Monthly archives: September 2002

Seeds (finally)-

They followed the river as it meandered across the Plain. The dots of trees became clusters became copses became a forest. A nasty brown scar marked the massive logging camp. Their orders were quite clear. �Wing One to flight. We have to put on our show. Descend to three thousand spans and make a pass up the river. Then break west and climb to thirty thousand before heading to the target.� Mirl announced.



The river was black and brown with logs grouped together to float downstream. Stick figures hopped from one precarious perch to the next and tugs pushed and pulled the islands of wood. People started looking up as they heard the wings approaching. By the time they passed over the main sawmill, a crowd had gathered to wave jubilantly. They made their one pass, then banked west to begin a corkscrew climb to height.

The navigator presented Mirl with a best guess line for the river between its disappearance under tree cover and reappearance at the Big Lazy. They marked up three bombing runs that would straddle the water and level trees and structures on the shore. �If they really wanted us to do it properly, they would give us incendiaries.� The navigator opined.

�The object is spoiled if we burn down the forest to protect the loggers. Pass these lines to the others.�

From above, it was a very unspectacular run. They passed diagonally across the supposed track of the river, dropping sticks of bombs at count intervals. The forest canopy shook with the explosions below, and one bomb hit a large enough branch to detonate far above the ground. Some trees tumbled, but the holes they left revealed nothing. They turned and headed back to base. �Same again tomorrow.� Mirl sighed.

Back at my hits logger and people have come to me following searches for-‘Wattle and daub pics’, ‘C. V. corkscrews’, ‘blog cheshire’, ‘winon’, ‘air raid .mov’, ‘free gay oh galleries’ (!!??), ‘appetite for destruction pics’, ‘fetish photography’ (!!?? Again!), ‘ 34 ford eliminator doors’, ‘cyberloafing’ and ‘”ford focus” diagram’.
Well, I try to appeal to a broad cross section, but ‘gay oh galleries’! How?

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Why simple city folk are the scourge of the countryside

I still think the Countryside Alliance are a bunch of opportunists, paying lip service to the real problems of the rural population to get more people marching to protect their sport. But the main point of the article is very valid. The people who want to ban hunting don’t understand that foxes and other vermin will still need culling somehow.

In the rolling upgrades that I’m going to be doing over the next few weeks, you can now purchase Another Education & Ruby Red as an ebook to be downloaded from the site.

I’ve also found a way to sell prints of pictures of the day and I’ll be making my favourites available at the rate of one or two a week. As soon as this starts, everything will be shuffled off into a dedicated shop.

It’s all go here at spinneyhead.

Noon updates aren’t about to become the norm, but as I’m going up to Cumbria this evening, it seems the sensible thing to do.


Old Morn�s boat had been fossil fuelled when it came up river. A country away from the nearest refinery that motor was now useless as anything but a source of ferrous for smelting. A paddle wheel had been forced onto the back of the boat, driven by a low-pressure steam engine. It was like sharing the river with someone breathing regularly and deeply through their teeth and swinging a hand through the water.

Marra had guided the boat from the lake below the waterfall and through memorised channels until a second tributary joined the river and it became too wide for branches to span. Only when she was sure there were no underwater obstacles would she give Morn his first lesson in steering.

They threw a sky anchor into the canopy until it caught a sturdy enough branch. The boat swung into the current as the rope tautened, coming to rest mid stream. Marra shimmed up the rope and fastened the dead anchor far enough ahead to deflect all but the largest debris. She continued into the canopy and threw nuts and fruit down for Morn to catch.

Apart from terse instructions during Morn�s lesson, Marra had not spoken all day. He hoped she would break her silence over their meal, but was to be disappointed. She filleted fish quickly and expertly and laid them inside a specially constructed steam box on the engine while Morn shelled the fruit and nuts. They threw the chaff over the side to attract more fish toward the trailing line.

Night descended quickly once the sun started dipping below the tree line and it was almost pitch black by the time they had finished eating. Marra pulled the insect net about the cabin and rolled into her blanket without a word.

Much later, Morn woke to the strangest sound. For a moment he feared they had left the engine to build up excess pressure and it was blowing off steam in uneven bursts. A moment�s consideration made him realise the noise was Marra, sobbing in her sleep. He reached across and touched her shoulder. She took his hand, laced her fingers with his and the sobbing subsided.

When I was putting together the grand story arc of one of DEx’s aborted predecessors (Most of the characters have been carried forward), I thought about a little light relief in the cliffhanger phase of the final story. One of the characters is trapped in a warehouse with one of those Russian nukes and a hysterical sidekick going on about the ‘nucular’ bomb. After a few minutes of this distracting him from defusing the weapon, he turns around and basically screams “Nuclear! Nuclear! New Clee Are! If you’re going to be killed by the fucking thing, the least you can do is pronounce it properly!”

I saw most of Bush’s UN speech on BBC News 24, and this was all I could think about.

Okay, maybe I won’t write Open Sourrce Environment. I know what I want to say, but I can’t quite put it together in my head how I want to say it. I’m off to the Lakes this weekend for my cousin’s wedding. If I don’t get too drunk at the reception, maybe on Sunday I can formulate my position. Maybe.


Shot pistols generally spat clusters of small metal balls in a lethal cone out to a few hundred spans. Mirl�s gunnery officer had perfected a far more interesting projectile. Harren steadied the extended stock against his shoulder and took aim on an Albo.

The recoil nearly toppled him from his chair. Halfway to the old plane a thin trail of flame traced the bullet�s path. It passed through the canvas and the inside of the plane was illuminated with bright yellow light. Harren pulled back the lever over the barrel and fed another shell into the chamber. This time he stood to put a shot through the canopy of the next Albo over. He collapsed into his chair and guzzled down another mouthful of the mechanics� searing liquor. �What is in those things?�

Mirl held up a shell. It had a metal skin, scarred with predetermined fragmentation lines. �There are two chambers inside. The contents react violently with each other. The propellant dries a nail through them both and they start reacting at about two hundred spans. When the shell splits it releases flaming liquid in all directions. Or it would explode at about a thousand spans and do the same thing.�

�Really?� Harren cranked the handle and fired straight up.

They watched the fire trail thicken and eventually blossom into a white hot teardrop. �We should move.� Suggested Mirl.


�What goes up must come down.�

�Oh. Of course.� They grabbed the bottles of liquor and bag of ammunition and wandered a wavering line back to the mess. Harren remembered the chairs as he stood at the door, and looked back to see them both in flames.

There were mounted commendations all the way down the main table. Each sat atop the growing tower of ale and spirit bottles the associated crew were consuming. Harren�s gunship raid and Mirl�s high altitude bombing were being lauded as grand shows of strength. The heroes were due to embark on a publicity tour. �Drink your fill boys, for tomorrow we must entertain our public!� There was a roar from the crews and a hammering of the table that toppled two bottle towers.

They collapsed onto a bench seat. �Where have they sent you?� Mirl asked.

�Back to Reff, to shine above the grimy city, then some middle of nowhere air show and finally on to Stran Island to talk with the Navy about combined force attacks.�

�We are going even further north, to show the damned logging camps that we care about them by mercilessly bombing trees.�


�This supposed Hidden Army in the woods. Every time a logger gets toxicated and falls in the river it�s all about the Hidden Army. So we are going to bomb the forest around the river and maybe kill some river reptiles.�

�That sounds like more action than I will see.�

�Death from above!�

�Death from above!� They saluted each other with spirit bottles.

I checked out the new Selfridges store in town today. There’s a great food hall, and I now know where to get my badger hair shaving brush. But there is definitely something wrong with buying skate style T shirts in a shop for the rich and wannabe posh.


The final guidance signal had come on when promised and they had been bearing down it ever since. A white scar on the grey of the ocean had eventually appeared on the horizon and slid toward them. Closer to, it was an irregular shape very low in the water, with two ships moored to the south and another to the west. �Half Time base to Wasp flight. Receiving?�

�Receiving. This is Wasp flight leader. Request permission to land.�

�Permission granted. Your only other option is to turn that thing into a boat. Approach from the west. Light crosswind from the northeast.�

�Okay flight. The Cicciles should land first. They will be closer to empty.�

There was an average length runway cut into the rock, more than long enough for the Wasps, laid with a hexagonally patterned rubberised matting. The fighters landed close together and were bustled off the runway to refuelling spots where their pilots were helped from the cockpits and walked with a cramped hobble to a feeding and flushing tent.

The Wasps landed in reverse order, until Four landed hard. The right wheel collapsed and the plane pirouetted off the runway toward the nearest ship. It came to rest with one wing crumpled against the hull. The pilot and navigator jumped out and ran the best they could for cover, but there was no fire. Two, and Reed, approached the runway more carefully.

As they taxied into the rest area, Reed noticed the fuel hoses and drop tanks around the other planes. He climbed down to be greeted by an officer in naval whites. With no understanding of Navy rankings he saluted, just in case. �Wing commander Reed, I am Captain Browdy, commander of Half Time field.�

�Pleased to be here sir.�

�Come this way and I shall see you are fed and flushed. Our mechanics will want to talk to you about the state of your plane.�

�You are planning a fast turn around?�

�Half Time is tidal. We have about twenty thousand counts until the island is under five spans of water. There is only stowage space for a few planes on our ships, and one of those has been taken by your number four.�

�I do not think any of my flight are ready for another trip just yet.�

�Never fear. We have new crews for all your planes.� By now they were within the tent. At the far end sat plane crews in fresh gear, all ready for take off. Reed�s flight eyed them suspiciously, between huge mouthfuls of fish stew. �You shall be billeted here for a few days, until the next flight arrives, then you shall take over from them.�

Flushed, and with a bowl of stew each, Reed and Jay stood outside the tent watching the refuelling. On the far side of the runway, the wreck of Four was having inflatable pontoon strapped to it and filled. As the tide rose, so it would be lifted and could be moved to the crane that hung over the ship�s side.

�Horse told me something big was happening. I think this is even bigger than he suspected.�

During the World Summit, all the conservative blogs took great pleasure in pretending that sustainable development was all about keeping developing nations down by not allowing them ‘Western style economies.’ Which anyone with a clue (and, I think, some of them) can tell is either a stupid interpretation or willful misrepresentation. I’ve been cogitating a way to argue the case against them, and today I think I came up with it. The working title is ‘Open Source Environment’ and I’ll try to get it posted by the end of the week.


Wire had been strung between the trees above the tunnel mouth to catch the radio waves bounced off the atmosphere. Lensman took the coded pages and translated them with a one time pad. There was a simple request and a number of suggested map references.

The squad assembled under the evening sun around the roasting goat that Kess had shot. Lensman laid a large map on the flat stone that served as a table. �We have been asked to carry out harassing attacks and sabotage on the enemy in certain regions.� Once they were in the field, strike squads could only be asked to make attacks. Their longevity was a prime concern and survival their main mission. Lensman circled six areas with a wax pencil. �I know some of these targets are on the Plains,� he pre-empted Mov�s complaint, �and there is further to fall back. But they are unlikely to search for us in the mountains.�

Rey leaned over the map. �These three areas are closely grouped. If we coordinate attacks the confusion should allow us time to withdraw.�

�And they are closer to the hills.� Kess added, with relief, �We can block any pursuit easier where the land has proper contours.�

�Four day�s march. Assemble all the equipment you need and we shall leave in the morning.�

Quite a productive day, I now have Seeds material until Wednesday. Tomorrow I hope to get through to sometime next week-

Navigation in the mountains was all about landmarks, triangulating one peak against another gave a plane�s location. Over the ocean, there were no visual pointers and Jay was triangulating to radio sources.

By now they had flown into the new day and in all directions they could see the haze grey of the planes� camouflage. Occasional specks of white trailed behind boats, but they were the only indications of life.

The directional receiver in the nose had located four radio sources. The angles to these tallied with Jay�s mental arithmetic on air speed and wind direction. �Come about two degrees south.� She told Reed. The plane banked lightly and the rest of the wing followed. They had been describing a shallow zig-zag about their plotted course. �The wing drop tanks are almost empty. I will empty them and release them. No point in wasting fuel dragging them.�

�We must be nearing the point of no return.�

�We just passed it. I only hope we can keep our feet dry in this direction.�