Monday, 15 June 2015

Everything you thought you knew about dogs is wrong

I have a dog now. People who have been with me every step of this disjointed and increasingly stationary journey will no doubt be pleased to hear that it is the same dog as they have met before on these pages. He is still very much the same dog. I am still very much the same man. Although we are now both two-and-a-half years older, neither one of us has grown any wiser. We both smell a little worse and find standing up more of a chore but we remain, fundamentally, fuckwits.

The last time the dog and me had this association, he was just visiting. But now he is here to stay and we can dedicate ourselves full time to our ultimate goal, which is ruining each others' lives. He is winning and will win, as I was already convinced that my life was in ruin. Plus, you know, he is a dog and therefore pretty contented with his lot.

But even though the enriching life lessons part of pet ownership will almost invariably pass me by, I have nevertheless decided that I must use this opportunity for scientific enquiry and in so doing have discovered a great many things. Among these nuggets (of what are probably dog faeces) sit some pieces of information which will bust myths, explode paradigms and blow minds in equal measure. Everything you thought you knew about dogs, it turns out, is in fact wrong.

1. Dogs do NOT eat bones

Not a single bone. Not a one. Anyone expecting to see my dog sat down chowing into some osseous tissue will be shit out of luck. What dogs eat is in fact dog food, which is readily available in shops. But here's the rub: if you take your dog to the veterinary hospital and have it x-rayed (for example, on a night when there's nothing on the telly), you will find it to be completely full of bones. I do not know how these bones get in there.

Not a bone in sight

2. People who do not like dogs or are scared of dogs will NOT like your dog

Anyone with a caninically nervous disposition has heard this one. "Oh, you'll like MY dog". In fact, you will not. Most people who are nervous around dogs dislike the rush of the approach, the jumping up, the frenzied and slobbery attempts at friendship, the barking. My dog does all of these things. It is, to be fair, only a little dog and as such these tendencies are more potentially adorable than if it was one of those horse-sized dogs. But the fact remains. My dog acts like pretty much all the other dogs and as such, if you do not like dogs you will probably not like my dog.

3. All dogs owners clean up after their dog

I am aware that this is a contentious belief and one directly challenged by the fly-strewn, humming, practically sentient, mountainous egg piles that adorn pretty much every busy thoroughfare and public park in the land. However, I have never seen a dog owner without a sack full of brown swinging, or at the very least the paraphernalia to hand to address the situation.

Hove Recreation Ground, mentioned in the text any moment now

The massive, stinking, steamy curlers that you see everywhere are, therefore, utterly unexplained by science and may even be evidence of extra-terrestrial involvement in Earthly doings. A humbling thought and certainly one in the eye for anyone who has ever walked around Hove Recreation Ground this lunchtime and seen all of the dozens of piles of dog shit and thought to themselves, "for fuck's sake, clean up after your fucking dog, fuck me... Jesus, look at that one, fuck". It was as though the circus was in town and they'd been looking for somewhere to exercise the elephants. Or it would have been, had I not already explained that they were done by aliens.

Some of whom I would advise should probably consult a doctor.

The end.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

All my Ukip

You may follow me on Facebook or Twitter, in which case you probably already know that I really don't like UKIP. No, I tell a lie. I hate them. For all their claims and all the careful manicuring of their manifesto and public statements, I believe that they ARE a racist party, if only for the simple reason that no-one has ever voted for UKIP for a non-racist reason. The sad thing is, the majority of people who have done the deed don't even realise this, so insidious is the UKIP machine. Their sole reason for existence is to peddle fear, suspicion and intrigue. I think we need them out of British politics and out of Britain.

I have chosen to express this via the means of art and some interpretive dance, but the latter need not detain us further. I thought that I should collate all my UKIP themed artwork into one handy grab bag for your convenience.

This is the first Nigel Farage that I drew. Typically enough, I also think it is probably the best one.

Here is Nigel in the ascendant.

And here he is, fallen back to Earth as a scarecrow. Pretty scary.

Here is Nigel, after Francis Bacon's Study After Velázquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X

And here is Nigel after The Scream by Edvard Münch

Ukip isn't all about Nigel, here he is with his two MPs, Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless

Here's an election poster I made for them, free of charge

After the first TV debate I made Nigel be a frog

Which led me, naturally enough, to Toad of Toad Hall

After that, Nigel was a snail

But ultimately, we mustn't lose sight of the fact that Nigel is a person just like the rest of us.

Monday, 4 May 2015

The continuing disenfranchisement of E. Carter (aged 35)

No-one cares who you are going to vote for. Or why.

So, here's who I am going to vote for and why. In 2010, as I had in 2001 and 2005, I voted for the Liberal Democrats. They seemed like a nice bunch. But, it turns out, they are not a nice bunch at all. Putting aside for one moment my dark suspicions that they have perhaps always been the Diet Conservatives, they have facilitated the worst government since the Khmer Rouge seized control of Cambodia in the 1970s.

I live in the safest of the safe Conservative seats. The last MP who did not represent the Tories that our constituency returned to Westminster was a fish who had not quite evolved the full capacity to live on dry land, back when the Earth was just a ball of molten rock hurtling through space shortly after the Big Bang. You could argue, then, that it doesn't matter who I voted for. But tell that to my conscience. One day British politics may change or, more likely, my address will and the Liberal Democrats will need my vote. They will never get it. Not in this lifetime.

So, to 2015. My political convictions have not changed in the last five years, although my understanding of political realities have taken something of a kicking. What I want above all other things is for a change of this wretched, awful government. Learning to love Ed Miliband has been the answer.

Ed Miliband: everyone should vote for this man or no-one should
Again, safest of safe Conservative seats. It doesn't particularly matter who I vote for on a local or national level, the way the British electoral system works. So it all boils down to conscience again. Last night I realised that I cannot, despite earnestly believing that I would until yesterday, vote for the Labour Party in 2015.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Ed Miliband is like every other politician in the world, where expediency and the desire for power rather than principle is the sole guide to their actions. But his hard line denial and refusal to try and work with the SNP seems to me to suggest that he is willing to let the Conservatives get back in to Downing Street again based on nothing but principle and vainglorious pride.

This is not just the Conservatives bolstered by the stinking Liberal Democrats, either, but the Conservatives with help from the vile UKIP and venal Democratic Unionist Party. It would be the worst coalition since the one George W. Bush built to go and rain death on Iraq in 2003 and this time, the blood (hopefully only figuratively speaking) would be on Ed Miliband's hands.

I like Ed Miliband. I admire him. I think he would be a good Prime Minister and I hope that by this time next week he will have been given an opportunity to prove it. But above all, I would like to be able to vote for him and his party again in the future. If I vote Labour in 2015 and his intransigence leads to five more wretched years of Conservative government (and we really ain't seen NOTHING yet) then, after last time, it would be more than my conscience and I could possibly bear. So this is why I am going to be voting for the Green Party on Thursday morning.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Joy of Doing Stuff

I've been watching a lot of woodworking videos on YouTube recently. No, wait, come back.

A while ago I found a rich seam of old motor racing documentaries on YouTube. They were mostly from the 1980s and almost always narrated by Martin Jarvis. In spite of the fact they were about racing cars, however, the thing which I enjoyed the most was watching a bunch of Midland craftsmen carving, from mahogany, a wooden former for the casting of a new engine block. The sight, sound and skill of it were mesmerising. Always a wise owl, I wondered if perhaps there might be some more examples of woodworking for me to watch on the site.

Of course, there were, as everything ever made is now on YouTube. It is by some margin the greatest site on the internet, ever. So, this is how I came to start watching a lot of YouTube videos about woodworking.

I can't particularly explain why I have been watching these videos. They are, for one thing, mostly tutorials and I have no particular interest in the practical side of woodwork. Make no mistake, if someone has a load of nice sharp tools and wood ready for me to have a wallop about with, I'd be in there like a shot. But to commit to making it happen for myself, the thought has never really crossed my mind. My last experience of woodwork came in Design & Technology class, which I stopped doing when I chose my subjects for GCSE in 1994. The ultimate result of this was a lot of unfinished crap and one tetanus shot.

And yet, I've been watching a lot of woodworking videos on YouTube recently. Hours and hours of them. I believe there is a basic desire in every human being to make things. To watch a craftsman produce a tangible object is extraordinarily, if often inexplicably, satisfying thing to do. But more than just satisfying. There is something profound in it. Something which is closer to the soul than our conscious brain can properly understand.

Paul Sellers demonstrates the advantages of his weapon of choice, the no. 4 smoothing plane

I quickly found a favourite producer of YouTube videos. It is Paul Sellers. Paul Sellers is a 60-year old British furniture maker and master craftsman with 45 years of experience and all the necessary tools to share and impart this knowledge. His videos are sometimes short affairs - mythbusting, tool maintenance or useful techniques - and sometimes hours and hours of masterclasses, where the viewer could, if they wanted to, make the piece along with him. The first video of his that I watched teaches how to carve a spoon using simple hand tools and I was absolutely hooked from the first axe cut.

Sellers is the teacher of your dreams in these videos. Calm, unambiguous, accomplished and authoritative without ever being steadfast, set in his ways or preachy. Plus, just the merest glance will tell you that he knows his stuff. What Mozart was to the pianoforte, Paul Sellers is to the Bailey-pattern number 4 bench plane. Coupled with the zen-like delivery - think Bob Ross, but with less happy clouds and more old-fashioned Salford common sense - I honestly think that anybody, of any walk of life and any set of interests, could happily lose themselves in his films.

I suppose that I am, too, a craftsman after a fashion. I, like Paul Sellers, have ploughed my own furrow in a world increasingly dominated by mechanical shortcuts and kept faith with traditional techniques. He does it with a lump of oak, I do it with bits of paper and pens. Although I may never necessarily do any woodwork, I have learned an awful lot from him. The importance of believing in your method. The fundamental seriousness of following your own vision. The simple joy of doing things rigorously, patiently and properly. These are basic lessons but also ones that strike at the very heart of learning about being human. I would like to thank him for that.

I recommend that you drop everything and indulge yourself in some Paul Sellers, right now:

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Christmas cards

A goose just walked past. It was getting pretty fat.

Yes, Christmas is on its way. It is six weeks from today, in fact. I know that a lot of you will treat this news with some exceptional disdain but we all have to face up to it sooner or later. Unless you've booked yourself into the Dignitas clinic between now and December 25th.

And even Dignitas are starting to think about putting their tree up.


What better way to share the joy of the season than by sending a Christmas card (potentially of dubious taste) to your friends, family and colleagues? You can get these cards in many retailers at the moment but a lot of them are rubbish and feature pictures of some kid in a manger, and donkeys and camels and shepherds and all that. Which has little to do with the realities of the season.

We wish you a merry Christmas and a Picasso new year

So instead, why not try a Dotmund Christmas card this year? You can buy them all from my Redbubble page and they'll even send the things out to you so you can avoid going out into the crowded, bustling shops and catching a cold, or Ebola.

There are many designs available this year. Let's have a look at what £1.55 can get you these days.

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, rebooted for the MTV, legal highs and web 2.0 generation.

Christmas on the Serengeti Plain. I bet they still make room for pudding. Christmas, eh?

And, inevitably, the Christmas top seller-cum-Albatross around my neck, Naked Father Christmas.
(This is the censored version, obviously. CHILDREN might be reading this blog post).

All these, plus others, are all available RIGHT NOW over on my Redbubble page. If you buy 8 or more cards, there's a 20% discount on the deal. Buy 16 or more and the discount is 30%. There may be even bigger discounts if you buy more cards than that, but I haven't checked. Mostly because I don't know more than 16 people.

People wishing I'd shut up and just draw some pictures could do worse than to head over to Facebook and LIKE my Dotmund Facebook page there for regular updates of my oeuvre.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Brand new bollocks

The other evening Twitter alerted me to the fact that erstwhile comedian, actor and television presenter Russell Brand had occupied Wall Street. This came as little surprise, as he is turning into a right prat.

Russell Brand is an interesting sort of chap. Most people grow out of the risibly simplistic and teenage desire for revolution, or any other such tearing down of the existing social fabric, in their early twenties or whenever else they have finished college. Alas, Brand claims to be interested in doing so only now that he was reached comfortable middle age. One can only assume that this is born out of a desire for self-flagellation stemming from a lack of self-esteem, because come the revolution the first people against the wall will be big-gobbed Pre-Raphaelite millionaire fannies.

Brand cannot just be dismissed out of hand. He has respect and an eager audience, not least off the back of a lot of his intelligent, sensitive and thoughtful journalism. But his transformation into a slacker messiah is particularly ill-timed. His arguments against voting could not really come at a worse time.

There are elements to his argument which are easy to sympathise with. British politics has been turning itself into a grey-brown morass of sameness for the best part of twenty years, ever since Tony Blair decided that the Labour Party were unelectable without transforming themselves into a nasty bunch of Thatcherite weasel bags. Voting is an increasingly difficult sell in these circumstances.

But there are still significant differences between the major British parties. No-one could pretend that a Labour government would have different inclinations and priorities to the current Coalition one, or that the path of the current government hasn't been influenced or tempered by the lousy, Quisling stink-bag Liberal Democrats. Yes, British political figures are a largely unlikeable bunch of braying, over-privileged tits, but ever was it thus.

The only result of apathy, however, is demagoguery. Political parties will tailor their policies towards those people who are likely to vote and to people who are likely to vote alone. What sort of policy would that make? Well, just check the polls and see how well UKIP are doing. Young, open-minded liberal people may feel increasingly marginalised by this but they're not going to see any improvements by disenfranchising themselves further; worse yet, by disenfranchising themselves through their own choice.

I like Russell Brand. I like him as a comedian, I like him as a broadcaster and I like him as a writer. I respect him. As such find his efforts to turn himself into David Icke all the more painful, not least because of the fact that he - ironically enough - represents many of the good things and positive things that a British government should be interested in fighting for. He is an intelligent, engaging and stimulating presence in our cultural life. But, to paraphrase Chris Rock's thoughts on Flavor Flav during the 2008 US Presidential election, Russell Brand needs to shut his fucking mouth until after next May. Because this is more important than his ego.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The idiots are winning, on both sides

What is happening to the UK now only time will tell, but it's a chastening period nonetheless. Experience and knowledge of national character suggest to me that in the end there will be very little change, as to gain any measure of wider acceptance in Britain has always required a degree of moderateness. Moderation is, however, not currently in abundance. There is a distinct sense of the lunatics taking over the asylum.

On one side you've got UKIP, let's face it. One could try to find some sort of overarching name for them, but it seems a futile challenge. "Right-wing" is too relative a term while "fascists" is far too inflammatory and dense with historical implication. They're just UKIP. UKIP is the name given to the thing that embodies a recognisable British trope: deeply conservative, aggressively against change, NIMBYish, easily scared, blinkeredly nationalistic. All UKIP the political party have done is given them something specifically targeted to vote for.

They don't like Europe, the barmy EU or that crazy European Court of Human Rights. We don't need that sort here. We got by without them before. And by the way: re. World War II, you're WELCOME.

These people are idiots, but they've always been walking amongst us. My grandparents would probably all have been UKIP voters, given the chance. My grandparents weren't bad people. They certainly weren't snarling fascists, though people like that, too, have undeniably also always been part of the Great British melting pot. No, my grandparents were just not particularly clever.

The good thing about people not being particularly clever is that the situation is relatively easy to address: you educate them. Doing so is fairly easy, too, in this case. Tess Daly, Simon Cowell or Keith Lemon strongly coming out against the UKIP mentality would do it. As would The Daily Mail, The Daily Express or The Sun stopping being such unutterable bastards. A little bit of education would go a long way.

Of course, a little bit of education can create problems of its own. On the other side of the British equation these days are people so bleeding heart liberal it's a wonder they can even stand up. Their brand of hyper-equality is so relentlessly unquestioning and accepting that they would be just as big a problem as UKIP if they hadn't been brought up so well. They're less in-your face, but don't ever doubt that these sweaty, hand-wringing wassocks are just as big a bunch of idiots as the others.

They're the ones who argue that a there need to be more black football managers, disabled contestants on The Apprentice and that dogs and cats over five years old should get paternity leave. They are so busy trying to level the playing field that they don't realise that behind them they've been ploughing it. Call me old-fashioned, but I've always thought that the best person for the job is probably the best person for the job. If that person happens to be a 50-year old white man from Surrey, then so be it. 87% of people who live in the UK are white, after all, despite what the UKIPs will tell you, sweatily grinding their teeth down to powder.

The hand-wringers do have a point. It is, sadly, inescapable to note countless times throughout even this country's recent history that someone equally as qualified, as good for the role, will have been passed over because they are a woman, because they are disabled or because they are from an ethnic minority. Luckily, there are now laws against this. The victims of such discrimination have recourse to compensation and the culprits can and should face prosecution.

This is not an ideal scenario. In a perfect world, it wouldn't happen at all. But it is a good fall-back position. Better than the idea that, for every future managerial vacancy at a football club there should be at least one black candidate in the mix. Oh goody. We've (somehow) negotiated our way through the most turbulent and dangerous century in human history and what has popped out at the end? Tokenism. Get a token black candidate in. Make sure someone is disabled, too. There probably ought to be a Muslim, now we think of it. And a Christian, yes, OK. Anyone else for anyone else?

It's a hard-fought battle between two equally blinkered, difficult and self-righteous foes. For the people stuck in the middle it seems like an unrelenting deluge of shite. Luckily for us, social media at least lets us accurately design our own little worlds, free from the bellicose forces of dumb that rain down all around us. They're also a good place to share the latest viral videos! Today's one is of a child with a really very bad case of headlice!

Yes, they are speaking Spanish, why do you ask?


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