Wednesday, 21 December 2016

True Faith (CRISIS #29-38)

"You just can't rely on anyone these days" - Terry Adair

Merry winter solstice blog faithful!  And what better series to celebrate Saturnalia or indeed the birth of the baby J than a (teenaged) Garth Ennis one about organised religion. Oh stop, it's not as bad as it could have been.  I don't actually think it's offensive because it's such a weird concept.  It takes the idea of someone having a massive crisis of faith and going utterly mad and who for some reason drags a misfit teenage boy into his crusade against the church, makes some vaguely cynical noises about God and the bible and ends with a literal bang as the misfit schoolboy discovers what truly he has faith in. Along the way Ennis swats his verbal hands at Margaret Thatcher, the S.A.S and dozy, uncaring parenting in a rather scattershot selection of targets that only hang together as well as they do thanks to Warren Pleece's superb and striking artwork.  This series ran in the lefty political comic CRISIS although I don't think Ennis's politics were/are very leftwing (nor rightwing, I'd describe him as a humanitarian liberal which he'd probably hate) but CRISIS was the most successful of the glut of adult orientated UK comics that appeared at the end of the 1980's, with this strip running in 1989.  So lets get this Xmas party started.

We begin in a church, where Terry Adair is praying.  Then we cut to a secondary school and our main protagonist Nigel Gibson is being taunted over his desire to go to a scripture because he fancies a girl in it.  Then he bumps into the P.E teacher who heard him say "wankers" and fines him fifty lines about swearing.

Mr.Hunt: "You really are pathetic Gibson. You never do anything worthwhile.  I never see you on the rugby pitches.  You don't dress properly.. you've got no respect for yourself."

He tells him he should go to the scripture class.  As he leaves Nigel notes the teacher will be there too eyeing up the talent.
Alienated teenager Nigel Gibson.
Back with Terry in church.  He thanks God for his job as a toilet cleaner salesman.   And he asks the Lord to watch over his wife who is currently giving birth, "please keep them safe Lord I love them more than anything. Um except you."

In the scripture class Nigel notes that everyone seems like "bloody zombies" spouting brainwashing material.  Then Angela Hyman, the girl he's attracted to gets up to make a speech.  She tells everyone that learning God's lessons when you are young helps stop older people leading you astray when you get older.

At the hospital, Terry is given terrible news.  His wife died in childbirth and the kid only lived a few minutes before dying as well. Terry goes into deep shock.  After scripture class, Nigel walks with Angela and asks her about the whole "women are wicked" thing. She says everyone has their place in the eyes of the Lord.
Deeply traumatised Terry Adair.
Nigel says that if it was a politician you wouldn't believe this stuff.  "But it's not a politician, it's God" counters Angela.  Nigel asks if she ever feel about cutting loose.  "I can't be weak Nigel, it's a sin" she responds.  He tentatively invites her to the pub and she agrees to come saying she is allowed to have fun.

Terry's wife and child are buried.  At the wake afterwards a couple of the people say that everyone there is mostly the wife's friends. Terry has no one to help him get over it.  Later when everyone is gone, Terry goes and kneels by the two graves.  He then yells at the sky:

Terry: "Are you listening God? I swear on their graves I'll kill you for this!"

Nigel arrives at the pub to meet Angela only to find she's bought along some of her fellow bible bashers.  "Ah shit" he says to himself "she thinks I want to be a bloody Christian". He orders himself a beer and sees Terry hunched over the bar and thinks, "I don't know what your problem is mate.  But you look just the way I feel."
An unbearable loss.
Nigel sits with the group and downs his beer.  One of them says that when he decided to become a Christian he faced ridicule.  Nigel says he hasn't actually joined.  Another asks exactly what he wants to know:

Nigel: "Just little things really... how do I find faith.. what being a Christian means in todays society... which prayers do I use... And of course why you think I'd want to follow such a mindless cop-out philosophy as Christianity anyway. You pricks."

They get into an argument as Nigel insists God doesn't exist and the bible is bunk.  Mike, the jock and "Golden Boy" according to Nigel tells him "his sort" never do anything of their own and make fun of those who do.

Mike says he's better than Nigel because he's on the rugby team, he's doing well in his A'levels and is nearly done doing a Duke of Edinburgh award.  Nigel says he is arrogant to think everyone should care about achieving the same things "just because you want it, everyone else has to want it".

Terry overhears Nigel's criticism of the God squad.
Terry is listening intently to their argument as Nigel carries on putting the verbal boot in saying "I've got my own values."  He doesn't get them from a vicar handing them out on a plate.   Nigel says "God looks after people, all he asks is that they give him their love". Nigel retorts "and their free will".  Then Terry lurches over to them and tells Mike to shut up.

Terry: "Bollocks!  He doesn't give a shit! You wait! You just wait until your rising main stop valve is loose!  Because that's when it counts, son. That's when it matters. And when you're disappearing round the 'S' bend and God still hasn't turned up with a half inch spanner and a plunger.  Well.  Then you realise how much the Lord cares about you".

He then tells them he's going to kill God and leaves.  Nigel gets up to follow him.   When Angela tells him not to, Nigel says he only invited her out because he wanted to "get into her knickers" not have a bible study class.  And he follows Terry out of the pub thinking "he's probably completely harmless".

He ends up in a derelict flat, on the table is a shotgun and under the table several molotov cocktails.  There is a diary there as well which he picks up and starts to read.  Up to the birth of his son it's normal stuff.  Afterwards it's paranoid ranting, he writes that "God has become a blockage.  I need a plunger."

His plan is to go and create havoc in the houses of the Lord until he can get Him to show his face.  We cut to Terry fire bombing the inside of a church, sticking two fingers up at the burning crucifix and blasting the vicar with a shotgun.

Terry's diary: "He will want to meet his nemesis.  And then I will look into the face of God. And with all the reverence due to a blockage in the 'S' bend of the world.  I will unblock him.  I will snuff him out."

Terry upon reading this starts to make a run for it only to bump into Terry returning from his church burning excursion.  Terry tells him to sit down and listen.
Nigel stumbles into something bad.
He remembers Nigel from his arguing with the bible group.  He asks his name and is told it's "Nigel Gibson".  Terry says he could kill Nigel now he knows about his mission but feels a "certain kinship" with him.  He then starts ranting about his word being Law and Nigel needs to keep his mouth shut and obey because he has a twelve bore shotgun standing very near him.

He then lets Nigel go and he flees.  On the way he comes across the burning church and realises Terry's crusade is a very real one.  He gabbles to the police constable there that he knows who did this.  The cop says he'll take a statement after he's checked the alleyway.  Nigel hears a scream and goes to look only to find the policeman dead, hanged from a fire ladder by Terry who says "Lawbreaker" to him.
Terry practices what he preaches.
Nigel runs again, while Terry mulls over the fact he'll run home to the warm and get his father to phone the police.  We then get a look at Nigel's family.  His parents seem unconcerned that it's eleven o'clock at night and he's still out.  His sister says he's a "weirdo" and embarrasses her.

Back with Nigel, he's being stalked by Terry as he heads home.  He runs thinking to himself that his pet dog will attack Terry only to find his dog crucified on a saltire.  He runs again in absolute terror as Terry muses that "his four footed angel of deliverance has fallen too far to do any good."

Terry ends up cowering in a dead end alley as Terry approaches him Nigel says he gives up, Terry can obviously kill him anytime he wants.   Terry says he won't kill him, Nigel is Terry's son now, "we should make merry and be glad."  He embraces Terry saying he will help in his mission to deal with the blockage, "my son".
Not cool Terry!
Sometime later we see Nigel helping Terry make molotov cocktails as he silently laments what has bought him to this situation.  If he refuses to help, Terry will kill him:

Nigel: "He convinced me of that last fact beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I believe him.  I have faith in him. Great faith."

Nigel asks Terry what he will do when God comes down to face him.  Terry says God is powerful because he is an idea.  Destroying the idea behind him requires a potent symbol and he picks up a revolver.  He points it at Nigel and recites Clint Eastwood's "do you feel lucky punk?" Dirty Harry speech.  He says the idea behind those words has power, "they are equal in the minds of the people to the words of God. They are my weapons to destroy him".

They firebomb another church, as it catches fire Terry shoots the vicar in the leg then grabs him and smashes his head into the font repeatedly screaming "blocked!" As they leave they are grabbed by some men dressed all in black and dragged into a van.  They are dumped in front of a sinister looking man who says they have been burning churches and that "I think we're going to be very good friends indeed."  Nigel thinks to himself:

Nigel: "What Terry Adair does is illogical.  It's insane.  It's stupid. It causes the death of innocents and the destruction of all they hold dear.  And all of that means nothing to him whatsoever.  I think Terry Adair is the nearest I'll get to actually meeting a god."

But as he and Terry kneel before the sinister man, Nigel wonders what that makes him.  The man introduces himself as Cornelius Garten.   The men are his commandos and they've decided the source of the world's sorrows much be removed.
The sinister Cornelius.
That source is God.  After some more subtle attempts to influence peoples views on him they decided to take direct action and go after the churches. Imagine his surprise when someone else started doing what he'd planned.

Terry asks what he wants, Cornelius says "recruits". In his view God is a cancer.  "Blockage" says Terry, "Cancer" says Cornelius until Terry gives in and says "cancer" too. Then Cornelius shows them a huge number of guns and molotov cocktails he has stored up.  Then they go on a church burning expedition.  Cornelius says he's impressed with them an Terry mumbles "thankyou Cornelius".  Nigel puts his head in his hands and thinks:

Nigel: "I thought Terry Adair was a god.  He threw off his religion and thought for himself. And, even though he was off his bloody rocker, he wasn't being led like a sheep anymore.   But with that bastard Cornelius.. well now Terry's back in the flock. Which means I'm even further up shit creek".
Happeeee Christmas!!
We then cut to a mass of newspapers all leading on the spate of church burnings.  Mrs. Thatcher in shadow is asking some of her cabinet what they know about this. One of them suggests that it's Satanists.  Thatcher says no, she asked Norman (Tebbit I assume) about it and he says it definitely wasn't them, at least not from his coven. Heh. Thatcher says she's not interested in why this is happening, only what they can do to stop it happening. "It's time to take action" she says.

Meanwhile a depressed and run down looking Nigel gets ready for school.  His parents say he doesn't seem himself lately.  As he leaves, his dad says it's probably just a phase.  His sister says, "He's been in a 'phase' all his life dad.  He's a real dippo".  Sadly Nigel leaves the house and drags himself to school.
Nigel's life sucks.
At school he has the piss taken out of him by some sneering aresholes.  He ignores it.  Later he is sitting alone in the dressing rooms and Mike the jock confronts him over what he said to Angela back in the pub a while back. He yanks Nigel up and says, "I hate you Gibson.  You and all the scum out there like you".  He pushes Nigel off the bench and walks off, Nigel spots a cricket bat and smiles.

Then we cut to him in the headmaster's office.  He's being raked over the coals for bashing Mike over the head with the bat. Nigel lies and says Mike exposed himself to him which enrages the Head.  He says Mike is vital to the rugby team, top of most of his classes and a committed Christian.  Nigel is a "reptile" who nearly killed him and for that he gets two weeks suspension.  He tells his parents this over dinner, they react mildly telling him to "buck up a bit".

Back to Thatcher, she is observing a conversation two of her ministers are having in the toilet via a CCTV camera in there.  She has a bank of monitors in front of her.  She ponders the comment one of them said that she was overreacting, then she gets on the phone and calls for the S.A.S.

While his family watch the news, Nigel gets a call from Cornelius saying tonight he has to come along, Terry insists.  Then we cut to a room full of S.A.S men, they have men undercover at several major targets.  If they are attacked they'll call and they can be there in minutes. They are told that if the arsonists aren't carrying guns, they need to make sure they are once they are dead.
The attack commences.
Nigel arrives at Cornelius's place.  Tonight they are planning an attack on "the big one." Nigel regards the passive Terry with irritation thinking for all his big talk he folded up in front of Cornelius.  "Mind you, you had me on a roller coaster ride to hell long before he came along" he thinks to himself.

The big one turns out to be Saint Paul's cathedral.  They go inside and start throwing fire bombs.  They shoot the man who comes to see what's going on, but he's actually one of the undercover S.A.S and as he lies on the floor he calls for them to come.  He then gets up and reveals he's got a machine gun.  Cornelius shouts to Terry and Nigel to run back to the van.  But the way is blocked by a wall of gun toting S.A.S men who open fire upon them.

Cornelius, Terry and Nigel run into a side room as the rest of the their "soldiers" are gunned down.  They crouch down and Nigel starts gibbering "oh shit" over and over.  Cornelius calls him a "worm". Terry meanwhile stands up and declaims that the blockage is coming forth "and it's like unto a great and mighty number two".  Cornelius tries to snap him out of it.

We get a quick cut to his parents discussing Nigel, they think he'll do better when he starts work.  But they aren't even sure when he goes back to school causing his sister to facepalm.  Back with Nigel, Cornelius shouts at Terry that his wife wouldn't have wanted this.

That snaps Terry out of it, because he never told Cornelius about his wife.  He wants to know how Cornelius knows and Cornelius says, "I killed her."  He paid off the doctor to "balls up the birth".  He wanted Terry to lose his faith so he could become a true commando.

Cornelius: "That's how I got them all... Find someone who's utterly devout. Inject a bit of personal tragedy to kill off their faith.  And bingo!  Instant fanatic!"

Cornelius rambles on that in two thousand years there could be a religion about what was written of his methods.  Nigel asks "why" he did all this?  Cornelius shouts that God killed his wife in the middle of childbirth, "do you think I'm goning to let him get away with that?!"
But the S.A.S swiftly end it.
Terry lets out an anguished scream which alerts the S.A.S as to where they are. He says sadly, "I've been mad.. I've been mad.. I've been insane for so long."  Cornelius grins at him as Nigel makes his escape through a small window, and says that he is still insane himself.  Terry points his gun at Cornelius but before he can shoot, the S.A.S burst in and kill them both, Terry's gun flies up and out through the window and hits Nigel who picks it up and makes his getaway.

Next day Nigel is at school even though he is still suspended, drinking vodka.  Angela comes up and asks him if he is Ok saying he doesn't look well.  Nigel has a serene quality about him and when Angela says there is something odd about him today, Nigel says she wouldn't believe how odd.

Then the P.E teacher appears and says him being there drinking gets him an audience with the headmaster.  Nigel tells him to "go and fuck yourself".  The P.E teacher rounds on him for swearing only to be faced with a gun pointed right at his head.  He whimpers and Nigel pulls the trigger blowing the man's brains out.
I hated my P.E teacher too, but even I wouldn't have shot her.
"Holy shit" shouts Angela, and Nigel says "that's the whole point Angela."  He goes outside and sits on the steps.  He hears the alarm and knows the police are soon to be on their way. Getting the kids out "so the police marksman can do their job".  He thinks to himself that they went look for God in the wrong places, he's inside of us all because "we invented him."  He thinks that Terry, for all his madness, showed him something:

Nigel: "He just did whatever the hell he wanted. And I guess that's the lesson I learned from him.  So here I am.  Free. And that's the way I'm staying. I've got faith in myself at last.  True faith. But then I was bound to say that sooner or later."
It began with anger and ends in calm. Only the warm embrace of death waits for Nigel.
Well there you have it.  Is it in poor taste me bunging up a post in which one of the main characters compares God to a giant poo stuck in the 'S' bend of life during what for some is a very God orientated celebration?  Maybe.  My family celebrate Festivus, we put up our aluminium pole and take part in the annual airing of the grievances and the feats of strength so I feel a little naughty this time of year.  This is I think only the second series Ennis had done after the excellent debut Troubled Souls which I have already covered (I'm not sure when he took up regular writing duties on Judge Dredd post-Troubled Souls).  I feel like he was torn between wanting to say something profound about religion  and wanting to let his more grotesque sensibility off the leash for the first time and ended up falling between the two stools. Although it does feel like a trial run for the Preacher series many years later which starred a man of faith who wanted to find a runaway God and take him to task for his perceived failings. Nigel is the most well drawn of the characters, even if his story is incredibly depressing, with the ending implying all he has faith in is the gun and that he intends to die now, taken out by a police marksman. Maybe if I put my feminist hat on we can figure his plot arc out. Perhaps prolonged exposure to Terry's madness as a surrogate father figure railing against the ultimate patriarch affected him because his parents barely care about him, his sister is embarrassed by him, he's mocked by his peers and is unable to score with the girl he fancies who is dating the arsehole jock.  It all creates a brew of resentment stoked by a culture of toxic masculinity that finds its final expression in the power vested in him by the possession of a gun, the ultimate phallic symbol.  And he uses it to murder the P.E teacher and head of the rugby club, the alpha male if you will, taken out by the belittled and humiliated beta male.  So in the end, not a series that was really about religion at all, just plain and simple male entitlement.  You can breathe a sigh of relief now.  Happy holidays peeps, see you in the new year. 


  1. It's funny how often when I read your posts that something I'd forgotten I'd even read comes flooding back. As soon as I saw this I instantly remembered the Norman Tebbit quote.

    As for the story itself, did this make you think it might have been a re-hash (or possibly pre-hash; not sure which he came up with first) of Troubled Souls? Young man gets dragged into bigger things and enforced mentorship by fanatic?

    As for the overall plot, I agree with your two stools analysis. It could have been a profound commentary on religion , especially bearing in mind Ennis' background; bit it does read a bit like the work of a proto 'edgelord' (I've learnt a lot of new terminology this year!). Reminds me of that neckbeard (there's another one) militant atheism and wannabe badassness. So to pick up your thesis that this is a (possibly unconscious) commentary on male entitlement that fits quite nicely as there does seem to be an overlap there. Same sort of collection of attitudes. That sense of 'only I understand what's going on and the rest of you are sheeples' thing. Or maybe it's just classic teenage moping.

    At the time it came out we did find it quite amusing. There was quite a pagan vibe in our circle, but we did find the 'I'm going to boring the whole Christian edifice tumbling down' caused a wry smile. This was of course prior to the internet but already we knew there was a growing hard core 'black metal' movement that seemed to fantasise about this sort of thing, especially over in Scandinavia. Although they did go on to burn loads of churches down, so I suppose that's going behind the fantasising.

    But to got back to the story. It was 'ok' but very much the rough beginnings of someone who went on to better writing. I have no doubt a lot of teenagers did find it easy to indentify with the lead. Especially the sort of teenager who wasn't popular or into sports and all that sort of thing. Hence the PE teacher copping it. Funnily enough though, looking at it now, it seems a lot more 'American'. It's like classic school shooting 101. So in that way it's quite prescient. (It's interesting to watch Breakfast Club now and see that the nerdy kid who brought a gun into school just got a detention, so it's not like people were generally predicting what would become so common).

    To stick my theologian hat on (seeimg as we're dressing formally) it's an interesting take on the Book of Job, but whisky it has some nice ideas it just doesn't seem fully worked out. It just doesn't gel as a whole. But you can detect some of the themes that would be developed in later works, not just by Ennis but by writers with that new take on religion in comics. So 5/10 as a story but worth remembering as an early example of ideas that would be expired in lots more depth in later comics.

  2. I didn't think it was a re-hash of Troubled Souls, though now you point it out it has similarities. I think there is quite a bit of Ennis in Nigel, Ennis being a hardcore atheist growing up in 70's and 80's Belfast. I read an interview in which he described the Catholic influence on his ostensibly secular school as insidious brainwashing, but can't find the article now so didn't put it in the main post.

    I did also think how it seemed prescient about school shootings and by extension why we shouldn't just dismiss the perpetrators as "evil" or "psycho", the reason might be very bad as to why people commit shootings in school, but if we never examine why we'll never tackle the problem properly. Teenage alienation is a powerful and miserable thing to live through, I had a P.E teacher for example who liked to make an example of me and made me dread that lesson so much I often puked up beforehand. I wouldn't have shot her in the head, but I would seriously have considered kneecapping her.

    Anyway, your summation is something I agree with, this is Garth Ennis figuring out what does and doesn't work, and still manages to be very readable with some nice character work too. Also I must praise the art again. I like the washed out palette contrasted with thick slabs of black and red for dramatic highlights. It's very classy stuff from Mr. Pleece.

  3. One of the many useful tips I picked up from those medico-legal society lectures was that of you ever need knee surgery you should get it done in Belfast. Knee-cappings were so prevalent there that the doctors became world experts on mending knees. Handy to know if you renege on gambling/drug debts (or like ski-ing)

    You ever seen 'Elephant'? That's a very good film on school shootings (it's sort of based on Columbine). But yeah, teenage alienation is a topic I'm looking at quite a bit these days. It's related to that Masters I'm trying to do. All about radicalisation (and indeed self radicalisation/lone wolf stuff). Disaffected/alienated teenagers are prime targets. Whether that's from Jihadisists or the MRA/incel mob. As you say though it's not a subject amenable to simplistic answers. There is the 'maladjusted loner' stereotype, but that's not always the case. A number of shooters would have been classed as 'popular' by any reasonable standard. They were social, had friends, took place in communal activities etc. But it's easy for teenagers to still posses a self image that doesn't comport to the external reality.

    Our PE teachers did conform to the cliches, but it was a sort of play acting/expectation thing. Almost like a pantomime. For example when we did swimming we had to stand under a cold shower before we were allowed in the pool. The rule was you had to say 'please sir, this isn't cold enough' then the teacher would say 'sorry, that's as cold as I can make it, get in the pool'. It was just a ritual and it applied to everyone so there wasn't that bullying element like you seem to have had. In fact it was the 'sporty' kids who'd get the grief. If they weren't working to full capacity then the teachers would usually compare the non sporty kids ('so and so has asthma but he's putting in the effort). Of course that might present its own set of problems 'thank you for using the fact I'm fat but still completed the cross country as a way of shaming the fit kids, now I feel so much better about myself'

    This all reminds me of a John Cooper Clarke interview "They told me schooldays are the best years of your life, and I just thought then pass me a knife right now". Luckily for us and him, he just used it as an inspiration to get into poetry.

    There's another film called Rampage about a mass shooter. I won't spoil it for you as it has a brilliant twist (which is set up perfectly in a way that makes you go 'of course!') but it does feed into our revenge fantasies a bit in a marvellously petty way. There's a scene wee he goes into a coffee shop all tooled up having shot loads of people. The owner had previously really fucked him over with bad/rude service. The shooter just points the gun at him and says 'remember how you said it was simply impossible to get my order right? You still maintain that?'

    Like I say, very petty but at the back of our minds I'm sure were all cheering him on a little bit.

    I'm sure there's a market for a really petty revenge fantasy hero. Someone who av agents all those petty annoyances in ironic ways. Forget the motivation being your family murdered by the Mafia. Someone who's entirely driven by people who stand on the left on the escalator or don't know how box junctions work.

  4. SOunds like interesting research you're doing. I have mentioned it before but after having wonderful times at infants and juniors, my experiences at an all girls secondary school were profoundly horrible and didn't get better until the sixth form where the lessons were more interesting, the teachers nicer and best of all we were merged with the boys again so I had people to talk to. Sometimes I feel my sexuality is a cruel joke :P

    Also I was obviously exhibiting the signs of then undiagnosed bipolar depression which didn't help matters, and my first psycotic episode aged 18. I guess I could have been dangerous then but I was mostly turned in on myself. If I had access to assault rifles... I honestly don't know. Scary really.

    That bit of the film sounds like "Falling Down" which is another good film about how one bad day on top of a mountain of previous ones and a character type prone to anger and blaming others can cause that person to snap and begin taking out everyone who pissed him off.

    I think my petty annoyance is people standing in front of cash machines after they have taken their cash fumbling around with purses and wallets putting the cash away. I have been known to be brisk with them.

  5. Oh have I not mentioned? It's that M.Litt in 'Terrorism and Political Violence'. Notwithstanding the cool title turns out it's more theoretical than practical. Boo. But I can get out of a bit of coursework that doesn't really interest me if I can point to another piece of academic work. So I'm going to do a paper on Incels as a terrorist threat. I'm toying with doing something on misogynistic violence for my dissertation so this is a good way of testing the water. I was originally thinking of something like media portrayals of counter terrorism (ie binging on Chuck Norris films) or hijacking LPG tankers. But I've been ruined by exposure to feminists. What have you done to me!

    Your secondary school days sound horrible. Glad you made it out ok. I don't know a huge amount about psychosis, although I did do quite a few MHTs (got a few amusing anecdotes about that) but my understanding is that people with psychosis aren't necessarily any more of a risk than anyone else. To others anyway. Of course if someone with a mental illness commits a crime that's what people focus on. But lots of 'normal' people commit crimes too. From my understanding (I've had reason to look into this) It's only 'sociopaths' to use an inaccurate but convenient term that present a higher risk because of the ability to overcome empathy. But most people with mental illness have empathy so they have the same inhibitions against violence as the 'gen pop'; no matter how much rage they may occasionally feel. I'd trust you with an assault rifle (used to have one, lots of fun). After all you've got your kukri and what's your head count? Barely out of single figures from what I recall. And hey, if they wanted heads they should have got their change ready *before* they got on the bus right? :-)

  6. I only read one sub reddit and it's /r/badwomensanatomy and of course The Red Pill and Incels show up a lot. What gets me is how young so many incels are, like dude I didn't have sex until I was nearly 20, I didn't feel the need to write myself of completely before that, I made an effort to make myself more attractive both physically and personalitywise. Incels feeling bitter because the government won't assign them a woman is just so completely daft I have totally run out of evens.

    The scary thing about psychotic breaks are that you are fully of the belief there is nothing wrong with you, when in fact your perceptions have become decidedly wonky. Thankfully it's usually fairly temporary and anti-psychotics nowadays treat it pretty effectively without zombifying you. You don't have the caculating mind of a sociopath, the best way to describe it is your mind trying to make sense of being massively overstimulated and coming to entirely the wrong conclusions about things. I've mentioned it before but one of the best depictions of a psychotic break was in Star Trek: Voyager when Seven of Nine downloaded the entire Voyager database into her mind but couldn't cope with all the extra information unlike she could when part of the collective and starts panicking and using various events as "evidence" of a conspiracy because her mind is trying to make a story that can help her cope but of course it's all rubbish.

  7. I'll have to try to find that episode. Be interesting to chat after I've seen it. Might give me more of an insight. Human perception is fascinating. I sometimes slip into borderline solipsism. I do intellectually know that's not the case, but sometimes there are just so many weird coincidences and the like it feels quite artificial. Like my life is being plotted. But I just have to remind myself that improbable events happen all the time. Statistically I'm bound to have things that seem extraordinary crop up. That does feed into my pagan sensibilities though. That there's more things in heaven and earth that are dreamt of in your philosophy Horatio etc. I know those two viewpoints are inconsistent but like I've said before, I live as an uncollapsed quantum state, so it's easy for me to believe multiple contradictory things at the same time.

    I've started to delve into Reddit as part of the research. The Incels bit is truly ghastly. So much hate and loathing. Both internally and externally. The MGTOW thing is pretty horrible, but it's almost laughable in how pathetic they are. Incels though are just loathsome. But also dangerous I think. MGTOWs seem to be all "girls got cooties" and related name calling. But Incels genuinely want women hurt. It's a different type of bitterness. Like most manosphere types do subconsciously know women are people, even if they are jealous of them, but Incels genuinely see women as no better than livestock. And it's that dehumanising that makes them so dangerous. In a way they're more 'pure' in their misogyny. Whereas I think most 'red pill' types secretly know they're the baddies (even if they may be happy about that) Incels honestly believe women deserve to suffer. If all women suddenly vanished MGTOWs would miss the fact that they had no one to abuse, but Incels would be relieved that there was no one left to (as they see it) torture them. Although they'd still be miserable of course.

    But that's what leaves then open to radicalisation. It's a common scenario. Find someone who's bad at life and say you alone understand them and tell them a particular group is responsible for all their woes.

    Hmm, now maybe there's a comic idea in all this.

  8. The episode is called "The Voyager Conspiracy" from season 6 I think.

    You'll probably find this amazing but until I stumbled onto WHTM I had no idea MRAs, MGTOWs and Incels existed. I was in a happy bubble of ignorance. Now I am glad I found out about them but yes, Incels are truly the worst of the lot. If you're bad enough that reddit actually bans one of your related subs you truly are the very bottom of the barrel.

  9. Same here. Prior to Mammoth I'd never heard of any of the stuff that's oft talked about there. Does make you wonder how big a phenomena a lot of this is. Like how none of my gaming mates have heard of that Gamergate thing. Even some of my really politically active feminist with a capital F friends hadn't heard of MGTOW or Incels. Of course that doesn't mitigate the harm they can do.(Al Quaida only had 250 members on 9/11 and even the IRA never got above about 400 people in ASUs). But the scale/outreach of this is one of the things I'm looking at. The thing with the Internet is that even if the 'knobhead per square mile' ratio is quite low it's easy for them to come together online.

    Being horribly cynical though I wonder if there's an overlap Venn diagram thing with people who do know about this and comic reading? Would there be an audience for a story about this? You know my admiration for Misty. I'm thinking of a story from a girl's perspective about being hit on by a creepy 'nice guy' and all the crap that goes on at school. To follow on the Garth pattern, rejected boy gets drawn into that red pill life. Hmm? All sorts of possibilities there.

    You know, now I'm seriously thinking about trying to put something together. And who better to write about the experiences of a school girl than a bloke in his 40s. Unless of course I could find an actual girl who had some horrific experiences at school. What you reckon? Fancy batting some ideas about? (if that's not going to be dragging up awful memories). But there must be loads of girls who would instantly identify. Scarily though there's probably loads of boys who'd identify with the bad guy, and probably think he's the hero.

  10. Gamergate was new to me and I'm a mod on a gaming website! It's posters skew older though, which I'm guessing is what makes the difference.

    Comics definitely have a very conservative bias in their fandoms, it's why DC and Marvel keep backsliding after trying more diversity and appeal to women and minority readers, with returns to how everything was in the Silver Age where nothing was complicated and women and black people knew their place and homosexuals and trans folk didn't exist. However, indie comics from labels like Image (who are giving us Saga and Lazarus) and manga (which skews young and female) are the real future I think. So yeah, there is real issue with DC/Marvel not just with storylines but with dehumanising artistic depictions, you only have to spend some time on the Escher Girls tumblrs to discover awful portrayals of women didn't depart comics along with Rob Liefeld.

    I'd be quite happy to lie on a metaphorical couch and let Doctor Alan probe me for stories about life as a misfit in an all girls school. You'll probably have a hard time getting me to stop, :P

  11. I really enjoy the 'political' analyses you provide on your blog. I've always been interested in the 'mechanics' of media; especially films. So I love tvtropes for instance. But I also read a lot of books, listen to all the commentaries, watch documentaries etc. But one thing I don't know a lot, or really anything, about are issues like representation. Im not sure I've ever given it much conscious thought. Being pretty much the 'default' I don't really have to. Everything is sort of aimed at me. Even characters that aren't me (SWM) are sort of written based on our expectations rather than from the reality of people like that. Hence all the stereotypes. Take gay characters for instance. No doubt you'll have a much better perspective but it seems to me tjat, until recently at least, they've always been written to conform to the expectations of the 'mainstream' audience. So gay men are camp and lesbians are either butch or straight guy fantasy lipstick lesbians.

    Heh, as an aside I'm just reminded of a low budget film where one of the directors extremely macho mates insisted on a role cos he'd helped out. So he got a non speaking bit part but in the credits his character was listed as 'gay truck driver'

    I thought that was quite funny. But there's a serious point in tjat a lot of the time it might as well say 'hot lesbian', 'sassy black woman', 'inspirational disabled guy' etc. It's like what makes them tick the diversity box is the only facet of the character.

    I suppose films are so expensive the producers can't risk alienating or confusing the bulk of the audience. Although that's an explanation rather than an excuse. But you'd think comics might be able to take a few more 'risks'. The irony is I don't think it would be a risk. Doctor Who is unashamedly almost joyously inclusive and it's one of the most saleable shows in the world.

    I think it's a bit like Jewish mother jokes. In one sense they come from a very specific sub culture but really everyone can identify and enjoy because there's an underlying common experience.

    So yeah, really do want to hear your experiences. You're very interesting anyway but also think there could be some good source material there. You're really educating me.

  12. I think most of the comics I have tagged with the LGBT characters tag have not been charicatures mainly because I'm not really interested in reading about charicatures in comics so I skew the representation somewhat with what I choose to cover. DC until they cancelled them all had some good comics: Midnighter is a great depiction of a sexually active single gay man, Batwoman is a good lesbian character and John Constantine (The Hellblazer) is very obviously bisexual. Unfortunately you've probably hit on the reasons they haven't done as well, they are fringe characters in a much larger universe and probably do alienate and confuse your average neckbearded, cheeto-stained fingered, old skool "fan". Feh. What got me about the cancellating most of DC's LGBT stuff for the DC Rebirth was they didn't even wait for the first trades of that wave to go on sale, the cancellation was announced so trade-waiters like myself end up feeling bad because we can't afford to buy the floppies as they come out. /sadface.

  13. Yeah, reading your blog one can get the impression that the comics market is in a really exciting state. It's like an inverse Sturgeon's Law. Because we're looking at the stuff you like by definition it's going to be the good stuff. I also keep forgetting (despite the fact you explicitly tell me the dates and that I remember when stuff came out) that you're picking stuff from a long time period. I'll blame you for drawing me into the stories so much that I assume everything is contemporary and I just lose myself in the moment.

    One thing I'm curious about: is it the case that when comics do portray diverse characters they do a decent job? Hmm, how to express myself here...

    Basically I'm trying to ask is it an all or nothing thing? Like comics have decent characters that they cancel so there's no representation whatsoever or are 'bad' depictions still allowed? Is it the presence of diverse characters at all that annoys our neckbeardy friends or only if they're portrayed positively? So would they be happy with gay characters if the men were limp wristed ineffectuals and the women just made out with each other? Sort of 'we'll accept minority characters so long as they know their place' sort of thing, if you get my drift.

    But to your main point, I wonder if we'll get to a stage in media where it won't be seen as noteworthy that a hero(ine) is a from a minority group? At the moment it seems that even with a well rounded character like that dragon tattoo lass any reviews will always begin "lesbian detective...". Like in the music industry we still talk about 'girl band'

    Diverting slightly, you ever seen a film called 'Blitz'? It's a 'and together they fight crime' sort of thing but the leads are a really old school almost 1970s copper played by Jason Statham and a much more enlightened gay cop played by Paddy Constantine. It's a really interesting dynamic. It could easily have been a very naff typical 'odd couple' police movie with all the clichés. But whilst it flirts with all those tropes it works beautifully. Probably because although the characters are almost over the top stereotypes at first glance they're then actually very rounded. The macho 'get your knickers on and make me a cup of tea' guy is actually pretty decent and caring and the sensitive guardian reading gay guy isn't above taking a baseball bat to criminals. The supporting cast is also excellent. And top soundtrack.

    Im still very keen on this school story idea btw. Been thinking about it. I'll put some thoughts together for your consideration. Might be a good practice exercise for my other project too

  14. Hiya. Hope you're having a wonderful time and you're suitably stuffed full of Xmas fayre.

    Watched a Simpsons today. It was a new one so I was about to engage 'not been good since season 8, mutter, grumble' mode. But it was actually a spoof about the modern YA book market. Homer puts together a team to make a generic best seller, including Neil Gaiman. Homer puts him in charge of snacks.

    In the end though after much shenanigans he rips off everyone else so the book comes out with just his name on it. Apparently that's how he always does it.

    "I can't even read!"

    Love to the family. Give Biff a chin tickle from me. Just keep going slightly past the point where he's "Ok, that's enough now, gerroff, I'm warning you...'

  15. Hallo!! I went net dark over Xmas while at mum's house. Had four days of watching her cats glaring daggers at Biff while he did his usual "taking over the living room" thing. We're back in Macc now and although he is very fond of mum and her warm house, he likes being able to go out and poo better. He got lots of hugs, chin tickles and generally patting from the family which he puts up with regally. Hope you had a pleasant time as well, I got lots of comics, so I will be adjusting my sechedule to accomdate them now.

    As to your previous point, there still isn't enough diversity in comics, but generally what there is is pretty good. Now that's only me speaking about women and LGBT representation, racial representation I feel I have less authority to judge. There doesn't seem to be enough of that either, escpecially with the Legacy Hero culls of the late noughties.

    I haven't seen the film "Blitz" but it sounds fascinating. Once I have got through all the dvds I got for Xmas I'll have to look out for it. I'm not a fan of The Simpsons but I am amused by having Neil Gaiman in charge of snacks. Bet they were very literary and high brow snacks! :D

  16. Glad you both had a nice time. I do understand Biff's point of view. It's nice spending time with people but you are sort of glad to get back home. I had one of my antisocial Christmases this year. Saw a few friends for a bit but just chilled out at home on the day. Stuffed myself then went for a lovely walk on the beach. Bliss.

    Neil's snacks actually seemed a bit pedestrian (despite his protestations to the contrary); but he did laminate the menus. Like he says, who else would have taken the care to do that?

    After Dredd I'm a bit worried about my film recommendations! Saw the Solomon Kane film though. That was weird. It's like 95% brilliant ingmar bergen brooding about existentialism and the human condition and 5% battling a CGI monster. Really enjoyed it though. The acting, production design and direction would probably be getting award nominations if it wasn't a genre film.

    I'm guessing you're just vegging out now ploughing through your new comic acquisitions? I quite like the sound of that. I'm trying to summon up the energy to go out and get some crackers to tackle the several tons of posh cheeses someone got me. Ironically what I really fancy right now though is some of that squeezy cheese you get in the toothpaste tube. Hmm, the thought of that is actually motivating me to drag myself off the sofa.

  17. Biff is currently curled up on a pile of my laundry, he WANTS me to make another turkey sammich with the leftovers I was sent home with, but he'll have to wait until I get peckish later.

    I think I might have to check around for a watch of this Simpsons episode, sounds pretty funny! Also never worry about recommending stuff to me, Dredd I will concede was a very well made film and very well acted it just didn't hit the spot right for me as a 2000AD fan, sameway the Peter Jackson LotR films still didn't appease some people. You get an image in your head of what they should be like and it can be hard to accept that it's not going to happen that way.

    I've got a few DVDs as well to watch, "Suicide Squad" being one of them. That's a comic I read back in the 80's which was awesome, but I am hoping the fact it has Harley Quinn in it (who wasn't around back then) will make me think of this more as "Harley Quinn and Her Friends: The Film" rather than old skool Suicide Squad. I also got given the complete "Avatar: The Last Airbender" too, so 60 odd episodes of that to work through.

    I am vegging out although I am back working my way through "LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens". I spent all of Boxing Day reading my way through four volumes of "Jessica Jones: Alias" so want to spread out the rest of my comics a bit now.

  18. I'm beginning to regard Biff as a bit of a lifestyle guru.

    I do know a teensy bit about Harley Quinn. Isn't there some big controversy because her relationship with the Joker is an abusive one but loads of people think they're an aspirational couple? Heh, see what you've done to me getting me all analytical? In the old days I'd just be asking 'Isn't she the saucy chick in the hot pants?

    I haven't seen the Avatar cartoon, just the film. Thought it was OK. Although I feel a bit sorry for the 'earth' benders. Their special power just seems to be able to throw rocks. I can do that; without magic.

  19. Biff's ability to seek out the comfiest places to sleep within minutes of arriving anywhere is something we can all aspire to.

    I've covered the first two collections of the New 52/DC You Harley Quinn series, and yes she started out in an abusive relationship with the Joker (which was never treated as a good thing by the comics, but fandoms can be fandumb about these things), but by the time of this most recent series she'd dumped him and is in a sort of casual relationship with Poison Ivy who treats her very well. I don't know if she's been reset to be more in line with movie Harley with the DC Rebirth, or if movie Harley will follow the same path. Hope so, a bisexual superhero/antihero actually making it onto the big screen would be awesome.

    Ah now I have heard a lot of complaints about the live action film of Airbender. In the cartoon, the Earthbenders are kept in an iron prison-ship, nowhere near any earth whatsoever. Probably the biggest complaint is therefore the inability of the film Earthbenders to figure out they could destroy their captors and as apparently they can do a lot more than chuck rocks in the cartoon (crush tanks, cause earthquakes etc) I can see why fans were pissed off.

  20. He truly is a Renaissance cat; a mog for all seasons.

    I enjoyed your HQ reviews, she is an interesting character. Did find elements of Crazy Chrissie (DR's old girlfriend) in there. But I do like me a homicidal mad lass.

    The newly educated analytical me is wondering about the portrayal of LB characters as very conventionally attractive. Not that LB people aren't hot of course, but I'd be interested in your take on whether the writers are genuinely trying to be inclusive or whether there's a bit of titillation for the teenage boy demographic? Especially with Bi characters. "She makes out with girls, but don't worry guys you can still fantasise her as your girlfriend!" sort of thing.

    Although I do like that there's now at least some hot characters for lesbian and bi teenage girls to lust after. S'only fair.

  21. I sort of tackled this when I wrote about "Batwoman: Elegy" which has a tasteful sequence of lesbian lovemaking in it, and in which I confess I do like seeing two attractive women fucking, so can't really hold straight/bi men to blame for their Male Gaze when I most definitely have a Lesbian Female Gaze.

    Bisexual representation does always come with the whole "Oh they are just in a phase" insinuations which of course plague bisexual people in life (had two bisexual girlfriends myself). I like seeing Bi women, but I'm actually these days more interested in Bi men in comics of which for DC anyway boils down to John Constantine. He have sex with saucy demonesses then commit to a fling with a hunky black guy all in the same comic. I really hope he's isn't "straightened out" in the DC Rebirth. Time will tell I guess.

  22. I'll have a read of that.

    I don't have a problem with people finding characters physically attractive. The whole point of a lot of fictional characters is they're meant to be admirable and desirable. Of course sometimes they're portrayed in a way that might be rather unlikely in real life. But are pneumatic boobs on a woman with 5% body fat any more unrealistic than Batman being a doctorate level expert in flipping every subject under the sun? And whilst I'm not sure skintight leather is the most practical clothing for fighting a lot of my female Krav buddies wear lycra or yoga pants so I could make an argument that spray on clothing is the optimal choice for ass kicking. I've tried working out in a latex t shirt. It's actually quite comfy (if a bit sweaty) but prone to rip when you actually get scrapping. Probably could be a justified material for a catsuit though so long as our heroine never went near any sharp surfaces or objects.

    It's funny when people talk about phases. I've got quite a few bi friends. I wonder if stems from how when we're floozing around in our mis-spent youths (which some of us appear to not be growing out of) it's noticeable that Bi people are, well, Bi. But if they then settle down with one person as oft people do then just because that life partner is going to be of a particular gender then it's like 'ah, knew you weren't really Bi" sort of flawed logic.

    Here's an interesting semantic puzzle, if a guy sleeps with an XX chromosome very female bodied person who however identifies as genderfluid and switches between identifying as male and female, then what's the guys sexuality? If he fancies the person all the time and isn't bothered how they choose to identify on any particular day is that still straight or is it like a quantum entanglement thing? On days when the person is feeling female then he's straight but on other days then he's gay? Ooh, it's like Shroedingers Sexuality.

    1. Your puzzle is something that does get me thinking. When I was doing my degrees in the 90's I wrote quite abit about what would now be called genderfluidity, mainly to help me with the way I'd joking call myself a straight bloke in a woman's body. But I didn't actually know any genderfluid people at the time. LGBT wasn't really a thing then. L and G barely interacted except to express distrust for B and T were rarely "out and proud" back then and were treated with often impolite disdain (I witnessed myself what happened when a transwoman tried to join the Lesbian and Bi Women's Discussion Group in Manchester, I was the only person to treat her like a normal woman and it pissed me off so much how she was treated I stopped attending the group not long after).

      So, TL:DR, I guess there would have to be some fluidity in the man's sexuality too, not enough to be considered Bi but not at the hard heterosexual end of the Kinsey scale.

  23. I've dropped you an email.

    I'm very pleased today though. To me there are two great mysteries in life. One is, why don't you see white dog poi anymore?

    In related nostalgia, do you remember how you'd sometimes get blackened crisps in a packet and they were the tastiest ones; so what happened to them?

    Well I saw a documentary today about crisp manufacturing . It was actually pretty fascinating. But they cleared up one of the mysteries (the crisp one). Some potato slices have a higher amount of sugar in them, so they caramelise on cooking. Now though they have a clever machine that takes photos of each crisp on the assembly line and blasts the unsuitable ones off the conveyor with a jet of air. So that's why now all crisps are the same. Fascinating stuff. But a bit sad. I really miss those oddball crisps. They were the highlight of the packet.

    There's probably a metaphor there for society generally.

  24. I did not know that that about black crisps, I do miss 'em now you come to speak of them.

    With white dog poo, I do believe it was because tinned dogfood wasn't properly nutritionally balanced back in the day and so dogs who were doing white poo weren't getting their full dietry needs filled properly. Now of course dog food is much better and so no more white poo.

    It's the same with catfood. My previous two cats I lived on wetfood diets and if I ever had to deal with their poo it was awful. Biff eats an entirely dryfood diet now and his poo is neither splatty nor smelly. Also interestingly he's going on 12 now and the only one out of six cats in the immediate family not carrying any extra podge. He's a lean cat with the baggy skin of a much larger cat and considering he spends 95% of the day asleep his sleekness baffles me!

  25. Biff becomes more of a role model with everything you write. I really hope to meet him soon.

    I'd like to see a time travel story where the presence of white dog poo is a clue as to the time period.

    "What's the year! What's the year!"

    *looks down at pavement*

    "Oh. Never mind."

    Speaking of time travel, apparently there was a Dr Who Xmas story. I'll have to check out IPlayer.

    I'm currently in that lovely confused state where I'm not sure what day it is and I'm full of cheese. But I'm feeling very motivated for the new year. Got my writing projects and my fitness goals. And very much looking forward to further reading of your blog. Hopefully there'll be some suitably motivating heroics I can aspire to and emulate. Especially that Nick Fury tale. Maybe I should get an eyepatch?

  26. He's definitely the most intelligent and mellow cat I've ever met. I feel lucky to have such a cool kitty in my life.

    I can't recall when white dog poo disappeared although I'm thinking maybe around the end of the 1980's. It's not gone for good though, I actually saw some relatively recently in Manchester. Someone isn't feeding their dog properly *tuts*

    I am having similar difficulties with remembering what day it is. Having Xmas and New Year on a sunday has really thrown me for some reason.

    Glad you're looking forward to more posts. I have all of January's written up, just wondering what order they'll go up in. The Nick Fury tale will be one of them and spread across two posts as well, sadly it's rather a grim story, Ennis at his darkest I think. Although it's still a good excuse for an eyepatch :D I'll give myself another week off, playing LEGO games then better start cracking on with February's.

  27. At the risk of sounding like a hippy sentimentalist I am eternally grateful that animals choose to share their lives with us. They do bring us so much joy.

    The resurgence of white dog poo in Manchester is probably a retro hipster thing.

    I'm glad I don't really need an eyepatch but I do have a cool eye injury that could justify one occasionally. It's called PVD. I was perversely chuffed when the eye doctor said it was prevalent amongst top rugby players and boxers. Ironically it was an ex professional rugby player who gave it to me.

    Certainly don't want to rush you on your future posts. You deserve a chill. Can (just about) hang on for a bit. I'm always harping on about delayed gratification anyway so let's test that.

    I do need to find a suitable hero to aspire to/emulate. My personal role model is Tarzan, but that's not eminently practical in an urban setting. So if you could help me find one who wears pants...

    (responded to your top email btw)

  28. I actually had to wear an eyepatch once when I was about seven. I got a heinous eye infection and needed some protective covering so got a proper black eyepatch to wear. I wanted to keep wearing it when the infection cleared up!

    I'll be putting my next post up on New Years day, with Mr. Alan Moore getting us off to a confusing start to the year.

    I'm blanking on suitable role models, mainly I think because a lot of the comics I write about feature messed up people. Although I am quite tempted to name Squirrel Girl as a definite person to aspire to!

  29. It's funny how eyepatches are cool, sexy even. But scars are hot so I suppose it's an extension of that. You seen 'Doomsday'? Got Rhona Mitra playing a distaff Snake Pliskenn. Basically a loving rip off of the directors favourite 80s action flicks. Wonderful. Especially the bit that's essentially 'Aliens' but with Glaswegians instead of slimy bite-monsters.

    I had written a lengthy polemic about superheroes but the Internet ate it. Maybe it wad trying to tell me something so I'll save it until it stops being Hogwarts here (or the weather gets better which seems to be a factor) and just mention I've emailed you a vid.

  30. I haven't see Doomday no, I'll have to make a list now of all the things I need to see. Currently I am marathoning all 86 episodes of The Sopranos just started season 4 so halfway done.

    Sorry your polemic got eaten. I tend to draft out longer replies to posts in Notepad. I actually use Notepad quite a bit, it's what I write my blog posts in so I don't get conflicts with text enhancements from Word disagreeing with the ones you add via the blog tools. Anyway, if you're not too hungover from New Year, I have put up a new post. Enjoy!

  31. Well hopefully those two things aren't mutually exclusive. Just waiting til my blood alcohol level drops enough for me to do the bottle bank run of shame and then I'll see if I can focus my eyes enough to read.

    And Happy New Year!!!! btw.

  32. Heh, no rush :) I remember some very drunken New Years Eve parties when I was a teenager. Now I sip a nice cup of tea and watch the bongs inside on the telly in the warm while staying over at mum's. Biff can look after himself for one night.

  33. I have actually just read it. I'm going to be sensible and take your advice to write in notepad before trying to post. Just have my umpteenth cup of tea first. I can practically hear my cell walls squeaking as I rehydrate. Of course, it's all healthy living from here on in. I did wuss out on the morning sea swim though. I might risk a paddle later.

    *sticks head out of window*

    Or maybe not.

  34. Well I am gonna eat the last of the Christmas cake then it's a diet for me to kick off this new year. Joy.