BASTARDS by Paul Featherstone

BREXIT

A nation awoke divided today. Half awoke to a brave new dawn, and half awoke to a monumental fucking nightmare all the rubbing of their eyes couldn’t get rid of. Some had partied through the night, some gawped in horror at televisions in scenes eerily reminiscent of the moment Lisa Simpson breaks Ralph Wiggums heart in slow-motion.

A stronger united country, in charge of our own destiny, was the dream sold. Except today I think we can all agree that we face a very divided nation, where not even the “Leave” campaign knows just what the FUCK happens next? I don’t watch “Game Of Thrones”, but I imagine it is a bit like that, without people shagging dragons or whatever it is that happens in it.

For the record, this is an opinion piece. I know it is a democracy and that it is the will of the nation. I know there are two sides to every story, you don’t need to do what my A-level teachers did and try and crush any lingering soul I may dare to bare.

This, is how it felt waking up as a “Remain” supporter today and Christ it was (and has ironically) remained grim all day. So, like the people at the ballot box let’s make some ill thought through, knee jerk reaction points about the whole thing!!!!

 

YOUNG PEOPLE WILL SOON TURN THEIR BACKS ON POLITICS

 

…..and I mean in droves, Brother. Another political event, where a supposedly disengaged young electorate turn up in strong numbers to shout loud and proud about what they want….only for the older electorate who are entirely more engaged (by parties, you know, engaging them) to turn up in higher numbers and ultimately take a decision that will wholly affect that age group out of their hands.

I understand how democracy works, I really do and I love it. However, a lot is happening in this world that future generations will have to deal with, that they simply did not ask for. In fact, they campaigned against it in huge numbers.

Tuition fees, leaving the EU, living with your parents until you are 46, Jamie Vardy NOT having a party in France. Young people don’t want this, but they have it thrust upon them.

This may not matter in the short term, but if a passionate group of young voters doesn’t come through that will vote throughout their lives or tell their children that- yes, voting does make a fucking difference, we will reach a saturation point of apathy.

That, my friends, is a recipe for the death of the democracy we so heavily shout about being exercised in this situations.

Who is smart enough, and quick enough to cotton on to that, will run the nation for the foreseeable future when they do.

 

THE RIGHT WING DO NOT OWN POLITICAL ANGER

 

An angry nation, sick of the out-of-touch political elite not listening, rises up in anger. Hear them roar, finally they will be heard. Years of righteous frustration, pent up and finally released.

The next day, the predominantly left wing and left-of-centre are told to stop being angry and to accept the decision. It is the will of the nation- suck it up.

Except you cannot complain about not being listened to, and being so goddamn angry that you just want to get out there and do something, and then deny that same indignation to those who don’t share your views, seeking to quell any passion they may show about the subject mere hours afterwards.

There is not a monopoly on being so fucking helplessly powerless in this country that you want to scream your lungs out for only the right wing or those in the “Leave” camp.

You have to allow people to vent, to get it out of their system, as odd as it may seem- allow them to grieve.

This referendum has shown, if you ignore and allow anger to fester, it explodes in lurch-to decisions no one expects to happen. That isn’t great for a powerful nation like ours. The established order may need shaking up, but if you haven’t a clue what the future even remotely holds, you cannot conceivably hold your standing in the world.

Let the Left be angry. Just this once. Most of them are Vegans anyway, they will expend more energy than a dying star and will go quiet soon enough.

 

PEOPLE LITERALLY DO NOT, AT ALL, HAVE A CLUE HOW TO CAMPAIGN AFTER TODAY

 

Use facts? People are bored of “facts” and so-called “experts”. By the way, the most hated “so-called” group since Islamic State, surely?

Use realistic, apocalyptic examples of worst case scenarios that may result from either decision? That is “Project Fear”.

Try not to campaign too heavily in the wake of a colleague being murdered in the street, for fear of returning to the old, name-calling politics that may have led to it? Taxi for Corbyn!

Fuck a pig’s head? That’s aright, don’t resign…

Lose a 50/50 vote you promised in your manifesto (a manifesto littered with false promises you have failed to deliver on)…? See you later, Danepak Dick!

 

The established parties have no idea what to do out on the streets anymore? Labour feel like they are door knocking for Michael Foot, but should push Thatcher politics to get working class voters back.

Even Farage seemed like a mad, hormonal drunk teenager on results night. Picking fights, conceding, not conceding, winning, sticking a traffic cone on his head in Parliament Square, being sick in it and throwing it in Nick Robinsons face. Even he had no idea if it was working?

He even managed to forget he had erected massive 20 foot slogans on buses about funding the NHS with £350 million a week approximately 14 minutes after winning.

I mean, politicians are normally so coolly in charge of their lies, they at least remember them the fucking DAY they win!

He basically threw a load of shit formed bollocks into a desk fan and didn’t know how to wipe it off the walls when it actually fucking worked!

 

CORBYN DOESN’T HAVE TO RESIGN OR REACH OUT DIFFERENTLY TO LABOUR “LEAVE” VOTERS

 

Labour back benchers need to get something through their thick fucking skulls- Jeremy Corbyn is loved by its members and is not going anywhere.

England football fans accepted James Milner 2 years ago. They hate him, but there he is warming up, because someone, somewhere likes him.

Have as many leadership challenges as you like, he is not getting shipped out anytime soon. Those who don’t engage with him tore their cards up years ago. Those who do are here to stay.

Either the party splits into a Socialist Labour Party led by Corbyn and the New Labour remnants led by someone like Andy Burnham, or they get behind him at the next election.

It will be a snap General Election, opposition parties do not win them. It would be foolish to not at least test the waters with Corbyn on a truly national level, for indications of what to focus on at the next fully-formed election. He is noble enough to step aside if it is a humiliating experience.

The immigration issue is well and truly put to bed. Labour won’t have to sheepishly pander to an issue they are uncomfortable in meeting head-on for at least a generation.

The focus now turns to the preservation of the NHS, defending workers and social rights we have under the EU and ensuring the money not sent to the EU is redistributed fairly, not to the elite. These are all Corbyn’s specialist subjects, and aligned with fact that turncoat Labour voters will surely never vote for Boris Johnson, George Osborne, Teresa May or Michael Gove, all hope may not be lost under him….

 

IT IS ALL JUST….CRUSHINGLY…..DEPRESSINGLY SAD

 

Generations turning on each other. Scotland wanting to clear off again. Your EU passport a distant relic your children will look at with intrigue. EU workers who adopted this nation as their home, had children here, integrated, looking over their shoulders for the big heave-ho out of here. Babybel Cheese becoming prison currency.

It may feel like a huge street party for Farage, but fundamentally the EU was set up to bring nations closer together.

We used to openly hate each other in Europe. We still do a bit, but it seemed we had learned to live with all our faults like the family we were.

If the project to all rely on each other and not be tiny islands is truly over, it is just a crushing blow for mankind’s ability to get on.

When the Berlin Wall came down, the idea of borders, of isolated people separated by gates and ideology seemed to be over. The Global Village is seemingly dying now.

Our future children won’t backpack around Europe freely anymore, and if they do it will be under the gaze of suspicion that greets strangers and unfamiliar accents.

Britain has pulled up the draw bridge, and in 20 years’ time it will feel that way to our distant European neighbours.

It may be the right thing for all our nations, but it says a huge amount about our ability to just get along and live together as individuals.

That isn’t pie-in-the-sky, liberal thinking. It is how we have learned to avoid war in modern Europe. Moving away from that won’t lead to World War Three, but dear fucking me, its bleakly defeatist about what we can achieve together.

I always felt European. I feel like a part of my life is dead now.

 

THE NHS IS DEAD IN 20 YEARS

 

Sincerely……..well done. There won’t be a referendum on the break up of that.

 

IMG_20160625_152930Paul Featherstone is 34 years old and spends the majority of his time rubbing his temples in despair at the world he lives in. He is going grey and lives in the eternal hope that the world will be untied when James Corden’s career finally ends.

 

 

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Tawdry Tinsel Town by Dr Dave Salmond

Like many people my age, I was born in the 80’s. Whilst this was a bad time for fashion and music , it was, in my opinion a golden age for the silver screen. I was lucky enough to be born and have a few formative years before technology gave us the wonderful invention of home cinema. I have been hooked to film from a very early age, one of my earliest memories was watching Star Wars for the first time one Christmas when I was five and I have been hooked ever since. But to my young mind it was tragically unfair to have to wait another full year to watch it again (for some reason I only ever remember Star Wars being on at Christmas). Then along came VCR and Betamax. Now I no longer was a slave to the programming directors of the BBC and ITV, although I had to wait until after the format wars were over before my dad would part with any money on a video player (media savvy or tight fisted I’m not sure).

Until this point I would get my fix from trips to the cinema or whatever was shown on TV; child friendly films or more often cartoons. The 80’s was awash with family/ child orientated viewing, Disney films were going strong, Jim Henson’s puppets were popping up in film’s like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, not to mention the ubiquitous Muppet movies. We also had out-and-out kids classics in the form of The Goonies, Flight of the Navigator, Monster Squad and the Karate Kid which, after watching, every kid thought they could do kung fu. For the older kids, John Hughes was pumping out teenage angst ridden cinematography like Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles before moving onto the more family orientated National Lampoon series and eventually Home Alone.

With the advent of the video player, all these movies and many more could be watched at home whenever the mood took you. Trips to the video store became a weekly highlight for me; being allowed a choice of one movie at the weekend was an all consuming task, do you take a chance and get something new, hire out Adventures in Babysitting for the tenth time or get that film that everyone was talking about at school? Too many options is sometimes a bad thing. This often led to what seemed like hours deliberating which film to choose in the video store, wondering around with one film in hand but still not entirely sure if that is the one you want. Part of this consideration for me wasn’t always about which title you where allowed to take home that week, it was about the one’s you weren’t.

The introduction of the video player had inadvertently provided a loop-hole to certain film makers in the early 80’s. Low budget, mainly slasher horror movies, could now bypass the film certification board by releasing their films straight to video. These video nasties caused public outcry and eventually stricter regulation of the video market. Although this had been addressed by the time I was at an age where I was watching films, it had left a bit of a cultural legacy. Hollywood had obviously spotted that there was a market to be filled at this end of the spectrum and by the mid to later part of the decade was pumping out 18 rated films at quite a rate. Although 18 rated movies were nothing new, they had become something to aspire towards, pushing the new boundaries and seeing what film makers could get away with under the new guidelines.

So this left me in the video store, clutching my copy of some childish film wondering what those very stylised film boxes were on the top shelves. Knowing that this forbidden fruit was out of my grasp, legally and physically, gave them all the more appeal, even though I knew they were put out of my reach for a reason, be it because they were too violent or had bad language, having to wait until I was eighteen seamed unfair.

This started a new craze for me, to see as many age-restricted films as I could. I no longer cared if they were good films or not, it became more about the age badge on the front of the cover. U rated films that I’d loved became babyish in my eyes, now it became a race between me and my friends down the street and at school to tick off as many 15 and 18 rated films as we could. Being the first kid in class to see the much talked about, over hyped film we weren’t meant to see became a badge of honour. We didn’t care that watching some of these films would scare the shit out of us or maybe warp our outlook on the world (I like to think I’ve turned out ok despite some of the films I watched at too young an age) it was all about the bragging rights of been the first person to say ” I watched The Terminator over the weekend.”

We used many and what we thought were devious and clever tactics to watch these films, taking advantage of lax parenting where possible, sucking up to the older kids down the street, blackmailing older brothers and sisters who’d been caught smoking into letting us watch them whilst babysitting at someone’s house. Sometimes just flat out lying about seeing a film would get you through if you’d overheard enough people talking about the key scenes, all so you could brag about it at school even though you’d never seen it. I would lie, cheat and on a couple of occasions steal to watch as many films as possible. This was my obsession with movies.

I tell you all this because the rant I am about to go on may sound a bit negative and despite all my current misgivings about the state of the film industry today I do still have a love of cinema. It was a big part of my childhood as I’ve explained and even into my late twenties I was still buying DVD’s on a weekly basis, purchasing new titles and replacing my old video collection. I’m not sure exactly when it started to happen, but slowly the number of films that I would watch started to decline and when I did watch a new movie they just weren’t captivating me anymore. I’d laugh less at comedies, be drawn less into thrillers and action films just flat out bored me. For a time I just assumed that this was natural, that becoming jaded towards things was part of getting older. I’d talk less to my friends about new films either because I had no interest in seeing that particular years big blockbuster or more often than not they got sick of me bitching how shit cinema had become. This posed a bit of a problem to me, I was still enthusiastic towards other things from my childhood, so why was my love of film dwindling? I was still finding new music that I enjoyed, I still spend hours in book shops looking for and discovering excellent literature. So why did my passion for film disappear?

I’ve pondered this question for a few years now and while you may disagree with my conclusions, just remember that this is how I justify that it’s not me that’s gotten old it’s Hollywood that’s gotten shit.

The first point I want to raise is the current trend of the PG-13 rated movie, whilst this certification had been around since 1984, it seems to be the dominant force at the moment. I understand that a film maker wants his or her film to reach as wide of an audience as possible but aiming all films at a more juvenile target base in my opinion is the wrong way to go about this. I also realise that this isn’t solely the decision of the film makers themselves but more so the studio’s that produce them. Why make a film that only mum and dad can enjoy, get them to bring the kids as well, more bums on seats, more money. With this attitude of aiming at a younger target audience holding so much sway, whilst good for the money machine, can be very detrimental to a good story. Don’t get me wrong, some children’s films, Pixar especially, write very strong and engaging stories. This is because from the very outset these films were designed and primarily aimed at children, but they incorporate subtle adult themes aimed at the parents, who they know will be taking their children to see these movies, so that everyone can enjoy them. The money men in Hollywood see this and think that the same rule applies coming the other way. If you take a dark, hard hitting storyline that was never intended for a younger audience, the only way to achieve this mass appeal is to take away the darker, more unsavoury elements until it is suitable for a younger audience. This leaves you very far away from the original concept and so the story suffers, the language that the characters use seems wrong, certain motivations and decisions they make, now that they are trapped in a more child friendly world, feel wrong and sometimes don’t fit with the story anymore because certain scenes had to be cut to achieve this must-have rating of PG-13. The argument I’m trying to make with this point is essentially that starting from the bottom and adding more adult elements as you go works, starting at the top and then subtracting them doesn’t.

My next big gripe with Hollywood is the constant rehashing/reworking/reimagining and to making it look modern and to fool you that there not just pulling the same old shit, rebooting (I hate this phrase) of movies you’ve already seen. I could quite easily name you 20 films from the last five years that have been “Reworked for a new generation” because Hollywood is churning them out at a ridiculous pace. Again this is nothing new but the trend accelerated to an absurd speed around the time of the 2007/8 writers strike.

The strike lasted around eight months, but although it is referred to as the writers’ strike, a lot of other professionals in the entertainment industry joined them on the picket lines , including many A list actors. Whether this was a true show of solidarity with the guys at the bottom of the pyramid or a PR stunt is a different matter entirely, either way it succeeded in shutting down the behemoth that is Tinsel Town.

The fallout from all this, is that after the strike was over, the easiest way to get the movie machine moving again was to pluck some readymade scripts off the shelf, blow the metaphorical dust off them and get filming. I’m probably over simplifying this a lot, but to me it’s the only logical way to justify how to the public hardly noticed a total eight month shut down in an industry that can take on average two years to produce a finished product. Plus it gave the big guys at the top a way of punishing the writers by effectively cutting them out of the film making process, admittedly not fully, but you’re not going to engender the best results from someone if you just hand them an old finished script and then only ask them to rework it; most people would just phone it in. Or more perversely the execs at the top might find a writer that loved the original script, but because of this love they then become unable or unwilling to tamper with the work. Either way by skipping or half arsing the first building block of a story driven entertainment medium it is the finished product that eventually suffers. The story.

The last point I want to raise in what I see as the decline of the film industry is without a doubt the strongest part of my argument, and that is the rise of television.

Television has always been perceived as the ugly sister to cinema, lower budgets, a lower calibre of actor and a smaller screen. It has always worked under the “stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap” philosophy. Whilst this approach has always paid the bills, certain networks have come to the realisation that the only way to compete in a very over saturated market is to up the quality of programming that they are showing. Ok we did have to endure a near full decade of reality TV and countless clones of judge-based shows full of arrogant and talentless nobodies passing harsh judgment on members of Joe Public, but over the last few years that has started to change and we are now in what many people regard is a golden age of television.

I don’t think there is a single defining moment that you could point to and say this is the thing that changed the entertainment landscape, it was a combination of small changes, but to me the biggest of these small changes is the progression of technology. DVD box sets and streaming services have changed the way we watch our favourite shows, now we can watch an entire series in a day if the wish grabs us. The fact that technology has managed to change the way in which we watch television has forced TV networks to up there game. Gone are the days where a TV schedule matters. With the advent of the likes of Sky plus boxes, or their equivalent, people can now record their favourite shows with a lot less hassle then my beloved VCR. Online services like BBC iPlayer and 4oD let people watch at their own convenience. Without this rigid scheduling in place, people now have more freedom and have almost instant access to any show that is shown on a network regardless of where in the world it was first broadcast.

This change in the way we consume TV has shown the television broadcasters that what has always been perceived as one of their biggest weaknesses was all along their greatest strength, and that is run time.

For the most part television followed a tried and tested formula for a very long time. Be it a sitcom, drama or detective thriller with a run time of either thirty minutes or an hour, it didn’t really matter because the formula worked on them all. That is to say that every episode was almost self-contained. Once you where introduced to the main characters of the show there was very little development on an episode to episode basis. The show would start, the story would pan out and everything would be back to the beginning all wrapped up in a nice little bow as if nothing had happened by the end. On occasion some shows would have a two part episode, they would end the first episode on a cliff hanger, leaving the viewer in suspense and having to wait a full week to find out how the story concluded, and to me these where always the better stories because they were more fleshed out. Given the extra time, the characters felt more believable with their choices and motivations. They could take more time to solve the big riddle that would lead them to the bad guys or have the time to ponder a moral dilemma and because of this the stories flowed more naturally, it never felt there was a rush to cram everything in or that bits had been chopped out to fit into the regular time frame. They were essentially mini movies with our favourite TV characters.

So that was how TV worked for a long time, lots of individual episodes with a thin narrative running through them and a double episode to finish the season. And then a show called Twin Peaks came along.

Twin Peaks was an oddity to say the least, the camera work and lighting was a little experimental for TV, designed to put the viewer on edge. But it was the way that the story was told that gave Twin peaks it’s unique style, there was never an easy solution to the mysteries, one would always lead to a bigger one and this drew the audience in week after week. It was a show that wasn’t afraid to take its time telling a story. In fact it wasn’t until pressure from the network when they started to get cold feet in the second series that the original murder was revealed.

Twin peaks was a show well ahead of its time, a reason why it only had two seasons before being cancelled, networks and audiences were still not truly ready for a storyline that had no clear end point in view, but it did leave behind a legacy that is striving today. It wasn’t until HBO commissioned the Soprano’s, almost a decade later, that this format of serial drama was revived and flourished. Thanks to Twin peaks and its pioneering storytelling, we have had shows such as The Wire, Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire, shows that have a story arc that lasts an entire season and beyond. These shows amongst others have proven that given the writers enough time to properly develop the characters and their motivations, they can build truly engaging and fantastic storylines that draw an audience in more than a film could ever hope to achieve given the limit of how long a film can realistically run for.

These are what I see as the main problems and challenges facing Hollywood. There are many more that I would like to cover but I feel like I’m rambling a bit by this point. I haven’t touched on the terrible camera work that is the trend at the minute. The stupid shaky cam type films seem to have fallen by the way side thankfully, but we still have the likes of J.J Abrams throwing lens flare into almost every shot and Michael Bay shooting films with so many jump cuts that it can give you motion sickness. Nor have I touched on the over reliance of CGI, the fad of 3D or the constant stream of superhero films.

In conclusion what I want to get across is that I miss good story driven cinema. Hollywood just isn’t providing that for me anymore and I find myself looking towards television more and more for entertainment. If you disagree with the points I’ve made, fair enough, but if you take a look at IMDB’s list of top 250 films, only 4 of the top twenty were made since the year 2000, which to me suggests a slide in quality. Like I said at the start of this rant I do have a love of cinema, but until there is a change in Hollywood, you’ll find me with my feet up in front of the TV.

doctor daveDr David Salmond is 33 and lives in Hull. He has a keen interest in former Eastern-Bloc Europe in that he eats lots of sausages and drinks beers that have unpronounceable names and are served in vases. He gamely joins in with mine and Mr Taylor’s discussions about football despite the fact he much prefers rugby league. On my wedding day he was legless by 11am. He has read more books than anyone in the entire world.

Andi Ware On: Why I won’t be wearing a Poppy this November

Once again we have reached that time of year where we are asked to remember our fallen service men and women, when the sepia tone of November is contrasted with the blood red of paper poppies. In the coming weeks we will see countless poppies fastened to the lapels of our politicians, newsreaders and business leaders, but not mine. Once again I will neglect to wear a poppy this year and as always my reasons for doing so will be largely misunderstood. I have in the past been accused by friends and colleagues as lacking respect or possessing a degree of impertinence. That truth is that neither is true. There are a number of reasons why I refuse to pin a small paper flower to my lapel each year but a lack of respect of acknowledgement of the sacrifice of others are not one of those.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1, a fact that will no doubt make this year’s remembrance that little more emotionally charged. In acknowledgment of this the Government pledged to spend around £50 million marking the occasion. The sentiment of all ceremonies and monuments are to remind us that the 1914-1918 conflict was a fight for freedom and democracy. I find this hard to swallow. Many of those that died in that horrendous war did not know real freedom because they lived in abject poverty and were never truly represented by members of parliament. The working classes (who made up 80% of Britain’s population in 1913) were all too often forced into enlisting by propaganda or were press-ganged by employers. For those young men the notion of freedom and democracy was an incomprehensible concept.

Some years ago when I first read Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists I was struck by an acute sense of sadness. Not only was it the desperation of the protagonists in Tressell’s turn of the century tale of the woes of working men in England, but it was also the understanding that many of these characters (the novel is based on Robert Noonan’s real life experience as a painter and decorator in Hastings) would face the horrific great war just a couple of years after the book’s conclusion. For me the poppy is a reminder of the misinterpretation of WW1, that it was somehow a noble war in the name of freedom and democracy. For those young men the notion of freedom and democracy was an incomprehensible concept.

It is a curious symbol, the poppy. In the last decade or so it appears to have been elevated into something transcendental. The phenomena of poppy burning which has led to arrests under the Malicious Communications Act seem to have elevated the simple poppy, sold by children and war veterans, to a higher status. The image of the burning poppy seems to be an insult on our very being. It is my argument that we have become so obsessed by the protection of this sacred symbol that we have neglected to recognise its true meaning. Could it be that our protestation over the burning or defacing of poppies is actually a manifestation of guilt? It is my argument that as a society we have become so removed from the real sacrifice made by those that have died in past conflicts that the poppy is worn with pride but worn in lieu of any empathy. The wearing of the poppy for many is the equivalent of hitting the Like icon on social networking sites. By Liking something we feel that we are displaying a certain kinship. Be it with a sentiment, emotion, cause or charity this simple act of tapping a keyboard has replaced solidarity in the internet age.

For some time my wife has been bothered, or rather incensed by the fact that in England young women are not offered a screening for Ovarian Cancer (a procedure that should take place for young women under the age of 21 or when they become sexually active) whereas screenings are offered in Scotland. Like many she has subscribed to pages on social media showing support for women who have died at a tragically young age due to the illness. Recently I suggested that she inquire on a social media site whether those who had Liked a page dedicated to raising awareness of cervical cancer would be willing to go on a march. She did not receive one response. It appears that political activism in our society has been reduced to Liking a page on a social media site or posting a one line comment. For me the wearing of the poppy occupies the same space. It is worn in lieu of something real such as genuine emotion.

So this year rather than wearing a poppy I shall take some time out to imagine what life in a trench might have been like, or what seeing off a relative (I have two brothers both of similar age to many service men and women) who would never return. I shall do this because this is a time for remembrance and not symbolism.

Xavier DwyerAndi Ware is 33 years-old, married and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that.

Self-Disgust Is Self-Obsession Honey by Allen Miles

disappear I was never cut out for a career. I’m too socially awkward and I never found anything that stirred my passions enough to attempt to forge a livelihood from it. I have a job, but I refuse to be one of the arse-kissing yes-spitters in my workplace so I’ll never get on the ladder. I have found people who I get on with at work and they have similar principals/flaws (same thing, these days), which is why they’ve become my friends. If I enjoy any success in my lifetime it will be through something out of the ordinary, and I’ve known that since I was about twelve years old. It was obvious by the age of about eight that I was never going to be a professional footballer, due to my lack of a left foot and inability to, as my Dad said, “Get my head up”. By the age of fourteen I wanted to be a musician. I learned, very slowly, to play the guitar, and wrote lyrics. By the age of seventeen I had met someone who thought similarly, and we put our plans in progress to conquer the world with our punk band. And we told exactly no-one. This is the problem I have with my writing career. It was exactly the same as when I was in my band. Back then when someone would ask me if I was in a band, I’d raise a hand to my face, shuffle my feet, look at the floor and mumble “Well, yeah, sort of…” when I should have been drawing myself up to my full height, drilling my eyes into the questioner’s face in the manner of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and saying with all the arrogance in the world, “Damn right I’m in a band, we’re brilliant, and pretty soon you’re gonna be hearing all about us.” Even when we were in a position of promise, my inner-Costanza would race to the surface, making me spout forth a woefully misjudged joke or attempt to be ironic. I remember once we played a venue that was absolutely rammed with young emo kids who had come to see the band we were supporting, not exactly our market but one we certainly could have worked on. Rather than seeing the potential, I took the mic and sighed “Good evening, we’re Sal Paradise, you won’t like us.” The reasons I don’t brag about my literary endeavours are three-fold: The first is, I think, pretty acceptable. I hate it when people who have no interest in literature ask me questions about my book. The question is always “What’s it about?” and the answer I want to give is thus: “It’s a collection of short stories and prose, based mainly on themes of isolation and escapism, it’s pretty dark but has a fair bit of black humour in there. . In many ways it’s a reaction to the way our society has become so fleeting and impersonal in recent times. I nicked the title from a Scott Walker song, and I drew lots of influence from the work of Albert Camus, Charles Bukowski and John Fante, as well as the lyrics of Elvis Costello and the life and times of Howard Hughes.” But I don’t say that. I say: “I dunno really, I just wrote a few stories about things that I’ve seen…” Secondly, I worry that I’m no good. Well, not exactly that, but I’ve always been wary of becoming an Adrian Mole or Brian Griffin-type figure, someone who constantly tells everyone loudly that they’re a writer, and when they eventually produce a piece of work it is absolutely abysmal. These characters, along with hundreds of others that I’ve seen Facebook posts by or met on various writers forums, have absolutely zero talent but astonishing faith in their own ability. I’ve never been able to develop that level of confidence, precisely for the reason that if I did march about telling everyone I’m great, and they all buy my book, they might think it’s terrible, and despite me having 100% certainty that my work is brilliant, the consensus is, it’s shite. It’s not shite, obviously. My book is very good, but delusion is so common in the literary industry, and I’m terrified that I’ve succumbed to this disease. Last week I took morning refreshments with one of my best friends, she asked how my writing career is going, and I mentioned that there had been various developments, including interest from local bookshops and the possibility of a signing at Waterstones. “Wow, that’s great,” she said, “When is it?” I shrugged my shoulders and told her that I probably wasn’t going to do it as I was worried that no-one would turn up. Her facial expression hit some sort of mid-point between frenzied aggression and exasperation. This stylish, sexy and not-at-all-kindly woman then charged up to me and pretended to wring my neck. “What is wrong with you? Why are you constantly trying to sabotage your own success?” I couldn’t answer. The third reason is, I don’t like referring to myself as a writer. I have made very little money from my published work so far, and until I earn a living wage from it, I will describe myself in employment terms as an underpaid and undervalued healthcare assistant who works for the NHS, as I have no right to do anything other than that. The writing industry is a very cynical one, as are all what might be termed “creative” industries. You have to know the right people, and you are expected to pay homage to people whom you have no respect for. I don’t review other people’s work, mainly because I don’t feel I have any business judging them, and also because if I don’t like their work I would feel like a charlatan if I gave them a good review. The fact that I adopt this stance has hamstrung me in many ways, as I have very few friends in the business and I’m quite happy to keep it that way, which means I’ll get very few plugs, and very few breaks. My single proudest moment since I first wrote a story came not from reading a good review, not from signing a publishing deal and not from receiving praise from some big-wig in the industry. It came from a brief text message sent by my mate Wes, a builder by trade and a good man whom I don’t see as often as I’d like. It read: JUST SEEN YOU IN HULL DAILY MAIL. HONOURED AND PROUD TO CALL YOU MY FRIEND. A simple message of encouragement from a person that I like. Sometimes that’s enough. I mentioned the very few friends I have made in the business, but those few have shown massive faith in me, and for this I am grateful. Mrs Hoffs, Mrs Johnson and Messrs Bracha and Quantrill have given me huge encouragement, and Darren Sant has shown an almost biblical belief in me from the day we met, blind-pissed at a all-night party. I’ve also had ego-boosting support from many of my work colleagues. To continue to sub-consciously sabotage my career would be to let them all down, so it ends here. I am immensely proud of This Is How You Disappear, it is the best work I have ever produced, and it’s better than ninety percent of the shite that sells millions every year. It is not always pleasant, it is not a “light holiday read”, it will upset you in places, but it will also make you laugh. It will put images and thoughts in your head that you are not necessarily comfortable with and it will challenge your morale values, but it will also introduce you to characters who you may feel sympathy and affection for. If whoring myself at public signings and readings is what I have to do to sell this book, then so be it, I’ll do it, and if I make a living wage out of it, then, and only then, will I call myself a writer. It’s out NOW on Amazon, the link is below. Buy the paperback and I’ll sign it for you. “I’m looking to open people’s eyes. I’ll fail, but in the process, I’ll get self-satisfaction. And I know that a minority, a strong minority, will listen, and that will be enough for me.” Scott Walker   Allen Miles, authorAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He’s got a new book out. It’s really good. Get it here: http://www.tinyurl.com/disappear2014

If Gaza Is Left To Burn, Then So Will The Situation In The West by Paul Featherstone

I took to Twitter before writing this article and put into the search engine “Gaza children killed”. I was quickly confronted by a grim portfolio of infants. Many of them had their heads blown into pieces. Some photos had the eerie look of a slumber party, with rows of children interlinked- their eyes shut in a morbid scene that equated to something bizarrely peaceful in the frozen 2D it was viewed, in a stark contrast to the horror it presented. These are the dead of Gaza, and I chose to look upon them because to turn your eyes away from what is happening right now in that part of world, is to close your eyes to the very worst of mankind. People are more comfortable looking upon historical atrocities such as the Holocaust, Somalia and Yugoslavia because the photo captures something that is long gone and cannot be prevented any longer. What is happening in Gaza right now can be prevented, there is just minimal effort to do anything approaching that from the global community.

I haven’t so far seen any images of the dead from flight MH17, nor have I actively sook them out. The tales of body parts hanging from phone lines and of scorched spinal columns in fields communicates the horror strongly enough. I don’t have to search out this horror as it is openly played out on every major media outlet from the minute it occurred. Gaza, frankly, is not.
The apparent lack of condemnation of the Israeli operation in Gaza (aside from when the likes of John Kerry think a microphone is off), is as deafening as that coming from the western world towards Putin and his merry band of men in Donetsk. Herein lies the issue for the west. Putin has watched as the west and the UN stand idly by as women and children are massacred in the likes of Syria and now Palestine  and he sees little appetite to do anything about it. Why then, should someone such as him have much regard for the collateral damage of him arming his chess pieces in his longer game to take back as much (or indeed all of) the Ukraine?
Men like Putin are, to break it into small pieces, simply spoiling for a fight. Quite often, they like the idea of looking tough rather than getting a bloodied nose and so, when the likes of the US blink, as they so often have with regards to Russia, the chance to further flex muscles and bully the other children in the playground becomes irresistible.
Quite sanely, there is little appetite for war against Russia anywhere in the world except for the Ukraine, yet the promise of sanctions that so far seem to be having little effect and the obvious avoidance of World War Three leave Russia’s critics with very little cards to play. As with the likes of Saddam Hussein in the past, sanctions rarely unsettle the likes of Putin as he would quite happily let the majority of his country starve before he caves in. That means the West must have the credibility to condemn the murder of its civilians in the skies above a war zone whose flames have been openly stoked by Moscow.
Unfortunately, that is something that the Kremlin clearly believes is lacking right now. The defiance of the UN Security Council in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, with zero consequence for the US and the UK, is quite obviously fresh in the mind of Putin even now, many years later. A starting point, especially for the US, must be to have the same firm stance regarding the humans being blown to pieces in other places in the world other than a field in far away Donetsk.
The situation in Israel and Palestine is complicated, to make the understatement of history but it cannot be beyond the intellect of all sides within and outside of the conflict, that killing children on the beach and blowing up hospitals will only breed more people willing to fire rockets into Israel and kill their soldiers. It cannot also be beyond the intellect of most world leaders that you cannot stand and condemn the deaths of innocent people in Eastern Europe whilst ignoring the rockets used to wipe out children playing in the sun.
The lack of access to the crash site in Donetsk draws parallels with the people being shot at by snipers as they try to help the injured and retrieve the dead in Gaza. The lack of dignity shown to the bodies in bags in the Ukraine is offset, much like a field of poppies many years ago, by sunflowers nearby. It’s a picture card framed reminder of man’s inability to learn from the horrors of war.
There are no flowers swaying in the breeze nearby in Palestine. Just rubble and the site of a small body being carried in the agonised arms of a parent, a hole where their small skull once was. One of the founding principles of western democracy is that all civilian lives are as indispensable as the next, especially in the case of children. Right now, the UN  should keep this at the forefront of their mind if they hope to stop the deaths of any further westerners and convince Putin there is no justifiable collateral damage in his conflict as he pulls his strings- you cannot stem the bloodshed of an explosion at a nick on the thumb, you must apply pressure everywhere until the flow is stopped at the wound.
Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 32 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

The Straights Are Coming! by Paul Featherstone

This week, “12 Years A Slave” led the way in the Oscars nominations- which is somewhat appropriate as white, Christian men looked to corral another minority group into virtual slavery. I say a minority group, but really gays, homosexuals or label them as you will, are all around us. They are only minority groups in areas where they are not common place, such as the past.

The mounting and offensive nature in which the gay community is treat within not only the press, but also the wider global community is verging on the great offenses of our generation.

We stand here, as we revel in the idea of a black man as a US President and the sainthood of Nelson Mandela, as something of a great indicator of how far we have we have come as a human race. In truth, we pat ourselves on the back and turn a blind eye to what is not only in danger of becoming something of a social holocaust, we are so far back in the stone ages it is frightening.

If we are still of the belief that someone’s sexuality is their choice rather pure genetics, circumstance or fate (such as their colour or nation), we continue to enslave the people of our world in a way that is so far beyond their control, we are condemning them to the shadows at birth.

Yet, it shames me, as it does you, that is about where we stand today. Look towards the current rhetoric in society towards the gay community and tell me that if it was towards a race, there would not be the pumping of fists to resolve it?

In a short amount of time we have had-

* the blaming of the recent UK floods on gays and gay marriage

*Putin equating gays to predatory paedophiles in Russia

*the idea that gay lifestyle is linked to smoking

*Jeremy Clarkson happily tweeting a photo of him asleep with “Gay Cunt” and an arrow next to his head

and on and on…..

Yet none of it ever reported as horrific by the press, just a case of “Look at what they gone and said!”.

Clarkson himself, in his own afterbirth-of-Thatcher kind of way, semi-apologised for being asleep when the photo was taken. He of course missed the point- being that he had made the photo somewhat acceptable by releasing it to his followers. In the infantile world that he inhabits, in which he is surrounded by prepubescent over-achievers such as Richard Hammond, it is fine to use such a phrase as an affront. To be a gay is to be something of ridicule, certainly to a man like Clarkson.

One has to wonder if someone had written on his forehead “Big Lipped Fucking Nigger”, as he had slumbered, if he would have been so eager to tweet it?

I bet my choice to not asterisk the last sentence shocked you in a way didn’t it? “If he is such an advocate of censorship, why use the N-word in such a casual manner?”. Did anyone bat an eyelid at the full use of “Gay Cunt” though? Very few, I fear to tread. Maybe, none. Certainly more about the good old C-word.

Should that not be as offensive a phrase as any in the English language?

Now, lets confess shall we? We have all used homosexuality as a slur. Many as younger, less educated people. That is why Football is so straight- they are all still in school, scared to come out, for fear of ridicule. I would like to think that my offense at homophobia comes with getting older, having more gay friends but really, society just grew up. I’d always held my views on the gay community, it was just okay to say them out loud without being labelled gay and beaten in the street for it. I was a coward.

If I had waited just a few years for that voice, imagine the agony of being gay? Now imagine the slow decline of that still muted voice being muffled by the hands of those in society that have no real justification for their cause?

I respect religion. I often wish I had it’s comfort to support me through the times that defy logic in this world, but as doctrines that have elements that abuse children, women and human rights as common practice continue to point the finger at the gay community, they cannot expect legitimacy in my eyes.

I could defend homosexuality by pointing out the various ills of the religious community, but that would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Instead, let us end with the simple idea that we not be judged by anyone on this earth but the one’s in the heavens. If we are truly to be judged by them for our time on this earth, should we not be judged on the pureness of our souls?

If that truly is the case, then every gay person I know has the given right to pass unhindered into a peaceful afterlife (should it exist). None of them are perfect, nor do any of them get a free pass for their choice of bedfellow. They have faults and qualities upon which I judge them as human beings and as to how close, if at all, I involve them in my life.

Isn’t it time that we, as a collective society, chose to define people by how they treat their fellow man and the kindness of their heart, rather than the adult they choose to give their soul to?

I get married in under two months to the person I love the most in the world. I chose her without a seconds thought and with a determination unknown in my life, as did she. We are adults and we are fully aware of the huge choice we are undertaking. If that is not a basic human right and something we do not deserve to be nailed to a post for, then what is?

We cannot hail the strenuous work of the likes of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, JFK and Lincoln as they battled to redeem one element of society, whilst we refuse to learn from the lessons of history against another.

Society cannot bathe in the past waters of its river, as it continues to wash such murky waves over the face of itself in the present.

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 32 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff

Let Them Eat Coke!!! by Allen Miles

So… Nigella Lawson did a lot of cocaine and the readers of that revolting soapbox for middle-aged Aga owners, The Daily Mail, were appalled. Just as they were appalled when it was revealed that international supermodel Kate Moss was photographed with a rolled-up twenty-spot protruding from her nostril, and just as they were appalled when Elton John revealed that he regularly spent upwards of £20,000 a year on flowers. It’s disgraceful isn’t it? What has society come to when mega-rich, mega-famous people behave in a self-indulgent manner?

Just a bit of baking soda...

Just a bit of baking soda…

Or more to the point, what has society come to when society disapproves of this kind of behaviour?

The majority of people in this country seem to live their lives vicariously through celebrity gossip magazines these days, which is an upsetting enough fact in itself, but the really sad thing is how unbelievably tame the lives of these so-called celebrities are that they want to read about.

Chantelle from Big Brother goes out for a jog with her post childbirth navel clearly visible and half a million people spit their morning crumpets out; Miley Cyrus thrusts her bottom at Robin Thicke and hundreds of thousands of fine china tea cups are dropped to the floor in shock; screamingly camp Olympic diver Tom Daly reveals he’s in a relationship with another man and Werther’s Originals block oesophaguses all over middle England. Is this what it takes to shock people in 2013? What a frightened, closeted little country we have become.

Nigella did a load of drugs, Kate Moss did a load of drugs and Elton realised that doing a load of drugs was going to kill him so he started wasting preposterous amounts of money in other ways. If you are famous, with bollock-loads of money and little or no responsibility, it is your duty to behave in this manner. Famous people should live these lifestyles because you and I, the down-trodden, miserable general public with our remote controls and alarm clocks and bus stops can’t live these lifestyles. Instead we’ve got Chris Martin, the lead singer in the biggest band in the world (it makes me want to shoot blood from my eyes to type that sentence) naming his child after a citrus fruit, wearing sensible jumpers and probably watching Last Of The Summer Wine on a Sunday tea time. What a fucking wanker. I hate to use this phrase again, but it was so much better before.

A challenge: name five Oliver Reed films.

It’s alright I’ll hang on…

You can’t can you? But you know who Oliver Reed is don’t you? He is the actor who is known for being an absolute drink and drug monster, and for doing this sort of thing over and over again on the telly.

This is how famous people used to behave all the time. Admittedly, not always on live TV, but they used to take it as their right to gorge themselves on whatever they saw fit, and sod the consequences. It seems the reason people want to become famous these days is to have their airbrushed faces and airbrushed lives plastered all over the front page of various “Celeb Gossip Mags,” earn a fortune in a few months and then disappear. Back in the day when the word celebrity essentially meant that you were going to be on the panel on Blankety Blank, the truly talented famous people would be on the front pages for the quality of their albums, films, or talents with a football. George Best for example, is one of the most beloved and revered footballers of all-time, but if you ask any veteran football journalist or even a member of your own family over the age of sixty, they’ll tell you that Best wasn’t even the best player at Man United, let alone the world. So why do we remember him over Bobby Charlton and Denis Law? I’ll tell you. It’s because Bobby Charlton was bald at twenty five and is the most sensible person in the world, and Denis Law looked like he should live under a bridge. George Best, on the other hand, was appallingly good-looking, incredibly stylish, drank like a fish and banged everything that moved. He knew how to be famous. He knew how to behave like a piece of scum.

You will never, ever be this cool. Sorry.

You will never, ever be this cool. Sorry.

I think a lot of the problem is that in this country we’re too afraid of being told off these days. Its the real Millenium Bug. There’s just too much exposure, what with the internet and all those computers. A year or so ago, Mario Balotelli (a genuinely insane superstar) walked into a sixth form college in Manchester and asked to use the toilet. Within seconds, two dozen eighteen year-olds had tweeted photos of him and it was all over the world. He asked to use the toilet in a college. In 1978, Freddie Mercury hosted a party at New York club Studio 54 at which a number of midgets circulated with sliver trays strapped to their heads, upon which were mountains of cocaine, from which guests would help themselves. Can you imagine if that got into the press these days? They would probably mention it in parliament.

In 2002, John Entwistle of The Who was found dead in a hotel room after a drugs binge with two high-rent prostitutes. Entwistle was known as “The Quiet One” in The Who.

One night in 1979, Elton John, unable to sleep in his New York penthouse, rang his agent and screamed “Can you do something about this bloody wind outside?”

In 1982, Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a live bat onstage.

In 1995, to promote his HIStory album, Michael Jackson floated a fifty foot statue of himself down the Thames.

This actually happened.

This actually happened.

In 1998, Paul Gascoigne and Paul Merson played a game in which each of them would take a sleeping pill then drink a glass of wine. The winner would be the last one to stay awake.

In 2010, Keith Richards, aged 137, had amphetamine sulphate on toast for breakfast, then played a show in front of 60,000 people for the thousandth time.

And tragically, in 2011, Frankie Cocozza, aged 19, after six weeks on the X Factor, confessed that his life “had gone out of control” and he “just couldn’t hack it anymore.”

Poor lamb.

In closing, being famous has changed. It’s not about wanting to stuff yourself full of drink and drugs and behave ludicrously, it’s about wanting to have thirty sleazy tabloid photographers pointing their lenses at you whenever you leave your house because you are so desperate for attention. If the general public of 2013 want karaoke singers and celebrity chefs as their rock n roll stars then fair enough, but Nigella is deeply ashamed of her drug use. I remember a time when celebrity chefs used to do this:

I suppose I’ll just have to accept, as I dream of winning the lottery and dragging Fev, Lyndsay, Hoffs, Andy and Martyn to Las Vegas and diving, Scrooge McDuck-like into a lake of vodka, that old school fame has died. Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Keith Moon… this kind of star quality is almost obsolete these days. Notorious cainers such as Liam Gallagher and Charlie Sheen have become tabloid punchines, lacking the credibilty that they once had; Morrissey and Bono are too preachy and Joey Barton desperately needs someone to delete his twitter account. Only one person, in my opinion, carries that torch of genuine star quality in 2013. The one man who demands attention, debate, and opinion wherever he goes and whatever he does. Here he is guesting on popular Saturday evening family talent show The X Factor.

"Just a can of Red Bull, honestly..."

“Just a can of Red Bull, honestly…”

I love Robbie. He’s ace.

 

profile b and wAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014