Jamie’s Digest (2): Cool Bits From Books

Whenever I’m reading I always like to highlight phrases and passages that strike a chord with me, either because they’re emotionally or intellectually resonant, or because they’re exceptionally relevant to something that’s happening in the world today. I’d like to continue to share some of the these excerpts with you.

Catholic Tastes

In light of both the ascension of the DUP to the role of king-makers, and Germany’s recent parliamentary vote in favour of legalising gay marriage, I thought the below was exceptionally relevant. It’s an extract from a piece published in a gay newsletter in Southampton the late 1970s by a man named Paul, a volunteer for the Solent Gay switchboard. A copy of the full text (which speaks of his sorrow at the extent of anti-gay discrimination in the country), as well as appearing in the newsletter, was also sent to the Rev. Ian Paisley, Lord Longford and Mary Whitehouse, a trio he felt had lent credence to those who would level violence and abuse at gay people.

Many heterosexuals like to remark that if everyone were homosexual, the human race would come to an end. (The human race would suffer the same fate if the entire male population became Roman Catholic priests, but God in his infinite and unfailing wisdom ensures that only about 5% of us are homosexual and that even fewer are Roman Catholic priests.) In view of the acknowledged importance of sex in perpetuating the human race, it is strange that there are still those who regard it as something shameful, embarrassing or rather awkwardly special.”

Amazon link: Ban This Filth by Ben Thompson (p.347 – 349)

The Bondage of Work

The below extract is for those of us (most of us) who are unlucky enough to work for ‘da man’ in any of his multifarious guises.

Every time you go into your workplace, you leave a democracy and enter a dictatorship. Nowhere else is freedom of speech for the citizens of free societies so curtailed. They can abuse their political leaders in print or on radio, television and the Web as outrageously as they wish, and the secret service will never come for them. They can say that their country’s leader is a lunatic, their police force is composed of sadists and their judiciary is corrupt. Nothing happens, even on those occasions when their allegations are gibberish. The leniency of free societies is only proper. Freedom of speech includes the freedom to spout clap-trap, as regular surfers of the Web know. If employees criticise their employers in public, however, they will face a punishment as hard as a prison sentence, maybe harder: the loss of their career, their pension, and perhaps their means of making a livelihood.”

Amazon link: You Can’t Read This Book by Nick Cohen (p.149)

Mo’ Men, Mo’ Problems

As a humanist an atheist and a secularist (sometimes we all walk into a bar) I’m appalled at the prejudice frequently levelled at my fellow human beings on account of their skin-colour, country of origin or set of beliefs; I’m further appalled by the foreign policy measures and media hyperbole that has inflamed hatred in this country and abroad. However, I’m also appalled at the way in which our freedom to criticise religion, in all of its forms, is slowly being eroded, mostly – it has to be said – through fear: fear of violent reprisals, and also fear of being on the same side of the argument – albeit for vastly different reasons – as the nation’s execrable clan of right-wing racists. That being said, however incompatible I consider organised religion to be with a measured, rational view of the world, and however strongly I may wish mankind to move beyond the infantile and supernatural, it’s always a good idea to seek out differing and (especially) opposing views; to be as well-informed and educated as possible on the history, structure and practice of religions.

Below is an extract about the history of Islam that you may find surprising (or perhaps not).

The emancipation of women was a project dear to the Prophet’s heart. The Quran gave women rights of inheritance and divorce centuries before Western women were afforded such status. The Quran prescribes some degree of segregation and veiling for the Prophet’s wives, but there is nothing in the Quran that requires the veiling of all women or their seclusion in a separate part of the house. These customs were adopted some three or four generations after the Prophet’s death. Muslims at the time were copying the Greek Christians of Byzantium, who had ong veiled and segregated their women in this manner; they also appropriated some of their Christian misogyny. The Quran makes men and women partners before God, with identical duties and responsibilities. The Quran also came to permit polygamy; at a time when Muslims were being killed in the wars against Mecca, and women were left without protectors, men were permitted to have up to four wives provided that they treat them all with absolute equality and show no signs of favouring one rather than the others. The women of the first ummah in Medina took full part in its public life, and some, according to Arab custom, fought alongside the men in battle. They did not seem to have experienced Islam as an oppressive religion , though later, as happened in Christianity, men would hijack the faith and bring it into line with the prevailing patriarchy.”

Amazon Link: Islam – A Short History by Karen Armstrong (p.14)

Brazil Nut

Nemesis – an account of the rise of an ordinary man in one of Rio’s most infamous favelas and his rise to the rank of don of the criminal under(and over)world – is a wonderful book: fast-paced, exciting, shocking, thoughtful, well-written and meticulously researched.

The extracts below give shape to the idea that tackling poverty and inequality through state and welfare policies/spending is not only an essential component of our common humanity, but also makes sound long-term economic sense. Effective social policies and less poverty equals a society that has greater stability, greater contentment, less crime, less unrest and less violence across the board.

After decades of dictatorship and chaotic transition, renewal and optimism were surging out from the federal capital, Brasilia, towards the furthest reaches of the country’s body politic. Whole regions and classes were reviving after a long period of neglect and deprivation. The sudden arrival of a period of prosperity that saw unemployment fall to record levels and personal spending increase significantly is crucial in explaining why Rio was becoming less violent. Young men in the favelas were turning away from weapons and drugs in favour of education and settled employment.”

While China was lauded for pulling some 100 million citizens out of poverty from the mid 1980s, fewer noticed Brazil’s more monumental achievement flowing from [socially democratic political moves and social policies designed to eradicate the chronic, crushing poverty experienced by a significant proportion of Brazil’s citizens). In Brazil, 30-40 million people managed to cross the poverty line. Given the much smaller population of Brazil, this was an even greater feat than the Sino equivalent.

The consequences of this golden era for Brazil’s political personalities were immense. The primary beneficiaries were the poor, not least those who lived in the favelas of the south. This was especially true of Rochina. Its isolation from other favelas and its now well-established tradition as a large market, both for the residents and for those coming from outside looking for a bargain, enabled it to ride the wave of economic confidence with a swagger. This growth spurt offered alternative employment to its younger men and women, and so the drugs trade became a somewhat less attractive career path.”

What was the biggest obstacle to political reform? Well, surprise, surprise: “The vested interests of Brazil’s powerful, if numerically small, economic elite proved deft in constructing numerous barriers.”

Amazon Link: Nemesis by Mischa Glenny

Read books, motherfuckers. Read books.

General Election 2017: Use your vote, but use it wisely

In the run-up to the council elections earlier this year Ruth Davidson posed on a mobility scooter, presumably as part of her campaign to raise awareness about how underdeveloped the Tory party’s sense of irony is. Really, Ruth? That’s like Thatcher trying to win over the working class by posing for the 1985 Socialist Worker’s calendar, lounging across a pit entrance, and naked except for a miner’s helmet and a puff of coal-dust on each cheek.

The Tory party – in both Westminster and Holyrood – is working hard to channel the spirit of an apparently remorseful abusive partner, swearing with all of its might that ‘this time things will be different’.  In the grip of delusional desperation in Scotland – and owing to a sense of sinister, Voldermortian assurance in England – the Tories are busy positioning themselves as the party of the disabled, the disenfranchised, the poor, the NHS, the working man. ‘I’ve changed, honestly I have, you’ll see, I love you, I don’t want to lose you. I promise that this time I won’t beat the absolute fuck out of you, and then cheat on you with the posh bit of stuff up the street.’

I can understand why the guy with the monocle from Monopoly would vote Conservative, but why has the party enjoyed such an upsurge in popularity among the working class? Why are people who rely upon the NHS, a healthy welfare state and a large swathe of well-funded, publicly-run services (particularly in the care sector) essentially voting for their own destruction by embracing a party that is, at root, ideologically opposed to all of these things?

Our predominantly right-wing media is partly responsible for this state of affairs, of course, that steady drip-feed of lies, hysteria and manipulation masquerading as news and comment. Look on in envy, Kaiser Soze, because yours is no longer the greatest trick ever pulled, son: tabloid newspapers are owned by billionaires and staffed by middle-class urban professionals, but somehow the working class is convinced that they speak for them. This same mentality runs rampant in America, as evidenced by its people hailing a heartless, ruthless billionaire, who built his billions on the broken backs of millions, as a man of the people (It’s not even clear that Donald Trump is a person, much less a man).

It also seems to me that the thunderous orchestra of social and political issues that makes up the soundtrack to our dizzyingly complex and hectic lives has been reduced to one single, deafening scream: BLOODY FOREIGNERS! “I don’t want these bloody Poles and P***s using our bloody NHS!” Well, take heart, my frightened, reactionary friend. You keep voting like this and the NHS won’t exist anyway. Who knows, maybe that’s been the agenda/evil plan all along.

As a little aside, it also amazes me that most of the British nationalists and unionists I’ve encountered – the ones with streaks of racism in them so prominent they’re actually visible from space – have also been, almost unfailingly, great admirers of the Queen.

“LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!” “FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY!” “I BLOODY LOVE THAT WOMAN!” Ah, a violent, semi-literate alcoholic skinhead with a hair-trigger temper. I’m sure the Queen will be inviting you round to the palace for tea and cucumber sandwiches any day now. Again, she’s a billionaire who sits on a throne and wears a crown. I don’t know what part of that makes Davey from Possil imagine that their love and respect is somehow mutual. The Queen probably wouldn’t piss on most of us if we were on fire.

Our charred corpses, on the other hand…

“Well,” people in Scotland might say, “I need to vote Tory to keep that wee dwarf Sturgeon out. She only cares about making Scotland independent!”

It seems a bit churlish to lambast the leader of what is ultimately the ‘We’re Committed to this Very Specific Thing’ Party for being committed to a very specific thing. Spoiler alert: yes, the SNP is pretty keen on Scottish independence, primarily because it’s our last, best hope to conduct and manage our affairs in line with our political, economic and social needs and aspirations. But the SNP isn’t a one-trick pony. Its manifesto also embraces civicism with a heavy smattering of socialism, something most people would know if they ever had occasion to hear Nicola Sturgeon talk without some arsehole shouting ‘BUT WHAT ABOUT INDEPENDENCE, DWARF?!’ at her every three seconds (I don’t think poor Nicola finish her breakfast without somebody asking her if she intends to grant self-determination to her cornflakes).

Do you really want to vote for Theresa May: a wobble-voiced Thatcher-lite who looks like she’s trying to regurgitate an albatross each time she laughs? Or Ruth Davidson, a passionless politician with the soul of a middle-manager?

The old saying goes that the longer we live the more right-wing our views become: we start off as idealists, and crusaders for justice, but evolve into bitter, jaded cynics as we come to the painful realisation that the world is a great, immutable sink-hole of unfairness, indifference and cruelty (In fact, wait, isn’t that actually a line from the Tory manifesto?).

So if a leftist is capable of transitioning from left to right, then what the hell kind of moral journey does a Tory undertake as he or she advances into their twilight years? How much more ‘right’ can ‘right’ get?

Do you really want to find out?

England: vote for Corbyn, come what May.

Scotland: Be Ruthless.

**Hey, wait a minute. It’s finished? But what about Scottish Labour? Well, exactly.

Donald Trump: The Apocalypse’s Casus Bellend

I have to keep reminding myself that Donald Trump has held office for a little over a month. It feels like his cartoon duck mouth has been issuing terrifyingly hilarious proclamations since before America was even discovered; as if the vortex of evil that propelled him to prominence is so powerful that it has bent not just reality, but also time and space to its will. “I was there at the creation of the universe. The ‘let there be light’ thing. That was my idea. And God was very appreciative, said my idea was the greatest. And when that light went on? No dinosaurs, people. FAKE. You know I’m right.”

I can’t envisage a single day in the next four years when I won’t see or hear the onomatopoeiac fart of his name. Being president must be doing wonders to stoke the fires of his pomposity, paranoia and narcissism: the entire world really is talking about him. Incessantly. Every hour of every day. Trump would have you believe that our obsession with him is due to a giant, media-fuelled conspiracy, or sour grapes on the part of the losing side, but it’s clear that Trump is a megalomaniacal ratings chaser who will stop at nothing to keep himself in the limelight, even if that means inventing terrorist attacks, banning journalists from his briefings, or labelling reality ‘fake’. We shouldn’t be too concerned about our attentions being hijacked by Trump’s hyperbolic rhetoric: what should concern us is what would happen if we all chose to ignore him. He’d probably nuke Belgium, or declare war on Lidl.

Many people have been quick to point out the societal similarities between modern-day America and Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. There’s definitely some weight to that comparison, however there is one crucial, towering difference between Donald Trump and Hitler: Hitler was a good orator. If evil must have a face and a voice, then it’s a pity that this time around it’s got the face and voice of a malfunctioning android stuck in a six-phrase feedback loop, or a racist, half-mad taxi driver who’s been ripped from his cab, pushed behind a presidential podium and handed a scrap of paper that’s got ‘Everyone except you is an asshole’ scrawled on it in blood. When Trump talks he sounds like a man who’s being continually interrupted and fed lines by an invisible hologram only he can see, who’s also a complete fucking idiot. “Ziggy says there’s a 40 per cent chance that wall, wall, muslim, muslim, wall, wall, America, great, America, dude, wall, bad guys, bad dudes, enemies, bad dudes, wall.” “…What the fuck?” “Just say it, Sam! Just say it!”

Feel free to insert your own crude mustache.

Each day the world wakes up, switches on the TV and stares at the orange man with the nest of half-dissolved, beshitted candy-floss on his head, and thinks: how the fuck did this happen? The man has all the grace and articulacy of the giant man-baby who’s forced to fight Mel Gibson in Mad Max 3. His face vacillates between that of a man who’s sneering with disgust at the whiff of a particularly foul fart, and then smirking a little cause he realises it’s his own, and he likes it. He possesses all the charm of a bogey-soaked tissue bobbing in a warm flute of piss, and all the compassion of a malnourished tiger let loose in an orphanage. You wouldn’t trust him to be in charge of a tombola stall at the church fete, much less place a nuclear arsenal at his disposal. Seriously. How did this happen? Let’s rewind the tape, because somebody’s very clearly edited out a crucial sequence from this movie. Where’s the arc here? There’s no arc. It’s just: world is sane: world is crazy. Someone’s deleted the middle: the bit that explains this clusterfuck.

Within the space of a few short weeks, Trump has put a climate-change denier in charge of protecting the environment; placed a brain-damaged billionaire who struggles to comprehend basic facts in charge of education; classified dissenting (for dissenting read ‘truth-seeking’) journalists as enemies of the state; tried to erect an invisible wall to ban Muslims from entering his country; proposed to erect an actual wall around the border of another country; signaled that he’s ready to accept Vladimir Putin as his best-bro and role model; re-branded a smorgasbord of bare-faced lies as ‘alternative truths’; and harried, bullied, threatened, cajoled and alienated just about every section of society, with the exception of prickly white billionaires and the sort of alt-right, flag-waving, gun-toting tit-wanks that share both his disdain for reality and hatred for ‘the other’, whoever that ‘other’ happens to be in any given week. Never before has Orwell’s ‘1984’ been so successfully re-appropriated as a manifesto.

If you evaluate success in terms of capitalist excess, then Trump’s been a winner all his life. This is something, true or not, that seems to have struck a chord with many Americans, for whom Trump is the living embodiment of the American dream. If you’re rich and powerful, you must have worked for it, earned it. You must be smart, strong. You must deserve it, else you wouldn’t have got it. His supporters don’t necessarily think that Trump’s just like them, but believe that one day, with a little bit of graft and a lot less foreigners, blacks and socialists running around, they could be just like him. They admire his directness, his toughness, the way that his world-view hasn’t been corrupted by science, truth, nuance or articulacy. I’d maintain that just because you enjoy watching fictional sociopaths like Tony Soprano and Cersei Lannister ruling their empires with an iron fist, doesn’t mean that it’s a particularly good idea to elect a real-life sociopath to the most powerful office on Earth.

He looks like Ruprecht from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

You probably haven’t heard anything in the media about Trump’s financial successes. He tends to hide his light under a bushel, but if you listen really, really carefully to his speeches, you may occasionally, every so often, once in a blue moon, hear him mention it. Who am I kidding? No one’s better at telling people he’s better than people than Trump. His self-categorisation is, however, something of a hollow boast, given that he was born into his fortune. Look at it this way: if you happened to be born with a 6000cc engine in your back, and high-performance wheels instead of legs, then it would be rather churlish to berate your fellow competitors in the 100m sprint for failing to beat you with their shitty normal legs. Trump’s inherited wealth has always insulated him from failure, and gone a long way towards helping him construct and maintain the Death-star of his ego. The Art of the Deal, the most famous book Trump’s ever not-actually-written, only really needed one page, with the following written on it in big, bold letters: Be born a billionaire.

Given his arrogance and privilege it’s little wonder that Trump’s such a stranger to reality; his life must be like a virtual-reality tycoon simulator with cheat mode enabled. Trump was free to run his businesseses with a cold heart and an iron fist, pushing his employees around, conning his customers, eliminating competitors with the dead-eyed zeal of a Nazi death-camp commandant, and generally treating people like dog-dirt quesadillas, and people would applaud him for his tough-talking, get-results-damn-it, business acumen; and if they didn’t, or if one business or a thousand businesses imploded in a shock-wave of lawsuits, bad PR and bankruptcy, then who cared, right? Blame the government, blame the media, blame the Chinese, lie, lie, and thrice lie, pick up another bundle of dollars, clean the slate, and start again. Unfortunately, if you take the same set of principles necessary to succeed as a ruthless CEO with an infinite supply of inheritance behind you, and apply these to government, then what you are is a dictator.

Trump is reminiscent of a vengeful Scientologist, or the Iraqi information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who famously appeared on camera with a fleet of American tanks behind him to claim that there wasn’t a fleet of American tanks behind him. Lying is such an integral part of Trump’s strategy and defence mechanism that it’s difficult to believe anything that he says. Even his fortune is up for debate, given the amount of businesses he’s allegedly sent to the grave. But it doesn’t matter. Some evil supercomputer has calculated Trump’s ground-base of support down to a man, and told him what TV stations they watch, which news outlets they read in print and on-line, and what size of shoe they take. All he has to do is keep preaching to the converted, telling as many outrageous and egregious lies as he likes, and they’ll always be lapped up, and never cross-referenced. “Ostriches are green. Japanese TVs electrocute people. Barack Obama once killed a penguin with a hole-punch. I’ve never met Vladimir Putin… who is he again? I’m so smart. My hands are the size of frying pans. Mexicans are responsible for ISIS. I cured AIDS.”

If Trump really believed his rhetoric, then his best weapon against his critics would be the steady, patient unveiling of his vision to Make America Great Again, piece by piece, encouraging transparent democratic debate every step along the way. After all, if a man was lying bleeding on the street, and I could help him, but between me and that man was another man, who was shouting out vicious slurs about my motivation and intentions, then I’d still move forward and help the bleeding man. I wouldn’t thunder off in a fit of rage, and proceed to hold scores of press conferences in which I angrily discredited the shouting man, as the other man – the one I was supposed to be saving – died in the street.

I guess it begs the question: who, or what, does Donald Trump want to make great? Because it sure as shit doesn’t seem to be America.

Frustration? I can’t be arsed.

cheWhen I worked for the Scottish Court Service I joined the union and became a representative for my office, primarily because I liked the thought of officially sanctioned time away from my desk, and indeed the entire building. It helped that most days out on union business consisted of 5 per cent conferencing to 95 per cent drinking.

Whilst installed as the office representative I became adept at asking meaningless yet persistent questions at conferences in a bid to justify my presence in the union flock. I’d say something like, “A few people in the office were asking if they could get some free pens. Well, can they?” and then nod sagely. I once half-heartedly participated in a strike for better pay conditions. I spent an entire day standing at the picket line limply clutching a sign, chain-smoking and nodding silently at everyone as they walked past me. I think I muttered ‘scab’ under my breath a couple of times, just as my hero Che Guevara would’ve done. A manager eventually brought me out a cup of coffee and a sandwich, which I accepted without hesitation. I think you’ll find that the Communist Manifesto has quite a lot to say about the importance of balancing worker solidarity with the delicious necessity of free cheese sandwiches, even if they do come from the hands of your bastard enemies.

Sometime during the steely reign of my short stewardship, our national executive issued a memo urging us to boycott Coca Cola. Coca Cola was accused of turning a blind eye to the plight of workers at its many sub-contracted South American bottling plants. Right-wing paramilitary groups – allegedly in collusion with the plants’ owners – were murdering, or otherwise ‘disappearing’, workers for the crime of organising unions. The workers were only trying to ameliorate their poor working conditions and make a better life for themselves and their families.  Coca Cola’s silence and inaction in the face of this horrific systemic homicide was taken as tacit approval of the paramilitaries’ methods. “COCA COLA? …Death-o… Cola… more like,” I’d mutter quietly to myself, before taking another sip of Coca Cola.


My personal boycott lasted less than four hours. 9am until lunchtime. Vive le revolution! I loved Coca Cola back then, you see. Drank it every day. Came to depend upon it. It was my fizzy heroin in a can; my daily hangover cure. “Why can’t they be killing workers at Dr Pepper factories instead?” I lamented. “I fucking hate Dr Pepper.” I was ashamed of my weakness. There were men in the world who would give up blood, freedom, family and oxygen for their principles, and I couldn’t even kick Coca Cola for four fucking hours. Thankfully, I’ve long since abandoned the drink. Not for any ideological reasons. I’ve simply arrived at the conclusion that Coca Cola is a black broth of tooth-taking, penny-polishing, pancreas-punishing arse-juice that leaves your heart flopping about like a fish in a bucket. And that’s a Scotsman saying that.

When something I own breaks, I tend not to fix it, but instead force myself to adapt to the new reality of its brokenness. I once had a TV that could only be switched on if the power button at the front of the unit was pressed in as far as it could go and held there at a constant pressure. Naturally, instead of mending or replacing the TV, I pressed the button in as far as it would go, and then used a rook from my chess set and a roll of masking tape to hold it in place. I then left it like that for three years. Check mate, TV. Check mate!

When the locks in my old Fiesta started to fail one by one, rather than have it mended I simply allowed my method of entering the car to evolve naturally. When the lock on the driver’s side seized, I clambered in to the car through the passenger side. When the passenger side failed, I went in through the back seats. When all of the locks had failed, I climbed in through the boot. Every time I entered my car it looked like I was either a) participating in an all-cripple version of It’s a Knockout, or b) in the process of breaking into it. Thankfully, in the part of town in which I lived, car-jacking wasn’t an unusual occurrence, allowing me to fit in as ‘one of the lads’.

I don’t think I suffer from apathy per se, or at least not all of the time. I have an incredibly low tolerance for frustration that co-exists with a fear of failure, an expectation of failure and a rage at the world for not doing what I want it to do. If I sometimes take the easy route, or hit the button for the ejector seat, it’s less about laziness and more about saving myself an exhausting, four-letter-word-fuelled explosive meltdown.

My mum said I cried and wailed at the age of four because I couldn’t write functional computer programs on the ZX Spectrum. When I was twelve, a faulty dot-matrix printer made me so angry that I snapped a fountain pen in half, leaving me with a big blue face that took an hour to scrub clean. If I hadn’t been wearing specs I probably would’ve been blinded, no doubt learning in the process some biblical lesson about the cost of anger: a pen for a printer makes the wee fanny blind, perhaps.

When my step-sister and I linked our Gameboys together and she beat me at two-player Tetris, I headbutted my Gameboy, smashing the screen to smithereens. I hid the evidence at the bottom of a toy hamper, and waited for the heat to die down. For more on this subject, have a read of this:  http://www.denofgeek.com/games/videogames/31783/frustrating-games-in-videogame-history ).

Don’t ask me to fix finicky things, or build up intricate items of furniture from Ikea. I’ll only end up hurling them out of a window. Or standing around with a big red face promising to murder myself in a series of increasingly ludicrous ways. “If this piece doesn’t fit I swear I’m going to puncture my lung with a toothbrush, and spend my dying minutes cracking my fucking skull open by beating it against my own knee! I MEAN IT, I REALLY MEAN IT, I FUC… oh, it fits. Excellent.” (strides off whistling)

If I’m stuck in traffic, I’ll swing the car around in a cloud of f’s and c’s and take a ten-mile detour in the wrong direction rather than confront the heart-pumping frustration of a very mildly inconvenient traffic jam. The modern world makes a Hulk out of me. I’ve almost ripped worlds apart trying to open tins of corned beef.


In my early twenties my GP referred me to a Stress Management group, which comprised a gaggle of cripplingly shy and shaky-handed people, including one old hippy guy who was in a state of terror because he thought we were all going to invite ourselves en masse to his house after the meeting. I don’t belong here with these fucking mental cases, I thought to myself, rather uncharitably, and wholly unrealistically.

Still, I thought it would be smart to keep going, in a bid to better understand my stinking thinking, and how to counteract it. Week two arrived, and I was cooking some chicken in the oven before group. I was starving, and running late. The chicken had been packaged in some sort of plastic tub, which in retrospect I don’t think should’ve been placed in the oven. The plastic warped with the heat, and when I tried to retrieve it it wobbled and wilted in my hands, sending globs of burning hot sauce all over my hands, and raining chunks of chicken down upon the kitchen floor. I hurled the floppy, half-empty tub across the room and aimed a hard kick at the oven. “THAT’S… IT!” I shouted, standing there with my arms hanging down at my waste, my fists balled in rage. “I’M TOO STRESSED OUT TO GO TO THIS STUPID FUCKING STRESS MANAGEMENT GROUP!” The delicious irony of this angry ejaculation caused me to laugh like a madman, my anger gone as quickly as it had arrived. I never made it back to the group… although I did try to break into the hippy’s house a few times.


The independence referendum in 2014 shook me out of my apathy a little. I genuinely cared about the political process again, and desperately wanted to do my bit to bring about change, even if my bit was just talking twaddle with strangers and signing an ‘X’ on a little piece of paper. I have friends who felt moved to canvass and campaign for their parties of choice in the wake of Scotland’s political re-awakening. I thought about it. And then realised I couldn’t be arsed. Oh, there’s a town meeting tonight. Right, I’d really better get along and… actually Monday’s not a good time for me. It’s Game of Thrones night. There’s one on Wednesday, too? Hmmm. I’ll probably be a bit tired by then… OH WHAT’S THE POINT, WE’LL ALL JUST GET CRUSHED UNDER THE WHEELS OF THE MACHINE, FREE WILL IS AN ILLUSION, THE ILLUMINATI CONTROL EVERYTHING ANYWAY. Plus I’ve got to take my missus to the bingo.

Yes, I’m crazy. But I think to campaign for things – to dedicate your life to an ideal – is its own form of craziness. I’m the wrong kind of crazy to change the world. I wish I could harness my rage and frustration and point it in the direction of a worthwhile cause, but I can’t (unless it directly involves my family’s health, happiness or safety, I’m not really interested). Thankfully, there are passionate people out there with the zeal of psychopathic stamp collectors who can fly the flag on my behalf across a whole range of issues. I salute those fucking lunatics, I really do. Half-heartedly, of course.

When I can be bothered raising my arm.

PS: I started writing this in February.

No means No? Yes… For now.

dead_unicornWe live in a peaceful democracy, which is why the will of the majority will be accepted – however reluctantly – without calls for people’s heads on sticks, fights or riots. Emotionally, we on the YES side will take stock and move on; we will continue to battle for a better future for our children, and to participate fully in whatever comes next.

But the suggestion from some quarters that YES voters should ‘get over it’, ‘stop spitting out the dummy’ or ‘get back in their box’ is as insulting as it is disgusting. I voted YES because I believe in the tenets of free healthcare, free education and free childcare – among many other things – which was and is within the power of an independent Scotland to be delivered, protected and guaranteed. I voted against nuclear missiles, the callous indifference of Westminster, policies that widen the wage gap and create and prolong poverty, the resurgence of the Tories and their ideological opposition to the things I believe are crucial to a fair and decent society, and the rise of UKIP and the far right in the south. I believe Scotland possesses the will and the resources for full autonomy over its own affairs, for a better and richer society – both materially and spiritually – for its people.

Today, what has not been taken from me, is under threat of being taken. I cannot help but feel disappointed and angry.

Remember how often those heading the Better Together campaign told us that Independence was a one-way street; that there would be no going back from it? Well, I hope a lot of people wake up today and realise that the same might prove equally true of deciding to remain in the union. Let’s see what happens next.

For all of our sakes, let’s hope that the faith of the NO voters is rewarded, and something good comes out of this result; that the extra powers promised don’t turn out to be as substantial as mist and ghosts. Let’s hope that we don’t find ourselves forgotten or sidelined in the call for more powers for other parts of the UK; that we don’t find ourselves bent over the oil barrel and fucked into submission.

The coarse, gleeful laughter from the NO campaign headquarters last night is still ringing in my ears. I can’t shake the feeling that many in this country cast their vote in a spirit of ‘I’m alright, Jack.’

Well, my infant son’s called Jack. He’s going to remember you said that.

This isn’t over.

Cunt of the Week (17th April 2013) by Jonny Seaton

t1I’m going to set my stall out straight away: I hate the Tories. I can’t stand them, in fact, but my first memory of them was a positive one. In 1975 I remember Margaret Thatcher being elected as the first female leader of a political party, and thinking, as a 6 year old, ‘That’s good.’ My main female role model at that time was my mum, and she was brilliant, a really positive influence on me.

Perhaps it was my doctor father’s left-wing leanings, or perhaps it was the 80’s and the height of political comedy with Ben Elton and Spitting Image vying for our attention at putting down those in power; either way, I realised that the Conservative Party were not the party of the people….unless of course the people you were referring to were ‘society’s elite,’ a phrase that was something of an oxymoron in the 80’s, as Thatcher had denounced society, and claimed that it didn’t exist. As she put it: ‘There’s no such thing as society.’ (‘Elite’ is also open to interpretation: by elite I mean the rich, or the wannabe rich.)

Major: like an old Clark Kent, minus the Superman.

Major: like an old Clark Kent, minus the Superman.

But after introducing the poll tax, the vicious attacks on the unions and strikers, the denationalisation of once great industries, the initial steps in privatisation of the Health Service and so on, Thatcher was eventually deposed by her own party. There followed a slight move from extreme right-wing, blue politics to closer-to-centre, grey politics with seven years of John Major – a man so dull that not even the later revelation that he had had an affair with Edwina Currie could liven up his image. And it was image that the next PM, Tony Blair, was all about. Tony will be remembered for a few things, most notably an illegal war; a war that I totally agree with, if I am honest. Saddam Hussein was a bad man who committed genocide against the Iraqi Kurds, and if that was the reason for the invasion there would have been a lot less of an issue. The official reason was Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), but none were ever found – they were never going to be found. What Iraq did, and does, have in abundance is oil; and with the USA calling the shots, we were always going to war.

Gordon Brown squeezing an imaginary Tony Blair heart.

Gordon Brown squeezing an imaginary Tony Blair heart.

The collapse of the financial services led to Labour’s downfall, despite a couple of years of a good man, Gordon Brown, whose biggest problem was timing. Blair’s legacy was that the next Prime Minister was going to be a Tory. A big reason for this was the collapse of the financial services and the plunging of the UK into recession; interestingly enough a collapse that can be accurately traced back to the US policies of Reagan, which had been copied by Margaret Thatcher in the 80’s: greed, self and money; a man mind thyself attitude.

David Cameron: even his own shadow thinks he's a cunt.

David Cameron: even his own shadow thinks he’s a cunt.

So on 11 May 2010 the public went to the polls, and nearly 30 million turned out to vote, which is a great turnout (about 65% of those eligible). The Tories won 308 seats, which wasn’t enough for a majority unless combined with the seats of the Liberals – and don’t get me started on that! Many saw this as a protest vote, but whatever the reasons the Conservatives were back in power.

So 13 years since we last had a Conservative Government we had another, and the ‘everything now’ society in which we live caused people to forget how bad it was the last time. There is a feeling amongst the electorate that all the parties are much of a muchness. The bland politics of Major and Blair did nothing to dispel that. They are wrong: Cameron is very much one of Thatcher’s children. He has been in power for less than 3 years, and what have we seen?

  • Cuts to the armed forces and an end to the Scottish Regiments, replacing them with one cheaper Scottish Regiment. In the best traditions of Thatcher, this is a Scottish-only thing.
  • An end to the separate Scottish Police Forces, being replaced by one force…. another Scottish thing
  • Cameron is continuing the gradual erosion of the NHS
  • Cameron is undoing all of the good that came from the Beveridge Report, which fought the ‘five giant evils’ of Ignorance (Education), Idleness (Work & Pensions) and Disease (NHS)
  • Iain Duncan-Smith claiming he could surive on £57 per week
  • The introduction of a Bedroom Tax, potentially forcing the most vulnerable in society to take in unknown lodgers
  • The phone hacking scandal, and Cameron’s disclosed closeness to Rebekah Brooks, the editor at the height of the scandal. She is set to go on trial in September this year but I doubt anything will come of that. Am I cynical, perhaps?
Thatcher's coffin being led to the ground by the BNP, who won the competitive bid to run her funeral.

Thatcher’s coffin being led to the ground by the BNP, who won the competitive bid to run her funeral.

So on this, the day that Margaret Thatcher is buried, you would think that my cunt of the week is the Conservative Party. Well, I am afraid you are wrong. Yes, I despise them; I hate everything they stand for and wish they did not exist. However, what they stand for is well documented: they are the party on the right; they are the party of money; and the party that likes to keep that money circulating amongst themselves….

My cunt of the week is… well it could be you? Did you vote? No. Do you complain about the Government? You do? Well, it is you then. Voting is the right of every free person over the age of 18 in the UK. It is a democratic right, and one that if you forego then you forego the right to complain that this party – which has always been composed of cunts – continue to do what they have always done.

Jonny Seaton

Jonny Seaton

THIS WEEK’S GUEST WRITER Jonny Seaton is fast becoming a regular and favourite on the Scottish stand-up circuit. Last month he reached the grand finale of Radio Forth’s Big Comedy Audition, and received great praise from the judges. Outside of comedy, Jonny works as a fluffer for the animals on David Attenborough documentaries. ‘When David Attenborough wants to see two elks fucking, then David Attenborough GETS to see two elks fucking,’ explains Jonny. ‘But sometimes they’re not in the mood. David won’t accept this. He’ll say things to me like, “I didn’t fly all the way to Africa and trek through bloody jungles and across deserts getting my arse bitten off by mosquitos just so that these two lazy cunts could ruin my money shot.” Oh, he can be quite brutal sometimes. That’s where I come in. Sometimes you need to be tough, with a vice-like grip, sometimes gentle, like you’re shaking hands with a brittle-boned Oompa Loompa. Yes, I love my job, but it can be challenging. You try wanking off a tiger.’

The cost of failure can be high. On one occasion Jonny failed to excite two apathetic rhinos into having sex, and so Attenborough ordered Jonny to put on a rhino costume, and fucked him himself.

Jonny once went to France. He liked it.

Not all of this biography is true… Jonny fucking hated France.



Jamie’s Guide to Politics Pt2: The Labour Party

It took a while for Al Jolson to get it right.

Broadly and historically speaking, the Labour party is the party of the working class. Unfortunately, there’s no longer a working class. All of the coal-miners and their descendants are now working for Scottish Power, working eighteen hours a day in cramped conditions down t’call centre, just waiting for George Orwell to write a book about them.

That’s if they work at all. Now that the steel, maritime, coal and gas industries have gone the way of the Dodo, Labour’s traditional supporters – people with tattoos who enjoy cheese sandwiches, swearing in polite company and beating their wives – are now mostly to be found signing on the dole, or having their bollocks shot off in Afghanistan.

'The next woman who takes me out is gonna light up like a pinball machine, and pay out in silver dollars.'

That’s why Labour was forced to advance and embrace the ideology of New Labour, which merged Thatcherism with a commitment to giving free money to work-shy scumbags who wanted operations for nothing, White Lightning, drugs and fags. Tony Blair was the first face of this brave new way of thinking. He was posh enough to appeal to Tories, but he called people ‘mate’ and had an ugly wife.

If John Smith was still alive, he’d definitely be bitter. Ed Milliband is the next generation of Labour leader. He was created in a laboratory by splicing the DNA of a 12 year old boy with one of those psychic aliens from Star Trek with the gigantic throbbing skulls. His vocal and oratorical capabilities were modelled on Sylvester the Cat after a horrific brain injury.

The Future

There’s been a radical re-think in recent years. Most labour supporters want to go ‘more literal.’ That’s why the existing politicians and councillors will be replaced by women who are actually in the process of child labour. Work has already been commissioned to fit hundreds of stirrups into the parliament building in Westminster.

‘Yes, the entire Labour Party will consist of women, and specifically women who are just about to give birth,’ said some guy who I think said his name was Andy, ‘This will ensure that we remain a fresh political force with a constant stream of new ideas and policies, because once one of our MPs actually gives birth, it’s out the back door and another one gets wheeled in. By a smiling Eric Joyce.’

Cherie Blair lending her support to the new initiative.

The new leader of the opposition, who will be a different person every 3 – 36 hours, will spend her time in parliament screaming abuse at the Prime Minister, and demanding morphine. ‘Do you think David Cameron will be so keen to come out with his usual smart-alec remarks when the grip of just one of these deeply hormonal, pain-ravaged women would be enough to crush the neck bones of a rhinoceros?’

Prime Minister’s Questions will now involve the speaker sitting ashen-white with terror as the hundreds of women surrounding him wail like dying animals; ‘THIS IS YOUR FUCKING FAULT YOU BASTARD DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME – ESPECIALLY YOU, ED BALLS!’, the only phrase decipherable through the tumultuous din.

Jamie’s Guide to Politics: The BNP

In his high-school yearbook, Nick Griffin was voted ‘Most Likely to Make a Career Out of Racism’

At root, all the BNP wants to do is make sure that people ‘get back to their home’, which is why the organisation is so popular with taxi drivers.

Nick Griffin is the party’s current leader. When he’s not indulging in his favourite hobby of racism, Nick likes to enter look-a-like contests, and has recently come first-place in a variety of different competitions: most like Morn from Deep Space 9; most like Greenback from Inspector Gadget after a stroke; and most like David Cameron after an over-eating disorder and a motor-bike accident.

Aryan Family Guy

The BNP attracted a lot of media interest last year when it took over production of the American animated series ‘Family Guy’, and substituted Nick Griffin for Peter Griffin.

‘This is how we’ll reach the kids with our message,’ said Griffin. ‘Speak to them through popular culture; let them see me as the Fuhrer…em, the father. Like the time Hitler put himself into Mickey Mouse cartoons.’ {roll sketch}

A memo Nick Griffin sent to the production team, intercepted by news teams, spelled out the new direction he felt the show should take:

‘I’m not having a Jewish wife. Get rid of her. The baby, too. Nick Griffin doesn’t father fags. And I’m not happy about the daughter, Meg. She’s obviously a lesbian communist. Have my character send them off to camp, if you know what I mean. On the plus side, my son is a big, dumb blonde and the dog is white. I’m digging that. A final word on the neighbourhood. That neighbour of mine, the one in the wheelchair? Make it clear he was wounded in combat, or in the line of duty. If he was born that way it wouldn’t be realistic to have him survive to adulthood. As for my black neighbour and supposed best friend, Cleveland? Either kill the family off, or give them their own spin-off show to get rid of them.’


‘Das balustrades are a fucking disgrace.’

The future of the BNP now looks uncertain. A German historian, Herr Grosse Busen, has discovered that Hitler, the party’s hero, wasn’t a racist, genocidal maniac after all.

‘The Fuhrer was actually a decorator hired by the Reichstag to brighten the place up,’ explains Busen. ‘and he was a lovely wee bloke. We know what caused the confusion. Hitler was in the main chambers, surrounded by politicians, and shouted out: “I’m going to fill all the interior spaces with colour, and widen out the mews.” But everyone thought he said: “I’m going to kill all the inferior races and coloureds, and wipe out the Jews,” and they were well up for it. Hitler only started WWII because he was too embarrassed to point out their mistake.’


Floella Benjamin

Nick Griffin’s nervous breakdown may serve as the final nail in the party’s coffin. He appeared on ITV’s Loose Women, and sobbed into the breasts of Floella Benjamin. As Floella stroked Griffin’s head, gently rocking him back and forth and saying, ‘Shhhhh, baby, it’s okay, it’s okay’, Griffin apologised for being a meanie and admitted that ‘he actually quite liked black people and muslims.’

Griffin is set to relaunch the BNP as the ‘Be Nice to Pakistanis’ party.

Do it the George Gallo-Way

What’s the difference between Tony Soprano and George Galloway?

One’s a tough-talking, narcissistic, sociopathic, cigar-smoking adulterer, and the other one’s from New Jersey.

There’s a scene in ‘The Weight’, a season 4 episode of HBO’s The Sopranos, in which mob boss Tony Soprano covertly directs one half of a telephone conversation between Ralph Ciffaretto, one of his underlings, and Johnny Sack, a New York mob family underboss. Tony wants to make sure Ralph says the right things – and avoids saying the wrong things – to prevent further escalation of hostilities. Tensions are high between Ralph and Johnny: Ralph made a crack about the size of Johnny’s wife’s ass; somebody told Johnny; and now Johnny’s looking for blood.

Ralph: sorry seems to be the easiest word

Tony counsels Ralph to deny the allegations vehemently, and warns him that under no circumstances should he apologise. Ralph ignores Tony’s advice and, while still protesting his innocence, decides to apologise to Johnny in the interests of harmony and goodwill. That decision sets Ralph and Johnny on a course that puts both of them in mortal danger, and risks losing Tony a lot of money.

The moral is clear: never apologise. It’s weak, and makes you look guilty: especially if you are. This simple strategy worked for Tony Soprano, and it’s certainly doing the trick for ‘Gorgeous’ George Galloway. One stray ‘I’m sorry’ from the lips of the Teflon Don-donian at any point throughout the last few decades could have sunk his entire career.


Galloway knows that the world loves a larger-than-life character; a fighter; a righteous rebel. Where Winston Churchill – another famous cigar smoker with attitude – held two palm-facing fingers aloft to symbolise peace, Galloway prefers them flipped around to spell out ‘Fuck you’ with his fingernails. A large part of his appeal – and strength – is in his utter refusal to back down from any opponent, to answer for his actions or to show any contrition whatsoever for his apparent misdeeds.

And, let’s not forget, Galloway is the only politician ever to have uttered the words ‘spunk-loving sluts’ in parliament, and for that alone I will love him forever. Go on, Google it. Youtube it.

They say that great men become great by standing on the shoulders of giants. Galloway’s managed to keep himself astride the world of politics by standing on the shoulders of the underdogs. First, he spoke for the working class masses of Glasgow, then he gave a voice to those affected, both ethically and actually, by the occupation of Iraq, and now he’s championing the UK’s arab and muslim minorities. Galloway denies that he’s a demagogue, but it’s hard not to view him as Dundee’s answer to Gaius Baltar, a man ready to shed or cultivate any allegiance that will secure him power and a public platform with which to showcase his tub-thumping.

That being said, I’ve got something of a soft-spot for the little firebrand, and I even find myself agreeing with him from time to time…

And I’m not going to apologise for that. But, then, neither am I going to apologise for this:


1) Galloway smokes a cigar. This makes him cool by default, because Winston Churchill, Tony Soprano and Che Guevara all smoked cigars, too, right? Wrong. Jimmy Saville also smoked cigars.



2) Galloway’s support for the Palestinian cause was lent extra credibility through his ability to look the arab world in the face and proclaim: ‘Of course I’m pro-Palestinian. I’m fucking one, aren’t I?’



3) Eric Joyce looks at George Galloway with envy. ‘Galloway’s shagged his way through just about every nationality on earth, cheated on his pregnant wife and enjoyed cavorting with younger women. If only I hadn’t apologised for MY behaviour I could have bounced back like him.’ When Eric Joyce thinks this way about Galloway, he gets much the same feeling as Gary Glitter gets when he thinks about Michael Jackson. In a nutshell, Glitter thinks he’d be on T4 if he’d fucked boys and danced better.


4) Born in Dundee, George Galloway is a big fan of The Broons.




5) George Galloway went on Celebrity Big Brother to teach Britain’s youth about politics, which he successfully achieved by pretending to be a robot and licking invisible cream from Rula Lenska’s fist.



6) On the same programme, George Galloway championed the great British underdog Michael Barrymore by harnessing all his powers of rhetoric and being right mean an’ that about the entertainer’s alcoholism and mental illness. Barrymore’s not bitter, though. He’s still invited Galloway to his ‘CBB 2012 Reunion Pool Party’.


7) Galloway’s represented the Hillhead constituency in Glasgow, campaigned and conquered in Bradford, and toured the war-torn, bomb-savaged Middle East, and he still hasn’t found anywhere as shit as Dundee.



8 ) Galloway has his own show on TalkSport, where he can reach that all-important demographic of medicated housewives, racist taxi-drivers and truck-driving serial killers.



9) Galloway said the address he made saluting Saddam Hussein’s ‘indefatigability’ was taken out of context. ‘It’s like when two lorry drivers from the same haulage firm pass each other and toot on the motorway. It’s respect. I wasn’t saluting HIS indefatigability, but the indefatigability of his smashing moustache.’ Galloway claims that only one other moustache on earth has moved him in this way: that belonging to Denny-born comedian Bob Graham.


10) George Galloway has eleven testicles.





11) Galloway vowed he would ‘never become a Conservative’ because ‘their birds are well ugly.’




12) The only nationality of woman that Galloway has never slept with is an Eskimo. And he’s working on that.




13) Galloway was born and raised a Roman Catholic, but his last few wives – and weddings – have been Muslim. So which is he? On the one hand, he’s a sex-obsessed hyopcrite. On the other hand, he’s a complete bastard to women. I guess he’s both. 



14) George Galloway thinks the relationship between Tony Soprano and this article was incredibly tenuous. I’m sorry about that.




Vote for the Dinner Party

'More jelly and ice-cream, Sir Rich Cunt?'

So, a rich, elitist politician in a corrupt capitalist society offers rich CEOs and horrid right-wing sister-fuckers the chance to influence governmental policy for money? The only thing surprising about the recent Cam-for-Cash revelations is our surprise.

Here we have David Cameron, a man whose face tells the story of a weird genetic experiment to meld Buzz Lightyear with a posh monkey-nut, preaching about the Big Society at the same time as he does his utmost to dismantle it. Well, the peasant part of it, anyway.

Goodbye, NHS. It’s OK. Poor people don’t need hearts or kidneys, anyway. That’s a scientific fact. Cheerio, provisions for the old and skint. Want to keep warm, working-class OAPs? Why not make a fire and burn all of your old copies of ‘The Socialist Worker’? You’ll be feeling your fingers and toes again in no time. Auf weidersehen, rights of disabled people on benefits. I know one thing that will help your broken back and crippling depression: a little stint stocking shelves for free down at Tesco, your local, friendly greengrocer.

'Gonnae nonny nonny no dae that?'

Cameron’s been robbing from the poor to give to the rich (and extorting the rich to make the rich richer) from the start. This Cash-for-Goujons debacle is the least of the coalition’s misdeeds. You know a regime’s got a problem with image when its antics begin to make Tory-punching, problem-drinking, schoolgirl-shagging, nutcase’s-nutcase Eric Joyce look like a folk hero by comparison. And, worst of all, I’ve just imagined Eric Joyce decked out in green tights prancing around a forest.

What will we, the people, do? I know what they’d do in France: start burning sheep until Cameron stepped down. But not here. We are the sheep, and we’ve not the wit to realise that the whiff of lamby barbecue in the air drifts from our own scorched backs. We’ll forget this story, and the next one, and the one after that. That’s if we’re watching at all. Isn’t Eastenders on?

That's the smell of you being fucked.

We live in a country where vile politicians who trade in misery are re-elected time and again, while the people who play baddies in soaps get soup cans hurled at them in the street by angry old women years after their career has ended. ‘How could you cheat on oor wee Deirdre, ya animal!’

Politicians have the power to decide how we live and die, but we all find it… well, pretty bloody boring. Certainly not as exciting as the prospect of a nutty slut getting her jubblies out on the next series of Big Brother. But keep an eye on live updates from the Big Brother house in Westminster. Once those old men and women in suits are certain that the TV viewers have fallen into a tedium-sponsored coma, they’ll stop talking about agricultural quotas and caps on this, that and the other, and they’ll turn their attentions to the REAL order of business: building a Death Star.