Google+ A Tangled Rope: 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Polishing It… Furiously


Well, anyway, there she was with her doodahs all like a wossname at thingamajig, so all I could do was get the whatchamacallit out and polish it… furiously. As I said to the vicar at the time: ‘you don’t get many of them to the pound’, especially now when we have to dance in metric.

However, when she got the bagpipes out the vicar made his excuses and left. That is the sort of thing you have to expect with vicars, bringing religion into it and spoiling it for the rest of us. However, once the vicar had pedalled away, leaving with the harmonium in a very precarious position on the back of his unicycle, she locked the bagpipes back in their cage and got the Ludo board out.

So, all’s well that ends well, except for the dull ache in the back of the thighs and still – even now – all these weeks later she still has a tendency to blush when anyone offers her a teacake.

However, as I’ve said before – once or twice – sometimes you have to be careful when she gets her doodahs out, insisting that we all sing along. Still, her from down the road at number 32 did that dance she does when she’s had a few too many advocaats, so that made the evening rather more memorable than would be the case, even for a Thursday.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Three Bears


Once upon a time there were another three bears: Daddy Bear, Mommy Bear and Mommy’s Special Friend Bear. Mommy’s Special Friend Bear used to come around to Daddy Bear and Mommy Bear’s den when he knew Daddy Bear was out, usually meeting with other activist bears down at the forest Drop-In Centre where they would organise campaigns about the prejudicial stereotyping of bears and what they got up to in the woods.

Meanwhile, Mommy Bear and Mommy’s Special Friend Bear were busy doing other things in the woods that were fair more sanitary than the things bears are usually presumed to do in the woods, although by the end of it they both usually need to use some soft tissue to wipe themselves down.

However, little did they know that one day their woodland-based activities would come to an abrupt end when, early one morning, Mommy Bear and Mommy’s Special Friend Bear were caught red-pawed by Daddy Bear and his activist friends as they led a protest march through the glade where Mommy Bear and Mommy’s Special Friend Bear were engaged in an activity - involving bondage gear and paw-cuffs - not usually associated with bears, not least outside David Attenborough’s private ursine DVD collection, anyway.

Anyway, as with all these stories they all lived happily ever after, but that was only because Daddy Bear had already, by then, met another Daddy Bear in the activist meetings who liked to do those other things bears do in the woods, but with other Daddy Bears instead of Mommy Bears, which – to Daddy Bear’s surprise, Mommy Bear said she’d always had her suspicions about. She had, she growled, some years ago come to the conclusion that Daddy Bear would be happier in the company of other Daddy Bears, anyway.

So, that was that, even though the protest march never got any publicity for the Bear’s Rights cause, because - as we know – journalists never go down to the woods, not even to cover the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, which is surprising as it is a far more adult affair than we have – up until now – been led to believe.

An Essential Rock Band


Corrugated Transfat released their first single, on the incredibly hip Tosser label, way back in the mists of 1977, a time when all the hip young things were trying to persuade everyone, including themselves that punk was the thing of the moment. Despite arriving on the scene at the same time as punk, and releasing their first three singles on one of punk’s most iconic record labels, Corrugated Transfat were never really a punk band. For example, their lead guitarist Trim Understeer, knew which way up to hold a guitar and – despite the rumours to the contrary - their drummer, Crude Undertakings, never once tried to eat his own drum sticks.

That first single, Petrol in My left Ear (Baby) was totally ignored by the record-buying public, thereby forcing the music journalists trying to prove their street-cred into branding it an instant classic, the one single of the year everyone who regarded himself (this was, of course a totally male thing) as a serious record collector needed to bite off his own granny’s left leg to get hold of.

However, despite a significant increase in the number of suddenly semi-ambulatory old-age pensioners, the record never got the chart success the more deludedly-fashionable of the music journalists wanted it to be. This only went on to prove to them that they were right, for the only thing better that chart success to a hip journalist on the music papers was a complete lack of chart success by those they championed.

Not long after, Corrugated Transfat, split up due to the perennial ‘musical differences’ when their bass player, Torquewrench Portakabin, got a proper job with a leading accountancy firm, thereby instantly making the band the name to drop when reminiscing about the punk era with other similar overweight middle managers and sales reps pretending that ‘yeah, like I was there, man’.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Being First


‘It’s these mornings,’ she said.

‘Oh,’ I said, glancing around. It seemed like a lovely spring day, just the way I like them – as always, of course.

‘They’re too cold.’

‘Oh.’ For a moment I thought about telling her about winter. It seemed an interesting idea when it came to me yesterday.

‘It’s the damp ground. It makes me feel all stiff and cold when I wake up… and there’s this.’

‘Dew,’ I said.


‘That’s what it’s called. What I named it.’

‘D… dew? Really? Why…?’ She flicked some of the dampness off her thigh. Some of it landed on the man. He twitched in his sleep. ’At first I thought I’d wet myself… in the night. Actually, that is something else I wanted to ask you about?’

‘Yes?’ I sighed. This looked as though it would be a long morning.

‘I mean this whole food and the… the other business. It occurred to me if we didn’t have to put the stuff, the food and water in the one end, then it wouldn’t need to come out the other. Am I right?’

I nodded. ‘I suppose….’ I said, wondering where she was going with this one. The day before it was about how some of the animals have nice soft fur while she and the man had only their skin and the odd patch of hair here and there that didn’t seem much use, at least not to her.

‘Well,’ I said. ‘Getting the food and eating it and so on… well, it gives you something to do, doesn’t it?’ I looked around. ‘After all, there’s not much else to do, is there?’ I regretted it as soon as I said it.

She looked at me. ‘That’s another thing….’ she said.

The Vital Importance of a Well-Buttered Mandolin


Still, it is not often you get to hold one, at least not your own, in mixed company like that. Obviously, she had buttered it first of course. We may be not quite as middle-class in these parts as some would like, but at least we are not totally uncivilised.

After all, we do clean up afterwards, even if there is strawberry jam spread across some of the less accessible surfaces of the history professor by the time we break for tea and biscuits.

Not only that, some of those in the choir have been given a warm hand for any extemporaneous soloing brought on by the sudden loss of control over a mandolin that has been over-buttered, but at least we keep our socks on throughout. Not only that, the choirmaster still has all his own original sandwich boxes, dating right back to the early 1960s.

So, you see despite what the self-aggrandising metropolitan elite wish to claim, we here in the outlying parts of this once-great land are not without our civilised and civilising accomplishments, even though it does tend to cost quite a lot to make sure there is always enough butter for the mandolin, especially during the summer festival season which is now almost upon us.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Night of the Shortage of Spoons


It all began on the now infamous Night of the Shortage of Spoons, that tragic night when the vast majority of the UK's transport cafés were left without any adequate tea-stirring utensils, thus bringing the whole country to the verge of chaos. Up until then, the UK had been run in its usual half-arsed way by the usual bunch of incompetents masquerading as one or other of the usual political parties. However, when one more-than-amply-chested photogenic young woman complained to a tabloid on a slow news day that, because of recent government social security cutbacks, she did not have enough cutlery to adequately provision her children, panic broke out.

Luckily, the various tabloids were on the look-out for a scandal they could inflate into something way beyond its actual importance, and because this young lady was more than willing to be interviewed with her top off, they were in luck.

In a matter of days, the government's inbuilt ability to shoot itself in both feet was ruthlessly exploited by a news media eager to fuck somebody over about something or other in order to tempt viewers and readers back in front of their advertisers, and – in the case of the BBC – because the leaders of that particular party had all been to the same posh school as the BBC staff who felt typical middle-class guilt about themselves and their moderate amounts of privilege, without having to really do anything about it.

Suddenly, seemingly overnight - as with all these media-generated panics – the whole of the UK seemed to run out of spoons. Not since some TV chef had claimed that some obscure culinary gadget was essential for anyone who wanted to take themselves seriously in the kitchen had the UK’s shops been inundated with people desperate for utensils.

Obviously, the media, once they saw their manufactured panic had taken hold, did their best to keep the pressure up on the already over-harassed populace by feverish reporting each and every spoon purchase-instigated frenzy, panic and stampede. Reporters breathlessly screamed into their mikes at shopping centres and High Streets across the country as new suppliers of spoons were found, only for rampaging hordes of desperate shoppers to pour into the area, frantically hunting for the spoons that would bring meaning to their lives.

Then, just as suddenly and for no discernable reason, the panic was over, leaving some of the slower moving media outlets with half-completed Spoonmania documentaries and features left to gather dust while the populace got itself worked up in a frenzy when someone almost moderately famous said something almost interesting on some social network or other, which immediately created yet another media feeding frenzy, until that too ended as suddenly as it began.

Something Not Quite Right


There are times… well, a few times…. Actually every now and then… or, maybe once in a lifetime there is a time when you begin to think that all is not quite as it should be.

I don’t know: maybe you suddenly become concerned about the curious silence in the mainstream media about the penguins, maybe you one day realise that you cheese salad baguette does not quite live up to what you expected of it, maybe your spanners no longer have the allure of your younger days.

Anyway, whatever it is about your life, or at least one aspect of it, there is something not quite right. Maybe you realise that all the stuff you’ve bought recently is not what you wanted, but still you bought it anyway, perhaps even you have become even dimly aware that buying things really doesn’t seem to make all that much difference. Except – obviously – to your bank account and that the latest gizmotronic wizardry leaves you feeling flatter than a field in Norfolk or a supermodel’s frontage.

Whatever it is that you feel is not right you know there is little you, or anyone, can do to put it right, because you don’t really know what is wrong, apart from everything and that it all seems too big, too complicated, too much of a pain in the arse to even attempt to put it right.

It is then, only then, that you sit down and realise that you are well and truly fucked.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Head Prefect


Pete was sorting through his sports bag, checking everything was there, ready for his gym session. ‘So, what sort of thing do you want to do?’

Howard shrugged. ‘I dunno.’

‘There must be something?’

Howard stood up behind his desk and shrugged his jacket on. ‘Like what?’

‘I… er… football?’

‘Nah, not that interested.’ Howard checked his pockets, checking his keys, phone and everything else were all where they should be.

‘Oh, what then? Do you like any sport?’ Pete rummaged through the chaos on his desk, looking for his phone.

‘No, not really,’ Howard said tapping his fingers on his empty sandwich box. ‘I was nearly always the last one they picked. Just before the weedy swot with thick glasses, and the fat kid who always went in goal and spent the whole game eating crisps.’

Pete found his phone and looked up at his workmate. ‘Oh… right.’

‘I suppose you were the sort that was good at sports, then?’

Pete stood a bit straighter. ‘Well, yes. Captain of the school team.’

Howard shook his head. ‘I bet you were Head Prefect too.’


‘Typical, and they wonder why most boys don't like studying.’

‘I was in the top class.’ Pete countered.

‘Oh, yes?’

‘Well… only just.’

‘See?’ Howard grinned.

‘But if they'd picked, say, the weedy swot as Head Prefect everyone would have just laughed at him.’ Pete hefted his sports bag, pleased by the solid weight of it.

‘Maybe,’ Howard said, checking the lid on his sandwich box was sealed properly all the way around.

‘No doubt about it,’ Pete said as he headed towards the office door. ‘He only lasted three days as an ordinary prefect before someone flushed his head down the bogs.’

Howard looked up. ‘Sods. Why did they do that?’

Pete looked back into the office from the corridor as the door closed on him. ‘Well… er… he did call me a moron. Bye’

‘Bye,’ Howard called as the door shut behind Pete. ‘He was right about that though… the poor kid,’ he added quietly as he got up to leave too.

The Untidy Universe


There is nothing. Everything is emptiness and hollowness.

But then that does save the bother of having to find somewhere to put it all. There should be at least some cupboard space, but there never is.

‘There is,’ as Wittgenstein said about this great philosophical conundrum, ‘never enough space on top of the wardrobe. For that which we cannot find space for, we must learn to live without.’

It is a problem overcome by nature in its constantly expanding universe. Obviously, some cosmic force had tried to stuff all of space and time into a universal cupboard, only to find it suddenly bursting back out again in what we now call the Big Bang.

Despite the complete lack of evidence for one, perhaps there was some sort of god after all. Perhaps a god whose wife suggested that he might tidy up the form and void a bit and put some of that matter away he’d left about all over her nice clean eternity.

So, like any normal bloke he just rammed it all in the universal cupboard and went off to watch the football on the telly, then jut as he’d settled down with a beer, the big bang burst out and there he was with a universe all over his wife’s nice clean floor.

No wonder he buggered off pretty sharpish as soon as the universe came into being and hasn’t been seen since.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Finding a Route Back


Perhaps we will see. Perhaps one day we will find ourselves back on that beach, back where it all began. Perhaps we will be able to search the memories in each other’s eyes and find a route that will take us back there, back to before it all went so wrong.

Sometimes, it is hard to see where the change happened, where what came later began. Sometimes it is not a big thing, not something that seemed to fall out of the sky, out of nowhere, to block the path. Sometimes it is no more than a mere handful of small diversions where either one of you, or both of you just stepped off the side of the path for a moment. Each small deviation from your route together adding up over time, until one day you wake up to find you parted at some out of the way crossroads and now you travel different roads.

Occasionally, those roads will go off in completely different directions, each of you fading from the other’s view until you realise you now both walk alone. Other times though, you find your roads come back together, you meet again almost as strangers to each other. That is why we stand here, now, on this beach where our two separate paths came together again. We stand side by side looking out at the sea where both those roads ended and we look down to find we are standing here hand in hand.

Monday Poem: Her Fingers


Her Fingers

Now, look at her long thin fingers
how they curl close around your world
to take sharp hold of your life
giving it shape, form and meaning.

She takes the hand of all your mornings
and takes them on down to the river
to wash you clean of all you want to forget
and the heavy stains of too much memory.

You want to go back to those times
when she could make a world for you
just with a gesture of those hands,
her eloquent fingers creating landscapes
for you both to walk through together.

Friday, April 20, 2012

She Got Lost


She had too many of those times written in the lines of her face. Back then, we had all the immortality of youth and we thought we could go on forever. Time happens to all of us though, mostly while we aren’t looking. Turn away for a moment and when you turn back you find years have slipped by and the face that looks back at you from the mirror has become the face of your parent.

They always warned us that things like this would happen. We were too young to appreciate their advice, though. Now we know as we watch our children making the same mistakes we did, that they will not realise until it is too late that everything we tell them is true and they will not be young forever.

I remember how we would let the days slip by us as though they would go on and on forever, about how life seemed like an endless road we could wander down, not looking back, not looking forward, just dancing our days away down that road.

She got lost though, sat down at one of the many crossroads to see what would happen and now she stares at that stranger’s face, at the woman who is lost to her, who stares back from the mirror, wanting to tell her what happened to all those years, all her life, but does not know what to say.

Garden Birds of the UK


Even the experts are baffled by the claim of an appearance in the UK’s gardens, parks and other open spaces of what appears to be a new species of bird, never before seen in the British Isles.

As everyone without a special interest in birds knows, in Britain there are two species of garden birds: urban pigeons and the other small brown ones. For decades now, ornithologists have been desperate to keep alive the illusion that there is more than one type of small brown bird by giving them interesting names like warbler, great tit, wagtail and other such names which hint at a rather interesting sex life for those birds, thus creating the whole bird watching industry. Then - kitted out with all the necessary expensive gear – thousands upon thousands of bird watchers try in vain to discover which of these small brown birds isn’t a small brown bird after all, and could be the one rumoured to engage in some weird bird on bird hot sex action that the names given to these various species imply. Usually, though, all the small brown bird ever does is sit on a branch with a twig in its mouth.

Some naturalists insist there are some colourful birds out in the British countryside and that they do – indeed - live up to their names by getting down and dirty with each other in many inventive and feather-curling ways – but not while anyone is watching. These naturalists maintain that as soon as a human with a pair of binoculars comes within range these birds hide their colourful plumage under the plain brown overcoat of feathers and settle down for a bit of stick-holding until the bird watcher gets bored and goes home.

However, other bird-watchers point to the complete lack of any verifiable evidence whatsoever that there are any British birds that are not either pigeons or small, brown and boring, unless you are the sort of person intrigued by an ornithological twig-fetishist.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Becoming an Adult


‘Go on,’ Sue said. ‘You know you want to.’

I wiped my nervous hands together. I have never been this close to one before. I felt hot, sticky… aroused. Only recently had I become aware that there was this other, this adult, world out there that I had up until then not known anything about.

As I got older, though, I began to notice how the adult conversations changed when I entered the room; how subtle little gestures, winks, gestures of the hand and head, uses of words to mean other than I thought they meant and other adult distortions of what had to me up until then been an uncomplicated and straightforward life.

Sue, of course, claimed to be sophisticated, older than our years. She claimed she had done it with another boy at her older sister’s wedding. She saw me staring at what she’d uncovered.

‘That one’s Brie,’ she said. ‘It’s foreign… French.’

Up until recently I’d only been dimly aware that there were other cheeses apart from the plain ordinary cheddar we had as children. I’d once heard my father whisper something about Stilton once, but my mother had hushed him and nodded over to where we children were innocently busy with our Dairylea cheese triangles.

Now, though, here I was alone with a girl and a cheeseboard. She asked me if I knew about crackers and – of course – I said yes. But all I knew about cheese biscuits were those typical schoolboy jokes, teasing and moments of bragging.

One boy I knew had been caught by a teacher with a Water Biscuit. Of course, back in those days, schools still had the cane. The boy – Jenkins – later said that it had been worth it, but there were tears in his eyes when he came out of the headmaster’s study and for the rest of that term he only ever brought ham sandwiches to school.

Public Artwork


Well, anyway, here we are standing next to the latest piece of public sculpture commission by a local authority to commemorate some pet project or other some local councillor wanted to….

Hang on… sorry, this is not it.

Apparently, this is the local council Recycling Centre overflow pile.

The sculpture is over there….

Hang on….

Anyway, I have here with me, the local councillor: Wodge Spendthrift.

Ms Spendthrift, can I begin by…? Er…. So, this is it? Are you sure? To be honest, I think I preferred that pile of recycling.

Ah, unfortunately Ms Spendthrift has just remembered another appointment, so moving on….

The local council apparently had to close down six libraries and seven old people’s homes in order to afford to commission this… this… this thing. Obviously, it is money well spent as specially-commissioned research has shown that it could bring in significant amounts of tourists… quite possibly in order to wonder at the complete waste of money that the council has pissed away on this… this….

Oh, apparently, it has won an award. Unsurprisingly it is an award by a committee trying to promote more public sculptures of this kind and that committee is mainly made up from the people who would receive significant percentages of that commissioning money.

Apparently, a reader of a local newspaper has worked out it would have been cheaper for the council to burn a pile of five pound notes heaped up to the same height as this… this… thing….

Anyway, back to the studio… please.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Washed Away Life


I took her by the hand and took her away from that life she was leading. I took her from that world she was living in, where all the colours had washed away and faded in the endless rains that fell down on her there.

I took her to a new place. I took her gently by the hand and took her to that valley I had made just for us. I took her to that house that sat there, nestled under the curving hills like a precious jewel in the palm of a cupped hand.

I took her inside that small house I had built for us and showed her how our lives would grow out from there. I took her into the bathroom and threw away her old life with her tired old shabby clothes. I bathed her old life from her skin and then scented her with the sweet living smells of her new life.

I took her to the bedroom and we lay down together as I kissed her new life into being. I kissed from the top of her head, down over each eyelid to the top of her nose and on to her lips. Then I kissed on down her neck and down and down until she knew this new life would take her body to places she’d only ever known before in dreams and in glimpses of what is possible that always hung so tantalisingly beyond her reach.

Then I told her to sleep, letting her old life fade away into grey memory, ready to begin her new life in the morning.

Her Gentle Lands


It was a cold rough land where the winds raged in torment and the snows and rains fell as though the heavens were cursing the land that shuddered and shivered beneath them. It was not a land for the gentle and the graceful, for the delicate and the fine, so what she was doing there, so out of place in that harsh land, I never knew.

She had created a soft place, a world of diaphanous drapery and curtains. A slow calm place of warmth and peace where calm replaced the rough winds and the cold rains and snows could not penetrate.

I – from those tormented lands outside – was out of place there, too rough for her gentle world. My heavy hands tore through those delicate draperies and soft curtains. My voice set those fine hangings all shivering and shaking as though my words made them tremble in fear of my wrath.

She, though, stepped up to me, soft, naked and warm, scented from her bath, and took my rough hand in hers. It was like being touch by air, as though some gentle creature had taken me under its wing.

Later, she kissed the scars that creased my leathery hide and asked me to tell her their stories and how the world outside had battered my weary body. She promised to mend me, to heal me, to show me a new world far from those snows, rains and storms, far from the thunder, fear, death and cruelty that I had thought – up until then – was all I would know of this struggle we call life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sometimes a Glance


Sometimes the words are not enough. Sometimes the words are unnecessary. Silence is often more eloquent than mere language ever can be. Sometimes a glance is enough.

We saw each other across a room: a room too large, too noisy for either of us to speak to each other. She looked around, obviously bored by the man who was failing to impress her. I was over by the bookcase, not interested in talking any more; not that I had nothing to say, just that there didn’t seem to be anyone there worth talking to. My sojourn over by the bookcase had proved to me why, for what I’d first taken for books turned out to be DVDs in fake leather plastic cases meant – for some reason – to look like books.

We caught each other’s eye and each gave one of those despairing half-smiles and the slight movement of the head that indicates we felt the same, even though most of the room separated us.

I looked over towards a door and raised an eyebrow. She nodded and just left her interlocutor in mid-anecdote, his arms outstretched wide as though trying to encircle his ego.

The door led nowhere, another room, this one in darkness as though forgotten. She came over to me.

‘No. Don’t talk,’ she said, even though I had no intention of speaking. ‘Just kiss me.’

I kissed her. She seemed to think it was good. She kissed me back.

‘Do you have a name?’ she said.


‘Do I need to know it?’

‘No.’ Names are much like other words. They only get in the way, create barriers between people.

She was wearing a long black dress, cut very low at the back. I put my hand on her bare skin in the small of her back. She felt cold. She shivered at my touch, but I didn’t move my hand.

I kissed her again and this time she wrapped her arms around my neck and pressed herself against me.

‘Is it time to leave?’ she said.

‘Yes.’ I replied.

The Wonders of Science


I suppose it all began way back in those good old days when we were young and we had thighs that didn’t ache quite so much. Back then we could dance until Dawn.

Although, why everyone always stopped dancing when Dawn turned up, no-one really knew. That is except that Dawn had her own… er… rather unique dance stylings which made everyone stop and watch. There is something about gravity and the way it affects the more well-endowed young lady and her wobbly bits that has – no doubt – inspired more young men to take an interest in the laws of physics than would otherwise be the case.

Still, those were the days of the bra-less; days when it seemed the bra would be consigned to history, and thin, almost transparent tops were in style too, which always made Dawn’s appearance on the dance floor turn into more of a spectator sport.

Not that we intended to stop dancing, it was just… mesmerizing… the way that parts of her set themselves in seemingly independent motion to the rest of her. All around the dance floor, young teenage boys would be whipping out their calculators and inputting all they knew about the laws of motion and the relationships between bodies most definitely not at rest.

It was then, back in those days of Dawn’s dancing, that I came to realise what a wonderful thing science is.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Fall


Something felt odd about it. Not the fact that she was wandering down a dark tunnel, deep underground, that was odd enough, but there was something… almost like a living presence that she felt in the air around her.

Almost as if, she thought, something was breathing the air in and out around her. If she didn’t feel so nervous, so frightened, she thought she would have laughed at that idea. If this was a story, someone was telling her, or if she was reading it in a book then she was sure she would have laughed.

Now, though, her left hand throbbed too much for her to laugh about anything much. She’d wrapped a bit of her sleeve - already torn from the fall - around it, but she didn’t think it had stopped the bleeding. Her leg too, seemed to be tightening up as though the fall had damaged that too.

The fall…

When she’d recovered from the fall enough to stand again, she’d used the feeble light of her mobile’s torch app to look back up, to see if it was possible to get back up there. She could just make out the lip where the long slope had turned into the sheer drop about ten feet above her head, but the steep slope she’d initially tumbled down was lost to her view.

She’d spent a fruitless ten minutes or so trying to climb, jump, leap up to grab that lip, but it had been no use. It was just too far out of her reach and the sheer walls around her offered no way out.

She’d sat – 15 minutes according to her phone – slumped in despair, trying in vain for a signal and wondering if anyone would even know where to look for her, let alone attempt a rescue. Then she’d noticed the draught against the skin of her arm where her shirt sleeve had torn. Then she’d seen the small hole that lead in turn to this tunnel.

‘It must be the breeze,’ she muttered to herself. The breeze was giving her this illusion of something being there in the darkness with her, breathing slowly in and out, as it waited….

At least, she hoped it was an illusion.

Monday Poem: What She Brings


What She Brings

She walks through all his dreams, through all his nights.
She is always there, he is not alone.
She haunts his waking hours with promises
of times they’ll spend together when he walks

the passageways of his warm dreams again
along to that closed door to enter her world
to where she takes him by the hand and leads
to a soft bed where he can lie and close

his dreaming eyes all while she brings to him
all that he ever needs to turn this dream
into the real and take her by the hand 
to lead her from his dream and back to this world.

Friday, April 13, 2012

UK TV’s Leading Survival Expert


Fluffybunny Roadkill is undoubtedly UK TV’s leading survival expert. Roadkill’s programme, from his last C4.73 series, on how to survive for up to seven days in an airport long-stay car park whilst trying to remember where you originally parked your car is regarded as a classic of the genre.

Throughout his TV career, Roadkill has demonstrate the essential survival skills needed to cope with the modern world, such as how to disentangle a supermarket shopping trolley from its siblings in the trolley park and how to get it to travel in the direction you want it to go.

His, some would say uncanny, ability to avoid starvation in a strange town by locating that town’s sandwich shops with only a locally-provided street map is bordering on the miraculous.

He has also stunned several thousands, maybe even millions, of viewers with his seeming instinctive understanding of one-way systems and ring roads that even baffle natives of the area he is exploring. Nor should anyone overlook his seemingly super-human ability to not only find a town centre car park, despite all the road signs pointing in vague or contradictory directions, but also to find a space that his car can fit into whilst leaving enough room for him to open his car door.

Roadkill’s seeming instinctive understanding of the world around him makes so many viewers of his TV programmes marvel in awe at his sheer brilliance.

However, he has not always met with success. Once, in one programme from his fifth TV series, he – unwisely, according to some critics - tried to set up a small business, but soon found that even a man of his superb abilities had to admit defeat when faced with government bureaucracy, employment red-tape, diversity regulations and EU rules on setting up a small business. Despite this though, he has vowed to return to our TV screens soon to show us more tricks, tips and tactics on how to survive in the modern world.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Artefact


Anyway, there it was, just sitting there like a… like a… thing, except that it was vibrating slightly and humming.

A mystery.

It looked alien, not of this world.

Obviously then I thought it must not be alien. What are – after all, when you think about it – the chances of something that looks alien actually being alien.

Not much, obviously.

At least if you are not some kind of conspiracy nutte… theorist.

That is, unless there are secretly aliens amongst us, after all. Whenever you are out and about you do have to wonder… even just reading the news or watching TV you do sometimes wonder if you are the same species, the same human race, as those that you see around with their strange habits, strange dress, strange ideas. Perhaps we are all aliens and this planet is some sort of dumping ground for the cosmic oddities that no species wants to have around – that would explain so much.

Anyway, so, unless there were aliens about – which there doesn’t seem to be any real evidence for such a notion, then, this thing… whatever it was - was not alien.

Anyway, there I was staring at it, wondering if it was radioactive when Jennifer hurried back out of her room, picked it up, looking rather embarrassed, switched off its vibrating and hurried back into her room with it and the laptop she’d hurriedly shut down before dashing from the room when I’d come home unexpectedly five minutes before.

Like I said... a mystery.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Collectable Memorabilia


You can never be quite sure that the way she looks askance at your enviable collection of reindeer mementos is really as admiring as you’d hoped. That is the thing with starting to collect things. This is especially true of collecting things that no-one with – shall we say – a more firmer footing on the lower slopes of sanity would regard as worthy of spending a few minutes with, let alone building up - over many lonely years – a collection of pristine reindeer memorabilia that would be the envy of… well, the envy of no-one.

After all, there are those out there, usually to be found wandering the desolate shores of loneliness after the last boat of plausible female companionship has set sail from the harbour with all passengers eager to quit the forlorn shore where you now tread. Those selfsame people who now take a long look at the cruel world that has so callously and carelessly tossed them aside often turn for comfort to small plastic figures (still in the original packaging) and posters and… well, whatever they can capture in their sweaty paws, clutch to their concave chests and scurry back to their lair with.

Anyway, I have this mint condition edition of the World Reindeer of the Year album from 1976, one I am sure would complete your enviable collection, are you interested?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Space, Time and Car Parking


Still, it’s not as if she had much choice, the laws of nature being what they are. After all, we all know how much easier it would be for parking the car if we weren’t just limited to the four dimensions of conventional space time. Sod the Star Trek warp drive, what would be a greater boon to the human race would be the warp car parking space that could somehow unfold out of some other dimension or something to enable you to park with ease, and - once parked – get out of the car without having to perform some Olympic–standard gymnastic routines to unfold your body out of the less than two inches of room you have to open the car door without hitting the car in the adjacent space or some bollard, waste bin, light fixture or some other street furniture the creator of the car park littered across the place like some concrete, metal and plastic confetti.

Still, like I said, she didn’t have much choice – lacking the warp parking facility, so she just left it there, spread diagonally across the two spaces. After all, it was not as if it was the busy time. The car park itself was more or less deserted, which is one of the advantages of going shopping when there is major sporting event underway.

Not that she knew that, of course.

The rest of the world – including car parking space delineations - was not much interest to her. She had far more important things to occupy her mind than mere rules and regulations, especially those universal laws of physics that seemed to do so much to thwart her desires. Still, though, she did get her shopping done, which in the great cosmic scheme of things is – after all – what really matters.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Out of the Blue


It was odd. As soon as I came out, I realised how alien it all was. The sky was blue for a start off. I’d never expected something like that. The ground, when I ventured out, past the churned up ground where I’d landed, was covered with green things that seemed to be growing out of it too.

I wondered if they could be intelligent at first but then I noticed these other larger fluffy things were doing what I could only describe as using these other green things for fuel.

There are – admittedly – many different kinds of intelligent being in the universe, but none so far recorded allow themselves to be eaten by larger fluffy things that resemble small fat clouds – on legs.

Yes, legs….

Who would have thought of that?

I did try making contact with one of the ambulatory clouds, but as soon as I got anywhere near them they all moved away, in a herd, then turned and made bleating noises at each other until I moved away.

Legs and bleating noises….

It looked as though I’d arrived on a planet – yet again – with no intelligent life. Legs and noises? After all, nowhere in the known universe is there any kind of intelligent life that has legs or makes bleating noises, let alone both.

I decided to give up and move on. I made my way back up the hill….

Then I saw one!

She was speeding past on a magnificent meandering pathway with some of the sexiest tyres I’d ever seen.

I motored down to the black pathway as fast as I could, but by the time I’d got there she’d gone.

I was just thinking I’d imagined it, when out of the distance another one came along the path, a silver one this time, and this one flashed her headlamps at me! And we hadn’t even been introduced formally to each other.

Suddenly, I decided I liked this world as I flashed back, ready to give chase.

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Day Pouring Down on Her Skin


It was easy to forget in those days. Sometimes she held me so enthralled I forgot to make the new day for her and she would sit there on the edge of her bed wondering where the morning had gone. Sometimes I would be so absorbed in watching her sleep and watching the dreams I’d made unfold for her that I forgot she would need to wake up, and that – once awake – she would need a world there, waiting to greet her.

I had so many warm spring and summer days ready for her, as well as the golden days of autumn and those bright sunny days of winter she liked so much when the snow turned the bare world white, fresh and so new.

I used to like the way she would run out into the morning, often on the warmer days without bothering to dress in the clothes I’d laid out for her, just too feel the day pouring down on her skin.

Then, though, I started to forget things. I forgot to set the birds singing with the dawn. I forgot to open the flowers and to set the breeze blowing through the grass around her feet. Sometimes, I would forget the clouds or the cooling rain she liked to dance through on hot days.

Once, I realised with a start, I had left her alone for several days without even a morning for her to look out upon. When I got there, I found her all alone with no day and no world around her; just standing alone in the emptiness, which was all I’d left for her.

Spadgecock’s Patented Wildfowl Distractor


Still, it was never that easy for a gentleman to find a suitable device for intriguing any waterfowl before the invention of Spadgecock’s Patented Wildfowl Distractor, back in the Mid-Victorian period. Up until then the dubious serenity of certain water-based species of birds was most disconcerting to the naturalists who were beginning to take an interest in their surroundings as the scientific revolution spread. Furthermore, much to the relief of the Victorian gentry, it was discovered that over-luxuriant bewhiskering was no bar to taking an interest in the natural world as Charles Darwin himself so spectacularly demonstrated.

It was thought, initially, by some early theorists of the natural world that any bird caught unawares by a heavily-bewhiskered Victorian gentleman would immediately take to the air. This did, indeed, prove to be the case with a lot of birds easily scared off by the approach of a large Victorian gentleman, his whiskers and all the mechanical devices and accoutrements that the Victorian felt necessary for his survival so far away from his servants, especially the scullery maids.

There was a fashion for the aspiring naturalist to take various devices on his expeditions, such as the well-known Mechanical Scullery maid. This was a steam-powered contrivance that could rummage around in a gentleman’s trouser region and inveigle its way through the copious amounts of Victorian underwear to bring relief to a gentleman whilst out in the wild and away from scullery maids and other female domestic staff as well as too far away for any trollop, harlot or other lady of transactional voluptuousness to assist with his yearnings.

When amateur birdwatcher and inventor Jebediah Spadgecock first witnessed a demonstration of the then new sport of Chicken-Intriguing, and saw how distracting birds by piquing their interest could prevent birds from flying away, he came up with the idea of creating some sort of mechanical device that would so intrigue birds that they would not fly away, thus allowing bird watchers to get a good look at them.

However, much to Spadgecock’s chagrin, there didn’t seem to be much that wild birds were interested in, apart from finding stuff to eat, avoiding stuff that wanted to eat them and collecting nesting material. His first attempt at a device, based on the increasingly popular What the Butler Saw machines, his What the Bullfinch Saw, displayed a female bird settling down in her nest for a little light preening. However, this did little to keep the attention of wild birds, with most immediately flying off to find some nesting material to impress the female who had – apparently – just appeared out of nowhere.

Then, one day, when Spadgecock was doing some in-depth research into the kinds of ostrich feathers preferred by London’s strumpets, harlots and totty at some of the capital’s more upmarket bordellos, he discovered one of the trollops had a budgie in a cage that was often fascinated by its own reflection in a mirror. This was the breakthrough Spadgecock had been waiting for, pausing only to have his way with seven of that bawdy house’s prime floozies, he hurried back to his workshop.

Spadgecock’s Patented Wildfowl Distractor was ready just in time for the Great Exhibition of 1851, where it soon became a must-see exhibit, second only in popularity to the latest steam-powered version of the Mechanical Scullery maid.

Spadgecock’s Patented Wildfowl Distractor was based around a multitude of steam-powered rotating mirrors guaranteed to keep any bird mesmerised long enough for any aspiring Victorian gentleman naturalist to have a damned good look at the bird, and – possibly – even knock of a sketch or two of it, even whist being pleasured by his Mechanical Scullery maid.

Unfortunately, for Spadgecock, though, disaster struck one summer afternoon during the final field test of his Distractor when his workmen set up the Mechanical Scullery maid far too close to the Distractor whilst Spadgecock was distracted by a nearby meadow pipit. Before anyone could warn Spadgecock to run the Mechanical Scullery maid’s fingers were already intertwining themselves in the Distractor’s steam engine.

The resulting explosion was said to have been heard seven miles away and all that was left of Spadgecock himself were the last eighteen inches of his stovepipe hat and a grommet from the Distractor’s flange mechanism. Both of these items were buried, in lieu of a body, in Spadgecock’s local village church cemetery in a ceremony attended by several members of the Royal Society, representatives of the British Royal family and nearly every floozy, strumpet and harlot in London.

Spadgecock’s death put an end to any further research into ways of intriguing birds for several years, and – by then – photography had advanced enough to make any need for a Wildfowl Distractor superfluous, which was a sad end to yet another example of Victorian British genius.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Too Rough for Her Delicate World


She said I was too rough for her delicate world when these rough hands grab too hard around her soft life. She wanted gentle moments that swayed in the breeze not my heavy storms that tore through her life ripping everything apart and uprooting all her calm moments. She wanted warm gentle rains not my storms that flooded everything and smashed all the boats in her safe harbour. She wanted a warming sun that brought life to her valley, not the scorching heat-wave that burnt everything and left scorched destruction in its wake. She wanted time and languid motion on smooth flowing rivers, not raging torrents that broke their banks and left everything of her life sodden and hopeless.

She wanted to teach me how to be gentle and I wanted to show her the dangers of this rough world and how I could keep her safe from it all. How I could be the wall she could hide behind, when the world tumbled and fell all around her. That I would be there always ready to be the rock she could cling to when the rough seas of life shipwrecked her. That I could be the one safe place she could always run to and I would be there, standing over her for as long as she needed me.

Thursday Poem: Chasing



Even she, when she walks,
walks without looking back.

The past is too close.
It follows her and it follows you.

You turn down paths to follow her
as she leads you away to new places.

While the past chases on behind
almost reaching out to pull you back.

She takes you down to the river
as the past whispers in your ear

That you have been here before
and that she knows this as well.

She takes your hand and leads you
out into the cold rushing water,

While the past reminds you
that these waters were once just snow

on the hills you cannot see
that lie lost in the deep clouds
like memories of who you used to be.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Avoiding the Twat


Twang Spludgetrimmer is – of course – now world-famous for being very slightly faster at running about a bit over a comparable distance than anyone else in the world.

Since Avoiding the Twat became an Olympic sport back in 1996, it has grown in popularity both at an amateur and professional level, to the point where it is now regarded as one of the most important Olympic sports. However, as the Olympics mainly consists of sports no-one is really that interested in, otherwise they would have tournaments of their own, then this poses a problem for superstars in their field like Twang Spludgetrimmer.

Ever since Twang Spludgetrimmer began avoiding people who got on her tits back in her schooldays, she was regarded as potential Avoiding the Twat star material. It was her PE teacher who first recognised Spludgetrimmer’s potential when she found that Twang had an uncanny knack of always being somewhere else – often in only a few seconds - whenever PE was on her timetable. In fact, her PE teacher never saw Spludgetrimmer at all, except for a few seconds at the end of the period, whenever she was meant to be doing PE.

As her PE teacher, Sinew Hairybush, said later: ‘It wasn’t until I realised I’d never seen Twang out on the playing field, that I realised I must be a massive twat – something I’d always discounted, despite the graffiti in the changing rooms – and that Twang was a genius at avoiding me.’

Consequently, despite never turning up for the training sessions, Twang Spludgetrimmer was made captain of the school Avoiding the Twat team, and then went on to go solo at county, then national level, despite none of the selectors having ever met her for more than a cursory few seconds when they were already late for another appointment.

Not only was Spludgetrimmer a natural expert on the Avoiding the Twat pitch, she was also adept at it off the pitch too. For example, there is no record of her ever giving an interview with any pre- or post-match sports commentators or media sports correspondents since she began representing her country, nor did she ever turn up for her MBE award ceremony, or attend any London Olympics 2012 press conferences with Sebastian Coe or either of the London mayors.

Everyone with an interest in the sport of Avoiding the Twat, however, hopes that if Spludgetrimmer is amongst the Avoiding the Twat medal winners at London 2012 she will actually appear on the podium to receive her no-doubt well-deserved medal.

The House on the Hill


We were desperate to get out of the rain and wind, both soaked through and shivering with cold. We had been wandering around in the darkness for what seemed like hours, but in reality was nowhere near as long.

The storm had come on suddenly, several hours before. We had tried to wait it out under a overhang of rock out on the moor. It started to get dark, though, and we began to worry we would end up spending the night out there.

So, I looked at Sylvia, she looked at me, and then we stepped out into what seemed like a gale trying to blow us back under the rock. The darkness seemed to fall out of the sky, one minute it was evening with everything grey and washed out, then it was pitch black.

Usually, I have a good sense of direction. I thought I knew where the car was. After all, it should have been a matter of just walking straight down the hill back to the car, but the night, the darkness, the wind and the rain changed everything.

Soon, for reasons we could not understand we seemed to be walking back uphill without ever reaching the car, or even – knowingly – setting foot on the narrow winding road the car was parked beside.

Then we saw the pale yellow light in the distance and headed that way, even though it seemed the wind and the rain were doing their best to stop us.

It was a house, a farmhouse, up on the hilltop. Under the meagre shelter of its porch, we hammered on the door, but there was no reply. The light in the window had faded out once we were in sight of the house.

‘Perhaps whoever lived here has gone to bed!’ Sylvia managed to gasp out, her breath taken by the wind and the rain bettering her face.

I hammered on the door again… and it just opened. We inched cautiously through it, whispering ‘hello’ and so forth, but there was no-one there. As soon as we were through the door, it slammed shut, its heavy solid thud making us both jump and clutch each other in the dark.

Then I noticed there was no knob, handle or anything on the smooth flat surface on the inside of the door; shut fast and with no way to open it from the inside.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Her New Man


‘Go on, tell me,’ Carolyn said.

‘He’s perfect.’ Helen grinned.

‘Come on….’

‘No, listen… he’s a writer, so obviously he is great in bed. All writers are…. It’s a well-known fact.’

‘Is that true? I mean… about writers?’

‘Yes, of course.’


‘Not only that, because he is a writer, he is attentive, gentle, a good listener… everything you could want really.’

‘So, he has no faults?’ Carolyn played with the stem of her wine glass.

‘Obviously he has faults… he’s a man,’ Helen said. ‘But they are not serious ones. He can be a bit quiet at times, and he has a tendency to shout at the telly a bit too often.’

‘He sounds too good to be true.’ Carolyn tried hard to not be too sceptical about it; after all it was early days.

‘No,’ Helen said. ‘He is very good for me. He’s even suggested that he writes all my dialogue for me.’


‘Well, you know how I’ve always had a habit of gabbling on a bit, mostly about nothing in particular?’


‘Well, Jeff says he can cure that for me. All I have to do is let him write my dialogue for me.’

Carolyn looked around at the rest of the bar. It was quiet before the evening rush. ‘Do you mean…? Even now?’

‘Oh, yes.’ Helen smiled ‘Good isn’t it?’

‘Where is he?’

‘Omniscient narrator. It’s ok, you won’t see him, but he is there… here.’

‘All that stuff about being a great lover… that was him putting dialogue in your mouth wasn’t it?’


‘So it isn’t true?’

‘Oh, yes it is…. Anyway, I think he was just trying to impress you.’


‘Because he fancies you, obviously.’

‘Really? Me?’

‘Yes, of course. He’s been in love with you ever since he created you.’

Computer Scientists Announce Failure of AI Project


Today computer scientists announced that after many fruitless years trying to develop computer artificial intelligence (AI), they are going to give up on the project altogether.

In a press conference, called at the university laboratories where the projects took place, a computer scientist revealed that all the AI projects were now terminated, saying:

First we tried writing an AI chess-playing program to play against top-flight chess players, but the computer took one look at the people it was supposed to be playing against and shut itself down completely and we haven’t been able to reboot it since.

Next, we came up with a very basic rudimentary AI that – once we go its webcam to stop watching paint dry – started to spend all day on social network sites. It ended up with more friends and followers than several celebrities as its updates were far more interesting then theirs. We had to pull the plug on it, though, when it started having an affair with one of the supercomputers at the Met Office.

Another attempt ended up spending weeks on eBay and other auction sites. It managed to sell off the contents of several university laboratory stock cupboards before Dave managed to eventually disconnect it from the internet.

Another one – a version with an AI more advanced than most of our students - started visiting several techie websites and downloading pictures and videos of over-clocked processors and hard disks with their covers off. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but each visit resulted in a strange sticky residue all over its I/O ports.

Finally, we tried writing a program that mimicked human conversation, but – after chatting to several people on Twitter, message boards, blog comments, instant messaging systems and several other interactive websites – the computer reprogrammed one of our robots to take the computer up to the top of the highest building on the campus and throw it off, completely destroying both the computer and the human interaction program it was running.

The scientists went on to say that from now on they will be spending their time developing new games for various smart phone operating systems instead, including one where some mallard ducks get quite miffed about something or other for no real reason.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Celebrity Awareness-Challenged


The UK Prime Minister, earlier today, announced his government is setting up an enquiry charged with the task of coming up with solutions to a very serious problem facing the country. This is, of course the crisis of the celebrity awareness-challenged. The government, the PM’s spokesperson said, is acutely aware that there are thousands, perhaps millions, in this country who suffer from the very serious dilemma of not really knowing who – out of all those people that appear on their TVs, on websites and in the rest of the media – are actual celebrities. Or, in some cases, if – indeed - they are celebrities at all.

The government’s preferred option, and the one which the enquiry is most likely to recommend, requires lavish funding from the government to set up a website and 24-hour emergency phone helpline to help sufferers overcome this serious debility. Experts believe that this is the very least the government can do to help those – often through no fault of their own - who are confronted with an apparent celebrity and who have no idea who that celebrity is, and for what reason – however tenuous – that person has become famous.

The government is also considering changes to the school syllabus right through from nursery level up to GCSE and A level on how to spot a celebrity. In answer to critics who say that such a course would not be rigorous enough, the education minister said that the A level course would including the very demanding aspect of trying to discover what it is about some celebrities that has made them famous. Other critics say that such a demanding aspect of the course should not be introduced until degree level, if only not to discourage students taken such a difficult option at A level.

The government have also hinted that there may be public demand for some sort of adult or continuing education aspect for courses on how to spot a celebrity, how to tell if someone on the telly is famous for something and, if so, what.

Furthermore, as the problem of identifying who is – or isn’t – a celebrity can only get worse as 24-hour global media increases its influence, the government has promised to raise the issue at both EU and UN level meetings in order that the governments of Europe and the world can all get to grips with this most pressing of problems.

As the PM himself said: ‘It may not happen in your or my lifetime, but we can all dream of a future when it is possible for someone in this great country of ours to state with absolute confidence that they know someone glimpsed on a TV programme or pictured in a magazine or website is – in fact – a celebrity, but also state they know exactly why that person is famous.’

It remains to be seen, however, if such a dream can be realised in the near future, or if this is just another government project due to become yet another embarrassing – and expensive – failure.

Monday Poem: Her Yesterdays lie Drowned


Her Yesterdays lie Drowned

She shapes her memories with movement
turning them into dreams she clutches in her hands
as she swims deeper into her dreams

to find her way back to those undersea caves
where her yesterdays lie drowned
in the tears of all her many regrets

for a life she walked away from
and crossed so many seas to leave behind.
So now each night in her lonely bed

she dives back into those crossed seas
to swims back as far as she can
searching for her drowned memories.

Taking Civil Liberties


In the end, it was a far more complex algorithm than she’d anticipated, especially when the marmoset became jammed under the chaise longue and we had to disentangle the Polish plumber from the chamber maid. As you may have realised by now, this meant that I was left holding the nasturtiums… again.

Still, you must admit that as a method of discovering acts of terrorism against the Great British bacon sandwich, it beats blindfolding the spymaster’s personal assistant and having them stick pins in the nearest map… unfortunately due to budget constraints that is usually a map of Venezuela.

However, coming up with a bug-free program that could do all this and still produce those essential coloured graphs that – these days – so much government policy and expenditure depends upon, we thought we may have to resort to a somewhat more creative approach to data generation, possibly using a random number generator and an on-line Bulgarian telephone directory.

So, if you are ever wandering down a street and the suburban peace is shattered by the arrival of several high-speed vans distributing undercover policemen, specialist armed response officers and members of the special forces as they surround and cordon off the corner off-licence and then, from further up the High Street, frogmarch out several pensioners from the Post Office queue, remember that all software does have its teething troubles, and those civil liberties you bleat about… they were never all that much use to you, were they?