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Here's a thought

Tuesday 31st July, clear and bright, pure blue skies.
Here's a thought. If 17, 18, 19, millions of lives have been utterly disrupted (various estimates), and the people of the UK (at least) have been scraping out their pockets, for the sake of the Holy Month or the teachings of the prophet Jesu, or whatever inspires us Infidels to compassion, isn't it ludicrous that Pakistan, as well as struggling under the burden of climate-change related civil unrest, and decades of political corruption, has to suffer this huge ecomomic catastrophe while still servicing the old monster post-colonial debt? If you think this is nuts, then let somebody know. Here's the link:

Here's another thought, somewhat more frivolous. The Cheltenham Literature Festival has an exciting Science Fiction strand this year, curated by China Mieville, including a history of genre event in the Inkpot Tent on Sunday afternoon. Of course if you are in the region you want to come along, and I hope you can make it. Full details and a preview/review can be found here at Torque Control.

Post Hungry Ghosts

Thursday 26th August, cool air, rain clearing.

Sadly the photo isn't mine, it was taken by Bill of the Birds, but it's quite like the moon as I saw it rising over Racehill on Tuesday night. So now the year has turned and I'm back at my desk, though not fully back at work until after the fourth, as my schedule is too broken up.

Have paid ritual visits to the Interzone hangouts in Tanger, have played in the Atlantic waves, have endured a horrible train ride from Fess to Tanger (why can't we take the nice bus, says I? No, no, says Peter. See here where it says, trains are efficient, air-conditioned and comfortable. Pah. Rough on tourists, if you ask me. And might have been a reliable Guide if they'd troubled to do a proper update in the last decade). Have tramped for hours around the Prado, have walked in the hot night and found a real Eygptian temple in the Park of the West, shimmering above its reflection in dark water. Madrid is the city of dogs, Tanger is the city of Alpine swifts, Meknes is the city of storks. Worst bit, when we found that they've moved the shiny new ferry port half way to Algeria, so not only do we get the Airport Experience we were trying so hard to avoid (though thankfully without any evil War on Terrorism stuff), but they made it a Ryanairport. Best bit, and worth the price of admission, the Cedar forest of the Middle Atlas, a wonder of the world. And fantastic hailstorms. (is this normal? we asked the hotel manager. No! he said. Nature has been very strange this year).

The pools are brimming, the little frogs (such as have survived a summer with the cat population) are hopping, my little shorn meadow is a carpet of slugs and the plums are past praying for. We came back to sad news for this small part of the world: new outbreak of Dutch Elm Disease. It sounds as if it's really bad in the Friston Forest. Brighton and Hove City Council insist that within Our City quarantine is still being maintained, but we don't believe them. We can see the losses, another of the giants by the Pavilion gone, another of the survivors around the Level. And that's only in the most public places. There's a man in Essex says he's found and is propagating a resistant strain, and I'll try to believe that. But I think they'll all go. All our elms. There's no funding left you see. No money for proper removal of affected trees, no money for constant vigilance.

If the devastating floods in Pakistan have the same root cause as our cold winter (blocked jet stream weather systems, low solar activity, it says here) does that mean there were devastating monsoon floods in our seventeenth century little Ice Age? I suppose there must be records.

News of coming events to follow. Now back to family business admin, and preparing White Queen. The Aqueduct Press are going to bring out the Aleutian Trilogy as e-books, and I'm very pleased about that. I wanted to put the books out there again, but I wasn't totally happy about offering them for free on my website. Adult material, you know.