Freeview. Methinks it promises much, but leaves a lot to be desired Horatio…

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In the commercially driven world of British television today, we are given so much choice, or are we?  When it comes to quality viewing and despite its many changes and internal wrangles, the BBC still sets the standard…

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For those of us who do not wish, purely on principle, to contribute monthly to the wealthy bank balances of Sky or Virgin Media or any of the other ‘pay per view’ systems currently available, there is Freeview. It does what is says on the tin – it gives us free access to hundreds of Television and Radio channels. Unfortunately barely a half dozen of them are worthwhile!

In reality Freeview is nothing more than a dumping ground for channels that fail to turn a profit, or more importantly as far as their owners are concerned, attract large numbers of viewers essential to the ridiculous ratings system.

And now we come to a few examples, take channels like ‘Yesterday’, a history channel, or Film4, a channel dedicated purely to film – the clue is in the title of both.

Take Yesterday. While I applaud the idea of a channel dedicated to the subject of history, what I do not appreciate is the continuous repetition of programmes. Surely there are far more programmes of a historical nature than the two dozen or so, currently on offer. You can only watch programs like Larry Olivier’s The World at War once, maybe twice. While I’m on the subject of history, where exactly does repeating the excellent BBC programme Antiques Roadshow under the Yesterday banner fit within the category of history? As I said earlier the clue to the program is in the name you morons!!

What about Film4? What about it indeed? This channel is even worse when it comes to endless repeats of the same twenty or thirty films in their archives which quite frankly where so bad when they were originally screened that mercifully they simply disappeared from view, both on the silver screen and on television. Oh no wait a minute here they are alive and well, resurrected from the film graveyard!

Ahah I hear you cry, but other Freeview channels offer films to. I agree with you, yes they do. But if you bother to check the titles instead of merely sitting in front of your television with your brain switched off,  you will find that all of the television channels simply pass around the same films amongst themselves under the subheading ‘New to this Channel’.

I mean really, how many times can you watch a film like Doctor Doolittle, starring Rex Harrison (circa 1967), or maybe Independence Day starring Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum (circa 1996) before you cry “Enough already!”

While I’m on the subject, who in their right mind wants to watch channels like ‘bid tv’, or ‘Ideal World’, or maybe how about mindless drivel like QVC? I know the system is called Freeview folks, supposedly offering us over seven hundred channels to choose from. But if you eliminate all barring BBC 1,2 and Four together with ITV, Channel 4 and 5, the rest is not worth watching. As for the radio channels BBC Radio 3, 4 and 4Extra along with Classic FM are the only ones worth listening too…

At least with digital technology having replaced analogue, I can now settle down in the evening to watch quality BBC programmes on the Beeb’s best channel BBC4, or on BBCIPlayer. Sadly both have stepped aboard the repeat bandwagon of late.Heres hoping that it is only a blip in an otherwise excellent record.

Time to turn the television off and read my favourite book, or play a game of solo chess before bed with maybe BBC Radio 3 playing some soothing classical music in the background. That’s my idea of repetition. I can always catch up in the early hours of the morning with something I wanted to see on BBCIPlayer, which I intend to do now.

Signing off at 01.43AM

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Writing is an addiction, so why do we do it to ourselves?

I asked myself this question back in December 2011. I’ve yet to find the answer…

In today’s literary marketplace, while a tiny minority of books become million sellers, most do not. There comes a time when most of us who are committed to writing have to ask ourselves a fundamental question – why do we bother to do it?

We spend months, years even, agonising over, and getting a storyline out of our systems onto paper, or computer screen, sacrificing a normal existence and suffering sleepless nights. And then when we are relatively happy with it, we send it off to our publisher like a proud parent watching their offspring going to school for the first time.

Like all proud parents, we wish nothing but the very best for our ‘child’, and yet that moment of final separation is when doubt and extreme anxiety enter our souls. Will our ‘child’ be alright? Will it be treated in the best possible way once it is out of our hands?

Nothing within the world of books and publishing is an absolute given. As the doting parent of that literary ‘child’, deep down we want nothing less than a one hundred percent assurance that it will be nurtured by the publisher we send it to, and its readers.

To write a book which grabs the reader’s attention is not an easy task. The whole thing is largely down to pure luck. Coming up with a concept that no other writer has used before is difficult in the extreme, especially these days when the market is flooded with new titles.

If you want your ‘child’ to be seen bobbing around amongst the rest currently available, it simply has to appeal to a wide audience. After all, the days of people having the time, or indeed the inclination, to want to search out a book the old fashioned way and then sit down to read it, and to hell with everything else, are sadly gone.

To put it another way, your intelligently written ‘child’ has to compete in today’s marketplace designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, saturated as it is with endless numbers of mind numbing biographies ghost written for so-called celebrities, or the plethora of cook books, Mills & Boon style romances. Not an easy task when you take the time to think about it.

And so I say – why do we bother to do it? especially these days when literary assassins aka Trolls, are chomping at the bit, ready to pounce on your child and tear it to bits to dissuade potential readers from even considering your child in the first place! My extremely short novella Autumn 1066 suffered one the other day…

For this writer it is simply because I have an overwhelming desire to write. Which means I have a tendency to inflict completely unnecessary mental torture upon myself. As for the rest of the writers in this world, if you are acquainted with some of them, you will have to ask them why, bearing in mind the anxiety we all face when finally letting go of our cherished ‘child’.
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I’m Bald and I’m Proud

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Bruce Willis

Throughout the history of humanity, a large percentage of the male population have wound up bald. There no shame in this; it’s merely a fact of nature.

However, some men for reasons which totally escape me, are ashamed of becoming bald. Personally I blame male vanity together with the gentle ribbing suffered from friends, colleagues and family, especially young female family members.

With vanity or enforced shame brought on by nagging, many of the aforesaid either buy an ill-fitting toupee, which at best looks like the semi-wild neighbourhood tomcat has taken up residence on their heads, or subject themselves to implants.

Then there are the equally weak members who are browbeaten into shaving their heads by their spouses? I would suggest this sector of the male population numbers in the hundreds of thousands. Personally I’d rather be bald on top with the remainder of my head, namely around the sides and back, left alone to continue sprouting hair rather than being forced to shave my bonce to look like a convict – see the above picture of the Hollywood star Bruce Willis!

There is however one subsection of the bald fraternity who should be forced to change their hairstyle in my humble opinion. Why? Because they bring great shame to the venerable order of the bald pate!

I refer of course to the members of the dreaded comb-over brigade including the current United States President – Donald Trump. Seriously guys – having a horizontal parting just above the top of your ear running fore and aft along the side of your head is not cool! Plus, by adopting this approach to encourage what amounts to a tatty, often matted lick of hair to cover your bald spot, which inevitably flops back over your ear when a breeze blows, is definitely a no-no. So for the sake of the honourable members of the venerable order, desist forthwith or be cast out forever!

Lastly brothers remember one thing. Whether your head is shaven, or like me naturally bald on top, our domes are a natural target for skin cancers when out in the sun, no matter where we live across the planet. It’s not rocket science here guys; protect yourselves from the ravages of the sun by wearing some form of headgear.

Above all, don’t give in to public derision and family pressure my brothers. Be proud of the by-product of our testosterone induced lack of hair growth on our heads.  Carry your shiny badge of masculinity with dignity my brothers. Repeat after me, “I’m bald and I’m proud!”

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To Kindle, or not to Kindle, that is the question…

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How many times over the years have you, like me, lent one of your precious books from your personal library to a friend or colleague, never to see it again? If you are a book lover, you feel violated, let down and downright annoyed that the copy of a book you sought out from the many displayed on your local book shops shelves, has vanished forever.

But a book, especially a paperback edition, is merely a thing and therefore not important – correct? Wrong! Someone took a great deal of time and energy creating that precious manuscript for your reading pleasure. Plus books were never ever designed to be read and then disposed of. Nor were they ever meant to be treated roughly by having their spines broken, a practice I abhor.

Just look at the sad sight of misused and abused books available in the plethora of second hand bookshops, the graveyard for terminally ill copies of literary works,  be they fiction or fact, within your own nation. Many have torn pages. Many have terrible wounds inflicted upon them by unthinking people who have bent them backwards, or folded the top corner of a page instead of inserting some form of bookmark to mark their place within the novels pages.

Well, all those disgusting and downright unthinking practices can now end forever. No longer will you need to replace your lost copy to fill the gap in your book shelf. No longer will your precious books be subjected to the unthinking and callous misuse by the moronic sector of the world of readers.

I give you the answer to all of the above – Kindle and its sister version of the EBook reader, Nook. Amazon brought out Kindle, and Nook is the product of Barnes & Noble. There are others out there, far too many to mention.

Here I make the case for Kindle as an excellent example of the way books can now be purchased and read. Progressive book sellers like Amazon now offer the reader two ways of buying that ‘must have’ book. You can either order your physical copy, whether it is hardcover, or paperback, then within a few weeks it will arrive through your letterbox, or you can do what I do.

Either buy yourself a Kindle Reader, or as I have, simply download the totally free version of Kindle for PC. Next all you have to do is find the Kindle version of that ‘must have’ book, and with one click, within the space of one minute, you have the book sitting in front of you on your Kindle Reader or your Kindle for PC programme. No lengthy lead times, no “Currently this book is out of stock”, and best of all, your precious book is out of reach of those serial book abusers for all time!

Try it; I guarantee you that you will not regret it…

My Morning Routine Doesn’t Change…

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The older I get, the grumpier I get…

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A morning routine is something the entire population of the world has in common. Mine consists of the following, apart from walking into a half open door in the dark on occasion, otherwise it wouldn’t be a routine would it! Why in the dark? Because at the ungodly hour I wake every morning, my eyes cannot stand strong light, especially overly bright light bulbs!

I slowly emerge from the land of nod as the realisation that morning is assaulting my still closed eyes. No matter which way I turn in bed; no matter how hard I try to pull the duvet over my head, morning wins, no matter whether its still dark or not…

My feet act on their own, swinging out of bed closely followed by my body. My brain however is still snuggled down in the warmth of the bed. Now in my divided state, I’m instantly grumpy as my body walks to the bathroom bleary eyed.

Next comes further walking, this time to the kitchen via the hallway. My whole body goes into auto-pilot mode. Get kettle, take same to sink. Remove lid, place under tap; turn on tap, fill kettle, replace lid then plug in. With eyes that still refuse to open properly find coffee jar, open, feel around for measuring scoop, place scoopful of coffee into coffee plunger.

Go to living room, open curtains. Curse as my body reacts to toe stubbed on table leg – my brain sniggers to itself, still thinking its in bed. It didn’t feel a thing. Turn on television for breakfast news. My body sits in favourite chair; my brain shows no sign of joining my body as yet.

Instead it yells to my body, “Turn the damned kettle on you plonker!” My body stumbles through door to the kitchen stubbing more toes on the half open door. My brain chuckles to itself. My body now positively hates my brain.

Kettle boils. My body slowly reacts still on auto-pilot. The coffee plunger is filled, my body takes it into the living room and places same beside my favourite chair on small table. My left hand operates on its own as it pushes plunger down. The same hand picks up coffee plunger, pours coffee into mug.

Both of my hands now search for tobacco and cigarette papers on the table beside my chair. Between them they roll first fag of the day, then stick same in my body’s mouth. Left hand picks up lighter, lights fag. My body takes first deep drag on fag. My left hand then picks up coffee mug. My right hand holds fag while my left lifts mug to my mouth. At a given signal by my nose my mouth opens to receive coffee. First mouthful swallowed, my right hand replaces fag in my mouth.

Then, as if by magic an instant transformation follows as my brain rejoins my body assisted by caffeine and nicotine. Now my day can begin at last.

PS – until all of this occurs in exactly the order I have just stated, I’m like a bear with a sore head…

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Seeing is not necessarily believing…

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First written by me on the 14th September 1996

To this day, I still don’t know what we saw all those years ago. I am absolutely positive it was neither man-made. Nor was it by any stretch of the imagination a natural phenomena. Maybe you can tell me what eight normal rational human beings saw that night.

It was back in Hamilton, New Zealand around the end of the summer of 1978. Together with a group of friends, I spent an extremely pleasant evening observing the heavens using the eight-inch Celestron reflecting telescope I had at the time. After about four hours observation we decided to spend some time laying back and seeing how many shooting stars and satellites we could spot for an hour or so.

The night was one out of the box. As anyone who is interested in astronomy will tell you, there are only a finite number of nights (approximately twenty-five in New Zealand) during the year that reach anywhere near the optimum ‘seeing’. In other words I’m talking about near perfect conditions, no moon, no glow from street-lights, no natural haze, no clouds, no fog – nothing. The only way to better the ‘seeing’ would be to piggyback aboard the Hubble scope!

We took a large groundsheet and spread it on the lawn so we would be comfortable, laying head to head to cover all the visibly night sky from our position. After about fifteen to twenty minutes, a couple of shooting stars were spotted entering the atmosphere from a northerly direction. After a little while, we saw the first of four satellites enter from the northwest and exit via the southeast. Later the second one scribed a path from the north-northwest to the south-southwest. A third came in from almost due east and disappeared immediately overhead to the west as it re-entered the earth’s shadow. The fourth made its debut almost simultaneously with the third but from the southwest exiting from our view to the northeast. All this happened over a period of approximately an hour and a half to be repeated again at roughly eighty-minute intervals. We didn’t see any more shooting stars nor did we see any aircraft. At the time in New Zealand, the number of commercial aircraft was much smaller than present day. Hamilton’s airport only operated during the hours of daylight.

The next thing we witnessed was truly awe-inspiring! It was getting on for 12.30-12.45am when it happened. A perfect circle of white lights appeared directly above us, hung there for what seemed an eternity, but in reality was only a matter of a minute or two before it took off vertically at breathtaking speed and disappeared from view! Our immediate reaction was meteor shower, but meteors don’t climb, they fall through our atmosphere burning up or bounce off. We were so excited by the phenomena we’d just witnessed that we spent a long time trying to figure out exactly what it was we’d seen.

The circle of lights were stationary, by that I mean they didn’t spin in a circular motion. The number of lights was approximately ten to twelve. The space in the centre of the lights was black. In other words, no light was visible from the stars above it. The circle made no sound whatsoever. It was approximately a hand span in width holding your arm out at full stretch. Estimated altitude was in doubt. By consensus we agreed at a figure from one to five hundred feet. At that time of year the Orion constellation pictured above as seen from the Northern Hemisphere, together with the Southern Cross and the Beehive are the dominant night sky features against the Milky Way in the southern skies. Other objects like dark gas clouds can also be observed so that to an experienced observer one more piece of blackness in a patchwork of lights would not necessarily be out of the ordinary. And if something wanted to hide what better place than directly below a gas cloud, where its telltale shape would go unobserved. How long it had been there we couldn’t guess. Why it was there or what it was we didn’t know. But one thing we definitely did know was that we had all seen it! We also agreed it wasn’t man-made or natural. The other thing we were adamant about was that we would never talk about it again to each other or mention it officially at the time. You have to remember that back then anyone who reported something of this nature was considered a candidate for the local nut house.

Until that night, I’d been sceptical about so-called UFO’s I still am to some extent. What we saw that beautiful summer night all those years ago I’d never forget as long as I live. After the event, we all went our separate ways and to this day, we have not kept in contact. I don’t know if any of the group are still living locally, I can’t remember their names or the exact date we saw it. But one thing I do remember very clearly, and I’m sure the others of the group will should they read this account, is that we all saw the circle!

One final note. I used to carry a small piece of scrap brass in my wallet. On it, I inscribed what I saw that night, the circle superimposed over the Orion constellation with the Beehive and the Southern Cross. On the back I scratched the words Jack Eason Third planet-System Sol. Don’t ask me why I did it; I just felt I had to. This was one sighting of an unexplained phenomena that was never reported to Project Blue Book in the US or the MOD’s former UFO investigator, Nick Pope back in the day…

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Have you ever wondered…

… why I named this blog – Have We Had Help? Yes/no? Then read on anyway…

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You have to begin to wonder just how much fact there is among the vast amount of disinformation, fantasy, and accounts of sightings of alien life forms in this day and age. Thanks to the paranoia fed by the hidden agendas of various governmental groups in countries like the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany, as well as the former ‘Iron Curtain’ countries, it becomes increasingly more difficult to sift the wheat from the chaff.

Have you ever stopped to think how quickly we have advanced since the turn of the twentieth century? It wasn’t all that long ago, we were utterly reliant on the horse and cart, candles, and sailing ships; the list is endless. Since the end of the Second World War, we have experienced a technological leap well beyond the normal rate of progress for mankind.

Over the past 25,000 years, man has slowly but surely advanced towards a state of civilisation and self worth in keeping with his ability to learn by trial and error, enabling us to find out what works best in any given situation. And yet since the late nineteen forties, the rate we have advanced in all areas of technology simply beggars belief!

We now have the ability to leave this beautiful planet of ours, to extend our natural lifespan via various means, and to create weapons of mass destruction and of stealth. Are you willing to accept this accelerated advancement without questioning just how it is we have achieved so much in so short a time?

The most implausible explanation can be made plausible if it is uttered by someone in authority. I simply do not, and will not, believe that we have made such rapid advances on our own. For this to have happened, someone must have given us a hand in all this, but at what price?

Since nineteen forty-seven, people around the world have reported various phenomena, totally alien to our way of life. The various branches of the news media have tended to trivialize most of the reports by categorising them as ‘flying saucers’ or ‘little green men’ etc, ably encouraged by governmental agencies who quite frankly scare the hell out of me! While a lot of the phenomena witnessed by people from all walks of life, all racial groups, all political persuasions, and all religious beliefs, can be satisfactorily explained away, there are a growing number that cannot!

As we move further away from the beginning of the new millennium, just how many of the prophecies in collections of books like those contained within the ‘Old Testament’ for example are going to be fulfilled, assuming of course that we take what is written in them as being the truth?

While it must be remembered that the people who originally wrote the original texts of books like the Old Testament were by today’s standards considered primitive, and had a far less sophisticated use of words, they never the less give us a rudimentary picture of their times. If they are to be believed, then they we’re not alone. Are we experiencing the same kind of assistance, are we being nudged in a specific direction? If so to what end and more importantly – why?

Throughout the history of mankind, we have had our failures and successes. We have learned, and at times unlearned, as in the ‘Dark Ages’ which weren’t actually dark, merely a time of tumult. But we have seemingly done this on our own, at our own pace. But now we seem to be aboard a runaway train, from which we cannot get off. Why are we experiencing such rapid advancement in technology, medicine, and at what cost?

Why is it that mankind seemingly advanced from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon in a relatively short space of time? To transform from an almost apelike creature to a life form, which could pass you in the street without drawing attention to itself, seems remarkable to say the least! And yet it happened.

Why, if the historians are correct, were there relatively advanced groups of humans in control in days gone by, like the ancient Egyptians who bear little or no resemblance to the obviously North African people they ruled over? Where did they spring from? Where do they fit in the scheme of things?

Why do ancient peoples like the Maya speak of pale blond gods who set the pattern for their lives centuries before ‘white men’ first arrived in Central and South America?

Why does a man miraculously arrive on the scene in ancient Judea via ‘virgin birth’, supposedly perform miracles, change mans way of thinking, get hinself crucified, then sealed in a cave before disappearing? Why does that same man then supposedly reappear a few months later in Shingo prefecture, northern Japan and live to a ripe old age in anonymity?

If we are being ‘helped’ once more by non-human peoples, then it is incumbent on the governments of the more powerful nations to come clean. If however, as many believe, we are paying a price in human lives for technological advances beyond our present capabilities to fully appreciate, let alone invent for ourselves, then the price is far too high!

Whether you believe, as I do, that we are not the only sentient form of life in the universe or not, the fact is that some outside influence is at work, and has been for the better part of seventy years! In other words my entire lifetime. We are kidding ourselves if we believe otherwise.

If, as a growing number of people believe, and I number myself in this group, we are being ‘helped’ somehow, hence the name of this blog – Have We Had Help, what are the government agencies afraid of? Why don’t they admit to non-terrestrial beings living and working alongside us? If they have a hidden agenda for mankind as some sort of subservient species designed to be a slave group, or worse, then we must be told the truth! If there is nothing to hide, then where’s the harm in admitting the existence of the various groups of non-terrestrials? If they are benevolent or not then please say so and don’t keep us in the dark any longer! Not knowing is far worse than knowing…

At least if we know the truth then we can prepare ourselves one way or another for what is to come. By not telling the people of this beautiful planet what is going on, the governmental agencies are preparing the way for mass hysteria if non-terrestrials are already in control and are going to do anything harmful. After all, we receive warnings for things such as volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, and tidal waves that enable us to take steps to protect ourselves.

If, however the non-terrestrials are so advanced that there is nothing we can do to protect ourselves against whatever they may have in store for us then we must be told now, not at the eleventh hour!

If on the other hand there are no non-terrestrials, as the governmental agencies would have us believe, and the secrecy surrounding the brilliant leap in technology in the last seventy odd years is solely down to mankind, prove it! Throw open the doors of places like ‘Area 51’ in the US to groups of responsible human beings from various nations around the world who can once and for all put an end to all the speculation and rumour mongering surrounding such places.

If its good enough to send teams of people to inspect various situations around the world like Iraq’s armament factories, or the former Yugoslavian countries various hell-holes, then its good enough for agencies like the United Nations to send similar groups to places like ‘Area 51’, and the so-called underground bases around th world. We’re not asking the various military groups to publicly expose their military hardware. All we want to know is whether or not its all our own work! If its not then its high time we were told!

Bring the non-terrestrials out in the open for the entire world to see. Let them address the world via the UN. If it is their intention to somehow or other assimilate us then we have the right to know! If however they are here merely to help us advance from a warlike race to a peaceful one, then why not let them say so!

By neither confirming or denying what is going on, the governmental agencies are reinforcing the commonly held belief by people not only in the US, but all around the world, that each powerful nation has a hidden agenda regarding aliens. Are we approaching Armageddon as prophesied in the Old Testament?

The questions raised in this article can only be answered if we all demand to know the truth once and for all. The time has come when we can no longer remain complacent! Whether you believe in the existence of alien life forms or not, there is enough happening around the world for even the most sceptical among us to begin to wonder have we had help – isn’t there?

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