Friday, 28 July 2017

OUTRAGE!!


Daily Mail readers are outraged – again.

Usually the target of their wrath are “looney lefties”, immigrants and people who voted Remain in the EU referendum.

This time, however, they have a new target – the BBC.

Are they angry because of media bias against their beloved Conservative Party? No. They are angry over the choice of an actor in a well-loved BBC drama.

The have chosen a woman to play the part of Dr Who.

Oh my GOD!! How could they?

Here are some of the comments that have surfaced from the politically incorrect, right-wing morons who read the Daily Mail –and the equally obnoxious newspaper, The Sun:

“Nobody wants a TARDIS full of bras!”

“If they made a separate series about a female time lord no one would watch it. Just as no one would watch a women-only tennis tournament. Women have to ride on men's coat-tails and if necessary hijack the concept in order to get noticed. This just one of the reasons why there will never be equality. Women generally don't have the initiative nor the willingness to take risks.”

“The BBC are trying to brainwash your children.”

“She'll get a second series where she'll get written out of story to make room for male Doctor. By this time the real Who fans would've stopped watching and can't be bothered due the writers bowing to feminism and the PC brigade. Not [only] have BBC shot themselves in the foot, they'll certainly lose money on the merchandising. What wants to dress up as a woman? What a waste of a regeneration!!”

“The reason the Doctor can't be female is simple, she'd only be of any use protecting mankind from the evils of the universe for three weeks out of four.”

“Knock, Knock....whose there? Dr......Dr Who? Yes,...I've lost mi key in mi handbag....let us in chuck!.”

“Time travel is for men – and men only”

“I'll stop watching now but a tip for the BBC. You're not being PC enough yet. She not an ethnic minority, lesbian, asylum seeker and didn't vote Remain.”

“Political correctness should not exist in space”

“They should rename the show “Nurse Who”

From a personal perspective, I was a little surprised but I welcome the decision. Jodie Whittaker, the new Doctor, is a great actress. Mrs PM loved her in a programme called Broadchurch.

As well as having moronic misogynistic readers, some of the right wing tabloids have decided to introduce Jodie Whittaker to those who don’t know of her by showing naked stills of her from other TV programmes.

"Here’s Jodie Whittaker – a decent actress. We don’t want to talk to her about her new role – we will just show dirty pictures of her having sex in another steamy TV programme."

All of this shows how crap the United Kingdom is becoming. This misogynistic, politically incorrect undercurrent has been bubbling under for quite a few years now but rags like the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun have been championing these narrow minded views, peddling hatred and obnoxious views. Their voices are getting louder now and I am disturbed by this.

People who read the Daily Mail and Daily Express take every word as gospel – even the outrageous lies that they publish. No wonder we are drifting slowly into oblivion.

Mrs PM’s mother reads the Daily Express religiously and when I visit, I sit there on her sofa ranting like a madman as I read it. I do so out of curiosity and to gain an insight into how these people think but within minutes I am almost overcome by a psychotic urge to set fire to the bloody thing in rage.

One day I may actually ask Mrs PM to video me while I am reading it. You will laugh your heads off – I promise – and I won’t be acting for the camera.

Anyway – to conclude – Dr Who is a shape-shifting alien being, owned by the BBC and, most importantly, is a work of fiction.

The BBC can do what they hell they like with the character.

I welcome Jodie Whittaker and I hope she is an amazing Dr Who.

And here’s a message for outraged Daily Mail readers and the authors of the comments above.

“Get a fucking life!”


Monday, 10 July 2017

700 Posts and More Travel Snippets


Well, folks, it’s another milestone for The Plastic Mancunian – this is my 700th post. This means that I have written 700 posts of utter drivel, averaging about 900 words per post making a rough total of 630,000 words of nonsense to bore anybody who happens to stumble on this web site whilst presumably looking for something more important and interesting.

In fact, the 10th anniversary of The Plastic Mancunian is 21st March 2018 – and I think that might be a fitting point to call it a day. I haven’t fully decided this yet but it seems a good place to stop and put my energies into writing something more worthwhile – watch this space.

However, that is about 8 months away and until then I shall continue to bore you with drivel. 

I rarely use Facebook these days, but one of the main applications I use is something from Tripadvisor that allows me to record where I have travelled. Thus far, it tells me that I have been to 34 countries, including 368 cities. By “cities” the application really means cities, towns and villages; but I’m not complaining. It also tells me that I have travelled 294,688 miles and seen 25% of the world. 

I aim to increase all of these statistics before I say hello to God in person.

Here is a map of my travels:


I thought I’d would repeat a similar post I wrote way back in 2010 (you can read it here) and share a few more snippets of fun that I have experienced from my travels from 2010 to the present day:

(1)        Muscat, Oman – I had a rather strange but very tasty dish: Camel Biriyani.

(2)        British Columbia, Canada – I stood on a glacier in the snow drinking whiskey. I hate whiskey but it was required to warm myself up.

(3)        Reykjavic, Iceland – I found myself on a dance floor in an Icelandic night club surrounded by five gorgeous, tall blond women. Mrs PM said that I looked terrified.

(4)        Boston, USA – I met Henry VIII on a street – promoting Virgin flights to the UK. He didn’t think I was English and asked if I wanted the trip of a lifetime – back to England.

(5)        Cape Cod, USA – We stayed with a wonderful old couple in Cape Cod who referred to us as “the kids”, not really realising that I was 48 at the time.

(6)        Salvador, Brazil – The only way I could communicate with a lot of Brazilians was using very bad Spanish in the vague hope that they would also speak it as a second language. It worked – once or twice.

(7)        British Columbia, Canada – the scenery in this wonderful part of the world is amongst the most breath-taking I have ever seen.

(8)        Seattle, USA – Mrs PM’s dad was asked for ID when ordering a beer. He was 68 years old at the time.

(9)        Muscat, Oman – the hottest temperature I have ever experienced is 46°C. I thought I was going to melt.

(10)     Hakone, Japan – I used an onsen for the first time. It was like taking a hot bath.

(11)     Barcelona, Spain – Barcelona is home to one of the greatest football teams in Europe, if not the world. And I managed to find a bar showing my own beloved team’s game. They are Walsall and are in the third tier of the English football league.

(12)     Santorini, Greece – I climbed a volcano in beach sandals.

(13)     Berlin, Germany – I walked into a restricted area outside the Reichstag, reserved only for German politicians and staff. A stern but friendly German police officer showed me the correct way to go.

(14)     Muscat, Oman – I refused to carry on a training course until my students agreed to form the Omani division of the Walsall Football Supporters Club. They agreed but wondered why I don’t support a good team like Manchester United or Manchester City.

(15)     Alaska, USA – Alaska is the only place I have ever seen blue ice floating in a freezing cold sea.

(16)     Blue Lagoon, Iceland – Heaven is sitting in a geothermal spa with a silica mud mask drinking a glass of beer.

(17)     Boston, USA – I informed a group of American tourists on a famous boat used in the War for Independence that they were lucky to have won and that one day we’ll be back. They took it in jest rather than lynching me – I guess Americans do understand British humour after all.

(18)     Tokyo, Japan – The Robot Restaurant is the craziest and entertaining show I have ever been to.

(19)     Bύzios, Brazil – Mrs PM and I saw a model phot shoot at our hotel whilst relaxing by a pool. I did not stare at them and I certainly didn’t take any photos myself (well not many anyway).

(20)     Alaska, USA –                 I was introduced to log rolling, where two men run on a log in water until one of them plunges into the icy water. Great fun to watch but not much fun if you lose.

(21)     Reykjavic, Iceland – I ate whale for the first and only time. Not a whole one!!

(22)     Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – The only mosque I have ever visited is the Sheikh Zayed Mosqu in Abu Dhabi. It is huge and beautiful and can accommodate 40,000 worshippers.

(23)     Kunming, China – I was asked, as guest of honour, to select the fish we would be having for dinner. The poor thing was swimming with his friends and ended up on our plate. I was sad about this particularly at the end when the tank was missing one resident.

(24)     Lisbon, Portugal – Lisbon has a smaller version of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

(25)     Hakone, Japan – We stayed in a Japanese-style hotel and wore a yukata for mealtimes.

(26)     Monaco – I have never seen so many supercars in one place at any one time.

(27)     Rome, Italy – I celebrated my 50th birthday in Rome with friends, one of whom , another Dave, was also 50. We were forced to wear a “50 Today” badge while the women in the group wore a T shirt with a picture of the two of us enclosed in a heart with the slogan “Happy 50th Birthday You Old Gits!”

(28)     Berlin, Germany – We actually ate a Berliner, which contrary to a popular ex-American president, is a doughnut (a Berliner Pfannkuchen in fact).

(29)     Tokyo, Japan – Mrs PM and I got lost in Shinjuku railway, not once but three times. The third time, a member of staff who tried to help us was also clueless.

(30)     Boston, USA – I had a beer in Cheers.

(31)     Nice, France – Nice is my favourite city in France and I will not let the antics of a nutcase in a lorry stop me from going back.

(32)     Puerto Banús, Spain – I strolled down a crowded street walking between a cruising Ferrari and a cruising Lamborghini. Bloody show offs!

(33)     Dubai, United Arab Emirates - In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed the Burl Khalifa in Dubai – the tallest building in the world at 828 metres. My quest  failed. I am still scared of heights .

(34)     Tokyo, Japan – This city is absolutely huge. Having spent three days there I only saw about a quarter of the place.

(35)     British Columbia, Canada – I met a Mountie, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

(36)     Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – We strolled along Ipanema Beach whilst drinking a coconut and shortly afterwards on Copacabana Beach while drinking beer. Beautiful.

(37)     Marbella, Spain – Keen to show off my blossoming Spanish skills I ordered  a beer and ended up with shandy!

(38)     Kyoto, Japan – Two very drunk businessmen starting talking to us in a sushi bar and tried to persuade in very broken English to join them on a bar crawl. Thankfully we had a bullet train to catch.

(39)     Kunming, China – I ate some of the most wonderful yet weird food I have had. I avoided insects.

(40)     Beijing, China – I ate some of the most wonderful yet weird food I have ever had – again! I avoided pig brain.

(41)     Dubai, United Arab Emirates – You can buy gold bars from a vending machine. I didn’t because I am skint.

(42)     Alaska, USA – There is a photograph of me about to put a dollar bill in the cleavage of a very buxom waitress.  And Mrs PM’s dad was doing exactly the same. Don’t worry  - everybody was doing it; we were in a themed restaurant/bar pretending to be a whorehouse and it was a bit of fun. The photo was taken by his wife.

(43)     Tokyo, Japan – I used the world’s best toilet in Tokyo. I’m glad I work in IT so I could work out how to operate it.

(44)     Berlin, Germany – We were in Berlin for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall but missed the celebrations by two days.

(45)     Kunming, China – I saw the world’s worst toilet on a building site in Kunming. I am delighted that I didn’t have to use it.

(46)     Iguaçu Falls, Brazil and Argentina – I visited something more impressive than Niagara Falls, namely Iguaçu Falls. We were so impressed that we saw them in Brazil one day and just over the border in Argentina the next day.

(47)     Barcelona, Spain – La Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral in Barcelona, is still not complete 135 years after it was started. It will finally be finished in 2026.

(48)     Kyoto, Japan – We visited a shrine with around 10,000 sacred gates (torii). An amazing sight.

(49)     Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - In order to conquer my fear of heights I climbed Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro to see the legendary statue of Christ the Redeemer. My quest  failed. I am still scared of heights

(50)     Hong Kong – After visiting for the umpteenth time in 2013, I can safely say that it is still my favourite city in the world. Mrs PM and I hope to go again in 2018 for our 20th anniversary.


That's it for now. If I have made you laugh or held you interest for a minute or two then that’s great. 

See you for post 701 and once again thank you so much for bothering to read the nonsense I write.


Friday, 30 June 2017

Anger Management


I wanted 2017 be a good year compared to the debacle that was 2016 but so far it is proving to be as bad – if not worse.

I won’t elaborate yet but suffice it to say that I am struggling to contain my anger as well as the other negative emotions that are vying for position.

The good news is that I have a new framework for controlling them – but boy is it hard sometimes.  I want to focus in particular on anger, arguably the most negative and destructive of these emotions.


I have recently been driving to my hometown of Walsall quite a lot and this has been one of many sources of anger and frustration. The distance between Manchester and Walsall is approximately 75 miles and motorways cover all but about five of those miles. On a good day, in the past, the journey has taken me about an hour and fifteen minutes – which doesn’t seem that bad – does it?


The problem is that the main motorway that joins Manchester and Walsall is the M6, which is the worst motorway in the world – or at least in the north of England (if I’m honest).

When I am driving between the two places, the motorway tries to make it as difficult as possible by pushing every single one of the hot buttons that make me angry when I am behind the wheel of a car.

The ensuing road rage is a sight to behold, particularly if you are watching from a distance. If it were a movie, you would grow fat on all of the popcorn you ate as you watched me devolve into a ranting Neanderthal version of myself.


Let me take you through some of the hot buttons.

First, there are major roadworks for four junctions near to Manchester, resulting in the speed limit being reduced from 70 mph to 50 mph. There are 17 miles of this nonsense. During this tedious distance several things happen. There is no hard shoulder so if a car or lorry breaks down or a car has an accident then the whole motorway grinds to an absolute standstill. The motorway is usually busy anyway so we all end up sitting there immobile for what seems like hours on end. Equally frustrating, cars and lorries overtake each other at approximately 35 mph sometimes slowing everybody down completely.

The M6 on a good day!!!
I have crawled along every single mile of that damned motorway at 10 mph! I know every bloody square inch of that motorway in intimate detail!

Next, the M6 is full of lorries. You have never seen so many lorries on a motorway. Some of these lorries travel at 55mph, which isn’t a bad thing until another lorry, just behind, decides to overtake at 56 mph. When this happens, some car drivers lose their minds and swerve into the fast lane without really looking. Others decide to overtake the overtaking lorry at 57 mph thus blocking the motorway for those of us who are in a hurry and travelling at 70 mph. This behaviour causes instant congestion and, depending on how busy the motorway is, can lead to irritating lengthy tailbacks.

Next, the M6 brings out the dick in many drivers’ heads turning them from normal human beings into complete dickheads. For example, there I was in the fast lane overtaking other cars in the other two lanes when Mr Dickhead came up behind me. I was travelling at around 70 mph and this moron roared up at 90 mph and got so close that I thought his car was trying to mate with mine. In my rear view mirror I could see him bashing his steering wheel in frustration. He started flashing his lights.

So where the fuck was I supposed to go? Next to me in lane two were lorries driving nose to tail. I couldn’t have pulled in if I had tried, at least not without causing a major collision.

Did he think my car was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and could take off just to let him pass?


And these dickheads always seem to be driving a Mercedes or a BMW or an Audi. Is it a prerequisite of buying such a car that you have to mutate into a total dickhead when you get behind the wheel?



And then there’s the person who was in lane two approaching a junction. I was in the slow lane. Suddenly, he realised that he was going to miss his turn off and, without even looking went to shoot across my lane to escape the insanity of the motorway. Except I was there and this pillock was inches from side-swiping my car and causing a major accident. Thankfully, he realised at the last minute and swerved back, missing his junction and making my heart miss several beats.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, dear reader. This post could have gone on for days and days but I think I had better rein myself in.

The journey generally takes at least an hour and a half with the record being two and a half hours, which included being stuck in the same place for 45 minutes while the emergency services cleared up an overturned caravan.

I am somehow managing the anger because I have my music (a useful tool for dissipating rage as described in my last post) and when the traffic comes to a standstill I tend to escape into a calmer place with mindfulness techniques.

Also, I can rant on this blog post – that’s a great anger management technique.


Monday, 26 June 2017

Guide To Life - Music



I think my views on music can be summed up perfectly by the lyrics of a song by John Miles called, simply, “Music” from 1976:

Music was my first love
And it will be my last.
Music of the future
And music of the past.
To live without my music
Would be impossible to do.
In this world of troubles,
My music pulls me through.

For me, music can change my mood completely and I often find myself turning to it to change my mood for the better. I spend a good deal of my time listening to music during the day. When I am in the house on my own and not sitting in front of the television, music will be blaring out of my computer speakers, no matter what else I am doing.

In fact, as I type this, I am actually listening to the song.

Regular readers will know about my passion for music, and the particular genres I like. However, this post is not about my own taste and I won’t be boring you with references to progressive rock and heavy metal.

Instead I would like to talk about what music means to me.

I once wrote a post about which sense I could lose for a year if I were forced to do so. Here’s what I wrote about hearing:

“Like sight, hearing is a major sense that I simply do not think I could do without. I love listening to noises and conversation and, most importantly, my vast collection of music.

Losing my hearing for an entire year would be like not listening to a single song during that period or exchanging words with friends, strangers and, of course, Mrs PM.

That would be unacceptable.”

The key thing here is music because I think I would probably go insane.

I can deal with most situations and moods but when I struggle I turn to music to help me through. Over the years music has somehow pulled me through many difficult situation and helped to change my state of mind from a negative mood to a more positive and realistic one.
I don’t really know why this is.

If I am angry, I can take that anger on with a dose of heavy metal to combat the rage head on. It may sound weird but angry music actually calms me down.

If I am sad, I can listen to uplifting more sedate songs, which help raise my mood and make my mind think of the beauty and wonder in the world, changing my focus on sadness to one of joy.

If I am bored, for example on a lonely drive to another town, I can lose myself in any kind of music and kick start my imagination to allow myself to ponder life and totally relieve the boredom of battling traffic on a busy motorway.

Similarly the boredom of travelling on a long haul flight can be relieved by listening to my vast collection of music.

I have also said on this mad blog that music for me is like a time machine and some of the older songs in my collection can take me back to happy times when I was a lot younger– kind of like a beacon to the past.

While I may criticize the musical tastes of other people, I only do so to steer them away from those who would exploit the artists. As I have become older, I have tried to stop doing this because I have learned that music is totally personal and to attack their music is almost an attack on them. These days I try to say “that’s not my cup of tea” rather than “you have no musical taste whatsoever”.

Mrs PM is a prime example of this.

Our tastes in music are poles apart and I struggle to listen to her music – and of course the opposite is true. I am educating myself to be less critical and, instead, just trying to find common ground so that we can both listen to music that we both like.

It is difficult though because music truly is personal. A song that may take Mrs PM back to a great time in her life might do the opposite to me.

I also know that no two people have exactly the same tastes in music. I have a very close friend with whom I go to concerts but while we like the same bands generally, there are some bands and styles that we simply cannot agree on. For example, I love twenty minute progressive rock masterpieces and he can’t stand them. He likes modern pop punk songs, which generally bore me.

Nobody is the same when it comes to musical taste but, I think, most people have the same passion for music.

As far as music is concerned we should all appreciate music and not criticize each other’s tastes. I have been very guilty of this in recent years and I am trying to change my attitude and open myself up to understand why somebody would rather listen to rap than rock.

It’s hard but I am slowly beginning to understand.

I will conclude by once again pointing out that there is a whole world of music out there on the internet and you shouldn’t be spoon fed your music by radio stations with a hidden agenda.

I won’t rant about it – it’s just an observation.

Music is precious and shouldn’t be exploited.

To finish off, here is the song I was listening to while writing this post. It’s a nice song.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Guide To Life - Religion


I’m a little puzzled by religion, if I am brutally honest.

I was brought up a Catholic. I was baptised in a Catholic church at a time when I had no say in the matter. In fact I may have screamed as the Holy Water hit my forehead, which some people might have considered a bad thing – after all, don’t vampires scream when you throw Holy Water at them?

I had to endure confession, when I was a child and found myself struggling not to laugh as I lied to the priest about my sins simply because I couldn’t think of what I had done that was wrong. My penance was to say the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” multiple times – there’s a lot of trust in this punishment because you can simply just sit there and think about what you are having for dinner tonight rather than reciting prayers.

First communion was strange too because I was a child and was offered bread dipped in wine – although initially I don’t think wine was involved because we were all underage.

I then acquired a new name as I was confirmed. I chose John because it was common – not because I admired John the Baptist as I told the priest when asked (another lie).

None of this made me a better person. Worse, there was no proof that any of the teachings I was indoctrinated with were actually true or based on fact. I started to realise that the teachings of the Bible were in fact rather contradictory, which is no surprise when you think about it.

The word of God was written by man and of course, as we all know, man has the uncanny ability to exaggerate to prove a point – I do it on this blog all the time. If you think about it, the Bible has been translated numerous times and even reinterpreted and modernised so some of the stories, as fascinating as they are, are bound to be enhanced for dramatic affect.

My scientific mind has been questioning the logic of what I was taught ever since I was a teenager and I have a relatively clear picture in my mind.

Some of the stories in the Bible basically teach us to be good to each other and not be arses. Whether you believe all of the amazing things that Jesus did is up to you. It’s a stretch to believe that he could turn water into wine, cure leprosy and raise a man from the dead but the words he supposedly spoke and his deeds are worthy of consideration.

I am therefore not anti-religion, despite my mockery of it.

On the contrary, if it makes people happy then I’m all for it. If you are a person who can made happier by spending an hour in church every Sunday praying to God and as a result feel a deep sense of fulfilment and happiness then that’s terrific.

The same goes for other religions too. For example, I have known Muslims who are lovely people and pop off to pray at regular intervals during the day and worship at their mosque. I know Sikhs and Hindus who are content with their religion and happier because of it.

If your religion can make you happy then that’s a beautiful thing.

What I don’t like, though, is when religion is used as an excuse to cause harm. Over the years, I have seen this happen many times. People who look down on me because I am a Catholic, for example. People who actually prefer to mock me for confessing my sins to an “old man in a frock” (their words not mine) are not helping anybody – especially themselves.

Worse, there are those who actually harm people in the name of religion because their views are different. This has happened throughout history and is happening right now.

Aren’t we all past that?

Most if not all religions are peaceful and promote moral ideologies. Yet there are people who interpret the teachings of their religion in a way that suits their twisted minds, even in some cases, harming people with supposedly the same religion, just a slightly different flavour.

And I am not singling out Islam here, by the way – Christianity has a bloody history of doing exactly the same.

The bottom line is that religion, if you choose to believe, should make you a better person, eager to promote happiness and a willingness to help others. It should make you happy in your own belief and if you can turn to it in a moment of despair for comfort and security then that is fantastic.

When religion promotes peace, happiness and prosperity then it is a good thing.

If it is used to oppress and harm people then it is a bad thing and people who use religion to exploit and harm others are using religion nefariously.

By the way, I do not count Scientology as a religion and that is a prime example of how a so-called religion has been used to control and exploit people. It is the opposite of what a religion should be.

I’ll just finish by telling you all that I haven’t been a practising Catholic for almost forty years. I wonder what I would say to a priest in a confessional booth? And how long would I be in there?

I’ll leave you with a joke by the late great Dave Allen. Like me, he was a Catholic and courted controversy with his jokes about religion. Here is one of them:



If you can’t laugh at religion then there is something wrong. I like to think that God has a sense of humour.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Guide To Life - Politics


I promised myself I wouldn’t talk about politics on this blog again. I am going to break that promise. However, unlike before, I am not going to rant about it. I kind of want people to understand why I say things I say and why I am a walking paradox, i.e. a man who despises politics and politicians yet feels the need to rant about it at almost every opportunity.

Actually, the truth is that I wanted to start a series of posts with the working title “Guide to Life” – my guide to life really – and I want to get politics out of the way first.

One of the things I have learned in 2017 is to adopt a more positive outlook on life and, fingers crossed, so far it has worked. Sadly, 2017 is proving to be as bad as 2016 (both personally and politically) and I may elaborate on that in my end of year round up.

So let’s talk about politics.

Basically I am what is known in Britain as a “lefty”. Some people have called me a “loony lefty” but the truth is I’m not one of those. Americans would probably call me a bleeding heart liberal.

I thought I would just put this up front because it explains why I am not keen on the British Conservative Party or the American Republican Party – or indeed any other right wing party.

What I have learned this year more than any, is that I really need to listen to those who have opposing views. And I have started to do that. I have realised that by chatting to Conservative voters, I can actually see where they are coming from. Of course, this is not always the case because I have been accused within the last month of being a “total lunatic” – but that is a one off. What I have found is that if you meet somebody with opposing views who is as reasonable as I am trying to be, then you can have a decent chat without animosity about your political differences and, most importantly, learn from them. Also, you can hope that the same occurs in the opposite direction and that they learn from you too.

The guy who told me that I was a “total lunatic” disagreed with my philosophy of wanting to help other people. I explained to him that Conservatives, also universally known as the “Nasty Party” in the UK (not by me by the way), adopt measures that expand the gap between rich and poor and austerity measures have a devastating effect on those who need it most – the poor. Rich people are generally less affected. I would be quite happy to pay more tax to assist.

He admitted that he was “selfish” and didn’t care about the less needy in our society. I can’t change his personality and I didn’t try – I just disagreed with him. At the end, we shook hands and he said “Great discussion but I think you’re a total lunatic.”

I wanted to say “I’m just a nice guy!” but I stopped myself.

We recently had an election in the UK and it was a corker. Our Prime Minister, Conservative Party leader Theresa May, wanted to steamroller her Brexit policies through parliament without the opposition having a say. The problem is that her majority was not very big and she feared that she faced problems. If the right wing press are to be believed, the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is an incompetent and unpopular lunatic. Theresa May decided to have a snap election (having promised that she wouldn’t do that) because her approval rating was sky high compared to Jeremy Corbyn’s.

Theresa May pretending to be a normal person

Corbyn: "Give us a kiss, Theresa"
In her mind, she would not only win, her victory would be a landslide and she would get absolutely everything she wanted through parliament and Brexit, as well as other right wing policies, would fly through with a massive majority.

Her arrogance was breath-taking.

However, she didn’t reckon on Jeremy Corbyn being a far more charismatic and principled leader. She also didn’t realise that the Conservative manifesto would piss off just about everybody but the most die-hard lovers of the party. Worse, she led with the soundbite “strong and stable” and proved to be the complete opposite, refusing to debate on live TV and only talking to the party faithful instead of the average man in the street.

She didn’t lose the election. She won.

The problem is that her majority has been slashed and we have a “hung parliament” which means that no party has overall control.

She is in a worse position than she was before and any Brexit or other policies stand a great chance of being outvoted by the opposition parties. In American terms, she is a “lame duck” Prime Minister.

I love this, not just because I oppose Brexit vehemently. I love it because the gutter press have had a kick in the teeth for their attacks on Corbyn and he has proven to be far more popular than her as a leader.

What this means for Brexit, I don’t know – but it is better than before. It is a spectacular own goal.

I have stopped ranting about Donald Trump too. In fact, on the contrary, I am now fascinated by what’s going on over in the United States. While internal US politics usually has no interest, Trump’s term is proving to be mesmerising, not least because of his tweets, his arrogance, his self-contradiction, his outrageously unpopular policies and his idiocy (and while he may be intelligent in terms of business, his pedigree as a politician is proving to be the complete opposite).

"How am I getting away this this? I have no idea!"
I remember Nixon resigning but I was too young to fully understand why. With Trump, I feel like I am watching a Hollywood movie and I am already overstuffed on popcorn, waiting for the next instalment.

Basically, to conclude, I think we should all listen to each other’s views on politics and learn to understand them. I welcome anybody to comment and either agree that indeed I am a lunatic – as long as you tell me why. If you are British and a Brexit supported or are American and love Donald Trump then please also feel free to engage.

I won’t bite.

And, for now, I will stop referring to Donald Trump as an Oompa Loompa.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Science Fiction Cult


I have a tale for you that sounds like it comes out of the Star Wars saga.

75 million years ago, Xenu, the tyrannical leader of the Galactic Confederacy transported billions of his own people to a distant rock floating around in space, in ships that resembled the aircraft that we know and love today. When they arrived at the rock, they were unceremoniously dumped out in the vicinity of volcanoes and wiped out with hydrogen bombs.

He sounds like a complete bastard, this Xenu character, doesn’t he?

Worse, the spirits of the billions of the dead aliens became immortal and after all of this time still roam the rock, which is now a lovely little blue planet teeming with life and beauty. That planet is our own beloved Earth and the spirits of the murdered billions, called Thetans, float around our planet and attach themselves to human beings. 

Basically we all have an inner Thetan and this is analogous to our soul.

Sounds like a great idea for a science fiction story, doesn’t it?

Except there are a large number of people who actually believe this story to be real; these people are called Scientologists.

The originator of this story is L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, who has somehow managed to convince thousands of people that their souls are immortal alien spirits that operate their bodies. Amongst those people are Tom Cruise and John Travolta.


L. Ron Hubbard is now dead but his legacy lives on. Scientology leaders announced his death as if he had shed his mortal body allowing him to continue his amazing research on another planet somewhere out there in the depths of space.

The leader is now a rather mysterious man called David Miscavige.

Scientology claims to be a religion but in reality it is more like a cult. I have to be honest with you, here – I am absolutely fascinated by it, not because I believe any of the rubbish that David Miscavige and his followers are trying to peddle (for huge sums of money I hasten to add). Rather, I am fascinated about how people can be taken in by all of this utter nonsense and actually change their lives to immerse themselves so deeply into it that they cannot escape without potentially having vile facts published about them, or worse, being totally ostracised by their own family members who choose to stay as part of the religion.

When I was a young naïve student, the church of Scientology tried to recruit my friend and I when we were backpacking around Europe. The incident occurred in Amsterdam and their “expert” tried to convince me that I was a manic depressive who was about to commit suicide. She claimed that only they could help and that rather than leave Amsterdam as I had planned, I should enrol in their course to help guide me away from such evil thoughts.

You see, I was wondering around Europe and as such was fair game. I was young and naïve, but not so naïve that I believed it.

Deep down I knew I was tremendously happy and that their words were ridiculous. I may have been naïve but I was not stupid.  They attempted the same thing with my friend who found the entire experience hilarious.

Since then, I’ve followed the exploits of Scientology with interest. Initially, I found it all amusing but in recent years, events have taken a disturbing turn for the worst and I no longer find it funny.

We even have a Scientology “church” in the centre of Manchester. One time, I saw a few people protesting outside and handing out leaflets.

There are a few accusations that have been directed at the Church of Scientology but, to be honest, I’m a bit wary about mentioning them.

Why? Because the first one is “attack the attacker”. Allegedly, anybody who attacks Scientology must be treated with hostility, which means that the church will investigate those who accuse them of wrongdoing and publish any findings to the press, employers, friends and family and even make counter accusations against them, potentially leading to things like running their career. There is no “turn the other cheek” philosophy in Scientology. Such people are labelled by the church as “suppressive persons”.

We also have “disconnection”. If you are a “suppressive person” who still has family who are Scientologists, then the church basically causes your family to cut you off completely. There are many examples in the documentaries that I have seen where people have left the church and been totally disconnected from family members who are still part of the church, Worse, those family members are allegedly so brainwashed that they completely disown them. Parents have been banished by their own children.

If you are a member of the Sea Org, the most dedicated elite within Scientology, and you don’t live up to the high expectations of the church then you are “rehabilitated” which involves being locked up and isolated and subjected to intense physical hard labour and “auditing”, an activity that involves a weird kind of question and answer session while you are gripping a metal cylinder in each hand that is connected to a contraption called an E-meter – a sort of strange emotion detector.

"Will I ever be famous"?
In order to rise up the rankings you basically have to throw money at the church and study religious doctrine for every hour God sends.

No wonder they want somebody like Tom Cruise to be the acceptable face of the church.

Allegedly, their “pope”, David Miscavige is said to behave like a psychotic despot, sometimes physically assaulting people working for him.

I hasten to add, all of this comes from documentaries and films about the “church” – I have to say this in case I suddenly find myself being followed by Scientologists or have the name “Plastic Mancunian” splashed over cyberspace as an evil liar.

Oh well – if such a thing happens then maybe we’ll see whether the “attack the attacker” accusation is true or not.

I’m really looking forward to seeing “My Scientology Movie” by one of my favourite documentary makers, Louis Theroux. Here’s a trailer for it:



Let’s hope I am not labelled as a “suppressive person” as a result of this post.