I’m very pleased to welcome Tim Walker, author of Ambrosius: Last of the Romans, to Linda’s Book Bag as I’m fascinated by that era of our history. Tim has kindly agreed to explain a little bit about why he thinks readers like me have that interest. Ambrosius: Last of the Romans is available for purchase here. Ambrosius: […]
The Dark Ages is the period in European history ushered in by the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Britain was thrown into a period of tribal conflicts and desperate … Continue reading A Black Hole in Our History
This article has been written to provide background information to the release of a new historical fiction novel, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans, by Tim Walker. Download the e-book from … Continue reading Who Was Ambrosius?
We are, perhaps, more familiar with the term ‘Utopian’ that describes a society that’s conceived to be perfect. ‘Dystopian’ is the exact opposite — it describes an imaginary society that is as dehumanising and unpleasant as possible. Dystopian stories are often set in the future and come as warnings for us to reflect on trends in our societies and mend our easy-going ways or else risk falling into the hands of an oppressive regime. Popular literary examples are George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, now finding new readers.
As a writer, I’m also constantly attuned to trends in our governance that might be undermining the personal freedoms and opportunities for advancement we currently enjoy in Western societies. My attention was drawn to a news item this morning (12/02/2017) tucked away in a tiny space in my e-newspaper, The Mirror, that to me screams, ‘Beware of the encroaching Dystopian Society!’
ONE MILLION ON ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS
The report states, quite calmly, that the number of workers on zero hours contracts is set to exceed one million for the first time. Figures for 2016 show over 900,000 on zero hour contracts – workers on hourly rate with no guarantee of working hours, no job security and often on the minimum wage. Employers argue that a flexible labour market where staff are called in at a moment’s notice with a lack of fixed hours boosts employment. But this leaves workers uncertain of how many hours they will work and how much they can earn each week, often leaving them short of ability to pay rents, transport and feed themselves.
The report states that the Trade Union Congress (TUC) believe that as many as three million workers (one in ten workers in Britain) are now in insecure jobs, such as seasonal, temporary or agency work.
Such insecurity of tenure goes against all the efforts by worker’s representatives and trade unions going back over a hundred years to fight for workers rights and to be treated with respect by their employers. Sadly, the current climate we live in of harsh capitalist exploitation, backed up by uncaring governments who see their job as furthering the interests of Big Business ahead of looking after the welfare of citizens is, well, leading us down the rocky road to a dystopian, authoritarian state.
This is coming fast, in my opinion. In Britain we have had thirty years of Thatcherist politics that have seen national infrastructure ruthlessly asset-stripped under the name of Privatisation, to the extent that most of our utility and transport companies are foreign owned and operated at high cost to the consumer. Also, our property market has become a free-for-all investment product for international criminals, Tax-dodgers and foreign governments, pricing our citizens out of being able to afford a roof over their heads.
I have long been suspicious of successive governments feebly apologising for missing net inward migration targets by several hundreds of thousands, foolishly believing their narrative that they’ have no control’. Of course they have control, at point of entry. In reality, I believe they have deliberately created a large, multi-cultural, low-paid labour pool of people desperate enough to work long hours for the minimum wage, and thus drive down wages for our working class citizens. We are already witnessing tensions in our towns and cities as this ‘divide and rule’ politics takes effect.
Our opposition parties have been completely compromised by this, not sure on whether to listen to the complaints of hard-pressed citizens or embrace the diversity of new arrivals. By trying to do both, they end up pleasing no one. They are unable to provide a coherent opposition to the forces of rampant global capitalism as represented by our ruling party, The Conservatives. Sadly, our educated liberal elite in their rush to embrace ‘One-World-ism’ are unwittingly aiding and abetting our sly capitalist leaders in their aim of creating a large, low-paid underclass of workers whose freedoms and rights are slowly being whittled away.
Don’t get me wrong. I bear no ill-will to any people looking for ‘a better life’, and reject all forms of discrimination. I just have a problem with the cynical politics of exploitation for profit that throws people from different backgrounds together, whilst denying them the ability to have a descent standard of living (added to a growing crisis in schools and healthcare) in a race to the bottom of average earnings. Our government is taking us out of the European Union and will use that opportunity to repeal worker’s rights and human rights legislation. Citizens need to wake up and see what is happening…
Otherwise we will end up in a 1984-type totalitarian state with ‘Big Boris’ as a pantomime-villain leader. Let’s face it, the States have already got one – Donald Trump!
Check out my tongue-in-cheek novel, Devil Gate Dawn, now described as ‘dystopian’ because I predicted a paranoid Trump America and post-Brexit chaos in Britain leading to mass voter apathy that leaves us with King Charles (not Big Boris) running the country. Don’t laugh too much, it might happen!
I’m pleased to announce our first children’s book, The Adventures of Charly Holmes, co-authored with my daughter, Cathy, is now out on Amazon Kindle as an e-book, with the paperback due for launch in February.
What’s it About?
Charlotte Holmes is a 12-year-old school girl with a big imagination and an interest in finding out things. These four adventure start off with an innocent walk with her Dad. She imagines that all the dogs being walked are really aliens who are in control of their human handlers. Meanwhile, her Dad gets in a fix and it needs her resourcefulness to help him out.
In her other adventures she tries out her new digital camera on a trip to Scotland with Mum and Dad where she investigates the legend of the Loch Ness monster. Then she goes on a student exchange visit to France, and gets a bit too close to nature. In the final adventure, she visits London Zoo with a friend to see some of the endangered species they have discovered through a card game. Little do they know that they will somehow get caught up in the escape of a gorilla.
The Adventures of Charlotte Holmes is a magical journey of discovery into the world of a 12-yeart-old school girl with an enquiring mind and a special interest in animals and nature. The stories were written by father and daughter team, Tim and Cathy Walker.
Facebook Group: http://facebook.com/charlyholmesadventures
Originally posted on tim walker:
I jump out of bed and get dressed as quickly as I can in a practiced routine, clothes laid out neatly on a chair before…
On Friday 6th May, 1983, my Goth-mate Jimmy dragged me along to see the Sisters of Mercy at the University of London Student’s Union. We were students at the time, so only needed to show our SU cards to get in. I know the date because I have the ticket glued in my scrap book. What we didn’t know, as we huddled in the small studio-sized room, was that a relatively new band from Manchester was being showcased – The Smiths. They had replaced Babaluna on the bill – why and how, I don’t know (Rough Trade getting them some capital exposure, perhaps?).
Most of the leather-wearing Goths sloped off to the bar as the weedy Mancunians set up their gear and were given a lukewarm, almost apologetic, introduction to the indifferent crowd. Jim and I were pleasantly surprised, as we both had copies of their early singles – Hand in Glove and its brilliant B-side, Still Ill, This Charming Man, What Difference does it Make? We stood at the front of the low stage, knee high, right in front of Morrissey’s swivelling hips and the jingly-jangly Johnny Marr. Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce looked fresh-faced and keen, in a time before stardom and their descent into drugs hell.
The Smiths ripped out their early set with joyful verve, delivered in a loose and slightly un-together cacophony of the first album material to barely fifty people. Reel Around the Fountain lingered, hauntingly in my young mind, Mozza’s compelling imagery striking home. We loved it, and it cemented our status as Smiths fans. The meat was not yet murdered and Strangeways had not been visited, but we had seen enough emerging talent by then that we knew. These boys were special.
Oh, and the pre-Mission Sisters were rocking and sleek, with Eldridge gripping the mic with hand in leather glove. The room filled and we grooved and gyrated to their compulsive rock set, including early hits, Alice, the Body Electric and covers of Gimme Shelter, and yes, the Dolly classic, Jolene. Great gig, all things considered, and not bad for two quid.
Fast-forward 33 years, to Thursday 8th December 2016, and I found myself at the Half Moon pub in Putney, South London, where tribute band The Smyths performed to an enthusiastic room full of Smiths fans, ranging in age from teenagers to us fifty-somethings who were around when Morissey was first warbling.
As I sipped my pint of flat lager I reflected that it was a happy meeting of creative talent when gawky teenage poet Stephen Morrisey met shy tunesmith Johnny Marr at Salford’s Boy’s Club in the early 80s. The unremitting bleakness of Manchester’s gray post-industrial decay, high youth unemployment and the pressure to find a job, the heart-rending crimes of the Moors Murderers, all formed a backdrop against which Morrissey’s urban poetry found a new outlet as song lyrics. Some themes keep recurring to give an oddly current feel to some of the songs.
That night I finally understood the difference between imitation and veneration. That ‘tribute’ is indeed a sign of respect for something that deserves to live on. Here was a band performing the works of the Smiths in a reverential manner, technically accurate right down to mannerisms and nuances, fronted by a singer so alarmingly similar in both voice and looks to a young Morrissey that you had to blink and rub your eyes.
But he isn’t Morrissey, he’s Graham Sampson, a talented singer in his own right, sporting quiff, flowery shirt and charity shop necklace, giving the fans his interpretation and paying homage in this brilliant set of songs. I reeled around the fountain once more and sang along with the other 300 revellers at this pulsating sell-out gig, re-living and celebrating the eternal charm of these songs, now passing to a new generation of fans.
We sang along to lyrics that refuse to be forgotten:
It’s time the tale was told, of how you took a man and you made him old…
Punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate, will nature make a man of me yet?
Park the car by the side of the road; don’t you know, time’s tide will smother you.
I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving, England is mine, and it owes me a living.
Shoplifters of the World unite and take over! Panic on the streets of London!
Because the music that they constantly play means nothing to me about my life – hang the DJ!
So what difference does it make? I’m so sick and tired and I’m feeling very sick and ill today.
…and don’t go home tonight, go out and find the one that you love and who loves you…
The Smyth’s take a bow.
If you enjoyed this piece, then try my new novel, Devil Gate Dawn: