Only following orders

Well, pretty much as I predicted recently, Private English, the West Virginia gal grinning happily in the Iraqi torture pictures is on the news tonight saying they couldn’t have done anything wrong because – you guessed it – she was only following orders. Well, as I observed earlier both Nuremberg and later courts on crimes against humanity (which the US is almost alone in not signing up to) made very clear that everyone is responsible for their own moral judgement, so that feeble excuse does not let you off the hook. Besides which in the armed forces of every democratic nation an illegal order is totally invalid regardless of the rank of the officer issuing it, so there is no impetus to obey it.

Even more sickening than this sociopath private trying to wriggle clear of her moral liability was the sight of the smegging idiots in the Pentagon (who must take much of the blame for all of this) giving Donald ‘Someone Take this Giant Lemon out my Arse’ Rumsfeld a bloody standing ovation for his leadership!!!! Right after being grilled over his inability to manage his post as secretary of offence – sorry, defence – by the public, the senate and international opinion. Way to convince the rest of the world that not all US forces are psychopathic, trigger happy nutters following rabid hate-mongers, guys! That was a great image to show the world after what’s been going on. But then again, since when did America care about the world? Like the idiots who video taped a defenceless civilian hostage while they decapitated need any more encouragement.

Xenophobes unite

Following on from his recent forced resignation from his long-running BBC show after penning a frankly racist article on Arabs for a British rag of a newspaper Kilroy has moved to show that he’s not some Xenophonic little twat by standing up and campaigning for the UK Independence Party. For those who don’t know, this is a bunch of fringe eejits who say they are against the European Union, but really are a meeting club for one of those most British of past-times, let’s have a go at foreign people. Has anyone told these shag wits that Queen Victoria is dead and the Empire is long, long gone? Didn’t Kilroy make a big enough arse of himself – even by his standards – on his recent appearance on Have I Got News For You?

Big headlights

The video for Powder’s new song, which has a hilarious superhero theme is groovy! Especially enjoyed the super heroine/lead singer who’s costumer includes giant headlights right where you’d expect them to be J. The presence of a scantily clad super heroine woman with big headlights in no way influenced my opinion.

Manchester bound

No, not the title of an S&M novel from Nexus; I was off yesterday morning to the Deansgate Waterstone’s in sunny (yes, it was) Manchester, into Ariel’s old stomping ground (SF section with space I can only dream of now run very well by Mike Rowley). I had an interview for a head office position running the Fiction Core Stock range, which luckily you can do from a branch and don’t need to do at the head office. Very fortunate since that is in the miserable suburban mire of Brentford, famous for being the home of Robert ‘Mad? Me?’ Rankin and for… Er, well nothing really – it is a dismal place you pass through quickly.

Started off badly. My bus got caught in a huge line of buses because someone broke down across a main junction and caused a huge tailback. Had to get out and run for Waverley train station, but made it, sweaty but in time. Except there’s no Manchester train on the departure boards. Check again. Nope, nothing. Only a few minutes to go, so I rush to the info point and they tell me where to go. Arrive at platform, no train yet. Running late already and I’m not even on it yet! Ah, British train travel… Spot nearby ATM and decide to get cash out, not being aware if they had such machines in Manchester (also took bottled water in case you couldn’t drink the local stuff, always a wide precaution). ATM jams with my card inside and swallows it. As the money doesn’t come out until you take your card that meant no money either. Train pulls up and I have to leg it with a whole £4 in loose change to get me through the whole day. Not the best way to start, especially when you’re going for an interview.

Get a text message from Ariel who points out that perhaps this gets all that bad juju out of the way before the interview, which was a better way of looking at it. Anyway, had a reasonably nice trip after that in a pretty comfortable Virgin train (no, not a train with onboard catering for thirsty vampires – the Richard Branson Laughing Gnome variety). Been a while since I’ve taken the train anywhere apart from Glasgow and it was pretty good. Power points at each seat so you can recharge your phone or plug in your laptop. A shame then that I left my laptop at home since I was only gone a day and didn’t bring my recharger for my mobile or MiniDisc. Another nice touch was the Quiet Coach, where you can’t use mobiles or have loud personal stereos. Nice idea, especially if you’re going to do over 7 hours total there and back.

Arrived much later than I should have and was worried about getting to a location I had never been to in a city I’d never visited as an adult. But thanks to my good sense of direction (it’s the inbuilt chip which lets the sanatorium know where I am at all times), an A-Z and directions from Ariel I walked there in fifteen minutes and arrived early! Oh well, chance for a nosey round Deansgate branch then.

Lucked out afterwards when I was hit with the idea of using my bonus points in a nearby Boots to buy some sandwiches and grub to keep me going (no Switch card, no ability to use the ATM or to debit purchases, a real bugger – made more ironic by the fact the first bank I saw right outside the doors of Piccadilly Station was a Royal Bank of Scotland!). Wandered around town for a while taking pics of interesting buildings, of which there were some very cool ones (see the building with the Triffids on it!). Met up with Ariel who nicely diverted his homebound trip after work to take me off for a nice pint of Boddingtons (hey, when in Rome). As a bonus he brought along TAO’s resident sea-side dwelling Viking, Vegar, who I’ve known for a while but never actually met, so it was cool to be able to sit back and share a few ales with them before heading home (although the boys had to buy so I owe them some fine Caley ale when they are up here). As it turned out Vegar’s train was right behind mine on the same platform, so I was pretty much seen off right from the platform, which was very nice. This is Ariel (left) and Vegar (right) as we left one pub for another. The bizarre, Chad-like creature peering over the corner is me. Ah, self portraiture. Big thanks once more to Ariel and the V-Man.

The journey back gave me a sudden stab of nostalgia since the train came up and stopped at Lancaster station, right in the shadow of Lancaster Castle. My parents used to keep a caravan in nearby Morecambe (before the oldsters Mafiosi who took over turned it into a ghost town by shutting everything fun so no-one would visit) when I was a kid and I well remember enjoying tours of the dungeons of the castle. Yes, I was a Gothic freak of nature even then. A few minutes later and the track runs only a few yards from the huge sweep of Morecambe Bay, which was enjoying one of its trademark spectacular sunsets. A glowing copper disc slowly burning its way below the horizon. With the tide far out the sand of the beach was turned to a shimmering, warm gold. The only drawback to train travel of course is when you see something like this you can’t just stop to watch… I lucked out again when I discovered the train stopped at Haymarket Station which is only ten minutes walk from my flat. I came in on a line I hadn’t travelled before which actually goes right past my house before Haymarket. I could actually see my flat going past – pity you can’t just get them to stop then and there and let you out (now wouldn’t that be a great bit of customer service!). 7 and 1/2 hours on the train, but at least I got hours of reading time in uninterupted.