Friday, December 29, 2006

Lawnmower Story

I've got just over fifty minutes before I have to be doing something else. I could count to three thousand, but that might take too long.

It would be okay to start with. One, two, three, four, five, six, they don't take very long to say. But when you get to two thousand seven hundred and seventy seven it might start to take too long. Too many syllables you see. Too much time.

Time. It's on your side and it flies when you're having fun.

I remember when I used to have double French at school with Monsieur Trim. He used to teach German as well but the Herr Trim jokes had worn a bit thin by the fourth year.

"Time", I used to say to myself, "is on my side. The lesson has to end, at some point the buzzer will go, I will pack my bag, and be on the coach home".

Even though I knew this there was still the nagging doubt. That time would stand still and I would be forced to spend eternity in double French. Although if you think about it, if the lesson was to last for eternity the concept of it being a double lesson couldn't exist, since eternity is infinite and infinity is not divisible by two.

I knew my maths lessons would come in handy one day.

What then am I to do with the thirty five minutes that now remain? What do other people do with their time? I'll tell you what they do, they go around fondling lawnmowers. I know they do because I saw it on television once. There was a man on television wearing a blindfold and fondling lawnmowers. He identified ten different lawnmowers without the use of his eyes. I don't mean lawnmowers as in your Flymo Super Hover with detachable grass harness, I mean antique lawnmowers. It was truly a sight to behold. A grown man, in a blindfold, running his fingers over blades, handles and cogs, then standing up and saying, with some degree of pride, "Yes, I think that one is a Smith and Chambers Ten Inch Greenback, 1935".

Yet despite the fact that during every single second of this 'feat' I was repeating the phrase "You fucking sad bastard" in my head, I couldn't help but be in awe of this man. He had used his time. Granted he had used it to stumble around in the dark touching up lawnmowers, but he had found a purpose, a niche.

The television programme was called YOU BET!, the rules of which are as difficult to understand as the rules of skittles. Somebody somewhere had devised it. They had sat down, perhaps with others, and invented it, and pitched it. No-one had asked them to. It wasn't necessary. The world would have merrily continued spinning on its axis without YOU BET!.

And if your faith in the future of the human race isn't completely wiped out by the fact that someone had invented it, it must be completely fucked by the fact that someone thought it would be a good idea to broadcast it on prime-time television. "Could anything in the entire universe be more unnecessary?" I had to ask myself. The answer I didn't want to hear was that a new series of "Last Of The Summer Wine" would soon be starting.

And they say that British TV is the best in the world.

Someone once said that twenty-four hours is a long time in politics. The truth is that twenty-four hours is the same time anywhere. It all depends on what order you want to take them in and whether or not you put them to good use.


Deal or No Deal

How in the fucking name of fuckity fuck did this sorry excuse for entertainment ever make it onto our television screens?

The premise that one person randomly choosing numbers somehow constitutes anything even remotely approaching excitement is utterly absurd.

The "Christmas Special" was on. The whole thing lasted an hour. People watched it on TV. There were people in the audience. They were getting excited about people opening boxes. The people opening the boxes were saying things like "I'll do my best for you", and offering 'tactical advice'.


So this is it, there's no grey area. You're either a moron, and you like DOND, or you're momentarily not a cunt and you think DOND is the sorriest heap of shit ever to disgrace television.

John Logie Baird must be turning in his grave.

Televisual sputum.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Walking Gingerly: A Guide

Icy pavements and snowy sidewalks abound as the Winter Weather Wagon crawls over the brow of Christmas Hill. There's nothing quite like the smell of freshly gritted tarmac to put the spring in your step, and whilst iffy alliteration can't splinter your coccyx, be warned. Pride may come before a fall, but what comes after?

Whether it's torn trousers, a bruised bottom, or just plain hospitalisation, this Christmas you'll be going absolutely nowhere without my Guide To Walking Gingerly. Follow the guide carefully and Christmas rambling will be as easy as falling off a yule log.

1 Shoe Selection

The importance of shoe selection cannot be emphasised enough as far as walking gingerly is concerned. What you're after in this sort of weather is a boot/shoe with a sturdy grip and strong ankle support. Don't be afraid to customise old wellies with sequins, buttons, or screwed up Penguin wrappers.

2 Centre Of Gravity

Poise and balance are the order of the day if you're going to get from A to C without involving your B. To ensure that your centre of gravity is going to maximise velocity and friction, while at the same time minimising embarrassment, use the following equation:

Divide your weight in newtons by your height in fathoms, multiply by a factor of two, or your mean stride length in feet over a distance of one furlong - whichever is the greater. Find the cube root of this amount and the resultant figure is the weight, in pounds, of fresh fruit which you should put into any available pocket.

3 Luck

If at this stage you're still falling over the chances are that you're either clumsy, or extremely unlucky. But, as in all aspects of life, you make your own luck and take it where you find it. To increase your 'luck ratio' simply stay indoors, avoid ice altogether (except in drinks), and have a happy and bruise-free Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Twelve Days Of Christmas

I saw my two daughters in their first Nativity Play this week. It was a heart-warming and surreal affair. Singing donkeys playing xylophones and stuff, you know how it is. It reminded me of the unswerving and overwhelming love I have for my children, and it reminded me of Christmas. And when I thought about love and about Christmas it brought to mind the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, a song I don't think I've ever heard sung properly.

I mean I've heard it attempted. Everyone at least gets it right up until five gold rings. In fact the whole song revolves around five gold rings. If you've forgotten how many pipers are piping, or lords are a-leaping you can rest assured that on the fifth day it was DEFINITELY five gold rings that my true love gave to me. And if you sing it with enough gusto the rest of the song hardly matters. Everything between five gold rings and a partridge in a pear tree is sung as the longest word that has ever appeared in a song.

"Fourcallingbirdsthreefrenchhenstwoturtledoves, AND A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREEEEEE."

Anyway. The thing is, I'm reckoning that this "true love" person was one hell of a rich mother-fucker, and obviously I'm having to make a few assumptions.

Firstly there's the packaging issue. Most of the stuff is alive, so we're not in bubble-wrap territory. And what's the deal with all the live creatures anyway? What is the method behind the madness? Why a pear tree? Was it just the alliteration?


I'm not particularly concerned with the events leading up to the twelve days of Christmas, and I'm not overly worried about understanding the psyche behind the purchases. I'm more interested in using as much hapless rhetoric and assumptive absurdity as possible. I'm thinking the deliveries were made in person, by the "True Love". Most of the information I have on prices is going to have to be pretty sketchy. I'm figuring that the whole lot is going to be pretty expensive, so in the absence of fact there'll be a bit of educated guesswork along the way.

For the purposes of this exercise, "My True Love" is a he/him/boyfriend, and "Me" is a she/her/girlfriend. And if you've got a problem with that, stop reading now.



Ok. So. Day one. The first day of Christmas. A partridge in a pear tree.

Now a pear tree, depending on the type of pear, is going to set you back about £17. The thing is, where the cost of this whole twelve days of Christmas thing starts to mount up, is the fact that each of the gifts is duplicated on each of the remaining days. So a partridge in a pear tree is given on the first day and each of the remaining eleven days.

Yes, I know, it's complicated.

Partridge meat costs about £7 per kilogram and the average weight of a partridge is about 500 grams, so that's about £3.50 per partridge. But how do you compare the cost of a dead partridge to a live one? I could compare the price of a pig to the price of bacon and work out some sort of dead:alive cost ratio index but, to be honest, I don't think there's a lot of point comparing a pig to a partridge. Turkey seems more festive, and more apt. I don't know if turkey prices go up at Christmas, necessarily. It's been a while since I studied supply and demand and now I'm looking into this, it's apparent that I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

Ok, major assumptions. You're going to have to run with me on this.

You can pick up a box of 10 dead partridge(s) for £47. Call it a fiver per partridge. Now, thinking out loud here, but thinking slowly... a... live... partridge... must... cost... less... than... a... dead... one. Right?

I mean, if you're going to sell ten dead partridge in a box, there has to be some sort of mark-up, unless you've raised them since they were eggs, or whatever. I can't imagine that you'd get a lot of waste product from a dead partridge. Do they use their feathers on shuttlecocks or anything? Not sure. Then there are economies of scale. If you buy in bulk the price per partridge has to be less than buying individual partridge. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that a live partridge is probably going to cost about three quid. This will fall nicely in line with the £17 pear tree and make things easier to work out when the time comes.

There's no point in making it more complicated than it has to be, yeah?

Moving on. Turtle doves.

Day one was sweet. Granted that perfume might have been a more suitable choice, but the partridge and pear tree were a lovely thought. It probably would have been a bit of a surprise to get another partridge and another pear tree on day two, but the two turtle doves would have been a pleasant distraction. Fluttering away. Being turtle doves.

Now my basic knowledge of turtle doves is pretty slim as, coincidentally, is my knowledge of turtles and, indeed, doves. I'm more of a "know a little about a lot" kind of bloke. That's me.

Turtle doves are, essentially, free. They "occur" naturally. Although so do partridges and pear trees, and that didn't stop me putting a price on them. By my reckoning turtle doves are posh doves, and doves are posh pigeons. And racing pigeons are also posh pigeons. So by that rationale I'm thinking that a turtle dove would cost about the same as a posh racing pigeon. Which is about fifty quid. Two ponies. A tenth of a monkey.

On day three the alarm bells will have started ringing. They might be barely audible, like someone breaking into a butcher's around the corner from your house, but they're definitely there. Another partridge in a pear tree - the novelty is beginning to wear a bit thin. Two more turtle doves - blimey, they must have set you back about £100. And now three French hens.

It's a double whammy. The bird fixation, and the arithmetic progression. I'm guessing that if you call a hen French, that makes it a French hen. It won't cluck with an accent and it's not likely to get up when the La Marseillaise starts playing any more than a jar of French mustard would. On this basis a hen costs about a fiver.

At this point she asks him how long this is all going to last. And he tells her.

Day four. The alarm bell is next door. She's already made space in the garden for the fourth pear tree and the partridge have never looked so at home. They're roosting with the turtle doves.


Three French hens become six French hens, like some sort of hackneyed meiosis, and fuck me if it's not more fucking birds. Four calling birds or, to be more accurate, four collie birds.

Don't panic though. In the same way as turtle doves ARE NOT some sort of crazy seaweed sprig carrying ocean-dwellers of peace, collie birds have nothing to do with sheepdogs. The word collie or "colly" actually comes from an old word meaning coal or "coal". Thus a collie bird, now more familiarly referred to as a calling bird, is actually a blackbird. And if you've done the maths already, you're right. At the end of the twelfth day there will be enough to make one and a half dainty dishes to set before the king.

I'm not sure how much blackbirds cost, and neither does the internet, so the blackbirds didn't cost anything, okay? He caught them. At the park or somewhere. And put them into cages. Until the pear trees were available.

You'd be forgiven, if you were her, for thinking that enough was enough. By the end of day four she's looking at four pear trees populated by four partridges, eight turtle doves, and four calling birds. And she's had to build a coop for the six French hens. There's already enough room for eight more pear trees, so the fifth one isnt a problem.

The rest of the birds are unloaded from the van (which is the same van as the previous day) and he shuts the doors and walks towards her - she's standing in the porch. There are no obvious signs of other life shoved up or down his sweater. No twittering, chirping, squawking, or tweeting eminates from his slacks. He's got five of something, she's certain, but five of what? What will she have to house forty of in the not too distant future? He reaches into his pocket. His pocket Mind! And takes out five gold rings.

Argos. Ten pound a pop. Sorted.

The phew from her lips could be heard within a ten mile radius. The gasp the following day, twelve. Buttered up by a day's worth of jewellery, he saw a window of opportunity and, after arriving before dawn broke, in a slightly larger van, began unloading his feather orientated cargo.

Six geese-a-laying enter the fray.

Now at this point she's clearly upset, she's having nightmares about being ravaged by a dozen dodos in half a dozen days time, and is about to tell him that enough is enough. So he makes a promise. No more birds after tomorrow. And he'd stop sooner but they're on order. And look, you've got ten gold rings. So she says okay, as he's promised, and wonders if five gold rings on each finger will still allow her to knit.

A decent goose is going to set you back about £120, whether it's a-laying or not. The a-laying bit is something of a red herring. You could probably get a deal by buying them in bulk. Say six for £600. That's if you knew someone who sold geese in bulk.

You could haggle for a gaggle.

That's pure gold.

So she knew they were coming and that they'd have feathers. She knew there would be seven of them. Shit. That meant within a week there would be forty-two of them. Fuck. Whilst his avian MO would have stopped, that would still leave her having to look after 184 birds, and that's not counting any hatched geese (a-laying my arse). But she was ready for anything, pretty much, or she thought she was.

Her suspicions were aroused when he insisted on having a pond landscaped into her back garden (he called in a favour). It was a big pond, you could probably fit... oooooooh... forty-two swans in that (£300 each). To be honest, having swans swimming in a pond in your back garden would be pretty cool and, for a split second, she almost regretted enforcing his bird-gift embargo. But only for a split second. He had the opportunity to redeem himself over the next few days and she had the opportunity to develop Dove Fancier's Lung.

The eighth day and a new dawn, ushered in with the sort of racket you might associate with the sound that nearly seventy birds make. And hark? Is that the sound of cow-bells coming from the large truck that has pulled into the driveway? Forming not so much a queue of presents, more the failed auditions from some sort of demented Noah film, the possibly soon-to-be ex-boyfriend proudly parades the next stage in his attempted woo.

Eight maids-a-milking.

On the plus side she now had eight people who could help her gather eggs, scatter seed, and clean the bird shit off her windows. There would be an endless supply of milk, which could domino into cheese, butter, and pear yogurt production. And they downside? IN FOUR DAYS TIME THERE WOULD BE FORTY COWS IN HER FUCKING GARDEN.

At this point a wry smile crawls across his face. Although because it's only a joke that he's aware of, and because she is about to stove his skull in with a pail, it quickly crawls off again. He explains that seven of the cows are going back, and she'll only be left with one cow, and the maids will have to take it in turns a-milking it. Her face defines the antithesis of sidesplitting.

Anyhow, cows cost a grand, exactly. And maids cost...


Here's the possible flaw in my interpretation of The Twelve Days Of Christmas. I'm wanting to go down the Human Ownership route. Not so much because I have a penchant for slavery, but more that I've gone so far down this absurd road, it would be a shame to have to turn back. But where can you buy human life on the internet?

You have to love rhetoric.

It won't work though. I've got to consider pipers piping and drummers drumming. Ladies dancing I can change to something more noughties, like lapdancing (£20/dance). And everyone knows that Lords are a snip at £2,000, or at least that's how much they think people can be bought for. I'm going to have to tar maids, pipers and drummers with the same metaphorical minimum wage brush, and base their cost on a 35 hour working week. It would mean an ongoing wage-bill after The Twelve Days Of Christmas were over... but that could always be offset by selling goose eggs and dairy produce... although with only one cow and 40 maids to pay... except their wages wouldn't be her problem... maybe he'd have to draw up some sort of pre-nuptial agreement... I'm rambling.

In any case, who cares what happened after?

Because I'm feeling generous the maids get five pounds an hour for a seven hour day. End of.

Thus eight maids-a-milking begets nine-ladies dancing begets ten lords-a-leaping begets eleven pipers piping begets twelve drummers drumming.

This is how you end an incredibly tedious story.

By the end of the twelfth day of Christmas her garden comprises 12 pear trees and 12 partridges, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds, 42 geese, and 42 swans. That's 184 birds plus sundry goslings, and one cow. 140 people variously milk, dance, leap, pipe and drum at her house every day, and despite the fact that she is also the owner of 40 gold rings, her life is actually a living hell.

And the value of these gifts? Well, if my calculations are correct, the total value of the gifts, as at the end of the twelfth day of Christmas, is £87,265.

The Twelve Days of Christmas actually start on Boxing day and finish on Epiphany. If you want to you can treat this as ironic. My guess is he forgot to buy her something for Christmas and was trying to make it up to her. I wonder who had the epiphany?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Present

When I was about sixteen I wanted a guitar.

I'd wanted a guitar for quite a few months. I wanted a guitar more than I wanted anything else. Christmas was coming. So I asked for a guitar. I would have been happy with a guitar and nothing else. But no guitar shapes appeared under the Christmas tree in the lead up to Christmas Day.

Christmas Morning I went to church with my family. I think I might have prayed for a guitar. Then, after mass, we went back home for breakfast. And, after breakfast, we all sat in the lounge, waiting to begin the present opening. I was already pretty gutted at this point. Still no guitar-shaped presents under the tree. Not even the hint of one (whatever that actually means). But despite this, despite my palpable sadness, there was the merest hint of tangible excitement. Like a joke that was only being played on me. So when it came to handing out the presents it seemed both odd and strangely appropriate that I should be handed the first one.

It was about eight inches long and four inches across. But not rectangular. It was weirdly shaped. And a bit nobbly in places. No audible moving parts - a shake confirmed this. I was perplexed. My face must have been a creative combination of sadness, excitement, and puzzlement.


I opened it.

I opened it, and inside the wrapping paper, there, in my hands, my trembling hands, was a guitar. A plastic guitar. It was yellow, and had a red back. With rubber bands for strings. Three rubber bands forming six strings. I strummed it in my sorrow, fighting back tears. Every twang accompanied by my laughing family.

"Look on the back," my Dad said. So I did. And there. There sellotaped on the back of the plastic guitar was a yellow square of paper. Blue ink. LOOK UNDER YOUR BED.

I looked up at them first. Saw their beaming faces. And ran upstairs. And saw My Guitar. And cried.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My GENEsis™

Far be it for me to diss God.

After all, God's omnipotent and that. But it seems to me that the whole orderGodcreatedtheworldin thing doesn't make a great deal of sense. Normally I wouldn't question The Almighty, per se, but God, if you're reading this, here's the order I think you should have done it in, just in case you're planning another. Here's My GENEsis

Day One: Light
Day Two:
Sun and moon and stars

Day Three:

Day Four:

Day Five:
Had a rest

Day Six:
Birds and sea creatures

Day Seven:
Land creatures and "man"

Creating light first obviously made everything else easier, anyone who has tried to find matches in a power cut will tell you that. I think God was spot on as far as creating light first is concerned, so a big thumbs up there. Plus it gave God night and day, a timescale to work with straight away. I mean we've all been there. Falling asleep, waking up wondering whether or not it's day or night. Clocks weren't part of the plan, neither were curtains, and nor was alcohol. This much we know. So whilst in hindsight light might seem the obvious thing to create first, we should give God praise where praise is due. God had to invent light first. No mean feat. God also made it really fast. But I'm not sure why.

I used to think the speed of light was the time it took for you to flick a light switch and the bulb to come on. I've lost count of the number of times I've stood, stopwatch in hand, SWITCHONSTARTLIGHTSTOP. When God created light They created fear. No-one should be afraid of the dark. What is the dark? It's nothing. Blackness. It's light you should be afraid of. Light should scare the shit out of you. Darkness should be embraced and thanked.

I know that some people say, "Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?" Obviously, at this stage in creation, those people didn't exist, that's why God had never heard this statement before. To be honest, I don't normally listen to those sorts of people, because they're wankers. God is exactly like me in this respect, except the bit about thinking that they're wankers. God did the lazy version of creation. When God did it They tried to put off the boring tasks for a couple of days. Procrastination is an artform, it's just that no-one can be bothered to publicise it. In My GENEsis though, those wan...people were, or would have probably been, right. Once God had created light I think They would have been better off getting the more boring tasks out of the way. That way God could really get God's teeth into the stuff God needed to do later on in the week.

Not that it was called a week yet.

The sun and the moon wouldn't be too difficult. I'm thinking some sort of paper mâché affair for the moon, and an enormous flaming orange for the sun, but making all those stars must have been really boring. Of course I know what you're thinking.

Making stars? Boring? Are you mad?


The laying-down-plenty-of-newspaper-to-catch-the-extraneous-glitter process is one I'm totally aware of. But don't forget, every glitter star needs a dab of glue. Trillions of squillions of dabs of glue, tons of glitter. Do you have any idea how much a ton of glitter weighs? Thought not. So, you see, I'm right. There was absolutely no point trying to put it off until the fourth day. God should have got that shit out of the way as soon as possible.

Time is supposed to fly when you're having fun, so after the tedium of the second day, the third day was bound to fly by. I'm guessing that by the third day God would probably have been a bit parched, but rather than creating water I think land would have been the better option. It seems a bit shortsighted to create water then land.

1. Where are you going to put it?

2. It's not a good time to find out that you can't swim.

It's bad enough having to stand on a towel to make sure your feet are dry when you put your socks back on. Without land there wouldn't even be anywhere to put your towel. You'd be fucked. God would have got soaked creating water first, and there would have been nowhere to dry off for at least a day. Major pruniness. So it would be land first for me, every time. It's common sense. I can imagine the ribbing God got about the Land/Water Water/Land mix-up at God Meetings for millennia afterwards.

"Oh no."
"You didn't?"

Water on the fourth day is the natural follow up to land. It would have been a case of just filling in the gaps. Probably using some sort of giant ewer. All flamboyant and bejeweled with a flaring spout. A proper Godjug. Ace.

The fifth day should have been the rest day. God still had birds and sea creatures and land creatures to create. Instead of being absolutely knackered and knocking out a load of weird looking stuff, a day of rest would have been ideal. But I don't mean rest as in "do nothing". Maybe just kick back on some land, write a few lists, make a plan, design a few creatures, think things through, doodle if absolutely necessary. The next couple of days would determine what was going to populate the planet. So instead of making it look like a rush job (duck billed platypuses, wasps, horses) God could have made some creatures a bit more user-friendly (added steps, or zipped mouths, or detachable bottoms).

Not only that but if God had rested on the fifth day, Friday would be The Sabbath. Bonus.

On day six God would then be completely refreshed to create the beasts of the sea and the air, and on Sunday, I mean the seventh day, he would have had plenty of creature creating experience from the previous day to sort out cattle and what have you. Since it was always God's intention to make man in God's own image (apart from being able to fly - tut)), that job was sorted from day one. It stands to reason, if you were God and you created man on the seventh day instead of the sixth, you wouldn't have to worry about them fucking everything up on your day off.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Star Signs #1


The last couple of weeks have left you feeling as strange as a beard with no moustache. However, an older friend, or partner, or someone younger than you, possibly a stranger, may set you back on the right track. The full moon on the 23rd might well be the turning point in the month. Every day you get older. Your lucky name is Gregory and destiny sees you climbing a ladder with a bucket in both hands.


Cheer up, it may never happen. Except, perhaps, unfortunately, it already has, and in a big way. Sweep it under the carpet and you’re a fool to yourself, leave it out in the open and who knows? Give anyone an inch and before you know it they’ve taken a foot, much more than that and you haven’t got a leg to stand on. Fishy. Your lucky colour is cerise and destiny has you riding a horse naked.


The month starts well after the new moon on the 8th rising up to its peak, plateauing mid-month, falling slightly, stopping completely, turning round, remembering its left the gas on at home and then getting started again (although slightly slower than before). Someone with hair may ask your advice on a matter that could, inevitably, decide the future of the human race. So be careful. Your lucky animal is elk and destiny shouts your name from scaffolding.


Things may seem a little tight around the mid-month full moon, but resist the urge to prostitute yourself for the sake of a few pence (you’ve probably only got two kidneys!) Before the month is out, somewhere around the 25th, it’s quite possible that all your financial troubles will be temporarily behind you and someone who has recently been married may be asking to borrow money. Your lucky biscuit is lemon puff and destiny misreads a bus timetable.


The past mocks you like a backward cousin whilst the present and future conspire like two grotesque twin god-nieces. A chance meeting with K, R, N or A around the 3rd of the month (or the 4th to the 16th) could well be the start of a beautiful relationship, or at least a relationship or some sort, or maybe not. It’s difficult to say. Your lucky place is Battersea and destiny sees you crying like a baby.


Mixing friends and money is a little like asking Michael Jackson to judge a bonny baby competition right now. Laughter may be the best medicine but pride comes before a fall. Maybe it’s time to install that power shower you’ve wanted for so long or change your name by deed poll. Either way it’s generally the same old same old. Get a life. Your lucky fruit is kumquat and destiny has you reaching for a dictionary.


Due to a tricky aspect between Mars and Uranus it’s unlikely that you’ll be eating any chocolate for the rest of the year. That said, the future looks queerly optimistic. Nothing you do this month will go wrong, everyone will agree with everything you say, and you might as well try to get into the cinema without paying. It might just work! Don’t forget that Leos don’t believe in astrology. Your lucky profession is upholsterer and destiny spells the word trousers in sequins.


The legacy of November lives on throughout December. If you thought your love life couldn’t get any worse then think again. You’re as likely to meet a tall dark stranger as you are a midget albino stranger, or even one you know already. Take up a hobby. Buy a kite. Start collecting teaspoons. Count to three million. For crying out loud. Your lucky garment is a tunic and destiny sees a cloud shaped like an ice cream.


More than ever, like your sign, your life is a constant balancing act. There can sometimes be a fine line between fantasy and reality but the only way you’re likely to find out the difference is the hard way. For the time being you’re probably naïve enough to plod along at least appearing to acknowledge the difference between the two. Your lucky sense is smell and destiny buys you food which is approaching its sell by date.


Your love life might well be under the spotlight right now, but what you do in the privacy of your own home is of no concern to me. Either there’s a gloomy cloud on the horizon or I’ve just spilt some hot chocolate on my tarot cards. Just in case, ring all of your known living relatives every day for the whole month. I wouldn’t want anything on my conscience. Your lucky nut is almond and destiny sees you arrested for indecent exposure.


You’re at odds with the whole world this month. If the fists are flying then it’s probably down to you. Hardly surprising since everyone you speak to seems to want to take it outside. With Jupiter in Taurus being challenged by Neptune the whole thing is likely to go off in a big way. Do you want some? Your lucky drink is beer and destiny wins a beauty contest by accident.


Yesterday, all your troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Things can only get better. The only way is up. So come on feel the noise, girls grab the boys, we get wild wild wild. You’re lucky and density is the measure of a physical quantity per unit of length area or volume.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Rubber stamping was the favourite part of Marlon's work. If something needed rubber stamping, Marlon was your man.

Although Marlon only owned two rubber stamps they were always inked up and ready for action. Because of the nature of Marlon's work for the Monopolies Commission his "ACCEPT" stamp didn't get
that much use whereas, at the other end of the stamping spectrum, barely a day went by without his "REJECT" stamp being hoisted down from its rack. That particular rubber stamp had to be replaced on a fairly regular basis such was the force with which he carried out his daily tasks. And when Marlon needed a new rubber stamp, he rang Phil Hart in office supplies.

Phil had big problems that morning, and he was annoyed. Not only had he just been in a car accident, but he also couldn't find a

Just after he had parked his car in his car parking space, his car had been hit by one of the office lorries. And when he got to his desk he decided that he would try to write down the sequence of events, as he had seen them, while they were still fresh in his memory. The only problem he was having was that he couldn't think of anything to write except that he had been hit by an oncoming stationery lorry.

And even removing the word oncoming didn't make it sound a lot better...

And he couldn't remember how to spell 'stationery' anyway...

And he didn't have a dictionary to hand.

But, for some unknown reason, he did have a thesaurus, so he checked it there...

But but even then, when he read it back to himself...

But but but
that was what had happened. Saying his car had been hit by a paper lorry sounded even worse.

This, then, was the moment that Phil tried to find a rubber, and couldn't find one.

The reason for this is because of what happens to rubbers.

When you use a pen, a biro, you write with it until you lose it, or it runs out of ink. Mainly when it runs out of ink, because a lost biro is never
really lost. Anyway, biro (I'm guessing biro are like sheep) are a different issue entirely. Basically they're cunts. A biro can run out at any moment. Whether they appear to have a whole barrel of ink, or there seems to be none at all, a biro can give up the ghost precisely when it wants to and exactly when you least want it to. A rubber, on the other hand, can only ever be lost. You can't use a rubber until it runs out. You can't use a rubber until there's no rubber left; until you've rubbed it into extinction.

What happens with rubbers is that you use them when they are new. Then, after a while, one day, when you're bored, you write your name on them, or your initials, but you do it backwards so that you can use the rubber as some sort of primitive printing device. Later still, when you're even more bored, you break the rubber in half, usually around the point where you had previously stuck a pencil, or a biro, or a pair of plotting compasses into it. At this stage you convince yourself that you now have two rubbers and, eventually, you break the two rubbers you now have in half again, and lose four rubbers, or you just lose the two rubbers that you thought you had.

Phil was annoyed because he hadn't even had the chance to write his name on it yet.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Road

To a certain extent I owe my pleasant demeanour and general happy-go-luckiness to my nursery school teacher, Mrs Dab. The nursery, located just behind the launderette, was a portakabin, but, unlike the nursery, Mrs Dab was multi-story (sic). On sunny summer afternoons everyone would sit in the shade of The Old Oak Tree, just by the rubbish bins. After a while the smell adopted a therapeutic and sometimes even hypnotic/hallucinogenic effect.

Of all the stories Mrs Dab told only one has ever stuck in my memory. And this is it. The Road.


In a certain small village there was a certain road.

Not that there weren't any other roads, but this road was different.

It was different because no matter where you were going in the village; down to the chemist; shopping at the supermarket; visiting the doctor's surgery, there always seemed to be a better or quicker way of getting there.
As a result the road was barely used, if at all.

The road itself, though outwardly inanimate, had feelings. Most of the time it was under the impression that it wasn't really doing its job. In fact apart from keeping the pavements apart it did very little and the chances of it meeting of it getting any sort of promotion or meeting any nice looking minor A roads were slipping away, and it wasn't getting any younger.

Days passed, weeks passed, and time generally passed until one day, one very stormy day, the wind blew so hard that it blew the road clean away. It blew the road up and up and up and then carried it far far far away. And after it had been flying for many many many miles the road met up with gravity and it landed in the middle of a field.

The animals in the field could not make head or tail of this strange tarmaccy thing which had been thrust so suddenly upon them. They had all seen one before, and some of their late friends had, sadly, made some very close inspections. After a while though they all plucked up the courage to go and talk to the road. They soon found out that the road was very friendly and eventually ventured onto it, safe in the knowledge that they were not at any risk.

The days in the field passed quickly, and the road was really beginning to come to terms with its new friends, role, and general environment. Unfortunately after two weeks the field was bulldozed over to make way for a new housing estate.


Some people are incredibly impatient. They want it all and they want it all now. Give them an inch and they'll take a foot. What's wrong with them? Why can't they be happy with their lot? While some people are joining hands around the world and saying a prayer for the end to world hunger, there are others who would take the opportunity to try and set a new record for the biggest ever hokey-cokey.

Greed is a sickness which lies dormant in every person. Once woken, there is no cure. The only hope any of us have is that it can be sedated.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dead On Arrival

Death reflected in the madman's eyes. The pale Winter moon hung lifeless in the pale Winter sky.

The madman wiped his brow. Sweat glistened on the back of his hand. The thinning hair stretched across his balding scalp clung to his damp and pallid skin. He stared at his hand. It shook. He drew it to his mouth and slowly sucked the sweat from it. It tasted salty. It tasted of fear. It tasted of salty fear.

For the hundredth time he drew the rifle up to his shoulder and took aim through the telescopic sight. His body quivered mirthlessly as his insane brain played again and again the images of his madness. A jolly laugh. A rifle crack. A child's scream. Music to the ears of the madman. JFK would pale by comparison. Lee Harvey Oswald? A nobody.

He strained his ears for telltale sounds. Nothing but the chill December wind howling down the main street. He strained his eyes for telltale sights. He'd seen few if any cars since the start of his lonely vigil atop the building. A few worshippers had left a midnight mass at a nearby church, in fact all of them had, but since then only the biting breeze and odd snippets of drunken revelry had reached his ears.

Cradling the rifle he rubbed his hands together to revive the circulation. The frail dawn sun heralded the imminent fulfillment of his fantasy. Ecstasy beyond any sexual realm he had ever experienced or dreamed. The utter sensory nirvana that would soon be his.

It started.


Faint at first but growing more distinct as it approached his lofty perch. "The Doppler Effect." He mused in a moment of intellectual clarity. The jingle of trace bells getting louder and louder. The crack of the whip and the sound of hooves.


There in the sheer sunrise flew his game.

The madman prepared himself. His beady eye squinting as he took aim. Sharp and in focus reared his prey. The white beard. The red cheeks. Bespectacled eyes tired from the night's exertions. Eyes soon to be blank and sightless.

He tracked the target. Held his breath. At last his quarry had arrived. The moment had come.

Blood and brains scattered the sky. A crimson mist trailed the target's wake as it fell to the ground, staining its destination. The madman cackled hideously and looked down at his work.

Red on red. Grey matter on white hair. The murder of Father Christmas...

He stared blankly at the monitor in front of him, cracked his fingers and recalled the fantasy. If only. The madman in his brain seethed. He shook his head. How did the reindeer hooves make that noise?

The telephone broke him out of his daydream with a start and he began to type.

"I was thinking about this piece for my blog..."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Confession #1

I'm a lazy twat.

It's been ages since I wrote anything on here. And look, I have an archive already. It's called September 2006.

Go me.

There's no particular reason for my lack of words. Tuesday the 26th of September wasn't a landmark date for me. I didn't have anything specific planned before or after. I started this blog with good intentions, the very best. You can check. Contribute regularly and frequently, I thought. Keep up the good work, as regularly and frequently as possible, I thought. Then, as ever, the days of the week conspired against me. Time itself decided to let me know who was boss. And, before I knew it, before anyone knew it, it was over three weeks later. Three Fridays had been and gone. Three weekends had welcomed me into their arms as a chair-ridden God-aunt might, only to slap me into Monday at the earliest opportunity.

Bob Geldof didn't like Mondays, did he?

Me? I wouldn't go so far as to say I don't like them, although Monday is definitely 24 hours of overblown self-importance. For starters it purports (albeit successfully) to be start the week. Monday hijacks Sunday. If Saturday (see Saturday) is The Sabbath, and The Sabbath is the last day of the week, then Sunday should take the accolade. But it doesn't really, does it? I mean the week starts on Monday. Monday has actually grown a mouth and The Bible has grown a face and Monday has laughed in the face of The Bible. The Bible mind. It has prised The FDOTW Title from Sunday's pathetic, arthritis-ridden, limp-fingered grasp, when it was asleep.

Everything starts on Monday.

Diets, giving up smoking, work. And that's why I generally let Monday off. I allow it to have its eternal moment of prestige since, as a rule, people hate Mondays and their associated blues. Bank Holiday Mondays salvage some sort of latent heroism, but anywhere that isn't shut, or doesn't close early on them, is busy. That's if you're not spending half of them in bed anyway.

None of the rest of the days of the week like Monday either.

Tuesday is a shit day. It's really shit, I mean it, honestly, I'm not even kidding. Look it up if you don't believe me. Under: shit. The Russian language uses the name "second" for Tuesday. How rubbish is that? It's like the onset of the decimal week. Monday begets Tuesday, that's how shit Tuesday is, it couldn't get any shitter. What did you ever do on a Tuesday? You won't be able to remember. I promise. And don't try to claim that Shrove Tuesday is anything other than a pathetic effort by Tuesday's PR People to attempt to re-brand it as something other than eternally dull. You want a pancake? Have one. Don't wait.

Tuesday's only saving grace is that it isn't Monday.

Wednesday squats in the middle of the week like a female sheep. Laughing at its equidistance from weekends past and future. Wednesdays don't have to do anything, which makes them the smuggest day. They've got the most letters and they know it. None of them make sense. Two of them don't even have to be there. Wednesday is like an anagram of itself with two less letters. It's the fulcrum of the week. Whenever anyone tries to gauge weekly time it invariably revolves around Wednesday, without mentioning Wednesday. That's why Wednesday's smugness is largely negated by its anonymity. It's the worst day of the week to have a birthday.

Ash Wednesday isn't even worth mentioning. Whoops.

Thursday is the most boring day of the week.

Friday is the best day of the week. Fact. Thank Crunchie, Thank Goodness, Thank Fuck. Everyone looks forward to Friday (insert Robinson Crusoe joke here). And it's not even the fact that people look forward to it. They enjoy it while it lasts and rue its passing. Unlike the universally hated Monday, Friday carries off this worship with measured aplomb. The rest of the week aspires to be Friday. It doesn't pretend to be something it isn't, it's the climax of the week. Always has been. You want a long weekend? It starts on Friday. You want POETS Day? Every Friday. You want Good Friday? Have it.

Jesus died on a Friday and it's still called Good. That's how cool Friday is.

Saturday would be the best day of the week were it not for the fact that it only really exists, along with Sunday, as The Weekend. And Friday is better anyway. Saturday is The Sabbath, not Sunday. But Saturday has more than one identity crisis. Saturday wants to be Friday. It wants to be the day that everyone looks forward to. Sure people look forward to Saturday, but they also take it for granted. And it will never be Friday. If The Weekend had a day in between Saturday and Sunday - I'll call it Skipday for the sake of argument - then Saturday might be onto something.

It doesn't though.

Saturdays have a buddy. A partner in crime. They're both thick as thieves but Saturday bosses Sunday. It seeps into it and steals some of its hours. And Sunday doesn't do anything about it because Sunday is a pussy. Sunday, like Tuesday, suffers from being too close to Monday. It believes its own press. Sunday is The Day of Rest.

Lazy twat.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Here is a story about learning to drive and stuff. Like most of these tales, Tracy (my ex-wife) is involved at the beginning. Sorry it's not very well structured.

Tracy learned to drive when she was seventeen, and she's among the best drivers I know. I think she must have got fed up with driving me around because the day before my 27th (not sure about this) birthday there was a knock at our front door. She told me to go and answer the door, because she thought it was for me.

I had two quite independent thoughts at this point. The first was disappointment, because a three hour Simpsons omnibus was just about to start on the TV. The second was excitement, but only because I thought the person at the front door might be a stripper.

She also told me to put my shoes on. Which I did. NB It's easier to drive with footwear.

I opened the front door:

Me: Hello.
Him: Hello, my name's Lawrence...
Me: Excellent. I'm pleased for you.
Him: ...and I'm your driving instructor.

The good thing about my first driving lesson being a surprise was that I didn't have time to worry about it. Fear of learning to drive was probably always at the forefront of my mind before I could drive, or, more likely, fear of failure. I always thought that I would have to be as good a driver as, say, Tracy, or my Dad, to be able to pass my driving test. My Dad, incidentally, is and was the best driver I have ever known, and he passed third time.

The first time he took his test there had been a lot of press about Driving Examiners accepting bribes, so he tried to bribe them. The second time he threatened the Examiner with violence.

So I had my lesson. Which was fine, and it was booked as a block of eight, although the eight lessons I had were spread over about three months - due to holidays and broken bones (different story). The key to success is putting in the hours. In November of that year (my birthday is 15th August, btw) Tracy had a car accident, so I had to drive nearly everywhere when we went out together. When I was learning Tracy and I went to a wedding in Tunbridge Wells. She was ill but I couldn't drive on the motorway so we went as far as the North Circular (we were staying at my sister's in Walthamstow) where we stopped and I took over. It was a bit of a baptism of fire, and we ended up in Tottenham, but it was all experience.

Before I passed my test I rarely looked forward to driving anywhere. I enjoyed driving while I was doing it, it was the knowledge that I would have to drive somewhere that I didn't like. This is probably about confidence. And confidence is something that you can normally only accrue over time, unless you're a "natural".

I'd never had to drive before. There were always lifts to be cadged or public transport or shoe leather. But learning to drive is the most singularly useful skill I have ever been taught (apart from this thing this woman showed me, but I don't get to use that every day). And I failed my first test - statistically the safest drivers do. Apparently.

Driving Examiner: Thank you for that Mr Herbert, I'm sorry to have to tell you that you haven't passed. But what a lovely drive.

The way I see it, when you're 17 the previous three years of your life have been spent wondering how quickly your parents can get you to places. You're not bothered about risk perception or road etiquette. But by the time I got around to learning to drive I think I was a little bit more road savvy than the average 17 year old.

Now I love driving. And not only do I love driving, my life couldn't possibly function without being able to drive. It's something I regret not having done sooner.

The point is that you don't have to be as good a driver as the best driver you know to pass your driving test. You just have to be able to pass your driving test. Then, once you've passed, you can spend 50% of your driving time wondering how other drivers managed to do what you have done.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Crime Story

Imagine meeting yourself when you were younger. What would you notice first? How fat or thin you were? How short you were? How you hadn't really changed that much? Do you still wet your bed?

Slipping through holes in the string vest of time.

Once it was a theory.

Now it was a reality.

The invention that Travel Agents everywhere had been crying out for. People were bored of brain implants. The memories of virtual holidays did fade. Virtual holidays seemed like a good idea at the time until an outbreak of virtual Legionnaire's Disease wiped out an entire virtual hotel of virtual holidaymakers. After that there was a return to the old school. Real holidays. Go to the real seaside, get really wet, get really ripped off by local market traders, get real sand in your real sandwiches.

Have a gippy tummy.

It took everyone about three years to realise, again, why real holidays were so crap in the first place. Seven years for people who went on Club 18-30 Holidays.

Time was the key. Time Travel®. Not that there weren't any teething troubles. When Time Travel® was in its infancy, travel agents (or vacation brokers as they were known) were taken to the cleaners by everyone, including the elderly and the infirm. Granted they're not the sort of people who usually top the world's most wanted lists. The papers aren't normally filled with those sorts of headlines.


I don't think so.

That was the beauty of it.

But pre-meditated crime isn't about ability. It's not about whether you can do it, it's about whether you can do it and get away with it. That's why anyone does it. No-one commits these days believing that they'll be caught. Anyone who says the reason the crime rate is increasing is because of a fall in family values, poor education, lack of job prospects etc is, quite metaphorically, talking out of the top of their head. Which is as strange a place as any to find someone's arse. The reason the crime rate is going up is because more people believe that they won't be caught.

Anyway, people with incurable diseases, everyone at death's door, they all started queuing up to buy time travel holidays.

Ironically, no-one saw it coming.

Put yourself in their position. You've been given six months to live. What are you going to do? Wrap yourself up in a blanket and sit tight until your number's up? No way. You're going out with a bang. For two months you live it up. Soft drugs, hard drugs, drinking binges, orgies, wife swapping, husband swapping, house swapping parties. You try casual sex, formal sex, cybersex, phonesex, textsex, faxsex. Everything goes on credit. Then, when you've not so much burnt the candle at both ends but are about to turn into a puddle of wick and wax, you do a bank job or a post office job. Next you head to your nearest vacation broker to book a holiday back to the time of your conception and prevent your own birth.

Try including that one in the latest crime figures. As soon as you prevent your conception you disappear from the future. How can you get caught if you no longer exist?

Bloody marvellous.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Spam Story

Imagine a graph. The X axis displays age (in years), the Y axis quantifies an individual's interest, displayed as a percentage, in the size of things.

At age one your interest in the size of things is limited to between one and two percent. You only really care about who is going to change your nappy and where your next meal is coming from. As you get older your interest in the size of things duly increases. By the time you're thirty you'll be about 43% interested. How far is it to Coventry and if a bag of shopping weighs ten pounds, and if the average weekly cost of a family's shopping is fifty pounds.

The optimum interest level of any one person in the size of things cannot exceed 50%, otherwise the individual concerned would care more about the size of things than they didn't care about the size of things (the result of which is a size-related-fixated death). Maximum interest in the size of things is achieved at the age of 45, thereafter begins the descent into a non-size-fixated old age. Interest in the size of things decreases towards the individual's childhood levels until, at the age of 90, interest in the size of things is the same as the day you were born. And you're left wondering who is going to change your nappy and where is your next meal coming from?

This graph is depicted by the equation Y = 100(cosX sinX)

Something that I've always found hard to come to terms with is infinity. It's like the biggest thing you could possibly imagine but unimaginably bigger. I think it's the boundlessness and immeasureableness of infinity that leaves me stumped. I can't picture it.

Tell me something is as high as a cow, tell me it's as big as a mouse, tell me it's as small as a car. These are things that have a size to them. I'm a man. I know how high or big or small things are. But tell me that something is infinite and I'll either reach for the aspirin or just tut. It's no coincidence that infinite and irritate both start with an 'I' and end in 'TE'.

But I do have a fascination with the size of things. I'm about 38% interested.

When you're small more things are big. The classic example of this is Wagon Wheels. They used to be massive. You'd be hard pushed to finish them in one sitting. Now I'm older, Wagon Wheels are small, they don't block out the sun like they used to (and I'm sure they always used to have jam in them). A mile used to be a long way. There was no concept of the distance that light travels in a year. Anything more than a mile away was just miles away. As you get older things are far too specific.

Of course, not everything changes. There are things, laws, which will never change. Like being able to eat two school dinner spam fritters in one sitting. Of all the most bizarre and wondrous properties that the universe has (all those discovered, as yet undiscovered, and, if there is such a word, undiscoverable) the fact that it is, no matter how hungry you think you are, impossible to eat two school dinner spam fritters one after the other must be the most grotesque.

Some people say that in an infinite universe, anything is possible. They risk being lynched by an Anadin crazed mob, but they still say it. I would maintain that eating two school dinner spam fritters one after the other is the only thing that actually is impossible.

If you had an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number of typewriters... are you saying that Shakespeare was a monkey?

Outside now.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

So Hit Me

I added a hit counter to my blog yesterday. A friend I've never met helped me because I'm not much cop with computers, and he is. I wasn't going to tell anyone why I got it, on face value it's pretty obvious why, isn't it? But when I chose it the site I picked it from asked me an odd question: it asked me what I wanted my starting count to be.

I'm rarely shocked but sometimes surprised, especially by odd questions.

The premise behind a hit counter is recognition, or faint praise, or popularity, right? The idea that someone else wants to read your mind and that they're interested in what someone else has to say. I mean I don't care what time of day or night someone visits my blog, after all, like Douglas Adams wrote, "Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so."

I'm not interested in whether you're male or female, not at the moment anyway. I don't need to know your blood group or about your first experience in a submarine or whether you'd buy a red or a blue car or the last time you saw a snake. I don't mind if you've simply stumbled across me - although your gender may be more relevant then. I imagine that the same people might come back to read, or maybe they won't. And maybe they tell someone else about it, or maybe they don't. I know that's what I do. Maybe they, good lord above, bookmark you.

Just imagine.

So the hit counter trundles along, rising steadily like an arithmetic progression where the number of days equals x and the number of hits the previous day equals y and I hope, beyond hope, that the result of this blog's equation is never zzzzz...

I appreciate that articles on/in a blog about the blog itself aren't exactly pivotal in the province of excitement. I'm not daft. But it is content. It's something to fill a space. Something that might make you think, or laugh, or cry, or feel horny, or prompt you to remember something. Because anything can be responsible for anything else. Like word association or Chinese whispers. "We" don't know what a ridiculously high percentage of the brain actually does so I won't blame you if, right now, you're thinking about the fact that you need to take a shower, or eat, or buy toilet rolls when you next go shopping. And that's what you are thinking, right now. Even if you don't need them, you're thinking that you might.

It isn't my job to alleviate boredom, although I know I could try if someone paid me.

I think more people are bored than used to be bored, just like more people complain about things. It's not that anything is getting any worse, it's just that people are more inclined to complain about things. And the world isn't getting any more boring. There are more things to occupy minds in 2006 than there have ever been. So why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why do "people" always tell "me" that they're "bored"?

It might just be semantics or a state of mind, but boredom, to me, is just an easy way out. It's the escape route for those challenged by their potentially unlimited vocabulary. Confuse boredom with apathy or lack of opportunity or the inability to generate options. Just call it something else.


This blog is a child, a baby, born a matter of days ago. Unlike a baby in that it can speak and move, but like a baby in that it can't really do anything for itself, or recognise its own hands, or understand. This blog doesn't understand. It doesn't know what it wants to be any more than I know what it wants to be, or what I want to be come to that. I just want less than half of the hits to be created by me.

Anyway. Back to the question, "What do you want your starting count to be?" I could have chosen any integer, literally, but I chose zero.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

JFK Story

What were you doing when you heard the news? JFK. Everyone asks that question. Everyone's been asked that question. Lee isn't it? Lee Oswald? What were you doing when you heard the news? English speaking dyslexics the world over still maintain that Oswald was a pasty. To the rest of us he was simply done up like a kipper.

So if it wasn't Oswald who fired the fatal shot then who did? Someone, somewhere knew it was them. What did they say when they were asked the same question? They lied. They had too. They were making an omelette, walking the dog, or trimming their nose hairs. Whatever they were doing it definitely wasn't in Dallas and, even if it was, they were nowhere near the grassy knoll.

This is the story of three other liars. Three people who, when asked what they were doing when they heard the news, had to lie.


When I say that in the sixties some people dropped a lot of acid I'm not talking about a lot of clumsy people who worked in the chemical industry. Coke was no longer just a fizzy drink, free base wasn't just a phrase you might hear during a baseball game, and smoking grass ceased to be uniquely associated with crop rotation.


I've thought of this story. It's a story about three people who are conspiring to kill the president at the same time as they hear he has been assassinated.

It could work.

The problem is that I don't really know anything about the sixties. I wasn't alive. I get them confused with the seventies - and I was alive then. If the sixties were swinging what were the seventies? When did flower power start? What's a hippy? Or a hippie? When did all the promiscuity start? Hasn't it always been going on?

My story is a shambles: a start without a middle, never mind an end.

I've got the start of roughly a million stories in my head. One about mass hypnotic suggestion, one about the lottery, three about a herd of scrapie infected sheep. A million starts and no ends.

"Write about something you know." My Mum said.
"Make sure it's got plenty of sympathy." My Mum's friend said.
"Why not start at the end?" This bloke I met on the bus the other day said.


Three people died and one was born that day. One was a millionaire, one gutted fish for a living, and the other two were the South-West's Cribbage Mixed Pairs Champions. Two of them knew each other. One had never met two of them. One of them would never meet any of them ever. It wasn't anyone's fault. It was the purest of accidents. How it all happened is the story and it started in the ninetieth minute of a football match between Yeovil and Stalybridge. Typical.

In the ninetieth minute of a football match between Yeovil and Stalybridge, Yeovil equalised to make the score one all. At their home in Taunton, Barry and Maureen Love leapt. The late equaliser meant that they had won the football pools. Maureen's leap caused her to go into a premature labour - she was eight and a half months pregnant. Barry, who had been prosecuted for drink driving the week before, after celebrating the couple's win in the South-West Cribbage Mixed Pairs Championship Final, phoned for a taxi. The taxi driver, John Wild, had been forced to take up part-time mini cabbing after injuring his hand gutting fish - his qualified profession.

John didn't see the skip at the side of the road.

Only baby Alice survived.

The richest orphan in the world.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Poets Anonymous

I'm not ashamed of myself. When I got married I wrote a poem for my (now ex) wife. I read it out at the wedding. Should video footage of the event ever leak onto anywhere I'll edit this entry, but in the absence of such a circumstance I can tell you that I struggled. I had to stop half way through, so choked was I. Because I'm romantic like that. I remember someone writing in our "Wedding Book":

"This will go down in history as the wedding where all the adults cried and none of the children did."

Tonight, over six years later, I'm taking this poem to an Instant Anthology Night as part of Bristol's Poetry Festival. The premise is that anyone who wants to read a poem, can, as long as they bring fifty copies of it. The copies of each of the poems are then turned into and instant anthology for all those reading to take home.



I'll write what means the most to me,
My health, my soul, my sanity.
But if I lost them I'd be fine
Because I've found a love worth mine.

I'll whisper words, but nothing sweet,
From somewhere underneath my feet
And when, through lips, they must depart
They will have travelled through my heart.

I'll say the things inside my head
But one thing will remain unsaid
Because the truth I've come to see
Is without her I'm only me.

I'll shout at volumes unsurpassed
About my triumph, love at last,
And pity those who'll never win,
Their jealousy, my heroine.

I'll sing the notes for all to hear,
Let tunes transcend the deafest ear,
A love like this has now found me
And what is now will ever be.

I'll sit in silence where I bask
In questions I don't need to ask,
Because the answer's never new
I love her and she loves me too.


I write poetry.....I'm a poet.....It's been two weeks since my last poem.

Not ashamed.
Not me.
Not ashamed at all.
No Siree.

Umbrella Story

I remember when it was dead hot recently. Horrible sticky heat. Hot as in over twenty degrees. People piss me off. I'm a Winter person. I like wearing lots of clothes. If wearing too many layers of clothes was a hanging offence then I'd be dead now. I'd have been hung years ago. I'd have been dead for years.


People piss me off when they complain that it's too cold. I'm not talking about your pensioner who can't afford to put the heating on because of VAT. In general they don't anyway. They're up to their armpits in shawls and blankets, up to their heads in balaclavas. They haven't got time to be bitter about the bitter weather. They're using their complaint gland to complain about VAT on fuel. The people who complain about it being too cold can generally afford another jumper. They generally own gloves. They are generally the same people who complain when the weather's too hot. The weather isn't given a chance. It's totally fucked.

It can't win.

I like extremes of temperature. When you're cold you can always wear more clothes, if you're hot and naked you have problems.

Some of the time.

I don't mind when it's hot. I still get accused of wearing too many layers of clothes, luckily I can't be formally charged. When it's hot there are hosepipe bans. When it's hot for more than two days it becomes a heatwave. Look it up if you don't believe me.

Am I the only person who misses the centigrade scale?

Anyway, it had been dead hot recently and I was on the bus when it started. I don't mind the rain but when it's quite heavy you need an umbrella, or a hat. I was wearing a coat at the time, after all, it's never too hot for a coat, but the hood on it doesn't reach my head properly and if I have to put it up my neck disappears. I'm not a big fan of hats, so I got off the bus and went to buy an umbrella. The thing was I only had a fiver on me and decent ones cost about twice as much, or at least if anyone asked me how much a decent umbrella costs I'd tell them about a tenner. Not that anyone ever has, or probably ever will.

But it's just as well to be prepared.

I went straight into Woolworths looking like the Atlantic, found an umbrella that fell within my budget, paid for it, and left.

It was only when I got outside that I realised my mistake. It was a bloody girls one! I had paid five pounds for what was, in effect, a crap parasol. My walk to work only heightened my angst. There were umbrella sales going on everywhere. Decent ones. For less than a tenner. Even in Halfords. I might as well have held a five pound note over my head for all the use my new umbrella was. To be honest it was more of a psychological crutch. In fact it probably would have made a better crutch than an umbrella because the first gust of wind that came my way turned the umbrella inside out and ripped it apart. My umbrella left as a canvasless comedy corpse, lying in a bin. Spokes akimbo.

I saw a rainbow the other day and went looking for the crock of gold.

When I found them they were complaining about VAT on fuel.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Just Say Yes

As much as I would love to announce this as the tagline to a new and controversial reverse psychology anti-drugs programme, this is just about saying yes. Specifically, it's about hearing someone say yes when you ask them to marry you. Actually, it's about knowing that someone will say yes when you propose to them.

Because, let's face it, if you don't know what the answer is going to be when you ask that "special" someone to be your future husband/bride, you shouldn't be asking them. Not yet.

Anything other than "yes" is "no". "I'm not sure" is "No". "Let me think about it" is "No". "This has come as a bit of a shock" isn't really "No", but it's as good as. It shouldn't be a shock, unless you're proposing to a complete stranger. Who the hell wants to ask someone to marry them only to find out that it's a shock?

"Listen, Carol, I know we've only been living together for fifteen years, we have three beautiful children, two dogs, a mortgage, and congenital herpes. But I thought it was about time that I made an honest woman of you. Will you marry me?"

Actually that probably would be a shock. There's probably a statistic. And anyway, unless you need to furnish a kitchen, is there any point in getting married? Because that's the thing about wedding towels. When you get married, and you ask for towels, and you get towels, because you asked for them, those towels are the best towels you've ever had. But the condition of those towels may well correlate with the condition of your marriage over time. In the beginning the towels are used by "guests". Ushered ceremoniously from the airing cupboard in a wordless ceremony. It only takes a glance. A nod. Years of evolution summarised in telepathy.

"Mmmmmm......nice towels".

Eventually you'll be using them to mop up paint and baby sick.

What makes you think that the person for you, the one, works in the same office as you, or drinks in the same pub as you, or lives in the same town, or county or country or continent or hemisphere? What even makes anyone think that there is only one person for everyone? The internet makes the world such a small place these days. And words are powerful. Weapons. Sharper than knives. The penis mightier than the sword.


I know.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Monopoly Story

Long ago, mountains were higher, water tables were lower, and the word myth was used to describe a girl by a person with a lisp.

Past, Present and Future had just finished a game of Monopoly.

It was never any fun though.

Past could only remember the game when it was over, Present only knew what it was doing at the time, but didn't know why afterwards (or before come to think of it), and Future always won, but then it knew it would. They were all round Present's house because it was the tidiest. Past was in the process of moving out of its house and Future was waiting to move in.

"Fancy a drink?" Present asked the other two. "Past?"
"No, not for me thanks. I have one too many already." The clocked chimed eleven. "Shit! Is that the time? I didn't realise. I should have left ages ago."
"I did tell you this would happen." Future smugged.
"What about you Future? One for the road?"
"Not for me either thanks, if I have another Jack Daniels I'm violently sick at two thirty in the morning."
"Like you were last night?" Past remarked.
"Was I?"

Past, Present and Future had just finished a game of Monopoly.

"It's never any fun." Said Past to Future. "You always win."
"You might win one day though." Future said.
"What are you up to tomorrow?" Future asked.
"I'm not too sure." Said Past.
"I'll have to wait and see." Added Present.
"How to you both fancy a game of Monopoly?" Asked Future.

There are few things in the world which are less boring that playing Monopoly for all eternity. Especially when the same person wins all the time. But if you put yourself in their shoes, the monotony of it all, the infinite boredom of each game, the limitless, boundless, sameness about each throw of the dice begins to make sense.

Here sits Past. Remembering everything that has gone by. Remembering every single dice roll, every single 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card, and every single game they've lost. Why do they carry on playing? Why do they continue with the endless torture? Because they think that one day they'll win. One day they'll get Park Lane. It's not the taking part that matters, it's the winning. It's the time when you remember all the times you've lost before. But this time you've won.

There sits Present. Convinced that everything they're doing at the time is right. Convinced that they are winning and that they'll always be winning, or at least in with a Chance. They have never actually had that winning feeling, and they will never have it, they will never win. But since they are oblivious to the concepts of past and future they carry on playing until they do win. But there is no sense of frustration because they don't know that they haven't ever and never will.

Future is bored. Future twiddles. It sees everything that lies ahead. There is no way out. Whereas the future to us seems the most predictable, when personified it becmes the least. Although they don't know it, Past and Present strive to change the unchangeable and alter the unalterable (even if neither word actually exists), reacting against Future, the catalyst.

All share the same life at different stages in time.

Future is bored because of the irony of everything. Its life cannot be changed. You should remember the past and live in the present because the irony of everything is that there is no point.