David Tomkins has led an interesting life, to say the least. Our swashbuckling protagonist begins his autobiography as a tough safe-cracker, self-trained in explosives. His early adventures lead him to prison life where he swaps tales and picks up skills, leading to further crimes. Moving away from his gangster life, Tomkins utilises his explosive skills to full effect by becoming a mercenary. His military adventures take him across Africa, from Angola to Togo and into Rhodesia. Constantly under suspicion at airports from Special Branch and security services, Tomkins becomes a darling of the Press, a true life mercenary who engages in politics at the highest level. Merging his mercenary work with business interests he becomes an arms dealer, strutting around the world, negotiating some stranger-than-fiction deals with some rather salubrious characters. Eventually his mercenary work comes back tot he fore when he is recruited to fight out in Colombia, first arranging an international special forces brigade to attack the FARC and then later, employed by the Calí drug cartel he is delivered a project to assassinate the head of the rival Medellín cartel, Pablo Escobar. Ultimately both the Colombian adventures do not achieve their mission goals and later end our hero up in US custody where he returns to the prison system, detailing the flaws of the US Justice system and ending the tale whiling out his time in jail before luckily being returned to his wife and family in the UK. The book is well written and is truly compelling. David Tomkins’ life is surely a worthy tale to be told and I can’t think of many more varied real life adventure stories out there.
Review: The Repeating Island – The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective – by Antonio Benítez-Rojo
The Cuban author offers a postmodern view of the Caribbean. It is a sociocultural study that encompasses aspects of history, economics, sociology, cultural anthropology, psychoanalysis, literary theory, and non-linear mathematics, incorporating chaos theory. The book’s aims and theories are laid out in a flowing introduction whereby Benítez-Rojo’s notion of the ‘repeating island’ is explored, through the lens of polyrhythms and meta-archipelagoes. Benítez-Rojo sees in all of the Caribbean a repetitive streaming of ideas, of resistance to slavery, of Plantation culture of postcolonialist discourse. The book focuses on a series of Caribbean authors and poets, from Gabriel García Márquez to the author’s poet of preference, the Cuban Guillén. Critical essays explore how a multitude of creative characters have interpreted their lives in the Antilles, and recurring themes of the cult of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre or of the sacrificed slave Mackandal, reverberate in the author’s dissections of West Indian culture. This book gives a valuable postmodernist insight into the supersyncretic culture that comprises the Caribbean.
You are Viviane Élisabeth Fauville, a 42 year old French woman in the midst of a crisis. You have a child, a young baby, who you nurture and care for, yet your husband is in the process of leaving you. to top off this crisis, yesterday you murdered your psychiatrist. This short novel (written in French) depicts the descent into madness of the lady as she faces up to the guilt of murder. She descends into paranoia and the tale gets increasingly more disjointed as the woman struggles to maintain the regularity of her Paris life while concealing her crime. It is Dostoyevsky’s ‘Crime and Punishment’ meets J.D. Sallinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’, just in miniaturised feminised French format. A quick, light read and a good way to test one’s foreign language skills.
This morning I met with my local MP Jessica Morden. Jessica represents Labour and is the parliamentary representative for the Newport East constituency. Over the past few years that I have known Jessica we have had two face-to-face meetings scheduled that have unfortunately not materialised due to me being sectioned on both occasions by mental health authorities. It was to be third time lucky and it was with great pleasure that, without any unwanted intrusions, I attended Jessica’s surgery at Caldicot library today. In Wales, health is a devolved matter and most of the issues I have with Mental Health Authorities fall into the remit of Jessica’s Welsh Assembly cohort, John Griffiths AM. I had a productive meeting with John Griffiths AM a couple of months ago and we are still following up with work based on what was discussed at that meeting, with Welsh Minister for Health Vaughan Gething currently attending to my plight. Parliament, however, does house the Mental Health Act, the legislation that governs Mental Health care in this country and I felt that a meeting with Jessica Morden MP would be of paramount importance in order for me to successfully challenge the provisions of this Act. After being contained within the mental health system for approximately 20 years I am especially keen to find a permanent solution to escape this legislation as a persecuted individual and also to build a better future system for the healthcare users of tomorrow. Jessica welcomed my partner, Nicola and I, with warm smiles and an invite to take a seat in her office. Jessica was accompanied by an assistant who was very helpful throughout the meet. Jessica was pleased that I had previously met with John Griffiths and from the outset of our meeting Jessica was graced with an air of positivity and a desire to help me change the system for the better. I explained the circumstances of my most recent hospitalisation, when pure ‘thought crime’ was invented and acted upon and how I was shepherded off to detention and tortured for several months before the Mental Health Review Tribunal Courts overturned the psychiatrists and, finding in my favour, secured my release. Only 5% of patient appeals ever result in success and despite the long wait for justice,I felt that it had been served and that I was a lucky man. I made it clear that after that judgement…
Review: At The Devil’s Table – Inside the Fall of the Cali Cartel – the World’s Biggest Crime Syndicate – by William C. Rempel
Jorge Salcedo signed up to the Cali cartel in order to lead a mission to assassinate Pablo Escobar, head of the rival Medellín cartel and, in Jorge’s eyes, a clear and present danger to the people of Colombia. This ex Colombian army professional was a security expert and although the initial mission, with the aid of British mercenaries, was to fail, Jorge embarked on a flourishing career with his Cali cartel bosses, one that would end in betrayal and the fall of the biggest crime syndicate on the planet. Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela were the brothers at the head of the Cali cartel and Jorge would become part of their inner circle, as a trusted almost family member, in charge of Miguel’s day-to-day security and all the cartel business that that entailed. He would witness the trafficking operation that flooded the US market with Cocaine and would bear party to the intense violence that accompanied his boss’ position, gradually becoming an integral part of all operations. From learning how the sicarios operated, to engaging overseas in Nicaragua and the USA, to witnessing assassinations, Jorge would build up an essential insider’s knowledge of the cartel’s overall business. However, as time wore on, and it became clear that there would be no easy exit for him from the cartel, Jorge became disillusioned and ultimately sought to betray his boss. Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela became the most wanted criminal on the planet and when Jorge fell into the arms of the DEA, his knowledge of daily operations assisted the US and Colombian authorities in tracking down and successfully capturing the head of the syndicate. Jorge and his family fled into protective custody and the Cali cartel was permanently weakened by the ‘chopping off of the head’. This book, well researched clandestinely for over a decade, tells a bloodthirsty true tale of top level narco-trafficking, political corruption, and gang warfare. It is a true page-turner that will engage and grip you from start to finish.
Fahrenheit 451 is the label worn by the firemen on their uniforms and is the temperature at which books burn. We live in a dystopia, where reading and books are banned. Montag is a fireman and it is his job, with the aid of hypodermic needle carrying mechanical hounds, to seek out and destroy all books. He starts to question his mission and reality after encountering the seventeen year old Clarisse, a fresh-faced neighbour who has a more open outlook on life than Montag’s wife, Mildred, who, addicted to sleeping tablets, lives in a television haze, surrounded by four walls of deafening brainwash and who likes nothing more than to gossip with her friends and who manages to lose the love of her husband who is undergoing an awakening. Captain Beatty, Montag’s boss, gets suspicious when Montag calls in sick and pretty soon the firemen are calling at Montag’s house where he has hidden a cache of dissident reading material. Montag escapes and goes on the run, with the help of his only friend Faber, who has supplied him with a listening device and who is awaiting the revolution. Evading capture, Montag disappears into the countryside, only to watch the last war eradicate his former city home in a nuclear explosion, as he sets off into an existence, away from the state and where the book knowledge is kept alive. A decent book, akin to 1984 and Brave New World, the author, Ray Bradbury, explores many of the issues that damage our modern society.
When the Soviet Union ended and thus the Cold War ended on Christmas Day 1991, it was probably one of the biggest political events of my lifetime. This well-researched, detailed book, by Ukrainian author Serhii Plokhy, details the last 18 months of the Soviet Union’s existence. After USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev’s revolutionary policies of Glasnost and Perestroika were introduced throughout the Soviet Empire, the changing landscape of the union meant many things. Communism was in its death throes and there was a rise of democracy and nationalism and independence movements amongst the various states and peoples that populated the USSR. American influence became more important and after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, when Eastern Europe was surrendered to populist democracies and ceased to be part of the wider Soviet Empire, American pressure continues on the remaining state as the Baltics sought to continue the domino effect. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were supported in their independence by US president, George H.W. Bush and this undermined the Soviet Union as a whole. Rising stars such as Boris Yeltsin in Russia, Leonid Kravchuk of the Ukraine and other stars of independence in the EuroAsian nations of the Soviet Bloc, all were coming to the forefront. After a critical putsch, a military / KGB coup in August 1991 that sealed Gorbachev in his Crimea Dacha, these rising stars clubbed together to put down the Conservative hardliners who threatened the President, the Union itself and the status quo of the democratic freedoms they were enjoying. The Coup failed by Gorbachev was left irreparably weak and afterwards, especially the opportunist Yeltsin, capitalised on the successes of their newfound power and ultimately broke apart into a series of independent nations and states, finally managing to seal the death of the Party Centre and Union Centre itself with their creation of the CIS, Commonwealth of Independent States, that would inherit the remnants of the Soviet Union’s power system. The high point of this most excellent detailed political history of the Fall of the Soviet Union, was the detail of the August coup against Gorbachev. This Machiavellian power struggle was an amazing opening of doors and it is a surprise that the whole dismantling of the Empire didn’t erupt into a ‘Yugoslavia with Nukes’ scenario that many were fearing. The book focuses very much on the role of President Bush and his interactions with Gorbachev and…
This is an enthralling, well-researched book, that reveals many unknown new facts about the global cocaine industry. The book opens with a chapter focussing on the USA, the biggest market for the Cocaine industry, where 66% of Cocaine users exist. We then enter into the producing and transit phase of the drug and examine Colombia, Mexico and the Caribbean in detail. Colombia has the infamous Medellín and Cali cartels, much responsible for the initial production of Cocaine. The role of the FARC, AUC and the Colombian Civil War is documented and the political difficulties with America’s Plan Colombia and the extreme bribery involved in Colombian political life. In Mexico, we see how the various cartels such as Sinaloa, Juárez, Gulf and Tijuana have gone to war, recruiting the services of such paramilitaries as Los Zetas. The Caribbean covers Jamaica in detail and also Cuba, Haiti and the various tax haven islands. In Jamaica we see how politics have heavily influenced the gang culture and the rise of the Shower Posse is documented. In all of the Western producer country sphere, the USA and its policies is never far from the forefront. The ‘War on Drugs’ in force from many successive administrations at the White House, often focuses on producer and transit countries and is totally supported by draconian United Nations international legislation. The European market, in particular the United Kingdom is the second largest market for Cocaine and some countries here have introduced decriminalisation. In places such as Holland and Portugal, drug use is not penalised. The author explores how users are affected by the drug and explores addiction, in particular the problems of crack cocaine. In the final part of the book we look at possible legalisation solutions although, despite Feiling’s enthusiasm for this to happen, I fear it will be many generations before this becomes politically possible. Perhaps with potential cannabis decriminalisation and legalisation on the agenda, it will open up the doors for other narcotics to follow suit? I enjoyed the book and it really does go into detail on what is an interesting subject and a truly global industry.
Elaine Sciolino is a female New York Times journalist who had the good fortune of being present in Paris with the exiled future leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomenei. When he seized power from the Shah in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Sciolino was one of the first Western journalists on the ground and she enjoyed privileged access to the new Iranian clerical elite. Iran is a country so alien to us in the West and the lack of knowledge of this ancient culture that is expressed to us in our news and history books made me drawn to reading this book. It is very well written, with lots of detail and the best part for me was the personalised touch. We hear of a woman with a deep commitment to exposing this ‘other’ culture. She writes with the eyes of an American female yet is obviously deeply in love with this country’s people, if not always the ideals of their government. The ways of life are so strikingly difficult. I was overwhelmed by the seeming oppression that the general population live under. There is a remarkable contrast between public and private life and Sciolino was fortunate enough to be invited into the private spheres that would often elude a typical tourist’s quest. The acceptance of senior Imams and clerics and government officials to provide her with sensitive material makes this such a critical read and I found it particularly interesting when her Iranian female friends allowed her into their private spaces, where the public veil of the chador could be lifted. The exploration of various areas of Iran journeyed us from ruins in Persepolis to the rigours of religious life in Qom. There was always an overlook at how the Islamic Revolution was still occurring and the ways that this strict religious governance affects people truly exposes the current national psyche that separates us so much from Iranians in the modern age. ‘Death to America’, a much-repeated slogan in the Revolution must have meant that it was particularly dangerous for Sciolino to research this book, but she demonstrates that things are changing and in fact most Iranians would love to actually visit America and it is this that makes her as an individual, as fascinating to them as they are to her. I think that for anyone who wishes to understand Iran, in its modern situation, especially with the rhetoric…
Saint Domingue was the Western French-owned side of Hispaniola. French colonists built it up into a wealthy imperial source of plantation economy produce, founded on the settlement of African slaves, products of the Triangular Slave Trade across the Atlantic. The hills and plains were dotted with sugar plantations and vast amounts of coffee and indigo were also produced. White settlers occupied only 10% of the island’s population, however, and as free people of colour (gens du couleur) became more of an entity, laments for freedom, using the terminology of the French Revolution’s decrees, were an increasing weight upon the colonial administrators. Settling African tribesman as slaves, such as the Ibo, proved problematic as they all would rather die at their own hands than submit to their slave-masters. Legends grew such as that of Makandal, and slaves began to plot in earnest. Eventually, a mass slave revolt broke out and the people fought their masters until slavery was abolished. With their new found freedom, the former slaves rebuilt Saint Domingue from the ashes of revolt and further into a final severing of ties with the colonial masters. New generals rose up in the army, culminating in the great Toussaint Louverture, who would lead his people into full-scale revolution against France and ultimately, although he was sacrificed, give way to the final freeing of the colony and the birth of the nation of Haiti, a nation of Blacks and the first successful slave revolt in history
Review: This is for the Mara Salvatrucha – Inside the MS-13, America’s Most Violent Gang – by Samuel Logan
The Mara Salvatrucha is a street gang formed in 1980s Los Angeles, by Salvadoran immigrants. From its outset it has had to be lethally violent and this book details the story of the gang as it migrates across America, through the eyes of traitor and informant, 16 year old Brenda Paz. Brenda was jumped into the gang after falling in love with a local leader. Her bright charisma and personality, earning her the nickname ‘Smiley’, mean that her conscience struggles to deal with some of the more horrific elements of gang culture and after being picked up for a misdemeanour and interrogated about her then boyfriend’s activities, Brenda decides to back out of gang life and turn state informer. She details everything from the gang’s hierarchy, to covert hand signals, to its involvement with many crimes, including murder and agrees to betray the high level men that she has romantic liaisons with. But all is not good in protective custody and Brenda cannot escape the high’s of gang culture. the camaraderie, this Latino street family that gives her all she needs. She slips back into association with the gang, hoping that her betrayal will not be discovered but ultimately she pays the highest price and becomes yet another sacrifice in this brutal gang’s spiral of violence.
Aimé Césaire is the father of Martinican literature. In his Cahier, he explores his roots in his native Martinique and looks with an often angry voice at the repression of his fellow islanders. The Cahier is a poem directed at enlightening the views of his fellow countrymen and giving them a point at which to resist their colonial masters, to escape the bonds of Negrédom, the chains of slavery that bound them in the triangular slave trade culture and left them in the sugar cane fields of Martinique. A founding father of the black movement in literature, Négritude, Césaire explores the roots of slavery and his négritude is a self-revealing look at how he is perceived by the world, due to his skin colour. The poetic text is often violent and revealing and he uses a variety of different methods to shock and disturb the reader. One is always looking for an identity of Martinique and the author succeeds in describing the island’s features, its fauna and flora, its colonial past, its poverty and hunger and suffering of the population. As we move through the book, the racial voice progresses until we hear a potent cry of anger about this inequality, the way in which his race restricts his world view and aspirations. I found the book, convenient in its parallel text, usefully translated, and a positive journey into the Caribbean. In the twenty-first century we still have not unshackled racism from our society and slavery is very much alive, if not as a political reality, but as an enchaining colonial restriction upon the black inhabitants of Martinique and its Caribbean cousins. It must be stressed how important a work this must be to natives of Martinique and the foundation point it is for black literature. I studied this book as part of my ‘Imaging The Islands’ course at Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages.
A doctor conversing with one of his elderly patients in Japan, reveals this amazingly quaint story of a Yakuza gang leader. Set in the heart of Tokyo in the early twentieth century, our hero comes from an ordinary background and works his way into a veritable life in the underworld, as a professional gambler, running dice games, which is the heart of the Yakuza’s business. The story has tales of romance from whores and geisha women, to running away and eloping only to cut off his own finger in a ritual apology. There are several visits to jail where he abides by Yakuza rules and etiquette, gaining much respect. He has a stint in the military abroad in North Korea and spends much of World War 2 dodging bombs in Tokyo and continuing to run gambling dens. There is an antiquity to the tales which describe the character is the most personal way. One feels attached to the gangster and one can learn a great deal about the structure of organised crime and what life actually was like to be part of it only last century. One thing that resounded was the deep respect for bosses and between members of the same organisation and indeed rival gangs. I really loved the story and read the book rather quickly. It’s a shame the final part was glossed over and we didn’t get to continue the story up until the death of the Yakuza man
The KLF were one of my favourite bands as a teenager and partly responsible for introducing me to dance music. When they disappeared from the music industry it was a great disappointment and although they featured quite a lot in the press, their whole existence mainly remains an enigma. This book pieces together the fragments that are the KLF. Heavily centred on Bill Drummond’s life we read some truly magic tales. From, as their manager, sending Echo & The Bunnymen on tour to Iceland so he could magically stand on a manhole cover in Liverpool docks, we meet many strange anecdotes about a group that formed and based their philosophy on Discordianism. The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu take their name from the Illuminatus trilogy that introduces the world to Discordianism, a worship of Eris, the Goddess of Chaos and where the number 23 is sacred. One thing is for sure is that Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, as the KLF, were totally off their heads. They filled a void in the early 1990s and became pioneers of the electronic dance music industry but they always struggled to fit into the music industry. There is a longing for more and eventually they find their place in the world of art, having burned a million pounds in cash to achieve their status there. I have read recent talk of a reforming of the KLF coming soon and with the 23 year period of their freezing coming to an end in 2018 I truly look forward to them reappearing from the abyss and producing some more enlightening driving beats, something that all of their fans would truly appreciate.
Review: Gangland – The Rise of the Mexican Drug Cartels from El Paso to Vancouver – by Jerry Langton
This fascinating subject is explored by the author, Jerry Langton, in a fresh and vibrant manner. He makes the often bloody stories flow nicely into each other. What is for sure is that the Mexican drug war is a nasty business and page after page of horrifying bloodthirstiness attends to this. We read of the different cartels from Sinaloa across Mexico. Ciudad Juarez, the murder capital of the world is a common area for discussion. The author always has his mind on the export role of the cartels and how their actions are affecting populations further North in the USA and Canada. If anything, it is difficult to weave together a fabric of the tale due to the sheer mass of brutalities that have occurred. More people are killed each year in Mexico due to the cartel warfare than in foreign war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The book is not the first I have studied on this topic in Mexico and I found it very well-researched and full of details, some of which were unknown to me previously. It is certainly worth a read if the topic of Mexican cartels interests you.
The subject of the book makes it appealing and gives you the desire to part with the £6 or so it costs on Amazon. El Chapo is a buzz subject a folk-hero, a modern legend. He is head of the Sinaloa Cartel and in charge of one of the most lucrative drug-trading networks on the planet. However, I would seriously avoid buying this book as it is very poorly written and researched. There is nothing here that you would not get from surfing to Joaquin Loera Guzman’s wikipedia. The book is very short and can be read (with difficulty) in half an hour – only 25 pages of large type. It appears, due to the very poor standard of English that it is translated from another language (most probably Spanish). However, a professional translator was not consulted and it is most probably a simple transposition of Spanish newspaper articles, using Google Translate. It really is so poorly written that I can see no other explanation. I think that the author is simply coining in on El Chapo’s name and portraying him also in rather a negative light. I, for one, would not like to cross paths and offend such a potentially explosively dangerous man by character assassination which is basically what this book amounts to. A cheap poke at a cult figure and an attempt to coin in on someone else’s fame. For such a worthy and interesting subject it would pay heed, as an author, to do some proper research, to get on the actual ground in Sinaloa, and gain some true revelations which would be far more interesting than just casually reproducing evidence that is already in the public domain and doing a bad job of that also. A discredit to El Chapo and unworthy of any attention. AVOID!
Jason is a Welsh Musician, and in this short book, he details his most recent Camino de Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage experience. He takes the Camino Portugués from Porto, a follow up to his previous encounter with the more traditional, and more widely known and popular, Camino Frances. We find Jason alone in his hotel room in Porto in a dusky predawn, a crazed band post-gig, having departed, and left the protagonist with little money and equipment and a pipe dream to escape yet again on pilgrimage to Santiago. This book is a modern pilgrimage, a journey to self. We are not sharing the voyage of a medieval religious monk, we share our modern chav hobbit’s punk desires. He needs not mass, blood wine and body bread, but wifi, bocadillos and plastic auberge mattresses. Our modern day pilgrim needs not God’s guidance, but is savouring the beauty and tranquility of a rustic, muddy countryside, as his mind ventures into the pilgrim spirit and devours itself in questions of self-exploration. A host of characters is met and through the hero’s transcript of muttered profanities as he describes the lurid animals he meets en route we make friends with a myriad of personalities from dotted around the globe. Most notably, German astronomer-theologian Thomaas and later, Irish reveller and journeyman Eoin. Interspersed with Spanish natives and kind Portuguese innkeepers and waiters, our bubbly hero sounds off his thoughts and shares in the rich tapestry of life of his fellow men, all the time progressing his own mind’s journey and in a self-revelatory manner, touching our soul with more profound deeper and wise philosophy. Jason loves his woman in Wales. He never quite transcends and escapes his homeland of Wales. From the murky sacred Ulla river reminding him of his hometown, Newport, to thinking of his absent grandfather having disappeared to Australia on his journey’s End, nostalgia is always a containing force to Jason, preventing him from moving on and getting the success and desires he so craves from life. Is it money he seeks? He answers and affirmative no and sees it as a means to an end in life’s great journey. He does seek Broadband and Wifi, yet after we lose communications and move out of the realm of technological contact with the outside world, our hero is not lost but finds himself again and can let his hair down properly in…
How did you first come to the attention of mental health services? In 2000 I went to hospital after attempting suicide not long after my mother passed away, aged 48. I had also not long split up with my girlfriend of four years and was really down in every way. I decided to visit a casino in Birmingham which I was a member of but hardly frequented, lost about £1000 on gambling, bought a few bottles of JD and some pain killers, went home and attempted the deed. I was only found because when i arrived home, I had left my front door wide open and the couple next door had called the Police as they had thought I’d been broken into. Was your first hospital admission a shocking experience? Hell yeah! I woke up on the first night to a woman running up and down the wing on fire, screaming like a Banshee. I thought I was tripping and went back to sleep. It wasn’t until the next day when the other residents were talking about it that I realised that it wasn’t bad drugs… How did the medication make you feel? Medication wise, it was always a struggle. Just when i thought I’d found the cure, the side effects would kick in, sometimes making it physically impossible to take them. My first prescribed meds had me trying to iron clothes with the kettle. What do you think of the public perception of mental illness? Is there a stigma attached? I have always been very, very open with my illness which has left me open to certain folks taking advantage or ridiculing me. Worse than that are the folks that try and help but the minute something goes wrong in some way, blame it on me because it must be my fault… How have you built your life back together away from the mental health system?Apart from a few times when I was addicted to drugs (my way of self medicating at the time), I have very little to do with services. What are your coping strategies? Just try and live each day as it comes What improvements would you like to see in the field of mental health? Actually care and when you’re having an ‘off’ day and this goes to friends and family of all sufferers, stop asking if we’ve taken our meds. We can be pissed…
Hemingway writes this collection of short stories in a true macho fashion. Hemingway loved his big sports and we venture in this book into many short tales, apparently many autobiographical, of hunting and fishing trips, of bullfights and horse-racing tracks. Sometimes we have to forgive the tough, crude use of language of the era. Wops and Niggers are weaved into the tale and overall the descriptions are oft brutal. This is a man’s book and the tales are all male-orientated. Hemingway never fails to capture the descriptive magic of a scene and even if a tale is only a brief couple of pages, our readers’ imaginations are left with a well-constructed fantastical imager, so typical of the simplistic literal style we associate with this great fiction writer.
The Stone Roses are undoubtedly one of the most important bands to have emerged during my lifetime. Their early defining sound paved the way for the explosion of the ‘Madchester Sound’ and the book’s introduction about the seminal 1989 Spike Island gig was grippingly enthralling. We explore the roots of the band and each character tows together to form the inseparable four piece that went on to illuminate British pop and rock. Ian Brown, backed with the guitar of John Squire, Mani’s Bass and relentless Reni on drums form The Stone Roses and this magical tale weaves together their roots and their emergence and dominance of the UK Indie scene. Their exuberant manager Gareth Evans with his excesses reveals some of the excesses of the music industry that ultimately ripped The Stone Roses apart. Bad business with the record label due to mal-considered contracts led to the huge delay on the recording of The Second Coming, the band’s follow up to their 1989 debut masterpiece. The frustration of the recording of this album and inherent personal problems, including drug abuse, led to the breakup of the band. Irrevocable differences kept them apart for over 15 years and although they all succeeded in their own way in private projects it wasn’t until 2011 that the band reformed and it is a happy ending to the book to read about their golden legacy tour across the world, yet again an indestructible four-piece force of the Live Music World. A cracking read and a must for any fan. I was lucky enough to catch them at Finsbury Park in London on their comeback tour and it was a highlight for me musically, a true spectacle.
Today, after four years of campaigning, I finally met with Welsh Assembly Member, John Griffiths AM. John is my local political representative in the Welsh Assembly. In Wales, health is a devolved matter and is dealt with in the Cardiff National Assembly, rather than in parliament. Since the launch of End Of Terror five years ago, both John Griffiths and his parliamentary cohort, Jessica Morden MP, have attentively supported our needs. There has been an extensive correspondence via email and I am regularly in touch via telephone with both their offices. On no fewer than two previous occasions our scheduled public meetings have been cancelled due to me being sectioned. It is thus much overdue that I finally met in public with John, in order to thrash out the End Of Terror campaign and to seek a much-needed political solution to the issues that the #EoT movement raises. We met at 2pm on Friday, 6th January 2017, at Aroma Coffee Shop in Caldicot Town Centre. John is well up to speed on all End Of Terror developments and in addition to our current filings with the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, John has kindly petitioned the Welsh Minister for Health, on our behalf. In a previous post you can see some of EoT’s political agenda and the issues that we campaign for politically. – See – REPORT ON MENTAL HEALTH IN SOUTHEAST WALES FOR JOHN GRIFFITHS AM AND JESSICA MORDEN MP http://endofterror.org/?p=850 John listened attentively to my campaigning for well over an hour and explained to me in detail on how best to pursue my cause. He identified that in order to successfully petition the government that End Of Terror need to network more and grow its supporter base in order to achieve more political clout. He mentioned that organisations such as MIND are successful in getting the government’s attention as they speak on behalf of a multitude of campaigners. I think that at End Of Terror we shall certainly use John’s advice and try to expand our reach and involve more people. to date it has sort of been an individual’s campaign by me and I am but a lone wolf, crying in the darkness. We spoke about the concerns I have about the local system being far too decadent and out of control. There is a definite need for psychiatrists and their employees to be reigned in. I…
[Here is a post by our first international guest poster. Leoned is from the former Soviet Union and has sent us this about his mental health experiences. End Of Terror is a worldwide struggle and campaign for better rights for mental patients, wherever you may be in the world. ENJOY! Wez G, End Of Terror] I really experienced the disaster. And it happened not in Auschwitz and not in Dachau, but in the ordinary mental hospital. It happened yet in childhood. Adults branch staff mercilessly tortured, oppressed us, disadvantaged and without this children … One night I was awakened by the noise. Opening my eyes, I saw how two nurses are beating the boy, who lies at the window. The boy was trembling. « “Again Vovka has epileptic seizure», – someone said . “How epileptic seizure?!” – I blurted out: “But why to beat ?!” Then the nurse left Vovka for a second and turned to me: Shut up, otherwise, and you will be bad”. That nightly incident was bothering me for long time. I hoped, that gits will be punished. But all gone, as if nothing had happened. … Once, one nurse pegged me in punishment for disobedience. And did it in a special way: the hands were were fixed to the metal corners of the bed. She had said, that she’ll unbind me, when I’ll ask forgiveness and went away. The circulation was disrupted , the hands swollen. Endure was becoming increasingly difficult. Nurse had entered in the ward and asked, I am going to ask forgivness or not. I hadn’t answer and she left. The matter was already nearing to an evening. Soon the night shift had to come . I was very hoping, what this damned wretch will go, and the other nurse will unbind me. However, it soon became clear, that the damned wretch stays on the night shift. She had come into the room and announced by triumphant tone: «Well, do you intend to ask forgiveness?» I wasn’t able to endure anymore and asked forgiveness from this crud as she had wanted. After that I was feeling myself horribly humiliated. They constantly indoctrinated us, that at any rate everything will be as they want. Any meanness, any overwhelming nightmare – everything will be as they want. There was a teenage boy. He was suffering a severe form of epilepsy with mental retardation and…
I have been a non-consenting patient of southeast Wales’ mental health services since 2nd April 1997. I have almost amassed twenty years of living within this closed mental health system. I write this report with a view to enacting real change for the better for myself and other end users of the mental health services in our area. Ideally I would like to see the Mental Health Act scrapped in parliament. I feel that it is antiquated and rooted in Victorian Bedlamism. Psychiatry is not a science. At best it is a pseudoscience. There is little actual medical evidence for most, nearly all mental illnesses. Mental illness, unlike normal illness, cannot be scientifically assessed. If an illness cannot be scientifically diagnosed, how can it be an illness? The blood, body, mind of a schizophrenic is exactly the same as a healthy person. There are no biometric markers that indicate a sickness in someone’s mind. The point is that mental illness is not pathological. Cancer has its markers, as does AIDS. As these illnesses can be scientifically studied and examined, they can also be scientifically treated and hopefully cured. What hope is there for a cure for mental illness if the illness itself cannot be determined scientifically? This point exposes the myth that mental illness is untreatable and cannot be cured. It cannot be cured as it does not exist in the first place. I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1997. Schizophrenia is apparently an incurable disease. This is not true as it does not exist and I have never suffered the symptoms psychiatrists identify in schizophrenia. For 19 years I have been confident that I have been misdiagnosed and yet I still experience treatment and simply cannot evade the system. Big Pharma is the driving force behind the mental health industry. For every identified illness there is often expensive treatment available from big global pharmaceutical firms. Drugs companies rarely see their share prices topple and mental health is a very profitable sector. With all this big business and money flying around I often worry about exactly how precise and effective these treatments are. There must be a more ethical means of turning a profit for Big Pharma than mental health drugs, drugs that are often used against the consent of patients. Treatment against consent is my biggest bugbear in psychiatry. In every branch of…
[I promised to open up the End Of Terror blog to guest bloggers and here is a guest post from my hospital friend, Kurt Denekamp, who has had longstanding problems with Caerleon Cars – ENJOY! – wezg – END OF TERROR] Dear Watchdog/Judge I like the public to be beware of David Mellen & Lee Williams and a company called essential compliance ltd previously named as the home and motoring club ltd and trading as Caerleon cars. This company has been renamed to First Call for Cars ltd. 2015 Trading Standards took David Mellen and Caerleon Cars & The home and motoring club to court for 10 counts of commercial mispractice and 4 counts of fraud but failed to obtain a guilty verdict even tho the previous year David Mellen pleaded guilty to 9 counts of commercial mispractice pre trail, he changed his plea to not guilty the following year and gets away with all these other issues he’s caused other people selling cars with faults, admits to having number dyslexia, misreporting mileage to get better insurance policies and people having cars break down on the same day as purchased and he claims he’s never sold a car with any faults. In 2014 pre trial when pleading guilty David Mellen admits to being reckless and neglectful in his business practices My gf purchased a car from Caerleon Cars that came with a tax disc that was invalid. The car became clamped and towed away. Lee Willams Caerleon Cars sees my father and agreed £277 would be refunded. Instead of this happening Lee Williams calls the police and claims harassment against me. The police call my father and once i arrive at their house they both parents deny me access to their phone to speak to officer in question and engage mental services instead. Caerleon cars refused to refund us the £277 and then actually get an harassment warning against me for emailing them asking for the money and cc’in the police. (See below) 3 x times my mental health history has been used against me in the fallout this missing money has caused and i became arrested, sectioned x3 times and injected with acuphase when asking for this money to be refunded. The police speak to my father and said this money would be refunded but this failed to happen. Instead in now registered as disabled over this missing £277…
I am a massive fan of Joy Division and feel that the band’s greatness has always been tainted by lead singer, Ian Curtis’ early death. He was a modern day British Jim Morrison, a trapped poet, muse to millions. This book, a heartfelt examination of the real man by his loving wife, serves as a poignant celebration of Ian Curtis. The biography is intimate in its detail and we are not just scratching the surface here but getting a true glimpse of what made this dark poet tick. His early fascination with a young death and suicide provide a recurring theme. From poverty through to a point where huge success was imminent and all their material worries would be over, Ian Curtis killed himself at the cusp of true legend status for his band. He has a mixed relationship with his wife, ultimately forcing her to endure a rock n roll affair through his Belgian mistress. He was truly torn and love ultimately did tear him apart. I found the struggle with epilepsy to be the underlying factor that drove Ian Curtis to death. It must have been horrific to live with such a chronic condition and yet he still rarely missed a live performance and maybe the forthcoming trip to America was just one jettison too far? This book is thoroughly readable, a true page-turner. I feel, having read it, closer to Ian Curtis and indeed one of my most favourite bands.
‹ 1 2 3 4 … 22 ›