Excerpt from my manuscript – Crowley (still under construction)

Crowley walked in to the Senior Officers’ meeting and took the only vacant seat. He noticed that they’d deliberately used a small room and that actual managers were in short supply. They had obviously decided that this meeting was not worth their time. They were probably right. Vijay was running the meeting and Diane’s assistant was speaking about folders.

‘We’ve run out of colours for our folders,’ Jessica was saying.

‘?’ said Crowley with his eyes.

She looked at him over her glasses. She detested him.

‘We’ve got colours for the General Manager, Director, and Minister. We’ve got different colours for the different levels of State Significance. Now we need one for Manager’s correspondence.’

‘I’m alright if you just put it in my in-tray,’ Crowley told her.

‘But the Managers have asked for coloured folders.’

There was a murmur of agreement around the table.

‘It makes it stand out so I can see it,’ said Fran from Agriculture.

Ed Tyler said, ‘Yes, I agree.’

Even Veronica nodded her head.

‘I’m not against it,’ said Crowley, ‘but I don’t see why there’s a problem. Just try another colour. What about purple?’

‘I tried to use purple, but wasn’t allowed,’ said Fran.

Dan nodded. ‘Yes, that’s right. We need to get approval from the Department of Cabinet.’

Crowley laughed. ‘You’re not serious!’

‘I am, Paul. It’s very clear in the policy,’ Dan told him, stern-faced.

‘So ignore it. Who will know?’

‘We have to go through the official supplier,’ said Jessica. ‘And they only provide the colours we currently use.’

‘Tell them we need a different colour.’

‘We tried. They-refused, ‘said Vijay.

Crowley thought for a moment. ‘What about green. That’s for appeals, and we don’t get any appeals on anything.’

‘Can’t do it, ‘said Dan.

Even Vijay looked surprised at that answer. ‘Why not?’

‘Because it’s for appeals!’

‘But we don’t get any appeals on anything,’ said Crowley. ‘In fact, nothing we do is appealable.’

‘Yes, but you always have to be prepared,’ said Jessica.

‘For what?’ asked Crowley in exasperation.

‘Appeals,’ said Dan

‘But we…oh never mind. I agree that without a coloured folder the correspondence will be hard to see, so I’ll pop down to Officeworks and get fifty purple folders.’

‘No!’ Dan and Jessica said in unison.

‘I will not be party to avoiding official government policy,’ added Dan.

‘You’re a real arse,’ said Crowley.

Veroncia, and even Ed, were nodding at his remark, thought neither spoke.

‘I’m sure-that-we’ll-work it out,’ said Vijay as he saw Crowley preparing to launch another broadside at his Manager. ‘Why-don’t-we-put this matter-on-hold until our next-meeting.’

There was a grumble or two around the table, but Vijay was already moving on to the next item.

‘We-have to-get-a handle on the-accommodation…situation. I’ve given-you all-a-map…’

Crowley decided his brain had done nothing to deserve this cruel and unusual punishment and promptly zoned out for the rest of the meeting.

 

Dark Nothing

This is something I did tonight – a poem to music…what do you think?

 

Final version of MFB

yes here it is with added drums and bass

In these days of change…

In the days of change
there was chaos and confusion,
and much consternation.
Left to fill the gaps, we
constructed plausibility,
out of nothing but fragility,
not many thought that logically.
We floundered in the dark,
went feeling through the dark,
saw nothing in the dark,
submitted to the dark.
In those days of change
the light was kept up high
out of reach it passed us by,
casting shadows over hope that died.

No morals? No ethics? No conscience? No problem! Become a politician

Want to become a politician? Then More Gravy Please! (the politician’s handbook) by George Fripley, is the book for you – available through numerous Amazon pages. It will take you through what you need to know. Here is a little taster

 

How Parliament Works

As a new Member of Parliament you should spend some time getting properly inducted into the basics of the system.  This will allow you to slide smoothly into your new role with the minimum of fuss.  It would be a mistake to think you know much just because you have read the papers, seen official reports, and watched Question Time on the television. All of these are just for the public to provide assurance that the government is working and there is healthy debate both between parties and within parties. To help you out, this chapter will take you through some of the underlying principles and processes that occur on a daily basis – those that are not reported on in the media.

 

Mutually Assured Distraction

Most parties are reluctant to make actual decisions for fear of making a mistake and causing themselves angst; they prefer to rely on government departments to provide advice about what should happen. As most people know, government departments are also reluctant to make decisions. This leads to a vastly increased likelihood of embarrassing stalemates and inaction, together with a very short list of achievements for that particular sitting of Parliament – usually consisting of the easy no-brainer decisions (although there is no guarantee there will be quick agreement on these) with difficult decisions postponed until the next sitting, or the next, or even the one after that. The theory of Mutually Assured Distraction (MAD) prevents such inaction becoming embarrassing. It is implemented by both major parties and it protects them from a conspicuous lack of progress that will look bad to the electorate…well alright then, worse than it currently does.

MAD ensures that when difficult decisions have to be made, and there is potential for both parties to look incompetent due to their complete lack of ability currently sitting on the front benches, one or other of them will suddenly bring a new issue to the fore. They will flood the media with quotes and headlines. This distraction will, ideally, be a very minor issue that has been blown out of all proportion and / or be an issue that is global and beyond the control of a single country. It may even be time for a skeleton to be let out of a closet and to have a scandal. Whatever the distraction, it will bounce around in the media for months before there is finally a coordinated agreement on what to do. By the time this has happened everybody will have forgotten about the difficult problem that needed to be avoided.

The Party Whips

The Party Whips are not ladies dressed up in leather and thigh-high boots, as most of the public would think when this term is mentioned in the same sentence as politicians. No, they are senior politicians with a distinct and essential role. Because the party hierarchy knows that the general level of understanding of most issues is not that good among most of their Parliamentarians, they employ the whips to run around and tell everybody how to vote. Now, you could be a little insulted by this and feel aggrieved that they do not trust you to make a good decision, or, and I highly recommend this approach, you could be happy that someone else has decided to do your thinking for you and turn your brain to less onerous activities like what you might have for lunch that day. Who wants to have to wrestle with complex and divisive issues if someone else does it for you? Anyhow, if the party whips start getting you down, you can always go and visit the leather-bound ladies with the real whips who really know how to party.

The House Bubble

Contrary to what you are probably hoping, I have not mis-spelt bubbly; I am talking about an imaginary force-field that surrounds Parliament. This bubble prevents politicians getting into too much trouble. It separates them from the outside world. This bubble is to protect you by preventing annoying journalists from pestering you for quotes on a matter of current policy, and to stop members of the great unwashed asking you difficult questions. It also helps keep you at least a decade behind the time, where social attitudes are concerned.

Speeches

 Every now and then you may be required to make a speech in Parliament. This is not a cause for concern or embarrassment – every politician has to do this once in a while. Your speeches will be written for you by people who are skilled at keeping you out of trouble and making sure that what is on the paper in front of you is what your party whips believe is what should be said. On rare occasions you may be required to speak to the general public. In this case the same process applies, except that there is the additional aspect of looking like you are genuinely concerned about the subject matter. This can be quite challenging.

The Committee System

 The committee system is how issues debated within the Parliament are resolved – at least far as possible given that we are talking about politicians. It has always been done this way and it will always be done this way, so don’t argue – unless you are the Prime Minister. If you are in the top job, then you will probably be so assured of your infallibility that you will make random statements without committee oversight – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. The committee system is another way in which the political machine stops you from making an idiot of yourself in public; it hides your stupid comments in the minutes. It also hides you within a larger group of idiots, so you won’t be revealed as the class dunce and get voted out by your electorate at the next election.

Your Office and Appearance

 As a Member of Parliament, you will get an office, along with money to employ an assistant. Your office is where you hide when you’ve had enough of life and don’t want anybody to find you. Your assistant is there to repel any attempts to enter your office. Furnish it with some comfortable chairs and a minibar and you’ll be on your way. Where your attire is concerned, you should always dress very smartly and use your allowances to get top-of-the-range suits. People want to see their elected representative cutting dashing figures on the camera. No matter what you do and say in the House, people will have more inclination to support you if you look the part.

 

Twenty songs from the 80s that just don’t get enough airplay anymore

Okay, I posted this a few years ago and this is not a definitive list and is in no particular order, but honestly, some of these should be played more – a lot more.

1. Understanding Jane – The Icicle Works: What can I say about the Icicle Works – good melodies, good lyrics, never played on radio, at least not here. This is even a tiny bit grungy before grunge existed…excellent in all respects. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXm12KFuEZM

2. Pink Sunshine – We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It: Fuzzbox, as they were known, were an indie band that went mainstream pop in the late 80s with singles like International Rescue, Self, and this one. Of course the sexy Victoria Perks’ perkiness helped too! This is pure unadulterated pop and it’s great Pink Sunshine

3. Badges, Posters, Stickers, & T-Shirts – Dire Straits: Something different for MK and his band. This is jazzy. It was the b-side of Private Investigations and is sadly little known and played even less, if at all.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28-nADaCGqs

4. Everything Good Is Bad – Westworld: This band had a hit with Sonic Boom Boy, but their cover of this song was their best in my opinion. They ramped up the guitars and let rip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujsh1nmQGuo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QOnP7Ui2Io this is the video but it cuts out – still, I like it

5. Mad World – Tears for Fears: Okay, so this may get played a little, but it was TFFs first single and their best, although Shout came close. It is dark and brilliant and I love it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFsHSHE-iJQ

6. Since Yesterday – Strawberry Switchblade: Lovely song from this Scottish duo. One hit wonders to the best of my knowledge with a distinctly 80’s electronic drum feel and plenty of synthesiser. What ever happened to them? Could easily be included in my Guilty Pleasures top 20 which is still under construction.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI3u1lOoH8o

7. Lebanon – Human League: Easily their best song for me. A bit of political commentary and an anti-war message mixed in with a kick-ass bass intro, some great guitar work and the line – ‘and who will have won once the soldiers have gone.’ Who indeed?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEsRYkRpySY

8. Major Tom (Coming Home) – Peter Schilling: A bit of Europop and what a bit it is. This is Peter Schilling’s homage to David Bowie’s Space Oddity and Ashes to Ashes singles. The soaring chorus really makes the song. Apparently the man is still performing around Europe – so good for him! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt-R5hj_lWM

9. Oblivious – Aztec Camera: This band had a couple of hits, notably Somewhere in my Heart, but this one didn’t make it far in the charts. In my opinion, though, it is their best song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B2Sc2G_5ZA

10. Blind Vision – Blancmange: Blancmange had three hits with Living on the Ceiling and Don’t Tell Me being the best known, but my favourite is this one. They also did a great version of The Day Before You Came originally a song by ABBA fame (they even got Agnetha to appear in their video). Blind Vision is synth pop at its very best Blind Vision

11. Can I Play With Madness – Iron Maiden: The 80s are not complete without Iron Maiden. They hit the big time with Run to the Hills, but this was their first No.1. It is a masterpiece of heavy metal and not a bad video either – if just a little bit corny. But hey – this was the 80s. Can I Play With Madness

12. Imagination – Belouis Some: Another short-lived pop success who I believe may still be going. He had a hit with Some People (at least in the UK) but Imagination was far superior and has a great bass part in it. One of my favourite 80s songs.
Imagination

13. Today – Talk Talk: Dark and fantastic from the Hollis brothers. They flirted with success and gained a good following, but first burst onto the scene with Talk Talk, Such a Shame, and Today. Their biggest hit was It’s My Life, more recently covered by Gwen Stefani. Today

14. Animal – Def Leppard: Hair rock. Yeah, there were others, but the boys from Sheffield took over the world with the album Hysteria, which spawned this single. I loved it when I first heard it, and then went off it – but it’s back and should be played more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecFPU–vvf0

15. Mama – Genesis: A very dark song about a prostitute – the first single off Genesis IV and Phil Collins at his vocal best.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccs2rt0oSzQ

16. Ship Building – Robert Wyatt: This haunting song by Elvis Costello during the Falklands War about the shipyards, building ships, and not coming back from war. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjUkjpJa6bY

17. Here Comes the Summer – The Undertones: Pure joy from these Belfast lads. Only 1:57 in length but full of energy and girls with long legs. One of my favourite – I even prefer it to Teenage Kicks Here Comes the Summer

18. Ace of Spades – Motorhead: Yes – Lemmy’s biggest hit. The man as fired from Hawkwind and can’t sing but who gives a shit? This rocks! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iwC2QljLn4

19. A New England – Kirsty MacColl: A Billy Bragg song covered (with an added extra verse) to perfection by Kirsty MacColl. This was her biggest hit and never fails to energise me. Great voice too. A New England

20. I Can Hear Your Heartbeat – Chris Rea: Chris Rea has a good following and is now very bluesy, but in 1983 he released this pop classic. Do yourself a favour and have a listen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhCUCxet2a4

The Complete Dregs of History – now available as an e-book

Yes – after putting it off for months, maybe even years, the revised and Complete Dregs of History is available as an EBook for your eyes to feast upon – all 90 characters from http://www.dregsofhistory.blogspot.com  are there. – Enjoy it here  Complete Dregs of History

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