So… I’m not alone.

A small comfort to find that I’m not alone.

This was kindly forwarded to me by the very clever and charming Jenine Gibson at the Guardian… hit the nail on the head.
(twitterers follow her at!/janinegibson)

Basket Cases

Each year the Retail Prices Index and the Consumer Prices Index are given a spring clean, to ensure that they truly represents what the country is buying and consuming. Anything that has proved particular popular in the last year – racking up sales of about £400 million enters the list of 650 products and services. Items that have fallen out of favour with consumers are quietly dropped.

What sort of representative shopping basket is that?  Why don’t we have a “650 Items or Less” Queue?

We’re all moving up, much more refined, it seems, and so much lonelier… smartphones replace mobiles, oven-ready joints replace non oven-ready ones, sparkling wine replaces six packs of beer, MDF replaces hardboard.  Out go the fags and sterilising the cat, in comes the hair conditioner and the dating agencies.

Every year I peer into this ‘basket’ of consumption and wonder if it shouldn’t be the other way around.  Me there in the basket consumed by all that stuff that I MUST have to take part in this game of monitised identity…

Changes to the inflation basket 2011

Smartphone handsets and their apps
Dating agency fees
Hair conditioner
Oven-ready joint
Dried fruit
Sparkling wine
Medium density fibreboard (MDF)
Craft kit


Mobile phone downloads
Pork shoulder
Vending machine cigarettes
Rose bushes
Vet fees for spaying a kitten


Pi Day – Little Known Fact

Pi Chart?


So March 14th turns out to be Pi day… in America.  But we’ve got no way of doing the same in the UK.  Our days really are numbered.

Economics Made Easy


Keeping things simple...


Evolution Strikes Back?



For years now scientist have been arguing that we have stopped evolving.

We have, apparently, become so adept at controlling our environment we no longer need to be fit to survive.  And our genetic offspring don’t, and so on and so forth.

Well it’s a comfortable view from over the dinner table in the rarified world of western life where we have the luxury to even think of such things.  Let’s face it, the majority of the world would eat us for breakfast, if they had the chance, and still have room for a bit of prociutto crudo swathed in lemon grass and finely chopped herbs on a sliver bed of buffalo mozzarella. It’s more than evident that there are a lot of unfit people in this super-tropical ‘developed world’ who wouldn’t last long in the competitive jungle.

But then it depends how you define ‘fit’.  ‘Fit’ as in Elle McPherson or Brad Pitt – or, in fact, almost anybody who appears on Prime Time US television who resemble their viewers in the same uncanny way that Laurel resembled Hardy-; or ‘fit for purpose’.

You see, whilst we hand-ring about the prevalence of obesity in the developed world, if we overlay a map of what parts of the world suffered an unusually cold winter this year – due, apparently, to us buggering up the climate with our fossil fuels and big mac flatulence -with the map graphing the rise of obesity… we see a tidy correlation.  The fattest places went through the biggest change in usual winter temperatures.  Global warming can, it seems, still produce an ice age in these sub-polar latitudes.

Where there's ice, there's fat

Now, since having a significant lardarse means you can retain heat better and survive at lower temperatures, is something going on here that we never even suspected?  Could that innate human survival instinct which we supposed was dormant have actually known the consequences of f***ing up the climate?  Has it been secretly preparing us by making us lust after an extra 300 zillion more calories per day than the sub-tropical parts of the world?  Could it be that our obesity ‘epidemic’ is in fact the rip-roaring return of ‘survival of the fittest’.  Have we been evolving into super-fatties for a reason?  Is evolution back with a vengeance?

Ask yourself.  Who is going to survive the next Ice-Age: Courtney Cox or Michael Moore?

I know who my money is on.

Book cover voting results.

Over fifty people kindly looked through the selection of eight covers

that are currently being considered for my upcoming book.  George polled over thirty five of his friends on facebook, (for which, though slightly boy heavy and probably not my primary market, I am very grateful) and I nagged my more mature friends.  The results were very interesting.  Broadly, men tended to go for the fifties bold imagery looks, women were drawn to the girl with the scratched out face.  Slightly more men than women responded but even without weighing that bias out, the girl with the scratched out face very slightly pipped the blue at 22 to 18.  Possibly had I not offered the red one (below) too, the blue bold look one would have won, but the top two images were clear leaders, receiving by far the lion’s share of votes. So in reverse order the winners are.

Third Place

Second Place

First Place


All right.  I am quite chuffed that this one won, as I can reveal now that it was the one that I designed.  I’m also glad it appeals to women as they seem, on the whole, to be more interested in buying fiction than men… or at least most of the men that I know.  That said I doubt that any of these will be the final cover as I don’t detect much support for it within Transworld.  Which is why I will be submitting two covers for consideration.  The scratched out girl and a typographic surprise cover…

Thank you everybody.  And if you fancy helping some more you could click here and tell me which strapline you prefer.


This has not been selected as the cover - but it shows you what a strapline does.

Apparently – in deference to Hollywood – books now need a strapline.

Some sort of phrase that sums up the story or the feeling or intrigues because of course the picture and the title are not enough.
So having polled my friends on the sort of cover that appeals, I’m going to try my luck with the strapline.  These are my first thoughts and they’re pretty rough.  If you can think of anything funny or witty or something that will grab attention please leave it in a comment… I thank you.


[poll id=”2″]