Google+ A Tangled Rope: 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Wizard’s Sleeve

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‘Are you a hero?’ she said when she came to my bed that night.

I had travelled far over the Grey Lands that day and I was tired. ‘Yes,’ I said.

She looked sceptical. ‘Prove it.’

‘I have a sword,’ I said. ‘A special magical sword.’ I drew its full length.

She took a step closer, a smile forming on her lips as her hand reached out to take hold of my magic sword. ‘It feels magical,’ she said. ‘What sort of sword is it?’

‘It is my magical pork sword,’ I said. ‘Come closer and I will show you how it works.’

‘I know how it works.’ She smiled ‘What is more, I have a scabbard for it right here. See?’

A few days later at a similar tavern in a similar town, a similar tavern keeper’s daughter followed me to my room.

‘Are you a hero?’ she said.

‘No,’ I replied; too weary from my travels to play games. At least, I was until she stepped into the flickering light of my candle and I saw her face.

‘Oh.’ She turned to go.

‘I am a mage,’ I said.

‘A mage?’ she was sceptical, but took a step closer. ‘Do you have a wand?’

‘No, I do not have a wand.’

‘Oh.’ She turned to leave again, her hand reaching for the door.

‘I have a staff.’

She stopped. She tuned. She smiled. ‘A staff.’ She took a step closer, reaching to touch it.

‘Be careful.’ I said. ‘A mage’s staff is a very powerful weapon.’

‘So I see,’ she said.

‘It needs a special place for it, so it can be kept safe.’

‘Oh. Where would that be?’ She reached for the staff, feeling its size, its stiffness, its warmth.

‘It need to be put in a wizard’s sleeve,’ I said softly.

‘That’s lucky,’ she said. ‘For I have one here.’ She hitched up her skirts and climbed onto the bed next to me, ready and eager for the act of magic to begin.

Not Having Said That

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Still, not having said any of that has saved a preamble, so we can get straight down to the business of the day…. That is if you’ve remembered to bring along the badger and the tennis racquet.

Once, of course, all this was fields. However, it is probably best not to go into that, especially as trying to park your tractor on someone else’s lawn can be fraught with difficulty. As for manoeuvring your combine harvester in a crowded supermarket car park, especially trying to fit it into one of the mother and baby spaces near the shop entrance, is always going to be awkward and involve far more reversing than a person of your age should be indulging in, especially with your back problem. However, as many have pointed out to you, your back is far more aesthetically pleasing than the front view… even after the operation.

There we have it, then, so if you place the tennis racquet in the cage and make sure the door is securely fastened to prevent anyone having a sudden urge to inflict tennis upon us all, you can take a firm grip of the badger and adopt the stance in readiness.

Meanwhile, I’ll go and get the jar of honey.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Just Rocks

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‘It’s rocks….’ Vetch did not seem impressed. ‘Just rocks.’

‘Yes,’ Stigmun said. ‘That’s the beauty of it.’

‘What… a pile of rocks?’ Vetch walked around the heap of rocks. ‘I mean, what is the point?’

‘Well… it’s the caves.’ Stigmun nodded back to the escarpment where various members of the tribe where going about their normal daily routines, most of which seemed to involve removing bloody bits of animals from inside their skins.

‘Oh, yeah, the caves.’ Vetch nodded as though he understood, then turned to look back at the other man. ‘What about them?’

‘We’re running out….’

‘Well, in a morning, yes, especially if you’ve spent the night around the campfire drinking the fermented juice, then true you will probably need to run out… stagger a bit sharpish anyway.’

‘No,’ Stigmun sighed. ‘We’re running out of room in the caves. All those children….’

‘Oh, the children.’ Vetch nodded. ‘Wish I knew where they all came from.’

‘Well,’ Stigmun said. ‘You know when they women get really big bellies…?’

‘That I do know,’ Vetch said dismissively. ‘All my women seem to be either having babies, or just had one. What I want to know is how the babies get in their bellies in the first place.’

‘That I don’t know.’ The other man admitted. ‘But anyway, I thought with us running out of room in the cave, and there not being that many caves around… then why not make our own.’ He made a gesture to towards the pile of stones. ‘Obviously, you’ll need quite a few stones piled on top of each other and something to go over the top to keep the rain out.’

The other man nodded slowly, then shook his head. ‘Nah,’ he said, turning to walk away. ‘It’ll never catch on.’

On the Road

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Still, as they say you can’t push a stalled Jaguar up a hill, although, to be fair this does tend to apply to most of the big cats, tigers in particular, who – as many naturalists will attest have a noticeable antipathy to any perceived incline.

Furthermore, you can’t always get a gazelle started in the cold weather, especially if it is a bit damp and chimpanzees have a tendency to conk out in the rain.

Many zoologists would also make the point – often very strenuously, whilst backing away out of range – that it is very unwise to attempt a three-point-turn will a gorilla, especially the dominant silverback.

However, giant tortoises are excellent for the older driver, especially those who feel no highway experience is valid without a flat cap and driving gloves.

However, as Curly, Shaggy and Tiny Tim demonstrated last week on Top Beast, the cornering of the kangaroo leaves much to be desired, especially on some far-flung out-of the way winding road in some country no-one without a TV film budget, with a hefty integral expense account will consider visiting.

All-in-all then, it is probably best to stick with standard domestic livestock for normal day-to-day travel, preferably a jersey cow, as these tend to have more optional extras when compared to the basic Friesian. For the wannabe boy racers, of course, there are plenty of breeds of domesticated pigs, from the hot miniatures right through to the swill-guzzling road hogs, for them to choose from.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stories and Strangers

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You emerged out of the mist-shrouded distances onto the early morning path where I was walking.

‘Come with me,’ you said and took me back along paths of mist and dawn to a place you knew.

You said you had spent the evening before listening to the stories I told of the women who know how to take the mornings into their hands and shape worlds out of them for men like me to walk though. You spoke of how I told the story of one such morning where a woman came to me out of the mist-shrouded distances and brought me to a room like this.

It is a room where the bed lies open and waiting, ready for us to fall together. You said you liked those stories that tell of strange meetings between mysterious strangers who meet on mist-shrouded paths and walk away together into some new tale where neither of them knows how it will end.

You let your clothes fall and then took me out of mine and led me back to that bed where you dream of mist-shrouded mornings and strangers who know how to tell the stories you long to hear.

There you began to unravel the tale of our bodies and how they came together; while outside the mists cleared and the morning turned into another fine day.

Wednesday Story: The Sexiest Elbows I had ever Seen

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When we first met she was Emeritus Professor of Post-Colonial Marmalade at the University of Ffestiniog, and she had the sexiest elbows I had ever seen. We met at the Annual Ffestiniog Tapioca-Ignoring Convention, back in the late summer of ’83. At the time neither of us had a Tapioca-Ignoring partner, so naturally – once we found our handicaps were compatible – we teamed up for that autumn’s preliminary Tapioca-Ignoring Cup rounds. Of course, with both of us being amateurs we never expected to get to the finals.

Her name was Plenitude Cleavage and she came from the Welsh valleys, in fact she had quite a Welsh valley herself, never in my experience had I ever seen such a splendid example of nominative determinism in a woman’s body before and I promised myself I would make it my lifetime’s wan… work to study it in all its wondrous depths, especially its deep sonorous echo when I buried my head deep inside that valley and called out her name in wonder and desire.

Although Plenitude had some experience as a teenager of ignoring sago and I had once walked past a rice pudding, both of us were still fairly new to tapioca-ignoring, especially in a competitive setting. But whenever she adopted the traditional tapioca ignoring stance with those oh-so-sexy elbows thrust out in front of her, I knew we were in with a good chance of making the finals, even though every time she did it I had to excuse myself to go and engage in some solitary meditation on my own approach to the game.

Everything went well until the semi-finals when we were drawn against the AntenDec a strange mutant double-foreheaded beast from the wild and untamed Geordie shoreline who had won worldwide fame for the way it blithely stood next to a bread and butter pudding for a whole week without once acknowledging – in any way – the presence of the pudding in the creature’s near vicinity.

The night before the match as we lay in bed together in my Ffestiniog hotel room, Plenitude and I knew the next day would severely test both of us and our ability to disregard a nearby pudding. After I licked the last of that day’s training tapioca from those oh-so-sexy elbows of hers, Plenitude gave me the comfort of her Welsh valley to rest my head as she stroked my worried brow with those still slightly-damp elbows.

The next day’s semi-final was the hardest tapioca-ignoring contest we had ever participated in up until then. The sweat was pouring down the AntenDec’s multiple foreheads as the unnatural creature did its best to exclude the sight of the two bowls of tapioca, on the table in front of it, from its consciousness.

I was staring hard at Plenitude’s elbows as the rested either side of the dish of tapioca she was ignoring, while she concentrated on solving quadratic equations in her head as a way of avoiding any acknowledgement of the existence of the tapioca in front of her.

Twelve hours later, just as the TV station covering the event live went to an advertising break, there was an unearthly scream from the AntenDec beast as it stood on the tapioca-ignoring table, stripped off its clothing and dived heads-first into the now stone-cold tapioca dish on its left before smearing the contents of its other tapioca dish over its genitalia as it got up and strode towards the female celebrity judge, licking its lips and demanding perverse sexual favours, there and then, live on the auditorium stage.

Fortunately, the AntenDec’s keepers were able to throw one of their restraining nets over the rampaging creature before it got too close to the judge. They sedated it and took it away in a wheelbarrow back to its cage ready for the long journey back to the Geordie wilderness where it made its home.

This meant that Plenitude and I were through to the final. That night we celebrated alone together in my hotel room, with Plenitude dipping those sexy elbows of hers in the champagne, they had presented to us for winning the semi-final, for me to lick off as she did that special thing she did with the castanets and the Shrewsbury & Telford A-Z Street Atlas.

The next day was the final. We realised we would be facing the most fearsome tapioca-ignorer in the world. We knew we needed a good night’s sleep. We needed to be rested and ready for what would be the greatest day of our short tapioca-ignoring career. It took some time for us to fall asleep, lying there in each others arms. I kissed her elbows – one after the other – and fell into an uneasy sleep where dreams of huge man-eating elbows rampaged through carnage-strewn city streets awash with tsunami-waves of boiling-hot tapioca.

The next day, when I woke up from my troubled dreams, Plenitude was gone. There was a note on her pillow, signed with the imprint of her left elbow, my favourite and easily the sexier of the two.

It seemed Plenitude had gone back to her summer house in exotic Walsall, leaving Ffestiniog until the new academic year began. Unable to cope with the pressure of the contest she felt that she would be unable to ignore even the smallest bowl of tapioca ever again. Of course, I thought about going after her, but I’d attempted to leave Wales once before and only barely escaped being press-ganged into one of the wild itinerant roaming male-voice choirs that run amok through those wild, lawless valleys.

One day, I knew we’d meet again, especially as she’d left her competition elbow pads on the pillow next to mine.

I packed my things, deciding to leave the hotel too, tears already forming in my eyes, and – this time, for once – it was not because I’d received one of Plenitude’s elbows in a delicate area during our frantic bouts of love-making that had already forced the hotel maintenance staff to re-plaster the ceiling of the room immediately below mine.

As I walked into the hotel lobby, I glanced over at the room where the Tapioca-Ignoring final was about to take place. There was a suitcase there I recognised and standing next to it was Plenitude.

‘I got to the station…’ she said, tears in her eyes. ‘…but I just couldn’t leave.’

I nodded; I knew what the rail service to Walsall was like.

‘I came back to you,’ she said. ‘No-one has ever licked my elbows the way you do.’ There was a look in her eyes that suggested that maybe we ought to tell the hotel staff to begin mixing some fresh ceiling plaster.

Just then, the Tapioca-ignoring competition organiser appeared, telling us to prepare ourselves for the final.

I looked at Plenitude; she looked at me… then nodded. ‘Why not?’ she said.

‘Yeah, why not.’ I agreed.

Facing us in the Tapioca-Ignoring final, we knew, was the world solo tapioca-ignoring champion, the Dread Prescott, Lord of All Pies, whose ability to ignore any foodstuff without a thick pastry crust was the stuff of legend. Even now, long after he once stalked the land causing fear, dread and total incomprehension in the populace, harassed mothers still warned their children that if they did not behave the Dread Prescott would come and gobble them all up.

The Dread Prescott strode into the tapioca-ignoring pit, flanked by his pie flunkies and his elaborately made-up and coiffured floozies. He stood in the centre of the pit as his floozies removed his bight-red silk ceremonial pie-eating cape with a flourish, while he raised his hands above his head, acknowledging the indifference of the crowd as they busied themselves with their flasks of hot tea and cheese sandwiches.

The room was packed to the rafters with people eager to see this final. I tried courting them all, but had to give up after twelve when I ran out of fingers, toes and other countable appendages.

In the ignoring pit, the Dread Prescott made a short speech in its own language, which – it seemed – no-one there could speak, not even his floozies why exchanged confused looks as they folded up his ceremonial pie-eating cape and exited the pit, ready for the match to begin.

The Dread Prescott, of course, as a solo player would have only the one bowl of tapioca to ignore, while we in the other half of the pitch would have two bowls on our table, which meant that we only had limited room for manoeuvre to avoid having to accidentally notice each other’s bowl of tapioca.

The referee blew his whistle for the first half and we were off, the Dread Prescott’s floozies immediately sat down on the edge of the gaming pit and pulled out their knitting, obviously expecting this to be a long match. The connoisseurs of the game, seated in the high auditorium immediately leant forward to study the close-up monitors mounted above the pit, eager to examine our opening stratagems. There were audible gasps from all around the auditorium when they realised that Plenitude was using the always-tricky semi-erect Garfunkel posture opening, which – as we all know – places a great deal of stress on the left elbow as well as making the eyes unusually bright. I looked across at her, concern on my face, wondering if my favourite sexy elbow could stand the pressure, I wondered what I would do that night were Plenitude to injure that elbow, for I knew it would mean a night without the castanets.

I could feel my attention wandering to the bowl of tapioca, half of me wanting to end it, end it now, before Plenitude could damage that oh-so-sexy elbow beyond repair.

A mere three hours later the Dread Prescott said something to the team of invigilators in his own language, possibly about the use of pickled onions in Northamptonshire brothels, the invigilators looked at each other and shrugged, dismissing the claim by the Dread Prescott… whatever it was. The Dread Prescott turned to his floozies, wanting one of them to – no doubt – translate his utterance, but they were both too engrossed in their knitting to notice him. The Dread Prescott cursed – possibly – and gave up trying to attract their attention.

Meanwhile on the tables in front of us the tapioca sat, waiting for one of us to break and take a look at it as it lay so temptingly in the official competition-size bowls.

Suddenly, a mere 18 hours into the opening moves of this tapioca-ignoring final, the Dread Prescott gave a weird keening ululation as his eyes scanned the rows of spectators, his nostrils twitched and his hands opened and closed convulsively on the tapioca-ignoring table in front of him. Everyone in the auditorium turned to see what had caught the Dread Prescott’s eye. Up high on the balcony, I saw, a member of the audience had just pulled a Cornish pasty from his lunch box.

Down here, on the edge of the tapioca-ignoring pit, the Dread Prescott’s floozies hugged each other in terror as his pie flunkies donned their protective headgear and mastication-proof gloves.

With an unearthly cry, the Dread Prescott launched himself from his seat and rumbled across to one of the balcony supporting pillars. He leapt at the pillar and began to climb. Meanwhile up in the balcony the audience member dropped his pasty and fled in terror. Unfortunately the pillar was only strong enough to support a fully-laden 400 seat balcony, so it was no match for the weight of the Dread Prescott. With an almighty groan the pillar tore away from the balcony, as the balcony crashed down on the now-bewildered Dread Prescott, flinging him from the pillar he was climbing and burying him under its rubble pouring down on him.

Plenitude screamed and I turned to see her clutching a bloodied elbow where a piece of decorative coving from the balcony had struck her. I grabbed her around the waist and pulled her behind the protection of the tapioca-ignoring table as another balcony pillar crashed down on the seat she’d been sitting in only seconds before.

Together, we made a run for the auditorium door as dust billowed around us and fragments of shattered balcony ricocheted around our heads.

Outside the auditorium the Dread Prescott’s floozies, wrapped in the dead beast’s cloak were being comforted by his pie flunkies.

Luckily, all of those who had been on the balcony for the competition had fled when they heard the Dread Prescott’s initial frustrated roar when his pie-sensitive nose had first detected the pasty and by the time of his abortive attempt to scale the pillar the balcony was deserted, except for the lone pasty dropped by the fleeing audience member.

A medic came across to check on Plenitude’s bleeding elbow and to check over the various cuts, scratches and bruises I’d suffered under the hail of flying masonry.

Of course, some time later we were presented with the trophy for winning the competition in a rather subdued ceremony, although some argued that - because we’d won by our semi-final and the final through our opposition forfeiting the game by leaving the ignoring pit – our victory was not as clear-cut or as decisive as the competition organisers claimed.

Still, Plenitude and I had the winning cheque for the sum of nearly nine whole pounds to share between us, which we knew could enable us to afford to hire then best suite in the Ffestiniog hotel for a whole fortnight of unbridled passion, sexy elbows and castanet-induced exhaustion, despite Plenitude’s left arm still being in a sling.

Three days later, in a day of national mourning, the Dread Prescott was buried with full military honours by a nation grateful that he was finally out of the way, while the Dread Prescott’s floozies and his pie flunkies immediately flew off to Bangkok together to set home together in exile.

Later that same month, Plenitude and I married in a small ceremony at the Ffestiniog register office and set off for a luxury honeymoon in the bright lights of Walsall, deciding that our days of ignoring tapioca together were now over for ever.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Inadequate Aphorisms

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She came out of the mists of morning, roller-skating naked into our lives with all the… er… with all the… well, like some woman with no clothes on roller-skating… in the mist. You have to admit that folk wisdom is a bit short on similes for such occurrences, not only because most of those aphorisms and sayings seem to date from some distant agrarian past, or to be a load of cock about misfiring muskets, dodgy seafaring mishaps and so forth, they all seem to predate roller-skates… and casual nudity.

However, I suppose I could have come up with some sort of comparison to Lady Godiva, but it is a bit late for that now we are past the moment. Anyway, roller-skates and nudity would probably – in those days of yore – be regarded as akin to witchcraft or something like that. One minute she’d be feeling the air rushing past, ruffling her bush, next thing you know she’s tied to a stake in the village square and starting to smoulder.

Not a great start to the morning by anyone’s standards.

Well, when I say naked – she had socks on… under the skating boot things… as someone who has never roller-skated – even as a child - my knowledge of such accoutrements is limited. As it happens, I wasn’t paying that much attention to the skates… or the socks… or the mist… at the time.

Anyway, before I could even formulate some sort of suitable greeting for such a meeting so early on a misty morning, she was gone… off into the mist almost as if I’d imagined the whole thing… except for the bruise on my cheek where I’d walked into the lamppost as she sped past.

The Poet

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Back then, I pretended to be a poet so I could trade words for your clothes until my poem ended and you were naked. I would scatter lines across the floor of your days for you to dance along and into my waiting arms. I would kiss rhymes onto your lips and entangle your tongue around my rhythms.

Back then, I knew how to make you dance for me. Back then, I knew the shaman’s secret spells that would unlock your desires and turn them towards me.

I thought I knew all the secrets of language and how to get it to perform for me. All I ever wanted, though, was to feel the warmth of your skin against me and feel as though each of those breaths you took were all for me.

I thought I could take you by the hand down to watch that river running by, or take you to the beach and hold you as you looked out across that infinite sea. I thought that all these words would become a magic spell that would capture you for me.

I thought I could do all these things and still you would not know that was only pretending to be a poet so that you could pretend to love me for a while, until the day came when I ran out of soft words to whisper in your ear.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Of All the Fish and Chip Shops in All the World

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Of all the fish and chip shops in all the world, she had to walk into mine. Of course, I remembered her from that time in Luton – after all, no-one can ever forget Luton – but she hadn’t changed. I still remembered that walk, the way she looked at you as if she knew all your secrets and your dreams and would quite like to have a go at a few of them with you, especially the ones involving a large tin bath, nudity and a jug of warm custard.

Most of all, though, I remembered her attitude towards underwear and how she didn’t think much of it, especially when the draft from opening the chip shop door caused her skirt to fly up. I’d always known she was a natural blonde, but now the rest of the chip shop queue knew too.

Still, that night I’d been drinking, drinking to forget. It had worked, at least as far as my legs were concerned; they seemed to have forgotten how to walk. I’d made it to the chip shop though, and was about to be served.

She walked up to me, there at the head of the queue. ‘Let me order for you, Joe,’ she whispered. She stroked my chin with the tip of her finger. ‘I remember just what you like.’ I remembered that perfume, so did the rest of my body. She glanced down. ‘ So, you do remember me, Joe. Well…. Some of you does.’

She smiled. ‘Quite a lot of you, if I remember correctly… and I never forget a… face.’

She turned to the chip shop owner, waiting behind the counter. ‘Fish and chips, Steve… and… oh… plenty of vinegar on the chips.’

I smiled too… she did remember.

She turned back to me. ‘I also remember about the tin bath… and I’ve got some custard back at my place. Interested?’

I was.

A Certain Amount of Dexterity

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Of course, she was the love of my life. I could but not admire her dexterity with the tambourine, if nothing else. I mean, when it comes to balancing a tambourine on the back of a galloping antelope whilst filling in a questionnaire about the mating habits of the trainee supermarket manager, you could not help but be impressed.

Although, as we lay together as the sun set over the smouldering remains of the last feral banker her tribe had feasted upon that night, I had to ask her just what is the use of these - and other such traditional skills - in this day and age….

I mean, riding a bareback seamstress whilst grating cheese into a bucket does require a certain amount of dexterity, but these days it is easier to get a mobile phone app for it, than to go all the way through the forest to the secluded clearings where her tribe camps, just to see it done.

The, of course, she turned on me, anger in her eyes, saying how little I knew of her people, their traditions, their ways and how the women of the tribe we taught how to kill a man with their bare hands and how to incapacitate a man utilising a special trick with the thighs.

I apologised and she let me go… in the end.

One day I hope I will be able to walk normally again, but in the meantime I spend my days polishing my teaspoons, waiting for the darkness to fall and dreaming of revenge.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sometimes

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What is there to say?

Sometimes the words are no use, empty and just noises in the air that have no meaning. Sometimes the words are too heavy, reluctant to fall out into the air and hang there. Sometimes there are just no words; even though the silence seems wrong with too many corners and dark shadowed hiding-places for the misunderstandings to lurk and wait.

Sometimes the words lack the eloquence of a gesture; the delicacy of a hand reaching out across the universes of difference that lie between us.

Sometimes the words are no use, sometimes the stories we tell, thinking those stories are what the other wants to hear, are just words on the wind, light and meaningless, floating away over the hills and lost.

Sometimes there are times when it is only the silence that we have left to hold on to, everything else having fallen useless from our hands. Sometimes even those hands are useless too; incapable of reaching, touching, when the space between is too great.

Sometimes though, it is only the words that can whisper those things we long to say, saying those words we long to hear. Sometimes it is only words that can tell of love and loss and distance and the importance of being close. Sometimes too, it is only words that can ever say sorry.

That Way Anarchy Lies

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Then, sometimes, you realise that you have been discussing the wrong pre-Socratic philosopher all along which explains the way the rest of the impromptu discussion panel in the checkout queue stare at you. Although, I suppose that is only to be expected in the more downmarket supermarkets. In the posh supermarkets, people would be too polite to stare at such a faux pas. They’d just take a sudden deep interest in the quantities of organic humus they had in their trolleys or something like that, or begin discussing with their life-partner whether they had enough finger bowls for their next informal dinner party or something equally fascinating.

Obviously, if you had been discussing classical philosophy somewhere else you would expect someone to point out that it was in fact Heraclitus who first made the remark about foreign cheeses and sell-by dates you erroneously accredited to Pythagoras, without the slightest embarrassment and you could have laughed it off, made an apology and moved on. But supermarket checkout queues are not that forgiving, remember the armed siege that broke out in Littlehampton Safeway back in the 1980s when someone with nine items attempted to enter the 6 items or less (sic) queue?

That way anarchy lies (if you take the third exit from the roundabout and then carry straight on to the traffic lights).

Consequently, my advice is that if you are not completely confident about accrediting your philosophical quotation sources, it is probably best to let the wife do all the routine supermarket shopping on her own in future.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Naked Hopscotch

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Here and now.

So, anyway, I said to him, I said, "And anyway, it isn't right, is it?" Still, as they say.

But anyway, here am I keeping the goat-stretching device all to myself, when this is the first Thursday when you've had a chance to wear the mittens since…. Oh, I don't know how long.

What do you use for spatulas when the donkey is not feeling well?

I don't know how it happened, but the orange marmoset maintenance engineering spanner just broke. It came apart in my hand. Ah, well, I suppose you just have to expect that sort of thing, these days.

Of course, now that it is open on Tuesdays I can have the ceremonial turkey basting shorts professionally ironed the day before, even though it does tend to play havoc with the scheduling of the tadpole sorting excursions with the boys from the Naked Hopscotch club. Never mind though, as they say, it will all come out in the wash.

Now, as I wasn't saying: Hamsters, where do you buy yours? I must get through a good half-dozen a so every fortnight now the bookshelves have been varnished. Sometimes I think it is a good job they do grow on trees.

But, don't laugh; it will be Wednesday again before you know it and we'll have to wheel all the old ladies out onto the motorway… again.

Faced with the Forces of Doom

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Don’t think about it. Just do it.

Excellent advice, no doubt, but when you are faced with the Forces of Doom a little bit of trepidation is probably not that uncommon. I suppose it depends, though, on just how often the Forces of Doom have a habit of turning up in the course of your life.

All in a day’s work for the crime-fighting superhero, you would imagine; maybe not quite so much if you are an insurance loss adjuster, or if you work in a cake shop.

Although, on the other hand you would expect that the rampaging hordes of doom would have some effect on the insurance premiums; a bit like those houses that always seem to end up flooded and on the news when it rains a bit. Although, this being Britain, you’d think people would have worked out how the rain works by now, what with all the experience we get.

You could, perhaps, understand someone in the Gobi or the Sahara being more than a little surprised to see his kitchen under two feet of water one morning, but in Britain?

Anyway….

I suppose the same must apply to the cake shop assistant too. Most people, I imagine, would assume that even rampaging hordes of doom fancy a cake, or maybe a sandwich, or a hot sausage roll every now and then.

I doubt if they’d form much of an orderly queue though. It would be death and destruction, rape and pillage if the shop ran out of chocolate éclairs while half the horde were still waiting to be served. Let alone what would happen if they all wanted change for a tenner or something, or they didn’t think much of the watery coffee.

So, yes – in the end – maybe it is not just superheroes, after all.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nice Guys Finish Here

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Apparently, Up Top there is a saying ‘nice guys finish last’. Down here, they don’t. If we have anything to do with it, they don’t finish at all. Niceness is not something we want to encourage, especially among the minions.

Up Top they also say that we down here are evil. Personally, I don’t really care what they call us, or me, just as long as they show us some respect, some fear, but I find evil is an awfully subjective word. After all, we are just minding our own business, protecting what is ours. I mean, we have spent millennia getting all this stuff, all this treasure, often as legitimate fees for services rendered, and storing it away down here.

I would say that if anyone is evil it is those smug self-congratulatory bastards who saunter on down here and try to take it from us… those… nice guys… those heroes.

We do our best, though, to make them realise just how unwelcome they are when they attempt to enter our domain. Then, when they have worn out their welcome… and our patience, we leave their bones there, where they fell, as a warning to those that follow that we do not like having our peace disturbed by bands of adventurers seeking fame, glory and treasure down here in this labyrinth we like to call our home.

A World Ready

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How was I to shape this world around her?

I had a world ready for someone. I had the sky just the right shade of blue. I had the distant mountains hinting of far travelled places. I had seas and streams, and rivers too. I had hillsides and valleys. I had woods and the open plains. I had animals all around, busy going about their lives.

Still, though, it seemed like an empty world.

Then I remembered her, from another lifetime, from another world a bit like this one. I had not shaped her life for her, not made that world to fit her. She had too many dreams, too much curiosity about what lay beyond the distant hills.

I’d given her a valley to live in, crops and animals to tend, but I had left her alone to live the way she chose. Eventually, though, she chose to leave behind all I had made for her and go to see what lay beyond those distant hills I painted on her horizons.

She made up her mind, one day, to go there and see for herself. She wanted to discover what lay beyond what I’d created just for her….

And what god would allow that?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Cold Lands

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I had never come this far north before, never been to the Cold Lands. Someone, years ago in a roadside tavern, told me the people of the Cold Lands have such cruel and vicious gods that cause their people to live cold hard lives. He also told me that their soldiers patrol the borders looking for strangers, regarding all as spies, invaders and villains.

It didn’t surprise me then when, after only a few hours of crossing the ill-defined borderlands to the Cold Lands, a patrol of soldiers intercepted me. At least, I presumed they were soldiers; they wore tattered remnants of what once may have been uniforms. They were armed of course, but then most that travel the roads are armed, much as I am, and know how to defend themselves, much as I do. I knew there would be little point though in offering resistance to the patrol that surrounded me on that road. None of us knew each other’s languages, so it was by gesture that they indicated they would escort me to the town that lay like a smudged shadow in the misty distance.

I was quite happy to go with them. It seems to be either cold or rainy in the Cold Lands, or on a bad day, both. Furthermore, as the man I met in that tavern so long ago said, most days in the Cold Lands are bad days. Maybe the gods of the Cold Lands want it that way. Maybe the people of the Cold Lands owe some huge debt to those gods.

Whatever the reason, it is not a happy land… but then few lands are. Most though manage to be happy every now and then, but the Cold Lands do not… not ever.

The Last Night of the Storyteller

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Then it was all over.

She came to me again that night, creeping into the bed beside me and pulling the covers up over us. Her naked skin was cold where she warmed herself against me.

‘Tell me a story,’ she said.

‘I have no stories left to tell.’ The box where I kept the stories was empty. She had taken the last one the night before. Now, I had nothing left to tell her, nothing left to say.

Her hand moved down, over my body. ‘I need a story,’ she said. ‘I need to know why my hand is moving down over your body, and why I am doing this,’ she began to kiss down along the path her hand had taken, until her kissing mouth met her hand.

Another kiss, right there. I felt myself respond, my body seeking her mouth, feeling her warm breath caressing me as she spoke. ‘I need a tale to tell me what to do next.’

I looked down to see the moonlight reflected in her eyes. Her hand squeezed. I moaned and thought of all the stories I knew, of all the tales I had told to women like her.

I sighed ‘Once there was a woman who, every night came to the bed of the Storyteller to be told a story to help her sleep,’ I sighed again as her warm mouth closed over me and I felt the first flick of her wet tongue. ‘One night though the story-teller had no more stories left to tell her. “I need a story,” the woman said. “I need to know why my hand is moving down over your body, and why I am doing this.” she began to kiss down along the path her hand had taken, until her kissing mouth met her hand.’

She sighed too now, as the story began and her head and hand began to move in time with each other and with the rhythm of my words.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happiness is a Warm Courgette

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Still, it is not often you see one of those, let alone two. However, it is probably best if we move on from there, as the Advertising Standards Agency tend to get a bit sniffy about that much sex and violence, especially pre-watershed. Having said that, and I think it was me talking, either that or I possess a slightly more eloquent than average desk, then I think it is safe to move on to the a slightly less contentious subject, about which we could all do with some edification.

Trouble is, I can’t think of one.

Well, not one that I’m certain a person of your higher cast of mind, and snugly-fitting underwear would like to peruse, especially on a day like this when there is not a single watermelon in the house, let alone a courgette.

Hey….

Hang on….

Didn’t I just say to let alone the courgette?

Now put it down….

Wipe it, first, though… before you put it back, at least.

Hold on….

Yes, you are right… it is rather a fine example of a courgette…. So fresh… so firm….

Hang on. You stay there… and keep that courgette warm…. I’ll go and fetch a suitably pre-moistened set of bagpipes.

Monday Poem: She is everything

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She is everything

She is like the time
She is like motion
She is the world
She moves through.

She is soft like silk
She is hard as stone
She shines like a star
She orbits around.

She is all the sky
She turns to face.
She laughs at you
She wants to be freedom.

She wants everything
She is everything
She tells no lies
She never tells the truth.

She lives beyond
She will never go home
She will be there when you wake up
She will be gone in the morning.

Friday, March 16, 2012

When it all Stopped

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I was quite young the first time it happened, somewhere around ten or eleven years old. Probably eleven, because I seem to recall I hadn’t long started secondary school when it happened for the second time.

The first time, though, happened when a few of us were playing football, on the local park football pitch. I had a brand new football and we were – I suppose – testing it out. It was quite a windy day and it was a light ball, not regulation weight or anywhere near. Anyway, eventually the ball sailed through our improvised goal – jumpers for goalposts, of course - and over a garden wall.

I knew I had to get my ball back, even though the others all said that there was a dangerous dog in the garden. It was more an orchard than a garden, one that we’d never ever tried to scrump, because of this alleged big vicious dog, despite the fact that none of us could recall ever seeing it.

I climbed up onto the top of the wall and sat astride it, looking down into the orchard. A couple of my friends joined me up there and we peered into the long grass that covered the ground searching for the yellow ball. Eventually we saw it down by the trunk of one of the trees.

There was no sign of any dog, or even a sense that the orchard was anything but deserted. Even so, I dropped down from the wall as stealthily as I could and made straight for the ball.

I was strolling out, back to the wall, with the ball under my arm when the other two boys on the wall screamed and pointed behind me. I turned just in time to see the dog behind me – mid-leap. I crouched down, dropping the ball and covered my face with my arm, waiting for those massive vicious teeth to rip me to shreds….

Nothing happened….

Gingerly, I looked up from under my protecting arm. The dog was there in mid-air, spittle droplets hung in the air under its wide-open jaw, its ears blown back in the now non-existent air-resistance from its leap.

I looked around, one of the boys was open-mouthed too, silently screaming and pointing, the other had his hands over his eyes, half-turning away from the sight of me and the dog.

I didn’t hang around to see how long this tableau would remain, how long the freeze frame would last. I picked up my ball, threw it over the wall and then climbed up the tree nearest the wall.

I was shinning my way halfway along the bough that reached the wall when the roar of the dog and the scream of my mate split the silence again. By the time the boy and dog had realised I was no longer where they thought I was; I was safe back on the top of the wall again.

The Miracle of the Kebab

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‘For what doth it profit a man if he is in the revered street of the late-night takeaways and yet he finds himself short of the dosh to get himself the most holy of kebabs?’ The Prophet Nhigel (May his Plums Dangle Mightily) stared at each of his disciples in turn as they stood swaying in the street outside the kebab shop. Well, all of them except – it seemed – Barry the Tosser.

Nhigel looked around and saw that Barry was in the alley down the side of the supermarket. He seemed to be inducting a lay sister into the Brotherhood of the Mates by the method of the secret handshake. At least, her hand was moving up and down rather rapidly and from the way Barry was chanting the name of the Lord with increasing regularity, Nhigel assumed it would not be long before Barry anointed the acolyte with his holy sacrament.

Nhigel smiled to himself when he looked back at the mates. Big Paul held his hands out to Nhigel, heaped in them was all the spare change the mates could muster between them.

‘Is there enough there?’ Stan the sceptic said.

Nhigel counted. ‘It is a miracle, brothers!’ Nhigel opened the door of the kebab shop. ‘Come let us all feast upon the bounty of the Lord and sing his praises for the wonder of the mighty kebab as we then meander our way homeward.’

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When the Day Came

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Now, those times are long gone.

She used to sit here and watch the river flowing by. She used to have so many endless days. She had a long summer that seemed as though it would never end. Even when September ended and the nights drew their blankets over the skies and the wind grew sharp teeth that nipped at her skin, even then her summer hung on.

There were rainy days, of course. This is England, there are always rainy days, but the sun soon came out in her long summer, and the rain washed her world for her; leaving it clean, leaving it fresh.

For a time, it seemed as though time had stopped. For a time, she began to think that maybe there would be a future. For a time, she forgot about the past.

Then the day came when her summer was suddenly over.

The day came when the past came back.

The day came when those who had spent the long summer searching for her found her.

The day came when there was the sudden crack of gunfire and a dying voice screaming her name: telling her to run, to leave her summer behind and never look back.

Thursday Poem: Those Dark Corners

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Those Dark Corners

The day begins so slowly with the night
slipping reluctantly down from the mind
like some dark creature of the shadow places
retreating hesitant before the dawn
can come and take its hiding places away.

The light will come soon now and chase away
all those dark corners where the fear and dread
still wait, reluctant to face the light, they scamper
away to those dark corners where the day
will never venture, even at its brightest.

For there are those dark places in the corners
always just where we never want to look,
the shadows where such things will grow and breed
and waiting for the darkness to come back.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

All Closed Up

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We no longer speak of that time. The room itself is closed up, the furniture gone, the door closed and the key hidden away in a secret drawer in this desk that is, itself, never used.

We would turn, walk away from the house if we could. There are probably many who would buy it, turn it into something that makes it no longer a home, just that house where that thing happened once in one of its rooms. However, some things are beyond selling. Some things go beyond the physical. Money cannot buy some things. Money cannot help us forget, those of us who were there will remember and the house will remember too.

We tried to turn, to run, to leave, but there is nowhere left that is safe. Everyone knows you cannot escape yourself, no matter where you run. This house is as much us as we are it. It will be our home for as long as we live, for as long as the memory of what happened in that room lives.

I have decided that when I am the last of us left alive, the last thing I will do, before I too decide to die, is burn down this house, making sure that it is that room that is the first to burn.

The Golden Spoon Award

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Sagebush Toadselector was not just any run-of-the-mill dessert impersonator. If fact, her strawberry jam tart and custard won the prestigious Golden Spoon award three times in a row back in the late 1990s, with one judge describing her hand gestures as ‘custard coming alive!’

Although, her real talent lay in custard mimicry, Toadselector was not unwilling to try other pudding accompaniments and sauces. For example, her brandy sauce for her BBC TV Christmas Special was regarded by several TV critics as a masterpiece unlikely ever to be equalled with some rating her show above and beyond the benchmark set by Morecombe and Wise in their heyday. It must be said too that neither Morecombe or Wise ever attempted to portray a sponge pudding in front of a live audience and TV viewers numbered in their millions, using only a piece of cardboard and a boob tube.

However, such cutting-edge dessert impersonation is not without its dangers, and not just from over-eager fans rushing forward with their spoons. Sometimes, say, in the case of pretending to be an apple crumble the risks to the performer – especially if they are attempting to be portraying Bramley apples – are considerable.

Tragedy struck Toadselector in what will from now on always be known as the Great Spotted Dick Disaster, when in a never before seen attempt to recreate over a score of currants live on stage, Toadselector fell thirty feet from her malfunctioning harness onto the stage below. Such was Toadselector’s devotion to her craft and striving for full authenticity she never used a safety net, not even when attempting an Eton Mess.

As the Prime Minister said in his eulogy at her funeral ‘We will not look upon her Apple Strudel again.’ Later that day her body was encased in pastry covered in custard and buried in her home town of Luton, while a honour guard of pastry chefs help their spoons at half mast.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Law of the Conservation of Conversational Momentum

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Obviously, under the law of the conservation of conversational momentum, she is not going to shut up until you admit that you were wrong. However, you should not concede fault at too early an opportunity, especially if all you want to do is get back to watching the match, film, or whatever, or carry on reading your book, or contemplating the eternal verities, or just giving your testicles their next 15-minute realignment check-over.

That way only trouble lies.

And not just in the matter of having uncomfortable inadequately-aligned testicles.

In order to make sure that the law of conservation of conversational momentum is satisfied, there must be an opposite and equal amount of conversational input from both sides of a conversation (or in the case of a multidimensional conversation from all sides), otherwise there will be spare energy left over which she - more often than not – will use up by throwing something at you, quite possibly during the vital last-minute penalty kick.

Therefore you must keep up your side of the conversation, no matter what she says, or says she said to whomever she was having the conversation with that she is now telling you about in minute detail to prove that she was right all along.

However, whatever you do, you should always make sure that she has the last word, otherwise it could lead to the entire destruction of the universe in a massive all-engulfing explosion that destroys space-time in its entirety… and that will all have been your fault, as she will no doubt inform you in the final moment before the entire universe suddenly ceases to exi….

He had Gone

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He had gone.

She sensed something as soon as she walked into the house: a hollowness, an emptiness; the absence of something, of a living person.

As she dashed to room after room, she not only found him gone, but all his stuff had gone too.

His CDs, DVDs and a handful of framed photos he’d taken were gone from one room. The bookshelves showed gaps where his books had once sat. His half of the wardrobe was empty and the shelf he used in the bathroom had only a ring where his shaving foam tin had stood.

Back in the bedroom, wondering what she was going to do as she stood by the half-empty wardrobe, Karen stared at the bed, thinking how big it looked and how cold it would seem. Especially in the mornings, when she rolled over to lie in the warm he left behind as he got up.

In the kitchen, his favourite mug had gone and so had his jar of marmalade.

‘No great loss,’ Karen had never liked marmalade, but whether she was talking to herself about the lack of marmalade, or the apparent lack of Jeff in her life from now on, she was not sure.

In her study, Karen upended the vase over her waiting palm until the small key fell from it. She walked over to the desk, unlocked and pulled open the drawer. It was still there.

She took it from the drawer, reassured by its solid heft. She checked it was loaded. She dropped it into her handbag, along with the box of bullets for it. She took one look around her study and turned for the door.

‘Don’t worry, Jeff. I’m coming for you,’ she said, picking up her bag, feeling the reassuring weight of the gun in it as she slung the bag’s long handle over her should and fished out her car keys from its side-pocket.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Time Stations

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There were times when the times seemed to slip over each other and merge as though two rail tracks came together in a junction and merged into on for a while before separating, splitting out and moving apart again. These places where the time tracks merged were a bit like railway stations too, with separate events coming together all in the one place from different times and unloading their passengers, sometimes even swapping carriages before moving off again, back to their own time.

People seemed to haunt these time stations too, as railway stations seem haunted by the passengers passing through. It is a place of temporary – and temporal – disturbance where people only pass through, but can never call it home or come to rest there.

Usually, people caught the right time train out of those time stations, back to their own time, back to their own lives. There were some who made mistakes, boarded the wrong time, stood on the wrong platform, saw things that did not belong in their time. Some even became involved in things outside their time, things that they were not supposed to involve themselves in.

That is where we came in, we who staffed these time stations, the temporal junctions. Mostly, we were there to assist, put people back on their own time lines. See them safely on their journey with as little inconvenience and disturbance as possible.

However, there were some who came to these places deliberately, intent on using these junctions of time for their own purposes. Those times we had to step in, make sure that time stayed on track, that all the time journeys went on their way, that there were no derailments, crashes or any other disasters brought about by those who tried to tamper with time.

Monday Poem: Once-Invented Gods

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Once-Invented Gods

Now there is only time and there’s no space
outside this, as the numbers fall on down
into the space between the distant spaces.
You twist and turn to become a shape that moves
through distances and times still turning too.

We keep what we can hold, the reaching hand
outstretched towards what we almost can touch.
All reaching for what we can nearly grasp
in hands that need to hold the world so close
to know just how and why it turns always

and why the once-invented gods of old
are no use any more now we have grown
away from their harsh magic and mean purpose
towards a life we can all call our own.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Book Out Now: Choosing Headgear for Penguins

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Choosing Headgear for Penguins

No doubt you have been wondering over the years about what is the most suitable hat for the various breeds of penguin: such as a deerstalker for the King penguins, or whether emperor penguins should wear a top hat.
Perhaps you have also wondered if Napoleon wore a basque under his uniform at the battle of Waterloo and the role that lingerie played in history.
Maybe you have long puzzled over the role of the Stilton cavalry in the English Cheese war.


Possibly you may have pondered who was The Greatest Prime Minister Great Britain Never Had, or who was The Fastest Jelly Baby Diversity Co-Ordinator In The West.


You could have even puzzled over The Fabled Lost Source of the Pork Scratching.


Choosing Headgear for Penguins is the book that answers all of these and many other questions you’ve never thought of asking as well as much, much more about such diverse topics as: Celebrity Extreme Gardening, Eroticism and the Intellectuals, People Staring At Walls, Raiders Of The Lost Car Park, The Latest Celebrity Sex Scandal, The UK’s Leading Adult Film Male Superstar and Weasel Defusing.


Some comments on David Hadley's humour pieces:
"Bloody Hilarious!"
"The hamsters of doom. Dammit, that's poetry. Well done"
"oh my god....I just about died laughing reading this...it's genius! Pure genius! Especially the bit about the fluffy particle...too funny."
"This made me laugh so much, tears came into my eyes...."
"I just sprayed barely masticated tomato all over my keyboard from laughing too hard"
"this really made me laugh. I shall never look at a cup of tea in the same way again."
"Brilliant! made me howl..."
"I think I just broke all my vital organs laughing"

New Book Out Now: Choosing Headgear for Penguins

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Choosing Headgear for Penguins

No doubt you have been wondering over the years about what is the most suitable hat for the various breeds of penguin: such as a deerstalker for the King penguins, or whether emperor penguins should wear a top hat.
Perhaps you have also wondered if Napoleon wore a basque under his uniform at the battle of Waterloo and the role that lingerie played in history.
Maybe you have long puzzled over the role of the Stilton cavalry in the English Cheese war.


Possibly you may have pondered who was The Greatest Prime Minister Great Britain Never Had, or who was The Fastest Jelly Baby Diversity Co-Ordinator In The West.


You could have even puzzled over The Fabled Lost Source of the Pork Scratching.


Choosing Headgear for Penguins is the book that answers all of these and many other questions you’ve never thought of asking as well as much, much more about such diverse topics as: Celebrity Extreme Gardening, Eroticism and the Intellectuals, People Staring At Walls, Raiders Of The Lost Car Park, The Latest Celebrity Sex Scandal, The UK’s Leading Adult Film Male Superstar and Weasel Defusing.


Some comments on David Hadley's humour pieces:
"Bloody Hilarious!"
"The hamsters of doom. Dammit, that's poetry. Well done"
"oh my god....I just about died laughing reading this...it's genius! Pure genius! Especially the bit about the fluffy particle...too funny."
"This made me laugh so much, tears came into my eyes...."
"I just sprayed barely masticated tomato all over my keyboard from laughing too hard"
"this really made me laugh. I shall never look at a cup of tea in the same way again."
"Brilliant! made me howl..."
"I think I just broke all my vital organs laughing"

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Corridors of her Dreams

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I looked back to see her chasing me, down the corridors of her dreams, down the twisting lanes and along the skyways we had travelled together as she slept. We had said good-bye three dreamless nights ago and I had walked away, out of her dreams.

I thought it would be forever.

I thought I would wander these corridors of her dreams, revisit all the places we had spent the night together as she lay sleeping in her bed, remembering the times when she was there with me.

I could only presume that she too had been wandering down her dream corridors and had caught sight of me as I went forlornly from dream place to dream place wondering where it had all gone wrong.

I had come like a thief in the night, easing my way into her dreams, becoming the one she searched for, became the one she met each night as her hands crept down her body to bring her comfort in her sleeping. Only, in the dreams, it was my hands, my body, she saw, felt, tasted, as her fingers moved.

Here I was now, though, running down the corridors looking around frantically for a way out of her dreams, looking for a way back into the dreams of someone else, someone new I’d found when she had turned away to return to her waking world.

The Importance of Recycling

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Of course, it is a matter, most days of just sweeping up all the spare zebras and putting them in a neat pile ready to be taken to the wildlife-recycling centre when there are enough to make the journey worthwhile. There is nothing quite as futile and unnecessary as turning up at the wildlife recycling centre with a zebra or two and a gazelle, especially on the busy days when there is a long queue for the armadillo bins.

Other towns, other cities, other councils, have a collection scheme though, where any unwanted wildlife is put out in a special box, bin or enclosure ready to be collected alongside all the other recycling: cardboard, tin, plastic, unwanted relatives and so on.

After all, even though sorting out the second cousins, say, from the aunties can be a bit labour intensive, it is far better to have to pay for that than the cost of clearing our hedgerows and roadsides of fly-tipped grandparents and discarded younger sisters.

There is also the additional problem of what to do with the toxic waste, such as politicians, estate agents, members of the legal profession and, of course, journalists. There is nothing worse than finding one of these dumped, often without their protective container and usually unmarked. Sometimes if, say, a politician gets in amongst the discarded uncles a whole batch can become contaminated and have to be thrown out, which is a complete waste and makes the who recycling process pointless and more trouble than it is worth.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thursday Poem: Silver Skies

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Silver Skies

It comes right out of silver skies
and wraps itself around us all.
You reach a hand towards a face
all lost in shadow and secret nights.
The name you call out is unknown.
A stranger to you and your world,
your dreams and all your memories.

You didn’t expect someone to come
like this to take hold of your world
and set it spinning once again
here under these new silver skies.

You have had all the golds of summer
and touched the beaten copper autumn,
but now as your old world turns cold
here underneath these silver skies
you find it turning spring again.

All the Accordions of her Desire

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Well, you know, that is just how it is sometimes. Sometimes, you just can’t get the accordions. It is disappointing for her, true. At least though, you did make the effort, so all that shoe polish was not entirely wasted. It did give you the chance to engage in a bit of midnight surveillance of the supermarket car park to see the herds of shopping trolleys in their natural habitat, grazing on the detritus left by the shoppers as they made their way home. Thos shoppers, no doubt, going back to homes replete with all the accordions that any sensuous woman could desire.

Still, you consoled yourself as you made your weary way back home to write up your nature-watching notes, that up until now, at least , she has shown very little interest in the erotic possibilities of the bagpipes to bring back a little romance into tired lives.

Having said that though, however, she still has not admitted that the crowbar and the matching ‘his ‘n’ Hers’ cowbells was not a mistake on her part. At least, the neighbours seemed to believe your claim that the late-night metallic ringing noises were just the result of a bout of emergency plumbing, not the four cowbells of the apocalypse as predicted by the adherents of that strange religion they adhere to. This despite the fact that none of the Saturdays in January brought about the End of Times as they’d so confidently predicted with all the smug glee of the self-righteous looking forward to watching their neighbours go up in flames as just and holy retribution for their ungodly interest in accordions.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Dangers of Helicopter Parents

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There has been a lot written in the media – often by columnists eager to foist some old drivel off on their paying customers - about the dangers of helicopter parents. I – for one – do not see the problem with this. As long as the offspring of the aforesaid parents have a good healthy set of rotor blades and they don’t leave their landing pads in a mess, then they should be all right. Some could even grow up and get a career in air-sea rescue, or as an air ambulance.

It is not like those main battle tank parents who let their self-propelled artillery run amok across other people’s battlefields just when they are trying to settle down to a nice cosy long drawn-out war.

Then there are the mother ships that leave their young rowing boats and teenage yachts crowding up the harbours with no real supervision while the mother ships are off on cruises to faraway places.

However, the true menace of our time are those who have created a world where the bicycle can – seemingly – breed at will, infesting our roads and country lanes with something that is a best a menace and often no better then two-wheeled vermin. That has to stop and stop now, before everyone in the world ends up wearing lycra and silly helmets.

The Contemporary Art World

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Nowadays it is not unknown for someone not well-versed in the art of ketchup-based artistry to produce significant works of great artistic merit through the accidental spillage of their ketchup – or – even on occasions – their brown sauce.

For example, the art world was shocked, astounded and then quite aroused recently when Trilby Dropkick, a former clerical worker from Droitwich exhibited her Breakfast No. VII at the prestigious Condescension gallery. This revolutionary art work consisted of the standard sausage, bacon and beans, but also with the rarely seen – certainly in London metropolitan exhibition breakfasts - black pudding, all with their individual blob of ketchup placed in the exact geometrical centre of each individual foodstuff item.

Not since Splurge Dollop, first exhibited his Thatcherite-Tyranny Bacon Sandwich Hegemony back in the late 80s had the London art world seen such daring use of tomato ketchup. Of course, Dollop’s later works, featuring balsamic vinegar and some of the more exotic salad oils, were regarded by most critics as evidence of Dollop selling out to the art – if not the catering - establishment. Ever since then, the London art world has been looking for a new darling. It now seems Dropkick came along at just the right time. However, it remains to be seen if she can keep up with these first inspired ideas, especially come the inevitable time when her ketchup bottle runs out.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Now

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Here is now, waiting for you. It may not be quite the now you were looking for all those years ago when you set out on your journey to look for that time you could call your own. Back then, you lived the time carved by others: parents, teachers, adults and your young friends. Back then, you didn’t even know that one day you would be alone with your own time, wondering what to do with it. Back then, you didn’t even think about time that much, except noticing how schooldays dragged and the weekends were always over far too soon, descending almost immediately into that Sunday evening torpor when the threat of the week ahead grew huge in the mind, growing claws, teeth and talons ready to rip you away from all that mattered to you.

Then, though, slowly, all those other times faded away, leaving you here looking at this now you hold in your hand as you wonder what to do with it, realise every time you glance down at it, it has grown smaller, lost more of its shine and sparkle. There was a time when you almost held the whole world in your hand and the now filled that world, pulsing with bright possibilities. Now all you have is this one small now, pulsing with a fading light that you know one day will grow dark and then disappear.

The Safe House

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I had not seen her in months. When we met again, eventually, it was almost like meeting each other for the first time. The safe house, this time, was a large bare flat up high in a tower block. It made me nervous, being up that high. It always limits the chances of escape. After all, there is only the one way to go, realistically, and that is down. Up this high you soon run out of options to go any higher.

Unless you sprout wings, of course, such things, though, require more planning and time than we had; although, it has been done. You do feel incredibly vulnerable though, up there, exposed to the gun sights of the chasing police officers. It only works, therefore, if you do it unexpectedly. If you do it and they have marksmen ready… well, I’ve seen that happen too.

Anyway, Mary was there in the flat when I arrived. I wasn’t expecting it. Paths do cross occasionally, but never predictably. One of the first things the Underground learnt, back in the early, bloody days, was that predictability meant death, or worse – capture.

We didn’t say much. There is not much too say. The memories haunt us like ghosts. We can see it in each other’s eyes. If the security forces ever invent some machine that can detect the ghosts of comrades lost in people’s eyes, then the Underground will be finished. We all carry those memories, those scars. Sometimes I think we only carry on out of habit, the habit of always running, and not always just from the security forces and the secret police.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Monday Poem: The Way Back

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The Way Back

All of this is hidden in the darkest corners
of those places you do not want to go,
if these are memories, they haunt
you like malignant ghosts.

If they are not memories, you walk
these halls and corridors,
searching for a shape to bring forth
a new world from these ashes

Of a life you once held so close
that you could feel every breath it took
as it waited to be set free
to fly away to its own world

Far out of your reach
and long lost from your sight.
you thought you would be left
with something more

Than the ashes of memory
that life could leave its mark.
But now you wander these rooms
and all these meandering corridors

Looking for a way back to then,
so you can start all over once more
and find a route through, back
to that place you thought you knew.

Semi-Finals

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It was… oooh… easily as big as big thing. But, over the other side down by the purple end there was one of those things that is a bit smaller than one of those not very big things you sometimes see advertised as not being as big as you’d think they would need to be, considering the amount of petrol it takes to ignite a member of the judiciary.

Still, as Doreen said at the time, you wouldn’t want to paint it. Frankly, I wouldn’t even want to sketch it, but then that is why I had the camera and the two rather nice-looking underdressed young ladies willing to disport themselves across various items for a small no-questions asked fee.

Back in those days though, such things were much easier than they are now. All those health and safety regulations and still our newspapers are full of reports of wallabies abandoned by the roadside and cruelly discarded wildebeests still in their original packaging. However, as I said to the VAT inspector, you won’t get that to come out in the wash.

She laughed, of course, but you mark my words (out of ten), she won’t be laughing once they get knocked out in the semi-finals again. Still, the cheese was nice.

Maternal Theorems

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As my wise old mum used to say: ‘The square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides’. But she was a mathematician and you had to think yourself lucky that she didn’t recite the formula for solving quadratic equations at moments of crisis, especially as she always had trouble remembering it all and often had to work it out from first principles, which often necessitated carrying a blackboard and chalk on family outings.

Still, it was a happy childhood, even though we had to display our working far more than other children of our age. I still have the book of four-figure log tables she gave me for my fourth birthday, even though the picture of Bambi on the cover does make it seem less than grown-up these days. I can still remember the bedtime stories she’d read to use from Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and the necessity of repeating al our times tables before sitting down to the evening meal together as we checked to see which one of us she’d favoured with a prime number of vegetables.

Still, all good things come to an end, except those that are infinite, of course, and she seemed so disappointed in me when I said I was off to university to study Golf Course Management, instead of the Pure Maths she’d always hoped I’d choose. But I had to go my own way, even though she regarded my interest in the trigonometry of golf courses as trivial, at best.

Anyway, at night now, I’ve found myself reading some of the great mathematical theorems to my own children at bedtime and every now and then, my wife and I do a few equations together in the moonlight.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Scattered over the Possibility of a Day

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Then you shake the dark sheets of the night and watch the stars scatter and fall, twisting the shape of this universe into something new. A place where the possibilities arise and all your dreams become true. There was a time when you thought all of this was just some dust you scattered over the possibility of a day, to take it all into your hands and shape it into something of your own choosing. That this could be the day when that one special person would come, appearing out of the mists of the dawn to take you on into a day like no other you could ever have known.

These days you no longer expect handsome princes, or that dark-eyed wanderer of the highways to come and take you away from all this. You have heard too many stories like that to believe any more of them. You know that adventures are not for the like of us, we are those that plod through our days; no longer waiting, hoping or dreaming. We have all heard too many stories, and we know that none of them will ever come true.

Then, though, you hear the muffled sounds of movement deep in the morning mists and see a shadow forming into solidity and wonder, could this be that day, after all?

The Blue Llama Period

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Sometimes it all seems so worthless, at least as far as the llamas are concerned. Although, eventually you do get used to the looks of disdain from the llamas as you watch them taking it in turns to roller-skate past your pagoda and make noises of disapproval at your latest ‘artistic’ venture. Bitterly, you remember the times when your artistic ability was unquestioned and the sheer brilliance with which you placed primary-coloured eggcups at the cardinal points of the compass on a piece of semi-masticated cardboard was acclaimed by all. An artwork often regarded as the greatest stroke of artistic genius since Leonardo told Mona Lisa to stop being such a miserable cow and try to smile a bit.

Now, though – since the incident involving the llama and the tin of Magnolia emulsion - you have become the centre of an intense amount of llama-based protest and concentrated scrutiny by those selfsame mammals. Llamas – as we all know only too well – have always been rather careful of their portrayal especially in critically-acclaimed artworks. After all, famously, it was his botched attempt to paint a pair of llamas in moonlight that led to Van Gogh’s depression and the argument with a llama-obsessed young lady that led to his ear-related incident. Not only that, Bruegel once became the centre of a llama protest when he attempted to portray a llama as a familiar of the devil that delighted in inserting red-hot pokers in the fundaments of disgraced clergymen. As for Picasso and his famous Blue Llama period, the antagonism towards the painter by a mob of llamas protesting outside his studio forced the artist to flee the country, taking with him only seven of his current mistresses and two paintbrushes.

All this means you should take to heart – whenever you wish to portray llamas in an artistic medium - this warning from history.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Here is a Box

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Sometimes, it all waits there.

You see the box, just an ordinary cardboard box, no different to any of the thousands of other boxes you have ever seen, sitting on an ordinary table. There is nothing special about the table, or – for that matter – anything very remarkable about the room containing the table.

It seems so ordinary, so commonplace.

And yet….

This is my box, and I have brought it here for you to open. You have been here before and you have seen this box opened and its contents spilled out across these pages. You know that today this box could contain worlds you have never seen before, places you have never known, creatures you have never seen. You know too, though that it can contain mountains, rivers, valleys and all the seasons of the year. It can contain dark words where strange creatures wait for the unwary to pass by. It can contain bright summer valleys where gentle rivers flow and the days pass like butterflies.

You know too that she is bound to be there, dressed - or not – in whatever I have chosen for her; there waiting patiently for a story I have promised her will soon begin.