Review by Mark Hughes for DPRP Mag – Opher Goodwin — Roy Harper: On Track… Every Album, Every Song book

I do enjoy reading the reviews for the book. Gives me a boost! Thank you to all who leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Means a lot!!

Opher Goodwin — Roy Harper: On Track… Every Album, Every Song [Book (157 pages)]

country: UK

year: 2021

Opher Goodwin - Roy Harper: On Track... Every Album, Every Song

info:

 sonicbondpublishing.co.uk

Mark Hughes

Another title in the rapidly growing list of books published by SonicBond, this time featuring original maverick and friend to a guitar rock god or two, Roy Harper.

As a long-standing Harper fan I know that tackling his discography is not a task for the faint-hearted. With albums going in and out of print, reissues, alternative versions and limited editions, there is a lot to get to grips with. Thankfully Goodwin handles everything with aplomb, clarifying where extra tracks on various re-releases originally stemmed from and where they fit into Harper’s recording chronology. It makes it easy to disentangle the frequently messy and confusing slew of releases from a prolific writer.

Of course, it helps that Goodwin has been friends with Harper since 1967, just after the release of Harper’s surprising debut album Sophisticated Beggar; surprising in that it eschewed the folk and blues numbers that Harper had gained a reputation for from his busking and folk club performances and comprised all-original material. Perhaps more startling was that it also featured a full band in places, not what the folk crowd that had primarily been his audience up to that point had been expecting. These were the first signs that Harper would stick to his own plans and not be pushed into doing what others necessarily wanted or expected.

What will be alien to modern bands is the fact that Harper’s first two albums, released on different labels, were both commercial failures. Yet the musical environment of the time meant that it was the music that mattered and the lack of commercial appeal was not considered a black mark against the artist. He found a longer-lasting home on Harvest Records for his third album, Flat Baroque And Berserk, the first of seven essential albums he recorded for the label over the next decade.

Goodwin’s personal memories and analysis of the songs and albums adds a lot to the book and offer insights that keep things interesting, more than some other titles in the series in being a sterile list of songs. Harper was never an artist that was likely to trouble the singles chart but he did consistently release such items. Although a lot of the songs unique to the format, particularly from the earliest years, have been compiled and re-issued, his b-sides remain some of the hardest items to locate for the collector. In that respect this book is a valuable guide to what was released, and in some cases what has not been released, both of which can be quite frustrating for the searching completist!

I would have liked to have seen a bit more on the live Roy Harper as, despite the brilliance of the studio output, it was on stage that Harper excelled. As at least a couple of the official live albums were assembled from a multitude of recorded concerts, there is potentially a lot of recorded material that remains locked in the vaults. However, considering that recording details and locations were omitted from Inbetween Every Line as all the tapes were mixed up and it wasn’t deemed necessary to sort them out, it could be a major task sorting them out if, indeed, they still exist.

Despite his long recording career, there doesn’t appear to be much studio material left languishing in the vaults and it seems increasingly unlikely that Harper will return to the studio to record a new album, despite how well his last album, 2013’s Man And Myth was received. So it is from these putative live archives that any future releases will presumably be drawn.

As such, this volume can be assumed to be as complete a record of the musical legacy of one of Britain’s finest and most idiosyncratic singer-songwriters as you are likely to find. Written in a relaxed and enjoyable style, it is an easy-to-read volume that will introduce, and re-introduce, the reader to the delights of the Harper catalogue. I certainly dug out a few of his lesser-played albums from my collection and listened to them in a new light after reading the book. And if that is not recommendation enough, I don’t know what is.

Now, back to searching for the missing items. Anyone know where I can find Goodbye Ladybird?

The British Empire

The British Empire

From the shores of this small island,

Reaching out with armies to embrace the whole world,

From the Falklands, through the USA, Canada, the Caribbean,

Africa, India, China, Indonesia, and the Philippines

to Australia and New Zealand,

Great Britain ruled.

The greatest Empire the world has ever seen.

The tentacles of that empire

Probed, exploited, subjugated and menaced.

Its power was extent.

It sent forth its mighty navy.

It invaded, deposed and laid claim.

It deployed its superiority and arrogance

Through its technology and attitude.

A sense of privilege and worth,

It conquered,

Divided and ruled.

With armies of bureaucrats it controlled.

It plundered the world

Bringing back the spoils

To build its stately homes,

To finance its servants and lavish lifestyle,

With fashion, banquets and balls.

To finance its great armies

And maintain its domination.

Yet little, if any, of this vast plunder

Was wasted on the populace of Great Britain.

The public were sentenced to poverty,

Gruelling labour in field and factory,

A life of penury with great penalty

And heartless application

Should they rebel,

Or question their position.

For we were the cannon fodder,

Worthless, expendable,

Without a vote,

No power and no hope.

Brainwashed in schools

To worship mighty God,

King and country

And wave our union jacks on Empire day.

The Empire was a product of the elite,

For the benefit of the elite.

While we, the people, were exploited

As heartlessly as any slaves.

The British Empire

Swaddled the world in pink.

It should have been red –

Red with the blood

The blood of ordinary folk,

Of battlefields,

Of the whipped slaves in the sugar plantations!

Or at least blue with aristocratic blood,

The blue blood of arrogant rulers,

Of those who populated the Public Schools

And assumed superiority.

But it was pink.

The delicate feminine colour

Of charm and romance.

A disguise

For a sinister vehicle of oppression,

Within and without.

All Empires crumble.

But the same privileged elite

Maintain their position,

Deploy their power

And still reign supreme.

Opher – 29.12.2020

Thus it is everywhere to this day. Just because the Empires are less obvious does not mean they do not exist or are not as ruthless. Privilege maintains privilege. Equality is a myth.

I am a Barcode

I am a Barcode

I’ve become a barcode,

A commodity.

I sit upon a shelf

And dream of being free.

My dreams are sold

As merchandise

Alongside aftershave

And forbidden rice.

I’m a product of

The twenty first century.

All is bought

Nothing’s for free.

Everything has a price

But no worth.

Equipped with a price tag

From the moment of its birth.

I’ve become a barcode,

A commodity.

I sit upon a shelf

And dream of being free.

Opher – 6.12.2020

The whole planet is up for sale, every tree, fish and insect has a price.

Pay enough and you can have a pet whale!

Every forest is there for profit, every chimp and rhino.

Every idea has value.

Everything we do is bought and sold.

There are businessmen wanting to bribe politicians to sell the future.

My barcode is evident in everything I do. I have no other purpose.

Out of the Covid and into the Frying Pan

Out of the Covid

and into

the Frying Pan

By

Opher Goodwin

Introduction

This book of poetry came out of lockdown. Through a year of isolation I have recorded my feelings, dreams and frustrations. They come out in these concentrations of words that I daringly call poems.

I do not think that they have a theme or act as a diary.

They document the thoughts, ideas and hopes that flood through my brain.

This has been a nightmare time of Brexit, Covid-19, wars, coups, Trump’s demise, Bolsonaro’s madness, global warming, the destruction of nature, a massive rise in inequality and the clown that is Boris Johnson pretending to be PM.

What’s new?

The human race is totally insane. We continue to promote nasty insane leaders. We continue our nasty nationalism. We continue our nasty racism, sexism and violent ways.

It seems that the sane among us are in a minority.

In these diatribes I vent my spleen! (Not that it does any good!)

This 22nd book of poetry – another empty gesture! A futile flinging of words against the might of a global propaganda machine.

Why not join me for a spell of pointless futility?

A bit of meaningless meaning? Or a voicing of protest?

You decide.

Opher 7.4.2021

PS – there’s quite a smattering of love and spirituality to brighten up the proceedings!

God’s Bolt – A Sci-fi novel – A sci-fi novel with a difference – no bug-eyed monsters or space opera – real-life possibility and science fact. A tale of horror and human resourcefulness.

God’s Bolt

 

Helen Southcote is looking for a purpose to life through her Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence work on the United Nations Space Station when she watches the Earth destroyed by an asteroid. What can she do next? …

Extract

Chapter 1 – The End and the Beginning

Year 2178 – Impact day

 I have never felt so utterly alone. A raging storm of nausea was gnawing at my belly as I began my routine morning broadcast – except that there was nothing normal about this one.

‘Good morning everybody,’ I said cheerily, putting on my best smile. ‘This is Helen Southcote beaming down to you from the United Nations International Space Station.’

I was totally unsure of the wisdom of continuing these tridee broadcasts, particularly on such an auspicious day as this. Who on earth was tuned in? Surely they’d all be in a panic, desperately seeking safety for themselves and their loved ones. Nobody would be at all interested in any platitudes from me. But the powers that be, in the form of mission controller Brad Noone, had assured me that it was necessary. The psychologists thought that it might help to continue with normality and reduce panic. Who was I to argue? They’d provided me with a script. I suppressed my anger and upset. Put aside my personal feelings about what had happened to my friends. The show had to go on. I was doing it for the kids, I kept reminding myself – it was for the kids.

‘The earth sure looks beautiful spread out there below me.’ I showed them images of the planet below me with its green seas and swirling white clouds.

With a lot of trepidation, which I hoped did not show too much, I turned my attention to the subject that was foremost in everybody’s minds. ‘Preparations are well underway to deal with the remaining threat from Chang’s comet,’ I assured them. ‘Missiles are poised to destroy the largest incoming rocks but President Khun Mae Srisuk has urged everyone to either seek sanctuary in the prescribed shelters or to evacuate to designated regions of safety. There are bound to be some meteorites that will cause some collateral damage. Better to be safe than sorry.’

I offered them one of my best smiles. The cheery tones sounded so phoney to me.

‘This promises to be one of the most spectacular shows you’ll ever see,’ I promised them. Be reassuring I’d been instructed – be upbeat. Lie. Even the most optimistic reports were predicting widespread damage across the United States, Canada and into Russia. The earth was going to be bombarded with the biggest deluge of rocks in recent history. Chang’s comet was a monster and even broken up as it was, presented a real danger to the survival of the planet. They just had to hope that this time the scientists had got it right and every single major threat would be neutralised. It was a big ask. They had not managed such a brilliant job up to now. This last ditch effort was to target all the remaining large rocks and pulverise them in the upper atmosphere so that the remains would burn up on entry. If all went to plan it was certain to be the most amazing display. The worry was that if a single one of those chunks of rock was missed……………….……….. well that didn’t bear thinking about. ‘Make sure you watch from safety!’ I chastised them. There were always some thrill seekers who sought to put themselves in danger. ‘As for me, well I’ve got the best seat in the house, a real grandstand view. UNISS will be in exactly the right place to record the whole sequence of events and you can bet that I’ll be relaying it to you live as it happens!’

I then proceeded to give them a dull and boring update on the various experiments taking place, the weather, solar activity and conditions in space. Normality. That’s what I’d been instructed to do.

‘This is Helen Southcote signing off until tomorrow. Be safe! See you soon’

‘Good job!’ Brad Noone intoned in his dulcet tones after I’d shut down. That was high praise coming from him.

Available in both paperback and kindle from Amazon.

In the UK:

Buy the book Click here

In the USA:

Click here to buy book

In India:

Buy the book – click here

In Canada:

Buy the book – click here

In Germany:

Buy the book – click here

In Australia

Buy the book – click here

Or from your local Amazon Store.

Opher Goodwin the Writer.

For all the new followers of my blog I thought it might be an idea to give you a brief introduction to myself as a writer.

Back in 1971 I found myself in the heart of the London Underground scene, revelling in the music and culture, surrounded by a mass of friends, immersed in a hundred and one activities and exploring a universe of possibilities. Life seemed to be one discovery after another. I was reading avidly, listening to music, visiting art galleries and theatre, consuming films, hitch-hiking around and travelling the world. One amazing gig seemed to follow hard on the heels of another – Son House, Roy Harper, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, Doors, Stones, Muddy Waters…………… the list was endless. On top of that I was in love with a beautiful girl. Everything seemed perfect.

It was a very rich bed of experience.

At the time I was meant to be studying for a degree in Zoology but that was rather overshadowed by the rich texture of possibility.

By 1971 I had a wealth of experience and a head bursting with ideas coupled with a desire for a creative outlet. I set about writing.

My first endeavours were more enthusiasm than skill but I persevered! I never stopped and now have amassed a body of work.

Few genres are immune to my attack. I think I might even have invented a genre or two! I certainly do not restrict myself. If something stirs my interest and creative juices I give full vent (probably my downfall).

As I developed a career in education and brought up a family I still made time for writing.

I’m still doing it!

I suppose that I have two main genres that I work in – Science Fiction and Rock Music.

I mainly write my Science Fiction under the pen name of Ron Forsythe.

You can check out my Sci-Fi output either here:

or here:

My main Rock Books are on Roy Harper, Nick Harper, Captain Beefheart plus a memoir entitled ‘In Search of Captain Beefheart’. They can be found here:

As you may see – there are a number of other tomes on the environment, antitheism, art, beat poetry, weird novel, collected anecdotes and stories and other weird stuff. So far I’ve enjoyed every minute and I hope there’s a lot more to come!

I’m open to questions or enquiries and really do appreciate a ‘like’ and become ecstatic reading new reviews.

All the best

Opher xx

God’s Bolt – A Sci-fi novel. What does the last human being do?

God’s Bolt

 

Helen Southcote is looking for a purpose to life through her Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence work on the United Nations Space Station when she watches the Earth destroyed by an asteroid. What can she do next? …

Extract

Chapter 1 – The End and the Beginning

Year 2178 – Impact day

 I have never felt so utterly alone. A raging storm of nausea was gnawing at my belly as I began my routine morning broadcast – except that there was nothing normal about this one.

‘Good morning everybody,’ I said cheerily, putting on my best smile. ‘This is Helen Southcote beaming down to you from the United Nations International Space Station.’

I was totally unsure of the wisdom of continuing these tridee broadcasts, particularly on such an auspicious day as this. Who on earth was tuned in? Surely they’d all be in a panic, desperately seeking safety for themselves and their loved ones. Nobody would be at all interested in any platitudes from me. But the powers that be, in the form of mission controller Brad Noone, had assured me that it was necessary. The psychologists thought that it might help to continue with normality and reduce panic. Who was I to argue? They’d provided me with a script. I suppressed my anger and upset. Put aside my personal feelings about what had happened to my friends. The show had to go on. I was doing it for the kids, I kept reminding myself – it was for the kids.

‘The earth sure looks beautiful spread out there below me.’ I showed them images of the planet below me with its green seas and swirling white clouds.

With a lot of trepidation, which I hoped did not show too much, I turned my attention to the subject that was foremost in everybody’s minds. ‘Preparations are well underway to deal with the remaining threat from Chang’s comet,’ I assured them. ‘Missiles are poised to destroy the largest incoming rocks but President Khun Mae Srisuk has urged everyone to either seek sanctuary in the prescribed shelters or to evacuate to designated regions of safety. There are bound to be some meteorites that will cause some collateral damage. Better to be safe than sorry.’

I offered them one of my best smiles. The cheery tones sounded so phoney to me.

‘This promises to be one of the most spectacular shows you’ll ever see,’ I promised them. Be reassuring I’d been instructed – be upbeat. Lie. Even the most optimistic reports were predicting widespread damage across the United States, Canada and into Russia. The earth was going to be bombarded with the biggest deluge of rocks in recent history. Chang’s comet was a monster and even broken up as it was, presented a real danger to the survival of the planet. They just had to hope that this time the scientists had got it right and every single major threat would be neutralised. It was a big ask. They had not managed such a brilliant job up to now. This last ditch effort was to target all the remaining large rocks and pulverise them in the upper atmosphere so that the remains would burn up on entry. If all went to plan it was certain to be the most amazing display. The worry was that if a single one of those chunks of rock was missed……………….……….. well that didn’t bear thinking about. ‘Make sure you watch from safety!’ I chastised them. There were always some thrill seekers who sought to put themselves in danger. ‘As for me, well I’ve got the best seat in the house, a real grandstand view. UNISS will be in exactly the right place to record the whole sequence of events and you can bet that I’ll be relaying it to you live as it happens!’

I then proceeded to give them a dull and boring update on the various experiments taking place, the weather, solar activity and conditions in space. Normality. That’s what I’d been instructed to do.

‘This is Helen Southcote signing off until tomorrow. Be safe! See you soon’

‘Good job!’ Brad Noone intoned in his dulcet tones after I’d shut down. That was high praise coming from him.

Available in both paperback and kindle from Amazon.

In the UK:

Buy the book Click here

In the USA:

Click here to buy book

In India:

Buy the book – click here

In Canada:

Buy the book – click here

In Germany:

Buy the book – click here

In Australia

Buy the book – click here

Or from your local Amazon Store.

Green – A Sci-fi novel. Is there a universe inside our heads??

Green

 Opher May 26, 2020

This is a Sci-fi novel set in the future. Elspin is born without a nervous system; a brain with no connection to the world. She is locked within her dreams in an infinite universe of inner space. She should have withered into nothing but against all the odds she prospered …

Politians and Business-people are at each others throats. The world is in crisis. The Greens are split into factions. Passions are explosive.

A way is found of contacting Elspin. What happens when universes clash?

Will the world survive?

Chapter – 1

A flash of orange light exploded in the room with dazzling intensity.

            ‘WHOOOOOOOOMP!!’

            The shockwave, following right behind, resounded with an echoey thud that hit the two people in the apartment with a solid thump.

            Unperturbed, in fact looking bored, President Jane Muller of the Planetary Council sauntered across the room and surveyed the huge burgeoning mushroom cloud now filling the  whole of the far side of the lounge area where her husband was sitting, with a look of critical annoyance. The explosion formed a livid ball of blazing incandescent heat swirling through inky black smoke, rolling and boiling its way up towards the ceiling. An angry red glow played across the skin of her face. The acrid smell of the smoke filled her mouth and nose with a scorching, choking intensity.

            Still she was unmoved.

            With no more than a frown she turned her attention away from the scene and directed it towards the reclining figure of her husband who was still carelessly sprawled in his usual place in his favourite chair.

            “I do wish they would give some warning that they are going to do that,” she remarked, adjusting the intensity controls of the monitor in passing. It irritated her the way he always had the tridee turned up so high.

Her eyes caught her reflection in the large mirrored surface beside the door causing her to tighten her lips in a grimace of disapproval. The grey unipiece business suit and cropped hair presented the conservative, almost military bearing and hard-nosed image that she sought to foster but it could hardly be considered flattering. She turned slightly, pulling in her stomach tight and assessing the effect, tilting her chin quizzically. It wasn’t getting any better. Her frown intensified and her attention wandered back to the fire that was still raging at the end of the room.

            Reaching the chair occupied by her husband Deryk, who was still studying the unfolding scene of devastation, she joined him in his assessment.

            “……Appears the LPL have claimed yet more victims early this morning,” the commentator droned as the camera panned away from the ravaged chemical works to the panic and chaos surrounding the plant. “Following a message received in the early hours of the morning a huge thermite device was exploded in the works. Frantic efforts to find the device and shut down the plant failed and the IntSol Company say that insufficient warning was given.”

            Deryk glanced up at her with a smile of greeting.

            “Twenty people have been reported dead and there are many more missing. IntSol sources say that the final death toll will almost certainly reach into three figures.” The grim face of the commentator loomed out at them superimposed on the billowing clouds of the explosion, seemingly hanging there adrift in the air like a huge decapitated balloon.

            “LPL still at it then,” Deryk observed dryly.

            Jane Muller sighed but did not bother to reply. They both continued to stare morosely at the violent pictures unfolding before them.

            “The only saving grace to this tragedy is that the explosion was timed to go off in the slack period between shifts in the early hours of the morning. This is a time when the plant is only manned by a skeleton crew sufficient to run the computations and deal with emergencies. At any other time the death toll would certainly have reached into the thousands.”

            “The device appears to have been planted close to a pipe-line containing the new and highly inflammable DL17 rocket propellant. The initial explosions setting off a series of gigantic secondary explosions that ripped their way into the heart of the complex.”

            “Survivors report huge shock-waves destroying all building in the vicinity followed by a rushing wall of flame whose searing heat engulfed streets and buildings.”

            “A spokesperson for……………..”

            Deryk shook his head and pushed himself out of the chair, patted her hand and wandered out of the room.

            Jane continued to frown whimsically at the image still billowing in front of her, her thoughts momentarily caught up in the report. The scene behind the commentator changed to a sweeping panoramic view of the plant taken prior to the explosion. It showed an orderly complex of gantries and pipe-lines intermeshing with buildings and storage tanks. The image was clear and sharp and had obviously been taken after the rains when the plant was not shrouded in its usual mantle of smog.

            With an even bigger sigh she deepened her scowl and pulled herself upright from the chair, stretching, suddenly overcome with fatigue and weariness. Her attention wandered to the Massalax. She was desperately in need of a period of calm and peace to drain some of that tension away. Things were not getting any easier. She was tired and hungry. The question was which to deal with first? A quick meal and a comforting drink or an ultra-sound massage to calm the mind and ease the muscles? They were both equally enticing.

            With a practised jerk she tugged at the release straps on her suit and felt the seams relax to safety grip. Absently dialling in the code on the tunic belt she released the security grips and shrugged off the loosened fabric of her uniform to fling it in the nearest disposal chute. Tugging on the connector tabs she disengaged her underwear and they followed the suit down the chute.

            She stood there for a moment as the soft light of the tridee played across her naked body assessing her profile in the mirror. It was a nice full figure, amply proportioned with little sign of the flabbiness of ageing. But then it ought to be with the amount of drugs and beauty treatment she had lavished upon it over the course of the years. She eyed herself coldly, running her critical eyes over her weaker points for signs that might point to the need for further treatments. Were her buttocks beginning to sag a little? Her breasts a shade too full? And her cheeks were definitely showing signs of droop. But then that could just be the tiredness. Even so, perhaps it was time to book another appointment with Stefan. It wouldn’t do any harm would it?

            Resignedly she stepped into the Massalax. Age was a tiresome inconvenience that she could do without. Her presence triggered the mechanism and she felt the invisible forces closing around her as the luxurious waves passed back and forth across her skin soothing and massaging the tired tissues. She let herself go, sensually closing her eyes and relaxing into the flow of the energising programme.

            “………..Buildings were torn apart and thrown into twisted heaps of metal.” The commentary continued on the periphery of her hearing, the shattered buildings littering the room went unnoticed, even the irritating burning smells fading away to be replaced by the gentle aromatherapy of the Massalax sequence. ” IntSol say there is very little chance of survival for any of their employees working in those areas. Both the intensity of the blasts and the tremendous heat would have made it……..”

            The weariness drained out of her as the accumulated waste products were leached out of her cells with the blood circulation stimulated by the pulsating waves of the Massalax. Its deeper radiations eating into her very core leaving waves of contentment and pleasure in their wake. Her mind floated in the lazy internal seas it created as the world outside slipped away to some far away unreality. Everything receded. Time melted.

            “……….What compounded the damage was the spontaneous combustion of the nearby river Gurde.”

            The scene switched to a panoramic view of a sluggish brown river snaking its way through a sterile plateau of mud.

            The thought of a burning river drew her back out of her reverie. Jane’s half opened eyes allowed the images to seep in. She was interested in a detached dreamy way. She knew that tomorrow she would have to deal with the aftermath. But then tomorrow was a long way off and interesting though the image of a burning river might be, it was not interesting enough and she was damned if she was going to allow it to detract from her enjoyment of the massage. She nudged the control to level 4 with her foot. After all ….. she deserved it. The pulsing of the massage became deeper and even more sensuous so that her body seemed to dissolve into the tingling world it was creating inside her. Even so, she still found that she kept a tiny fragment of her mind, despite all her intentions, tracking along with that report.

            “………..The river has long been a source of concern to Environmentalists who have repeatedly claimed that IntSol’s dumping programme has made the river a danger to public health. No life has been recorded in it for more than half a century and twice before the river has spontaneously ignited.”

            The picture switched to views of the river with pools of burning chemical and charred mud. Part of her watched in horrified fascination.

            “Despite claims by IntSol that the previous conflagrations were caused by the build-up of methane gas coupled with hydrocarbons from natural sources, neither of which had anything to do with their dumping programme, subsequent investigations led to the company being fined on both occasions. Whoever is responsible this time, and IntSol are the likely culprits, it now seems certain that the present conflagration was a result of gasses released from an interaction of chemicals within those murky waters. The perpetrator remains to be officially identified. Whatever comes out of this investigation the facts of the matter speak for themselves. Gasses from the river were ignited by the explosion at the chemical works spreading flames down the length of the waterway. These flames engulfed everything in their path and have started up numerous secondary blazes down the length of the river.”

            Despite the languid state of mind created by the Massalax her nose puckered in disgust as she caught a whiff of the pungent river smell that was now emanating into the room completely over-riding the aroma limitation controls.

            The report moved into a sequence of shots of helicraft dumping clouds of white powder, a chemical fire retardant, onto a number of blazes.

            “If it had not been for the fact that few people live in the proximity of the Gurde due to the corrosive chemical smog that extends for distances on either side of its banks the death toll and damage would………………….”

            At this moment her tenuous attention was distracted by Deryk ambling back into the room. The door slid silently shut behind him and she became aware that he was holding two extravagantly filled glasses of amber fluid. The look of smug satisfaction mingled with anticipation left her in no doubt that this was not the usual synth concoction. It was a generous helping of his precious vintage brandy. She returned his smile as he placed the two glasses on the coffee table before turning and walking back through the door.

            Her eyes followed him admiring the sinuous youthful fluidity that his movements still retained. He may be approaching the end of what might be described as middle-age but it certainly did not show. His perennial youthfulness was emphasised by his slight willowy frame and the casual cut and brightness of his unipiece, admirably set off by the furry ‘slippers’ he insisted on wearing which added a dash of eccentricity.

            She nudged the dial to off and allowed the last tremors to settle through her as she luxuriated for a moment more. In some ways this was the time she enjoyed most. More than the deepest relaxation induced by the machine. This was the time she felt warm and snug just like that moment in bed before you push the covers aside and step out from its protective embrace.

            “……….Fire-fighting crews are still trying to control the many fires that are still springing up in the wake of this disaster and it now appears that it may be many hours before the situation is fully under control.”

            Deryk arrived back in the room clutching two dishes of brightly coloured vegetable and rice. The smell of seafood paella deliciously scented the air.

            “Thought this might just do the number for you,” he murmured allowing his easy smile to pleasantly lift the corners of his mouth transforming him into a happy sprite as he stood there basking in the now contented expression on his wife’s face.

            “Umm,” she murmured. “That smells good. You know, I thought you’d forgotten how to dial dishes as good as that Deryk.”

            She boldly stepped out of the machine, noting his appraising glance, and dialled a loose-fitting robe out of the dispenser. Beaming her cheesiest grin she accepted the plate of food and sat with it in her lap.

            He grinned back at her and slid down into his chair, spooning a mouthful of food in as he turned his attention back to the images still beaming into the room.

            “……….This is the tenth such terrorist act carried out by the LPL this month and the eighth that has been directed specifically against IntSol.”

            “The LPL admitted responsibility for the attack in a statement released to all tridee stations this morning.” The serious expression on the announcers face reflected the gravity of the situation. “The statement contained the familiar demands for industry to clean up its environmentally damaging practices and warned of further action if nothing was done. It would appear that IntSol has been singled out for special attention due to its poor environmental history……..”

            Easing herself back into the cushioning of her chair she turned her full attention to the plate resting on her lap and took a small bite of the gourmet food Deryk had presented her with.

            Nudging the smell factor on the tridee down to zero, so that the programme did not interfere with the meal, she, as the food began to melt deliciously in her mouth, began to focus on the man she shared her limited private life with. In contrast to the other men she came in contact with in the course of her work there was nothing arrogant, ostentation or affected about him. And she was glad. Here she could relax.

            “I’m glad we had that gourmet model installed, despite the enormous cost,” she reflected.

            “You can afford it,” he grinned. “Not even much of a luxury to someone in your position. If the President of the planet can’t afford it, who can?” He added.

            “Well luxury or not. I’m glad we had it installed.” The food was delicious and Deryk’s choice was inspired.

            He lifted his glass and toasted her. Touching the glass to his nose, he sniffed the amber fluid as he rolled it around the large glass. After watching the liquid swirl, and the oily drops run back down the sides of the glass into the main body of the classic brandy he at last allowed himself a minute sip, settling into the chair to savour the extravagance. He smiled to himself as the electricity of the flavour visibly radiated out through his body, relaxing him as surely as any Massalax machine. Despite all their claims to have matched every molecular nuance, no synth product could come near to matching this.

            She reached for her own glass, repeating a similar process in pleasing mimicry.

            The seconds drifted past as they slowly worked their way through the meal in silence, savouring the interacting flavours while the broadcast drifted over them, only partially registering on their senses.

            She finished the last sip and emerged from her reverie feeling light and contented and deeply sated, gazing across with affection at the man she had been with for so many years. He was probably the only human being she could ever truly relax with, someone with whom their empathy produced an almost telepathic quality, someone with whom she was truly comfortable.

            Within that richly contented moment she was overcome with a deep clarity. She saw him as he was – a supportive and generous man, contented and easy-going, quite happy to take the back seat through the course of her rapid rise to prominence. He did not relish public life and hated the glare and attention. Yet it had been his strength and stability that she had come to rely on; the foundations on which she could build the edifice of her political career. He had been there to pick up the pieces when things had gone wrong; to put them together again and get things in perspective, sometimes with support and comfort and sometimes with harsh advice —- the platform from which she had set off for the stars and achieved her ambition. She silently thanked him again.

            For this brief moment she could truly relax. The day had been tough, fraught with the worry of big decisions, and tomorrow looked as if it was shaping up to be even worse. She pushed it aside. The taste of the meal was in her mouth. The brandy was in her head and she felt great. She smiled across at Deryk. Tonight she ceased to be the President of the Supreme Council and for the first time in a long while was just content to be Deryk’s wife.

            “………..Magnus Rikson, the Chairperson of the Combined Business Confederation, was quick to condemn the act as an outrage committed by the lunatic fringe. He claimed the LPL were a crazed group of terrorist murderers who were out to hi-jack International Industry for their own ends. He castigated them for dealing in death and destruction and accused them of leaving a trail of maimed bodies and mayhem in their wake. In an angry address he ended by stating that they deserved to be hunted down like animals and shot like the diseased dogs they were.”

            The round moon-like face of the fair-haired industrialist filled the room self-righteously glaring out at them with his piercing blue eyes.

            “We will not bow down to these crass blackmail demands,” he growled menacingly. “Where are the police? Where is the protection for the working people these monsters are killing?” There are no foundations to these foolish allegations these terrorists are making. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the way our industry is operating. It is not possible to go back. We have to go forward. People deserve a better standard of living.”

            “He would say that wouldn’t he?” Deryk remarked mischievously. But Jane refused to rise to the bait and contented herself with a feigned glower of disapproval accompanied with a quick pout. He wasn’t going to spoil her mood by stimulating an argument concerning the attributes of one such as Magnus Rikson.

            Deryk grinned back, toying with her. His tanned and deeply lined face alive with fun. He leaned back into his chair sipping his drink and studying her, his grey hair giving him the appearance of great wisdom that contrasted with the twinkling of his eyes.

            “……….Rikson was joined in his condemnation by many political and religious leaders throughout the world. Earlier today President Muller described the explosion as ‘An outrage against humanity’. She was………”

            Deryk’s face broke into a huge open grin. “And very well said too,” he stated. “That should pull in a few more votes in the next election.” He struggled to assemble his face into a serious look of mock agreement. “It’s good to hear my woman using such decisive language at a time of crisis.”

            She sighed in outraged exasperation. Deryk was the only person on the entire planet that she would tolerate treating her in such a cavalier fashion. Anyone else and she would have exploded in extreme wrath…. and he knew it. That’s why he did it. Teasing her. He was the joker who brought her back to earth with a well timed remark; deflated her ego and stopped her from becoming too full of her own self-importance. He helped her to see the way others might see her words and actions. Stopping her from coming across as arrogant. Not only that but in doing it he lightened the darkness of each and every deadly crisis that threatened to plunge her into despair. Like in the midst of this environmental catastrophe they seemed to be sinking into. Extremists like Rikson and the LPL with her and her government caught piggy in the middle. She needed him……….. particularly at times like this.

            These were the moments when she envied Deryk’s height and natural bearing. The image of herself in the mirror haunted her. Perhaps Stefan could not do anything about her height, not now, she was past the age, well past, but maybe some cosmetic work to make her feel better, so that she could take on the world with new confidence. Perhaps a pill to make her lose a few pounds and another to tighten that collagen in her skin, just so she would lose that puffy look. For men it was so much easier. Perhaps it was those generations of being in control that gave them that air. Or perhaps it was just the physical size. It did not seem to matter if they were plump or wrinkled. It didn’t detract from their self-image or status. The more hideous they were the more they seemed to bask in it.

            How she could have used some of that regal stature now. The advantages it would bring when dealing with the kind of awkward characters she dealt with each and every day. It would have made life so much easier.

            When you boiled it all down politics was simply about one individual imposing their will on others, promoting their views, pushing their ideas, forcing their decisions. It wasn’t a question of right or wrong, and intelligence certainly did not come into the equation. It was simply who had the advantage. Who held the power.

            Sadly, Jane knew, the major part of that was image and confidence.

            She knew she had it inside and projected it well. But oh, how much simpler that would have been from within Deryk’s body. He had all the inbuilt advantages. The strength and height ——- the sagacity.

            She saw herself as short and dumpy. Stefan had worked wonders but the bottom line was still just barely passable. It left her short of many of the weapons a taller more sexy woman might utilise. Yet she had used her sex astutely, as an aspiring contender and was not above using it regularly in her daily contests. And now her arsenal might be lacking the tools of youth and the strength of masculinity but she had restocked them with an armoury born of maturity and understanding. She could be ruthless and often had to be. It was not something she had grown to enjoy.

            The irony was that Deryk had no desire to use his stature and intellect in such a way. He never had, and now at the age of 67 was quite content to lead the quiet life of a semi-retired writer with little aspiration. To blend into the background with no need to impress or impose his views on anyone. As far as he was concerned the world could just go on in its crazy contortions, wending its way down the road to oblivion, just as long as he had a stock of his favourite brandy and his family were cocooned away from the harsher realities. It was going to happen anyway. There were just too many people and too little will to do anything about it.

            In some ways, she had to admit, Deryk was a defeatist.

            “………..Ishmael Rheem, the head of internal security, has stated that the cause of the explosion is under full investigation. He added that the security forces will not rest until they have brought the terrorists responsible to justice.”

            Jane studied the surly image of her Chief of Security. The man in charge of the secret police. Heavy jowled and stony eyed. He did not look incompetent and yet there did not seem to be much success coming from his investigations into these acts of terrorism. It was beginning to wear a little thin. Perhaps it was time to have a change round. The murmurings intimated that the moment could be ripe. Then again there were always murmurings. The question was really, when it boiled to the essence, not if he was competent but whether removing him would assist her position or not. Nothing else mattered. This terrorism was becoming a problem. If getting rid of Rheem helped to solve a problem ….. then he was out. The only trouble was that he was a powerful man with many connections and a security network whose intelligence gathering was second to none. It would test her power to its limits to oppose him. Still if it needed to be done then that was precisely what she would have to do. He stared out at her with bitter intensity just as he had done for so much of today during their lengthy and sometimes acrimonious cabinet meeting.

            She relaxed back into her seat thoughtfully. So why wasn’t he having any success? With his organisation? With its feelers into every nook and cranny? Surely they must have unearthed something? The whole business was beginning to undermine her and the whole integrity of the Government. It was a fact that was forcefully brought home to her with the continuation of the report.

            “………….Rheem, along with President Muller, have come under increasing criticism in recent months over their lack of success in tracing and arresting any members of the terrorist environmentalist groups who have claimed responsibility for the acts of sabotage causing so much havoc with industrial plants across the world.”

            “Security measures have been…………….”

            Jane seethed and allowed herself the luxury of a withering glower towards the commentator that was really intended for Ishmael Rheem.

            Deryk, noting the reaction, took another sip of the brandy. Closing his eyes he allowed the liquid to burn its way across his palate and slide to the back of his throat. He swallowed and savoured its hot descent, followed by the resonating after-taste.

            She watched his actions from afar and observed the way he surfaced from the experience. It was a mystery to her. Brandy was strong and pleasant. It had a rich flavour and was relaxing but more than that she could not say. There was obviously some range of nuance that she utterly failed to detect. Something that Deryk experienced that completely passed her by. She could see the immense pleasure he got from the drink. The reverential manner with which he approached it. The intensity and depth of the experience. She just could not understand what it was. The fact that it was his greatest pleasure in life was strange but it was something she had come to accept. People were just different.

            At least it had distracted her mind and brought her back to her state of relaxation. She settled back into her chair and mused over her feelings. She smiled to herself at the thought that she was jealous of a simple spirit. What if he did have a great love of cognac. It did not warrant full divorce proceedings. It was just that it made her feel as if she had been born lacking some vital sense, as if there was something faulty in her sensory apparatus, and there was a whole world of experience that was denied to her. A world that Deryk visited often. A world he found stimulating and fulfilling. It somehow made her insanely jealous. The smile spread into a big grin. God, it was only cognac.

            “What are you grinning at woman?”

            “Just you, my man. Just you.”  Her attention wandered back to the documentary.

Deryk nodded musingly.

            Through the smoke covered view it was just possible to make out the ravaged buildings of the part of the IntSol complex that had been the centre of the initial explosion. Through the swirling clouds and still exceedingly unstable structures, tiny figures could be seen picking their way through the wreckage. They were all encased in brightly coloured protective suits.

            The commentator’s face rose above the scenes of devastation like a huge rising sun.

            “Experts were today beginning their investigations of the stricken plant. Their first priority is to assess the dangers and attempt to make the installations safe. It is thought that many of the underground tanks have not been ruptured and enough chemicals are still contained within them to produce a blast on a similar scale to what has already taken place. Engineers are struggling to stabilise the site.”

            “When the plant is secure the salvage teams will move in to try to ascertain the full extent of the damage and what if anything can be rescued. Initial reactions seem to indicate that the damage is so extensive that it is exceedingly unlikely that anything other than complete site clearance will be possible although there is an outside chance that the underground installations might be salvageable and the plant could possibly be reconstructed.”

            “The cost of the explosion has been tentatively put in the billions but the peripheral costs will resound through the whole industry in the form of increased insurance premiums and increased security arrangements on other prime targets. It is hard to judge just…………”

            The tridee broadcast wound up and moved on to another programme. Jane toyed with seeking something worth watching but let it rest as a background drone. She was content within her thoughts. Tonight was the lull before the storm. She could sense it. She might not have the opportunity to be this relaxed again for a long time.

            Tonight she could feel at ease with herself and her achievements. She had had her share of lucky breaks but could feel secure in the knowledge that she had got to where she was largely through her own abilities and efforts. She possessed that strength of personality and charisma that made it possible.

            She found Deryk’s eyes resting on her and smiled.

            He raised his glass and took another lingering sip.

            For now the Massalax and brandy had conspired to take the edge off her tension. Tonight there were no games to play, no fronts to maintain. They had no secrets from each other. This was the only arena left in which she could completely relax and lay aside her guard. She indulged herself. No need to talk. Just basking in each others company was sufficient. Business could wait.

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Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track) Paperback

Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track) Paperback – 29 July 2021

by Opher Goodwin (Author)

4.7 out of 5 stars    46 ratings

Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track): Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789521306: Books

Roy Harper must be one of Britain s most undervalued rock musicians and songwriters. For over fifty years he has produced a series of innovative albums of consistently outstanding quality. He puts poetry and social commentary to music in a way that extends the boundaries of rock music. His 22 studio albums 16 live albums, made up of 250 songs, have created a unique body of work. Roy is a musician s musician. He is lauded by the likes of Dave Gilmour, Ian Anderson, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes and Kate Bush. Who else could boast that he has had Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Chris Spedding, Bill Bruford and Steve Broughton in his backing band? Notable albums include Stormcock, HQ and Bullinamingvase. Opher Goodwin, Roy s friend and a fan, guides the reader through every album and song, providing insight into the recording of the songs as well the times in which they were recorded. As his loyal and often fanatical fans will attest, Roy has produced a series of epic songs and he remains a raging, uncompromising individual.

A celebration of Roy’s songs, music and poetry.

With thanks to Liz Goodwin and Mark Ruston for their help.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Sophisticated Beggar + Outtakes & Unreleased 1966
  3. Come Out Fighting Ghengis Smith 1967
  4. Folkjokeopus 1969
  5. Flat Baroque And Berserk 1970
  6. Stormcock 1971
  7. Lifemask 1973
  8. Valentine 1974
  9. Flashes From The Archives Of Oblivion 1974
  10. HQ 1975
  11. Bullinamingvase 1977
  12. Commercial Breaks 1977
  13. Harper 1970-1975 1978
  14. Unknown Soldier 1980
  15. Born In Captivity 1984
  16. Work Of Heart 1982
  17. Whatever Happened To Jugula? 1985
  18. In Between Every Line 1986
  19. Descendants Of Smith 1988
  20. Loony On The Bus 1988
  21. Once 1990
  22. Burn The World 1990
  23. Live At The Red Lion 1,2 and 3 1984-5 1990
  24. The Death Of God 1992
  25. Born In Captivity 2 – Unhinged 1993
  26. An Introduction To 1994
  27. Live At Les Cousins 1996
  28. The BBC Tapes 1-6 1997
  29. Poems, Speeches, Thoughts And Doodles 1997
  30. Song Of The Ages 1997
  31. The Dream Society 1998
  32. The Green Man 2000
  33. Hats Off 2001
  34. East Of The Sun 2001
  35. The Royal Festival Hall 2001
  36. Today Is Yesterday 2002
  37. The Death Of God 2005
  38. Counterculture 2005
  39. Beyond The Door 2005
  40. From Occident To Orient 2007
  41. Songs Of Love And Loss 2011
  42. Live In The Metropolis Studios 2011
  43. Man And Myth 2013
  44. Miscellaneous Tracks, Guest Appearances And Rarities 1970-2000
  45. Afterword
  •  

Introduction

Roy Harper is a unique individual and innovative songwriter who took his first uncharacteristically tentative steps into the London folk scene during the mid-sixties.

   Roy was born on the 12th of June 1941 into the middle of World War 2 and sadly his mother died a few days later from mastitis – a common breast infection that is nowadays easily treatable. The loss of his mother has naturally had a lifelong impact on Roy’s personality.

   Roy’s father married again. His stepmother was a strict and religious woman and Roy’s life of rebellion began.

   Roy’s first memory is of being held in someone’s arms looking towards a red glow on the horizon and being told ‘Manchester’s really copping it tonight’.

   Roy was a wayward child and his younger years were marked by him constantly being in trouble at home and school. As a young boy he was found pedalling on his trike towards Liverpool, many miles from home. Roy’s dislike of the religion his stepmother imposed led to him performing pagan ceremonies and burying effigies in his back garden.

   The genteel town of Lytham St Annes where Roy lived, was once described by him as a cemetery with a bus stop. The tedium of life in the drowsy town portrayed a conservative ethos he fought against.

   As Roy moved into his teenage years, minor incidents progressed into more serious crimes. He and a small group of friends alternated between running free in the countryside and taking part in sprees of shoplifting and vandalism. These ranged from stealing chocolates in Woolworth to breaking into Lytham’s cricket pavilion. They drank the booze they found inside the pavilion and then burnt the building to the ground.

………………

Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track): Amazon.co.uk: Opher Goodwin: 9781789521306: Books

The Gordian Fetish – A Sci-Fi novel – in the alien zoo with the human specimens!

The Gordian Fetish

 

How important is consciousness?

How rare is it in the universe?

It is incredibly rare but not many people here on Earth seem to care about that …

But the Gordian’s do – they value it – they seek it out and look to protect it. They have an institute funded by their government that is geared to the conservation of endangered alien sentient beings.

Unfortunately a new Gordian leader has come along who believes in austerity. He is threatening to close the institute.

Humans are sentient and have a modicum of intelligence. They can hardly be termed endangered though. There are 4000 billion of them. But they are incredibly interesting. They have sex. They also have politics and religion. They pretend to be clever and civilised but they are nowhere near as clever and civilised as they think they are.

Most Gordian’s are intrigued by humans. They find sex astounding and humans cute. Being cute and having sex might just be their saving graces.

Extract

Chapter 1 – The beginning

For the love of Heaven! Zag shouted, throwing his four manipulators in the air in exasperation. We can put in about the rest of the stuff later on. Of course research and study are important and eventually the rest of the bloody universe. Of course having lots of interesting specimens is important. But right now we have a sodding inspection and the Inspection Committee won’t give a bugger about all of that. They just want to shut us down. Can’t you see that? Only paperwork can save us now!

I suggest we have a tea break, Lat proposed testily. The other two committee members vigorously nodded their cranial carapaces and clapped their manipulators in agreement.

No! Zag said sternly in his most authoritative voice, asserting himself and putting them firmly in their place. The clapping came to an abrupt halt. Not until we have finally agreed on this damn mission statement.

Zag took a big sigh, forced himself to calm down, changed tack and looked round at his three fellow colleagues pleadingly – to no avail. It was evident from their petulant scowls that they could not see anything as simple as that. They were tainted with idealistic fervor. They’d rather sink with their principles intact that swim with them compromised.

He searched around one more time for some simple way of explaining things to make them see the importance of the task in hand. They simply weren’t getting it. But this is our one fundamental purpose – our mission statement. One bloody thing. That is all. One bloody statement – one crucial essence of purpose. Can’t you understand that?

Their blank expressions said it all.

Zag turned blue with pent-up rage, supernumery protuberances began to burst out over his head and body with their characteristic – and embarrassing – popping sound. Zag hoped it wasn’t that noticeable.

His colleagues, in characteristic Gordian politeness, were pretending not to notice, but they all continued to look at Zag with an air of resignation and sour resentment that certainly did not help matters, or do anything for his disposition.

The committee had been in session for three weeks now – a whole, unprecedented three weeks, twenty one flaming days, without so much as a break, not even a lousy toilet break. It was true that a Gordian’s metabolism could put up with such insults but it was far from desirable and did little to ameliorate the disposition of the reluctant participants. But Zag saw it as a necessary evil. There was work to be done. In just under three months’ time they had been promised a full inspection and everyone knew what that meant. President Bog had introduced the new austerity measures and was looking to cut to the bone. He considered arts, science and most other things, including aliens, especially aliens, frivolous and unnecessary. The cards were on the table for the Gordian Institute for Extra-terrestrial Research and Conservation, or GIERC, as it was generally known. Bog was not renowned for his love of anything other than business and the bottom line, and aliens were definitely not profitable enough. Besides, they were ugly and revolting. In his book they were worse than Gordian ballet – and Gordian ballet was renowned for inducing catatonia and suicide. The future for the institute looked dire.

But Zag, the assistant Director, was determined not to go down without a fight. Despite his present fury – directed at Director Zor who, as usual, was nowhere to be seen, because he was off gallivanting around the galaxy as per bloody usual, he remained passionate about the place. Zag cherished the institute with all his heart and truly believed that the work they performed was inspirational and exceedingly important in the confines of such an increasingly uncaring universe. Without the institute’s efforts thousands of alien species would now be extinct. To his great satisfaction they had, against all the odds, successfully reintroduced a great array of alien life back into the wild. Then there were the educational benefits to consider. Generations of young Gordians had their empathic glands fully charged through a single visit to the institute. They learned to value the range of alien life out there and see them as fellow sentient beings, not mere objects to be exploited, or lesser creatures destined to disappear for ever. Aliens were important. They had feelings too. Thanks to the Institute many youngsters took that message on board. There was hope. While the institute existed there was hope.

In Zag’s opinion Bog was a philistine, a monster of the first order. He represented all that was retrograde and soulless. The world he wanted to create was as grey and boring as Briscow’s synthsoup – and Briscow’s synthsoup made distilled water taste positively tangy.

It was true that the planet had a few financial problems but it did not have to be one long decline into economic madness and uncaring exploitation – did it? There were better ways. The Institute for Extra-terrestrial Research and Conservation clearly demonstrated that and was, in Zag’s eyes, the last bastion of civilisation. If it was the last thing he did Zag intended to ensure that their crucial work continued and that the cretinous Bog did not get his way and close it down. Despite his anger at the irresponsibility of Zor, he was resolute to do all in his power to keep the place open. To that end he had brought the committee together to review and update their policy books. Everyone knew that paperwork was the key to success. When the inspection team arrived he meant to present them with a set of documents that were not only first class but would demonstrate quite clearly the essential nature of their work and its value to Gordian society. No self-respecting inspection team could argue with that, could they?

The major obstacle to achieving this laudable aim seemed to be the committee itself. Individually they were all as passionate and committed as Zag. The problem was that none of them agreed on how to go about achieving their aims. Indeed, deciding on the actual aims was nigh on impossible. Every one of them held a different vision that they sought to promote. No two of them shared a view and none of them were prepared to compromise. In that respect it was a fairly typical committee.

Dut and Lat were utterly impossible. Zag could not fault their spirit or intent but they were so irrational that it drove him crazy. They both wanted to take the work of the institute out of the confines of the galaxy to the universe beyond. Their ideas were so far-reaching and grandiose that they did not have an ice-ball in hell’s chance of success. Every time they opened their mouths it was some other ridiculous plan to take their work to some distant far-flung backwater tucked away in the middle of some megallanic cloud that could never, in a billion bloody Sundays, gain funding or achieve anything worthwhile, just because there was a rumour of some weird bunch of aliens who were on the point of dying out. As far as Zag was concerned Dut and Lat were out with the fairies. He was already drawing up plans in his mind to have them elsewhere when the inspection team arrived. If the chief inspector got one whiff of those two then he reasoned that the game was up.

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