The Muse has returned!
As we approach the middle of November, I tend to pause and reflect upon the previous twelve months, as November is my birthday month. I become another year older (not necessarily any wiser mind), and I contemplate the relentless passage of time. Ideally, my birthday would also be a time to unwind and relax, but whether that happens… well, we’ll see.
Welcome (yet Unwelcome) Unseasonal Weather
October drew to a close with the temperature reaching 21C, highly unusual for the time of year. This might feel quite pleasant on the skin, but we shouldn’t get comfortable. Colder weather will be right around the corner, but more importantly, this is yet another demonstration of climate change. Rising temperatures aren’t great for anybody, and yet, inertia about this problem remains in place, pretty much across society. We have a duty of care for the next generations, and we need the support of governments and big businesses to effect meaningful climate change measures, yet as always, money talks louder than doing what’s right.
Yes, more book stuff. I know I know, you’re tired of it, but tough 🙂 I’m gonna push this hard, because I’m proud of it, dammit!
Twitter recently provided yet another insight into casual misogyny. There is a video doing the rounds, of a man asking a woman about her fertility, on what is only their second date. I can sort of understand people feeling out whether or not their prospective partner wants kids, but to ask if they’re fertile? To ask if they track their fertility? To refer to them as a great ‘specimen‘? That’s messed up. It’s super-creepy and very weird, not to mention demeaning. I wonder if the guy would appreciate being asked questions about sperm count and health?
The World Cup
I recently wrote up my own personal thoughts and predictions for the 2022 World Cup. This winter tournament (the first time the World Cup has been held in November/December) will test players in new and unique ways, not least of all because the usual pre-tournament friendlies won’t take place. There is also the backdrop of controversy, over how the World Cup was awarded in the first place, treatment of migrant workers, and the host nation’s record on LGBT rights. However, nothing is going to stop the World Cup at this late stage, and thus, the world is prepared. I hold no illusions about England’s chances (we are not going to win it), and I expect to bear witness to a number of disappointments as far as we’re concerned. Hopefully there’ll be good games with lots of goals, but I don’t expect England to be among those! Well, unless we’re on the receiving end of a hiding…
With the squad manager Gareth Southgate has chosen, my already-low expectations sunk lower. Take a look:
You may be wondering why I’m unhappy, so I’ll sum up in two words: Harry Maguire. Manchester United’s fourth choice central defender, who has reached new levels of comedic defending in the past season or so, should not be anywhere near the England squad. There are much better candidates, but Southgate is, for inexplicable reasons, trusting the guy dropped from United’s starting XI. I can only hope that common sense kicks in, and Maguire doesn’t actually start games.
Beyond that, an out-of-form forward Raheem Sterling is in the side, at the expense of better options, such as Roma’s Tammy Abraham. Ivan Toney, who has been in good form, also misses out. Kalvin Phillips, who has not played very much this season, is going, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, given the intensity of World Cup football.
There are some positives. James Maddison has played brilliantly, and forced his way into the team. Phil Foden is a real handful, Manson Mount is an astute midfielder, and Kieran Trippier has been in great form on the flanks for Newcastle. Marcus Rashford appears to be rediscovering some form, Bukayo Saka is s lively player, and Harry Kane knows how to score goals. Declan Rice has proven adept in central midfield, and John Stones is dependable at the back. Still, picking a liability like Maguire is just depressing!
I am considering revealing the name of the follow-up to The Awakening, but it’s not an absolute, and it could be considered a soft spoiler. Nonetheless, the next part in the story is up to over 17,000 words, and I am making steady progress. I know the direction I wish to steer, and I’m getting there. I confess that I am distracted by my efforts to market The Awakening, and also by another project. My dystopian story has taken a backseat, and I don’t know if and when I will return to it (I’d like to, but honestly, I don’t know if I will), in favour of treading new and unusual territory – a romantic comedy story. Well, a rom-com with a supernatural twist, so maybe not that unusual for me.
I am tempted to revisit that is decidedly not PG-13, namely my Ancient Rome story. It would need considerable work to bring it up to publishing standard, and it would more or less be a complete re-write, and I have to be careful about overloading my plate. On top of that, a friend of mine has suggested jointly writing something, and that has led me to resurrect another old idea of mine. I recall my previous Muse, and talk of focus, and I need to ensure I can devote focus to all these different, disparate elements. I have to A: market my existing book, B: work on the sequel, C: develop this rom-com, D: work on this joint story, and finally E: re-work my Rome story to a better standard. Oh, and F: re-examine my dystopian story.
What I have done is to try and remove distractions. I have deleted FIFA, Mario Kart, and a host of other games. They are unnecessary diversions for me at this point.
Muskrats and Meerkats
Muskrats are reasonably cute rodents. A less-pleasant rodent is Elon Musk, who has recently bought the social media platform Twitter for $44 billion.
$44 billion is obviously an eye-wateringly large sum of money, and beyond the reach of mere mortals. There are many good uses for that sort of money. Musk could put a huge dent in world hunger. He could significantly improve quality of life for millions in the USA. Instead Musk (like his billionaire chums Bezos and Zuckerberg) has preferred to spend the money on vanity projects. Control of Twitter (a platform with millions of users, all over the world) will let Musk steer the narrative of social and political discourse on that platform. He claims to be interested in free speech, but long before that becomes an excuse to let miscreants troll people, without consequence?
What’s a meerkat to do? I’ve built myself a nice little niche on Twitter. It’s a good platform to market my book. There are plenty of good people on there. The danger is they, and I, get drowned out by vile, nasty characters, who champion their hatred in the name of freedom.
There are (according to the latest Forbes rich list) 2,668 billionaires in the world. They have a collective wealth of $12.7 trillion. (That’s $12,700,000,000,000). Ten percent of that is still $1.27 trillion, which would go a long way towards solving a lot of the world’s major problems, whilst also allowing these mega-wealthy characters to lead very comfortable lifestyles. They could easily afford a wealth tax, and pay their workers a good, living wage, and remain extremely wealthy. Instead, we get Musk buying Twitter and Bezos launching himself into space. No wonder the world is fucked up.
On a more local (UK) level, the top ten of the Sunday Times Rich List have £176.916 billion between them. A ten percent wealth tax would raise £17.69 billion, and that would contribute enormously to a variety of important projects, be they for health, education, the environment, or addressing poverty. If a wealth tax were applied to everyone with wealth of £10 million or more you would raise £86 billion. It goes without saying that this would make a huge difference to any number of services.
I can hear the peanut gallery already. They’ll protest, they’ll decry this ‘evil’ socialist agenda, and mislabel it communism (because they don’t understand, even after being repeatedly told, the differences between my position, socialism, and communism). The dishonest rants of the ignorant do not change facts or reality. The means exist to help people, and resolve our planet’s most pressing problems, and greed is the inertia that holds us back.
The Meerkat Mission
For reasons known only to myself (and not really known to myself either), I have been trying to unite the numerous meerkat accounts of Twitter. Bearing in mind the platform’s suddenly uncertain future, I have no idea if this is even worthwhile, and let’s face it, it probably isn’t worthwhile anyway, but screw it, it’s quite fun! There are a lot of meerkat accounts on Twitter, and to be fair, some of them are of no interest to me, for various reasons. Others are inactive, so there’s no point in following them.
There’s one group that I’m trying to figure out. You might be interested to know that a group of meerkats is called a mob. There’s a bunch of ‘kats on Twitter that are all tied together, in some sort of, um, mob. It appears to be to do with NFTs, and I have no idea what NFTs are, other than that it’s money-related. They seem decent enough, but I don’t know what their mission is.
Without going into detail (because it’s deeply personal, and not my place either), I had cause to experience a blistering rage the other day. I am not one for violence, but honestly, I was pretty close to punching someone.
Have I been a beacon of virtue in my life? No. Have I sometimes not behaved like an adult? Yes. Like anyone, I can be petulant, grumpy, and sour. What I have learned from these moments is that no one can solve a problem, if they don’t know what the problem is, and they certainly can’t address a problem, if they don’t even know there is a problem. That goes without saying. I don’t know what’s going on in the head of a particular person, but I know their actions are cruel and cowardly.
Gah. I feel impotent with rage. I don’t know what to do.
I wore the meerkat outfit, as planned, and much like the dinosaur last year, I soon learned it was completely impractical, very warm, difficult to see out of – and a lot of fun! However, someone called me a chipmunk. A CHIPMUNK! Blasphemy I tell you, blasphemy!
The experience did make me think that we could use more street lights in my neck of the woods. Parts of the local suburbs are verrrrrry dark, and a case could be made that it’s not especially safe. Still, all in all, my daughter and I had fun!
I’d love to know what went through the head of sitting MP Matt Hancock. The former Health Secretary was part of Boris Johnson’s team as the Tories bungled their way through the covid pandemic. He also breached lockdown rules by kissing an aide in his office (Hancock was having an affair for good measure). Now, he has decided to join the show I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here!, and what he expects to accomplish from this is anybody’s guess. If Hancock believes he can convince people he is a competent politician, and that the Tories can be trusted with anything, he is deluded. Instead, it’s virtually a certainty the British public will vote him to face every trial, in judgement of his and his party’s miserable incompetence. I can’t wait to see his face as he realises how much the British public despise everything he stands for.
I wrote of anger earlier. I freely admit that I felt a depth of fury I had not felt before, but in the end, what good will come from that? People make choices, and as reprehensible as those choices may be, people are free to make them. I cannot change them, or influence them. Holding onto rage is not a path to anything good.
It doesn’t help that I have other reasons for feeling stressed, which I won’t get into here. Suffice to say, it’s all about protecting the people closest to me, in whatever way I can, and not letting the choices of others consume me. It’s not easy. I still feel angry. The heartache inflicted by cowardly, callous behaviour, upon someone I love, is unacceptable. It is petty. It is pointless. It is also maddening to me, because I don’t know what to do about it. I could unleash my fury, but what good will that do?
Maybe it’s the recent emotional turmoil manifesting itself, but my dream the other night was a prolonged fight for survival. It involved me being in south London, and getting caught up in some kind of riot or protest, where I stood up for someone (I think they were a cop) coming under attack by a group of rioters. Suddenly, I was a marked man, pursued across London by this gang and their allies. My journey to try and reunite with my family took me to some sort of… well, it might have been a water treatment plant, and also to some sort of theatre, and even a posh-looking country house, and also through several streets and roads. I don’t know how the story would have ended, as I woke up whilst my dream ‘character’ sought safety, I think by trying to get to a train station, and as far away from the area as possible.
Guy Fawkes Night
Guy Fawkes Night is an interesting occasion. We celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes and his conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament, during a time when I suspect many Britons would dearly love to burn the place to the ground. We are a peculiar country at the best of times, and the 5th of November encapsulates that perfectly.
I alluded to this earlier, but one of my favourite TV shows, I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of Here!, has returned to TV screens, and to Australia, after two years at a Welsh castle. Cue a few weeks of unique and quirky fun and frolics! I do wonder how the World Cup will affect the show’s schedule, since some overlap is pretty much inevitable.
Some of you have heard of the ‘two wolves inside you’ parable. One is good, one is bad, and the you feed is the one that gets stronger. I wonder if this is what framed my dream the other night.
What I remember is of being out at night, wearing my coat, with the hood drawn up, and hearing a dog or wolf snarling. Things then went virtually completely dark, and I was panicking a bit, as all I could do was hear this aggressive animal, but I couldn’t even see my hands in front of me, much less anything else. Just as I think something really bad was about to happen, the dream shifted, and I was in a living room somewhere, with a beautiful husky demanding my attention, and being quite noisy (as huskies tend to be). I stroked the dog, played with it, and told it off a couple of times for rubbing its nose on my coat.
I wish I had more context than that, but that’s the nature of dreams. If I were to guess, it might represent the feelings of anger I’ve had recently, versus the desire to let go of that.
That’s the best way to describe the weather right now. Things have gotten foggy, and it’s a bit eerie. In an earlier part of the Muse, I did mention the weather, and this is further proof that we are moving into the cold bit. I don’t like the cold bit. Alas, it will only get colder, and who knows what sort of winter we are in for. I await it with baited breath.
That’s it for the latest Muse. What awaits with the next one? By then, the World Cup will be in full swing, and the spectre of Christmas will loom large! Take care everyone!