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Fifth news item

"You've Got to Sleep With Your Mum and Dad" is now available on Amazon. Childhood angst, marathon swimming, international exploitation and the threat of impending pinniped intimacy. on 2014-08-13
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Fourth news item

Have a look at my page on Amazon. Still plenty of summer left for challenging literature. on 2014-08-13
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Third news item

Check out my Amazon Kindle page. 'The Baby Who Killed People for Money' is now available. An utterly charming child with a unique and lucrative skill. A father with no defence against his daughter's impulses. Would you take your little girl around Europe for a spot of murder tourism? Of course you would. on 2014-06-30
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Second news item

My story on the Tate gallery website on 2013-11-11
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First news item

A Thousand Natural Shocks An anthology that includes two of my stories. Available now at Amazon. on 2013-11-11
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May 2014
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Archive for May 4th, 2014

Posted May 4, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized

After the War of Independence, boundaries needed to be drawn between the new United States and the colony of British Columbia. Britain wasn’t going to give up the lovely town of Victoria, so the border along the 49th parallel, curved south to take in Vancouver Island. Hands were shaken and the port and cigars came out.

It was only later that someone noticed Point Roberts. This was the end of a peninsula jutting south from what is now the outer suburbs of Vancouver. The southernmost part of this was below the 49th parallel so it now forms an exclave of the United States, with access to the rest of the US only possible by going a little way on Canadian roads. Unless you go by boat.

In the summer of 1989, I was staying with friends in Surrey, part of Vancouver close to Point Roberts. We were going for a boat ride. Bicycles were loaded into the truck and off we went to White Rock. I loaded the bikes onto the boat and we took a roundabout route along the lovely Pacific coast until some people on the land hailed us. We headed to shore and unloaded the bikes. The people mounted the bikes and rode away.

Apparently, this is a common trick in Point Roberts for avoiding tax on certain consumer items. This is probably the mildest crime to which I have ever been an accomplice.

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Posted May 4, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized

One of the best ways of raising funds for the little outback school in which I worked in South Australia was to go stump-picking. After a farmer had cleared an area of land, the roots of the mallee trees would remain under the ground. These would have to be removed before the soil could be worked.

The mallee has a survival adaptation in which it forms a lignotuber. This is something like a giant, knobbly potato made of wood. It is composed of stem (rather than root) tissue and forms a mass of woody storage cells from which the several trunks project upwards and the erosion-resistant roots go down. The fat stored in these tubers means that a lot of heat energy is released when the mallee stump is burned. They make really good firewood and can be sold for a good price.

Every so often, members of the school community would gather at a recently cleared paddock and begin work, hoicking the mallee roots out of the ground and chopping them into manageable lumps for transport and sale. Occasionally, one’s axework would reveal a white grub between 8 and 12 cm long. This was a witchetty grub, the larva of what was locally known as the rain moth. On the rare occasion that we had heavy rain in the mallee region, we were likely to be invaded by a flock of these enormous moths, as big as a sparrow and hopeless at navigation. They would flap about, bumping into things, mating if they were lucky and laying eggs in the mallee trees to start the cycle off again. If you left an outside light on during one of these episodes, you would have a drift of dead rain moths to dispose of the next day.

The witchetty grubs themselves are eating machines. They use powerful jaws to chew tunnels through the mallee roots. Their digestive systems have the enzymatic combination required to digest wood into sugars and release the stored fats for their metabolic wizardry. They were our little treats during a hard day of stump picking. When I found one, I would hold it by the head, avoiding the efficient wood-boring jaws and bite the body off. They taste like a sort of savoury custard with a lovely, nutty flavour.

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Posted May 4, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized
IB

This is probably the most difficult of the 101 things that I have reported on in this section. Apart from the blood one, it’s also the only one that has been any use to anyone. I’m quite proud of this.

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Posted May 4, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized

After the age of 30, I lost interest in celebrating my birthday. These anniversaries seemed to come faster and faster until I had barely recovered from the shock of the last before I was yet another year older and I was being given another selection of presents in which the intention of the donors carried increasing doses of irony.

So, on my 36th birthday, I was playing with Not With My Sister in Flatline, the legendary lost rock bar in the Bosphorus paradise of Ortaköy. We had set up and were heading down to the shore to get something to eat before we started playing. My girlfriend turned up and asked, in that way that girlfriends do, whether I had told everyone that it was my birthday today. I hadn’t.

When we got back to the bar, I was shepherded into the back room which, at the time, was a tattoo parlour operated by a couple of friendly and heavily-inked blokes. The drummer’s girlfriend brought in a cake with fewer than 36 candles burning. We did the usual ceremony, then I handed out slices of cakes to musicians, tattoo artists and illustrated people.

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