Facts and Fictions


The Ruins of Manchester   Recently updated !

I get around to most jobs, eventually.

For years, I’ve been taking pictures of run-down and characterful buildings in and around Manchester (and elsewhere, when I’ve been able to visit other cities). I’ve finally started uploading them to Redbubble, so you can get them printed onto various items. Every image is available as a card, but some of them are also available on mugs, phone and tablet covers, and as larger prints. You can even get a redbrick miniskirt.

I’m only up to 2010 so far, so there’s more to come. Keep dropping in to see what’s new. Ruins of Manchester isn’t the only series I’m doing. I’ve got other photos, and several designs, that are also available. Check out all my works here.


Buy me a coffee

I’ve set up an account with a service called ko-fi, which lets people share small cash gifts. It’s a possible way for me to ask for support when I start serialising the next Rain & Bullets story, and get to work on my fantasy graphic novel, Uninvited Guests, later this year.

So, as a test, would you care to buy me a coffee, kind people?


The internet rise of Britain’s far-right

On my list of possible subjects for a story is the threat of far-right violence and terrorism. I don’t have a specific hook for this story yet,
but I am collecting background information for research.

(And getting worried for my country as I do.)

Today, though, there is an autonomous mass of far-right activists propagating hate independently of formal far-right organisations, some of which we have outlined in our new report out today, State of Hate 2018. Some of the biggest names in this world are from the UK and they have global audiences. Many of the largest and most influential far-right sites in the world are visited by huge numbers of UK activists.

Source: Britain’s far-right keyboard warriors are taking advantage of our complacency


Licensed to litter (and commit other minor offences)

So, the government has revealed that MI5 agents can commit crime in UK in pursuit of their duties. There’s been no detail released, yet, of just how serious those crimes can be, or any of the more detailed guidelines.

In Bond-like stories, the MI5 agents become daring cat burglars, whilst in Le Carre land, retired agents live in fear of their misdemeanours in the line of duty being used as blackmail them into off the books espionage.


The digital evidence disaster

There’s a story in the Police’s problems with properly handling digital evidence. I don’t know what it is, but I’m linking to a couple of stories from today’s Guardian for future reference.

Justice system at ‘breaking point’ over digital evidence

Public faith in the fairness of trials is being eroded and the justice system is approaching “breaking point” due to failures to disclose key digital evidence, the head of the criminal bar has said. The comments from Angela Rafferty QC come as a leading forensic scientist, Dr Jan Collie, exposes the difficulties defence experts have in obtaining downloaded material from police and prosecutors, including dealing with “games” officers play in pursuit of convictions.

Police outsource digital forensic work to unaccredited labs

The Guardian has learned that:

At least 15 police forces, including Greater Manchester police and the Metropolitan police, have outsourced digital forensics work – typically the analysis of mobile phones and computers – to unaccredited private companies, some of which are subject to no regulatory oversight.
One private company that holds a major contract covering more than a dozen forces had its accreditation revoked last year after failing its first audit, but continued to perform forensic work for the prosecution.
Just 15 out of 43 police forces met a government deadline in October to bring their in-house laboratories in line with minimum quality standards for analysing mobile phone, computer and CCTV data.


Break It Down!

Breaking the story down

This is the next stage in creating Uninvited Guests. I’ve taken the brief scene descriptions I wrote over Christmas, and laid them out as pages, ready for thumbnailing. Now I’m going to do a Marvel-ish method of partial scripting and page layouts as the next part of the process.


Progression

Uninvited Guests rough v2

I’ve done a couple of pieces of very rough concept art for the comic I’m planning. This is version two, done yesterday. Version one is below.

Obviously, I’ve got a lot of work to do. The monster isn’t going to be the clunky lupine thing in the second drawing, nor the flat black one in the first. I think I need to get to planning some layouts, and letting them suggest how to have it sneak into full view over a few pages.

Uninvited Guests rough v1


I’m being censored! Censored, I say!

Anyone who isn’t buying and reading all my books is complicit in the ongoing censorship of my awesome ideas, and should be ashamed of themselves. It’s my absolute right to sell millions of books, and you’re infringing my rights by not doing your part.

I exaggerate, of course, but I’m only a little leap of illogic from some of the cries of ‘Censorship!’ that have been raised since Virgin West Coast announced they won’t be selling the Daily Mail on their trains. It’s nonsense, of course, but proclaiming their victimhood when people are no longer going to take their shit is a very right wing thing to do.

The ‘newspaper’* is still going to be on sale at other shops, presumably even ones on the station, and, as far as I can see, no-one’s stopping people displaying their narrow-mindedness by reading the rag on VWC trains. Virgin made a commercial decision. They barely sell any Daily Fails anyway, and were reacting to complaints.

The corner shop nearest to me stocks only tabloids. I don’t for a minute think they’re censoring the Guardian, Times and Telegraph. I live in the sort of area where broadsheets aren’t commonly read. They’re stocking what they will sell, not making political or ideological statements.

The Daily Mail is, sadly, the largest source of opinion dressed up as news. The paper has railed against all manner of far less offensive material over the years, and practically led a campaign to have Channel 4 closed down. They’re not about to collapse because they’ve lost a dozen or so sales on Virgin trains. But they can see that this decision is another example of a significant shift in public opinion against them, and they’re scared that it’s getting harder for them to get away with their bullying and obsessing over the bodies of women and girls. Which is a good thing.

[But, seriously people, why aren’t you buying my books? It’s a terrible constraint upon my freedom to be a millionaire author. I say it’s your civic duty to pick up a copy of Sounds of Soldiers, Northern Gorehouse, or any of the other great (if I say it, it must be true) books by myself or Garth Owen.]

*I don’t know whether it deserves the title, if I’m honest.


Lever Street

Lever Street 060118

Amongst this year’s plans is a comic, so I’m going to get more sketching done, to boost my confidence with pencil, pen and brush. I fully intend to improve, and this is here as much to provide a reference to check against at the end of the year as anything else.

The drawing was done in the coffee shop across from (and slightly to one side of) the building depicted. I’d have put in more details, but the windows steamed up and obscured my view.


Meet the New Year, just like the Old Year?

Well, we made it out of 2017. Which is nice.

I’m trying to imagine that we’ve now entered the third act of a bizarre tragi-comedy. 2016 was the first act, where a bunch of really bad decisions were made. 2017 showed the first effects of those decisions, and signposted potential future horrors, but it also signalled the beginnings of resistance. 2018, hopefully, is when the resistance begins to undo the damage, and gives us signs of a more positive future.

One can hope.

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. But I have a few aims. I had begun to hit a work rhythm that combined my freelance job with writing and other creative work, but that got disrupted in the weeks before Christmas. I’m going to try to get back into it this week.

Cycling is something I’ve been doing less of in the last few years. That’s another thing I hope to do more of.

And I’ve not been experimenting with food as much, either. So more of what I call Collision Cooking is called for. In fact, I managed tp start the year with a little bit of it.

Some of Christmans was spent in Cumbria, which meant I got to have Rum Butter for the first time in years. It’s basically alcoholic, coarse grained, butter icing, and is more-ish in that way all the least healthy foods are. As a last bit of Christmassy decadence, I had some on my porridge this morning, instead of honey.

And it was nice. The butter melted, and added a rich creaminess which was a nice counter to the dark richness of the brown sugar and rum. I’ve still got about three quarters of a jar of it left, so it’ll be appearing on porridge in the future, when i really want to spoil myself.

So, I’ve begun the year in one way I intend to go on, as well as getting some (but not enough) writing done.. Tomorrow, I’ll try to get a few more started


Minor Birthday

“Happy Minor Birthday.” Seth held his shot glass up over the table.

Frankie raised her glass and clinked it against Seth’s. “One day, soon, I’m going to make you stop forcing me to celebrate this.” she said, wincing at the clumsiness of her declaration. They knocked back the spirits, throats burning and lips strangely numbed.

“Never! You’re a first. A trail blazer! A miracle! A….” Usually, Seth had to be much more drunk before he started describing her birth in these terms.

“Freak?”

“Not a freak. Never a freak. I mean, look at all the bag babies there are now. All those preemies who wouldn’t have lived before you. And you, the first of them.”

“The first to survive. All the ones before me died. There’s a reason my middle name’s Miracle. I know they would all have died anyway, they were so premature. But I have to wonder how I survived and they didn’t. Sometimes I imagine their ghosts looking at me, all angry because I got out alive and they didn’t.” Frankie turned her shot glass over and tapped the table top with it. “What is this stuff? Why’s it filling me with melancholy and misery?”

“It’s one of Will’s concoctions. He gave me the shots free for feedback. Wants to make up a batch and sell it across the bar. You don’t like it?”

“Maybe I’m just not in the mood. I need brandy.”

Seth turned in his seat and leaned on the bar. Will spotted him immediately, and navigated his way around the bar staff. “Well?” he asked.

Frankie unrolled her phone and checked her messages. She didn’t want to give her opinion on the drink. Seth’s hand waggled in the air, the wavering sign for so-so. Will hid his disappointment well. “Double brandy, and a pint of the Earl Grey lager, please.”

“Dinesh is stuck on a tram. Everyone else says they’ll be here in the next half hour or so.” Frankie told Seth when he put the tumbler of dark gold liquid down before her.

“Including the dishy Darius?”

Frankie blushed. “Can we not mention the Minor Birthday thing to him. I haven’t told him yet.”

“If he’s with the others, one of them will have blabbed already. And I may, maybe, have already mentioned it’s your Minor Birthday when I invited him. Just the name, not the full, gory explanation.” Seth turned to pick up his lager, avoiding her glare.

“Fucking wonderful. Everybody wants to know all about the procedure when they find out. ‘You were taken out of your mother’s womb how many months early?’ ‘Are those bags really see-through? Could you see the lab you were grown in?’ ‘What was it like?’” The voice Frankie put on got squeakier with each question. She picked up the tumbler and swirled the brandy around.

She wasn’t angry at Seth. He meant well. Sooner or later, with everyone she met, the subject of her birth came up. Everyone was interested in the process. Too many had an opinion on the ethics of bringing a baby to term in an artificial womb when they wouldn’t survive in their mother’s. The worst were the ones who thought she needed protecting.

Seth had a smile, that annoying one that meant he knew something she didn’t. “What?”

“Oh, nothing. I mean, I’ve already let out one person’s secrets today. I really shouldn’t do it.”

“What is it? Something about Darius?”

“Well, speak of the devil.” Seth pointed over Frankie’s left shoulder.

She turned quickly, and there was Darius, over by the door. He spotted them, smiled and waved. He was achingly gorgeous, about as beautiful as any man could be. Was he some sort of freak, just like her?

Oh, she hoped so. She really did.


Time Trumps

January 20th 2017

It happened just as President elect Donald J Trump went off script whilst swearing his oath of office. A figure appeared from nowhere, gun hand outstretched toward The Donald, finger already pulling the trigger.

She had come from the future, her mission- to kill the President before, on January 25th, he nuked Latvia to prove the country’s Prime Minister wrong and show that his fingers were long enough to press the atomic button.

Even before the bullet had left, she was joined by dozens, maybe hundreds of other assassins. With everything from lasers all the way down to clubs, each of them had come back with a specific mission- eliminate Trump before he could carry out the action that blighted their particular future.

It was one of the lasers, by an almost immeasurable fraction of a second, that got the job done. Which triggered the second wave of temporal assassins. These were dedicated to cutting down Mike Pence before he could institute his plans for homosexual re-education camps and sexuality snooping.

Into the middle of this already confused mess came a pair of twenty-second century Men’s Rights Activists. Angry at the unfair advantages equal wages gave females and the sissification inherent in paternity leave, they had decided to travel back and kill the first female President. Incompetence had shunted them sideways as well as backwards, but they never found that out, as they were burnt to a crisp by one of the many flamethrowers present.

With so many bodies and temporal anomalies overlapping, a critical mass was formed. A gore explosion was followed by collapses in the fourth dimension. Time went crazy.

Washington is now the flickering city, to look at it is to watch a jump cut time-lapse of the city’s past and possible futures. Buildings and people appear and flash away randomly, as the time-line tries to knit itself back together.

The inauguration was ground zero, but the effects have radiated out, and there are pockets of temporal instability all over the world. There are pockets where you can step into the past and pull people and things back. The USA is currently being run by the dream team of Kennedy and Lincoln, snatched up just before their assassinations.

It’s a crazy world, ripe for adventures and wacky hijinks. Annoyingly, I can’t think of any silly stories to tell in it right now.


The Spear

SpearThis is one odd book. It starts as one of those low-key seventies thrillers, veers into bizarre campy Bond territory, then ends with some icky supernatural nonsense that feels tacked on.

Steadman used to work for Mossad, doing wet work on former Nazis and other enemies of Israel. Now he’s a private investigator in London. Approached by an old accomplice he refuses to get involved- until his business partner ends up tortured and crucified, nailed to his front door.

Now, he does get involved, and the story wanders around aimlessly for a while, taking in diversions involving mystically controlled tanks and a hot reporter who may be working for the CIA.

Then it all wraps back to the rich, corrupt arms dealer Steadman was tasked with investigating. A long time anti-semite, his plan involves the spear of the title- the one that stabbed Jesus on Golgotha- which will be used to resurrect a high ranking Nazi (though not the obvious one).

Throw in some nastiness involving a hermaphrodite and other oddness before the rotting corpse of undead Himmler staggers around for a couple of pages. The bad guys are summarily killed off, the spear is disposed of and the grand plot foiled.

Herbert was a horror writer, but it feels like the horror and supernatural elements were crowbarred into the story. And the whole thing with the hermaphrodite is just horrible and made an already poor ending worse.

From:: Ian Pattinson Goodreads reviews


The Ants

AntsA good old fashioned monster tale set in the Brazilian jungle. It’s almost a shame that the monsters in the story are given away in the title. The author does a good job of building the mystery and giving glimpses of the terror.

Young anthropologist Jane Sewell returns to the Brazilian tribe she has been studying with her father, only to find the village deserted. All that is left of the former residents is a pile of stripped clean bones and a (temporarily) mute boy.

Before she can begin to work out what has happened, she has to rescue a pilot who crashes nearby. It turns out he flies for a local plantation owner, so the three of them head in that direction.

Only as they near the plantation is the threat revealed- mutant ants! Not giant mutant ants, as you might imagine from the cover, but telepathic mutant ants. That can sometimes communicate with humans, and they’ve enslaved other ants to help them.

There’s lots of soap opera stuff going on at the plantation- the owner’s wife is carrying on with the manager and the local workers are reverting to superstition- which play out in fairly obvious ways as, one by one, they get eaten alive.

In the end, it’s a race to the river, with a little help from a different ant colony. The wrap up is rushed, after all the build up, but it’s a fun, if occasionally predictable, journey to get there.

From:: Ian Pattinson Goodreads reviews


Engage Pulp Speed!

Pulp writers used to knock out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of words a year, and novels were judged to be books in the 30,000-50,000 word range. My work tends to fall within that word count (today we’re supposed to call it a novella), so in one way I already am a pulp writer.

Over the last few months, my word count has shot up to an average (over 30 days) of over 1,000 words a day. If I don’t stop early for Christmas, my 90 day average will clear that soon. This includes working around my part time job and a natural inclination to get disheartened by minor setbacks. Next year, the target is a minimum of half a million words written, most of which will be published (under a variety of names). That’s still a fair way from what Dean Wesley Smith calls Pulp Speed One in this post, but I’ll treat it as a stepping stone along the way.


BBC News – Historical abuse inquiry: Police examine ‘possible homicide’

My current work in progress is another Irwin race against time chase around Manchester. One of the spurs was a Government proposal to contract out running of childrens homes to private interests. Which has always worked out so well in the past. On that hook, I hung a story inspired by some of the darker rumours about institutional child abuse and pumped it up.

Now, frighteningly, it looks like reality is almost as bad as the over the top take I’m writing.

BBC News – Historical abuse inquiry: Police examine 'possible homicide'.