attack-dogs like Dr John Reid. But what they don't seem to have realised, in digging this great big hole for themselves, and protesting too much, is that their shattered reputation for truth-telling will now never be recovered. Which is great for those of us who hate the Labour Party. Hopefully, when (if?) the BBC does cave in, serious journalists who still feel they have enough non-Labour Party principles still left in their bodies, will resign en masse, particularly those who can afford to (eg: Peter Sissons, John Humphrys, et al). They'll get well paid positions elsewhere. It would be nice if some of the others go too, and chance their arm in the marketplace, but I'll be surprised if many throw away their ticket on the New Labour propaganda unit gravy train, which is all the BBC will be if it does cave in. (And which, of course, it has mostly been up until this moment, but not absolutely entirely.) The sooner the BBC is privatised, the better, to stop this incestuous relationship, which has so bitterly blown up recently, in the form of a family feud. The executive do not own the BBC. We do not yet live in a Marxist state, where the Party IS the government, and all organs of the government ARE the Party. Fortunately, even if the BBC do lose this battle, I think enough people will have seen through the total depravity of the New Labour spin machine, and will vote these idiots out. Bye, bye, Alistair, either now, or in two years time. Time's up. 
Saturday, June 28, 2003

Bradshaw is a Cretin! Official!

Did you hear John Humphrys and New Labour grease machine Ben Bradshaw going at it this morning on the Today program? By God, it's the first time I've heard Humphrys verge on the edge of genuine anger, in his attempt to outwit Alistair Campbell's Iraq dossier smoke-screen. One feels, that if the BBC do "apologize" (ie. admit frank and total government control and propaganda status), Humphrys will be resigning. I feel it has come to this. Either Campbell resigns, or every BBC journalist left with any individual integrity resigns, en masse. Excellent! Bye, bye, Alistair! ;-) 

Weekend Novel Progress

The novel's been going well this week. Managed to polish up to Chapter Nine. By God, it's hard work though. Just can't seem to get any quality time to do it, but we're getting there, albeit very slowly. 
Friday, June 27, 2003

Three Alternative Parliamentary Suggestions for the UK

1. We take Mr Heinlein's suggestion from Starship Troopers. We only allow military service volunteers, with a set number of years under their belt, to vote.

2. We only allow people to stand as MPs, who, in the last five years, and after due calculation, have contributed at least the average amount of tax to the government, that the average non-government employed taxpayer has handed over. Nobody living on the government payroll, allowed to vote, unless their private income has met the rules above (and that includes current MPs).

3. Use the Internet to scrap Parliament, and create the "UK Parliament Blog" (Mr Perry de Havilland, presiding). As each post/debate comes up, a timed discussion takes place, at the end of which a vote takes place, to which every net taxpayer in the country is allowed to vote (subject to a constitution guaranteeing individual rights). This would be the UK government. 


This morning, on the train into London, I found myself subjected to the loud conversation of two Guardianistas bragging about their work for Oxfam. Now, I don't mind the bragging so much, as we've all done it in confined spaces to impress people (or at least, I have :), but it was the content these two luvvies abused me with. Both were Oxfam staff, deriding the Americans and the British for the current occupation of Iraq. But here's the rub, they were livid with the British government, because to maintain a point of principle, Oxfam has given up several million pounds worth of government grants, because of some disagreement it has with the UK govt over Iraq.

And then I was livid! I've got no problem with people reading the Guardian, there a stupid people everywhere, and I've got no problem with charity, I work for a few myself, but what the hell are the British government doing in the first place, taking my money, and then giving it away without my consent to a bunch of snivelling Guardianistas who are so arrogant and contemptuous of the removing of a fascist tyrant, that they throw it back in disgust.

Charities should ask for money, from individuals, or earn it themselves. Attaching themselves to the coercive drip-fed taxes of the state demeans them to nothing other than organs of state.

So, my ears still ringing from these posh plummy voices of these two ingrates, I escaped the train at Twyford, and crossed to the train for Paddington. Only for some other sod to try to read what I was writing on my laptop; but that's just me being Meldrewish. People, people, people. What are they like? :-) 
Thursday, June 26, 2003
  Judging by the performance of Phil Woollas, the new Deputy Leader of the House, on Jeremy Paxman's Newsnight (Wednesday, the 25th of June, 2003), Tony Blair really is running out of useful idiots. Mr Woollas said he believed every word of Alistair Campbell's 2nd "Dodgy Dossier", and was dutifully put to the sword by an openly laughing Paxman.

If this is the best Tony Blair could uncover on his backbenches, during his latest shambolic reshuffle, the end of New Labour is truly nigh. Thank God. 
  Hi Johan,

You HAVE to get Mr O'Rourke's "Eat the Rich", because there's an excellent section in there on Sweden, called "Good Socialism"! :)

I won't spoil it by giving you the details, but the book's worth buying just for that chapter.
  Adriana Cronin instigated this at June 26, 2003 02:38 PM! :-) 
The woolly ramblings of a quasi-Randite neo-Popperite proto-Rothbardian

06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 /

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