Monday, 23 February 2015

The Old Man on the Green

I'm very pleased to report that my short story The Old Man on the Green has been published today on T Gene Davis's Speculative Blog.

This story is the first of what I hope may be a series of tales set in the fictional Lincolnshire village of Micklethwaite, where life is lived at a slow pace and close to nature. Of course this does not mean that exciting events never happen there.

I should be very pleased to hear what readers think of the story, which was one that I really enjoyed researching and writing. 

It is an interesting thing (at least to me) how often a speculative story demands extensive research. I do like to feel that I have my facts consistent even if sometimes I have to make them up!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Political Parties Do Not Deserve Public Funding

The latest scandal to afflict the finances of political parties has revived the old demand for public funding. Strangely enough, this demand always seems to proceed from the presumption that parties must be funded somehow, rather than justifying such a premise.

Public funding derives from either taxes or borrowing. We have an unsustainable fiscal deficit, so perhaps now is not the best time to suggest yet another call upon the public purse.

The calls upon tax revenue already have to be rationed; there are far more causes worthy of state support than there is state support available. Who will explain to the patients queuing in ambulances outside A&E that in our wisdom we decided funding political parties was more important than their medical needs? Who will explain to our troops in the field that they are short of equipment because we allocated higher priority to political funding?

The party system in this country may have evolved as a method for the legislature to seize power from the executive but it has been sustained to a point where legislative tyranny has supplanted executive tyranny. Politics as a civic duty has given way to politics as a career to be pursued by an entire class of professionals who are without knowledge or understanding of real life as lived by taxpayers and who do not appear to understand that before money can be spent it must first be earned.

These professionals believe that they should be allowed to spend our money on the communication to us of party-biased misinformation. The more of it they are allowed to spend, the more distortions their advertising campaigns put out and the more special advisers they are able to appoint in order that ministers may be surrounded by yes-men rather than impartial civil servants.

The party system in the UK is moribund; parties used to be mass movements, now they are largely hollow shells inhabited by few but careerists. Nevertheless they maintain a stranglehold on government. In the 1950's over 90% of voters supported one of two parties and election turnout exceeded 80%; now over a third of us don't vote at all and the two big parties only poll two thirds of the votes that are actually cast.

When our great metal bashing industries lost market share at such a rate we reluctantly closed them down and learned as a nation to make our living in other ways. Likewise we need to reinvent our democracy not just subsidise dying political dinosaurs.

There are public services for which British taxpayers have shown themselves more than happy to pay. Funding political parties is not amongst them.

Friday, 13 February 2015

And a Fourth!

I don't know what has caused the little run of enthusiasm for my work in the USA, but it is most welcome.

I can report that a fourth US publisher, T Gene Davis's Speculative Blog has accepted a 2,100 word contemporary fantasy entitled 'The Old Man on the Green'.

This story is set in a fictional Lincolnshire village which I would like to think might be the scene of several more tales. When I was young I spent a lot of time in Lincolnshire and some of you may know that my novel 'The Prophets of Baal' is also set there.

Meanwhile The Sockdolager has announced that its inaugural quarterly featuring a story of mine will appear on 3rd March. Don't miss it!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

A Third Acceptance

2015 is getting better from a publishing point of view. I'm very pleased to say that The Sockdolager has decided that my 4400 word Victorian mystery entitled "The Man on the Church Street Omnibus" is to their taste.

Long before moving to Sliabh Mannan I used to live in Kensington, near to the location of this story. I can't claim to have noticed quite such strange goings on at the time, but maybe I wasn't being sufficiently observant!

No publication schedule is available as yet, but I'll let you all know when to look for it.