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And then again

In which there are updates on a couple of items


Well, hello there. Happy new year and all that.

I’ve broken the silence because, in the post below this one, you might notice that I said the one-off Dirk Gently adaptation broadcast on BBC4 last Christmas “very much had the smell of a pilot about it”. Funnily enough, the BBC agreed with me, so much so that it will be getting a short series in 2012. Whether the series will also be filmed in Easton, Montpelier and St Werburghs remains to be seen. Nostradamus himself would be jealous of my keen-eyed prediction skills.

In other futurology updates: a year ago, I predicted that the new government would last about fifteen months, collapsing over electoral reform. I now have three months left on that one, and the electoral reform has gone the way I always thought it would.* We will see. Nostradamus may not be quite so impressed. In slightly better news, though, we do now have the tea towel that we wanted this time last year. The downside to this: I now have to catch up on all the washing-up that’s been waiting since then.

* Despite being a Yes voter myself. No, not that Yes.

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Wrong

In which FP is right at something, but not in a helpful way


Well, part of last Wednesday’s post quickly came true: my “almost certainly wrong” prediction of the future did, indeed, turn out to be wrong. I was sorely tempted to claim I’d been right all along, or that I’ve got enough right that I can be considered reasonably infallible; but, nah, I got it wrong. As I did say I would. Hence, I was right. Hurrah! I should go into business as a futurologist; I’m good at it. And I’ve known people make bigger futurology U-turns.

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Strange Times

In which research fails


Sometimes, there are little things that bug me. Like: remembering the vague outline of the plot of a book I read 20 years ago, but not being able to remember enough to track it down. Or remembering something I saw on TV,* or read in a library book at some point in the distant past.

It’s something like that that’s bugging me at the moment. Regular readers might know that I occasionally enjoy talking about prophets and predictors of the future, noting people who make predictions that fail to come true, or try to rewrite their predictions retrospectively to match the actual events. Ages ago, probably approaching the 20-years scale, I read that a sometime-famous clairvoyant had predicted that a nuclear war was going to start, and that it would involve a nuclear attack on Hull. Which may one day happen, I suppose.** Unfortunately, this was a prophecy with a very specific date, and that date was in 1981.

The only hint I have to go on is that I’m fairly sure this was in a book I got from my local library of 20 years ago, and it might have been by Jenny Randles. As Jenny Randles has written several shelves’ worth of paranormal books, that’s not much help. It may well have a book about the vast number of prophecies indicating that Something Horrible Would Happen To Civilisation As We Know It around the start of this century; clearly all very very accurate ones. There’s not much to go on, though, and searching for information on prophecies about Hull hasn’t dragged anything up either. So, in trying to track this one down, I’m puzzled.

* Like an old movie where a pit pony refuses to be evacuated from a coal mine and gets blown up in an accident as a result. That movie gave me nightmares for weeks.

** Feel free to insert the compulsary joke along the lines of “at least [insert street/district here] might be improved a bit”

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Misogynistic Stereotype Killers

In which Mario Reading is quiet, so we criticise Horne & Corden instead


Quick update on yesterday’s post: as those of you with your own blogs will know, if you link from one blog to another, your blog will send a thing called a “pingback” or a “trackback” to the other one, and the owner of the other blog can choose to display it as a comment.

Yesterday I linked to the blog of Nostradamus-interpreter Mario Reading, when writing about his prediction that George W Bush would be assassinated in 2006, and his later claim that this prediction was right all along. Mario* saw the pingback, followed it back here, and (presumably) read my post about him. Unfortunately, he decided not to display the pingback on his blog, and so far hasn’t responded to what I pointed out: that his claim of correctness fundamentally contradicts the prediction he’s claiming is correct. I’m disappointed. Mario, if you’re reading,** if you want to respond to what I’ve said, then whatever you want to say, I promise I’ll publish it here. I won’t just delete it, like some people would. That’s a fair offer.

Moving on, comedy of a more intentional kind.*** We couldn’t avoid noticing posters around the place for the new British comedy film**** Lesbian Vampire Killers, starring Mathew Horne and James Corden; and, thinking: oh my holy pantheon. Someone would really produce a film with a premise like that? I mean, I’m not surprised someone – probably a 14-year-old boy – would write a film with a title like that, but, produce it? Agree to appear in it?

Well, fortunately, you don’t have to listen to me ramble on about how awful, ugly, and misogynistic we thought it sounded when we haven’t even seen it,***** because the excellent not-quite-worksafe blogger Bitchy Jones has written a similarly-kneejerk castigation of its low concepts. You only need to look at the URL of that to realise that she’s not-quite-worksafe; and she has done a far better critique of it than I’d manage. There are comments, too, from people who have actually seen it. If you also thought: “what, that’s a real film?” go and read.

Talking of Horne and Corden, I feel like I can’t get away from the buggers at the moment, because every time I switch the telly to the BBC, there’s a trail for their new sketch show; well, unless it’s BBC4. Being a sketch-show trail, it shows sketches. Sketches without jokes in. Their writing strategy seems to go something like this:

1: comedy set-up, relying on recognisable situation (eg. the movie “Ghost”
2: err …
3: … that’s it

No joke. No punchline. What’s the point of that, then? Is this some new zen-comedy, are there catchphrases that I haven’t noticed yet, were the trailers wrecked in the editing, or is it just lazy writing? Answers on a postcard, I guess. The trailers certainly don’t inspire me to watch it.

* or, whoever moderates his blog for him, if he doesn’t do it himself

** fighting my pun-instinct is really really hard here, you know

*** The blog title is about this bit, by the way, and completely unrelated to Mr. R.

**** words which, already, are not a promising start

***** See, at least Mario Reading gets criticised on the grounds that I’ve read his books and his blog and can spot the flaws in them, and not just on me thinking it sounds like it might be wrong.

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The Future Of Things

In which we return to Mario Reading and his inability to admit to his mistakes


Flicking through my viewing figures and my search keywords, I spotted one that caught my eye:

Is it true that nostradamus predicts that George W Bush is going to get assassinated?

Well, no. No, I have to say, it isn’t. It has been claimed that he did, though, by a writer called Mario Reading. As I do try hard to maintain this blog’s position as the top source for Mario Reading information on the internet, I thought I’d better mention it. Mr Reading’s prediction is based on this quatrain by Nostradamus:

The successor will avenge his handsome brother
He will take over the realm under cover of vengeance
The obstacle slain, his dead blood seethes
Britain and France will hold together for a long time

This is Reading’s own translation. He interpreted it as: a powerful world leader, whose main international ally is the British government, undergoes an assassination attempt; and this will lead to Britain aligning itself more with the EU. Oh, and, all this will take place in ’06.* He stepped carefully around the issue of naming the leader in print:

One of many possible targets, of course, might be US President George W Bush

but this is after mentioning that “under cover” in the quatrain, souz umbre in the original, probably means something like “under a bush”. Not to mention, Reading was rather less guarded when, as part of the pre-publication publicity, he went on the telly and said specifically that it was George W Bush that he meant.

Needless to say, none of this has come true, as you might have noticed, and the time for Reading’s prophecy to apply is well past. Nevertheless, he’s since declared that his prophecy did indeed come true! He wrote on his blog that:

I’m very sad to say that the predicted assassination did indeed take place, with the murder, on the 27th December 2007, of Benazir Bhutto. … The prophecy was further vindicated by the fact that both of Benazir Bhutto’s brothers had also died under unnatural circumstances, and that their brother-in-law, Benazir Bhutto’s husband, was elected President of Pakistan. … I rest my case.

Hang on a minute there, Mario! Yes, I know, “handsome brother” might be a mistranslation of “brother-in-law” – but in your prophecy there, it’s the brother who’s been attacked. Benazir Bhutto may well have been assassinated, but she definitely was no man’s brother. Having said, back in 2005, that you thought George W Bush was going to get attacked, it’s a bit misleading of you to go back and say “aah, someone else was assassinated, see, I was right all along”. Particularly as that someone else doesn’t at all fit the prediction you wrote.

I’ve been meaning, for a while, to write a full and proper critique of Reading’s book; something which is only going to get easier over the years as fewer of his prophecies come true. I’ve had more important things to write about,** but I’m getting round to it. Once I have, I’m tempted to go on to Peter Le Mesurier, who, in the mid-90s, predicted, using Nostradamus and astrology,** that an Islamic army would have invaded Europe from North Africa by now.*** He’s still writing books, and his website is actually pretty useful, despite not acknowledging his past predictive failure. But, on the other hand, there is a whole world of future-predictors to debunk out there. All I can ever do is scratch the surface.

* Reading has his own dating scheme which links the year to the number of the prophecy; according to that, the prophecy applies to a year ending in 06, although he goes on to link it, because of his interpretation, to the vaguer period “2006-2008″.

** which does make sense in a way, as Nostradamus was basically an astrologer himself. Le Mesurier sets the dates of his predictions by looking at repeating astrological cycles.

*** This is why, as I wrote a while back, the work of people like Reading and Le Mesurier really needs a Ron Howard voiceover, to say things like “It hasn’t”.

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Resolutions

In which we discuss the future


So, what are my resolutions for this year?

Well, really, they’re all project-based. This is going to be the year of getting things done – not Getting Things DoneTM, but the general, non-trademarked sort of getting things done.

This year, I will: for a start, redesign this website. It’s not been changed since it was first written, and it could do with being freshened up a little. Then there’s the other website project that K and I have been working on, that’s almost ready to go live, but not quite just yet – that one needs finishing off. And then, there’s everything else we’ve got planned. Everything else that we’ve thought about doing, and said: we really should do that one day. We really should do that. Everything from publishing our own zine, to getting some photos saleable, to writing a movie and a novel, to cataloguing all our CDs and DVDs. I’m going to have a stab at all of them.

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A longer rhetorical question

In which we speculate on the point of resolutions


Yesterday’s post, as you might have guessed, contained my New Year’s Resolutions.

pause for regular readers to think: hmmm, I didn’t read that. Where is it?

The Plain People Of The Internet: Come on there, get on with it!

That was a joke, of sorts. There wasn’t a post yesterday, because there weren’t any New Year’s Resolutions. There is lots about my life that I’d like to fix, but … well, why should I set any arbitrary dates? Either I manage to do things, or I don’t. There’s little point waiting for a new page in the calendar before trying to do something, is there.

This year, I’m going to do more. I’m going to be more creative, more productive, and more optimistic. But I’m not doing that because it’s a new year. I’ve already started the process. In the past three months, I’ve done more than I did in the rest of last year; and that’s going to continue.

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Futurology

In which we note Mario Reading’s prediction has still not come true


Author Mario Reading has been in my mind recently, because people have been searching for information about him. In case you’ve forgotten – it is, after all, exactly a year since I first wrote about him – he’s the chap who predicted that some time this year or the next, someone will try to assassinate George W Bush.

He says he isn’t predicting that, of course. He says the prophet Nostradamus predicted it, a few hundred years back, and Reading is merely spreading the word. Even though noone would probably have come to this conclusion without hearing of Reading’s work, that’s irrelevant: he says Nostradamus said it, and it’s nothing to do with him. It’s still another couple of years before we can point and laugh at Mario Reading, and say he got it all wrong; but I’m going to try not to forget him.

Now, at first I thought: “how hard can it be?” Surely anyone can just get hold of some Nostradamus, and slap some current references over the top? But, then, secondly: surely the original text has nothing to do with it? Surely I could write something that looked like Nostradamus,* add “interpretations”, and – if my theory that the original text has little to do with what most Nostradamus-fans come out with is right – my interpretations would be just as valid predictions of the future as anything else. So, I think I might just try that. Coming soon: FP’s “Nostradamus, honest”.

* or, at least, Nostradamus-in-translation. I don’t speak either medieval French, or Provencal.

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Memories of the year, the final part…

In which we remember things, but look forward too


…is a bit of a cheat. Because there isn’t one thing I want to add which would round the year off. There are too many moments which would leave it incomplete. The cat returning. Someone taking me for a quiet walk in the park, so she could split up with me. Going for a first date with someone else, and watching her last train home pull out of the station because we didn’t realise it was about to leave. Someone trying to kick my car windows in, whilst I was sat inside the car. So many people who have made this year very special – in particular, V-

The Plain People Of The Internet: Hang on, what’s this? You’re writing your Oscar acceptance speech now or something?

There’s no point looking back too much. The best we can hope to do is manage not to repeat too many mistakes over again. I’m going to go out tonight, and enjoy myself, and look to the future…

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The Cycle

In which we sit back and don’t let other people stop us enjoying life


It’s dark outside. It’s not night, but rain-gloomy and grey. It feels dark. Winter is on its way. Soon, it will be dark.

Lots of things have come to an end in the past year; but lots more have begun. The year may be coming to a close, but the next one will be just around the corner. So much has changed for me in the past 12 months, that for the first time in a while I’m thinking like an optimist. I’m a changed person. I might not still be sure who I am, what I’m looking for, and where I’m going, but I’ve taken several steps along the path. I’ve made mistakes, but I don’t regret making any of them.

I can’t say where I would be if I hadn’t done X, or Y, or Z. You never know how things would have changed if you’d taken a different path one morning. Driving to work today, I saw a car parked on a sharp bend, and slowed down. Its driver was stood by on the phone, and an unconscious biker was laid by the side of the road. The ambulance was still on its way. Maybe, if I’d left home five minutes earlier, it would have been my crash.

This isn’t meant to be a melancholic post, by the way. I don’t know what’s coming round the next corner, and I’m not sure I want to. I’m just going to see what happens, and make decisions as I get to them. I don’t have a strategy; I don’t have a plan. I’m probably going to make more mistakes at some point, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m not going to stop anyone else making mistakes either, because they deserve to learn things too.

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