About Me

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Ripon, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Gary Dolman was born in the industrial north east of England in the 1960s, but grew up in Harrogate in Yorkshire, where he now lives with his wife, three children and dogs. His writing reflects his fascination by the dark places of the human mind.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Unaccustomed as I am...

A little (ahem) while ago I was honoured to be nominated for a Liebster Award by Mr Martin Cosby.

This is what I have to do
1)     List 11 random facts about me.
2)     Answer the 11 questions posed by the person who nominated me.
3)     Nominate 11 other people.
4)     Come up with 11 new questions.
5)     Paste the award logo onto my blog.

Here therefore, are 11 very random facts indeed about me:
1)     I am a qualified horticulturist.
2)     I eat raw oats for breakfast every morning and have done for years.
3)     I almost failed my English Literature ‘O’ Level examination at school.
4)     (Like most people I suppose,) I support Newcastle United Football Club.
5)     I used to play Rugby football as a wing-threequarter.
6)     I rather enjoy having bonfires.
7)     As a small child I was afraid of leaves, although I don’t mind them in the least now.
8)     I’m pretty much immune to cold.
9)     I once saw an adder in my parents’ back garden in Gateshead when I was very little. They didn’t believe me.
10)  I am apparently in Ravenclaw House at Hogwarts School.
11)  I would quite like to be an accountant some day.

My 11 nominees (and I'm very sorry if you’ve already been nominated before, or if you are irritated by this nomination,):

1)     Juliet Brough
2)     Graham Smith
3)     Robert MacLean
4)     Kevin Swarbrick
5)     Linda S. Taylor
6)     Mary Cavanagh
7)     John Dolan
8)     Michelle Browne
9)     Regina Puckett
11)  Dee Weaver

1. Do you write your first drafts by hand?
By hand? Goodness me, no. Everything is done on a laptop computer, from research to planning to drafts. I think I’ve forgotten how to write by hand.

2. Do you follow more than 10 blogs?
At the last count, I follow around 30.

3. Do you play a musical instrument?
I used to play the Trumpet quite seriously in my younger years. Unfortunately I smashed my lip up playing rugby and that rather put an end to it.

4. Given the choice, which opera would you attend?
Probably ‘The Magic Flute’ by Mozart. The Queen of the Night arias are magnificent. Having said that, I’ve always wanted to see Handel’s Rinaldo. It was a very early ‘English’ baroque opera.

5. e-book or paper book?
Paper book every time. There’s something about the feel and smell of a book that really can’t be replaced by a screen.

6. Do you use an electric blanket?
I’ve never used one. I am pretty much immune to cold. It’s probably something to do with coming from North East England. Apparently ‘Geordies’ and Scots have biologically thicker skins.

7. Do you write in cafes?
I have on occasion, but rarely. I find them too distracting and I get nothing worthwhile done.

8. Is there a film that has influenced you greatly?
Good question. I’ve enjoyed plenty of films without them influencing me especially. Books have influenced me much more. I suppose one film that has had a big influence on me in hindsight is ‘The Lord of the Flies,’ (the 1963 version), which was an adaptation of a novel of course. It brought home to me just how close we all are to the beast.  
9. Do you keep a diary?
I’ve quite often started to keep one, especially when I was younger but it rarely lasted more than a day or two. That reminds me, I must start to keep a diary.

10. Which foodstuff do you like the least?
I really, really hate Twiglets. I’ve tried them loads of times but alas, each time is always as bad as the last.

11. Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I do quite often listen to music whilst I write or research. Usually it is classical and usually it is baroque – typically Vivaldi or JS Bach.

And finally, my questions to my own 11 nominees are:

1)     When you start a new piece of writing, do you prepare a plan first? Be honest now!
2)     At what time of day or night do you write most effectively?
3)     Have you ever found yourself secretly trying to use ‘The Force’? (Perhaps to open automatic doors or suchlike.)
4)     Which Hogwarts House could you see yourself being sorted into?
5)     What was your favourite subject at school?
6)     If you could spend a day as someone else, who would it be and why? (Please keep it clean, except for John Dolan who has a disclaimer on his blogsite already.)
7)     Who is your favourite living actor and why?
8)     Which creature are you the most afraid of?
9)     Whom would you give this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to, and why?
10)  What is the first word that comes into your mind...NOW? Please write it down. (I guess you’ll be okay again, John.)
11)  Which part of your body are you most happy with?

Thank you very much indeed.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The New Paupers and the Rise of the Sub-Human.

“They’re just like us!”
That was an observation commonly made by those coming into contact with enemy combatants during and after the World Wars.
We smile wryly at comments such as those and wonder how naive those generations must have been, but before we do, we must remember this:
Like many animals, human beings have deep and instinctive aversion to killing our fellow kind. To make the ‘necessity’ of doing so in time of war a little easier, we might begin to think of those on the other side as being somehow different – perhaps wholly evil. We might think of derogatory names for our enemy, perhaps based on racial or cultural stereotypes that make them seem a little less human, a little less like us. It is a regrettable part of human nature.

Even in peacetime the same phenomenon occurs. Those we rail against for whatever reason, we might regard as different – as somehow inferior or less noble than ourselves. Racism is an obvious example of that sort of aberrant thinking. Another is social or socio-economic prejudice, because yes, it is raw prejudice that we are talking about.

In the 19th Century, the very poor were generally referred to paupers. Especially after the inauguration of the Poor Law in 1834 they were increasingly regarded as idle, indolent and feckless and indeed wholly responsible for their own situation. In my recent novel; The Eighth Circle of Hell, a wealthy, supposed philanthropist makes this observation:
                “Those creatures are paupers...from the poor-law workhouse. They have come to clear that tree for firewood.
“I want you to look hard and pay heed to their misfortune. Workhouse paupers are the most miserable wretches in Christendom. They are naturally idle, indolent and feckless.”
He goes on to describe how attempts are made to drive “the more godlike qualities of industriousness, abstinence and humility” into them by means of austerity and forced labour.

Victorian Britain was a society of great opposites, of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ and its rapid industrialisation meant that great swathes of society were regarded as nothing more than resources to feed the demands of industry. Worse; some of the most vulnerable – young virgin children became victims of the horrific Defloration Mania, which I have described in detail in previous blogs.

Modern Britain, by and large, is a society tolerant of religious and racial diversity. That is exactly as it should be, of course. However two great prejudices remain: The first is against those with mental health disorders, the second is against those claiming welfare benefits.

Outrageously, it is the government itself that seems to be stoking the fire of the second of these. It talks in broad terms of ‘shirkers,’ of ‘skivers’ and of ‘scroungers’, making them seem somehow sub-human and introducing an us-and-them divide. How easy then for them to slash benefits and throw them into deeper hardship, perhaps in an attempt to drive more godlike qualities into them maybe.
I know a great number of people who claim welfare benefits and almost all of them are strivers – either striving to get off welfare-dependence or striving against severe emotional and psychological issues. Guess what; far from being idle, indolent and feckless, they are just like everyone else.