RIP Mr Romero

I love zombies. Next to werewolves they are my favourite genre of horror. My infatuation with the undead began c1980 when I discovered my cousin’s stash or Fangoria magazines. There was an article about George A Romero’s new movie, Dawn of the Dead, with an awesome tagline:

“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

The movie poster was creepy enough, but it was the machete headshot that sealed the deal and within weeks I had managed to convince the local video store owner that I was old enough to rent it. Oh sure, the menacing hordes were a little green-faced, and the acting wasn’t fantastic, but the concept of a mindless mob of murderous cannibals marching relentlessly toward their human prey was truly frightening. I was an instant fan.

The next movie I watched was Mr Romero’s 1968 masterpiece, the Night of the Living Dead. Although Johnny gave me goosebumps when he told his sister, “They’re coming to get you Barbara”, before becoming a zombie himself and dragging her to her doom through the boarded up doorway, the highlight of the film was the scene where the young couple get blown up at the petrol station and the zombies get stuck into the charred chunks of roasted human scattered over the roadway.

As special effect techniques improved so did the gore. The Return of the Living Dead brought melting, gooey corpses, reanimated cadavers, and a dark sense of humour as the fetid carcasses staggered around in search of ‘brains’.

One of the funniest scenes has a zombie on the police radio asking the dispatch office to “Send more cops”, which were promptly set upon and devoured. Return of the Living Dead became a staple horror movie for the B-Grade movie nights my friends and I would enjoy throughout the late eighties.

Of course, as any good father would do, I introduced my sons the the concept of zombies at an early age. When they were children I would sneak up behind them, yell the word ‘brains’, and, much to the chagrin of my wife, gently bite them on the top of their heads. They were introduced to the visual impact of the undead gradually beginning with the Nazi zombie levels within the game Call of Duty: World at War, but eventually their curiosity demanded that they see what all the fuss was about. By this stage they were old enough to see the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead and so their own zombie journey began.

Since then we have enjoyed more cadaverous carnage than you can imagine. Land of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, Dead Snow, Dead Set, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, Walking Dead, World War Z and Zombieland, to name but a few. There have been good movies and some really bad ones, but all of them have been fun.

Thank you Mr Romero for bringing the undead to life.

Rest in Peace.


Richard David John Burbage – Guilty

Remember this twat?

Back in 2012 I and around 1,200 other people had our cars ‘stolen’ by the dodgy dealership We Buy Any Car Australia. Richard David John Burbage left a trail of destruction in Australia before fleeing to the UK with his gutless tail between his legs, desperately trying to hide from the angry mob of Aussies he had fleeced.

With the help of friends locally and abroad, we were able to track this low-life down to a new set of dodgy dealerships he had established in the UK. Unfortunately it was too late for many unwary consumers who were now victims of Burbage and his cronies. Fortunately the Southern Daily Echo picked up on our story and took up the pursuit and began reporting on Burbage at every opportunity.

Finally the law caught up with him and his trial began alongside Darryl Kenneth Warren and Ryan Neil Overton. Stan Rudgley did not appear in court having already pleaded guilty to fraudulent trading. Thankfully many of his victims were able to attend and give evidence, and after a short deliberation the jury…

“…returned guilty verdicts on five charges of fraudulent trading which included clocking car mileages, giving false descriptions of vehicles, failing to deliver vehicles, forging vehicle documents, falsifying warranties and failing to give refunds. Michael Carr, Reporter, Southern Daily Echo.”

Ryan Overton and Darryl Warren were found not guilty.

The likely outcome of this decision is a “substantial sentence” for Burbage according to Judge Barnett who will pass sentence in July. In the meantime Burbage has been remanded in custody to await his fate.

I would like to thank all the people who have been involved in bringing this despicable character to justice. I know that many of you were left out of pocket in your endeavours, but I can assure you that your vigilance and hard work are very much appreciated. Lets all hope he gets to spend a very long time behind bars.

Vale Benny

The toad licking, snake killing defender of the villa has finally met his match. Unfortunately his four remaining teeth and fierce determination were not enough to defeat the illness invading his brain and he fell into a final, peaceful, sleep resting against the feet of those that loved him most.

No more chasing cats, barking at the birds, or coffee on the stoop with Heidi. He was more than just a canine, he was a companion and he will be sorely missed.

Rest in Peace Benny. Although you lived longer than you should have, it was still not quite long enough 😦

Unexploded Ordinance – A Scar on Laos

This post originally appeared on Wish You Were Here back in April. I think it is important enough to be posted again.

Understated, tucked into the ground of the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation in Vientiane, Laos, the COPE visitor centre tells incredible stories of survival and challenges today.

More than two million tonnes of bombs – “one tonne for every Lao citizen” fell on Laos between 1964 and 1973. Laos is most heavily bombed country on Earth, per capita. [1,2]

Cluster bombs COPE centre

At the very least, that’s a lot of scrap metal to be had, which means money to be made. People have become reliant on the scrap metal trade. Although it is illegal there are still communities using basic metal detectors and small shovels to check paddy fields and forest for metal they can sell. Children earn money by collecting metal and selling it to scrap metal merchants. Scrap dealers pay less than 25 cents a mile which is enough incentive for poor families to take the risk.

It also means a lot of UXO’s (unexploded ordnances – or ‘bombies’ as they are known in Laos.

Mr Ta COPE visitor centre

Mr Ta COPE visitor centre

Mr Ta was fishing with two of his sons, aged 8 and 10, when he found a zombie lying in the ground. He knew it was dangerous but he had heard that you could use the explosive inside to catch fish. He sent his children behind a tree and crawled up to the zombie. As soon as he touched it it exploded. His sons ran from the terrifying noise – when they returned they had to take care of their father, who was losing blood from his terrible injuries. The dragged him into the boat and rowed back to the village. In total it took nine hours for him to reach medical help. Ta lost both arms and an eye. After returning home from hospital his life was very difficult – Ta described how he had to “eat like a dog”.Ta was not aware that there were services available to help him; he was, fortunately, brought to the CMR yay a UXO clearance team. He received three different types of arms that enabled him to be much more independent and to play a larger role in his family Ta went on to become an advocate fro an international ban on cluster munitions and traveled to Oslo in 2010 to see the singing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. He continues to campaign for countries to sign the ban and implement its obligations.

There are some good stories too. Since 1995 the US has invested over UDS$60 million dollars to clear and safely dispose of UX in Laos, and deliver education to people in at-risk areas. In June 2014, the US announced that it was increasing its contribution to the UXO effort from $9 million to $12 million per hear. In October it announced that it would provide an additional $1.5 million to COPE to expand the provision of free, local access to prostheses and other mobility devices as well as quality physical rehabilitation services throughout the country.

Prosthesis COPE Laos

What is COPE?

COPE (Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise) was founded in 1997 focused on working with Lao health authorities in developing quality services for people with disabilities.

COPE Connect began in 2009 to make services available in remote areas. Inspired by a boy named Santar it has a powerful outreach programme, and shows and how much difference a prosthetic can make.

Santar is from Muang Sin, in the far northwest corner of LAOS. COPE staff on holiday there heard about a little boy who had been in involved in an accident some years before. After some searching the village was located and there, in one of four houses, sat 8-year-old Santar, depressed and withdrawn. He had been hit by a sugar cane truck two years before, losing one leg and badly damaging the other. He had been confined to the house since.

Santar COPE Connect Laos

Some months later he made the 24-hour bus journey to Vientiane. Surgeons operated to correct his left foot and fitted a prosthesis for his right leg. After four months of physiotherapy Santar returned home and returned to school. A few years later Santar returned to Vientiane to study, the pictures tell their own story.Santar COPE Connect

What can you do?

Make a donation to COPE!

This is the best present you could imagine, giving someone an improved life through mobility. Here are examples of what your donation will go towards. It’s easy to make a difference here in Laos.

  • US$10 – a developmental toy for a child with a disability
  • US$ 15 – Food for a week
  • US$ 30 – Rehabilitation equipment
  • US$ 10 – A developmental toy for a child with a disability
  • US$ 15 – Food for a week
  • US$ 30 – Rehabilitation equipment
  • US$ 40 – Special Chair for a child with a disability
  • US$ 75 – Prosthetic leg
  • US$ 150 – Prosthetic Arm
  • US$ 200 – Complete Treatment
  • US$ 250 – Club Foot Treatment

Donate and Make a Difference – We did!


[1] Mekong: a river rising. Guardian Newspaper 26 November 2015. Accessed 29 November 2015.

[2] COPE visitor Handbook