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Welcome - The International Writers Magazine - January 2009
writing from across the globe.

Reasons to be Cheerful: Part One

It’s the year of the Ox beginning Jan 26th. Ox years are better. Steady years - recovery from the turbulence of the past kind of years. I'm thinking that it will be better than we deserve. I seem to recall Ox year 1973 was a pretty bad year all round with wars, fuel price surges and social unrest but the world got through it intact. I’m told. So yes 2009 could be the worse year of our lives – the one we shall talk about forever as being ‘you remember when…’ And faces will fall and lives will be changed, but hey, I’m Ox. I’ll plough through and come out the other side and I promise - it won't be as bad as it could be. The stock market already went up in anticipation and although it will fall again, I think it sets the tone for how the year will end. We all know what a precipice looks like now and Ox's don't jump. Just be glad it isn't the year of the horse!
Image: The Future was clear in 1909

This is the year I hope the British electorate finally realise just how spectacularly incompetent and arrogant Gordon Brown has been these last twelve years and boot him out when he calls an early election. (You can’t wait until everyone is unemployed Gordon – you will have to go this year or lose so badly next it will make history for all the wrong reasons).

Obama finally gets to run things from Jan 20th and he is going to be so utterly disappointed to find how much real damage Bush and Cheney have done to the fabric of America. From the last minute repealing of all the environmental laws, the squandering of tax dollars on useless things, the extravagance of a war fought on a lie and the collapse of infrastructure right across the continent. This is one hell of a mountain to climb and he will need all of eight years to fix it. I only hope he has enough time and political good will. But he is surrounding himself with intelligent people and that makes quite a difference don't you think and can only help.

China will finally realise that having its economy tied to the USA is a huge mistake and with luck Americans will begin to realise that too and demand something is actually made in the USA (aside from cars no one wants or needs). China to save itself should also invest hugely in infrastructure and perhaps now is a good time to think about food, water and air quality – the melamine scare may just the tip of an iceberg in cheating the Chinese people. If China wishes to be the world superpower it craves – it needs to think about all those left behind by the economic miracle and find a way to include them, then and only then can it be the shining beacon of hope it believes itself to be.

Africa, little touched by the recession so far – if only because so much of it is so poor already, must find the courage to police its tyrants – starting with Mugabe. If they cannot and if South Africa cannot find the will to remove a man who has systematically destroyed a whole country out of spite, then there is no hope for any country in Africa. Whether Kenya, Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, too many African countries are without hope or fairness and spinning downward in a death spiral. The UN cannot save them all, or indeed any, until they find the will to save themselves. There is a good heart in Africa but needs help - it cannot beat without the rule of law and human rights.

2009 will be a year of change. Huge change. We might find that as major brands and retailers go under that we can live without them. (Despite the thousands storming the stores after Christmas to buy bargains in a frenzy of consumerism). Certainly shopping on-line has come of age. If only delivery could be worked out, but then again, since most of us won’t have jobs, at least we will be home when they call huh.

Predictions are useless, particularly in a panic and depression. Who knows what shape the world will be in 2010, but change means the getting of wisdom. Israel might want to think about that as it shuns world sympathy so easily as it takes on Hamas. Over a week in there now and 450 dead as I write this. All very depressing for all concerned.

Politics will change. First to the left and then to the right. History gives us enough to think about as one section takes the interventionist left approach (Putin is slowly grabbing back all the assets of Russia from the crooked Oligarchs who seized the gas and oil and banks to start with and went on a ten-year orgy of consumption). Sadly it will it all under state control again and Russia has an extremely bad record of running companies and investing in infrastructure. But then again, it will hold the west to ransom by withholding gas or oil and do its best to destabilise Europe –its more traditional role. You don’t need Cassandra to predict any of that.

Which way will Germany lean? That’s a good question. Still prosperous but at some point they will begin to notice that no one can afford BMW’s and Mercedes and then what? Just because you make the best cars doesn’t mean we can borrow to buy them. Just as GM and Chrysler made some of the worst (in the USA) and then wondered why no one bought them – it all amounts to the same thing. Large purchases will have to wait and if we collectively put if off too long – those companies may well be gone when we finally need them. Can we live without them? Sure. Will the millions thrown out of work find other work to do? Maybe not. This is global. When Toyota sneezes you know the whole world has influenza.

Has this happened before? I was tempted to use the Second World War as an example, but discovered that productivity rose throughout it. Unemployment was scarce, tanks and battleships as well as soldiering are labour intensive.
The best I can come up with was 1919. Not only has the First World War finished with millions upon millions dead, there was a global flu pandemic (which may have killed as many at ten million – no one was counting outside the west) and a financial crash. Worldwide productivity was pretty catastrophic and it took until around 1921 until economies began to move again and new technologies developed in the war found their way into consumer products.

Does that mean a war is inevitable? No. Of course not. We fought the war to end all wars didn’t we? Oh yeah, there was the small matter of WW11, but we’re all more sophisticated than that now, right?

Well – what would you like to happen in 2009? Perhaps that’s the way to approach it.
If you are going to graduate this year, go straight ahead and do an MA – you aren’t going to get a job. (So happens I run an MA at Portsmouth University in Creative Writing so I’m open for business - see link below.) Or take a gap year, if you have any funds. No one will hold it against you and you may find that travel or volunteering in Africa with will look great on your CV in 2010 when people start hiring again.

Hell, even if you were middle-management with transferable skills the VSO is a good place to start. Just because our economies have collapsed it doesn’t mean that that people don’t need help to survive in Asia or Africa or wherever and you will learn one hell of a lot.

Perhaps we won’t be so enamoured of TV reality shows and want to do stuff for real ourselves? Or want to watch shows about making great property deals. (Shows about how to sell your house in a depression on the other hand…)
2009 will be a challenge. You, like me, will wish you had saved for it. Values will change, needs too, a lot of us will feel a lot less secure in our jobs or even our streets and there lies another business opportunity ‘cause you can bet your life the cops aren’t going to do it, they have motorists to persecute to hit their targets – some things never change.

We – through our contributors will continue to chronicle it all – until we too succumb and be swallowed by debt. Until that moment – endure and be like the Ox. Plough through – look neither left nor right but keep on to the far end of the field where your labour will be rewarded. In the end – the answer – it seems – lies in the soil.
PS: here's to our former contributor Roxy who starts her officer training with the Army this January. Best of luck soldier.
Part Two - Mid Jan

Sam North - Editor Jan 4th 2009

If you want to help Hackwriters keep going, buy my new book Mean Tide. A young adult ghost story set in Greenwhich, London.
All profits go into the magazine.
Mean Tide by Sam North
'Extraordinary novel about a child's psychic awakening'

Lulu Press - ISBN: 978-1-4092-0354-4
Review: 'An engaging, unusual and completely engrossing read'
- Beverly Birch author of 'Rift'

Sent to live with his spooky Grandma by the river in Greenwich, Oliver (12) discovers a whole world of disturbed people who are probably even crazier than the ones he left behind. When he finds a dog with its throat cut on the beach, everything changes.
Age range 12-16 and adult

Meanwhile, are you worried about your health? Read my book 'Another Place to Die'' . If you have the slightest worry about how to survive the coming flu pandemic, you need this book and all the proceeds go to keep Hackwriters going. See the review from Calvin Hussey

The Curse of the Nibelung - A Sherlock Holmes Mystery
by Sam North

ISBN 1-4116-3748-8
$19.98 Retail - 300 pages - Lulu Press USA

'Chocolate will never be the same again' - Sunday Express
Buy from your favourite on-line retailer

Amazon UK
Amazon USA
Barnes and Noble
& Waterstones

Diamonds - The Rush of '72
By Sam North
ISBN: 1-4116-1088-1

Buy now from
'a terrific piece of storytelling' Historical Novel Society Review

Also printed in the UK and available from
& Waterstones

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