Sunday 29 September 2019

Thought Provoking Questions

I arrived back home from Greece yesterday. After a week in the sunshine, I am now staring at  pouring rain bouncing off the ground.
I love Manchester – honestly.
Anyway, time for a Sunday Stealing post to make me feel better. 
The questions seem pretty deep so I will have to switch off my light-hearted outlook on life to delve into the matter at hand (or perhaps not).
If you could instill one piece of advice in a newborn baby’s mind, what advice would you give?
Look for the best in people and do not under any circumstances judge anybody by the colour of their skin, how many limbs they have or what gender they are. Treat people as you wish to be treated yourself.
What is the most desirable trait another person can possess?
People who have love for their fellow human being and feel empathy for others. Empathy, compassion and love.
What are you most grateful for?
I’ve been quite healthy for just about all of my life so far (if you discount sentient hair trying to take over my body and eyesight so poor that without my glasses I am likely to talk to a stranger thinking that person is my best friend in the whole world). 
Also, my friends and family have helped make life peachy.
Is stealing to feed a starving child wrong?
Absolutely not. I would go further and say that stealing to feed a starving person full stop is totally correct. I will go even further and state that stealing from somebody who has so much money they don’t know what to do with it should be positively encouraged if that person is a malignant narcissist.
What do you want most?
At this moment I want to retire. I want to turn my back on my career of 35 years and do something that I want to do instead of being forced to work for “the man”
I am at a time in my life where I feel like just quitting right now and doing something for me instead of arseholes who have no clue. The truth is I have felt like this for quite a while now (probably at least the duration of this very blog) and I am happy to say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 
Let’s hope it’s not a speeding train.
Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
I want to do the right thing because it spawns happiness in myself and others.
What has life taught you recently?
Events of the past three or four years have emphasised that life needs to be enjoyed and that we do not really focus on the important things until, sometimes, it is too late.
What is the one thing you would most like to change about the world?
I have to breathe deeply to answer this one. We have too many arseholes in power at the moment. We have Boris Johnson in the UK and Donald Trump in the US as well as others like Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Xi Jinping in China and Vladimir Putin in Russia. They all need to go. Right now.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration from lots of places. For example, holiday, a good long walk, a relaxing half an hour listening to music, diving into a good book and many other related things. Work is not one of them.

Can you describe your life in a six word sentence?
An idiot who is doing okay.
If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
When it comes to mistakes, I have a sliding scale of how they affect me. If the mistake is totally stupid, I am usually furious with myself. If the mistake is because I am trying something new or learning something, I am delighted because such mistakes help to improve you as a person. Making mistakes can be embarrassing, but these days, I can handle embarrassment much more easily – usually by laughing at myself.
What impact do you want to leave on the world?
That makes it sound as if I am about to board a spaceship and blast off to a far distant planet.
I would like to hope that kids and descendants look back at this blonde, short-sighted old fool and think that he was a good man who helped to steer them in the right direction to influence the world in a good way.
What is the most defining moment of your life thus far?
There are far too many of them to list here. I’ve been lucky in some things and unlucky in others and all of them have steered my life in the direction it eventually took and is continuing to take.
In the haste of your daily life, what are you not seeing?
I could and should take more risks. I don’t think it is too late to completely switch my life over to the parallel one that I have envisaged for myself over the past ten years or so. Sadly I am quite risk averse – perhaps I should change that.
If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
I have no idea. I get a buzz out of making people happy, sometimes at the cost of my own happiness. Perhaps that’s the reason why I do things I don’t like.
What lifts your spirits when life gets you down?
Mrs PM usually lifts my spirits and music always helps too. If I’m feeling down, which is fairly rare if I’m honest, I find that a good walk clears my mind and helps to put things in perspective.
Have you ever regretted something you did not say or do?
Oh God – of course. In fact, this has happened on too many times to mention. I try not to dwell on mistakes of the past and endeavour to look forward. I have no doubt that I will put my foot in it in the future – it is human nature to have regrets – we can’t help it. Why dwell on such things?
Has your greatest fear ever come true?
Life is peppered with fears that eventually come to pass, for example the loss of a loved one. So, whenever somebody I care for becomes ill or sadly passes away, my fears come true.
Why do we think of others the most when they’re gone?
I don’t think that is a necessarily true statement. You may reminisce and look at the good times but in my case, it is usually no more than when the person was here.
What is your most beloved childhood memory?
There are far too many memories to try to rank them all. I’m quite grateful that I was born (though I don’t really remember that – thank goodness).
And finally - here's a nice thought provoking song for ya ...

Saturday 14 September 2019

Book Tag

Another week; another set of questions from Sunday Stealing.

This time its all about books – an interesting subject that I don’t usually cover that often. I guess there is always a first time.

Let’s dive in shall we?

Who is your favourite author?

That’s a tricky one because I like and have liked lots of authors. Here are a few.

Stephen King, Iain M. Banks, Dean Koontz, Dan Simmons, Robert Ludlum, James Herbert, Stephen Baxter, Peter F. Hamilton, H.G.Wells, Bill Bryson, Bryan Lumley and many more.

Generally if I really like a book I will look for others by the same author.

What was the last book you read?

The last novel I read was “Dust” by Hugh Howey, the third novel in a science-fiction trilogy set in a dystopian future.

The last non-fiction book I read was “How To Be Right … In A World Gone Wrong” by broadcaster James O’Brien. If you want to try to understand why the world is turning to shit and how to trap people into thinking about their horrific views based on spoonfed lies, this is the book for you.

What book reminds you of your school days?

“The Invisible Man” by H.G.Wells.

I hated English Literature because we were forced to read classic drivel and then write critical essays on them. For example, I was forced to read “The Mayor of Casterbridge” by Thomas Hardy, a novel written in 1886 that  was as boring as hell.

Worse, I had to suffer Shakespeare – plays written in a form of English that was routinely spoken in the pubs and palaces in 16th century England but means nothing today at all. Reading Shakespeare is like reading a book in your second language – except the plays are utter claptrap.

If you have read this blog before you will know my thoughts on Shakespeare so I won’t rant too much about him.

The one blessing for my English Literature O-Level exam was that we could select a couple of books to write essays about and I chose “The Invisible Man” – a classic novel by an amazing author.

I had such fun with that book.

What book releases are you looking forward to?

Nothing in particular. Stephen Baxter has written the official sequel to “War of the Worlds” called “The Massacre of Mankind” but that has been out for a year or two. I intend to read it soon – so I shall say that.

What movie releases are you looking forward to?

I love superhero movies and sci-fi so here are a couple due for release soon.


Godzilla versus Kong

Wonder Woman 1984

There will be other that are less sci-fi and superhero of course but I will judge them when I see the trailers.

What 3 books are you planning to read?

As mentioned above, I am planning to read “The Massacre of Mankind” by Stephen Baxter.

I also enjoyed “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari so I plan to read the follow up, “Homo Deus”.

Nothing else leaps to mind so I shall probably go for a trashy sci-fi novel after my current book.

Have you ever damaged a book?

Not only have I damaged a book – I have damaged a human being with a book.

When on holiday once, I dropped my current novel into the swimming pool. I tried to dry it out but it was ruined.

The poor human being was a passenger on an aircraft. He was sitting in the aisle seat and, as usual, I walked up and pointed to the middle seat and said “I’m there!”. As he unbuckled his seat belt to let me through, I decided to throw my 1000 page paperback science fiction space opera onto the seat. I somehow missed and hurled it straight into the poor man’s face, cutting the bridge of his nose.

Thankfully, it was only a minor cut and he accepted that “accidents happen” as he tried to stop the  bleeding. I was so apologetic and apologised so much that he ended up more angry with my apologies than being socked in the face with a heavy book.

Worse still, it was a long haul flight to Beijing so I had to sit next to him for over 12 hours.

I have rarely been so embarrassed and angry with myself.

How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends on the length of the book, how much I am enjoying it, or whether I am on holiday or not.

Books you haven’t finished?

Only one – and it was so bad that I can’t recall the author or the title. By the time I finally threw it away (yes it was THAT BAD), I didn’t give a hoot about whether the characters lived or died. The only thing I cared about was whether the author was going to write another book and inflict the same pain on other people.

Popular books you didn’t like?

As I said above, anything by Shakespeare. When people sing the praises of his plays, I immediately think of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. I don’t understand the appeal – at all!!

Is there a book you wouldn’t tell people you were reading?

Yes – any self-help books. I have read a couple out of interest and actually found them quite useful. But if you admit to reading a self-help book and you are a bloke in the UK, you will be ribbed mercilessly by your mates.

How many books do you own?

I have owned hundreds but have been accused of being a hoarder by Mrs PM. So I have given them away to charity shops – but only if they are fiction books. This is one of the reasons why I have forgotten a lot of the books I have read.

I keep all of my non-fiction books.

Now I have a Kindle, I can keep as many as I want.

Are you a fast or slow reader?

I think I am pretty quick.

Do you read better in your head or out loud?

It would annoy Mrs PM immensely if I read out loud. Therefore I read better in my head – just like everybody else.

Saturday 7 September 2019


Here are another set of questions from Sunday Stealing.

What is the most fun thing you have ever done?

I have fun when I am travelling, especially to a place that is a little different from the places that I am used to. In recent years, I have to say that Japan is the most fun place I have visited – so much so that Mrs PM and I are planning to visit again within the next five years.

Are you left-handed or right-handed?

I am right-handed.

What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?

Lots of people do nice things all the time and I always feel embarrassed when this happens to me. I do like helping other people but feel that I don’t need it back. Probably the nicest thing in recent years was Mrs PM’s mother who wanted to go to Australia in 2005 and insisted that we go too. I didn’t want to at the time because I wasn’t ready or willing to spend that much money. So she paid for our flights and although I refused to allow this, she insisted. In the end, as seasoned travellers, Mrs PM and I planned the holiday for her so that we could at least make sure she had an unforgettable time. I also wrote a travelogue for her so that she would treaure the memories.

What is the biggest animal you’ve seen in the wild?

I think that would probably be a camel. We were driving between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and there in the desert were a few wild camels just plodding along minding their own business.

What is the smallest animal you’ve seen in the wild?

An ant. We have millions of the little buggers in England.

Do you ever have funny dreams at night?

I have funny dreams all of the time, particularly if I eat cheese just before going to bed. These dreams are wacky, wild and weird and it makes me worry sometimes about what is actually going on in my head. I keep meaning to leave a notebook by my bed so that I can scribble down the gist of the dream and then write about in a blog post entitled “How Weird Am I?”.

My problem is that thinking about the next (first) great novel I am going to write actually soothes me and allows me to drift off to sleep, so I suppose it is inevitable that my imagination will take charge and play out the novel as part of my dream with myself as the rather dodgy hero.

If you could make a law for your country, what would it be?

I would make it law that we do not under any circumstances leave the European Union.

Please don’t get me started on this because I will write a book on the subject and bore the hell out you with my endless, merciless ranting.

What would you do if you were invisible for a day?

Oh my God – that would be incredible and, coincidentally, it is a novel idea that will one day, no doubt, lead to a vivid and amazing weird dream – perhaps tonight now that you have brought it up.

I would play mischievous havoc in many places, starting with the residence of our useless Prime Minister, Boris “The Clown” Johnson.

I would record or video what he said in private and then send the film to the news channels and media. I would also sneak into concerts, football matches and all manner of events. It would be such fun.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?

I would be Boris “The Clown” Johnson and rectify some of the horrible things he has planned for the United Kingdom before resigning at the end of my day.

What would you like to change about yourself?

I would like to be 36 years younger first of all and then I would change my terrible hair for something less sentient, my useless eyes for some that work, my face for that of a famous good looking actor and inject a modicum of writing talent into my brain.

What is your daily routine.

I presume you mean on a working day. I get up at 6am, have a shower, weigh myself, cry in anguish when I see the scales, make my lunch (usually a salad), wave goodbye to Mrs PM, drive my car to work, spend the next 5 hours trying to outwit computers while asking myself repeatedly why I am a software engineer, go for a two mile walk at lunchtime while listening to music and contemplating my life, arrive back at work and eat my lunch, spend the next couple of hours trying to outwit computers while asking myself repeatedly why I am a software engineer, drive home, do a little freewriting, post a photograph of something interesting on Instagram, watch the news, rant at the news, either cook or eat dinner (depending on whose turn it is), relax in front of the TV for an hour or so before going to bed and reading for half an hour.

Of course, there are usually some variations and my days when I don’t have to go to work are usually completely different.

What would your perfect day be like?

Not working.

How old were you when you learned to read?

My grandad started introducing me to books at the age of four. I could read the odd word already when I started school at the age of five.

What is the most interesting thing you know?

I know lots of things that are totally interesting for me but boring and tedious for everybody else. However, since most of the people who read this are not British, I will tell you this.

I am British and I live in the British Isles, a set of islands pretty close to France. Great Britain is the biggest of those islands and comprises three countries (England, Scotland and Wales). The country I live in called The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (or the UK for short). When people refer to my country as Great Britain, they are in fact wrong. The second biggest island in the British Isles is Ireland and this consists of two countries, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the UK but the Republic of Ireland is not.

See? Not that interesting – and there are plenty more loads of old bollocks in my head.

What makes you nervous?

Many things make me nervous, particularly the current political situation in the UK at the moment.

What is your favourite flower?

I don’t really have a favourite flower. Anything that is brightly coloured, smells nice and doesn’t set off my hay fever is fine.

Have you ever ridden on a horse or any other animal?

I have never ridden a fully grown horse, but I have been on smaller varieties usually led by somebody who knows what they are doing.

What time do you go to bed?

It depends on the day. From Sunday to Thursday I try to go to bed at or around 10pm. On Saturday, Sunday and holidays, I will usually stay up until after midnight, though I am usually in bed by 1am at the latest.

What time do you get up?

As I said above, it also depends on the day. Monday to Friday, I am usually up at around 6am. On Saturday, Sunday and holidays I get up at any time between 7am and 10am, depending on what time I went to bed.

What is something that is always in your refrigerator?

Cheese – I am seriously addicted to cheese. I love the dreams they create.

Sunday 1 September 2019

Music Asks

It’s Sunday and time for more questions from Sunday Stealing .

This week it is all about music which is just my cup of tea.

Hopefully my answers to the following questions will introduce you to some new music that you may or may not have encountered before. The songs below are all part of my own rather large music collection.

A song you like with a colour in the title

Air – Redhead Girl

Air are a French electropop duo who have written some of the most deliciously mellow songs I have heard. I am a huge fan.

A song that needs to be played very loud

Motörhead – Bomber

I make no apologies for this classic piece of British Heavy Metal. Play it loud and enjoy.

A song that makes you want to dance

Goldfrapp – Strict Machine

Let’s get one thing straight – I can’t dance. I have been known to dance though and this is the kind of song that would entice me onto the dance floor. It is one of those rare songs that both me and Mrs PM both love.

A song to drive to

Joe Satriani – Summer Song

Joe Satriani is my favourite guitarist – a virtuoso who has actually taught some other workd famous guitarists. I can imagine myself driving on a long American road in a convertible when I hear this song.

A song with a number in the title

Blackfield – 1000 People

Time to slow things down again with a very beautiful (and sad song) from Steven Wilson’s side project Blackfield.

A song that makes you happy

The Gentle Storm – heart of Amsterdam

Anneke van Giersbergan is somebody you have probably never heard of. She is a very talented Dutch singer who fronted a musical project called The Gentle Storm which is a mixture of rock music and folk complete with electric guitars, violins,  pipes and more than a hint of joy.

A song that makes you sad

Richard Marx – Hazard

I’ve posted about this song before. It always brings a tear to my eye.

A song that reminds you of summer

Morcheeba – The Sea

Mrs PM introduced me to this beautiful song. It reminds me of walking on a beach as the sun goes down. A lovely song.

A song that you remember from your childhood

Electric Light Orchestra – Mr Blue Sky

As a child I was a huge fan of ELO and this song in particular.

A song that breaks your heart

Riverside – The Night Before

I can’t praise Riverside enough. They are a Polish progressive rock band who are my current favourite band. This song is from a concept album about an apocalypse and is sung from the point of view of a man comforting his child on the eve of the event. It is so sad because they do not know what will come.

A song that you never get tired of

Rush – Subdivisions

I have been a Rush fan for 40 years and this song is from a 1982 album called Signals, which I bought just before seeing them for the first time in the same year. A special song from a special band.

A song from your preteen year

David Bowie – Rebel Rebel

This would be 1974 and now you all know how old I am (I don’t keep it a secret really). I miss David Bowie.

A song that is a cover by another artist

Johnny Cash – Hurt

This is another very sad song, particularly because it is sung by a very old Johnny Cash, one of my dad’s favourite artists. It is a cover of a song by Nine Inch Nails which is very surprising considering Trent Reznor’s band is industrial rock/metal. I have to say that this version is very poignant and actually better than the original.

A song from the year you were born

The Tornados – Telstar

I can do better than that. This song was number one in the UK on the day I was born.

A song that makes you think about life

Devin Townsend - Genesis

This song has a bit of everything – choirs, classical music, gospel, pop, rock, heavy metal, dance and is a mixture of everything else. It is wonderful and brilliant and something that could only have come from the mind of Devin Townsend – an amazing artist. Stick with it to the end – you may like it. Progressive rock at it’s very best.

Your favourite song with a persons name in the title

Within Temptation – Sinéad

Within Temptation are a Dutch symphonic metal band fronted by the wonderful Sharon den Adel. This particular song is rock with a hint of dance. A great tune.

A song that you think everyone should listen to

All of the above? Actually – here is a good one you probably haven’t heard before.

Ten – The Elysian Fields

I have posted this before. It is a beautiful piece of melodic rock.

A song by a band you wish were still together

Pink Floyd – Money

I loved Pink Floyd. They were one of the pioneers of progressive rock. Money is one of my favourite songs by the band.

A song by an artist no longer living

David Bowie – I’m Afraid of Americans

I miss David Bowie and make no apologies for including him twice in this list. This particular song features Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and features him as a very disturbing stalker in the video.

A song by an artist with a voice you love

Delain – Masters of Destiny

I am not obsessed with female Dutch vocalists – honestly – but here is another one. Her name is Charlotte Wessels and she fronts Dutch symphonic metal band Delain. Her vocal range is amazing and this song is just a taste of what she can achieve.

And finally…

This is quite long for a Sunday Stealing post. I don’t apologise and I hope that you found something you liked and might investigate.