Laline Paull’s debut novel is set inside a hive of bees. The protagonist, and heroine of the tale, is lowly sanitation worker Flora 717. Straight from the start it’s obvious Flora is a special case. Bright, sharp, inquisitive and strong. The backdrop of the hive is seen from her perspective, as she evolves from naïve outsider to determined veteran.

In relative terms her switch is rather fast. Such is the life of an insect. However, in the early chapters there is a slight lag. It isn’t immediately dealt with in a smooth fashion. Paull has to present certain cases and events to build up Flora’s – and the reader’s – understanding of hive life. Information that serves 717 later on in the tale.

As Flora absorbs this we take in the world that Paull creates. From cold insect perspectives (they have no qualms about acts of genocide for the greater good of the Queen) to the rigid structure of the society they occupy. All done for “devotion,” an addictive chemical release from the Queen that brings about glee. Always with the mantra: “Accept, obey, serve.”

Throughout the tale Paull interchanges bee physiology with anthropomorphism. This serves to keep Flora’s tale flowing, and after the first third it never lets up. The author also leaves much of the metaphors that apply to human society to the reader’s interpretation. How we perceive their individual messages will say much about our own personal views.

At the heart it is a tale of supressed love, the control of many by the elite few, how faith can be controlled by those that are faithless. It isn’t the political allegory Animal Farm was for its generation but it doesn’t attempt to simplify an ever increasingly complex world.

In the end The Bees is a sweet tale with a sting in its tale.

Pound Sterling

Pound Sterling

So after much mudslinging, with press speculation on the reasons why and possible motives, Raheem Sterling has joined Manchester City for a fee that could rise to £49M. Liverpool fans are soothing themselves with the loss of a prized asset by revelling in the amount received. Openly taunting at taking the coffers to the cleaners. To put it another way: Scousers are laughing at committing robbery. But as high as the fee sounds – and it does sound a lot – it’s the same fans that tried to convince the world £35M for Andy Carroll made sense. It wasn’t, whereas the Sterling figure won’t seem so stupid if he reaches his potential.

Therein lies the first problem. Is Sterling going to reach that “potential”? City fans have heard this term banded about a lot in recent years. Mario Balotelli was given all the chances in the world because he had lots of it. Rodwell and Sinclair were brought in as it was assumed City could fill them out into the players we all hoped they could be. Buying potential is a trip to the casino.

Sheikh Mansour is justified – on this occasion, especially – to feel he can bet on red or black a few times. In reality the chances are stacked higher in his favour than the slightly less than half a roulette spin offers. If Raheem becomes the next big young talent his value will quickly eclipse the £49M shelled out. Take Paul Pogba, another City target, the fee floating around for him currently stands at £71M. This is with the proviso he still hasn’t reached his full potential.

Transfer fees will always be a bone of contention. They continue to rise in a time when the world is facing tough austerity measures and countries like Greece face economic collapse. To make matters worse, they continue to rise from an already over-inflated base line. Yes, £49M is a lot. But it also happens to be the market value for a young promising, home-grown talent.

What I find more disturbing than the price is the treatment of a young twenty year old by members of the press, former teammates and “fans.” Stevie G, the Liverpool legend that never won a league title, not so subtlety sounded Sterling out as unprofessional and possessing a bad attitude when comparing him to the new Liverpool captain Jordan Horrenduson. Nice to know Steven helped nurture that talent under his watch.

Gerrard is obviously offended that a player would choose to leave his club for a rival. It makes the statement that the modern day professional sees Liverpool as a place less likely to collect titles. He should remind himself he once thought the same and agreed to join Chelsea, only changing his mind when the threats from fans came in.

Raheem has also faced disgusting abuse and threats to his wellbeing along with his daughter’s. He has stood tall and will see out the storm. Hopefully there’ll be an added element of protection surrounding him during this time. And perhaps a little TLC will work wonders too. I can’t begin to imagine how he feels reading such threats when his own father was murdered back when Raheem was only nine years of age.

Jamie Carragher has also been outspoken and condemned Sterling. It doesn’t come from the mouth of a neutral Sky Sports presenter. He lacks the ability of Gary Neville, who can be a Manchester United man at heart but still speak sense, of reporting the news rather than opinion as fact. He clearly wanted Sterling to stay and arrogantly assumes it will be better for Raheem if he did. Apart from the argument he would get more game time at Liverpool, it is founded on nothing more than blinkered hearsay.

It’s typical of the anti-City media to turn the transfers of the Citizens into a carnival while applauding preferred click-bait teams for their market endeavours. Memphis Depay, not exactly a snip at £25M, has been packaged as future world-beater. I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t say either way. It seems only bitter former pros and bad journalists can see future events with any clarity. To top off this sentiment, SportYapper notified users today Sterling had asked for a nap during his Man City medical.

Back to the price, it also needs to be noted QPR receive a slice as part of their sell-on clause. This will have ramped it up. Add this to the home grown quota he fills, along Liverpool’s reluctance to sell, and it’s less grotesque. The price tag will hang heavy for a while. Di Maria still carries his around in a wheelbarrow. All Raheem Sterling can do is produce form on the field. With every successful game the pounds will drop away. With success he can prove this was never about cash but about football.

About winning.