Google+ A Tangled Rope: 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009

Friday, July 31, 2009


There is a place that hides all of you inside yourself. A place no-one else can even know the name of. It is a place of beginnings that never fall into endings. A place where nothing fades into indifference and hollowness.


You have held the shape of this place between cupped hands, shaping it into the ball of possibility that you have thrown off into the future. Now, here you stand longing to get back to that place.

The maps of your longing can no longer lead you down the path, past the entangling thorns, to the secret entrance that leads to your place. No longer do you have the key that will unlock that door. You have left it alone too long. A route that was once etched on your heart, carved into your soul, but no longer can you recall it.

Even our dreams get tired with misuse and we feel the hollowness their departure leaves behind.

There was a dream once, of a world made good, but it is broken now. Broken against the solidity of this world. We could have believed in those better promises once upon a time, but now we see them for what they are, broken, shattered on the ground. Left broken in that place you once knew so well. 

Celebrity Cheese Contemplation


It seems, these days that the wonderful world of Celebrity Cheese Contemplation is once again making headlines. After the tense excitement of last week’s semi-final when the reining champion for the previous three seasons running, Depilation Boobjob, was almost defeated in an extra round of viewer voting, for - what many viewers thought was - her less than rapt attention towards the often-tricky Dutch Edam. However, after a recount of the production company’s share of the phone vote takings, Boobjob was declared the winner, and thus made her way into this week’s Grand Final.

Of course, as she later said in the obligatory post-voting tearful interview, ‘Dutch Edam has always been a bit tricky… like… for me, after what happened to me mam.’ Ironically, of course, it was Boobjob’s distraught and distressing tale of how her ‘mam’ had been caught up in the infamous Dutch Edam Riots of the late 1950s, which enabled her to get through the earlier compulsory ‘Harrowing, But Endearing And Uplifting Contestant’s Sob Story’ rounds with such consummate ease.

The makers of Celebrity Cheese Contemplation, Innitforthemoney, have always claimed that the programme is more than mere titillating voyeurism for jaded celebrity-fixated couch potatoes. The producers claim that the serious purpose of the programme lies in the way it can be used as a sociological and psychological exercise where famous celebrities help other ordinary people work through their own cheese-related traumas. By displaying and dealing with cheese in an intensive full-on 24-hour cheese contemplation environment, whilst stuck in a constantly-monitored house with other celebrities, viewers can see how the famous cope with the all the inevitable cheese-related confrontations in their lives.

Furthermore, through their tasteful use of celebrity nudity, and frank sexually explicit cod-psychology, the programme producers claim they can achieve the kind of viewing figures, and consequent advertiser revenue, which will make them all very wealthy indeed. The programme, they also claim, will forever consign to history that deep sense of shame some people undergo when they are, say, forced to contemplate a Double-Gloucester in the privacy of their own supermarket dairy aisle.

However, since Boobjob’s breakdown on the set of this year’s Celebrity Cheese Contemplation Grand Final, when she was confronted by a wedge of Sage Derby whilst undressing for the obligatory daily shower scene, she claimed the show’s producers had deliberately provoked her into making some explicitly derogatory anti-cheese remarks live on camera.

Those remarks, obviously, caused outage amongst the many fans of Sage Derby who had gathered outside the Celebrity Cheese Contemplation house, crackers at the ready, in the hope of tasting some cheese that had – however briefly – been in the vicinity of some celebrities, and thus somehow become infused with fresh celebrity magic.

‘That’s it!’ said one outraged fan. ‘I had sellotaped a picture of Boobjob next to my cheeseboard, so her magical celebrity spirit powers could always guide me to the correct choice of cheese for my cracker. Now she’s said those things about Sage Derby, I’m going to rip that picture up and replace it with one of Gary Lineker. He’s nowhere near as pretty as Boobjob but he is very respectful towards his Red Leicester.’

A spokeswoman for the production company said:

Obviously, we condemn any prejudicial remarks anyone makes about any or all of the cheese involved in the programme. However, when we see the massive increases a controversy like this causes in our viewing figures, we feel we are duty-bound to our shareholders to make as much of it as possible. So, we feel we must do all we can to make sure that Boobjob continues her provocative presence in the programme. Consequently, we fully expect that if the viewers vote her out in one of this week’s polls before the Grand Final at the weekend, that we can find some way of continuing the controversy. Perhaps by bending the rules so that she stays in the programme, and - quite obviously – becomes the surprise winner in the Grand Final vote on Saturday’s Prime Time Live Open Viewer Poll Vote Spectacular. Thank you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Sometimes she walks down to the docks to watch the fishing boats return. She supposes it ought to mean something to her, but it does not.

She prefers to be high up on the headland on the opposite side of the bay. From there the boats glide into the docks like toys in a bath. The people look inconsequential and she feels a kind of indifferent omnipotence, as though she could destroy it all with a gesture. Just holding her hand up in front of her face makes the whole village disappear. Only the hotel on the beach road escapes her wrath.


She prefers to look around at the places that seem devoid of human presence: the empty sea, the thick woodland on the opposite headland. She thinks she may have grown sick of the society of her fellow man.

She turns and walks down the steep path, stumbling and slipping occasionally. Sometimes it seems as though she is not really here, as though she is a ghost who walks these paths seeking whatever it is that ghosts seek. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009



It is easy to see how it all began, back in those warm summer fields with the haze all around us. I remember butterflies everywhere. The grass was fresh green, moist with dew in the mornings. You could get your shoes and the bottoms of your trousers wet in the space of a few yards.

Later, around midday and into the afternoon, the grass would be dry and warm, so soft, moulding itself to you as you lay there. Of course, you were there, and your nakedness suited the landscape.

I remember how you once said that clothes, in that meadow, made you feel clumsy and separate. Perhaps that was mankind's first act in cutting himself off from nature, putting a layer of dead emptiness between him and the world he should be part of; not standing separate, removed, as though there is not, and there never has been, a connection between them.

I remember how you could sit, just watching the butterflies dance, as though nothing really mattered. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Too Far Out Of Reach


And even now the sky and seasons fill the days with life and light, while we go on down these roads towards the sea. But I do not know, not any more. I have seen the days come, and the days have gone, not leaving any trace on our lives.

Sometimes, it seems we haunt this world like ghosts, ethereal, un-solid and hardly there at all. Sometimes, it seems I have had dreams far more real than this, I have woken displaced in the night, searching for a way back to that better world that slipped away into the shadows, away from me. I have searched hard for that road that will lead me back to that place I glimpsed for a few moments deep within the deeper depths of my mind.

All that is so far away, though, too far away and out of reach. I have only this world to walk through, but it is just time to fill until I can find my way back to that truer place. The place that comes to life after darkness has fallen and my eyes have turned away from this more mundane reality. Here I am, though, and there is no escape. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Poem: The Bride


[Edward John Poynter - Erato, Muse of Poetry]

The Bride

She was there and dressed in white
I thought, for a time,
she could be a bride,
my bride.

But she is not there for weddings
she is no-one's bride.
She will not be tamed.
She is not there for easy domesticity.

She will not always be there
like the morning
to turn her face towards you
on some warm pillow.

She moves over landscapes
and through forests
along shorelines
and across cliff tops,
always just out of reach,
always beyond your calling.

She moves like a cloud
across the skies of your life.
Beyond touch, she waits
for the world to move around her.

She was there
before history began:
before kings, kingdoms, deeds,
heroes and legends,
myths and long-faded memory.

She walked these green lands
long before the forests fell,
long before the rolling hills.

She will be here
long after your monuments
and domes are forgotten,
long after the last child
dies of its father's disease.


[See here for an explanation of these posts labelled as Monday Poem]

Friday, July 24, 2009

Everything changes

Things are changing, but then they always do. Nothing ever stays the same; you cannot step into the same river twice. Everything changes from moment to moment; both you and the river have changed. Even if you only stepped into it a second or so before, the river and you will have been changed by that event so that neither of you is the same as before.

SuperStock_1095-416[Nude Woman Stepping Off Rocks Into Pool Of Water Johann Friedrich Waldeck (1766-1875 German) Newberry Library, Chicago]

Even the smallest action – or inaction – can have the broadest unforeseen consequences. The smallest pebble dropped into the river leaves ripples undulating out from the point where it hit the water. Every breath you take and every touch of your finger on naked skin can change the world in some way, has already changed the world in some way.

You cannot escape or evade the world; your lack of presence has just as much an effect as you presence. Your child’s eyes nervously scanning the audience in front of the suddenly huge stage will register the lack of your familiar face just as much as registering the reassuring familiarity when your face is finally found and recognised.

Everything changes everything else, it is all interconnected and we cannot escape that, even by escaping from it. 

The Quadratic Equations Of Summer

Surreptitious And The Obfuscators were, of course, the band of the moment that summer. It seemed every transistor radio in the land was playing their number one single, (C’mon, Baby,) Force My Oscillations It was a long hot summer and the grass was brown and parched everywhere.

It had been a long time since I had even thought about quadratic equations, but my thighs were once again athrob with memories of how you held your calculator. You had gone away for the summer, deep into the Walsall forests to study the mating habits of the Greater-Goose-pimpled British Nudist, and to discover whether it was really true about their use of flip-flops.

I had a summer job being the obligatory half-arsed dozy teenager hiring out deck chairs to the pensioners who gathered at the park to sleep through their seemingly never-ending bowls matches, and – when awake - to smugly decry the state of the nation they had fought through two world wars, rationing and flat caps to bring into being. Most of them, of course, relished the fact that the whole place had gone to the dogs in that quietly inept way that Britain always seems to manage with such consummate ease.


I remembered how earlier that summer we had often, in the cool of the evenings walked down to the chip shop together to sit on the wall outside to laugh at the knees of the ludicrously be-shorted patrons as they waddled out of the shop with their fish and chips clutched tightly in their hot sweaty hands. It had seemed then that our love could never die.

But… I was wrong.

Little did I know then of your infatuation with Venn diagrams and how you secretly scorned my infatuation with quadratic equations and all that, what you considered, ‘old-fashioned‘ maths. I should have realised that it would never last when you begged me to talk of Set Theory as we lay on the hill overlooking the canal each evening, and how you would never - not even once – touch my booklet of Four-Figure Logarithmic Tables, no matter how much I begged.

Soon, though, that summer was over, and you had gone, far away to university to study Transformational Geometry, leaving me behind forever in my plain, lonely, Euclidian world.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Grow Into Life

Here it begins, where it is new. We have not seen this day before, even though we have lived through so many years together.


The rain will fall. The rain always falls these days. We seem to have lost the knack of summer. The grass will be wet where we lie, and be cold against bare skin. But it is important to touch the earth with nothing between us and it, to feel the weight of the world pressing back against you as we lie side by side and look up to see the clouds brooding together over us.

We come here when we feel a need to get close to something real, when our lives become little more than distance and horizons. We want to become something that lives in contact with life itself and feel how it feels to grow and become.

This place exists on the edge of our lives, a place of green and refreshment, a place away from all the other places that seem to exist only to rob us of life. This place gives us back a living feeling that can grow into life – if we dare let it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Poem: A Water Song


Monday Wednesday Poem: A Water Song

I saw your hand make shapes
to catch the falling rain.
I saw your hand as a cup
under the weight of a waterfall.
I saw your hand slice through
icy waters rushing
away from melting snow.

I have seen your hands washing
soapy water across
the landscape of your body.
I have seen your hands
pulling the sea over you
as you swam at midnight
as though you could
make the sea your home.

You could live under water,
you have the grace, the ease,
the elegance, the poise, the delicacy.
You flow like water running,
you run like water flowing,
and swim through your sleeping dreams.
And when the morning comes
I stand on the shore as you dive
deeper into a life I'll never know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Politicians Achieve Self-Awareness

After the revelation that government ministers themselves realise they are less than useless, there have been calls for a reform of the complete political and governmental system in the UK.

As one political journalist admitted:

We can no longer dump all our useless, waste of space idiots into politics any more. Frankly, the modern world is just too difficult for them to cope with. We have discovered under the current government that the old saying ‘Politics is show business for ugly people’ is not true. These people do – somehow – end up being given serious powers to totally fuck up the lives of the rest of us. If we don’t soon stop ignoring them, and keep on letting them just get on with it, soon there will be nothing left to make life worthwhile that they haven’t taxed, made illegal or regulated to death.


[A potential MP attending a constituency selection meeting]

A professor of politics at Oxford University (yes, the real one, not an ex-polytechnic), said:

The problem is that quite simply no-one with any real intelligence or any sense would go into politics in the first place. Having said that, though, the political parties do have it all sown up. They aren’t going to select anyone who could make the rest of them look even bigger mendacious fools than they actually are. They only want candidates who are as dull, tedious, and bland - if albeit slightly sinister - as they are.

The only real solution is to make sure we prevent anyone who wants to go into politics from going into politics in the first place. I mean, look at William Hague, reading political speeches at an age when he should have been wanking himself into exhaustion over the lingerie section in his mother’s mail order catalogue. It simply isn’t natural.

Quite simply, we – as a nation – are going to have to stop seeing government and politics as occupational therapy for society’s misfits or we are never gong to get this country out of the mess it is in.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Government Fears New Epidemic Outbreak

Late yesterday, a spokeswoman for the UK government issued the following statement to a gathering of political journalists in the Downing Street briefing room:

The current Labour government has, of course, made the UK the successful modern society it now is through our increasing use of legislation to take control of people’s daily lives. However, there are still some people out there who insist on using the frankly outdated, un-egalitarian and individualistic notion of what they call ‘Common Sense’.

This quaint reliance on their own abilities to sort out various aspects of their lives without reference to government best practice guidelines has got to stop. Frankly, who knows where it will lead if people do start thinking for themselves? Luckily, though, there is very little evidence that the majority of our citizens want, or need, to think for themselves… yet.

Although, sometimes, an episode of Common Sense can be quite mild and over quickly, in most cases it runs counter to, or even flatly contradicts, official UK government policy. Therefore we in the government must do all in our power to make sure that any outbreak of Common Sense is quickly isolated, quarantined and treated with powerful doses of hysterical tabloid headlines and reality TV shows until the patient is medically cleared of showing any kind of sense whatsoever.


The spokeswoman then went on to announce that soon the government would be issuing a leaflet to every household in the country outlining the dangers of Common Sense, how to detect the symptoms of thinking for oneself and who to contact should the householder, or anyone in their family, suddenly start thinking for themselves.

The Conservative opposition strongly condemned the government’s action saying:

There can be no justification for this inference in people’s private lives, unless, of course, we thought of it first. However, there is strong evidence that uncontrolled use of Common Sense can – indeed - be dangerous, especially if people start applying it to the political process, where it is right that governments should work to stamp it out.

After all, it is going to be our turn to have a go at being the government soon. Therefore, any uncontrolled severe outbreak of Common Sense could seriously put that in jeopardy, which wouldn’t be fair.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Estate-Agent Office Of The Soul

The raspberries of our dreams lie on the floor of all our hopes, squashed and forgotten. However, there are still small stained footprints left by the small furry animals of our desires using it as a shortcut on their way down to the shops that sell all we once hoped for, each shop, one-by-one, slowly going out of business as the closing down sale of our lives draws ever nearer.

Still, though, you have to laugh.

Don’t you…?


Well, you ought to. After all, what else is there apart from the absurdity of existence? There is non-existence, the very Estate-Agent office of the soul. A place beyond where no living being should ever know the wot of. That place where what you can afford you do not want and what you want you cannot afford. A place where even language itself finally loses touch with the world it is meant to describe.


Existence, then, is all we have. Despite it making no sense, having no purpose other than itself, it is what we must cling to, like a politician clinging to the last shred of his credibility as the media stories of his odious mendacity pile higher and higher, threatening to burry him once and for all under the landslide of his repellent existence.

The sheer absurdity of existence must show us that its very absurdity and pointlessness are the very things that create meaning and purpose, leaving a wide-open empty canvas over which we can paint the landscape of our lives.

Oh, of course, you could use that canvas to paint portraits of your heroes, of famous fatuous celebrities. You could paint the perfect landscape of your political illusions. You could - even - waste it completely by drawing the stern gods who cruelly disapprove of such frippery and insist that they alone be the purpose and point of everything, but they are only – in the end - mere manifestations of your own screaming for attention in the emptiness of your own lack of imagination.

However, despite all that, we still have time for a nice cup of tea before we disappear back into the void we sprang from, so, after all, it is not too bad, is it?

Professor Tongue


Professor Tongue moved on, northwards along the great thigh plain. There in the delta he could see the thick dense undergrowth. Somewhere down there, he knew he would find the fabled lost city.

Many had spoke of it, written about it, down the ages. Most people these days thought of it as little more than a myth, a fabled lost city - like Atlantis or Tipton. No-one really believed the stories, believed it existed. Everyone dismissed it as legend, everyone except Professor Tongue. Tongue knew - somehow - maybe instinct, maybe intuition, that the fabled lost city was in there somewhere. Somewhere deep in that dense jungle he would find it.

Cautiously, Tongue moved down the steep slope of the thigh plain and up to the edge of the jungle. There in the depths he could see the fabled valley. He moved forward cautiously until he was easing through into the narrow tight valley.

He had to be careful. He had read the memoirs of Dr Penis who had once explored this same valley. Penis had told how he had stumbled headlong into a seemingly bottomless pit - only to come out far too soon; limp, drained and defeated.

Tongue skirted the pit carefully, his mind full of the dire warnings of the local tribesmen about the sudden monthly tides that could erupt suddenly from that very pit. Strangely, the locals regarded the floods as significant events, entering great depressions when the floods did not appear.

Sighing and relaxing from a tension that left him shivering he moved on past the great pit. Soon he came upon the next obstacle, the geyser. This too was - according to the locals - prone to sudden eruptions, far more unpredictable that the monthly floods from the pit. Although, the locals said, a flood from the geyser would usually occur about an hour or so after a particular ceremony they called "Lotsalager".

Safely past the geyser, Tongue examined his map. It should be somewhere near. If the myths and legends were true, he should nearly be upon it. He stumbled forward, his despair growing as he realised he was almost out of the valley.

Suddenly he saw it!

He stopped, dead in his tracks, there just in front of him; right at the end of the valley was the fabled lost city. All the myths, all the legends were true! Professor Tongue had found the fabled Lost City of Clitoris.

He dropped his rucksack and ran up the slight incline and touched it carefully, he ran around it and touched it again. He could hardly contain himself. He stroked, licked and nibbled at it.

Suddenly the ground beneath him began to shake and tremble. Tongue looked around confused. He picked up his hat and his rucksack. He knew he had to get out, out of the valley now. He recalled how the local tribesman had warned him of the dangers of the time of earthquakes, floods and strange eerie gasps and moans that echoed down through the jungle and into the heaving valley. A time known to all of them as The Orgasm!

Tongue ran, he knew that if he stayed he would be crushed by the thighs as they crashed together. He ran, dropping his precious map and his rucksack. He just managed to force his way through the undergrowth as the thighs spasmed and crashed together. From his safe vantage point, Tongue watched the fabled lost valley disappear from his sight.

He turned and began the slow sad walk back up over the undulating stomach. In the far distance, up above, he could see the two hills of home and the city where he lived, pink and welcoming, standing proud on the left one.

(This is one of my earliest – see here.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bishops’ Swine-Flu Warning


Church leaders today warned Christians in the UK that ‘they should not expect miracles’ and they should exercise caution when engaging in various religious rituals during the current swine flu outbreak.

One church leader warned of the danger of people using so-called ‘Holy water’, seemingly oblivious of the irony inherent in his statement.

As one sceptic, outside the church said:

Surely, if there is any water that ought to be safe, it should be this ‘Holy Water’. After all, isn’t their God supposed to be involved in its production in some way? Frankly, if He can’t guarantee it free from contamination, then his whole claim to omnipotence should be investigated by Trading Standards officers, straightaway.

With the Bishop also advising priests to ‘wear sterile gloves, an apron and a face mask.’ When visiting in possibly infected parishioners, concerns were express by the Heath and Safety Executive about the sort of working conditions this ‘God’ was providing for his staff.

As an H&SE Spokeswoman said:

Frankly, this ‘God’ is not providing anywhere near a safe enough working environment for his staff. This will simply not do in this day and age, especially from an employer who claims to be able to perform miracles, up to and including raising people from the dead. If he can do it for his own son, then he should be willing to do it for all his employees, at least.

Quite simply, I would advise any person who contracts swine flu, or indeed, any other illness through contact with the vessels and so forth used in these ceremonies to sue. After all, what is the point of religiously following some mystical entity if it can’t even protect you from a common illness on its own premises? I certainly don’t call that Almighty.

A leading Bishop who was persuaded, finally, to give an interview, said:

Look, this is completely off the record, right? Anyway, me and the rest of the lads in the Ministry all know it is all a load of bollocks. We’re only in it for the dressing-up robes, the incense and the choirboys. Apparently, though, some folk out there – in the congregations – seem to think there must be something in it….

I mean, we, at the top of this religion game, are not completely heartless. We are trying to let them down slowly, drop a few hints like this, now and then. We’re trying to get rip of all this guff about miracles and stuff that some sun-stroked desert-dwelling bearded loony invented back in the Stone Age and try to bring the church as close as we can into the modern age. But… well… some of them are… well, not quite the full shilling, and sometimes it can be a bit of a bugger to get them to understand. Anyway, you ain’t seen me, right?’

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It’s A Miracle


Now, it came to pass that the Prophet Nhigel (may his plums dangle mightily) was on the way back home from the pub one hot summer night when someone’s hedge suddenly caught fire, just where some of Nhigel’s mates had stopped to light their fags.

‘What the bloody hell’s going on here!’ screamed the householder rushing out to see his garden suddenly on the verge of becoming a conflagration.

‘Scarper,’ whispered Steve the Tosser, one of Nhigel’s most devoted mates.

‘No,’ Nhigel said, spreading his arms wide and calming his mates, who were just about to leg it. He turned his beaming smile on the householder. ‘It is a miracle! It is a sign,’ he said. ‘The Skhighhibhoss is speaking to us through this burning hedge.’

‘Wouldn’t a phone call have been easier?’ said Stan the Sceptical, who was immediately apprised of the theologically dubious validity of his statement by Big Paul, Nhigel’s Best Mate, kneeing him in the balls and saying ‘Shut up, you useless twat. Nhigel (May his plums dangle mightily) will get us out of this.’

‘Listen,’ Nhigel was saying to the now perplexed householder. ‘Can’t you hear what the Skhighhibhoss is saying?’ He pointed to the burning hedge and cupped his hand over his ear, nodding and looking respectfully thoughtful.

‘B… B… Bu… but my bloody hedge!’ the householder yelled.

‘Ssshh! Heretic… blasphemer!’ Nhigel’s mates said as they turned as one to face the householder.

‘Can you not hear the Holy words of wisdom the Skhighhibhoss is imparting to us through the medium of this… this… burning hedge?’ said Barry the Tosser, reverently grasping the householder by the neck and squeezing. ‘You do know what happens to those who doubt the word of the Lord, don’t you?’

The householder nodded slowly as best as he could with Barry grasping his neck so tightly. The householder’s face began to turn rather an unusual shade of blue.

‘Some of those stone can come very sharp, you know,’ Barry the Tosser said. ‘Especially if you take careful aim before you throw.’

‘MMMnnnnhh,’ the householder tried to say. Attempting to look holy and pious whilst being choked to death is not that easy, but he tried his best.

‘The Skhighhibhoss is telling us to repent of our blasphemous way,’ Nhigel said to the householder.

‘It’s a miracle!’ yelled Barry the Tosser as he let go of the householder’s neck.

‘Bu… but my bloody hedge?’ the Householder said, rubbing his neck and stepping away from Barry.

‘One… er… slightly singed hedge is but a small price to pay in order to hear the wisdom of the Lord, is it not?’ Nhigel said, stepping forward to loom over the householder. ‘Is it not?’ he repeated.

The householder nodded, watching the smoke and flames rising up into the clear night sky from what remained of his hedge.

‘The Skhighhibhoss has spoken,’ Nhigel said turning to face his mates with his arms spread wide. ‘You may all now quench the flames of his righteousness.’

As one the mates turned to face the burning hedge and lowered the zips in their trousers.

‘Hey, I always wanted to be a fireman,’ Big Paul said, laughing as he sprayed the now smouldering hedge with his own personal fire hose.

Once the flames were out and Nhigel and his mates had zipped themselves up, they turned to go on their way, satisfied that this night the Lord’s work had been truly done.

‘Bu… but… what did the mighty and most holy Skhighhibhoss actually say to you… er… through the medium of my burning hedge, anyway,’ said the householder, nervously watching Nhigel and his mates.

‘Oh,’ Nhigel said, turning back to face the householder, who took a nervous step back against his still damply-smouldering hedge, ‘The Skhighhibhoss, he said unto us: “Mind How You Go.”’

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spending Time


So, what do we expect? We expect something to come from this that will be of some use, something that will grow out from a mere handful of words into something that is worthwhile, something that is worth the time expended on it.

Time is like money, you will regret it when you waste it. Unlike money though, you cannot save it, with time you either use it, or you lose it. You cannot put time in the bank or under the mattress to save it for when you are short of time. There is no going back to that day you left on the mantelpiece and pocketing it to take on your holidays for a bit extra, another day added on. You cannot save time and add another Wednesday or Saturday to an already busy overcrowded week.

You cannot get your time back at all – ever – not even if you do keep the receipt and all the original packaging. Once you take the moment out of its box, you have to use it or see it fade and crumble into the dust of history. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

She Brings The Morning

SheBring Morning

It becomes something. We are still on the edge of things, still waiting for a beginning to form itself out of these mists. The day is heavy and slow, bearing the weight of so much rain and darkness. Only the wind moves, moves reluctantly through the sodden trees as though this day is a burden to it too. The stream is full, slow and heavy as though it has taken on more than it can handle and its usual course is little more than a memory as it tries to shift its load to somewhere more comfortable.

She will come out of these mists, though, and bring the morning with her, and it is some bright spring morning, full of possibility. A morning to grow out of the moments she carries in her calming gentle hands. She will shape the morning around herself with delicate fingers that can feel the tentative life beneath them, holding it up for her lips to give the kiss of life, before she takes the whole morning inside herself ready to burst the day into sudden blooming. 

Monday Poem: I Did Not Fly Back From Mumbai


I too have wasted my life.
I did not fly back from Mumbai
early this morning, as you slept
deep between expensive sheets,
to bring you gifts and warm romance.

Instead, I sit here watching waves
whispering their secrets to the sand,
as the children play among them.
Running the sands of my life
through my opening fingers
to make pyramids that only crumble
and then slowly disappear.

The waves fall over themselves
in their headlong rush to the shore.
We had our own small dreams
flung like those waves
against the rocks
of this all too solid world.

Waves trickle back to the sea in defeat
still ready to be flung forward again.
Slowly the rocks take the shapes
that the insistent waves demand.

I know all my castles are gone too
washed away by waves. The tide
will leave no trace of what I've made.
So little left behind to hold and remember.

I too have wasted my life.
I did not fly back from Mumbai
early this morning, as you slept
deep between expensive sheets,
to bring you gifts and warm romance.


[See here for an explanation of these posts labelled as Monday Poem]

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Short Story

I have a new short story Closing Down up at ABCtales.

Not only has it been ‘Cherry-Picked’ there, it is also their ‘Story of the Week.’ Naturally, I am rather thrilled by this.

Friday, July 10, 2009


I emerge out of a dull dark quiet time, seeing the words waiting patiently to be awoken. I watch them uncoil themselves and stretch out their syllables ready for me.

We have been apart too long and they are nervous, wondering what will have changed between us. We are no longer scared of each other, though, not these days. We have grown familiar with each other, learnt each other’s strange ways.

We will grow together again as the days pass, our mutual wariness and nervousness will fade as the night fades away at the dawn.

Together we will go on out into the new day. 

The Contrivances - A History (Part Two)

(See here for Part One)

[Part Two - Medieval to Tudor Period]

Geoffrey Chaucer himself gives us evidence about which contrivances were most in use during the medieval period, when in his Canterbury Tales, the Pardoner reveals his Hand-cranked Crested Grebe to the rest of the pilgrims during a stopover in an Inn on the road to Canterbury. Of course, by this time, artisans had mastered the tricky process of attaching pedals to a mute swan, and also found ways of over-clocking the candle-powered badger - first invented by Alfred the Great - to enable it to operate for a full 24-hour day without needing rewinding.

During the Wars of the Roses, as well as the Battles of the Quality Street, a bellows-powered weasel was put to use by both sides in the conflict, with notoriously devastating consequences during the second battle of St. Albans when the Lancastrians used such a weasel to completely perplex the opposing side’s soldiery.

However, it wasn’t until just after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, that the first gunpowder–driven contrivances arrived on the scene with the first gunpowder rabbits appearing on the battlefields of Europe. Of course, as these were used with devastating effect by the protestant armies, it wasn’t long before the papacy denounced them as witchcraft, promising excommunication for any catholic found with even gunpowder and rabbits in the same contrivance-cobbler’s shed.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, her navy’s devastating use of gunpowder fire-seagulls during its battle with the Spanish Amanda prevented an invasion of these Isles. Not much changed in England, thereafter, until the days of the English Civil War, which will be covered in: Part Three (From The English Civil War To The Victorians)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Out Of The Mists Of Dreaming

She came not out of the golden skies of the mornings, but out of the heavy mists that haunted our dreams. She was there first as a heavier darker shadow amongst shadows until she stepped out barefoot on the dew-sodden grass. She wore a thin blue dress that clung to her body, dark with moisture around the bottom and halfway up her legs.

She stepped forward as the mists curled away from her and waked towards us without a trace of fear or hesitation. She knew already that we could not harm her, that she would be the one and we would follow, even though, as yet, we did not even know her name, or even if she needed one.

She stopped a few feet in front of us and just waited. Behind me, I could hear the rest of our party as they, slowly, one by one, knelt in the dew-heavy grass. Soon she and I were the only ones standing.

She just looked into my eyes, as though she had all the time in the world, and I had none. I could feel my knees bending before I had realised I was even going to kneel. I, who would never kneel to any man, there in the cold wet grass; I knelt to this nameless woman. But I knew it was right, for as I knelt and she took one more pace forward the mists swirled away and the sun shone down on all of us. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The End Of Teenspeak

Yesterday, a leading teenage website Innit announced it had detected a new trend amongst its audience.

Trendi Downwithtthekids (45), one of the editors of the website, said:

It looks as though teens have decided to give up trying to use Teen-speak. What, with all the pressures on teenagers these days, and all they have to fill their time, such as video games, phones, texting, social networks and so forth, they don’t have the time to describe it in the new ways formerly typical of the teenage experience. It looks as though none of them can be bothered to think up new words to describe stuff, let alone use a word in an alternative or even contradictory sense to its usual meaning as teenagers have been doing since… well, since teenagers fist appeared ion the scene in the 1950s.

Since even before the invention of ‘cool’ to mean something good or worthwhile teens have been trying to use language as a way of group bonding and to prevent adults from knowing what it is they are getting up to. However, these days with the majority of adults refusing to even acknowledge that they themselves are no longer teenagers, the adults are constantly eroding teenager’s attempts to create a distinct identity of their own.

One completely disheartened teenager, said:

It’s just no good bothering these days. As soon as we come up with a new word for something, or find a new use for an old word, it is all over the web within an hour or two, and there are articles about it in the newspapers the next day about how they are already preparing the dictionary entry for their next editions. I mean, y’know, that is well… er… innit… er…. I mean, it is just so dispiriting. That is, if you can see my point of view?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Weasel Appreciation Day

It all began on the morning before Weasel Appreciation Day. There we were, the whole team - including our Goal Inquisitor, Stan Toastbutterer - were cleaning the studs on our Weasel Appreciation boots, ready for the big day, when suddenly Stan Toastbutterer said, "It looks like rain."

Oh, how we laughed as we traditionally beat him about the traditional head, face and neck with our traditional badger racquets and weasel cues. Of course, as everyone knows, Weasel Appreciation Day would have to be called off if there was even the merest hint of rain in the air.

The traditional Weasel Appreciation Day costumes simply cannot stand up to the slightest bit of drizzle, and some of the rituals, despite the use of studded boots, can be very tricky to perform on a muddy pitch. Everyone remembers what happened when the traditional ceremonial penalty shoot-out between the Apostates and the Heretics took place in 1963, despite a rainstorm earlier that day, when several penalties went wide or over the bar before last orders had been called, and the Apostates Centre-Choirboy, Skidmark Acidbreath, severely twisted his surplice, putting him out of Evensong for the rest of the season. Less well-know is the sudden downpour that happened in 1983 when the Lord High Sausage Taster was accidentally basted in his own ritual gravy due to the volume of the rainfall making the diving board very slippy indeed.

Many people have remarked on the fact that a country chiefly famous for its drizzle does seem to have an inordinate fondness for outdoor pursuits that have to stop because of the rain, such as cricket, tennis, picnics, dogging and - of course - Weasel Appreciation Day itself. Others, however, myself included, put this down to the traditional sheer bloody-mindedness that has made the Briton traditionally such a pain in the arse to everyone else, both throughout history and throughout the world.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The March Towards World Domination

Of course, back then no-one knew the dangers of getting too close to the Hamsters of Doom. We had our weasel racquets, obviously, and we wore the shin-pads. However, it was never enough; especially - as was the fashion at the time - we adopted the stance of a reality-bewildered social worker at the very first sign of a putative encounter with any semi-domesticated rodent.

Back then, though, pop music had not quite become the self-parodying nostalgia-fest that it has since become. People could then talk of the rise of popular culture without feeling that sense of betrayal now engendered by any contact with the current overly rapacious and highly-cynical entertainment industry.

So, while we were slowly being entertained to death, the Hamsters of Doom had already begun their march towards world domination and their attack upon the commanding heights of human cultural achievement that we were so eagerly rushing to abandon.

Almost inevitably, those that first became Disciples of the Hamsters of Doom were looked upon with scorn and derision by the rest of us for their diet of sunflower seeds and their strange passion for sawdust floor coverings. But soon - first, in London, of course - the giant exercise wheels began to appear.


Sponsorship in Sport

Of course, back in those days we had to provide our own sheep. There was none of this corporate sponsorship, not in those early days. Only the other day I saw some one whose wellies had been sponsored by PlungenPuke Sheep-dips. Bloody good wellies they were too, designed so that once the sheep had her back legs in them there was no way she could wiggle free.

I wish I'd had a pair like that, back when I was young enough to get up to the top of Torfellbank hill when all the young ewes used to gather up there.

Anyway, I blame the television money. As soon as they get hold of a sport, the money pours in. That brings more money in and before you know it, the sheep have adverts for banks and suchlike dyed into their fleeces. 'Do to this sheep exactly what our bank has been doing to you all these years.' I remember that one.

There's drugs as well. So many shepherds these days are on Viagra, it makes going into the dressing room like trying to walk through a turnstile.

(One of my earliest – see here for example. Note: the link to the actual article is broken. I’ll get around to fixing it when I redo the webpage sometime in the near* future.)

*near future – as in quite possibly never.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Justice: A Strong Signal Sent

Early yesterday afternoon, career criminal Splice Defoliant was convicted - at Hull County Court - of First Degree Semi-Indifferent Sheep Estrangement. He will, consequently, serve the minimum term of twenty years in prison, slightly reduced to a maximum of twelve weeks, as the judge revealed, Defoliant was eligible for time off his sentence for good behaviour, a nice suit and - somewhat controversially - in the Judge's opinion, having quite a nice bottom.

The scourge of Semi-Indifferent Sheep Estrangement has been running amok and unchecked throughout this land for a long time now. Consequently, such a harsh sentence will send out a strong signal that the justice system - and decent law-abiding people - in this country will no longer stand idly by while these miscreants deliberately - and with malice aforethought - estrange some of our finest semi-indifferent sheep.

This judgement, does go to show that the justice system in this great country of ours is in close touch with the mood of the media, and will not ignore the shrill tabloid clamour for 'something to be done' no matter how opportune or ill-judged.

As the current, previous, or next, Home Secretary, Kneejerk Populist, said recently:

For too long now, too many of our laws have been based on the frankly old-fashioned and outdated notions of fairness and justice. But, we are now in this modern age of 24-hour instant media, who are using increasingly shrill attempts to capture the attention of a fickle and shallow consumer base. So, what is needed is a justice system that can respond instantly to whatever is the current folk-devil, moral panic, media whipped-up storm, faux-outrage or sales-led cynical media campaign, as swiftly, and as arbitrarily ill-judged, as possible. For, as long as the public is under the illusion that 'something is being done', no matter how cosmetically ineffectual, or half-arsedly inept, then I can rest assured that my job is still safe.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Other Side Of The Reservoir

It came to pass that the prophet Nhigel (May His Plums Dangle Mightily) and his Mates had gone out one warm summer morning, to go fishing down at the local reservoir. First, they undertook the ceremony of the Holy lager as they sat on the bank, chanting the rites of ‘Last Night’s Telly’.

‘Me, I reckon you don’t get so many birds getting their kit off these days, as you used to,’ said Stan the Sceptic.

‘It’s wossname,’ said Barry the Tosser, producing a fart that all the others felt needed a round of applause. ‘Y’know?’

‘Feminism?’ said the all-knowing Nhigel.

‘Yeah, that,’ said Barry the Tosser.

‘That’s why the telly is run by women these days,’ said Phil the Wanker. ‘They’re in all the top jobs, and so they make all these bloody girly programmes, soaps, fashion, all that reality crap.’

The other Mates nodded their approval at these wise words.

‘I bet they’re all lesbians,’ said Barry the Tosser.

The Mates considered this point for a while as the pile of empty cans grew larger.

‘Nah,’ Steve the Sceptic said eventually. ‘If they were all lesbians, then wouldn’t there be more birds getting their kit off, rather than less?’

The Mates turned as one, to hear the wise words of Nhigel on this great philosophical conundrum.

‘Fair point, mate. Fair point,’ Nhigel said. ‘Anyway, about this fishing then?’

‘What fishing?’ said Barry the Tosser, failing to stand up.

‘We came here to do some fishing,’ Phil the Wanker said to Barry.

‘Did we?’ Barry said. ‘I wondered why you’d all got those fishing rods and stuff.’

‘Why do you think we stopped off at the bait shop?’ said Phil the Wanker.

‘’Cos Nhigel fancies the one that works there,’ said Barry the Tosser. He turned to Nhigel. ‘Did you pull her yet?’

Nhigel just smiled. ‘About this fishing,’ he said. ‘I reckon we ought to try around the other side of the reservoir.’

‘Why?’ said Stan the Sceptic.

‘I bet it is because there are more fish over there,’ said Big Paul, Nhigel’s best mate. He turned to Nhigel confidently. ‘Am I right, Nhige?’

Nhigel was silent for a moment. He smiled up at Big Paul. ‘No.’ was all he said.

‘No?’ The Mates all looked at each other, then back to Nhigel who was staring off across the reservoir.

‘Then why they hell should we trudge all the way around there?’ said Stan the Sceptic. ‘It’s bloody miles and the pub will be open soon,’ he said, looking up at the sky and calculating it wasn’t long until midday.

‘Because,’ Nhigel said, getting carefully to his feet. He nodded towards Stan. ‘As you rightly observed it is getting towards lunch time.’

‘What the hell has the time of day got to do with it?’ said Barry the Tosser, looking confused.

‘Because,’ Nhigel said, picking up his rod and setting off along the bank of the reservoir. ‘Because, the girls from the biscuit factory over on the other side of the reservoir have found a nice secluded place where they can go topless sunbathing during their lunch break…. Coming, lads?’

Immediately, as one, all the Mates got to their feet and followed Nhigel as he led them away. However, Barry the Tosser was so eager he ran straight into a tree and fell down again.

‘It’s a bloody miracle!’ Barry the Tosser cried struggling to his feet once more and rushing to catch up with Nhigel and the rest of the mates as they hurriedly made their way around to the other side of the reservoir.