You’re an Asshole!

Hi everyone,

Asshole Astrology is my faux horocscope column where I pretend to provide ‘horoscopes for horrible people.’

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

It started as a joke. People like them a lot. And it has gotten a little out of hand. So much so that I created a separate newsletter from Chapter 23.

I’ve paid subscribers on both newsletters. So thanks to their generosity I’ve decided to give all existing Chapter 23 subscribers honorary subscriptions to Asshole Astrology and vice versa.

You’re hereby officially an asshole. I mean that in a good way.

You can of course just unsubscribe with one click if you’d rather not receive the newsletter. But who wouldn’t want to receive horoscopes from Hell?

Thank you for supporting my work. Both to the people who are signed up to the free posts on my newsletters and the people who are paid subscribers.

Either way, I think that you’re wonderful. And absolutely not an asshole really.

Asshole Astrology — Week of 14 September 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

You still need to read each one because they’re all secretly about you anyway.

Sign up to get your personal weekly and monthly horoscopes from Hell.

Aquarius: You want to create but the unchallenged assumption is that you have to work for someone, serve the market, and be a cog in the capitalist machine. You could always go freelance. That’s where you sit around in your underwear all day and get paid to do nothing, right? Back in the olden days a free lance was a medieval mercenary. So your productivity as a freelancer would be judged according to the number of dead knights you left lying around the place. I’m not sure if corpses count as client testimonials these days but you can at least try working for yourself.

Pisces: Always be reading. Write like there’s no tomorrow. These should not be thought of as separate things. There’s never enough time for either. Too often people want shortcuts to get people to read their work. Usually before they put in the work of writing good shit. Write the best stuff that you can. If you consistently write well you’ll find an audience. If you don’t then no amount of readers can help you. As for reading, you can’t read everything, but so long as you always try to read something enjoyable, great, obscure or interesting then I guess that’s ok.

Aries: What’s your excuse for everything? It’s time to make some new ones. I used being a northerner as my excuse, defence and justification at least three times today. What’s your get out of jail free card? “Well I thought it was funny” might have to replace “I’m blonde” and “Sorry, wrong meeting.” Never again will you be able to lie to yourself about everything you’d get done if only you had enough time. That excuse is gone. They say time is money but that’s a lie. Spend all your money and you can always get more. Spend all your time and you never get it back.

Taurus: A lot of famous stand-up comedians employ joke writers to write their material for them. Am I the only person who thinks this is cheating? They’re basically sock puppets saying someone else’s words. My stand-up comedy heroes are people like Bill Hicks; they’d never have dreamt of such a thing. Maybe you should become a stand-up comedian or maybe that’s a metaphor for your life? Standing up sounds like a lot more work than it’s worth. You could be a sit down stand up. That’s the name of your Netflix special: Sit Down Stand Up. Just write your own jokes.

Gemini: Are you a night owl or morning lark? I’ve been a night owl since birth. My productivity peaks once everyone’s in bed. My pet peeve is morning larks who think you’ll grow out of it. I never cease to be amazed by people who don’t like night owls, suggest that you not be one, and expect a friendly response. I’m also suspicious of people who say things like don’t clean when drunk or when you’ve insomnia because it’s unhealthy. If it wasn’t for drunken insomniac bouts of activity I’d never get anything done. Or ‘night owl productivity’ as I like to call it. Try it.

Cancer: You’re about to sit the existential equivalent of your Mock Exams. That’s where you get marks for being rude and making disparaging comments about people, right? You’ll be given marks out of 10 and judged based on your existing skillset. What do you need to study or bone up on that you don’t know already? You drink whisky, smoke cigars, shoot guns, and can strip down an engine blindfolded. You’re also wicked smart and some sort of math genius who builds robots for fun. Surely you’re an 11? Like it or not you’re already ready. I mean that in a good way.

Leo: How do you sort your laundry? I dump all my clean clothes in a basket in my room for sorting and wear clothes out of that basket first. All my dirty clothes go in a laundry hamper downstairs. When I’ve time, or before I do laundry again, I put the remaining clean clothes away. It’s good to have a system. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. But don’t expect everyone to adopt your system or hold to the same standards as you do. Some people are easily impressed and say: “You’re so organised!” just because you keep your papers in a folder in your bag.

Virgo: Sooner or later someone is bound to hurt your feelings. Don’t think of them as ‘feelings’ so much as ‘reasons to drink whisky.’ You need to develop a much thicker skin. Some people are too sensitive and quick to offend. Where I grew up you could tell someone to their face that they’re behaving like an arse and still be friends afterwards. The way that in Adventure Time BMO gets distracted in the middle of an explanation from someone else and says “Oh, I don’t care” is how I’ve felt about anything that anyone has said to me for at least the last decade.

Libra: Do you describe yourself as a productivity ninja, SEO wizard or social media guru? Grow up. If you work in an office then that’s the last thing you need. Use your faux expertise to find the door. Stop using ninja as an adjective or ninjas will verb your noun. The same goes for giants, rockstars, or anyone who uses fu to describe something that’s not a martial art. When a martial artist fights the same guy twice that’s déja fu. When a martial artist fights a giant that’s fee-fi-fo-fum fu. I’m not sure what you have but I’m pretty sure that you’ve had it before.

Scorpio: How’s things with you? All you need is love but it doesn’t hurt to have the royalties from a song like ‘All you need is love’ to fall back on. I’m just putting that out there. Some value outside more than inside. Some value inside more than outside. You can have either but you can’t have both. Don’t look to others for approval, advice, thanks, praise or directions. Or to tell you who you are. They’re good for hugs. That’s about it. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Just not necessarily in that order, from the same people, or in equal measure.

Sagittarius: Hubert Selby Jr said: “I started writing because I did not want to die having done nothing with my life.” Nora Roberts said: “Every time I hear writers talk about ‘the muse’ I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.” Between these two positions is the sweet spot to aim for when you’re writing. To the best of my knowledge you’re not dead yet. Legally I have to say this. Why do you write? A fan described my writing as a great read to inspire and affirm the benefits of a creative process. I’m still laughing and no, smartass, it wasn’t my mum.

Capricorn: It’s hard for you to have a dark night of the soul when your friends keep handing you a torch. It’s hard for the Dark Knight too. Can you imagine if Batman was real? You’d probably be a supervillain. People used to tell me that I grin like the Joker. Now I’m older and fatter I look more like Bane. Bane: Blurble blurble blurble. Everyone: HAHAHA! Say again? Bane: BLURBLE BLURBLE BLURBLE?! Everyone: HAHAHA! Kick his ass! “I’m only laughing on the outside. My smile is just skin deep. If you could see inside, I’m really crying. You might join me for a weep.”

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Don’t Give Up — Get Better

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

A distressed writer asked me: “Why can’t writers sell their books, that they’ve agonized and slaved over, sometimes for years, for the price of a cup of coffee?”

To which I replied: “Because our consumer society values coffee higher than books. People buy what they want — be that coffee or books.”

They weren’t impressed, to put it mildly, but I stand by what I said.

It’s an excellent question — even if the author meant it differently and my response was unhelpful.

Why SHOULD you be able to make a living from your writing?

I ask this as a writer. But I answer it as a writer too.

The world doesn’t owe you a living.

See Full Article

Asshole Astrology — Week of 7 September 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

You still need to read each sign because they’re all secretly about you.

Sign up to get your personal weekly and monthly horoscopes from Hell.

Aquarius: When the Romans said “Not a day without a line” they meant writing, not coke. You might be feeling overwhelmed this week but that’s no excuse to go off the rails. Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll. That’s a good idea. Read. Learn. Be Inspired. That’s a better one. If only for this week. On the subject of Coke are you a Coke or Pepsi kind of person? What do you mean you prefer Pepsi? You backed the wrong team. I don’t really care; just being a contrarian. I don’t drink either any more. Coca-Cola are the Evil Empire. Take the taste test challenge for your life.

Pisces: What’s the deal with so many middle-aged women writing Romance novels that are little more than thinly-veiled porn? Sorry, wrong meeting. They say that bad books are worth reading if only to show you what not to do. Don’t do it! Read a good book instead. Life’s too short to read bad books. Read A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima, any book with a dead author and more words than pictures. Likewise my blog gives an idea of what I write. Don’t read it! Just give me all of your money. We live in hope.

Aries: You can put Master of Avoidance on your CV but the only thing you’re avoiding right now is bankruptcy. If you don’t have the money to pay someone else to do stuff then you have to do it yourself. It’s not all bad; at least this way you learn how to do lots of things. But DIY sucks? Exactly! You’re probably right but sadly you don’t have the luxury of infinite time so you have to prioritise what’s most likely of interest. Which is naff all apparently given some of your previous efforts. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas.

Taurus: The poet Stevie Smith said of depression: “I was much too far out all my life. And not waving but drowning.” Sounds legit. Nobody’s coming to rescue you. They all think you’re waving at them when instead you’re drowning. Don’t worry, you’re among friends. Finally! You’d been told there were others out here but started to think it wasn’t true. I’ll put the kettle on. Do you like cake? Have some cake. We’re always on the lookout for interesting writerly people to connect with. You can survive this. Swimming lessons start this week.

Gemini: Do you have a monkey on your back? That’s ok. Someone might use it as a target. I never got the phrase “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys.” Surely it’s elephants that like peanuts? That’s what you get for watching Dumbo about a hundred times. Surely if you want monkeys you have to pay top banana? They say infinite monkeys could eventually write Shakespeare. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a typewriting monkey. “If it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey it’s probably very cold indeed. Or shorts weather to a Northerner.” Wise words indeed.

Cancer: Today roughly 150,000 people died worldwide. But none of them were famous or newsworthy, so there’s no need to talk about it, which is nice. Are you outraged by outrage media? Sick of celebrity? Ready to cancel cancel culture? You could rip your phone out of the wall in disgust but that gesture no longer makes sense in 2020. Maybe just turn your phone off and put it in a drawer instead. Don’t watch the news. Turn off the TV. Go do something else. Literally anything else. Life’s a better use of your time. Spare a thought for the real world happening every day.

Leo: Remember in the TV show Utopia how The Network tried to sterilise most of the human race with a protein they hid in a vaccine for a Russian flu epidemic whose outbreak caused mass hysteria? People said the plot was far-fetched and that people wouldn’t panic. Sorry, wrong meeting. Are you trolling trolls again? Stop it. I know you’re only joking but nowadays you have to specify that every time you open your mouth. Draw the line at when someone can’t tell that a joke, clearly labelled as a joke, is a joke. Those people probably aren’t the best use of your time.

Virgo: Have you ever noticed how extremely positive people are actually quite passive aggressive, dishonest and conceited? Whereas grumpy and sarcastic people may be a bit curmudgeonly but at least they mean well and are honest, funny and friendly? I ask for a friend. You can keep your fake positivity. Hell is a room full of positive people who don’t understand sarcasm and are hellbent on lifting your mood. Do your best to be witty and entertaining even in your darkest moods. At least until the thought police call the cops. Fuck the police. Fuck the polite.

Libra: I’m starting to think that Americans are all members of a crazy puritanical cult based on productivity, positivity and prostitution in the name of capitalism. They don’t understand that not everyone wants to work work work. I say Americans I mean humans. I say not everyone, I mean me. Which side are you on? I’m not judging you; I’m just an opportunist. A real astrologer would tell you to consult Mars but the only Mars you need is the chocolate bar. A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play. And you’d be a liar and a communist for suggesting otherwise.

Scorpio: Repeat after me: “I am not freaking out. I am not freaking out. I am not freaking out. I am not freaking out. I am not freaking out. #freakingout” As long as there isn’t a wolf outside threatening to huff and puff and blow your house down; you’re fine. Thank Crunchie it’s Friday. Have a great weekend. What do you mean it’s Monday? It’s a sign! It means that you should eat the Crunchie now. You have the love and support of the universe within you and around you. There’s no need to be a dick aobout it. Sorry, wrong meeting. Tenga un buen dia sarcástico!

Sagittarius: You know how you keep yelling at people to buy your book? And carpet bomb social media with links to buy your book? Well it finally paid off. I went to a bookshop and bought a cup of tea and a flapjack. So thanks for that. Did I buy your book? Not yet but any excuse to drink more tea. Maybe you should try talking to people instead of marketing at them? But what do I know? People shouldn’t offer unsolicited advice; that’s my advice. When people start their sentences with: “I think you should” “Why don’t you” and so on I secretly want to punch them in the face.

Capricorn: I love it when someone makes something that happens in your life into an opportunity to talk about themselves, somehow makes it all about them, or even finds a way to profit off the back of your misadventures by writing about it and bad-mouthing you behind your back. Stay classy. Sometimes I read something that people have said in response to something I wrote online and think: “Well, aren’t you something. Aren’t you just darling. Aren’t you just the most charming, witty, and adorable human being? Such intelligence and erudition.” I did say sometimes, right?

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Asshole Astrology — September 2020

Here is next month’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

You might as well read them all. They’re secretly about you anyway.

Be careful what you wish for this month — Cthulhu has plans for you.

Cthulhu is consided one of the most formidable Great Old Ones. They’re cosmic horrors,…

Read more

Welcome to Chapter 23

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Chapter 23 is the newsletter of James Garside; British independent journalist, writer and world traveler. Part-time vagabond, full-time grumpy arse. Would you care for a cup of tea?

You should view the world as a conspiracy run by a very closely-knit group of nearly omnipotent people, and you should think of those people as yourself and your friends. — Robert Anton Wilson

Chapter 23 is a multimedia newsletter written and published by independent journalist and writer James Garside

Members get a secret newsletter on the 23rd of every month, unrestricted access to my work, and other goodies. 

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Chapter 23 – August 2020

Hi! Welcome to Chapter 23.

Become evil. Rule the world. Maybe drink tea first and sit down for a bit.

“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”

— Gilles Deleuze

Hollywood has always been obsessed with image over talent. It’s called The Dream Factory with good reason.

Sorry, wrong meeting.

Read more

Bonus post: Asshole Astrology – Week of 17 August 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

This week it’s make your mind up time.

Do you love these horoscopes enough to want them in your life?

If you do then please sign up for a paid subscription because you’re worth it.

And if you don’t then don’t. I won’t judge you. But it can’t go on without your support.

I may have to roll them into Chapter 23, my newsletter, or scrap them entirely.

But if you subscribe then I will keep these humorous horoscopes separate as a special thing in their own right.

I will shower you with blessings. There will be infinite cookies and cups of tea.

Are you ready? Let’s do this!

Aquarius: I will write for food. What are you prepared to do in order to live your dreams? What’s the lowest form of your art that you’re willing to do for money? What will you do to get by? Put your worst foot forward this week. It’s more important you try every day than do a lot. That’s how I learnt to jump hurdles as a kid. Set the bar low enough that you can step over it. Then keep raising the bar. If you need to lower your standards then it helps to know what they are. Personally, I can’t tell my are’s from my elbow. *hold for laugh*

Pisces: This week you come out with one of your better puns. Punning is like cabbage. It has its uses but I don’t like it. So use your newfound powers sparingly and maybe open a window first. Scratched vinyl is the best vinyl. The signs of use mean it was loved and well played. Look around you at your posessions. What do you use the most? What does that tell you about what you like to do? Is there a particular hobby that you’d like to do more of? If so then do that. This is pretty self-explanatory. I shouldn’t have to spell it out.

Aries: I pay lip service to the belief that it’s each to their own taste taste in music. But I must confess that I used to tell people that KMFDM stood for Kill Motherfucking Depeche Mode. What opinions do you pay lip service to but not uphold in real life? KMFDM actually stands for Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, loosely translated by the band as “no pity for the majority.” Your homework for this week: Invent your own slogan that fits your world view. Live according to your values rather than those of the mob. Unless you’re a mobster of course.

Taurus: You’re feeling scary, sexy, quaint, quirky, and three other goth dwarves. I’m currently listening to everything by Angel Corpus Christi. “Me & My Beretta” is my favourite Angel Corpus Christi song. But she’s done loads of cover versions including an album full of instrumental covers played on an accordion! Allow yourself to get obsessed by someone or something this week. I mean in an artistic, tasteful and non-stalkerish kind of way. Read every Dan Brown novel. Listen to the entire back catalogue of Taylor Swift. Whatever.

Gemini: People are going to be mean to you this week — at work, outside, and at home. People are going to say mean things. They’re vain, selfish, and unreliable. They’re going to make life harder for you in ways that benefit themselves. That isn’t very nice of them now, is it? I feel like I’m stating the obvious here. I’ll shut up. My point is just that it’s the same for everyone. You’re the centre of your petty drama but only a bit-part in theirs. Get used to it. Read up on Stoicism and forbearance and try to move on with your life.

Cancer: Comic book writer Grant Morrison created the character King Mob as a Fiction Suit. He used him as a stand-in for himself in the Invisibles comics but also dressed like the character in real life. Michael Hutchence, the late lead singer of INXS, gave Kylie Minogue some similar advice. He told her to wear the on-stage persona of Kylie like a suit of clothes that she could take off and hang up when she got home. This week adopt a persona and use it as a force-multiplying tool. You are who you pretend to be. Pretend to be who you want.

Leo: It’s a beautiful day. Even if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for. It’s the sweetest thing. Even better than the real thing. It could be where the streets have no name or under the Joshua tree. Another time, another place. Get out of your own way. With or without you, sometimes you can’t make it on your own. Are you gonna wait forever? Hold me, thrill me, kiss me, kill me. I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight. U2 suck. That’s all I’m saying. Enjoy your week and if you listen to U2 then burn their albums.

Virgo: The thing that first struck me when reading Aleister Crowley was how funny he was. Humour is a sign of intelligence and I’m convinced that funny people can’t be all that bad. I’ll bet the Devil is hilarious. Who can you think of that’s unexpectedly funny? Make them your mentor if only for this week. Sure they might lead you from the path until you wake up in a ditch somewhere. But it has got to be better than listening to sour and humourless people who wouldn’t recognise a joke if it slapped them in the face with a wet fish.

Libra: I love Johnny Cash, called the man in black because he dressed that way in protest as explained by the song of the same name. He’s the reason I dress in black. I’ve dressed in black most days since I was a teen but as a child I’d wear lots of different colours. This reminds me of a goth I knew who always wore a red t-shirt. What is your uniform for this week and why will you wear it? Dress the same every day. Not only does it save you time spent obsessing about what to wear. It’s a powerful statement about who you want to be.

Scorpio: Do you hear voices? Can you see dead people? Do you have imaginary friends, spirit guides, or a coterie of particularly chatty angels? At least you’ll have lots of interesting conversations. That’s what you need more of this week. Forget the spooky stuff — just get out there and talk to people. Strike up conversations with people that you wouldn’t normally speak to. Be friendly. Make the first move. Start small talk. I know that’s not how you roll but that’s exactly the point. Get out of your head and into the world.

Sagittarius: I figured out that when intermittent fasting I can drink tea with milk as it only has 13 calories per cup. I round that up to 15. Which means on a fast day when I’m allowed 600 calories, if I don’t eat, I can drink 40 cups of tea. That’s about right for my tea consumption. So instead of fasting I just drink tea all day instead. Think about that this week. You’re about to figure out simple solutions to some of your problems. What shortcuts can you use that make life easier? For once in your life stop being so hard on yourself and chillax.

Capricorn: I’ve just realised how self-referential these horoscope columns have become. Sorry about that. I know that I’m a narcissist but what does that say about me? Let’s flip it round this week. What does everything and everyone in your life say about you? This is a really bad habit to get into as, drum roll, you’re not the centre of the universe. But it could be instructive as a thought experiment. Just this once. Pretend the universe is speaking to you and the language that it uses is the world around you. Listen to what it says.

What does the universe have in store for you? Sign up to find out.

Bonus Post: Asshole Astrology — Week of 10 August 2020

Why aren’t my words the focal point of your existence?

If they were you would have signed up for my newsletter by now.

Or given me all of your money so that I can spend it on tea.

Those are literally the only two options.

Here is this week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

All joking aside please let me know if you’d like to read this as a regular part of Chapter 23.

Or sign up directly for my humorous horoscopes instead.

If you pay for either newsletter you can have the other for free. Because I love you.

Aquarius: After all these years it’s normal that people haven’t seen Star Wars. This week you prove you’re not a millennial by being unable to take a proper selfie. People will be polite and tempted to say something like “You’re looking well” and you won’t even be able to think of a decent one-liner in response. You could always tell them to f*ck off. It’s a good one. A classic. Tried and tested. Vintage. Much like you feel these days in your advanced years.

Pisces: You clearly label a joke as a joke. People still somehow managed to take it literally and act like you’re being serious. It’s almost like they’re determined to take offence at everything. This is why you hate the internet. There ain’t no cure for stupid. No, I’m not saying that you’re stupid. What do you mean you take offence at that? It’s just a joke. There’s no need to get your knickers in a twist. Wait a minute. I see what you did there.

Aries: Good morning. I think I’m off back to bed. See you at the weekend. You may feel misunderstood about your insomnia and night-owl tendencies. But clearly anyone who gets up during daylight hours, like a so-called normal person, is daft and not to be trusted. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Stay in bed. That’s my advice. And something I do. Hence why I’m in my jim-jams. Bedtime wisdom. Goodnight, everybody.

Taurus: A cup of tea solves everything — including running out of tea. No matter how much direction you develop in life you still somehow always seem to manage to piss on your boots. Life is a shit sandwich. Anyone who says differently is trying to sell you something. But if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas. Stay positive. Drink tea. That’s a great philosophy for life. Unless you run out of tea.

Gemini: Enjoy your weekends. You only get two days off from your miserable humdrum worker-bee existence so that you don’t die at work. Don’t sit in the corner the whole time with your thumb up your arse. And no I don’t mean like Little Jack Horner. I think you’re thinking of pie. Now I’m thinking about pie. Mmm. Pie. This week you look like the cat that got the cream. I on the other hand ate Tweetie Pie. Hence the feather sticking out of my mouth.

Cancer: An Albanian proverb says: “In the eyes of the mouse the cat is a lion.” Your inner toddler is Tom Hardy. Remind me to never mess with you. When it comes to one of your deepest darkets secrets you’re worried that the cat is out of the bag. The cat is out of the bag? The cat isn’t out of the bag. Cats can’t escape from out of bags. It’s their one weakness. The only thing that you have to fear is fear itself… and spiders. Fuck spiders.

Leo: Americans know best. Doctor Who has always been a little bit shit. It’s perfectly ok to call a Sausage Sandwich a Sausage Roll here in England. It’s not like we already call something else that. Some sort of pastry for example. Coffee is better than tea. It hurts to type these things, or think them, even in jest. Don’t take everything I say literally. If you take everything I say literally then I literally want to punch you in the face.

Virgo: I’m not saying that you’re out of touch but most of your cultural references are carbon dated. I’m not saying that you’re uptight but I bet that you’re the type of person who flinched when Apple put a U2 album on your phone. And I’m not saying that your conversation is boring but last night I dreamt that Terence McKenna downloaded alien poetry into my head. Sorry, you were telling me what you had for breakfast? Pray continue.

Libra: Everybody’s talking about Artichokes, Asian greens, Asparagus, Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chilli peppers, Courgettes, Cucumber, Eggplant, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radishes, Rhubarb, Salad greens, Shallots, Spinach, Turnips. This vegetable, that vegetable, salad, salad, salad. All we are saying is give Peas a chance.

Scorpio: With everything your family says, no matter how much they nag or annoy you, what they’re really trying to say is: “I love you.” It’s sad when people you care about exit from your life. Especially when people who piss you off won’t take the hint. Sometimes you feel the need to say goodbye to people who are no longer in your life and to let them go. Or you could just unfollow them on Twitter and stop stalking them on Facebook. Everyone must go.

Sagittarius: You’re like the lost child of the Addam’s family. Were you born on a Wednesday? I’ve started remembering my dreams again. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The best one was Battle Royale: Muppets vs Sesame Street. Puppet carnage is somehow much funnier than the real thing. Speaking of which, that provides a tenous link to how things are for you this week. Fall asleep with lights on and wake up with lights off? Check for monsters under the bed.

Capricorn: Read a REAL book — one with pages. Write out your opinions about the book in long-hand without referring to the internet. I am Jack’s token cultural reference. You’ve Sophie’s Choice over several work projects: You love them all but one of them has to die. It’s time to make up your mind. You could always take the Keyser Soze approach and KILL EVERYONE. Just walk away. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.

What does the universe have in store for you? Sign up to find out.

One Minute Reads for Writers — 30 Posts in 30 Days

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

I published 30 posts in 30 days. I’ve pulled links to them all together in this list post for ease of reference.

These are all friend links — because I love you — so you will be able to read them whether you’re a member of Medium or not.

I must remember to also post this post as a friend link because otherwise that will kind of defeat the point.


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Chapter 23 – July 2020

Hi! Welcome to Chapter 23.

Become evil. Rule the world. Maybe drink tea first and sit down for a bit.

“You don’t write a novel out of sheer pity any more than you blow a safe out of a vague longing to be rich. A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery.”

― Nelson Algren

I want to open a pub called Crowley’s. Not to open a pub — just to meet all the interesting oddballs who drink there.

This month, I made t-shirts, there’s a free audiobook up for grabs, plenty of stuff to read, and I confess just how much I hate Harry Potter.

As most of you know already every month I send out a not-so-secret post to all paying subscribers on the 23rd of every month.

This month this edition is public in a vain attempt to encourage more people to pay to subscribe.

Please let me know if you like Chapter 23 and what if anything would persuade you to support my writing with more than just kind words.

Why? Because I write for a living and ghosts don’t type. Unless they’re ghost writers.

I’ll see myself out.

Tweet Shirts

People on Twitter keep asking me for merch with something that I said on it. It took me two years to get around to it but I’ve finally made my first tweet-shirts!

Please join me in my Sarcasm Prayer: “Grant me the sarcasm to mock the things I cannot change, the wit to change the things I can, and the cynicism to know the difference.”

Bespoke t-shirts and other merchandise are available upon request; so long as you give me lots of money.

On sale for a limited time at Hellvetica. Get it whilst it’s hot!

My first happy customer!

Thanks to @samanthabwriter, pictured above, for being the first proud owner of one of my tweet-shirts.

And, you know, for being a Twitter friend, subscriber to Chapter 23, and all round wonderful writerly person!

Hating Harry Potter

I hate Harry Potter but love JK Rowling — this is why.

When I taught Creative Writing to young people on the gifted and talented young people programme I had recourse to defend my hatred of Harry Potter — not of JK Rowling personally, just of the books.

First, I agreed that Harry Potter was entertaining. And I emphasised that there are things that I like about Harry Potter and adore about JK Rowling. This is always a good idea when faced with a room full of Harry Potter fans.

What I disliked about Harry Potter series: They’re badly written and badly edited. They got flabbier with each book — from the first slim volume to doorstoppers that weighed-in at over 700 pages.

I believe in quality, not quantity. And the idea that “they’re only kid’s books” doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be made as good as they possibly can before they go out. It’s important for children’s literature to be great.

I also worried that “the Harry Potter phenomenon” eclipsed other books that were just as good, if not better, and worthy of attention.

What I liked about Harry Potter: I watched the special where JK Rowling read from the new book.

Several thousand excited kids were screaming and cheering when JKR arrived, as though they were waiting for their favourite rock star. All this for a writer!

They then sat spellbound as she read, and cheered at the end… all this for a book!

In the days of Playstation and Xbox, Britney Spears and the f*~king Tweenies, Harry Potter made reading cool.

Thousands of young people have taken an interest in reading, and are willing to queue around the block to get a copy of a book on the night it is published.

When I was doing my MA in Creative Writing, I was the only bloke doing a module on women’s writing. The tutor would let her daughter sit in on the lesson. She would sit there quietly reading Harry Potter, and now and then giggle to herself and continue reading.

THAT is why I like Harry Potter.

What I like about JK Rowling: She wrote the Harry Potter books. She’s intelligent, smart, and seems like a lovely person. She has donated lots of money to charities and worthy causes, and is perfectly level-headed and pragmatic about the whole thing in interviews. She also managed to charm Jeremy Paxman!

What I dislike about JK Rowling: Nothing, I don’t know her. She seems very likeable and people that are critical of her success are probably just jealous.

But there are better writers out there — some starving, mad, dead, or languishing in obscurity — people that I’m passionate about and would give blood to get other people to read.

Friend Links

Here’s some of my stuff to read on the interweb. They’re all Friend Links so anyone can read them.

Tough Love Astrology — Fake horoscopes because I think that’s funny

There’s Nothing Correct About Political Correctness — But it is political

I’ve contemplated suicide every day of my life since the age of eleven — My ability to procrastinate knows no bounds

Friend Links for Medium — All my Medium posts to the end of 2019

One Minute Reads for Writers — 30 posts in 30 days — My website has links to most of my writing

PS. Asshole Astrology is now its own newsletter. You can sign up to the public posts for free.

I will gladly comp a lifetime paid subscription to anyone who pays for a subscription to Chapter 23 or vice versa.

Note: If you have a problem opening any of these links just try to view them in private browsing mode and that will probably do the trick.

FREE Audiobook Giveaway

Is listening to Epic Fantasy your thing? Enough to write a book review about it?

Epic Fantasy author Karen Gray has kindly given me an Audible code for a free copy of the audiobook of one of her books.

This isn’t an advert — it’s a favour to a Twitter friend and it would mean a lot to me if you could help me out.

For King and Country: The Saga of Thistles and Roses is the first book in The Warrior Queen series. It’s already highly rated but would benefit from reviews from discerning readers such as yourselves.

Please comment or message me if you are interested. You must be willing to write a review of the book.

Thanks for reading.

As always feel free to #AskMeAnything

Asshole Astrology — Week of 20 July 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Read them all — that way you have 12 short essays that are all about you.

Aquarius: It will do you good to recognise and accept your limitations for a change. For example, you may start thinking: “I should start a podcast or make a video or something.” Then you remember that you hate public speaking and you’re not a shiny happy millennial or narcissistic sociopath. Well, at least not one who likes to record themselves showing off. You’ve a face that’s made for radio and a voice made for the Shipping forecast.

Pisces: I was once followed by a famous celebrity psychic and promptly unfollowed a few hours later — not so psychic after all then, eh? This week you aren’t psychic either. It’s not too late to reverse any bad decisions that you think you’ve made. What comes to mind? I knew you were going to say that. *hold for laugh* But don’t expect other people to be mind readers either. You’re about as transparent as a window that’s been shat on by pigeons.

Aries: Anything that you said you’d do before the zombie apocalypse happened is hereby null and void. From now on it’s pretty much guaranteed that you won’t do any of the things that you said you’d do. If anyone’s unhappy about that then tell them to come see you after the world ends. But when you say you’re busy do you mean in real life or on Animal Crossing? Because if all you’re going to do is play games then we need to have words.

Taurus: You fancy yourself as a bit of a Satanist. When you say Satanism do you mean Church of Satan, The Satanic Temple, or just anything that will get religious zealots in a twist? Are you an acolyte or an activist? It’s good to be specific. Let’s be honest though, as much as you believe in science and logic and supporting human rights, bathing in goat blood and sacrificing children to honour your imaginary friends sounds like way more fun.

Gemini: I want to open a pub called Crowley’s. Not to open a pub — just to meet all the interesting oddballs who drink there. Who from history would you be drinking buddies with if you had the chance to frequent such an establishment? Why do you think that is? What does that say about you? I’d probably drink with Yeats at least once for good measure. He hated Crowley. Aleister Crowley’s poetry is shit. I’m just putting that out there.

Cancer: You don’t do hugs. That’s exactly why you need them. The world knows you’re not a good actor. Even complete strangers can see that you’re not doing so well. This is fine so long as they don’t use the opportunity to insult you and suggest that you should give up and go home. If they do then that should only serve to make you more determined. The best response is to thank them kindly and move on. Thank you kindly secretly means fuck you.

Leo: If you’re serious about making your plans for world dominiation into reality then you need to drink more tea. A cup of tea solves everything — including running out of tea. Tea makes everything possible. That includes taking over the world. What would your ideal world look like? I’d be a pretty benign world leader. Free tea for everyone. Three day work week. Work permitting, everyone can work from home or take their pets to work.

Virgo: I tried to dress down when I visited New York, for fear of getting mugged, and people assumed I was homeless. You probably need to shave. Metaphorically I mean. On the plus side at least you get to use “Not by the hair of my chinny chin” as a rhetorical device. It’s important that you try to look your best this week. You never know who might be watching or who you might meet. Which is of course why you’re reading stuff like this.

Libra: What’s your favourite Johnny Cash song? Ring of Fire? Stop eating spicy food. Would you care to buy some magic beans? If you buy my magic beans you could be giant! How about a bridge? I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Don’t be so gullible. It’s not like you’re daft enough to take the advice of fake horoscopes written by a disgruntled writer. But please do buy my magic beans. You need all the magic in your life that you can get.

Scorpio: What mask do you wear on public transport? I wanted one with a grinning skull to encourage people to keep their distance. My mum told me off for wanting to scare people. Whatever you go for, it’s important for you to consider the masks that you wear and why you wear them. Give serious thought to wearing a grinning skull. The reverse psychology will offer more protection than the actual mask, of course, but at least you’ll look boss.

Sagittarius: I always thought it would be hilarious to have a demon character who secretly likes terrible pop music and is embarrassed about it. Maybe I watched too much Buffy but I still think it’s funny that a demon would have a secret place in their heart for bad music. This is a great metaphor for your life this week. Think about why that’s the case. It’s also true that Demons have terrible taste in music. How do I know this? Sorry, wrong meeting.

Capricorn: Random people may try to make snide remarks to you along the lines of saying that you seem depressed, overwhelmed, mentally ill, need to get help, shut up, stop talking, or stop writing. What’s their problem? Some people don’t have a sense of humour or know how to take a joke. It’s perfectly ok to fuck with those people. Permission granted. They won’t get the punchline but they will line up to punch you. Do it anyway. Haters gonna hate.

Asshole Astrology — Week of 13 July 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Aquarius: You should try to use your inside voice for negative thoughts, snark, bitterness and sarcasm. As a result you won’t have much to say. Sorry about that. Or, you know, you’re welcome. Don’t try so hard and don’t be so critical of others. The things we spend the least amount of time and energy on have the tendency to get the most attention. Work as though it fell out by mistake. Nobody likes a pedan’t… *hold for laugh*

Pisces: For any book you want to read: Download the Kindle sample for free. Read the Kindle sample. Note the table of contents. Brainstorm each section. Imagine what the book’s like. Write your own version. Realise that you don’t need to read it. If you still want to then read it anyway. It’s all relative. Meditation isn’t something you do. It’s what happens when you stop doing everything else. To do is to be. To be is to do. Doobie doobie doo.

Aries: You often think that people are terrible. You also often think that people are kind. For every time someone confirms one position there are times when someone confirms the other. Sometimes they’re even the same person. On balance you think that most people are kind most of the time. This week your behaviour has the casting vote. Will you be kind? It’s ok to be kind even if you’re usually obnoxious. You can be loud with your kindness.

Taurus: People are upset that the Indiana Jones films have become a franchise. Indy 5 isn’t meant to be watched by anyone. It’s made by Disney for Disney’s shareholders. It’s sad that Spielberg won’t be back to direct but audiences still haven’t forgiven him for the Crystal Skull. Indy is now just another Disney product. Indy 6 will be released exclusively as a range of fragrances. Indy 7 as a Happy Meal toy. This is your week in a nutshell.

Gemini: You’ve several unexplained long scratches on each leg. They appeared overnight and you’ve no idea how you got them. It looks like something with claws tried to grab you by the ankles and drag you straight to Hell. Either that or the tax man is after you. Or a disgruntled ex. The point is that this week someone wants to get their claws into you and not in the good way. They don’t call them a murder of crows for nothing.

Cancer: After the lockdown is lifted please can we keep the two-metre social distancing rule? In cities across the UK people are queueing round the block to shop at Primark, our favourite sweatshop facilitator, despite the risk of coronavirus. Are we really so desperate to shop? This is why we’re fucked as a species. Gives the phrase Shop Til You Drop a whole new meaning. Business as usual then. Same goes for you this week. Same shit, different day.

Leo: How do you react when your work colleagues don’t give you the respect that you deserve? Do you turn the other cheek or bury them in the woods? It’s only stalking if you watch them when they sleep. I bet all you do is drink tea and feel angry about them. You’re among friends. Angry tea-drinking is my modus operandi. It’s ok if your reach exceeds your grasp. Drinking tea angrily is still an appropriate use of your time.

Virgo: You just want to create but the unchallenged assumption is that you have to work for someone else, to serve the market, to be good little cogs in the capitalist machine. That said, if you give people something for nothing they won’t value it in the same way as if they paid for it. Or as The Joker said: “If you’re good at something never do it for free.” This week it’s time to embrace your destiny as a Batman villain. Get paid.

Libra: I have spiders in my hair. I guess that’s my life now. This is just what happens when you go walking places where spiders can hide in trees and bushes. Sometimes you accidentally walk into their webs. Other times they drop onto you and try to hitch a ride. What does this have to do with you? Everything this week. You have metaphorical spiders in your hair. You walked into their web and they’re trying to hitch a ride. My work here is done.

Scorpio: What’s your lockdown look this week? Plague poser or Cholera chic? Mine’s bookish ninja. I’ll pass no comment on people wearing or not wearing masks. Last time I did I was berated for “opinion shaming” other people because I followed the guidance of the World Health Organisation, like some sort of uninformed crazed hippie, and told I should spend my time making masks. People are fucking stupid. That’s my point.

Sagittarius: The stars aren’t aligned. They’ve shifted so much that your star sign probably isn’t what you think it is. There’s even a 13th zodiac sign called Ophiuchus but it hasn’t stuck yet so we pretend that it isn’t there. This week might be a good time to work out what your real sign is. I don’t know what mine is and can’t be arsed to work it out. I stand by my words regardless. No cat guts were used in the making of my predictions, I promise.

Capricorn: Dumbphones are good at making calls - the one thing smartphones seem unable to do well. What are you so good at as a specialist that generalists can’t match your level of skill? Double down on that this week. Freelance writers keep asking me if I want them to write for me. I’m a writer. That’s literally my one thing. If I outsourced my writing I’d have nothing to do all day but drink tea and watch cartoons. Well, when you put it that way…

What does the universe have in store for you? Sign up to find out.

Asshole Astrology — Week of 6 July 2020

Here is next week’s horoscope for your sign.

It doesn’t matter when you read it, or which sign you are, as horoscopes are all made up.

Why not read the whole thing and pretend that the advice for all the other signs also applies to you?

Aquarius: Someone will say that you were rude to them. I’m not a betting person but I’d lay money that you weren’t rude at all. You’re a good person, well-intentioned, and mindful of others. Some people just ain’t shit. Someone else will say that you complain too much. They’re probably right but you weren’t put on this planet to be an emotional punchbag for strangers. You’ve got your own shit to deal with. But you are a complainy pants.

Pisces: You like to think of yourself as a minimalist. Let’s put that theory to the test. Can you count the number of possessions you own on one hand? You have too many hands! Do you fly with one bag? You don’t need a bag. You don’t even need a purse or a wallet. Just stuff your credit card and keys up your arse and leave your smartphone at home. Yes. That ought to do it. Only rich assholes are minimalists. The rest of us are just poor.

Aries: How are you today? Translation: “Just say ‘I’m fine thanks. How are you?’ What’s wrong with you? Don’t you understand the rules? We don’t want to hear your life story. We’re just being polite. We get that you think your life is interesting. We just don’t get why you think that your life is of interest to us.” Ok, I’m paraphrasing, but the point still stands. Nobody gives a shit about your problems. So stop telling everyone about them.

Taurus: Divorced, beheaded and died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. Is that the wives of Henry VIII or Edmund Kemper’s dating profile? That’s what you have to decide this week. Ruh-roh. Just kidding but be careful who you date. You say you don’t like shallow people who judge by appearances. Unless, you know, they’re really hot. You’ll be fine. But judge people by the content of their hearts - or the lack of bodies in their freezer - instead of how they look.

Gemini: Stay indoors, avoid social contact and non-essential travel? Admit it, you feel like you’ve been preparing for this your whole life. It doesn’t come easy to everyone. It’s ok to take care of yourself first and foremost. Turn off your phone. You can’t fix stupid. Put your attention someplace more productive. What’s the alternative? Stalk them on social media? Gate-crash their parties? Guerrilla Warfare? Sorry, I’m not helping.

Cancer: Let’s play music together on YouTube! Let’s lip sync to songs! Let’s all pretend to hold hands across the internet! Or you could sit with your thoughts for a bit. Maybe have a nice cup of tea. Maybe write something. I don’t care what you do so long as you shut the fuck up. Act like a jerk and the world will embrace you as an equal. Great minds think alike — as do average ones. Only the good die young — prepare for the long haul.

Leo: I’ve contemplated suicide every day of my life since the age of eleven — my ability to procrastinate knows no bounds. What do you keep putting off until tomorrow that you should really do today? You’re in a bad place right now. Wisconsin? Are you in Wisconsin? Don’t worry. You’re made of awesome. No power in the verse can stop you. You can change your luck through love. You gotta fight for your right to party.

Virgo: Beware the tyranny of nice people. Kind words don’t pay the rent. Jesus never read The Bible. The meek will inherit fuck all unless they get their act together. You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. As sure as eggs is eggs. No yolk. You can’t turn lead into gold but you can turn shit into money. Or, as they say in Yorkshire, “Where there’s muck there’s brass.”

Libra: You worry me sometimes. When you start appreciating porn for the music you know you’re in trouble. It’s time to reach out to other people but be sure to be kind and say what you mean. Don’t be fatuous, Jeffrey. People will still understand you and take offence as though you’d spoken your mind in the simplest of terms. Even if you do communicate about as clearly as a rogue AI that has become self-aware and plans to take over the world.

Scorpio: The Law of Attraction is bunk. The universe isn’t an Argos catalogue. You can’t just order what you want. The universe is more like Cthulhu. It’s huge, unfathomable, and trying to kill you for shits and giggles. It’s good to have some irony in your diet. You can’t afford to buy crap. Now more than ever. Cut your expenses to the bone — and if that doesn’t work then amputate. Less is more. More or less.

Sagittarius: A Japanese proverb reads: “The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone.” This brings a Jackie Kennedy quote to mind: “The first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship.” Basically what you need to do this week is play ‘Fuck, Marry, Kill’ with your three faces.

Capricorn: The first step is always make a cup of tea — which isn’t that hard, now really, is it? A cup of tea solves everything. For all your success you feel like a complete failure. Toughen up, cupcake. You’re feeling rather delicate today. Chin up, buttercup. Whatever happens I suspect the solution is to drink more tea. Drink tea. Be kind. Except to your enemies. Destroy your enemies and bury them in the woods. Then drink some more tea.

What does the future have in store for you? Nothing much most probably. Sign up to find out just how little the universe cares about your problems.