Tuesday, 20 December 2016

State of the nation 2016

You know when you're stuck in a rut? - When the tidal wave of fame that self-publishing a new book brings fades into the general background radiation of the Yuletide holidays.

(Christmas book-launches only seem to make sense if you have an unlimited advertising budget... Or indeed any advertising budget at all. Because people tend to spend their money on StayPlations and Microsfot Eggsboxes for their jammy-faced, unappreciative kids who'll be parents themselves by the time they're 15 - And don't give a second-hand fig about you. Because books are boring and old-fashioned and someone who gives a book for Christmas is second only to the Aunt who smells of urine and buys you socks or pants every year from the Pound-shop in the crappy relative stakes.)

But I digress... I was talking to someone today about my book.  I kept correcting her by adding a sibilant 'Ss' every time she said 'your book' - I thought it was a clever way of implying the plural, what with me actually publishing at least four books and appearing in many, many more short story collections and being the editor of a handful of books for other people... But she just looked at me funny, I think that she thought I was pretending to be a snake... Or that I had a slow leak - Both of which were technically true, So her concern was real.

But the one thing she said during our conversation that struck a chord was "I've looked at your blog and it's not been updated for ages." She didn't go as far as to say, "And you're an old, fat, man who obviously can't keep up the pace where the 21st Century in general, and social media in particular is concerned," but you could tell she was thinking it.

(Actually she wasn't, she's really nice and she has danced with Mrs. Dandy of her own free will on many separate occasions - It's best not to ask!)

That spurred me on to actually write something, hastily forgetting that I'm currently working on my ghost story for this coming Friday - It's called 'Box' by the way, the next self-published book 'The Morehouse Decoration' and Vol 2 of the Windspider Saga (or Chronicles or something) called 'Child of Space' - But anyway, here we go, one hastily thrown together blog post... Erm... 

Oh! Tell you what, We've not had a 'State of the Nation' thing for a while have we?  For those of you who can't remember the last one, it's a few facts and figures about what's happened to the blog in the past month... All these facts and figures are accurate at time of going to press...

This month has seen another one of our Soviet Invasions - You know the drill, when we get thousands (and I mean actual thousands) of pageviews from Russia, Georgia and the Ukraine etc... They bumped our all-time pageviews up to 66,365 - Which isn't bad for someone who has an over-inflated view of himself and seldom, if ever, does anything pornographic to entice views - I haven't got the thighs for it any more you see. - That two-page spread that I did for that German gay-porn magazine seems like such a long time ago now.

Anywho - Here are the ten most popular post this month... In no particular order... Feel free to play Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' whilst you go through their titles - Feel free to keep it on whilst you're reading the posts too, but you'll need to have it on repeat and it turns into a bit of an ear-worm - Sorry about that

10 - 'Leg godt' as they say in Denmark - A deeply personal sojourn into my relationship with LEGO, detailing how it has effected my family. (And for long time fans, no, it's not the one with the mini-skirt, it's the other one)

09 - One small para-diddle for a man… - About the time I became one of the most starstruck people on the planet... And I didn't even talk to anyone who's actually that famous - Oh, and I talk about Marillion for a bit too.

08 - A shiny tuppence for everyone? - This was about popular ladies' hair-styles... But not the ones they have on their heads.

07 - Bikers can be fragile little flowers. - This is where I prove how nice a person I am by holding another man's penis for him with my own hands... Well, hand... Well, thumb and forefinger. And I looked away.

06 - Deconstruction Complete - Hey! The other LEGO post... Who'd have thunk that two posts about the same subject, written a year apart could be popular in the same month with Russians?

05 - Today is the first day of the rest of your life - This is a blatant advert for my new book, Forever Girl - You should totally read it. (The Post and the book - There are links to Amazon and everything - It really is the shiznit - Plus I'm using the profits to put my daughter through tattoo school)

04 - Women are brilliant! Literally, the sweetest thing - This is a discussion about me finding out that it's not only me that doesn't fully understand the modern, fashionable definitions of gender and its fluidity. (But it's funny too - Don't get me wrong)

03 - A discussion of pornography, do not read - Oh, I didn't realise quite how often I talk about sex and sexuality, there'd certainly something Freudian in there.  But this post sort of covers the difference between naked men and naked women (yes, I know, innies and outies, but... ) and erotica and pornography

02 - Ah'm with ye Jacky-Boy - A post about lovely, lovely Scotland and how I like to pretend I'm Scottish to fox the tourists in Scotland... I also like to wear a kilt, but that's another post all together.

01 - Public Toilets are not as much fun as I first thought - There's an outward theme of deviancy isn't there? It's not intentional, these post are the ones that you guys found popular and interesting.  I've written hundreds, but theses are the ones you chose to read. This ones about me and some urine belonging to someone else... And it's on me... And I'm not proud.

So, there you are, the ten posts that you odd people found popular this month - Give them a read and see what you think. Tell your friends. You should buy some of my books too, they're cheap and you can definitely get them for Christmas- They make great presents!

Until next time kids - If I don't see you before, the Christmas Ghost story should be going up on Friday

Otherwise - Merry Christmas!

Mrs Dandy & Myself being festively debauched

Oh, By the way, it wasn't just Russia, we had hits from France, Germany, Spain, India, Kenya, Cyprus, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico as well as the UK and the US - So by reading this you're making yourself part of a planetary gestalt... Just think about that for a second - Have you got a warm glow yet?

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Bikers can be fragile little flowers.

No really, listen… ‘Fragile’ might not be the first word you think of, you might choose to think ‘Scary’ or ‘Smelly’ or ‘Fond of wholesale deviant sexual practices’ or ‘Annoying’ (especially when they filter past you whilst you’re stuck in a traffic jam – Which is perfectly legal BTW – And, whilst we’re on the subject, you’re not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic.) And you’d be 100% right 95% of the time… Bikers can be all of these things, I know, I are one sometimes… I used to be one a lot more often, but I just don’t have the disposable income anymore – it can be an expensive way of life, especially if you have the mechanical aptitude of a dead sloth.

But ‘fragile’? Well, let’s take a minute to think, when they’re barreling past you on their back wheel with their hair on fire, it looks like all fun and games, right? But (and it’s usually a big, hairy butt) it all comes to a shattering halt when the pedophile in the long-wheelbase Transit van at the front of the traffic queue turns right without checking his mirror because he’s seen a schoolgirl.  And because our Barnaby* is minding his own business, tearing down the white lines, with his wrap-around shades and the bluebottles bouncing off his chin, whilst he hums Steppenwolf hits to himself. He doesn’t have time to do anything about it. There’s a banging noise, a biker shaped dent in the side of the van and the insurance brokers start circling the site like pinstriped vultures.

Which also explains why a lot of bikers limp, or have interesting scars or bits missing… Arms, legs, fingers, eyes, that sort of thing.  And it also explains why there are a lot of groups who exist to try and get bikers riding again after they’ve taken a sideway excursion along the Queen’s Highway, or through that ‘wire and post’ safety barrier that the Highways Agency are so fond of, or under a steamroller… Most of them are great, but some are just money making cons – and the one I used to be involved with was a mixture of the two (I found this out later, I’m not saying that I was knowingly conning the recently badly crippled in their time of need… Not on this particular occasion anyway)

There was this one time, about 20-25 years ago, that this group had organised to have a trade stand at the Scottish National Motorcycle show… And because I was all bouncy and keen and just nodded when people asked me to do things, and at the time, I had a girlfriend who had access to a big van, the decision was made to travel the 300-odd miles north, in what became the ‘Support van’… I say 300-odd miles, because we had arranged to take a torturous route, picking up members (easy Tiger) along  the way, who would either ride their own bikes, or cadge a lift in the van – We’d also arranged to take in a rally or two that were not completely out of our way.  I can’t remember any names… And as the story unfolds, you’ll understand that that’s probably for the best.

Our first pickup was fairly close to home. The young gentleman in question had a wheelchair, but wasn’t permanently wheelchair-bound and he was the proud own of a ‘Nippi’ which to the uninitiated, is sort of a three-wheeled scooter that you could load a wheelchair into… There should be a picture around here somewhere.

He decided, quite rightly, not to attempt the journey in that and we helped him up into the van – I’d never met him before, but he came across as a bit needy.  Which is something you don’t usually like to say about people with disabilities as obviously there are things that they can’t do, or have difficulty doing for themselves – it’s the nature of the beast. But he just struck me as, well, ‘high maintenance’ (You all hate me now, right? Just keep reading – I’m actually a hero - sort of)

The next pickup was a brilliant guy… Really liked him – He had some terrible degenerative bone disease and I understand that he’s no longer with us… But nothing was too much trouble for him, If you saw him out on the road, riding his silver Honda Goldwing (I think) you’d never know that he was any less able than you or me (well than you at least, I’m falling apart and will probably be shot next time I go to the vets for a checkup) – You’d only know that there was anything different about him when he stopped for petrol.  You see, he used to seize-up when he rode for over five minutes.  We all do that to an extent, us old people, but I’d say about half the time, he couldn’t get his feet down in time… And… Well, he used to topple-over.  His wife rode a similar bike, and she used to pull up next to him, until he got the feeling back in his legs and could get off and fill up… She didn’t make it every time though, or sometimes she’d lose her balance and go over too – And it never ceased to be funny. Especially as when I suggested that he get a trike... He replied that they were 'For girls'.

This is a Goldwing

One of the other members had a false arm (you literally cannot make this stuff up) and because he’d had his handlebar controls modified in a particular way, he used to wear a hook, rather than a prosthetic hand (it was a different time) And… He would occasionally help this guy pick his bike up off the ground… With his hook… Now, I don’t know whether my mind has filled in this memory, or it actually happened, but I’m fairly sure that during one such forecourt recovery at a motorway services, his arm came off… We couldn’t do anything for a good few minutes then… what with all the laughing and the needing the toilets as our bladders thawed.

Our first night away was spent in the van, at one of the rallies that I mentioned… Now, I don’t know how many of you have ever been to a biker rally, but it usually involves music and beer and assorted idiocy… Importantly, sometimes there are Portaloos, and sometimes there aren’t.  On this occasion, there were, but they seemed to be miles from where we’d parked the van.  At precisely stupid o’clock in the morning, I got shaken awake…

“Dandy? Dandy? Are you awake, I really need the toilet!” – Now, I was in the front of the van, and our sometime wheelchair using friend (for it was he) was in the back. 

I said, “Right, hang on, I’ll open the back doors.” So, I got out of the van, went around to the back and opened one of the doors. He moved to the doorway, and then looked back into the van – His wheelchair was covered in people, only some of whom I recognised… He looked at me like a kicked puppy,

“There’s no time, I’m desperate – You’ll have to carry me.” So I took a minute to compose myself, he put his arms around my neck and I lifted him out of the van.  We’d gone about 50 yards when he said, “I need to go now… Find me a bush!” – So, being the caring, inclusive beast of burden that I am, I carried him to the nearest hedge and set him down, unsteadily, on his feet. He just stood there looking at me.

I said “What?”

He replied, “My fingers are numb and I’m wearing leather jeans…”

I stood there for a minute opening and closing my mouth for a minute or so, before snapping it shut like a pelican at a Wagamama as I realised what mixed messages I must be giving out.

“You’re going to need to give me a hand, so I don’t get it all over me.”

Now, I’m going to leave the next couple of minutes to your imagination, but I did fall back on all my experience gained from de-gibleting a fresh chicken.  He managed to do himself up afterwards, and – truth be told, I needed to do a similar thing myself, but I had no intention of manually operating ‘Little Dandy’ without giving my hands a good, hot bleaching.  I carried him back to the van, and then sat and had a cry before ‘Blutoothing’ myself (I relieved myself in the same hedge, but did it handsfree, which is a trick you learn if you’re often slapdash with superglue when you're repairing a carb-rubber)

The rest of the trip to and back from Scotland was fairly uneventful, we picked up a Goldwing a couple of times and had to tighten the straps holding someone’s arm onto their body more times than I would do normally on an average weekend.  In fact, the only real item of interest came at our next overnight stop… Which was at our one-armed friend’s house.  We’d all had more Jack Daniels that was good for us and things were getting decidedly philosophical.  He’d removed his arm and smiled at me.

“So, did he get you to get it out for him?”


“His d*ck? Did he get you to get it out for him so that he could…”

“Well, he was…”

“Having difficulty with his jeans? Was about to have an accident? Yeah, he does that – It’s like a rite of passage for people he’s just met.  He sees how far he can push them… He only does it to blokes though.” He saw that I was jumping to a conclusion about his sexual orientation, “Oh, no, nothing like that… We’ve just told him that we’d beat the crap out of him if he tried it with a girl. We warn them anyway, just in case he forgets.”

He touselled my hair as I sat there and then went off to bed, saying, “You’re one of the gang now!” with a huge grin on his face.

One of the gang? Maybe, but he didn’t think it was quite so funny when he woke up in the morning and tried to put his jogging-bottoms on… We’d sewn the feet holes up you see… he was hopping all over the landing with a hangover… Then he fell down the stairs…

If it taught me nothing else, it taught me that disabled people are just as likely to be little sh*ts as able-bodied people are.

*Barnaby Wilde – a fictitious ‘everyman’ biker – Like a ‘John Doe’ type character.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

No-one’s actually sure who originally coined the phrase, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” A lot of people, mostly hippies with a more than casual interest in recreational drugs attribute it to Chuck Dederich (Snr.) who started the Church of Synanon back in the late 1950’s as a drugs rehabilitation organisation. Before it disbanded after they started posting live rattlesnakes to media figures that disagreed with their methods and suchlike.

Anywho, that’s totally off-topic…

I think we can all agree with me when I say that Christmas nowadays is a bit rubbish, it’s a bit commercial and it’s a bit ‘pretending to be nice to people we don’t really like.’ And also more than a touch, ‘Buying random presents for people we don’t know anywhere near as much as we think we do, so they’ll thank us and feel guilty for not getting us anything.’

So few of us sit around the upright piano in the parlour, singing traditional Christmas carols whilst Papa swigs rather too much cognac and roughly avails himself of the downstairs maid’s back-scuttle.  I mean, a lot of that’s to do with it being the 21st. Century of course… A time of hover-boards, virtual reality and monorails.  Your family is more than likely going to sit around the turned off TV in the living / dining / entertaining / hiding behind the sofa when the in-laws come around room staring into your new Smartphone / Tablet and telling everyone what you’ve got for Christmas, whilst Mum’s boyfriend sits in the downstairs toilet with a can of Special Brew and watches Pornhub via his slightly moist Google Cardboard.

But I can help you, I can drag you screaming back into a pastime that will both educate and entertain you, ‘Entercate’ if you will. It’ll join your broken family back together as you cluster together and interact with each other more than you do when the new Argos catalog is released.  It’s called ‘Reading’ and it is the new best thing ever…

Now, I don’t just mean reading something random, like Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a mockingbird’ or the ingredients list on the back of some Happy Shopper Brown Sauce… I mean real literature, written by a physically immaculate but still medically incongruous author of some small local repute.

(We’re talking about me now, me… It’s my blog, so we’re talking about me! Do try and keep up.)

Today, the First of September 2016, marks the launch of my new book!

You might have heard me talk about it, I think I may have mentioned it twice or so.  Here’s the cover:

That's my daughter on the cover you know...

Isn’t it lovely? Doesn’t it fill your loins with a hot buttery longing to read it over and over again?  Should anyone with a literary bent, or some degree of ‘A’ List fame have read it, they would no doubt say that their eyes had enjoyed themselves so much that they had unscrewed themselves from their sockets and jumped under a steamroller in ecstasy, happy in the knowledge that they had read the last thing they ever wanted to read, That their experience was the zenith of their visual career, and it would be traitorous of them to even consider reading anything ever again.

“But Dandy, what can I expect when I open your newly bought book for the first time?” I hear you whisper… Well, there’s that freshly-printed new book smell for one, that’s worth the price of entry alone… Then the thirty (yes, thirty) hand-made collections of ideas will assault the senses with a gusto normally reserved for a liaison with a pliable, flexible, shiny-faced doxy - armed with an orbital sander and a second-hand Breville Sandwich toaster.

The stories range from hummingbird like 500-word flash pieces, which cram a week’s worth of high-quality fiction into the space of time normally reserved for a reasonably satisfying trip to the toilet. To 40 page plus potboilers that deliver their final denouements like a broken Chablis bottle to the larynx.

It’ll cost you £7.99 from Amazon if you want it in paperback… And I know that you want it… I really do.  But if you’ve succumbed to the delights of the Kindle, then you could save a tree and part with just £1.59 – One pound and fifty-nine pence for over a year of my indentured servitude? I’m too good to you people, I really am.

Here’s a couple of links – This will take you to the Paperback

I can even sign them for you… Ostensibly free of charge, but obviously, the more cash you drop, or lacy underwear you show – The better, funnier, or more lewd the inscription could be (Please note: After being bitten last time, I will not inscribe books to fictional people, ID will be asked for… Mike Rotch is not welcome.)

So, buy some copies, give them away to your friends… You will suddenly be everyone’s second favourite person… (I'm everyone's favourite person, you should keep that in mind.)

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Buy my book, seriously...