On the further incompletions of the current story

Damn! Bugger! And blast!

I recently crowed in this space that I was into the endgame with the current story as I launched myself into the task of polishing to make it presentable to the world. 

Well, in the task of polishing I think I uncovered a lot of crud. 

skull with yucky things inside large
I was tweaking sentences and punctuation when I realised two things. One, the voice is horrible. Second, I’m hitting the reader over the head with the themes as if they were frying pans.

The alert reader (Hi!) will see immediately that these are two huge things to be wrong with a story, going right to the tone and heart of the thing. 

Oops, as they say. 

My first reaction was to pretend I hadn’t noticed, hoping that the reader will not notice for real. But, of course, the reader will notice. Unlike the writer, the reader is not privy to what the story was supposed to be like, or what the writer hoped it would be like, or what the writer desperately pretended was otherwise. The reader has only the words on the page to go on, and if they aren’t up to snuff, then there is disappointment. 

And embarrassment for me. 

So, back to it. A wall-to-wall rewrite. 

At this point I ought to be discouraged. Will this bloody thing never get off my hard drive? Perhaps I ought to follow the masters like Tolstoy or Gogol and petulantly burn my manuscripts, put on a hair shirt, and join a doomsday cult. 

But no, I feel oddly excited. The pulse quickens because I know what I need to do to correct the story, I think I know how to do it, and best of all, if I pull off the changes, the story will be all the better for it. 

It’s an odd feeling, and, I suspect, a mad one: Who gets an adrenalin buzz from something so pedestrian and nerdy as sitting in a chair and making shit up? Well, pedestrian nerds that’s who. 

Talking of readers, I am also sure that it was the interest people showed in the story following my last update, and the nice things that people have lately said about earlier stories that stimulated me to take a harder, more critical look at this effort from the point of view of a reader. It was a bit like some of you were looking over my shoulder, making me self-conscious to the point I paid a bit more attention to what I was doing. 

So thank you for that!

Meanwhile, excuse me — I think I may be about to hyperventilate. Lucky me!

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Announcing the incompletion of Chris Page’s latest novel

It was supposed to be a light story with a fun and silly premise but it has somehow turned into a festival of gore, dismemberment, spilled brains, and leaky bowels. 

From jolly japes to blood, darkness, and despair at a keystroke. 

And I was going to write my happy story in three months. That was 13 months ago when I started to compose the thing. Or 19 months since I decided I was going to write it.

And for 13 months of work, the story weighs in at a skinny 36,000 words, about half the length of each of my previous four novels. We might call it a novelette. 

So what have I been doing with myself? How did all that happen — or not happen? 

zombi_2540x500

A hint of the terror waiting in the new story — out soon!

Without wanting to cry in public or beg pathetically for sympathy, the last two years have been one of the most difficult times in my life. 

I guess during the process of composing, reality leaked in and soaked everything in its own grimness. 

I am impressed, if I want to toot on my trumpet rather than blub in my beer, that I have managed to move the story along or get anything done at all. I’m impressed I’ve managed to keep dressing, feeding myself, or breathing. Yes, I think the real-world travails may have coloured the story. Standing back and taking a more distant look at the story, I see that it might be teetering on the brink of autobiography — especially the stuff about bowels. 

At one point in the composing I wrote a note to myself in the text: Where is the humour? The humour is there if you find death and decay funny, and I recommend you do. 

So, lightness didn’t happen, but it is a tale of every day horror that you may recognise. You may even be a participating character in the real world.

Like a novice nurse having their first encounter with bowels, I have been taken aback at the grotesque things coming out my imagination, which points to some kind of unguessed at facility for the grotesque. Perhaps the signs were there in the last story, Sanctioned, with its dangling corpses. But the arc has continued into the depths of the abattoir — all clanging chains, screams, and sudden sprays of blood.

This suggests a career development. Perhaps I could become a surgeon or a police officer or a middle manager. Or perhaps I could write blood-soaked genre fiction under a butch pseudonym and get lots of money.

Perhaps, if I ever sorted out my life the inclination to horror would disappear and I would get back to sweet stories about lollipops and unicorns and cushions and things, and wouldn’t you be happy at that. 

The current story — title to be decided — will be out some time this summer. 

If it doesn’t kill me. 

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Brexit ate our language

Alongside the comprehensive destruction of the national sense of self, unity, wellbeing, cohesion, self-esteem, international standing, and national credibility, language has been a conspicuous casualty of Brexit. In separating from all those other languages, we seem to have knackered our own

Second Referendum

When we talk of a second referendum, not only language but mathematics is defeated because we’ve already had the first referendum. The vote in 2016 was the second referendum. The first referendum was in 1975 when the UK decided to join the EU. What people now want is in fact the third referendum. Opponents to a second referendum are opposing something that already happened and in which they probably voted in contradiction to the result of the first referendum. These people say we cannot possibly have a second referendum, meaning a third referendum, because the people have already spoken in the first, not realising that the first referendum was the one that put us into the union, and we can’t possibly change our mind because that’s undemocratic, even though that’s exactly what they’ve done by voting to leave in the second referendum, the one they mistakenly call the first. So why can’t we have a third referendum, one people speak of as a second? Because that would be undemocratic because the people have expressed their will. But they did that in 1975, so what’s the difference? Well, time and new information the anti-second (third) referendum people will say. But, the pro-second (third) referendum people might say, what we have since 2016 is time and new information. The time being over two years, the new information being that the original leave campaign was based on lies and conducted with illegal spending. So what’s the difference? Why not a second (third) referendum. To which the answer seems to be ‘Because!’

People’s Vote

Referring to a third referendum as a second referendum is sufficiently painful to language and sense, but the loathing is compounded by the hypothetical event’s other sobriquet: the People’s Vote. Which demands the question, who voted the first (two) time(s) if not the people? Was it the dogs and cats of the nation? The voles and moles? We can be confident that it was neither the pets nor the wildlife because animals, being very pragmatic compared to humans will generally vote food and not opt out of the source of their dinner. Which is what a vote for leaving is: a vote against nourishment, a vote against nosh. A hard Brexit will mean the end to all sorts of food on which the UK is currently dependent. For example, it may mean the end of that very British institution: Danish bacon. Animals don’t vote against food. Animals are generally very much for food, so I think we can exclude animals. Or perhaps the result of the first (second) referendum spontaneously manifested itself from the ether without the intervention of voting people. Perhaps we all woke up one morning to suddenly find a referendum result had materialised out of nothing and, like an enraged Godzilla, was physically tearing the nation from its moorings off the coast of Europe. Which brings us back to food. 

Perhaps for clarification, the first question on a future ballot, irrespective of the main subject, might be: Are you, personally, a people? Only persons who can answer in the affirmative can continue to the main question: are you for or against food?

Leave Means Leave

‘Leave means leave’, they say. This is very helpful for people who thought leave meant ‘hedgehog’, or ‘bivalve’, or ‘bacon for everyone’. 

Keep Britain British 

A clear sentiment that must be a bit of a blow to the Leave campaign’s Russian sponsors.

Take Back Control

‘Take back control’, they urged, pleading for something they had never lost. At least, until they gave that control to the Tories who seem to have squandered it or left it on a bus somewhere. 

Believe in Britain

‘Believe in Britain’, they said, asking for faith over the existence of something that could be empirically confirmed, and using a grammatical structure that is identical to ‘believe in unicorns’. 

Meaningful Vote

But doesn’t the term ‘meaningful vote’ give the game away? Finally, they are owning up that every vote since Parliament’s inception in 1215 has been quite pointless. And to drive the point of pointlessness home, Theresa May is at the time of writing hammering away for a fourth iteration of a meaningful vote on a policy that has been meaningfully voted down three times already. That’s already once more than a more meaningful national vote we’ve been permitted. Perhaps a People’s Vote in which neither pets nor wildlife nor Russians participate is less meaningful than the nonsense we’ve been presented repeatedly in the house of fools. May says she is prepared to step down if her party supports her plan, but in each of the meaningful votes she has failed even to get enough votes to resign. Which pretty much sums up Brexit so far.   

One wag in the Guardian last week likened Brexit to the Cuban missile crisis being re-enacted by Teletubbies — which is doubly apt considering the Teletubbies’ masterful use of language. 

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More #BollocksToBrexit — another new design

ra,womens_tshirt,x1900,fafafa-ca443f4786,front-c,265,125,750,1000-bg,f8f8f8This is a great design for starting conversations with certain members of your family and complete strangers in public places.

ALL profits from this design on apparel, mugs, phone cases, etc. will go to People’s Vote or whichever group is doing the best to keep the UK in the EU at the time of making donations.

There are dozens of different styles and colours, as well as mugs, phone cases, and even throw cushions — though I’m not sure why anyone would want a political throw cushion.

Following the success of my recent campaign in which profits from sales of all merch and books is being directed to the cause, I decided to add this running campaign.

This offer will run and run, unfortunately, but I hope it will end when Britain is back inside the fold.

#BollocksToBrexit

Click here to go to the shop.

bollocks to brexit 04 full size

 

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I’m donating all profits to Remain for one week

bollocks shirts blog ad x180pxThis week, I will give all profits from the sale of my books, t-shirts, mugs, etc., to People’s Vote OR whichever group is being most effective in keeping Britain in the EU at the time of donation.

From January, Sunday 20 through Saturday 26 you can get your ribs tickled or clothed while helping to keep your bum in Europe.

Books: http://bit.ly/PageBooks

Tees, mugs, etc.: http://bit.ly/PageStuff

#BollocksToBrexit #Brexit #PeoplesVote

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Look the bollocks, be the bollocks

It is very important in these times of social, political, and environmental collapse to wear clothes emblazoned with a small red tag on the chest. 

The red tag and the white lettering it contains should be appropriated from an anti-consumerism artist of renown, who in turn appropriated her look, for the purposes of satire, from the mainstream press and marketing. 

What is clearly needed now is another t-shirt designer who has appropriated the red tag from the fashionistas own twice-appropriated red tag, who will sell it back to the punters.

This all sounds like a lot of bollocks. 

Which it is. 

Hence the design. 

And the others in the series. 

Wear and appropriate the bollocks from Fictional Shirts.

ra,classic_tee,x1000,fafafa-ca443f4786,front-c,195,210,315,294-bg,ffffff.u1So the marketing blurb goes. 

It seems that everyone needs to be wearing some kind of red and white tag on their shirts these days. Osaka is flecked liberally with red, as if splattered with the gore of a mad marketers chainsaw convention. Meanwhile, in London there seems to be a perma-gueue outside the branch of a particular brand just around the corner from Gosh! Comics. 

Thoughts come together in a rush: I need money; this fetishistic branding is bollocks; I like playing with graphics; I like tee-shirts; if I can diversify a little, perhaps I can drive more people towards buying my books; and most of all, I want a t-shirt with a red bollocks flash on it. 

Which led me to set up this little business thing. 

mug,standard,x400,center-bg,ffffff.u1 copyIt’s not all tees, though. There are mugs (appropriately), phone and tablet covers, and bags and other bits and bobs, all emblazoned with bollocks. 

And it’s not all bollocks, either. I also have shirts and bric-a-brac printed with ‘innit’ and other witty stuff. And there will be lots more as we go along. 

Now that you want a bollocks shirt or mug, you can get yourself one at my online store, appropriately and pithily named Fictional Shirts.

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Sanctioned — one year ago

It is now a year since Sanctioned was published. Sanctioned_cover_x350px.jpg

This satire of a system that is clueless, callous, and out of control is changing the world. Obviously, millions of people are abandoning the old regimes and flooding to the side of reason and humanity.

Even as the tide of history changes around the rock of my tome, many readers will be unaware of the provenance of the cover art.

I took the design of official government documents as my template. The font, the cyan bar, the royal seal come directly from HMG. The cyan colour is reference to the similar cyan strip on the documents of the Department of Work and Pensions, on which the book’s Department of Aspirations is modelled. 

I was tempted to leave the royal seal visible, but had no idea of the consequences of this. Perhaps some readers, or the Queen herself, would mistake Sanctioned for an official government document. 

In the end I partially obscured the seal in case extradition extended to the part of the world in which I live, and led therefrom to a complicated fate by hanging, drawing and quartering. 

The blood spots were extracted at knife point from bureaucrats whom I hunted at night. Their deaths allowed me to decorate each copy individually with their vital fluids and screams. 

I believe the effect is quite striking. 

Sanctioned (by Chris Page, by the way, he mentions in an SEO-friendly aside) is still very much available from Psipook Press in paperback and Kindle from Amazon. 

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Bollocks to … (no. 27 in an infinite series)

bollock_3112

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A big hello in art to the #RoyalBaby

It's that royal baby

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Make Facebook and Google pay for all the data they’ve taken from us

 

Facebook and Google have been monetising our lives, but we can (and should) monetise them back.

Seems that Mark Zuckerberg’s dreamboat has become a zombie ship of ghouls. This month Facebook has turned into farce-book.

While we were all sharing pics of our morning cappuccino and cute cats, Facebook was scraping our lives and turning the shavings into hard cash. Whenever we clicked that like button we were clicking money directly into Mr Zuckerberg’s bank account. The button ought to come with a loud ka-ching sound effect. The icon is a thumb’s up, but it may as well be a dollar sign. Or perhaps the thumb means ‘Cheers, mate! Another one born every minute!’

Let’s try a little thought experiment. Imagine Starbucks was eliciting donations of coffee beans and milk from its customers and then selling them back to us as cappuccino. We’d see right away that this wasn’t a caring-sharing business model, we wouldn’t have to scrunch our faces in an agony of dilemma and say, yeah, but, I like Starbucks coffee. We’d just go elsewhere. Yet, this is more or less how Facebook works and how many of us are reacting to it.

Or put another way, if I came into your living room, nicked the photos off the wall and sold them on the street, I’d be arrested. It would be called theft. In Facebook’s case, it’s called an innovative business model.

How much money has Facebook made over the years? Well, even Wikipedia doesn’t know. It’s a number so big only astrophysicists can deal with it. A year ago, Facebook was valued at $407 billion. Mr Zuckerberg himself is, at the time of writing, valued at $61 billion, which while being about $14 billion down on this time last week, is still a lot of cappuccino.

Facebook’s business model was no secret, but now it turns out that the ship of ghouls is a leaky old tub, and was open to piratical plunder by just about anyone who cared to wander in by way of an inane personality quiz and nick the family digital silverware. More alarming still, anyone with a political axe to grind was hacking in too. These players were not so much swinging elections as swinging them around their heads.

Users have been feeling a mite let down and, rallying to #deletefacebook, have been deserting that ship in droves, which, at first thought, seems like a wholly reasonable reaction.

But.

Let’s face it, many people like the ‘Book. In these times of restless populations and scattered families, and especially for those of us who live abroad, Facebook has proved a neat way of staying in touch. We can keep up with our pals and family across continents and timezones just as well as with those across town. The primary means of communication for the professional organisations I belong to is Facebook. If you run a small business you can get your message to the punters without shelling for the huge ad rates of traditional publications. We can cosy up with our favourite celebs and our heroes, and immerse ourselves in everyone else’s breakfast 24 hours a day.

There are those users who are unconcerned about this data piracy. When people say they don’t care about Facebook taking their data, they are saying they don’t care that their lives are grist for a rich man’s money mill.

The amount of data Facebook has collected is staggering. And Google has collected even more. If Facebook is a vacuum cleaner for data, Google is a black hole. 

So, deleting your account or just ignoring the situation are two options, but I have a better idea, and it’s a very simple one.

Mr Zuckerberg, you have made gazillions of dollars from our data, so why don’t you simply pony up? Why don’t you pay us our share?

It would be like your users, the ones you once referred to as ‘dumb fucks,’ becoming your business partners, becoming real stakeholders — in short, it would be like Facebook becoming a respectable business.

So the simple remedy is for Mr Zuckerberg to share his enormous profits with the people who have provided the raw materials for his product. We can be paid a fair price according to how much we have engaged with the platform over the years. That would be easy for Facebook to work out since they have kept a record of every interaction you’ve had with anybody on their platform since you joined.

So, that’s a gazillion dollars divided between 2.2 billion users … you do the sums. There must at least be a cappuccino in that for each of us. And if this is to be a community and not a factory farm for data, we should then each of us have control over which bits of our lives to monetise, and which bits should be kept out of the data store. If this happens, Facebook may start to look like the community we all thought it was when we started using it.

And when we’re done with Facebook, we can make the same deal with Google, which has collected even more data on us. Where Facebook is a vacuum cleaner for data, Google is a black hole.

After all, Mr Zuckerberg, as you capitalists are fond of pointing out to us dumb fucks, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

And why shouldn’t I be paid for my data? It is after all my life.

Afterword: I have started a Change.org petition aimed at getting Facebook and Google to accept their responsibilities. You can join in here.

 

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