Month: September 2014

Kipperwatch! So James Moyies DID want Rochford & Southend East

kipperwatch local

Well that mystery didn’t last, did it?

On Thursday, in the wake of the announcement that Floyd Waterworth (Who? – Ed) would be standing for UKIP in the Rochford & Southend East constituency, I posed the question of whether James Moyies had a) wanted to win the selection and lost, or b) had his eye on somewhere else.

Now, thanks to the excellent blog-based sleuthing of my good friend Julian Ware-Lane, that question has been answered. James Moyies did indeed want to be the UKIP candidate for the constituency, and therefore we can only conclude that he failed to convince local party members that he was the man for the job.

Read on…

That perilous campaign trail

Labour in Milton

Matt Dent, Tony Borton and Julian Ware-Lane out canvassing in Milton ward.

Milton massive“, indeed.

Once again the Southend Labour faithful were out on the streets of Milton ward this weekend, talking to residents and recruiting to the cause. Milton is such a varied part of Southend that it is always a pleasure to canvas, particularly when the weather is as cheery as it was this weekend.

Cllr Ware-Lane, though, befell the dangers of political campaigning. Not a rampaging horde of ‘kippers, but rather a treacherous, er, driveway seeing him hobbling the rest of the session… After election day knackered my foot for a good few weeks after, I am both sympathetic and admiring that Julian insisted on finishing off the canvas session even if he had to slowly limp the final stage (Which he did -Ed) .

One thing which was noticiable, though, was the absence of Tories — both voters and activists. All the more perplexing, given that they apparently selected candidates on Friday night. One might have thought they’d been keen to get into the flight. Perhaps it was too far a journey from Rochford.

Or perhaps they’ve all defected to UKIP…

06 “The Caretaker” (Doctor Who series 8) [SPOILERS]

doctor who peter capaldi

The general trend of this, the first season of the Twelfth Doctor, has been one of improving confidence and writing getting gradually better. I started, and remain, a firm fan of Peter Capaldi in the leading role, but his settling down has been a little bumpy due to some initial writing-based clumsiness.

Since the sea-change episode “Listen”, that has turned around. The whole thing has a completely different feel to previous Doctors, but it is a welcome change. Still there is the mischevous twinkle in the Doctor’s eye, but it’s an older eye to start with. With “The Caretaker”, though, it seems we’re heading back to Earth (and back to school) for a character-based personal episode.

Read on… (and mind the spoilers)

Polly visits Southend

Matt and Polly

As conference came to an end this week, Southend Labour had a visitor call.

Polly Billington is the Labour candidate for Thurrock at next year’s general election, which takes on a particular relevance with UKIP currently talking up their chances. I think UKIP are grossly overestimated, and besides — Thurrock would do far better with Polly.

Despite doubtless being still fatigued from Manchester, she sat and talked about all sorts of issues common to South East Essex — particularly rail ownership. C2C have a good reputation locally (Well, they’re in competition with Greater Anglia… -Ed), but as Polly pointed out, that’s on the back of heavy investment from the taxpayer. It is, basically, a monopoly subsidised with money from you and me.

They don’t even pay their cleaners a living wage, and fares only ever move in one direction.

If the people of Thurrock want real representation, an MP who knows and cares about what matters in the lives of the everyman and -woman, then they need look no further than Polly.

Desperate Tories can’t find candidates who live in Southend

james duddridge and james cottis

There are always rumours floating around about declining party membership numbers within the Southend Conservative associations, with some estimates I’ve heard suggesting that they have less than 100 members. That might be a severe figure, but it’s illustrative of the problem; declining membership, and what is left growing demographically older.

This is, I strongly suspect, a big contributor to the free-fall decline which Conservative fortunes are experiencing in Southend-on-Sea at the moment. It’s far from the only factor — or even the biggest; not listening to residents, for example — but it hampers their ability to campaign.

But it’s something else when they seem to be drafting in election candidates from outside the borough. Not only that, but failed former-councillors from neighbouring authorities.

Read on…

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #60 published!


It’s taken a while to get there (it has been over a year since acceptance), but issue #60 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine has been published. And in it, my story “I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing, Each to Each”.

I’m particularly proud of this story; a science-fiction story following a boy growing up on a watery colony world. With mermaids. Sort of. Of a fashion. The editor, Sue Bursztynski, and all of the other people behind the scenes have been a dream to work with, and have put in a tremendous amount of time and effort.

The issue is available from the ASIM website, in a variety of formats and at very reasonable prices. Check it out, and I’d love to hear what you think.

Kipperwatch! UKIP select for Southend East — and it ain’t Moyies

kipperwatch local

Late last night, some strange rumours found their way to me in the pub. A little unlikely, to my mind, but this morning apparently confirmed by the Echo. UKIP have selected their candidate for Rochford & Southend East in the general election next year.

They have selected one of Southend’s ‘invisible kippers’: Floyd Waterworth, the recently elected councillor for Blenheim Park ward.

If I’m honest, this is pretty surprising. Not just because UKIP have selected an unknown in a seat where they have previously indicated that they fancy their chances. It is more because I, and most of the local political scene, had expected that this particular nomination would go to UKIP’s group leader on Southend Borough Council, James Moyies.

Read on…

01 “Pilot” (Gotham season 1) [SPOILERS]


We’re entering a particularly exciting period for my TV watching. For one thing, the fourth season of American Horror Story (entitled “Freakshow”) is starting soon. As is the TV adaptation of British comic series Hellblazer (yes, and the Keanu Reeves film), going by the moniker Constantine.

But before we get to those, we have another exciting little show starting. Called Gotham, it’s a Batman prequel series focusing on a young Detective Jim Gordon, and featuring origin stories of a whole bunch of Batman villains. Which sounds pretty exciting, particularly given how uninspiring DC’s film plans seem at the moment.

Thing is, prequels are tricky things. Yes, Batman’s origin stories have been rewritten more times than he’s pulled unlikely or unfeasable gadgets from his utility belt, but you’re still fundamentally walking a tightrope between originality and straying too far from the source material.

So how does the pilot episode of Gotham, imaginatively titled “Pilot”, fare?

Read on…(and mind the spoilers)

Heresy of the Week – The Harry Potter films got Sirius’ death wrong

sirius black death

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

“There are many criticisms levelled at the Harry Potter film franchise, some of them legitimate and some of them not. But seldom did the films miss the point of the books quite as badly as in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, with Sirius Black’s death scene.”

Read on…

“Robot Uprisings” ed. John Joseph Adams and Daniel H. Wilson – A Review

robot uprisings

This review was originally published (in a shorter form) in issue #253 of science-fiction magazine Interzone. You can buy back issues and subscribe to future issues at their shop. My companion interview with editor of Robot Uprisings, John Joseph Adams, can be read here.

Robots are the future. Or, more accurately, the present. As far as science-fiction goes, as co-editor of “Robot Uprisings” John Joseph Adams says, it goes back to the genre’s origins. Robots, and their potentially ill-will towards us, have been with us for years, into a modern day reality where we have machines for all of life’s daily tasks. Including, worryingly, making war.

Appropriate, then, that this collection of seventeen stories of various robopocalyses, opens with a quote from Barrack Obama.

And this sense of closeness in time gives a not-particularly-new idea fresh life. The authors do the same. If this is a well-trodden path, this is an experienced troop of sherpas to lead the way. Seventeen writers, with seventeen tales of humanity daring to dream of godhood.

Read on…