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Tuesday 3rd September, light cloud, light breeze: feeling cooler. Trying to encourage happy thoughts and positive energy in the world, when all I hear is bad news, I've decided to list some of my favourite things of the moment. In no particular order, so take no notice of the numbers, it's just a convention.

1. I'm loving the whole anti-fracking thing. Great work, please keep it up. Some may depend on mega-salaried goal-scorers, some on celebrities embarrassing themselves. Or kittens. Me, it's people like you who help me to get up in the morning.

Someone asked me, via twitter, what was the location under threat in the Southdowns National Park? That's Fernhurst, in Surrey. Celtique Energie "will be seeking permission some time in the next months". Wisborough Green and Kidford, in West Sussex are next in line. Given the position of the alleged bonanza-bearing shales, the sad fact is that once Cuadrilla have fracked at Balcombe (which they fully intend to do) it all goes. But never say die.

2. Loving the UK Members of Parliament for their no vote last Thursday. Don't Attack Syria sounds wrong to me. I think it should be Don't Attack Assad. Regime change doesn't work is a lesson we thought was learned. Drop Atropine not missiles, is one good idea I've seen. I'm wishing and hoping there'll be no more "Western" military interventions in the Islamic Bloc from any quarter. The intentions may be "humanitarian", the consequences are a lasting hell for the people on the ground (if they survive the shock and awe bit). Especially, if you'll excuse a partisan moment, the women.

3. The HS2 sceptics! Love you a million, guys.

Let's not be economical with the truth: not my usual bedfellows. But this gargantuan bloated vanity project really stinks. Just another funnel to concentrate wealth in the South-East, while the real rail network festers in misery and decay. Will it go ahead? Of course it will! It is Osborne's Big Idea! But thanks for trying!

4. Well, this is not a happy pet love. The ash trees. The new confirmed dieback sites I've been waiting for have started to emerge. Dorset, a spread into mature woodland from infected new planting; okay. But Derbyshire, confirmed sites with no new plantings near by, that's not good, not good at all. Metastasis has begun. Love them while you can.

5. The whistleblowers on the "Gagging Law". Second part of the Transparency of Lobbying Bill. Part 1 just ensures that lobbying will remain as non-transparent as ever. Which compared to Part 2, has to be called relatively benign. Join the people who are making a fuss, any way you can; while you still can Please.

Other news: Glad to see the TOC of Gardner Dozois and George Martin's Old Venus has been revealed, with my story in the cut. After a year or so of getting stern reminders in the post every month, I'd been missing the discipline. I enjoyed writing that one, very much. I bet we all did. Many thanks to the editors for allowing me to have such fun. And the Science Fiction Writers Round Table organised by Red Pepper magazine is online. My remarks, as usual, the most cavalier and off the cuff, although Marge Piercy isn't far behind. Which I don't mind, I'm used to my sad faults, but then they cite White Queen as the novel that fits the "progressive sf" bill, whereas I would definitely have picked Bold As Love. Ah well.


Breaking Bad.Trenchant satire on ruthless toxic capitalism? Or a fine upstanding Fifties'r'us drama about a downtrodden male who finds his macho, puts food on the family table & makes it to the top? Let the people choose! I doubt if I'd have stayed with this if it had been weekly episodes, but have to admit, it has its moments.

What Maisie Knew. Cute little girl, sad and disturbing little story (when rich parents go bad). I think a committee must have vetoed the real ending.


Loving it but feeling a bit sick. John Richardson's Picasso biography. Volume One was fascinating, and I'm looking forward to Volume Two, but Volume Three, after the Parisian Avant Garde and Jazz Age Society part of the great man's life fades out, is plain distasteful.

The stinking rich Schiffs gave a dinner for geniuses, inviting Proust, Picasso, Stravinsky and James Joyce, after a Ballets Russes first night (May 1921) "Joyce turned up late, drunk and inappropriately dressed..." Of course he did!

*I don't really like that term progressive, though I know all the young people do. Progress is progress, there aren't two kinds, a good kind and a bad kind. There's one kind, and it needs Protest to keep it honest. A LOT of protest.