• Cake,  Espresso

    Go For the Health Test Or the Kitten Gets It

    It was the sad and wholly predictable death of Swino the Beer Swilling Hog which allowed me to put my finger on what makes me uneasy about two separate but thematically similar health campaigns on the go at the moment. First, there is the ad campaign on Scottish television for the flu jag (which, truth be told, reminded me I had to make my appointment as a chronic asthmatic) shown above. Get the jag if not for yourself, then for your family it says as a little boy asks in bewilderment why daddy cannot play football and his mummy sits in equal shock. Then there is the following bus campaign…

  • Espresso,  Obituary

    Guide to Writing the Filet of the Crime – Or Any – Genre

    Never open a book with the weather. Avoid prologues. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said.” Keep your exclamation points under control! Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.” Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. Same for places and things. Leave out the parts readers tend to skip.

  • Espresso

    A Stranding

    Despite my long experience with a volunteer cetacean watching programme, Tuesday evening was my closest encounter with a whale when a juvenile minke female washed ashore at Thurso beach. By the looks – and, quickly, smell – of it, she’d been dead for several days. Gordon Ramsay recently was slammed for eating minke on a visit to Iceland, so perhaps as Ishmael explained as to why whalers generally did not eat their own catch, he should have had a quick glimpse of their hulk of whale carcass. The sombre sights did not stop me from returning the next day for more photographs. Because of the heat we have had, though,…

  • Espresso

    On Being Duped

    Going through a box of VHSs last night, I found a tattered copy of the 1994 film, Princess Caraboo with Phoebe Cates in the title role. The background is that in the summer of 1817, a mysterious/exotic/oriental-like/attractive woman was found wandering dazed and confused in the Gloucestershire countryside. Initially thought to be a common vagrant – or, worse, stay-behind French agitator only two years after Waterloo – she was taken to the local Overseer of the Poor, who then handed her over to the care of county Magistrate, Samuel Worrall and his wife. Soon, however, the woman began behaving even more unusually than the French by conversing in an unintelligible…

  • Espresso,  Ethics

    Social Media, Deleted and Should Have Been Deleted

    Perhaps it is a good thing that BtL comments on HP are archived after seven days. Considering the bun-fights which ensue on a regular basis, there could be endless material to embarrass authors years later; especially if they were applying for public sector work, such as Adrian Smith whose casual comments on gay marriage led to his demotion by Trafford Housing Trust, later thrown-out at tribunal. Or, even more dramatically, the farce over the Robin Hood Airport tweet. (Although, post-Disqus it may be possible to track-down an author via their profile.) More poignant is the lag-time of the death of a family member, when correspondence and other official reminders trickle…