Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Un-Common Places

When I started out on my publishing adventure, and it is an adventure, I
never suspected the places I would be finding and falling love with.
Some of them from my own living room.

I signed up for Second Life only this year. I'd known about it for a
long time, sure; but there were always reasons why not.

Everyone was so friendly and helpful. Lovely ladies, Selina and Arton,
made me welcome, Arton fixed my shop for me; Imarad let me share mike
time on readings of my writings... I found a whole new place to be, and
people who were happy, interested and engaged with reading and writing.

So when we launched the seventh novel from our tiny publishing "cottage"
(house is much bigger and grander), it seemed natural to come to Second
Life for a reading and discussion.

Common Places by Paul House launched last Friday at the Winchester
Writers' Conference, and now has the distinction of being my first
launch on Second Life too.

It was an excellent reading, and discussion, everyone really enjoyed
hearing the book, it was slightly unfortunate that audience was
curtailed by technical glitches, but this was more than made up for by
the generous enthusiasm of the audience.

So, thanks to everyone who could make it, and an extra special thanks to
Paul for sharing his marvellous new book with us.

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Monday, 7 June 2010

Now I really have read every damn thing!

For the uninitiated, and my non-UK friends who would otherwise not see any of this, in the UK we have newspapers. Actually, the word in itself is a bit of a stretch... apparently “news” includes stories about people you have never heard about (and from seeing the reports, never want hear about again) walking down the street.

British newspapers also have a serious obsession with the value of people’s homes and their ages. Presumably, so that the reader can orientate themselves on the pity scale, by adding up the value of the home and the ages of the owners and making value judgements about their likely class or political persuasion.

All of which leads me neatly to the point of this diatribe.

A couple of nights ago, twin baby girls were attacked by a fox as they slept in their cots in their parents’ home.

Now you would believe that such a horrific incident would illicit the sympathies of almost anyone who read the story. Nine month old babies attacked by a wild animal.

Not a bit of it.

In fact the responses I have read tonight on one website in particular make me question if there is any point, value or need to preserve the British people, especially the urbanites, for the future.

In between blaming the parents, suggesting that they are covering up for the family dog (the family don’t have one), even suggesting that the twins’ four year old brother let the fox in, and postulating that it’s a Tory conspiracy to re-start fox hunting, this little gem was posted.

“Hate to say it, but even if 'bite marks' are proven to be that of a fox still, it still doesn't mean the fox did it. Is it not possible for a human to take a dead foxes jaw/teeth attach them to make a pliers type of device & then sink away into flesh. A very sceptic thought I know, but possible nonetheless.” 

WTF??? That isn’t scepticism... Honestly, I don’t know what that is. A product of a very unwell mind most likely.

Most of the comments championing the fox are drowning in a tide of anthropomorphism and nauseating sentimentality that is simply not rational. Watching a few wildlife programmes does not make you an expert. Urban foxes have existed for decades. They are getting bolder, because people are actually trying to attract them into their gardens, leaving food out for them, and trying to make contact with them. If you care about the fox, leave them alone, interaction with humans is bad in every way for the fox. Wild animals do not benefit from contact with Man.

For the record, I am no fan of hunting. I don’t believe in killing things unnecessarily, and if it becomes necessary a cull by professionals with high-powered rifles would seem to be both more efficient and more humane. I believe we are here to care for weaker creatures and the less fortunate among us, not to exploit everything for some kind of meaningless political point.

Where is the humanity? I’d just like to know. 

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