Change. Doesn’t Always Mean Progress

I have a dog. On a daily basis I take her for a walk, which she enjoys immensely. Most days, we take the same route, walking down the same roads and my dog sniffs at the same lampposts and the same clumps of grass.

Today though was slightly different. One of the roads we walk down is quite remote and rural. The houses are large and laid back into their own sizeable plots of land. As we reached the end of the road, I noticed a large gap where there once was a house

Behind a rust-eaten, yellow bulldozer sat a large pile of bricks that had once been the house. As my faithful dog sniffed around in the grass verge on the edge of the property, I looked wistfully at the scene before me. The house hadn’t been anything out of the ordinary. A fairly standard detached house built at the turn of the twentieth century. Four bedrooms, I guessed and probably with its own separate dinning room.

And then it hit me. For over a hundred years that house had stood there and in a matter of a couple of days, it was no more than rubble. Imagine just what it had seen. At least five different monarchs, two world wars and England winning the football world cup. And what about the people that had lived there.

Over three generations of families would have occupied that house. I wondered whether it had been passed down through the same family or whether different families had lived there. How many births had occurred there? How many deaths? Children taking their first steps; Christmases and birthdays; marriages and funerals. Celebrating exam success and new jobs. Coming to terms with the passing of a loved one and battling serious illness. Looking at that house, I wouldn’t mind betting that it had witnessed the whole gambit of human emotions.

But that’s progress. Tear down the old to make way for the new. In the coming months, that plot of land will probably see, two, three, or maybe even four houses spring up from the remains of the dust that now lies there. New families will move in and fresh memories will be created and forged. Multiple families all living shoulder to shoulder in the space that once was occupied by a single family. Progress, or perhaps just the pursuit of profit. All of those past lives and memories will be forgotten.

Issac Newton once said that we were “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Einstein reused the quote to emphasise that his great work wouldn’t have been possible without the likes of Newton to lay the groundwork for him and other scientists like him. By recognising and acknowledging the past, we can use those experiences to move us forward.

Today though, that doesn’t seem the case. We seem to constantly destroy everything that is around us and explain it away as progress. We need to knock down that house, cultivate that land, cut down that forest, for that’s progress. After all, we have to keep moving forward, don’t we? But in doing so, who’s shoulders are we going to stand on.

As I stood there looking at the remains of that old house, I couldn’t help feeling sad at the loss of all those memories. Perhaps now in the 21st century, we don’t need to refer to our past in order to help us keep moving forward. Perhaps we understand so much about the world now, our history isn’t relevant any more. We have no need to stand on anyone’s shoulders, for we are tall enough.

I can only hope that is the case, but experience tells me otherwise.

Give Up Smoking. Now!

Well, Christmas seems an age away and it’s probably too late to still be wishing people a “happy new year”, so what next.

Out screens are full of adverts tempting us to either book a holiday or join the gym. We are being told that a new “you”, is just a diet away and that if you don’t give up smoking, you will die tomorrow. Or, the day after at the very least! Many of us embark on these new projects with gusto. We set out full of vim and vigour, only to fail a few short weeks into our endeavours. Why is this?

Almost twenty-five years ago, I was a smoker. Not a heavy smoker, but a smoker none the less. Ten or so a day was my average, but on a night out, I could easily get through another ten. One Monday at work, a colleague offered me a challenge. Give up smoking. Together we would tackle this behemoth of a challenge and through our joint efforts, we would be triumphant. My work colleague had tried to give up in the past, but had failed at each attempt. Giving up was something I knew I would have to do, but it wasn’t something I had seriously considered.

I was in my mid twenties and I felt pretty fit. I regularly did sport and was yet to feel the adverse affects of my nicotine addiction. I thought about my colleague’s challenge and after at least three seconds of deliberation, I declined.

The following morning, on my way to work, I intended to stop at a local newsagents to buy a packet of cigarettes. Before entering the shop, I stopped to check I had my wallet and the strangest thing happened. A voice somewhere in the back of my head told me not to go in. Why not give up after all. Without giving it a second thought, I turned away from the shop and carried on towards my workplace.

As I mentioned, that was almost twenty-five years ago and I haven’t smoked since. I haven’t even had the slightest of urges to start again. If asked, I would have to confess, it was really very easy. I always thought that giving up would be extremely difficult, but for me, it was a piece of cake.

So, whats different about you, I hear you cry. Absolutely nothing, is my reply. I think I was one of the lucky ones. The voice I heard was my own and it was my voice of determination. At the time, I had a young family and my youngest daughter had just turned one. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that I would have to give up if I wanted to see my children grow up. Most of my family were smokers and many had died through smoking related illnesses. Cancer, heart disease, lung disorders, you get the picture.

The thing that I realised though and I think it was the thing that made a difference, was that I knew that it only took three months to make an action become a habit. If we do something regularly enough, after three months it becomes a habit and it is harder to quit doing it. If you think about it, how long did your last diet last. Or, how long did you keep going to the gym before you quit. Four weeks. six weeks, eight weeks? I bet it wasn’t three months.

As human beings, we tend to look for the easiest way to do things. It ties in to our basic survival instincts. If something is hard or it hurts, our brain tells us to stop, or at the very least, find another way of doing it. And this is where you have to distract yourself. At those moments when you think about lighting up a cigarette, or tucking into that bar of chocolate, do something else. Think of something else.

It’s only for three months and that will quickly pass. It worked for me, and as I say, I actually found it quite easy. The hardest part is finding that voice of determination. We all have it and it’s different for each and every one of us. For me, it was my family that provided me with that “distraction” and I was lucky to find it, almost without having to look for it.

It works though. Get determined, keep yourself distracted from your destructive behaviour, keep it up for three months and you will succeed. Can I guarantee it? Well, it worked for me.

Our History Is a Lie.

When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, is the truth.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A bit of a change of pace today. I’ve grown a little tired of politics. Although there is plenty to say, what with everything that’s going on, I think we’ve all had enough of it.  I thought I’d turn to history instead. So, just what does a quote from a fictional character have anything to do with history, I hear you ask. Well, bear with me and please go back to the quote once you have read my piece.    

Egyptology has long been a favourite period in history for a lot of people. You can find plenty of weighty tomes on the subject in any bookshop or library. Experts have pondered all of the big questions and their answers are there for us all to read. Only the other night, I watched a fascinating program on some of the new tombs that are being discovered. The enthusiasm of the archaeologists was quite infectious and it is easy to see why people believe every word that they hear.

The Facts

Take for example the Great Pyramid that sits majestically on the Giza plateau. Approximately 2,300,000 blocks and large stones went into its construction, the average weight of each being between 2 and 30 tons. Some of the larger blocks weighed up to 70 tons and there are about 600,000 that fall into this category. Just how were these blocks cut from the ground I hear you ask. Good question! With copper chisels is the answer. Seriously! Copper!

Have a dig around in your shed or garage and see if you can find a length of old copper piping and have a go at a rock yourself. The soft copper pipe won’t last too long before there’s nothing left of it. Of course, experts can explain this. The workers got through about eight or so copper chisels a day. For over 2 million blocks of stone! That’s a lot of chisels. I think B&Q still have a ton of them on back-order. But they had to be made from copper as this was the metal that was available to us at this time. Approximately 2,500 b.c. Again, if the experts are to be believed.

Expert Opinion

Let’s leave that to one side for a moment and have a look at another “fact”. Just how did all of those stones and blocks get in to place. One theory is, that once they were quarried from the ground, they were floated up the Nile on boats. Again, I saw another program about this. They constructed a boat based on drawings from the time and then attempted to float it down the Nile. The block they used was about 2 tons and after much effort, they barely made it over to the other side of the river. Every slight eddy and wake threatened to tip the boat over and if the stone wasn’t bang in the middle, they stood no chance.

Now, lets ignore the fact that they used modern lifting equipment to get the block onto the boat, are you really trying to tell me that this is how the ancient Egyptians moved 2 million blocks of stone. Again, I don’t so! 

Let’s also put that to one side. Boy it’s starting to get crowded on the side over there. The blocks have all been transported to site and now we’re ready to start building. Just how was it done. One theory is that the Egyptians built a ramp. Perfectly feasible, until you reach a certain height. Bear in mind, the Great Pyramid is 139 metres high.

Plus, you don’t want a slope that is too steep, as you just won’t be able to push/drag the blocks up it. Now, for those of you who remember you trigonometry, it would be quite easy to work out the length of the hypotenuse, or the slope of the ramp if you prefer. Without boring you with the maths, it would be miles long. It would be a greater feat of engineering than the pyramid itself. 

Whatever Remains is the Truth

I could go on, but you get the gist of it. When you look at the “facts” that are presented to us about how the pyramids were built, they just don’t stack up. So what is the answer? They were built by survivors of the lost city of Atlantis? Or perhaps there was alien intervention? There’s a ton of speculation on how the pyramids were actually built and some of them make quite amusing reading. One thing is for sure, the ancient Egyptians had access to technology that was way more advanced than we originally thought. It’s the only thing that makes sense. When you remove everything that is impossible. 

You ask any modern engineer, how long would it take to construct a copy of the Great Pyramid, to the same dimensions and to the same accuracy and the answer will be the same. It can’t be done. Although, that’s not the truth is it? It already has been done. You can go and visit it. Touch it with your own hands and see it for yourself. Someone built it.


The answer? We need to keep asking questions and stop accepting what we are told. There are hundreds of pyramids across the globe and they are finding more all the time. Not to mention the giant heads of Easter Island, the giant Olmec heads of South America; not to mention Stonehenge and all the other neolithic monuments scattered around the world.

Somewhere in the annals of time, the answer to how these things have been built has been lost. Perhaps there once was a race of human beings that was far superior to what exists today. Maybe the legend of a great flood isn’t that far fetched and this is when this race of super beings met their doom. But that’s crazy right? You need a global catastrophic event for something like that to happen. Like a massive ice age that ended suddenly engulfing large sections of the planet in hundreds of feet of water.

But surely, that didn’t happen. Did it? Well, it might explain why there is so much ancient sea-life encrusted into the sandstone that makes up the Sphinx.

But that’s another story. 



Good Morning Britain. Just A Warm-up For Jeremy Kyle?

It was always my intention to use my blog for more serious issues. Like, things that bothered me, or just didn’t seem right. Social and political injustices. Environmental concerns. Human rights and infringements on our civil liberties. But now, something more important has come up. Good Morning Britain. Or, more precisely, Piers Morgan!

It would be easy to jump on the bandwagon and join in with all of the other naysayers and Morgan haters, but that would be too easy. Everything that could be said about the man has probably already been said, so there’s no need for me to add anything. Indeed, in Piers Morgan’s own voice, the most flattering thing he can say about himself on Good Morning Britain, is that he’s, “not boring”. Great stuff!! Go Piers!! Hitler wasn’t boring. Genghis Khan wasn’t boring! Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and every other serial killer certainly couldn’t be described as boring. I’m sure that Piers would be the first to point out just how (in)famous these people are. They will be forever remembered in the annals of history. Only one thing worse than being talked about. Not being talked about. Right.

No, not right. I stopped buying newspapers a long time ago, because I was fed up with reading someones else’s opinion. Tired with the facts being presented in a certain way, so as to champion someone else’s point of view. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that it is difficult to report the news with completely no bias, after all, we can only see the world through our own eyes. We have no other point of reference to work with. But this is where good journalism comes in.

I’m tired of watching stories that have been hand picked by the Morgan so that he can push his own agenda. Using the show as a vehicle to air his owns opinions and to talk down and over yet another guest. Good Morning Britain has become the crash on the motorway; the fight outside a pub on a Friday night; the rude customer in a shop that insists on complaining whilst holding up the queue. People can’t help but stop and watch, although they know they shouldn’t. Gawping incredulously as the scene dramatically plays out in front of them. All that’s missing is the DNA and lie detector tests. I suspect that Piers Morgan has probably considered a way of getting them included though.

Ratings are up though. I guess the people that used to watch Happy Slapping videos are tuning in in their droves. Still, keeps them off of the streets I suppose.


Brexit. Really…this again!!

Well, I said I wouldn’t comment on it, but here I go for a second time. How did anybody think that Brexit would end well? Has anyone tried contacting their mobile phone service provider to ask if they could end their contract early. Most people’s answer would be, “are you kidding me!”. Life’s far too short, plus we all knew what we were in for when we signed up.

The thing that worries me, is that this isn’t like cancelling your gym contract, where once you’ve left, you never have to set foot in the place again. Whether we like it or not, the UK is part of Europe. Geographically anyway. It’s not like we can strap a huge outboard motor onto Kent and chug our way across the Atlantic to the US. Who said, out of the frying pan…..  And for anybody that says that we aren’t connected to Europe, what’s the Channel Tunnel then? A rainbow bridge made out of fairy dust and unicorn hair. Precisely. We’re joined whether we like it or not.

It’s for this reason that I think the population of the UK should be involved with the final decision. I hear the argument that we have already had a vote and now it’s down to the politicians, but that’s not how democracy works. We don’t vote for a government and then stick with it ad infinitum. We change at regular intervals, because things change. People and situations change and we need to adapt accordingly. I strongly believe that if most people knew then what they know now, they would advocate a second vote. Plus, it would give us the power and responsibility over our own future and take away the option of blaming it all on the politicians. This isn’t a question of hindsight, it’s about doing the sensible thing.

As my old Nan used to say, don’t ever wish for something, just in case you get it.



Mortgage, Student Debt. Don’t Do It!

What have most of us been told since childhood. Do well at school, go to university, get a good job and buy a house. The school bit I get, a decent education is absolutely paramount, but the rest. I’ve never bought into the myth about home ownership, I could never see the point. That was of course, until I got married and had kids. A family needs roots, a stable platform to build from. I still wasn’t convinced that buying a house was the answer though.

To me, getting people to buy their own homes was just an act of subjugation. What better way to keep people working for most of their lives than to tie them down with twenty-five years of mortgage repayments. When asked what they do for a living, how many people follow up their answer with the statement, “still, it pays the mortgage”.

There is one inherent flaw in this plan to enslave people into a life of toil and drudgery though. House ownership, especially when it takes so long to achieve this goal, is a matter of diminishing returns. We live on a relatively small island here in the UK and there is only so many houses. Sooner and later, there’s not going to be enough to go round. What then? How are you going to enslave future generations?

Student loans of course! Genius!! After all, it’s still part of that mantra that is drummed into us since we were kids. University, good job, buy house. Apparently, if statistics are to believed (who said that about damned lies!), it is predicted that the average age of moving out of the family home is around thirty-four. Thirty-four, are you kidding me!! But it doesn’t matter that this generation of university graduates can’t afford a mortgage. Of course they can’t. They’ve got massive student loans to pay off!

Now, if you’ve read any of my previous diatribes, you will know that I always like to offer some kind of answer. My answer this time. Stop paying! Stop paying all of it. Mortgages, student loans, the lot. What are the banks going to do if we all decided to stop paying our mortgages. Take us all to court? Of course not. Society would be forced to come up with a new way of doing things. I still believe that we should pay rent, nothing in life is for free. Just without the burden of knowing that you are going to be in debt for your whole working life. Who knows. Maybe people will start doing jobs that they enjoy, rather than jobs that they have to do. Maybe we will see a rise in the numbers of nurses, policeman, teachers. You know, the jobs that matter and make a difference. Pie in the sky? Maybe, if we do nothing. Imagine if we all acted on this. Imagine what the outcome would be.

You could end up living a life that you actually enjoy. Fancy that!!!



You’re Being Lied To….part 3

Lie #3 – Electric/hybrid cars are the future!

I was admonished a while back for driving a petrol guzzling monstrosity that was the sole cause for the death of our planet. I smiled in anticipation of some witty punch line, but none came. Instead, my accuser stood there glaring at me, all the while nodding his head with righteous indignation. “Go on.”, he asked, and my heart sank. “Ask me what I drive.”

I shrugged, desperately thinking of a way to extricate myself from the situation. I considered feigning a heart attack, but thought better of it. “Electric!”, came the emphatic response, followed by, “I’m doing my bit for the planet.” Before I could reply, a finger jabbed at my chest and I was asked yet another question. “Have you not thought of going electric?”

I was going to point out, that as a carbon based life-form, I would probably stick to oxygen. Instead, I managed to confound the poor fellow with one simple question. “You do know how electricity is made, right?” The smug look instantly evaporated from his face and was replaced instead with one of utter confusion.

I pointed out that you burn fossil fuels, and in fact, almost half of the UK’s electricity was generated from the burning of gas. Gas that was either sucked out of the sea-bed or bought from the Russians. Either way, it was no more environmentally “friendly” than my pollution belching mode of transport. I could see that I had him on the ropes. His eyes were wide and staring and he was flitting his gaze from left to right as though his answer was written somewhere just to one side of me.

I could have left it there and walked away, but I wanted to deliver the killer blow. See him go down and watch until the count reached ten. “And I bet you were one of the morons that bought the lie about diesel cars. Just before you converted to electric.” His eyes glazed over and for a moment, I  thought he was going to cry. I had him. His only reply was a series of , “But…but…but….”, making him sound like a small outboard boat engine. “But diesel is better than petrol.” I could have pointed out that the next time he was walking along the road and a bus or lorry happened to go past, he should take a nice deep lungful of that clean fresh air. But didn’t.

That happened to me a couple of years ago and we now know that diesel isn’t the “cleaner” alternative to petrol that we were told it was. Anyone that remembers their chemistry from school will know that diesel is cheaper to produce than petrol, as the refining process is simpler. In turn, this means more profits for the oil companies. Don’t get me wrong, diesel is much cleaner than it used to be, but cleaner than petrol? I don’t think so.

No. We bought the lie for years while the big gas and oil companies made millions from us and now they are doing the same with electricity. Rather than distributing their product to many companies, they can now deliver it to a small number of power stations, once again keeping their overheads low. More and more homes will have cars parked outside, attached to the house via an umbilical cord-like charging cable. Inside, the electricity metres will be whizzing round like extractor fans and people will just accept higher and higher fuel bills. After all, look at all the money we will save on petrol!

It’s all a lie. Whether it’s diesel, petrol or electric, the cost will work out the same. There or thereabouts. And not just the cost to our pockets, but the cost to the environment as well. Sure, we will all feel quite smug about “doing our bit”, as long as we don’t look too deeply into it.

So what’s the answer, you ask accusingly. Is there an answer. Of course there is. Nuclear fusion. Not nuclear fission, like we currently use, but nuclear fusion, just like the sun. If you get a moment, look it up, it makes for very interesting reading. We’re close to making it cost effective to produce and it’s a green, sustainable power source. The resultant power from nuclear fusion is so vast, it would be virtually free to supply.

The only downside? The oil and gas companies won’t be able to make any money out of it.



The True Cost of Policing

Now, if you’re after reading a typical rant about the state of policing in the UK, then you’ve come to the wrong place. I have a lot of respect for the police and I believe that they do a great job. On the whole. The restricted conditions that they have to work under have made their task all but impossible. With reduced funding, increased bureaucracy and dwindling support from the public, it’s no wonder that we are seeing a degradation of our police force.

I was shocked to read a recent statistic that only half of incidents reported now are actually investigated. Imagine having your house broken in to, or your car stolen and the only response you receive is to have some details taken over the phone. When you ask, “will the person be caught”, or “will I get my stuff back”, the realistic answer now is, “no”!

So what should we do. Investigate the crimes ourselves. Start up a vigilante force to patrol our streets, or perhaps, pay higher taxes to fund a better police force. Many people are already doing the first two, although, this isn’t an option for everyone. The extra money thing is a nice idea in theory, but how many people can actually afford to pay higher taxes. In this age of austerity (here’s a shocker, it’s not over!!), people are having to decide which of the bills to pay and a reduced pay packet is not an option. Also, there’s always an argument that any extra money raised via taxation will only get soaked up by the political and bureaucratic machine.

Okay smart-arse, I hear you cry, what’s the answer. Privatisation. That’s right, turn the police force over to those who benefit from its existence. Corporations and businesses can have part of their taxes paid directly into a “pot” that is used solely for policing. Affluent areas can pay slightly higher council tax, the extra revenue again going into this pot. The people, that’s us, can decide, via local councils and committees, just how and where this money is going to be spent. People can volunteer for local policing schemes and incentives, to help bolster the national police force. And not just neighbourhood watch schemes that stand behind net curtains telling tales on their neighbours, but a useful feet-on-the-ground volunteer force. After all, shouldn’t we take care of our own safety and not leave it in the hands of the politicians.

Not practical? Of course it’s not, but what else are we supposed to do. Just sit back and blame it on the very people that are trying to help us. Surely it’s time that we step up and take on some of the responsibility ourselves. Those that can pay should, and those that can’t should at least help out in other ways. It’s only by coming together as communities and pooling our time and resources that we are going to see a change.

Or, we can just sit around moaning about it, blaming everyone else in the process.


Stop The World, I Want To Get Off!!!

The world changes, of course it does, things evolve and develop and everything moves on. We keep what works, discard what doesn’t doesn’t and this is how improvements are made. But at what point do we stop. At what point is something at it’s optimal point of development. It can’t be improved any further.

The first steam engine was invented at the end of the 17th century and it took another two hundred years before we saw the birth of the internal combustion engine. Thomas Savery’s first incarnation in 1698 was fettled and tinkered with, improved and developed until it saw the birth of the industrial revolution in the 18th century. Fast forward two-hundred and fifty years, and we are developing our technology at a frighteningly exponential rate. In a generation, we have seen whole technologies come and go. The invention of things like compact cassette and VCR’s wowed us with their ingenuity, only to disappear into obscurity a few short years later. We were amazed at the addition of a fourth and then a fifth television channel, yet now we can choose from hundreds and watch them wherever we happen to be. Computers use to be gigantic whirring machines that were kept behind securely locked doors, used only by those who were expertly versed in binary and machine code. Now, we all carry a super-computer around with us in our pockets.

But surely this is a good thing, I hear you cry! Never have we been so connected to the world around us. We have a wealth of information constantly at our fingertips and we can contact our love ones at the click of button. No matter where in the world they may be. Those programs that we used to wait all week for, (before we were able to record them onto magnetic tape of course!), we can now download and watch whenever we like. You don’t even have to wait for the next episode, you can download the whole series and “binge-watch” at your leisure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a technophobe, I’ve sold technology for over twenty years now and I’ve seen it from the inside out. But, I believe that we have gone too far. The very devices that were supposed to connect us and make our world smaller, only serve to isolate and enslave us. We are now glued to screens, almost oblivious to the world around us. We eagerly await notifications from our social media sites and constantly seek to enlarge and improve our digital world. We are slaves to the very things that were supposed to set us free. The faintest of chirps or chimes have us grasping for our phones, eager to see what new delights it brings. Additional followers, likes for our posts, or perhaps that vlog has gone viral. All the while, we are being separated from the real world. Corralled away from the herd, divided from what is really going on around us.

But that’s just a conspiracy theory. You’re in control. It’s all good. Right?

Of course it is.

That reminds me. I really fancy watching The Matrix again!


You’re Being Lied To…..part 2

Lie #2 – “5 pence for a carrier bag. It’s to save the environment.”

Bullcrap! The only place I ever see that money go, is into the retailers till. But surely, you want to save the turtles don’t you, I hear you cry. Of course I do, but how does paying for plastic carrier bags help save the ocean’s wildlife. Are the retailers obliged to pass this money onto the government or donate it to a relevant charitable organisation? Of course not. It goes straight out of your pocket and into their bank accounts.

When you consider, that to make a plastic carrier bag costs a fraction of a penny, this must make it the most profitable item, in terms of percentage, that supermarkets sell. I’m sure if they could, they would ditch all their other products and only sell carrier bags! Well, maybe I’m being a little ridiculous, but it does seem that way.

For us, the general public, having to pay for carrier bags, is just another example of us having to sort out the problems that general industry and large corporations are causing. The companies that make these things are still churning them out in their millions and the chemical companies are still making huge profits by selling on the raw ingredients. Surely, it is these companies that should be paying for the ocean’s clean up. An environmental tax perhaps, based on the quantity of material that they produce or sell. Larger retailers that are responsible for selling huge quantities of carrier bags could also be taxed, and that would also go towards environmental issues.

Would this work? In theory, yes. In practice no. Why not? Because these companies would just pass on these costs and one way or another, we would be left to pick up the bill.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue in paying for carrier bags. I just want to see the money go to the right people. Next time you are in a supermarket and you need to buy a carrier bag, when they say, “that will be 5 pence, is that okay?”, just reply, “of course, where’s the charity tin for me to put the money in?”

It’s about time that the people that are screwing up this beautiful planet of ours, start sorting it out. Or, at least start to pay for it!