Sunday 25 September 2011


Take a good look at this picture. The customisation to this bike involved the likes of old stainless steel bread bins. It was built as a tribute to Captain America - the comic book hero.
We can do this.
I recall that even back in the sixties that many of the old Rockers or bikers made spare parts for our bikes. Even back then manufacturers' parts were pretty expensive.
So, from simple beginnings the customisation of bikes has grown.
Rat bikes, streetfighters, custom bikes and trikes are all around us now. Love them or hate them - you have to admire the workmanship; the artistic design - poetry in motion.
So, why change something that doesn't need fixing?
Yes, the EU wants to bring in regulations that effectively ends the customisation of bikes. Trikes would cease to exist unless they came from a manufacturer.
And - because they don't have a brain between them - this government will rubber stamp a regulation that, effectively, outlaws individuality.

So, if you are out and about today and your journey is delayed it is because there is a MAG demonstration.
From 1 pm you will find bikes and trikes in the slow lane for about 20mins. And while this may be a touch disruptive I hope that some of the car drivers join in.

Love or hate bikers - your car will be next. No more custom cars or hotrods.
Any EU Regulation takes away OUR individuality - takes away who WE are.

Demos will take place on M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M8, M9, M20, M25,M40, M42 and M62. Also, A1, A12, A14, A34, A38, A55 and A90 - and those are just for starters.

For once, forget any prejudices - your individuality could be next.

Friday 23 September 2011


Sadly, I have to write and report that the author John Burke died on the 20th September 2011 after a long illness.

John Burke was an inspirational writer and he will be missed.
My condolences go to his family and my thanks to Bronwen Burke who left a comment to advise of his death.

Some more about the life and work of John Burke can be found earlier on this site.

Sunday 18 September 2011

DEAD ISLAND by Mark Morris

In the beginning there was the trailer that millions tuned into. Dead Island looked to be the must have game of the year. Both the game and the novel were released on the 9th September and sold out on the day. Telephoned 'Game' and was told by that the game had not been released.
Seven days on and without anymore copies of the game to be found in stores or on-line I began to think that the hype was in full swing. I could imagine that the distributors were sitting around laughing as they made gamers hungry for the game.

Fortunately, Bantam have issued the novelisation of the game by Mark Morris. And a good job too for, having now read the book, I don't really need the game.

So four heroes and heroines are off on their hols (well, three are) on the paradise island of Banoi. One hit wonder Sam B is ready to make a comeback; ex-NFL footballer Logan is on holiday and Sydney cop, Purna, is taking time out after she has killed off a child abuser. The hotel receptionist, Xian Mai makes up the fourth. The thing they have in common is an immunity to the virus that is about to turn the population of Banoi into zombies.
It is a gory fight for survival as each character tries to deal with an unreal scenario. Zombies only exist in games - right? Each of the four have to come to terms with a very real enemy - and it turns out that zombies are just a minor problem.
I loved the moment where they come across a book rack that has Nevil Shute and Harold Robbins novels.

Mark Morris has produced one of the best game novelisations to date. He lives in Yorkshire. His first novel 'Toady' was published in 1989. Since then he has written sixteen books including four for the 'Dr Who' series. He is now working on the novelisation of a 1970s Hammer film 'Vampire Circus'.


My reading, just lately, seems to have developed a theme. First there was assisted suicide (Ruth Dugdall's 'The Sacrificial Man'); next came child abuse ('The Kid' by Kevin Lewis) and now something different that has a connection.
On the face of it Lizzie and Evie are two 13 year old girls who not only are the best of friends but live next door to each other. They share everything and know each other very well.
Megan Abbott's 'The End Of Everything' is a lot deeper than it first appears.
Told in the first person by Lizzie the reader learns that there are more to certain relationships than meet the eye. Some of it is innocent, though even that depends on how it is interpreted.
Evie disappears.
Has she been abducted?
Lizzie has clues and theories to offer - some presented as a lie yet are true in meaning.
The novel, set in the 1980s, is complex which makes it difficult to review.
What I really loved was a prose that could have come from Jack Kerouac (notably 'Visions Of Cody') and a story that evoked the atmosphere of Erskine Caldwell.
Highly recommended.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

THE KID by Kevin Lewis

Ever since Dave Pelzer came out with 'A Child Called It' books with various abused themes seem to have filled the bookshelves.
So Kevin Lewis's 'The Kid' wouldn't have normally caught my attention. What set it apart from other books (at first) was that it was set in King Henry's Drive in the New Addington area of Croydon (South London). This was right on my doorstep.
Kevin Lewis suffered a childhood that was punctuated with violent assaults on him by his mother while his father hid in the kitchen listening to Elvis and drinking himself into oblivion.
Little wonder, then, that Kevin wet himself - and got beaten for it. Not just by his mother but by the school bullies. Still Kevin's mother was clever for she never marked his face and if anyone asked about the bruises on other parts of his body she had the ready explanation that Kevin was a clumsy kid who was always falling over.
Still the day came when Kevin had his head split open and then, and only then, did Social Services act.
For two years Kevin found peace in a children's home. The bed wetting stopped and he began to live a normal life. Guess what - Social Services sent him back home to live with his parents. Of course, Kevin's life returned to one of daily beatings. Social Services were still monitoring the situation but Kevin's mother knew, in advance, when they were coming which gave her time to allow Kevin's bruises to fade.
I could go on more in the same vein but Kevin, eventually, fights back. He has big ideas and finds himself placed with a family who encouraged him in his dreams. Unfortunately, his new family (who do show him love and affection) do not know how far he will go to realise his dreams. Not all of it is honest but after all he has gone through who can really blame him.
Then he meets his future wife, Jackie, who has to be a strong influence in his life. In fact this book was written for her so that she would understand him.

'The Kid' is not an easy read. Through a touch of luck Kevin Lewis did not go the way of Baby P or Victoria Colombierre. If Kevin was neglected by his parents then he was, also, neglected by Social Services.
At the end of 'The Kid Moves On' he says that he thinks that Social Services should be given a chance. Sorry, Social Services is not fit for purpose. They can go into court, say what they like and the Judge believes what they say. There are more kids in care today that need not be there while those that are in real need of the Social Services care are neglected.
More often than not Social Services, just as they did with Kevin Lewis, ask the abused child if they want to stay with their family in front of their abuser. What else is the child going to say? Kevin Lewis knew that if he asked to be taken away his mother would have beaten him up.

'The Kid' has been made into a movie and filmed in various locations around Croydon.
Although a good movie that sticks to the basics of the abuse it becomes apparent that the second half of the story veers away from the original.

Still the one thing that I noticed is that Croydon Social Services as depicted in the book is no different today.