Monthly Archives: March 2011

Superinjunctions: The beginning of the end for the free press?

I try my best to keep my political views away from this blog. I make no apologies for the views I do hold, strongly to the left, but I try to keep things reasonably light hearted and personal here. If people want to read about politics there are approximately eleventy squajillion political blogs out there, both good and bad, and I figure people can find their own way to them without me adding my own flavour of screed to the cacophony.

I also hold strong opinions about the press and media in this country, but I think that sites such as the magisterial Tabloid Watch, Angry Mob and Five Chinese Crackers do a far better job than I ever could in flagging the hypocrisy of the British media.

That being said, this new trend for granting “superinjunctions” is a disturbing one, to say the very least. I first became aware of the “superinjunction” in 2009 after it went public that Trafigura had taken one out to prevent The Guardian from reporting on the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast. I later heard of them again after all that ridiculous brouhaha about John Terry’s love life (I won’t dignify that non-story with a link).

Today it emerged that Fred Goodwin is Not a Banker; or at least, not if the superinjunction he tried to take out had anything to say about it. There are many interesting issues surrounding the injunction, not least of which is the tacit acknowledgement that the word ‘banker’ is now pejorative in tone, but that’s another blog post for someone else to write. The problem is, superinjunctions are dangerous and easily open to abuse. The Trafigura and Fred Goodwin stories only came to light under the protection of Parliamentary Privilege

If you can’t even acknowledge the fact that a company or individual has brought action against you, you are effectively court ordered to excise a legal proceeding from existence. I don’t care whether you’re a multinational corporation covering up misdeeds, a footballer covering up having your end away with a former team mate’s ex-girlfriend (a sentence I’m ashamed to write) or the inept, blundering, cockwaffle of a useless banker, yes, BANKER, who presided over the collapse of RBS, the fiscal equivalent of being the captain of a ship who knowingly steers straight into shallows and grounds the vessel. No-one should be able to use the law of the land as a blunt instrument to silence those who report on their misdeeds, sexual antics or the plain fact of what they once (incompetently) did for a living. Are the press running a blatantly false story? Then a plain old injunction is good enough, it prevents them running the story and justice is done.

Any action beyond that is a flagrant abuse of the system and, furthermore, it’s the kind of abuse only open to those with enough money to hire the most expensive of legal teams in the first place, effectively meaning there is one rule for the rich and another for everyone else. A two tier legal system is wrong on every level I can possibly think of.

Anyway, rant over. Since Fred Goodwin is Not a Banker, let me see if I can figure out what he really is…

Fred Goodwin is a Circus Clown?

Fred Goodwin is a Zoo Monkey?

Fred Goodwin is a Small Bed & Breakfast Just Outside Tunbridge Wells?

Fred Goodwin was a small arboreal maniraptoran that hoarded the eggs of other species? (hat tip to Jake Kale)

Fred Goodwin is a Member of the Bolshoi Ballet?

Fred Goodwin is a Rich, Entitled, Shitweasel Who Has The Temerity to Try and Pretend That He Didn’t Break RBS to the Tune of a £20 Billion Taxpayer Funded Bailout?

Yeah, I think that’s the one. Shitweasel. I could be wrong of course, why not say what Fred Goodwin is in the comments, maybe we can stumble onto the truth by accident…

Work in Progress: Short Extract no.2

Please note: As time marches on, this may end up as a deleted scene instead of an extract. Time will tell.

So, as I mentioned the other day I’m rewriting or throwing out a lot of my current Work in Progress because of stylistic issues. The most difficult character to do this with is Armand, because the passages from his POV are so, well, strangely put together. Even by my own standards, they’re lacking description, intentionally choppy and disjointed and I’m not entirely sure how to go about retooling them. Anyway, I know Armand is going to remain a major POV character but here’s a look at him as he first emerged onto the page, no matter how he ends up in the final draft.

Light. White and blinding. Armand shut his eyes and turned away from it, but it burned through his eyelids and so he woke. He stepped from his pallet and walked to the bowl of water to wash his face. Snoring. The man he was sharing the cost of the room with was still fast asleep. Thoughts crossed his mind, but Armand ignored them, for now at least, and washed himself. With face clean and thoughts ignored he pulled on his clothes and considered if he was hungry enough for breakfast. No breakfast.

Clean, thoughtless and dressed.

The inn was poor, even the shutters on the windows were worn and full of holes, and the food and drink weren’t as Armand would have liked. Money was what he needed, but this place was too poor for anyone except the local lord to have anything of use. Armand sat down to decide where to go next. He was almost out of room in Galle, so his options were to go sideways or to loop back north into the middle. He didn’t like moving sideways, so back north it was. Decision made.

Clean, thoughtless, dressed, not hungry.

North wasn’t good. North was behind him and people knew Armand behind him. Sideways was worse, though. People always looked sideways first. At least backwards might be unexpected. Standing up, he started to gather his few belongings into the pack he travelled with. Noise. Sudden, low, mournful. Armand froze in place, then located the noise. The bed opposite. The man sleeping had passed wind. Armand began to wretch, the smell assaulting his throat and making his stomach twist and lurch. Thoughts. Lots and lots of thoughts. Too many thoughts. Make them stop.

Turning towards the man, Armand crossed the space between them. He waited until the man exhaled, then placed his hand across the man’s nose and mouth, pinching off his air supply. It took him a second or two to wake up, which was a second or two too long, so Armand knew the man was dead. He watched the dead man’s eyes spring open, saw the look of first confusion, then fear enter his eyes and then, after a few seconds of pointless and feeble attempts to push Armand away, the body caught up with the inevitable and died. He left his hand over its mouth until it voided itself, then stepped away to wash his hands again. Hunger, sudden and sharp. Armand decided to get a bag of food from downstairs to take with him as he walked. In a short while, the people here would know him. Leaving time.

Clean, dressed, thoughts emptying again, hungry.

Everyone, meet Armand. Armand, stay the hell away from everyone I know. As stated before, I’ve no idea how he’ll end up, but this is how I first met him.

One of Those Days

I’m a bit swamped today, between Real Life, the Work in Progress and one or two other things I’m working on, so with that in mind let me do some quick sharing. We all love to share and blather about ourselves, right?

Things I Do Not Care About

To all media outlets, everywhere: Charlie Sheen’s apparent mental breakdown.
To people who comment on youtube videos: Justin Bieber/Lady Gaga/Katy Perry.
To Bargains to be found on clothes airers. I clicked one link damn you!
To football broadcasters: The opinion of the vast majority of pundits you hire.
To our fridge: That funny whiff coming from behind you. I’ve learned to live with it, nothing can convince me to lug your heavy arse out of your cubby hole to find out what it is.
To our cat: I never liked the wallpaper in the passage that much, anyway.

Things I Do Care About

To my fiction writing brain: Completing my current work in progress, stop distracting me with the urge to write something else.
To the internet: Pictures of Bridget Moynahan. I don’t care if I’m shallow, vapid and guilty of objectifying an intelligent and talented actress, I just never get tired of looking at her.
To my reading brain: Reading the good stuff. Stop trying to convince me to reread bad stuff and post reviews of it.
To the world in general: Being too broke to afford Dragon Age II, so trying to figure out whether it’s worth trading in Heavy Rain, Fallout: New Vegas and a few less prestigious games to help finance the purchase.

That’s all for now. Drop a comment telling me what you do and don’t care about and I’ll catch you again soon.

In Which I Pontificate on Narrative Voices (and concede a minor defeat)

You might have seen one of my comments mentioning my grandly ambitious plans to use seven distinct writing styles for the five and two half POV characters in my current work in progress. If you did, then I’m here to tell you that that particular plan has had to be abandoned, hence my silence for the past ten days or so. I’ve had to throw out or retool approximately 20,000 words. Not my favourite thing I’ve ever had to do, but the plain fact is it wasn’t working. Each POV switch jarred too heavily and it felt as if each character was part of a different novel. That sounds very cute and clever in theory, but in practice it makes for a very choppy and disjointed story which doesn’t flow very well from one scene into another.

I’ve been having to rewrite things in something that approaches a consistent narrative voice and add minor flourishes of colour in character’s internal monologue or descriptive passages, which has taken up a lot of my time. I’m getting caught up to myself again, though, so normal service will be resumed soon. I’ll throw up a little taster of one of the other characters very soon.

Until then…