I Can’t Love You If I Am Sober

There’s nothing like reading a bit of revealing social discourse that shows us who we are, as well as who we are not. I especially love it when the talking and the finger pointing are directed towards other people and not me.

For most of my fellow Australians, and probably for most other people around the world, dating and drinking go hand in hand. Pubs and clubs set the scene for hook-ups. First dates invariably occur at a bar where we can use a glass or a bottle as a prop to give us courage and take the edge off understandable nervousness.

But according to at least one sex therapist, what might begin as a form of social lubrication can quickly spiral into sexual dysfunction. And I am not talking about an inability to perform. Which leads me to reveal a remarkable and in some ways shocking social observation. There has been a significant rise in the number of couples who have never experienced sober sex. No, I am not kidding.

As one Sex Therapist disclosed it wasn’t in any way unusual for her to meet couples that only ever have sex after they drink alcohol or take drugs. It doesn’t seem to matter if they are having sex for the first time or they’ve been together for years. It might develop into a committed relationship but they only ever have sex after some form of substance abuse.

Sex therapists say they’ve seen this problem escalate over the past two years. The question, of course, is why? Why is this happening? Is it because drink and drugs are too easy to obtain and too easy to use?

One theory suggests that people get anxious because doing this sober means relating to your partner in an open and honest way. What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask. The answer is nothing wrong and everything right. But it causes a great deal of difficulty for some people. And when they try to change their lifestyle and not use drugs or alcohol they can’t maintain the passion or sustain an intimate relationship. An Australian survey of young adults found that 92 percent of them who admitted to having casual sex in the past six months were not sober at the time. Similar results came from a survey of American University students who consumed, on average, five alcoholic drinks before their most recent sexual encounter.

Speaking to the survey participants provides an intriguing insight into their attitudes. One young woman said it was only after she gave up drinking that she realized what an impact alcohol had on her sex life. Alcohol helped her to bypass that part of her brain that normally tells her to go slowly or be more cautious. It helped her to be bolder in approaching and coming on to someone she was sexually interested in. But now that she’s sober, she is in control of what she’s doing and able to make judgment calls about the person and the sex. Quite frankly I find it a little frightening.

Behavioural scientists say alcohol dulls the alarm signal that warns a person they are about to make a mistake. Which might explain why people wake up next to a person they would never look twice at if they had been sober the night before.

One young man is currently writing a book about the time he spent living in a house full of fellow chronic methamphetamine users. His book will, among other things, document the effect of the drug on people’s sex lives. He says meth has a reputation for getting people into sexual situations they otherwise would not want to be in. The man talks of sleeping with people who he genuinely found disgusting but that fact only seemed to add to the excitement at the time.

Now at this point you might be thinking am I talking exclusively about young people? The young party goers. The answer is No. I am not. A lot of 30, 40 and 50 somethings, need a couple of wines at dinner to get in the mood.

I am happy to say that none of this applies to me and I am so glad that it doesn’t. I feel sorry for the people who’ve never actually learned to open up to someone else in a way that’s real as opposed to substance induced. If only they knew, it beats chemicals hands down.

The Lonely Pleasure Of Long Distance Running

For a long time I never quite understood long distance running. I never got the point of it. Why bother with something so time consuming, painful, exhausting and repetitive. I also never understood the cult like obsessive nature of it. Always spoken of in reverential tones and the desperate need to do it at least four times a week. To hear the way some people talk, it makes running sound like some kind of quasi-sexual experience. Which, it is not. In any case, I don’t mean it that way. No pleasure is derived from running ten kilometers unless you enjoy experiencing pain.  In fact, long distance running is a bit like taking a vow of celibacy. It’s about denial and sacrifice and spiritualism. Running shoes and heart monitors and pacing your self. That’s what I thought until I tried it.

I wouldn’t say it was an epiphany. Let’s just say I got it. I got what they were talking about. I understood the serenity and the solitude and the understanding. Listening and talking to your body. Challenging yourself to go faster and longer. In my fog of negativity I forgot. When you hit the wall of pain something miraculous happens. A small hit of happiness called Endorphins that flood over you. It’s the most natural form of pain relief there is. It refreshes and revitalizes the mind, the spirit and the body. You can keep going even when you think you can’t.
So what have I learned from this? For a start, I have a greater appreciation of the athletic efforts of competitive runners. I’m talking about the men and women, like you, who do this in serious competition. It isn’t just the sheer physicality of the task. There is a strong mental requirement. And here I am drawing on the philosophies of a man who took an ordinary but gifted runner and turned him into an Olympic champion. It applies in a race over a shorter distance as much as it would in a marathon. This is what he said. You must plan carefully. Build training around the concept of winning. Build stamina by setting time trial goals in the middle of a run. You must work out what he called your strategic race point.  That is the point where you make your move and dictate terms rather than the other way around. Train for the worst possible scenario. Such as, a competition field made up of sprinters rather than stayers. If you put in the necessary hard work and the mileage into you legs it will become your advantage especially when you are going down to the wire.. But above all enjoy the experience. There is freedom and joy to be had as well as enormous satisfaction. But if, during the race, you get asked the question there is only one place to look to find the answer and that is inside your own self. The toughest competitor to overcome in any race is you. But when you do it is the greatest victory of all.

The New York Mayor’s Groundhog Day

What is it with the American fascination with Groundhogs? I should have said Groundhogs AKA a woodchuck, whistlepig or land-beaver. One of American poet, Robert Frost’s, best-loved odes was ‘A Drumlin Woodchuck’ in which he used the imagery of a Groundhog dug into a small ridge as a metaphor for emotional reticence. Guess what? It’s a rodent. Get over it.

Granted they are accomplished tree-climbers and excellent swimmers but what else do they do that’s worth anything? You ask any farmer and they’ll tell you. Groundhogs are a nuisance and a pest. They eat many commonly grown vegetables and their burrows can destroy farm ponds and undermine building foundations. As you might expect there is also a thriving business in their extermination.

Personally, I take a very Zen approach to animals big and small. Live and let live. Mind you I have three cats and two dogs so technically that makes me an animal lover. So you won’t hear war-like rhetoric from me such as down with all groundhogs.

What I can’t quite figure out, in some parts of the United States and Canada, Groundhogs have reached mythical status. There’s Wiarton Willie from Ontario, Jimmy the Groundhog from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and the most famous Groundhog in the world, Punxsutawney Phil from Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. Phil has a day dedicated to him, on the 2nd of February each year. This tradition dates back to 1877.

There is music and food and a select group called, wait for it, the inner circle, recognizable by their top hats and tuxedos, who are his specially appointed guardians. At one point, the festival moves from Punxsutawney to Phil’s temporary home at Gobbler’s Knob in a rural area two miles east of the town. This famous Groundhog emerges from hibernation. Some people believe, I am not one of them, that if he sees his shadow and returns to his burrow then there will be six more weeks of winter and no early spring. Punxsutawney Phil is so well-known, that even Hollywood paid homage. They made a movie called Groundhog Day, starring Phil and Bill Murray. And Punxsutawney Phil been on television making a guest appearance on the Oprah Winfrey talk show.

American politicians love Groundhogs. Or, they just love the publicity that comes from being photographed with a Groundhog. They like kissing babies and holding Groundhogs except when they drop them. I’m talking about a Groundhog, not a baby. When that happens it makes headlines. Just ask the current Mayor of New York, Bill deBlasio. In his case it was a headline he didn’t really want or need.

Staten Island Zoo has a Groundhog Day for their Groundhog called Chuck. Just like Punxsutawney Phil, if Chuck sees his own shadow guess what? You’re in for another six weeks of winter. Some cynics claim this whole Staten Island Zoo Groundhog thing, is just a cheap rip off to cash in on the fame of Phil but I am not one of those cynics. Anyway, part of the ceremony involves the current Mayor of New York, holding the Groundhog. In 2009, Chuck, who clearly didn’t vote for Bloomberg, ended up biting the Mayor on the hand. Fast forward to 2014 and Mayor de Blasio, first time participant in the Staten Island Zoo Groundhog Day ceremony, now has that honour. But as a precaution, the Mayor is wearing heavy work gloves, which might go some of the way in explaining what happened next. Clearly the Mayor didn’t have a good hold of Chuck, who tumbled several feet to the ground. But there has been a dramatic and tragic postscript to the story. It was subsequently revealed that a week after the tumble, the Groundhog died.

Staten Island Zoo also stands accused of a cover up. They failed to notify the Mayor’s office of the fatality. In fact the story broke in the New York Post. It also turns out that the Groundhog who died, after slipping from the official Mayoral grasp, wasn’t Chuck after-all but a stand-in called Charlotte.

Needless to say it has all been a bit embarrassing for everyone concerned. The moral to this story, assuming there is one: If you are going to pick up a Groundhog don’t give it to a politician. They don’t have a firm grip on anything.

Australia’s New Terror Laws And What They Mean

A series of events in Australia in the last few days have quite frankly left me reeling in shock and surprise. The first was an incident where an 18-year- old boy was shot dead by police. Technically he’s a man but I call him a boy. A boy who was foolish and very naïve. A brain washed jihadist. A supporter of ISIL, a Muslim extremist group, which wants to destroy all of us for no reason other than, who we are and how we live. He came to the attention of authorities for some of the things he was saying on social media like wanting to behead police, drape their bodies in the ISIS flag and post the images online. He also made death threats against the Australian Prime Minister.

Very surprisingly and quite ironically the police decided to deal with this by taking a fairly low, key approach. Instead of a dawn raid and arresting him at gunpoint they invited him to come and see them at the police station. They arranged a time and he turned up to be met by two officers outside the station. What happened next will become the subject of an official inquiry. But it appears when one of the policemen tried to shake his hand in greeting, the 18-year-old produced a knife and began hacking at the two policemen. It is believed, one of the policemen fired a single, fatal shot at the 18-year-old. It was both tragic and senseless.

This young boy was seen talking with older men before this incident occurred which supports the idea he was not acting alone. He first came to the attention of police and intelligence authorities, three months ago, because he was part of a small group of men sharing messages, preaching violence and hate. Authorities were concerned he may try to join ISIL in Syria and Iraq so they cancelled his passport.

The second disturbing report was an allegation of a second, separate attack on a serving member of the Australian Army who was walking along the street minding his own business. The catalyst for the attack was the fact that he was wearing the Australian Army uniform. In a recent development, police are now saying the attack didn’t happen but it was enough for Australian Defence Force Chiefs to issue an order for defence force personnel not to wear their uniform in public. Reports of these two incidents coincide with ISIL using social media to call on its supporters to attack indiscriminately. They were told they do not need the authority of a senior Muslim cleric, they should just go ahead and wage jihad and God was on their side. These people seem to be under the illusion we are back in the Middle Ages fighting some sort of mythical crusade. Muslim versus Christian. What is most disturbing is the number of young Muslim men, in Western countries who believe in this nonsense. What worries me the most about these developments is it could end up being a double-edged sword. We need to be worried about radicalised Jihadists but equally we should also be worried about whack jobs who want to attack Muslims for being Muslim. There’ve been reported incidents of vandalism and graffiti but fortunately no violence.

Here is a small reality check.

The vast majority of Muslims in Australia, or anywhere else in the world are not defined by what the Islamic State does in Iraq and Syria. They are peace-loving people who believe in tolerance, benevolence and humanity. As President Obama quite correctly pointed out, No God condones terror.

But there is no denying these incidents frighten people and when people are frightened they lose perspective and forget to think and respond rationally.

And what usually follows is another unfortunate by-product – the rights and freedoms that we have come to expect and accept are suddenly under threat.

The Australian Prime Minister said as much the other day. In a speech clearly aimed at softening up the country he said some freedoms needed to be sacrificed in order to protect the vast majority. He asked Australians to support this shift in what he called the delicate balance between freedom and security. We are only just beginning to find out what this actually means. In Federal Parliament a bill was passed giving Australia’s domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, unprecedented and unfettered power to monitor the entire Australian internet. All that is needed is one warrant. The bill passed with bi-partisan support so the Opposition clearly agrees with the Government. ASIO will be permitted to copy, delete or modify data held on any computer it has a warrant to monitor. It also allows ASIO to disrupt target computers and use innocent third-party computers, not targeted, as a way of accessing targeted computers. Many lawyers and academics are saying this bill goes too far. Australian Attorney-General George Brandis says we all better get used to living in what he called this “newly dangerous age.” It is vital he said to equip those protecting Australia with the necessary powers and capabilities needed to do their job.

That’s all well and good but what about the checks and balances? Where are they? How can we be sure that ASIO won’t abuse these massive new powers? And if you are worried about these questions, and you should be, then what I am about to say should make you even more worried. The bill also allows for journalists, whistle-blowers and bloggers who “ recklessly” disclose information that relates to a special intelligence operation ,to be jailed for ten years. Get this. Any operation can be declared to be “special” by an ASIO agent. It also gives ASIO immunity from criminal and civil liability in certain circumstances. In other words it makes them pretty much untouchable.

Now don’t get my wrong. I am all for giving law enforcement the powers they need to do their job but that doesn’t mean they have an open checkbook. And going after whistleblowers and journalists providing the necessary balance, threatening them with a hefty prison sentence, is not a good thing in a democratic country. It is very much the case of shooting the messenger. Of course with the threat of a ten-year prison sentence hanging over them, whistleblowers will become extinct. I’m sure that is exactly what Governments around the world want to happen. I’m sorry but I don’t trust ASIO not to abuse its powers. Unless we have something or someone keeping a watchful eye out on behalf of us all there is a danger that the so-called cure could end up being far worse than the disease.

The Golden State Warriors’ New Golden Throne

Sometimes you just gotta laugh. There is a professional basketball team in the United States called the Golden State Warriors. And anything with the name ‘golden’, on the balance of probabilities, would refer to San Francisco, home of that golden piece of architecture. The Golden Gate Bridge.

You might be interested to know there is another piece of architecture being planned for San Francisco that is anything but golden, although some of these structures have been made out of gold. And it’s a structure that has everything to do with the Golden State Warriors basketball team.

You see architectural drawings have been released showing the new basketball stadium for this proud team. But somehow, somewhere, someone badly miscued the shot at its design. The new stadium is shaped like a lavatory. Yes a toilet. Not all of it, just some it. I’m talking about the seat and the lid. Someone else with a sense of humor suggested the 18-thousand-seat arena would be better suited to another basketball team called the Sacramento Kings because it looks like a throne.

The design release sent social media into meltdown as you might expect.

Even two of the star players with the Golden State Warriors got in on the act. Guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, are known as the Splash Brothers because of their three point shooting ability. They tweeted: What’s wrong with the Warriors arena design? Sure, it looks like a toilet bowl but they do have the Splash Brothers. Ha Ha.

Now you will note that I have avoided making any references to being flushed with success, or this is a load of crap or the design needs to be canned. Those are clichés for people with no imagination.

The Warriors management, were quick to reassure everyone that the drawings would not be the final product. A team spokesman said the club was confident that when the design is further refined and really comes together, people will not only see what the Golden State Warriors are trying to accomplish they will see a more beautiful rendering. They would say that wouldn’t they. Loosely translated what he is saying is we have slam dunked the architects and told them they need to come up with something way better in the design department instead of a stadium that looks like a toilet.

Quite frankly I don’t buy any of this. I mean have these people not got eyes? You would have to be legally blind not to see what the proposed new stadium design resembles the very second you saw the drawing. It is shaped like a toilet. End of story. I mean you wouldn’t release the designs for public comment just so you could be ridiculed would you? I guess the really worrying aspect to this is the fact that it was only after people began pointing out the blindingly obvious that the Golden State Warriors management decided to respond in the way that they did by trying to put a positive spin on it. Of course ‘trying’ is the operative word.

But if you thought this was way too funny for words spare a thought for the sports authorities in Qatar in the Middle East. They are building the Al-Wakrah sports stadium for the 2022 World Cup in soccer. It looks like a giant vagina.

How The Rockefellers Became Environmentalists

There is nothing more delightful than getting a decent dose of irony. If it happens to be irony of a particularly delicious kind, then I say bring it on. It lifts the spirits, makes you smile and gives you hope.

So you can imagine my reaction when I opened the newspaper this morning and saw the headline: Rockefeller Foundation To Divest From Fossil Fuels. I initially thought I was seeing things. The Rockefellers giving up petroleum is like saying the Pope is giving up religion. This a family whose very name conjures up the black stuff. They are the real deal when it comes to black gold or Texas tea. Forget about the story of a man named Jed. His name was John D. Rockefeller.

Standard Oil, the Rockefeller company was, at one time, the largest oil refiner in the world and the benchmark for the industry. It gave birth to numerous global empires including one of the biggest, ExxonMobil. And now the family is turning their backs on the industry that earned them a fortune. They want to invest in, wait for it, renewable energy. It is the kind of betrayal that sits comfortably alongside that guy Iscariot and his 30 pieces of silver.

So if you are going to stab an industry in the back, the 64 trillion dollar question is why? Why would you do it? The answer, would you believe, is breathtakingly simple. Fossil fuels are bad for people and bad for this planet. That’s what the current crop of Rockefeller heirs are saying. According to Valerie Rockefeller Wayne, a great, great grand-daughter of the big man himself there is a moral imperative to preserve a healthy planet. You might think that kind of talk would be enough to have John D turning in his grave but maybe not says Stephen Heintz, the Director of the family’s philanthropic foundation the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Heintz, says the move to divest from fossil fuels would be in line with John D’s thinking. As an astute businessman looking into the future he would be investing in clean, renewable energy and that is exactly what the family intends to do. In other words take the family’s $860 million in assets and put them into clean energy.

There is no denying the announcement was deliberately timed to coincide with a big UN climate change summit in New York due to begin next week. It will be the first gathering of its type since the unsuccessful climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. And it should come as no surprise that a number of prominent people are 100 percent in support of the Rockefellers. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said he believed the Rockefeller announcement was a “tipping point of transition to a new energy economy that was just and equitable.” Actor Mark Ruffalo chimed in with the observation that the Rockefellers were not silly people. They knew how to deal with money and renewable energy was investing in the future.

It would be easy to get carried away with political zealotry and see the Rockefellers as knights in shining armor motivated by a burning desire to save our environment. That is partially true but there is also the cynical business of wanting to make more money underpinning the Rockefeller decision. One of the other trustees Stephen Rockefeller said as much when he talked about the moral and economic dimension behind the family decision. The economic dimension that he is referring to is a risk that Governments will impose tighter regulations on the petroleum industry because of the effects of climate change. Instead of being dug up, oil and a number of other fossil fuels would be left in the ground and that cuts into industry profit.

The Rockefeller decision is part of a growing trend already established. In recent years, about 180 philanthropic societies, religious organisations, pension funds, local government as well as hundreds of wealthy individual investors have pledged to sell assets tied to fossil fuel companies and reinvest in cleaner alternatives.

It will barely cause a ripple in its effect on the world’s global oil giants. Exxon Mobil generated $111.6 billion in revenue and $8.8 billion in profit in only the second quarter of 2014. But you couldn’t put a price in terms of the PR value from the Rockefeller decision which is a huge boost to the campaigners who say we are living in a planet that is getting warmer every year. Experts say global greenhouse gas emissions increased 2.3 percent in 2013 to record levels. China, the United States, the European Union and India are the worst emitters. Environmentalists point out that emissions rose by 2.9 percent in the United States after several years of decline. That is very troubling.

Scientists say the clock is ticking and emissions must start declining within the next few years for one very good reason. Time is running out to dial back the damage. The Rockefellers clearly don’t want to be caught standing on the wrong side of climate change. Those who do might be in danger of losing everything especially the world we live in.

Star Wars-The Real Back Story

When someone writes a hit movie or a best seller, it’s easy to think it all resulted from a stroke of creative genius and it just happened organically. But in almost every case nothing could be further from the truth.

Take the Stars Wars movie franchise for instance. A number of intriguing back- stories exist about how things got to be as they were in the Star Wars movies. Here I should give a plug to a writer called Chris Taylor who discovered them and wrote a book suitably titled: How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present and Future of a Multi-billion Dollar Franchise.

For example, Taylor tells the story of when Star Wars creator George Lucas showed a rough cut of the movie to his mates Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palmer, Spielberg thought it was going to be a huge hit but De Palmer mocked it mercilessly. He told Lucas what is all this “ Force shit? Where’s all the blood when they shoot people.” But sarcasm aside, De Palmer was a talent. Lucas knew it. And De Palmer wanted to help his friend. So he and Jay Cocks, another screenwriter and critic for Time magazine, agreed to re-write the opening crawler. You remember. The big words in yellow at the start of the movie, which disappear into outer space. The words give the back-story of the Empire and the rebel alliance.

And there are plenty of other intriguing and tasty morsels to be had.

How about the origin of the Han Solo Wookie? That came about after the sound editor on one of George Lucas’s other projects hired a voice actor called Terry McGovern. And McGovern just happened to bring along an old army buddy called Bill Wookey.

You might be starting to get where this is going.

At some stage marijuana must have been smoked because a very stoned McGovern adlibbed during a voice-over recording “I think I just ran over a Wookey back there.” Lucas who might have been equally stoned, who knows, thought what McGovern had said was hilarious and he wrote down the line in his notebook but changed the spelling of Wookey so that it ended in the letters ‘i’ and ‘e’. Incidentally McGovern was also hired to be a voice actor on Star Wars. Remember the scene where Obi-Wan-Kenobi hypnotises one of Darth Vader’s Storm Troopers into saying: “These aren’t the droids we are looking for?” Well that was Terry McGovern’s voice saying it. McGovern was paid the princely sum of $200 for his token bit of screen immortality. Bill Wookey, McGovern’s friend never met George Lucas and had no idea his name would inspire film history. That was until Bill Wookey happened to see the movie and other people who also saw it said he must have inspired the character Chewbacca. Bill Wookey is a hairy, bearded man who is 6 foot 3 inches.

There is one back-story that Taylor tells that I particularly like. It concerns the origin of the name of the little droid R2 D2.

George Lucas was also responsible for the movie American Graffiti. He and a man called Walter Murch did the sound mix. But in order to do the job properly they needed to match the dialogue to the right reel of film. So they would write on cans of film the letters R for reel and D for dialogue. Of course each can was numbered so there would be no confusion. Apparently, one day (this is a true story) Murch yelled out: “I need R 2 D 2” and everyone on set laughed their heads off. Lucas laughed as well but he also wrote the line down in his notebook.

The Vietnam War played a major role in shaping the Star Wars trilogy. Lucas was rejected for the draft because of his diabetes. But even before he made Star Wars, Lucas wanted to create a documentary style anti-war film on Vietnam. It was to be called Apocalypse Now, a title devised by one of Lucas’s friends. Instead the project was passed on to Francis Ford Coppola, who gave Lucas his first movie job working on the musical Finian’s Rainbow. Taylor says in his book that in 1973, Lucas wrote a note on Star Wars: ‘A large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters.’ In some ways that was how Lucas saw the Vietnam War. The Empire being the United States and the freedom fighters the Viet Cong. Star Wars apparently had a rough time getting the required backing from a studio. It was pitched to United Artists but they rejected it. Universal had an option on the production but never bothered giving Lucas an answer. He took the project to Disney but they also said no. Finally Fox said yes and the rest is history.

In case you are interested, Fox permanently owns the rights but Disney will get a piece of the action. They bought LucasFilm for $4 billion two years ago.

But I’ve saved the absolute best anecdote until last. Taylor’s book talks about how Han Solo got to be cast. Lucas considered Harrison Ford but initially ruled him out because he thought a potential Star Wars audience might be distracted if a cast member from American Graffiti (Ford had a small part) suddenly turned up in his next movie.

Harrison Ford, was unemployed at the time and had returned to his original job, as a carpenter. Would you believe one of his carpentry jobs just happened to be at the American Zoetrope offices where Lucas was casting for Star Wars. Ford was installing a new door. Lucas saw Ford working and decided he would, after all, invite him to cast for the role of Han Solo and Ford got the gig. It just goes to show everything happens for a reason. Imagine how different it all might have been had Lucas gone with his other choice, Christopher Walken instead of Harrison Ford? Would Star Wars still be the box office blockbuster with a very different Han Solo? I doubt it.

My New Book ‘Cover Up’

My book is due to be published and available for sale from the 1st of October 2014. Here is the press release that is being sent to 300 journalists in the UK tomorrow:

PRESS RELEASE

Investigative journalist puts five major world incidents from the 20th century under the microscope to reveal glaring errors in the police inquiries in this fascinating and forensically researched real-life exposé.

“The only debt we owe the dead is the truth”

 

What really happened in the Alma Tunnel that caused the tragic death of Diana Princess of Wales? And was the reign of Pope John Paul I brought to a sudden end by murder? Cover Up shines the spotlight on the police investi- gations and subsequent court cases of five of the most famous unsolved cases that rocked the twentieth century: Princess Diana’s fatal car accident, the suspicious deaths of Pope John Paul I and US politician Ron Brown, the loss of the 101st Airborne and the assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana. Cover Up is journalist Damian Comerford ’s compelling quest for the truth after decades of confusion and unanswered questions.

Cover Up deconstructs and reinvestigates each event in minute detail, looking for missed opportunities, lost leads and new clues. Through his extensive analysis of police reports, forensic records and media archives, Comerford uncovers fresh and often shocking information. Continued speculation over the death of Princess Diana immediately roused Comerford’s interest in the investigation and he immediately uncovered troubling facts. Not only had the original French investigation, comprising a dossier of six thousand pages, disappeared without trace but the ‘chauffeur’ Henri Paul, whose job description had never included driving, had the equivalent of almost £245,000 sitting in fifteen different bank accounts, with £74,000 deposited in the last eight months before the fatal accident. Subsequent red flags revealed themselves, leading Comerford to examine the credibility of forensic evidence in this case. His conclusions will shock and surprise. His book challenges police methods as well as the justice system’s scrutiny of this and four other mysterious cases. Cover Up leaves no stone unturned, exposing many high profile figures Comerford believes may be responsible in covering up the truth.

Fearless and uncompromising, investigative journalist Damien Comerford hopes that his important new revela- tions will finally give a voice to the victims of these five unsolved events that shaped 20th century society and reignite the investigations in search of conclusive justice. Fans of political conspiracy and real-life crime will be riv- eted by Comerford’s articulate inquiries, which prove once again that fact is much stranger than fiction.

About the author: Based in Sydney, Australia, Damien Comerford is an award-winning broadcast and investigative journalist with over thirty years experience. Director of Sharp Image TV, he won the Qantas Film and Television award for excellence in television journalism in 1999 and 2002. Cover Up by Damien Comerford (published by Cre- ate Space RRP £14.62 paperback, RRP £4.95 ebook) is available online at retailers including amazon.co.uk and can be ordered from all good bookstores. For more information please visit http://www.amazon.com/author/damiencomerford

For a review copy or interview request please contact:

Kate Appleton, Marketing & Publicity Executive at Authoright / 020 7407 0720 / kate@authoright.com

A Sex Tape Like No Other

Today I saw a sex tape like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It was a sex tape that was incredibly explicit yet it didn’t invade anyone’s privacy, identify or embarrass anyone. There wasn’t a celebrity to be seen. Anywhere. At least I don’t think there was. Of course it included your customary bit of nudity. There has to be. It’s a sex tape after-all. But not in the way you would ever expect. Let me explain.

It was a sex tape made by a bunch of medical scientists. They created it using the footage from literally hundreds of MRI scans. For those who don’t know, MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It produces a 3D map of the human body but it can pretty much do anything. MRI scans are a great tool for doctors because they produce incredibly detailed images through magnetic fields that map the position of water molecules which exist in varying densities in different types of human tissue. Here’s the really technical explanation for how MRI scans work. An MRI scanner uses a strong magnetic field and the pulses of radio waves to manipulate hydrogen protons in the human body. When the radio frequency source is switched off, the hydrogen protons reveal their position in the body by re-emitting energy, which is then captured and translated into images. Pretty simple really. I am joking.

MRI scanning is completely different from CAT scans or X-rays. They are generally more expensive and take more time but they provide much greater detailed information about the soft tissue of the human body. The MRI scanner is a huge machine with what looks like a tunnel in the middle. The patient lies flat and they are then inserted inside the scanner. It doesn’t use harmful radiation. And that can deliver two types of benefits. Firstly, it isn’t dangerous in any way to the person being scanned which means they can spend much longer in the machine and secondly, scientists can take a lot more pictures, which is what a group of medical experts set out to do.

Medical scientists wanted an answer to this question: What would the normal stuff, we humans do with our bodies every day of our lives, actually look like if you could see inside someone? They asked for, and got, a group of volunteers prepared to do whatever was asked of them. What followed was something incredible. There was a 3D image of a knee being bent, showing the muscles and tendons stretching. And a beating heart, showing the left and right ventricles, pumping blood throughout the body. There were pictures of someone drinking pineapple juice. We see the juice in the mouth and when it is swallowed the image follows its passage down the oesphagus into the stomach. There is a 3D image of how the tongue behaves when someone is playing the trumpet and two people, one speaking Chinese and the other German. We see how the vocal chords open and close. Believe or not there were moving pictures of someone defacating. We see the faeces in the rectum being expelled from the body. It is extraordinary, shocking and fascinating at the same time. It was to me. Then the video gets into the X-rated stuff.

The 3 D pictures begin with a man and a woman kissing passionately, both of them in an obvious state of sexual arousal. We see the two hearts literally beating faster. It progresses to tongue kissing. Nothing is left to the imagination. Then the video cuts to a 3D image of lovemaking. The image is the antithesis of pornography. It is completely anonymous and stripped back to the sheer physicality of two human beings mating. We know it is a man and a woman but that is all we know. It is both fascinating and beautiful. Finally we see life being born. We see Twins in the uterus before birth and then the actual birth itself.

It was a once in a lifetime experience for researchers and the people who participated. It wasn’t ever painful nor was it dangerous yet it revealed never seen before images. The only unpleasant side effect might have been the constantly loud buzzing noise of the MRI machine. It’s the sort of video that anyone would find fascinating.. If nothing else, it provides a greater appreciation of who we are and what we are made of and how it all works. It tells me, the human body is a perfect machine, but its perfection, lies in its myriad of imperfections.

Man Bites Crocodile

Man they breed them tough in Australia’s Northern Territory. Tough like the territory they live in. It’s an area known for cyclones, tropical temperatures and hazardous critters like crocodiles. I am talking heaps and heaps of crocodiles.

Usually it’s the fatal attacks that make the news. Sometimes Territorians, but usually out of towners full of mad sauce who go swimming in a creek or river, even though there are signs warning of the danger. Salt-water crocodiles are nature’s apex predators. They are opportunistic and will stalk their prey, watching and waiting for the right time to strike. Why you would want to take them on, or think you can, has always been a source of great consternation to me. They will eat a human being just as easily as they eat any other prey. I’d like to think we are the smarter species and don’t give them that chance. But plenty of people have proved me wrong over the years .

So, when you hear the tables were turned it makes you sit up and take notice. It happened when a 20-year-old man was hunting geese in wetlands near a remote community in the NT. What he didn’t know, lurking under the water was a two-meter saltwater crocodile. A man-eater hunting him. And knowing crocs as I do, he would have watched that young man for some time. Watching and waiting for his opportunity. It’s was not long before it presented itself.

The man waded into the water to recover a goose he had shot. Talk about wading out of his comfort zone and into the crocs. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Talk about dinner on a plate. This croc was spoiled for choice. Start with the appetizer or the main course? Choices, choices. So many choices. No surprise which one, out of the two sets of prey, that big, old croc decided to go for.

According to the local policeman, the crocodile launched at the young man grabbing him by the arm, trying to pull him under water. That’s how crocs kill their prey. They drown them. But what the croc didn’t count on, he was attacking a true Northern Territorian. Just think Crocodile Dundee only younger. The 20-year-old man fought back. He wrestled with the croc and was finally able to loosen its grasp. But the Territorian wasn’t done. He proceeded to poke the croc in the eye, which was the smart thing to do. The croc took off and the man returned to shore.

But like I said they breed them tough in the territory. He received first aid to stop the bleeding from fairly severe puncture wounds and driven on a Quad bike to the station homestead. He was then given what some might describe as real first aid in the form of an ice-cold can of beer. Come to think of it there might have been more than one can drunk by the man. When ambulance staff arrived he was ‘mildly intoxicated’. I mean, wouldn’t you be?

When they took a good look at him he had puncture wounds, tears and claw marks on his arm and back. The ambulance officers told the young man they would fly him to Darwin hospital for further treatment. But oh, no. Air ambulance flights are for sissies. He decided to make the journey of hundreds of kilometers by road.

He is now in hospital in a satisfactory condition. No doubt telling everyone about the one that got away. Meaning himself.