Is Fiction stranger then Fact

 It was an Australian journalist who said, “Journalists write fiction, and pretend it’s fact – and novelists write fact, and pretend it’s fiction.” And there is truth in this.

Certainly my book of short stories, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, is based on fictionalised facts. I call it journalistic because every story springs from an event I witnessed myself during my 40 years living and working in the Arabian/Persian Gulf – or was reported to me by a reliable source.

I have just written my first Australian story, THE SENSE OF LOSS, which is a complete fiction, and yet in many ways is as factual and even more authentic than the stories in THE GULF. I say this because the end result was not the story I set out to write. My fictional protagonist, an elderly Australian widow from rural Australia – a person I have never met in a place I have never been – took over, and behaved as an elderly strong-willed Australian widow from rural Australia would behave.

Graham Greene will be spinning in his grave. He believed that fictional characters are merely constructs designed to carry the authors ideas. I have never found that to be true. Once I create a good strong character they behave as that character would behave. They cannot be directed and told what to do. I believe, mad though I may be,that Margaret McLaughlin, the character in my story, behaved exactly as Margaret McLaughlin would behave.

I am English by birth, education, and upbringing, and assumed before coming to Australia, that Australians would be pretty much the same as myself. After all, almost all of the early settlers and the majority of the population is from the British Isles – and English is the official language (although you wouldn’t think so if you spend a lot of time in Sydney). But I have found that Australians are foreign to me.

Maybe because of their beginnings as a penal colony, and the large percentage of Irish Catholic convicts? Maybe because their hard-scrabble pioneering and suffering is such recent history? Maybe because they became (almost) universally affluent so fast that they are more American than British. There is (almost) no class structure and snobbery here (except in Melbourne)? But whatever, we are related – maybe like distant cousins – but they are certainly not British in their thoughts or actions. As my daughter so succinctly put it “They are lovely people, but rough around the edges”.

To be precious about it, those differences and rough edges have subconsciously permeated my artistic sensibility. So when I came to write my first Australian story, from my English perspective it just did not go the way I thought it should go.

“Good on ya – Margaret McLaughlin”,

because I have written a story that is “pure fiction” – and yet it is as authentic and factual as if pulled from tomorrow’s headlines.

The same cannot be said for the stories in THE GULF. Yes, they are authentic. But all of them are told from the perspective of archetypal British expatriates who washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf for whatever reason. People like me. Ordinary people who found trauma in their lives through no fault of their own, trying to cope and make a living in extraordinary circumstances. People I can easily relate to.

THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, deals with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. You can preview my book on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my UK publisher:


Penis Envy is a terrible affliction

In a recent article an Australian female journalist decried the white Anglo male desire to have a society that “makes things”. She said we should get used to a society that exists on service industries.

My Father worked all his life as a welder in a shipyard – a job that was 3D – Difficult, Dirty and Dangerous. And he loved it. He was forced to retire at 68 because he was becoming too old to crawl through double bottoms, or climb 100 foot ladders.

It took him 2 years to start enjoying a well-earned retirement because he missed the camaraderie of his mates – and the immense sense of pride and self-worth when the result of their labours was a ship gliding gracefully down the slipway into the river to enter useful service as a cargo vessel, or ferry boat – or warship.

And I was forceably retired recently at 74, after 45 years in the international oil industry mostly in jobs that were 3D. 2 years on a remote Persian Gulf desert island commissioning an offshore oil field that came in on-time and below budget. Working with highly skilled, dedicated and fearless people. Divers who dived in shark infested waters to fix pipeline leaks. Helicopter pilots who flew in all weathers to keep us supplied. And marine pilots who berthed enormous super-tankers whose momentum would destroy the jetty if they nudged it – and not once, even in the dead of night, did those pilots nudge the jetty.

Another 2 years in Venezuela in the petrochemical and petroleum marine transport sector ensuring that dangerous products were transported safely, without loss of quality – and training local staff to take over responsibility.

And then 10 years in Saudi Arabia commissioning 400 km pipelines to ensure that jet fuel free of rust was delivered safely to the international airports – and to the helicopter landing pads on the Yemeni border so that gunships could patrol and discourage infiltration by insurgents.

Like my Father, a man’s life worth living – and far more satisfying than flipping hamburgers at MacDonalds for a minimum wage – or trading worthless bits of paper (a.k.a. toxic mortgages) and being paid obscene amounts of money for doing so.

If you want to know more about life in the international oil industry read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. It is not autobiographical, or a memoir. It is journalistic – based on events I witnessed, or were reported to me by reliable sources. They were expatriated like myself, washed up in THE GULF, mostly trying to escape the boring soul destroying feminine Utopia called suburbia where mowing lawns and going shopping are the heights of human achievement.

You can preview my book at:

and download it if you have a Kindle

or, if you prefer a real book you can purchase it from my publisher:

ISBN 978-1-786975-25-6

The lesser of two Evils

It is unbelievable that the most dynamic and enterprising nation on this planet can only produce two such mediocre candidates for the presidency.

Trump is an egomaniac cunningly riding the wave of peoples’ disgust for the venal and corrupt, lying and cheating and stealing political classes that have allowed the financial community to ride roughshod over our so-called civilization. And Hillary Clinton belongs exactly to that breed who are in cahoots with the banks and Wall Street.

She is a throwback to the hubris of the 1990s when the collapse of Communism led them to believe that globalised, laissez faire, free-market capitalism had solved all of life’s problems. Then came the financial collapse of Iceland, Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, Bernie Madof Et.Al. – and the GFC – initiated by Bill Clinton’s de-regulation of the banks in the 1990s. And the aftershocks of financial scandals continue to reverberate around the world.

We are now in the 16th year of the new Millennium, and if Hillary Clinton becomes President we will have 4-8 years of more of the same. It’s Deja Vu all over again.

Then again Barack Obama has been a mediocre do nothing President. He, and Hillary, are symptoms of rampant political correctness. Obama was elected on a triumphal wave of “the first black President” (although in fact his Mother is a white woman and he was raised by his white grandmother), and Hillary will be elected on a triumphal wave of “the first female President”, without regard for whether either of them are up to the job. Perception is more valued than reality.

Into this vacuous vacuum China and now Russia have been able to ramp up their powers without any effective countermeasures – and after 8 years of Obama, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are still in turmoil – and Guantanamo is still open for business. And I don’t even want to think about the chaos that is Europe – brought about by the failed utopian dreams of drunken, tin-pot geriatric politicians and bureaucrats from tin-pot no-account nations.

Can America, or Europe, not find in the new tech-savvy digital generation a real leader? Or are they too lost in the hubris and unreal and narcissistic world of Social Media? Where is the Washington, the Lincoln, the Churchill, the Eisenhower, the Cromwell?

Or have I really been brainwashed by the Western version of History that I was taught?

In researching my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” I read deeply the writings of TE Lawrence, Freya Starke, Gertrude Bell, and learned about the imperial connivings of France and Britain in the Middle East– the Sykes-Picot agreement, the Balfour Declaration – and later the proxy conflicts between Britain and the USA in oil-rich Iran and Arabia – that sowed the seeds of the present conflicts. And further back Peter Hopkirk’s books about THE GREAT GAME between Imperial Russia and Britain over India – the Jewel in the Crown. History repeats itself – endlessly.

If you want my insights into the chaos and confusion in the Middle East from Britain’s neglect of its mandates in The Gulf, and the 5 fold increase in crude oil prices that funded the rise of Islam, until the events of 9/11, read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Although it is a work of fiction, it is journalistic because the stories start from real events I witnessed – or were reported to me by reliable sources – during my 40 years in The Gulf.

You can preview my book on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, order the paperback, or hardback if you are a real bibliophile, direct from my publisher:

Don’t wait for my sequel, GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”

Stop the World – I want to get off

Am I the only sane person on this planet?

At the present moment there is 11 times more financial instruments being traded worldwide than the total World GDP. A massive bubble waiting to burst. Here in Australia private debt is 250% of GDP, and yet, in order to buy a house young couples are being encouraged to extend themselves, and borrow 8 times their joint incomes.

Yet the cause of the most recent Global Financial Crisis was the Banks and investment houses selling mortgages that they knew people could not afford (i.e. they committed fraud) and then bet against those toxic financial instruments so that they made billions when they failed. And nobody went to jail.

And the IMF have admitted that they allowed Greece to draw down 2,000 times more than the agreed safe borrowing limit. And, of course, nobody can find the papers on that, or who was responsible for signing it off.

Stop the World I want to get off.

Now the neo-liberal urban elite are decrying BREXIT, in spite of the fact that there are already 8.5 million immigrants in the UK, with more to come, in a country about a third the size of New South Wales, with a permanent population of 60 million. And the much vaunted trade with Europe is running at a Euros 89 Billion deficit per year for the UK. The EU is dominated by an anti-British bureacracy in Brussels, run by a drunken old fool, that has actively encouraged, and funded the transfer of British manufacturing and technology across to Eastern Europe.

Stop the World I want to get off.

And now on a global basis it is predicted that Robotics, and the “Internet of Everything” will be a new Industrial (Digital) Revolution that will throw millions of people out of work. And still we hear that Globalization – a euphemism for Americanization – the only way for mankind to proper.

Are we all going to emulate a society whose only philosophy is “Get rich quick”? A violent society riven by racism, where almost every citizen owns a gun: with 20,000 gun murders a year (including massacres in schools, colleges and gay clubs), with 200,000 aggravated assaults and 200,000 (reported) rapes a year – where 2.5 million citizens are in jail with a further 1 Million on parole – and where the President and Commander in Chief of 40% of the world’s miltary with his/her finger on the trigger is either going to be an ego-maniac jingoist with a ridiculous combover, or a crazed geriatric chipmunk with an adulterous husband: a Wall Street puppet whose CV is littered with shady business dealings who has shown ignorance of, or cavalier disregard for, even the most basic disciplines of national security.

Stop the World I want to get off.

But I guess it was always so. Look at the chaos in the Middle East, whose past is littered with fools, carpetbaggers, despots, religious zealots and power crazed politicians – and outright thieves. If you want insights into how it got into such a mess read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”.

It is a linked series of character studies of archetypal expatriates who wash up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf, victims of powermad politicians’ wars, greedy finance house excesses – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out of control drug-addled teenage children. Welcome to the modern world.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on:


and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, order the paperback direct from my publisher:

Is the (male) Working Class Hero dead?

In the last three books I have read, the protaganists have been 23 year old, American, white, female college graduates out in the exciting and frightening wide world for the first time. Is this the new trope for the classic hero’s journey?

My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is also a classic hero’s journey – and my protaganist is indeed 23 years old and white; but male, and from the working class, and not college educated. Nevertheless he feels alienated and guilty because he has abandoned the hard life of his mates in the shipyard, and works as a journalist. He is a foreign correspondent out in the wide world for the first time. And it is probably this guilt that fuels his rage against Britain’s elitist foreign policies, and against his entitled University educated colleagues in the media.

For the working class male – and the cannon-fodder foot- soldier who fights not for Queen and Country, but for his comrades in arms – loyalty to your mates/comrades is central to your sense of masculinity. To rise above it, and break ranks is a betrayal.

But a sense of honour, comradeship, and betrayal is archaic now. We have moved so far away from the social revolution of the 1950s,(when the working class gained “free” access to higher education, and upward mobility), that feelings of guilt and alienation are riseable? And the anti-Viet Nam war riots of the 60s, and the Sexual Revolution, succeeded in putting women and under-25s on an equal footing with their Elders and Betters (who proved to be just older, and not better). And the feminist movement has succeeded in making it possible for 23 year old white females to be heros – and not heroines?

At least, for me, one benefit would be we no longer hear about John Lennon – the working class hero who never did a day’s work in his life.

The female protaganists do feel guilt, but it is because once the adrenaline rush of being out in a violent, unpredictable and squalid world has died, they come to realize that they are not connected. They are priveleged, affluent, healthy and hygenic, and wear nice expensive clothes – and always have a return ticket back to suburbia. This isolates them from the Third World residents they mingle with – for a while.

My protaganist Mick, coming from an underclass that has suffered the consequences of the blunderings of the ruling classes, and dying in the thousands in politicians’ wars, identifies all to easily with the Wretched of the Earth. So my stories are from the bottom up, while these new stories are top down.

Mick’s rage is a primal howl against the possibility of living a decent and honourable life in an increasingly squalid, corrupt and tawdry globalized world. As he says “The World is OK – it’s people who are pricks.”

I make no claim that my stories are better – but they are authentic, and felt, rather than observed. And it is my belief that any art form benefits from being an emotional journey – not intellectual. Perhaps in my next book the protaganist should be a 23 year old Liberalized Muslim woman? But then it would not be authentic. I am not a Muslim or a woman

THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is a linked series of character studies of the archetypal expatriates who wash up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf, victims of powermad politicians wars, and greedy finance houses excesses – and in some cases just victims of shopaholic wives, and out of control teenage children. Welcome to the modern world.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on:


and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, order the paperback direct from my publisher:

Are some (sweaty) Animals more equal that others

While not wanting to suggest the ultimate male fantasy that all women want to be ravished is correct, there is strong anecdotal and scientific evidence to suggest that they do prefer a dominant male partner in their sex life.

In a recent article a female journalist said that among her friends – professional couples both in well paid jobs who shared everything equally (paying the mortgage and household bills, housework and taking care of the kids) – the women were dissatisfied with their sex life. It lacked a frisson (sexual tension?) because their relationship was based on friendship and mutual respect and had become almost platonic. One woman said it was like sleeping with her brother. This feeds into the fantasy that women do not really want a caring, tender and supportive partner who is in touch with his female side – not when the lights are out. They really want someone more animal. One woman actually said she only fancied her husband when he came home straight from the gym all hot and sweaty. Are modern Western women in denial?

A recent scientific study in America supports this. A series of erotic images was shown to a group of men and a group of women hooked up to sensors measuring their physical and emotional responses. The men and the women responded almost exactly the same way to the images. But when questioned 75% of the men were honest about their arousal – but 75% of the women lied and said they were not aroused. In Saudi Arabia a dominant male society where women are repressed (at least in public) women exploit the males’ outstanding weakness – his desire to see females in the flesh, and have sex – to wield a surprising amount of power. Read the story I’VE NEVER KNOWN A WOMAN WHO WOULDN’T DANCE in my book THE GULF about a new wife performing an erotic dance of arousal.

In some ways I am ashamed of this story because it is not a work of fiction. It is an account of that dance by a Western cameraman who filmed it; and it was validated by a Western woman who had played flute at many Saudi weddings and seen this many times. The cameraman said it was the most erotic thing he had ever seen.

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

and download it if you have a Kindle. Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

I hope you enjoy it.

Stupid Women

          Miss Piggy of Muppet fame was a brilliant comic invention because, like all true comic inventions, her role contains a strong thread of truth. In the main modern Western women are shallow, vain and entirely self-centred

          The recently released movie DIANA has been panned by the critics for lacking depth or complexity. How could it have: Diana was quintessentially shallow, vain and self-centered—an Essex Girl with a posh accent. Ava Gardener was honest when she said “I am not deep, just endlessly shallow.”

          And in a recent story Oprah Winfrey was incensed because while shopping for a handbag at a cost of US$ 28,000 in Geneva the typically haughty Swiss salesgirl doubted that an African-American could afford such extravagance. But the essence of this story is not the overt racism of the Anglo-Germanic races. The true essence is how any educated woman of whatever race, colour or creed could contemplate spending that much money on a handbag.

          I now know 9 women of a certain age whose husbands/partners have walked out after 20, 30 and even 40 years leaving them bitter, hostile and lonely and thinking that they have been hard done to. Yet these women treated their relationships/ marriages as a base of operations, lying or cheating or stealing from their partners (and in some cases all three). They neglected their relationship in favour of going to the spa, lunching with friends, and going boutique shopping every day to buy outrageously expensive items they could not afford.

          When I challenged one of them about her out-of-control spending she said “You don’t understand . . . it’s not a question of need . . . it’s a question of want.”

          They considered themselves independent women in the modern manner—but unlike the truly independent highly educated modern young girl who expects to go Dutch on a date, and when in a relationship pays her share of the bills, these women have never made a mortgage payment, or paid an electricity bill, or the land taxes. And what is more they expected their partners to subsidize their extravagant lifestyle. At least Oprah was spending her own money.

          In my book THE GULF: “Reaping the Whirlwind” I tell the stories of American and British expatriates who wash up in The Arabian Gulf for whatever reason—and mostly the reason is the infidelity and/or extravagance of their wives/lovers.

One story I did not tell is of a Third World Charlie who was fortunate enough to get an American Green Card in the lottery, and went to live in the USA. His wife, confronted with this consumerist Paradise, went crazy. At one point she bought 4 brand new cars on credit. He had to declare bankruptcy, sell his home, divorce his wife, and was fortunate enough to find high paid employment in The Gulf and get out of the deep hole dug by his wife’s greed.

          And like most of the other estranged males I know he is now a very happy man married to a lovely Filipina girl half his age (and one has married a very wealthy Swedish widow) while his ex-wife lives in lonely poverty. How stupid is that?

          You can preview my book of stories at:

and download it for US$2.99 if you have a Kindle. If you prefer a real book you can buy the paperback for Euros 12 from:






I’ve never known a woman who couldn’t dance

We call it dancing—but why do you think discotheques are so popular with young women?

I have written before about the innate artistry and sensitivity of tribal women in the Middle East—particularly Persia—that enables them to preserve and refresh their nomadic culture and myths by weaving vibrant and stunningly beautiful rugs. Another gift that women carry is the innate ability to sway their supple bodies sensually—and erotically—to music and the rhythm of the drum. This is a talent lacking in most men, except those of African/Afro Caribbean ancestry.

Through all our layers of so-called civilization women have maintained an overwhelming biological urge to choose the best mate, and to reproduce healthy and strong children. And in most societies they do this by making bold eye contact and displaying their bodies the best way they can. Even in Saudi Arabia—where women’s bodies are covered by a black obayah, and their heads and faced covered by a hijab—the nubile maidens make sure that their obayahs are tailored to the contours of their bodies, and their hijabs are so flimsy that you can see their faces, or reveal their heavily made-up eyes. And repressed as they no doubt are, when they are in all female company, off come the obayahs and hijabs and they dance crazy mad.

When I worked in Saudi Arabia I directed a number of training videos, and my professional American cameraman was invited to big Saudi wedding, and allowed to film the womens’ party. (The receptions are segregated into a male and a female gathering). He described it in detail as the most erotic thing he had ever seen, and I have tried to replay this in my story I’VE NEVER KNOWN A WOMAN WHO WOULDN’T DANCE, in my book THE GULF: “Reaping the Whirlwind”

In true journalistic style my story was authenticated by a woman friend who had worked as a teacher in Saudi Arabia for 9 years and attended a number of weddings.

Out of shame that this is not really a work of fiction, I amended the title slightly from COULDN’T to WOULDN’T and added an imagined beginning and ending to give it context. You can read the full story—and many others about the Middle East—by following my URL:

and downloading the Kindle edition. Or if you prefer a paperback you can order it from;

They offer free delivery worldwide.