The urbanisation of the mythical troll

As both of my regular readers know, I sometime trawl, (perhaps troll would be more appropriate here) the news sites for …well…news. I was on that well-known site in the UK (yes, you are ahead of me, the one run by the Broken Biscuit Company) when I came across an article which inspired me to write a post on FaceTwitt.

Trolls and a fairy
By John Bauer – Illustration of Walter Stenström’s The boy and the trolls or The Adventure in childrens’ anthology Among pixies and trolls, a collection of childrens’ stories, 1915., Public Domain,

We have to go back to the thirteenth century and Norse mythology for the beginning of the subsequent story. According to the legends, trolls lived in isolated places amongst the rocks and in caves, and rarely had contact with humans. On the odd occasion they did come across homo sapiens, the trolls would be unhelpful and belligerent.

The first signs of real trouble from the troll community came when trolls moved from their isolated places and started to live under bridges, as detailed in that incredibly accurate historical document, Three Billy Goats Gruff. It would appear, even as far back as the eighteenth century, wildlife was being driven from its natural habitat into more urban areas.

So, we come to the present day and my post, which was clearly in support of an ambulance crew who found a note on their vehicle, urging, nay, demanding it be moved from outside what can only be described as an incredibly self-centred person’s abode. Barely had the metaphorical ink dried on the screen when I could feel it, tremors rising up through the soles of my feet, the unmistakable approach of an urban troll of the clan Internet.

By Graham Richardson from Plymouth, England – South Western Ambulance VX09FYP, CC BY 2.0,

Now, unlike their ancestors, urban trolls seek out humans whenever and wherever possible, so they can inflict their own brand of wisdom on these poor unfortunates. What had drawn this particular beast to my doorstep was the opening line in my post; Dear Ambulance Driver. Apparently, this is incredibly derogatory and laid me open to a not particularly eloquent tongue-lashing. Despite the intent of my post – support for ambulance crews who do a fantastic job under the most difficult of conditions – the focus of the troll was on her being offended. Oh dear.

I can’t speak for all the ambulance crews in the UK, but I am betting there would be very few that found this form of address offensive and indeed, I am sure the majority would see it for what it is, a particularly British term of endearment.

I have included a link to both the original article and the post which caused so much offence, for one individual at least.

Should any of you find something offensive in this post, or any I may do in the future, please forward your complaints in writing to the following address:

Mr Rhett Butler
Gone With the Wind
MGM Studios
Beverly Hills, California,
United States

…because frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

Original article, here.

My ‘offensive post’, here.

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Now you see me…or do you?

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find myself, not only on trial in Canada for the murder of two men but also being suspected of being a serial killer. Now, before you think there will be no further novels from me, I can assure you it wasn’t me, but had I lived in Canada, eyewitness testimony could easily have had me identified as the suspect.

The two photos below show me and the real suspect side by side. When shown this way, the resemblance is perhaps not as strong, but certainly close enough to cause a reasonable doubt, and the photo on the right certainly stopped me in my tracks and had me thinking that perhaps I was leading a double life.

Myself and the alleged murderer. Would eyewitness testimony see me arrested?
Myself and the alleged murderer

Some of you may know, some years ago I took a degree in psychology and went on to study forensic psychology for two years as a post grad. One of the many areas that interested me was eyewitness testimony. It can be manipulated by the way the witness is questioned to the point that people will swear they saw something they did not.

A classic experiment using a video of two vehicles colliding. One group was asked to estimate the speed of one of the vehicles when the collision occurred, a second group was asked a similar question but in this case the phrasing was ‘smashed into the other vehicle.’ This change of wording resulted in a significant increase in the estimated speed.

In another experiment, people were given a photograph then asked to pick out the same person from a hundred photographs. Twenty-five percent could not achieve the task even though they had a copy of the photograph in front of them.

There are numerous cases of people being wrongly convicted as a result of eyewitness testimony and subsequently being pardoned, and it still carries much weight, yet it remains one of the most unreliable forms of testimony. In my opinion, no one should ever be convicted on eyewitness testimony alone.

So now you know where to look for me if you don’t hear from me for a while.

2018, the year you see more of me, and see me less

Happy New Year to everyone, welcome to 2018…yes I know, we are so over that now, but this is the first time I have seen most of you (by that, I mean the other two of my three readers.)

I have been doing this writing malarkey since around 2011, seriously doing itMe in Bahrain that is. Obviously, I could write before that, but doing joined up sentences then making them into paragraphs, paragraphs into chapters and chapters into books, is something relatively new to me.

Once I had managed to achieve this, there came the problem of what to do with the finished article.

‘Sell them,’ they said. (I’ve never actually got to the bottom of who they are, but they do seem to say a lot.)

‘What a grand idea,’ I said, and that’s where it all came apart.

You see, everyone told me (‘everyone’ appears to be related to ‘they,’) that I need a presence on social media, Facer and Twittbook at the very least and so I did that.

Not long after going public with my private Facer profile, I gained my first con artist, a young lady from the USA, (probably a 55-year-old man from Croydon) who was doing her(his) best to wheedle her way into my life and separate me from my money. She failed and moved on to pastures new, I set up my ‘professional’ profile on Facer.

Ever since then, I have been active on my social media, some days and weeks more than others, and in all the time (well since 2014 anyway,) the organic growth of my followers can be measured on the fingers of one foot; the same applies to the followers of my blog. Now, maybe this is because I bore the pants off people, or maybe it’s because there are no longer enough people to go around all the bloggers, Facers, and Twittbookers. I suspect it’s a bit of both. As for the book sales, I sell more paperback copies than eBook because I sell paperbacks face to face (the pistol in my hand helps.)

Then there is the fact there are not enough hours in the day for me to read every post, tweet and blog, I suspect most people are in the same boat and I fear that as a tool, social media is fast becoming blunt. Followers are already following the ones they want to follow (officially sanctioned stalking is another way of putting it.)

So, I am going to reduce reduce my social media presence. I no longer intend to trawl through countless posts asking me to ‘like’ something to save a little boy in China, ‘repost my meme’ and twenty wishes will be granted, ‘cut and paste this’ and Microsoft will donate $20M to save the lesser-spotted cat ferret.  My time would be better spent writing more novels, magazine articles and continuing with my cookery interests and posts; especially as I have four novels, a screenplay and a cookery book on the go.

Coming in 2018

It’s not all negative though, and I’m not giving up on it altogether (I realise that might be a negative for some people!)  I still intend to pop in from time to time to see the fabulous people I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. As a bunch, authors have to be up there with the best. You are supportive, warm, generous and selling more books than me, dammit!

So how are you going to see me more if I am to be here less? I am nearing completion of a small (okay, not so small, it’s huge) recording booth and I intend to release some of my blog posts on video. I will also be recording some music tracks which will advertise my books, but their primary raison d’être will be the music (ear plugs will be provided free of charge.) I will be attempting to do my first audio book too. Just quite when this will all happen is not finalised yet (my round tooit is still in the post, apparently,) but happen, it will.

2018, the year you will both see and hear me…be afraid…be very afraid.

I was born under a wandering…fish?

Ill manIt has been several weeks since I posted anything on the blog. Whilst illness was the initial cause of my absence, I must confess sheer laziness and a lack of subject matter were the more recent causes.

At breakfast this morning, my wife was reading a newspaper, not something she does frequently, but on this occasion, it turned out to be somewhat fortuitous, as I now have a subject for a blog post.

As she turned the page, a headline caught my eye, ‘A Fish Called Wander.’ Whilst an obvious play on the name of the film, the content of the article proved to be interesting.

I’m not going to get into the evolution/creationism debate, but suffice to say I believe we climbed out of the primordial soup around 3.8 billion years ago, give or take a few millennia. Over millions of years we evolved into the magnificent specimens that you see before you, every time you look in the mirror; masters of all we survey and guardians of the planet…ok, I’ll come back to that one in a moment.

Sir David Attenborough, who has been on the planet a fair amount of time himself, long may it continue, presents one of the Broken Biscuit Corporations better offerings, Blue Planet II.  Not a flashback to the decorating programmes of the late nineties and early noughts,  the programme celebrates the amazing diversity of life on earth.

What caused me to read this article was the revelation that Sir David’s teamFish with legs had found a species of fish that had evolved to use its pectoral fins as feet and could walk along the bottom.

Although I am of a certain age, I am not old enough to remember when life first emerged from the oceans, but I am fairly sure it would be in a way similar to how this fish has evolved. Now, given the state of the planet under our guardianship… I told you I would come back to this… and the fact there are many who would rather put profit before planet, I couldn’t help wondering if we are witnessing the emergence of a new master race. One which perhaps understands that money isn’t real, you can’t eat it and the accumulation of wealth beyond a certain amount is pointless.

You have been warned, A Fish Called Wander is coming to a beach near you.

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Stansfield – What’s in a name?

My last blog post was about DNA testing, and the origins of my own family, Stansfield. It seems to have been a popular subject because I doubled my readership from two to four. However, I suspect at least one of them was someone who stumbled across my site by accident while searching for Arachnids of the Lower Amazon Basin, but I’m not complaining, I’ll take who I can, when I can (get your minds out of the gutter, I’m talking about readership!) Anyway, I digress.

Some of you may remember a singer by the name of Lisa Stansfield. She had a string of hits starting in the eighties and is still producing good music. Well, it was thanks to her I managed to avoid a rather long wait in Greece.

Athens at Dawn
By User:Leonard G. – Own work, Public Domain,

I was working for a local airline and as I was not a citizen of Greece, I had to register as an ‘alien’ to pay my taxes (there are some who say I should register as an alien just to be on this planet, but I ignore them.) I was taken to the Alien’s Bureau by the Greek company representative, Petros, who was there to ensure things went smoothly. I handed in the duly completed forms, along with my passport and a declaration of what I had eaten for breakfast (only kidding about the last one, but those of you who have ever had to deal with the Greek authorities will know they take the meaning of bureaucracy to whole new level.)

The normal waiting time, after handing in the paperwork, was around two hours. After being seated for only five minutes, my name was called, much to the dismay of Petros who was convinced there was a problem and we would have to return another day with a missing piece of paper. One minute later I was out of the office with all my documents in hand, everything completed and I was now a fully-fledged alien.

It seems that when asked if Lisa was a relative, my reply of ‘yes, she is my

Lisa Stansfield
By Lisa Stansfield By Daniel Åhs Karlsson.jpg: Daniel Åhs Karlsson;derivative work: Berita – This file was derived fromLisa Stansfield By Daniel Åhs Karlsson.jpg:, CC BY-SA 3.0,

cousin,’ was the perfect response. If you are reading this Lisa, (I wish,) sorry for using your name in vain, but I’m sure that somewhere in the dim and distant past, we once shared a relative.

On another note, I am related to Gracie Fields, (Gracie Stansfield,) for those old enough to know who she is. For those who don’t, you could try Google, or one of the multitude of other search engines.

So, there we have the proof; it’s not what you know, it’s who people believe you know.


DNA – Digging for New Ancestors

The internet is full of adverts for DNA testing. At first I thought this was as a result of yet more government cutbacks and we were now being told to solve even the most serious crimes ourselves. It seems this is not the case, but a new craze doing the rounds, to find your ‘roots.’

DNA double helix
By brian0918™ – Own work, Public Domain,

Clearly, I don’t mean the roots that are a different colour to the rest of your hair, but your ancestors, forefathers, call them what you will. They are the people without whom you would not be reading this, because you wouldn’t exist.

These DNA kits are guaranteed to give you results. Whether they are the right results is the subject of much debate. Now, clearly these kits are not to CSI standard. To start with, you don’t get to arrive in a Chevy Suburban, nor do you get a fancy jacket to wear while taking the sample. And from all accounts, their accuracy can be a bit hit and miss; even the providers will admit to their being some latitude in the results. So, if yours come back stating you are fifty-five percent orang-utan, twenty-percent blue whale, and twenty-five percent Wensleydale Cheese, don’t be surprised. Apparently, the secret is to shop around and not use the first one you come across.

Have I used one of these kits to determine my ancestry? No, you see, I don’t need to. My family name is traceable back to its origin, so it is said.

One Wyon de Maryons, follower of William de Warrene Earl of Surrey, who came to England with William the Conqueror and fought at the battle of Hastings in 1066, was given the village of Stansfield, in what is now West Yorkshire, as recognition for his support for the King. He took the title Lord Stansfield and it is from there the family name originates. My own birthplace is not too far from the village, but on the proper side of the border; I am a Lancastrian!

I am sure there will be some of you who doubt my story, despite the extensive documentation, so I therefore offer you this evidence of my heritage, taken shortly after the battle…

…it’s on Facebook, it must be true.

Viking Family

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Adult advisory – for the easily offended

*Adult content* – well…almost.

Sometimes, you will catch sight of something and it will stop you in your tracks. A couple of days ago, this happened to me. The something in question was a TV clip my wife was watching on the internet and I must say it left us both a little – well – confused.

The program from which the clip originated, is a daytime TV chat show from the UK, and often features subjects such as cooking, medical issues and any items of general interest to the viewer.

Now, we didn’t see the full interview, but I have read a transcript and it makes me a little uncomfortable. On the studio couch sat a man and a doll. We are not talking about a child’s toy here, but a full-size replica of a human female and Ithink you can already guess where we are going here. The doll is a sex toy.

Surprised emoticon

As was pointed out by one of the presenters, most toys of this type are capable of being hidden away in a drawer, or at the back of the wardrobe. And this is where it gets weird. Samantha, as she is known, is not just your average inflatable, highly surprised looking, adult toy, she is a fully functioning robot.  Can you imagine the shock of finding a female body hanging among the shirts?

She has a repertoire of jokes, can discuss animals with the children and is capable of discourse on philosophy or science (not to mention intercourse on the kitchen table – sorry, couldn’t resist.)  She is programmed to be part of the family. Yes, you did read that right, the designer believes she is part of the family.

Apparently, his children, aged five and three, already ask where she is and his wife is totally comfortable with her being around. They even had fun in the car on the way to the studio – okay, we are not going anywhere with that one.

Duracell Bunny
By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

Personally, I think it is like having your mistress out in

the open, but the designer believes times are a-changing and this type of thing will become more acceptable.

If he is correct and these robots become a part of our daily life, even a simple form will have to change with the addition of ‘with robot’ to marital status, and

programmable.’ to any gender questions.

Of course, it isn’t up to me to judge, so all I can say is, if in the future, a neighbour asks if you have seen her rabbit, it might be worthwhile clarifying things before answering.

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Furry friend lovers

Today, I am feeling a little bit tender, not physically, but emotionally. The cause? The loss of a dear friend, feline, not human.

Now, there will be those who say, ‘get over it, it’s only a cat,’ and maybe they are right, but I don’t think so.

As humans, we are all born with the ability to love and hate. What we choose to do is up to us. For many of us, we choose to love unconditionally, whether that love is for a fellow human or another species sharing this planet with us.

When it comes to animals, we all have our favourites; for some it’s cats, and for others, dogs, quite a few like scaly things or creepy crawlies. It doesn’t really matter, it shows we have compassion, an empathy for another living creature. I worry when a person has no time for animals at all. That is a person who I will shy away from. They lack something very basic in their make-up.

The cat in question came from a rescue centre in Scotland. I first saw her at a place near Glasgow, then, because she had not been adopted from there, she was moved to another, closer to where I lived. I felt this was fate.

Within minutes of her coming home, she attacked me. Not the sort aggression you get from a frightened animal, but an all-out hatred. Over the next two years, she continued to hate me with a passion. I suspect she had been mistreated by a man and she didn’t trust any male of the species homo sapiens.

It took a lot of time and patience to win her over, but win her over I did. She would come to me at night, loving, purring and rubbing her head against mine. She showed me that animals can love as equally as any human, and she had come to realise the love I had given her was unconditional.

My love will always be for animals and humanity alike and I will never understand man’s cruelty, be that with a fellow human or another inhabitant of planet Earth. Perhaps the ones who care not for their fellow man chose the path of hatred for all things living and perhaps that is why I don’t trust them one bit.

Nisha   20??-2017


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‘Oh my god, that’s the haggis exploding!’

In case you are thinking this is some kind of Scottish Armageddon, I would like to put your mind at rest and assure you that whilst it was something of a minor cataclysm, it was extremely localised.

As one of my two readers is aware, I have returned briefly to the UK to top up my rust levels, visit family and do some work on the house (not necessarily in that order)

Rust levels? Yes, when people from the UK appear to be tanned don’t be fooled. It isn’t a sun tan you see, but rust, on account of all the rain we get.

Scottish Breakfast
Scottish Breakfast By Jeremy Keith – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

Anyway, I digress. One of the essential ingredients of a visit to my homeland is that British tradition, known as a fry-up (or a fry, if you are from Ulster.) There are many variations on this wonderful British institution, bacon and eggs being the central core of all of them. Get beyond that and basically anything that can be fried, can be added, with the exception of baked beans which must never be fried! (Mexicans, please note.)

As I live north of the border (Scotland, for those of you who are geographically challenged, or unaware that England is not the entire nation but only one quarter of it,) there are two items that no self-respecting Scottish breakfast would be missing – black pudding (also favoured in England and Ireland) and haggis.

Should you be unfamiliar with haggis, it is a large sausage made from things you don’t wish to know about, onion and oatmeal (wild haggis is an entirely different beast.) It is exceedingly tasty. The breakfast variety comes sliced, ready to fry and you just pop it in the pan with the other ingredients to cook up instant arteriosclerotic vascular disease and heart attack.

So, there I was on our first day back in Scotland, cooking a hearty breakfast with said ingredients, along with Portobello mushrooms. Given the size of the pan and some of the ingredients, especially the mushrooms, it was necessary to cook in batches, keeping things warm in the oven whilst the rest were cooked. Unfortunately, one of the haggis slices got damaged in the process, leaving behind quite a few pieces of oatmeal.

Into this pan, I added some oil and heated it before adding eggs, the final

Wild Haggis
Wild Haggis with its favourite food – tatties. By Emoscopes – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

ingredient. As I started to flick some hot oil over the yoke there was a small popping sound and I was suddenly hit in the face by something hot, this was followed by a barrage of noises and a scene worthy of being included in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, as pieces of oatmeal exploded, spreading their fiery destruction far and wide across the kitchen.

It was at this moment I uttered the words to which my wife replied, ‘that’s not something you hear every day.’ – ‘My god, that’s the haggis exploding.’

In case you are worried that this could be utilised in some way by the Scottish Liberation Army as an IED, I don’t believe exploding haggis will be on their list of ordnances anytime in the near future, although it will undoubtedly be on the breakfast menu.

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When the (micro)chips are down

As both of my readers know by now, rather than write my novels, I spend my time trawling the news sites to find things of interest (well I do have a PhD in procrastination, ask my wife.)

Anyway, I digress. I was looking at that well known news site (you know the next bit so well – the one run by the Broken Biscuit Company,) when I came across this fascinating but scary story.

Microchips. The future of the human race? Honda Asimo
The future of the human race?
CC BY-SA 3.0,

A Wisconsin company is to become the first in the US to insert microchips into its employees. Yes, you did read that right, people are being microchipped just like your dog or cat. The company in question is offering to implant the tiny chip into workers’ hands for free – and they suggest everyone will soon be doing it. The rice grain-sized chip will allow them to open doors, log on to computers and purchase food, all without any effort on their part. A spokesman for the company was very upbeat about the whole thing, focusing on the benefits of having the device, and so far, 50 of the 85 employees agree with him and have signed up to the deal.

Of course, I can see the advantages, but do we really need them and have we looked far enough ahead to see the problems on the horizon? The idea of mobile phones was sold on the basis they would simplify communications; make it easier to stay in contact with friends, relatives and, unfortunately, even your employer. And yes, that has happened – but the downside is that now, we only seem to be capable of communicating with people who are not in our presence. Next time you are in a coffee shop, take a look at around, I can guarantee most will be on their mobiles, texting, watching videos, playing games, anything except communicating with their present company,

Then there are computers. Sold as a device to make our lives a lot easier, freeing up our time to do all manner of things – except our time is spent tending to our new masters, trying to get them to do what we want, not what they want. Whether you like it or not, we have become their slaves. Not to mention the thousands of people who are now unemployed, replaced by a computer.

First edition of Orwell's 1984
First edition of Orwell’s 1984

For those of you, like me, who are thinking of Orwell’s 1984 scenario, a spokesman for the company believes this is the way forward, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. When the inevitable question about tracking arose, he assured the reporter the device had no GPS technology and was the same as the microchips in your credit cards.

Forgive me for being a little cynical here. It may well be the case the microchips are simply an identity device, such as in your credit card, but how long before some government, or business, sees the enormous potential of tracking the whereabouts of every citizen and works clandestinely to put that tracking technology in place. It doesn’t need to have the GPS technology in the chip; that handy little mobile phone I mentioned earlier, can be tracked from its signal strength at the cell towers.

This may be a conspiracy theorist standpoint, but do you trust your politicians to tell the truth, be open and honest and have your best interests at heart? Sorry, it may well be advantageous to pay with the wave of a hand and have the light come on when I enter a room; I don’t need to be turned into R2-D2 in the meantime. The more someone tells me something will never happen, the more I believe that will be the most likely outcome. That’s not cynicism, nor conspiracy theory, it’s experience.

The only chips I want inside my body come wrapped in paper and are liberally covered in salt and vinegar (sorry, my American cousins, those things in a foil bag are called crisps; you’ll get the hang of it one day.)

Have a good one.

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