Google+ A Tangled Rope: 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Plague

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‘Hmm….’ The shopkeeper looked at me. ‘What sort of thing are you looking for, exactly?’

‘Something… Something… something that will show my anger, my wrath, my displeasure,’ I said, feeling the anger returning.

‘Ah, right.’ The shopkeeper looked around his wares. ‘One of those.’

‘One of what,’ I said.

‘Oh, we get a lot of that from… hobbyists like you.’ He leant forward over the counter. ‘Let me guess… some sort of intelligent life is it, giving you the hump?’

I nodded. ‘How did you know?’

‘I’ve been in this game a few years now,’ he said. ‘My grandfather started this shop; there isn’t much we don’t know.’ He looked around the shop again. ‘We’ve seen it all.’

‘Humans,’ I said.

‘Ah,’ he said, nodding. ‘Humans….’

‘What?’

‘Humans, they are always the worst. Some of them even get the idea that you’ve made them in your own image.’

‘Cheeky buggers,’ I said.

‘You’ll have to be firm with them, otherwise they’ll start taking over your whole creation.’

‘I know,’ I said, sighing. ‘I made this nice little… garden … sort of place for them, just a pair of them, y’know. Next thing I know bloody civilisations of them all over the place.’

‘Typical,’ the shopkeeper said. ‘Have you thought about a flood?’

I nodded. ‘They built boats.’

‘Hmmm….’ He turned to the storeroom at the back ‘Hang on,’ he said.

I waited.

‘Try this,’ he said on his return. He put a box down on the counter. The box shook, shimmied, and bounded. He put his hand down on it. The box bulged and shifted under his hand.

‘What’s that?’ I asked.

‘Frogs.’

‘Frogs?’

‘A plague…’ he said, opening the box carefully. ‘…of frogs.’

I looked in the box. ‘Six is not much of a plague.’

He sucked his teeth. ’ Sorry squire, can’t get the parts… you know how it is….’

I thought for a moment. Last time I’d looked at my creation some of those crafty humans had started inventing the wheel… admittedly it was triangular, but it was only a matter of time…. I looked up at the shopkeeper. ‘Wrap them up, I’ll take them.’

‘A wise choice, sir.’ The shopkeeper said, beaming at me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Days are Barred and Bolted

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Some mornings it is hard to find a way into the day. The day has its doors bolted shut and all its windows locked. The day is waiting, there, in front of you but there seems to be no way in. You are stuck out here in the dark and cold of the night; where strange nocturnal creatures haunt the shadows, waiting for you to step away from the day and return to the night.

You used to know the secret of mornings; how you could get the door of a day to open to you and welcome into the warmth of a day that felt as though it was there waiting for you.

Now the days are barred and bolted as you wander lost inside the night, looking for that path that will lead you back to the day; looking for the route that will take you back to your daytime world.

The dark, cold nights have stretched their black blankets over what used to be the route back to the day and now you cannot even see the warm welcoming light from its windows. A light guiding you back to that one place you know you will always be safe; the one place where the night is shut out and kept safe beyond the doors and windows.

New Book Out Now: Sex, Pies and Sticky Tape

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Sex, Pies and Sticky Tape

Here we are back, once again, in Little Frigging in the Wold: England’s most perverse, erotic and excitingly-moist village, for some more tales of rural life, with more adventures and tales featuring Grand Uncle Stagnant, Old Feebletrousers, Strom Thighhammer, the cake shop manageress and many more of Little Frigging’s residents.

This book includes over one hundred stories involving inter-village competitive orgies, the erotic use of foodstuffs, how to extract as much money from tourists as possible, the naked pogo-stick steeplechase, mid-air and deep-sea perversions, the use of the fetish unicycle, medieval woodland perversions, the erotic use of cardigans, achieving match fitness in an inter-village orgy squad, accountancy fetish night in the village hall, and – of course – the best way of sellotaping a Cornish pasty to an assistant librarian for erotic purposes and much, much more.

Buy here (UK) or here (US)

Some comments on David Hadley’s writing:

“Wonderfully weird.”
“brilliantly funny story. I love it.”
“good god, I haven’t laughed so much in ages. “
“very funny, I had a good laugh at this story”
“Clever, and very funny.”
“really funny, had a right good old laugh at this
story.”
“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”
“highly creative and hilarious as always”
“lol this is so funny.”
“another one of yours I truly enjoyed, “Old Feebletrousers” love it!”
“This is a very funny story, it made me laugh.”
“Absolutely brilliant. Thank you”
“This piece produced a lot of giggles!”
“Yep! This was a real funny piece, it had me laughing….”

New Book Out Now: Sex, Pies and Sticky Tape

clip_image002

Sex, Pies and Sticky Tape

Here we are back, once again, in Little Frigging in the Wold: England’s most perverse, erotic and excitingly-moist village, for some more tales of rural life, with more adventures and tales featuring Grand Uncle Stagnant, Old Feebletrousers, Strom Thighhammer, the cake shop manageress and many more of Little Frigging’s residents.

This book includes over one hundred stories involving inter-village competitive orgies, the erotic use of foodstuffs, how to extract as much money from tourists as possible, the naked pogo-stick steeplechase, mid-air and deep-sea perversions, the use of the fetish unicycle, medieval woodland perversions, the erotic use of cardigans, achieving match fitness in an inter-village orgy squad, accountancy fetish night in the village hall, and – of course – the best way of sellotaping a Cornish pasty to an assistant librarian for erotic purposes and much, much more.

Buy here (UK) or here (US)

Some comments on David Hadley’s writing:

“Wonderfully weird.”
“brilliantly funny story. I love it.”
“good god, I haven’t laughed so much in ages. “
“very funny, I had a good laugh at this story”
“Clever, and very funny.”
“really funny, had a right good old laugh at this
story.”
“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”
“highly creative and hilarious as always”
“lol this is so funny.”
“another one of yours I truly enjoyed, “Old Feebletrousers” love it!”
“This is a very funny story, it made me laugh.”
“Absolutely brilliant. Thank you”
“This piece produced a lot of giggles!”
“Yep! This was a real funny piece, it had me laughing….”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Arrival

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Sandra dropped her bag on the bed, opened the window and then flopped onto the bed herself. ‘We are here…. At last.’

‘I don’t dare believe it.’ Ian left the suitcases just inside the door and sat down in the nearest chair. ‘Are we?

Sandra‘s smile was weary. ‘Yes.’

Ian looked around the hotel room. ‘Right….’

Sandra lay back on the bed and kicked off her shoes. ‘Well, then.’

‘Aye.’

Sandra turned her head towards him. ‘What, is that all?’

‘What?’ Ian stared up at the ceiling. ‘What is all what?’

‘Is that all you can say?’

‘Isn't it enough?’

‘But… after al the trouble, all the difficulties we've had getting here.’

‘That's just it.’ Ian sighed. ‘I'm tired.’

‘Tired? How can you say that at a time like this?’

‘Because it’s true, I am tired. I want to go to bed.’

‘But… well, its not even properly dark yet.’

‘That doesn't bother me,’ Ian said, getting to his feet and moving over to the bed. ‘Anyway, I won't notice when my eyes are shut.’

‘Huh. I hope you aren't going to be like that all the time we are here.’

‘No, of course not,’ Ian replied, lying on the bed next to Sandra. ‘I'm just tired from the journey, that's all.’ He shuffled closer to her on the bed and stroked her arm with his fingertip. ‘Anyway, don't you fancy a little lie down together, eh?’’

‘Why are you looking at me like that? What are you doing?’

‘I'm taking your clothes off.’

‘I thought you said you were tired?’ Sandra grinned at him.

‘I am, but there are some things you can do lying down.’

Sandra half sat up so he could pull her top off over her head. ‘Oh, yes. I think this is going to be a good holiday, after all,’ she said, leaning forward to help unfasten Ian’s trousers.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Reasonable Excuse for Any Lateness

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Possibly the only reason why she had the parrot was because of the threat of incipient terrorist attack, either that or she felt she needed some kind of post-feminist critique of her pastry-making technique and – after all – it was a female parrot and it had tenure at one of the more prestigious French universities during the period in question.

However, transporting a parrot on the back of a moped through some of the busiest thoroughfares of a major French metropolis is not a matter for the neophyte, especially if that neophyte is wearing a skirt of such shortness as to distract the taxi drivers from their business, no matter how diligent they usually are.

After all, we know taxi drivers the world over are not the sort to compromise their professionalism by leaning out of their open car windows to express their opinion on the suitability or otherwise of an attractive young lady’s mode of dress, even if she is accompanied on her excursions by an extremely voluble avian companion and one – furthermore – not disinclined to share its more robust opinions with any interlocutor on the urban thoroughfare.

Anyway, the resulting pile-up was the reason why I was late for our meeting at the café, and why there was an errant parrot feather stuck to my trousers….

Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Monday Poem: The Heat Oppresses Us

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The Heat Oppresses Us

The heat oppresses us
pulling us down

towards the least
that can be done.

Each movement
takes its toll

on movement
in this airless world.

Where even breathing
becomes a chore

and time drips like sweat
down the melting clock face

and sticks us
tight against these sheets,

as we watch the window
waiting for the curtains

to indicate a breeze
has come to rescue us.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Penguin Always Eats Omelettes

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'Once or twice, or not depending on how heavy it is, but with my knees you'd be lucky to get much change out of a fiver, especially in the early flamingo season.' Soon, everyone will be familiar with the opening scene of The Penguin Always Eats Omelettes, predicted to become the biggest grossing film of all time, at least until something bigger comes along. The film is based on the best-selling Norwegian thriller of the same name. The Penguin Always Eats Omelettes is a violent, blood-soaked multiple murder mystery set in the violent and seedy underbelly of the Norwegian penguin-rental industry.

The film, as no-one in the worldwide film audience is interested in Norway, was reset to the far more glamorous location of exotic downtown Wolverhampton. Here the hero of the film, Larch Larchensonsonson – renamed Stud Dobbinwang for the film's mainly American audience - works in the UK's burgeoning fried breakfast industry as a former celebrity egg poacher down on his luck and working in a backstreet breakfast café.

After many script changes, the film now only seems to resemble the book in its title and the number of young women seemingly desperate to get out of their clothes for some of the most improbable reasons in some of the more unusual locations in cinema history. The film tells the tale of how Dobbinwang accidentally discovers, in the alley behind his kitchen, the brutally-murdered corpse of Wolverhampton's most notorious dealer in bootleg fried bread to the town's cafés.

When several witnesses come forward, all claiming they saw Dobbinwang standing over the body with his spatula in hand; the police immediately accuse him of the murder. Having no choice, but to go on the run to clear his name, Dobbinwang flees Wolverhampton with Trollope Honeythighs, the large-breasted waitress from his café, which starts off a desperate chase, leaving a trail of murder and mayhem that brings chaos to Wolverhampton and its ring road.

Of course, everyone in the city had heard rumours about the corruption in the breakfast provision industry and how the city’s bacon inspectors were demanding protection money from the cafes, in return for turning a blind eye to the egg poaching, but Dobbinwang had no idea just how high up the corruption had spread.

The question is, though, can Dobbinwang and Honeythighs escape the mob, the police and the local government trading standards officers long enough to clear Dobbinwang’s name and yet leave them enough time to have sex in as many of Wolverhampton’s exotic locations as possible before the final showdown between the forces of evil and the man who, as Honeythighs says, ‘seems to have the only honest spatula in town.’

Whatever you do, make sure you do not miss what will be the ‘must-see’ cinema event of the year: The Penguin Always Eats Omelettes!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

As Obvious As One Would Have Hoped

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Even then, it was not quite as obvious as One would have hoped. Although, Two thought it did seem straightforward and Four thought it was the best she’d ever seen. Three, as usual was off in amongst the trees doing something rather obscene with C… again, although, this time they’d had the courtesy to find some bushes to do it behind, so as not to frighten some of the more easily-perplexed of our local woodland creatures, some of whom have not quite got over the sight of C - in those boots - the last time.

One was still struggling to get her moped to start as Two got her yo-yo out and began practicing some of the more recondite moves associated with the device. Four got the sandwiches out and we sat down together for a quick picnic before any of the others realised I’d managed to bring a pork pie with me.

It seemed quiet, peaceful, there and after the sandwiches, Four lay with her head in my lap reading Blake whilst I told tales of my adventures with simultaneous equations to Two, who had already grown bored with the limited possibilities inherent in the mastery of the yo-yo and was now, she told me, thinking of either working in the city for her father’s firm or becoming a terrorist, both of which would require a new hairstyle though, and she was not sure if she could cope with that.

The peace was shattered then by a scream from C, followed by a dirty laugh from Three who ran out, stark naked, from behind the bushes holding what looked like C’s underwear held in a pair of tongs. She ran off down to the river and dived in, with C giving chase, even though he still wore the boots, which made sharp cornering, especially in waist-high bracken rather fraught with danger of him skidding uncontrollably into a silver birch.

I lay down then, still with Four’s head in my lap. I closed my eyes and wondered if a story could - without coming to any kind of conclusion, point or purpose - just end….

Thursday Poem: A Small Significant Box

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A Small Significant Box

I could have found a gift
something precious, beautiful,
in a small significant box
wrapped with a neat tight bow

to show that I do understand
and I know how the wind
blows your life away from mine
and how the rain falls down

as you stare from windows
searching for a rain-beaten road
that will take you away from here
and on to that longed for life
you wish you'd had the heart to take

that would lead you down that street
to that steamy small café where I wait
with a small significant box
wrapped with a neat tight bow
here on the table in front of me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Police Rapid-Response Unit Deployment

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Still, it could be worse, I suppose. At least the police had the matter in hand within a few hours of turning up and completing their risk assessment forms and out-of-hours expense sheets. So, once everyone was sure that the situation was under control and the officers on the scene had made sure they had used the correct amount of crime scene tape to mark the designated area and the armed response team were in position and all traffic diverted to keep away from the area, they could – at least – send in their specialist Litter Removal Officers to make the area safe.

They then sent in the remote-controlled robotic Unwanted Discarded Item Machine to pick up the litter item, make it safe and then destroy it in a controlled explosion that did surprisingly little damage to most of the surrounding houses – which of course had all been evacuated for the duration.

After all, as the Chief Constable said at the packed press conference several hours later, it had been a particularly sizable fast food container that had been hastily discarded from what they suspected was a moving vehicle and… well, it was better safe than sorry. After all, we still all have memories of that incident barely a year ago when an untrained ordinary constable had bent down to retrieve a discarded soft drinks can – without first filling in a risk assessment form or calling for back up from a specialist fast-response litter removal team - and did his back in.

After all, if we want our streets safe(ish) and free from litter as possible then it is these brave officers putting their health and well-being on the line for us each and every day and so we should all show our gratitude and support each time. For, who knows, it could be your street next time.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Out of the Ordinary

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It was a very ordinary-looking mallard duck….

Except for the superhero costume.

Still, it seems, we have to expect that sort of thing these days.

After all, it was less than a week ago when I as was strolling down the High Street I was passed by a zebra wearing bra, knickers, suspenders and stockings… on a skateboard. It wasn’t long after that I saw the wood pigeon smoking a cigar whilst reading the Collected Poems of Keats.

It was then I started to wonder about the integrity of the space-time continuum and whether it had broken down completely, possibly due to the strain on its integrity caused by a sudden influx of porridge-eating bears into our local woods.

Not only was all the wildlife behaving rather oddly, there had been a rather disturbing influx of fairy tale characters into the locality during the last few weeks of the spring. All, no doubt, encouraged by those bears with the cottage in the woods and their porridge-eating escapades.

I was beginning to think that maybe some folk were right after all, reality just isn’t the same as it was when I was a lad. These days there seems to be far too much magic and fantasy disturbing our sense of what should and shouldn’t be the case.

Just then, a whole load of dwarf miners tumbled out of the pub dragging a very worse for wear Snow White with them, all singing… well, you know what they were singing, as they headed back to their cottage in the woods.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Slightly Closer to the Camels

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Well, there you have it. So be careful not to dent it, rough handling could cause a myriad of unwanted repercussions, especially if you have the lid off. Still, it has to be said, there are not that many of them about these days, especially when you consider just how much it costs to have them professionally cleaned.

Anyway, that is all I can say about that, so you’d better put it back on the shelf before she comes back in, she wouldn’t want to think that a stranger had been holding it… especially with the lid off like that.

After all, how would you like it?

Still, I suppose it only goes to show….

Or, perhaps it doesn’t. It is hard to tell these days, especially with the price of bananas being what they aren’t.

Anyway, I can’t stand here all day, not after the last time. Although, I do have to admit the arresting officer was quite polite about it, but he did explain that the terms of the retraining order are quite explicit and I was far too close to the penguins and therefore he considered I was – indeed – constituting a threat to their well-being, especially as it was feeding time and the penguins do find cutlery quite traumatic at the best of times. Flippers may be ideal for use underwater, but when it comes to table manners and correct etiquette they can be – at best – rather trying.

So, in the interests of keeping the peace, I agreed with him that maybe it would be better for all concerned if I did move slightly closer to the camels instead.

So I did.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Traffic Calming Measures

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Parallelogram Tachograph was not initially unduly worried about the increasing incidence of speed bumps and other traffic calming measures, for having the dexterous and supple wrists of the professional weasel-mesmeriser meant that she could steer her moped through the most complex traffic calming measures ever invented by a local highways department, even the ones created on a Friday afternoon after a long ‘lunch’ in the pub where most members of the Traffic Calming Measures Department were transported back to the office in wheelbarrows.

Oddly enough, most of the local traffic calming measures in her locality, that Tachograph had to negotiate, were in fact developed on a Friday afternoon. These traffic calming measures where created by rearranging the office furniture in the town planning department then tying to drunkenly navigate around the obstacles whilst pushing a drunk and unconscious member of staff around the resulting course.

Obviously, the more complex and befuddling system created on those drunken Friday afternoons were the ones put forward by the planning department for the use of the Highways Department whenever some new traffic calming measures were urgently needed. Especially so, when it was discovered that commuters and other road users were managing to get to their destinations with only the minimum disruption, inconvenience and with little on no damage to their vehicles.

As the traffic calming measures increased in number and complexity, Parallelogram Tachograph no longer had the patience to constantly negotiate these increasingly Byzantine labyrinths on her way to mesmerise a weasel, especially if it was an emergency call-out which necessitated she reach her destination with alacrity, lest the un-mesmerised weasel run amok causing chaos and consternation to all in its immediate vicinity.

So, one Friday lunchtime, Tachograph set out on her moped to redirect all the road signs along the route the Traffic Calming Measures staff would take on returning from their usual pub to the Local Planning Office.

Then, a few hours later, the entire council Highways Department staff, weaved their slow, staggering way back to what they thought would be their office. As good and conscientious workers in the Highways, Department, they – of course – followed all the road signs to the letter, right up to and – slightly – beyond the point where they all: wheelbarrows, unconscious occupants and their drunken pushers, all fell over the sheer cliffs into the sea.

Being a typical local government authority, no-one working for the council noticed that an entire department had suddenly gone missing one Friday lunchtime, never to be seen again.

Consequently as a result of Tachograph’s sabotage, all the town’s traffic calming measures slowly fell into disrepair, and eventually all disappeared, leaving the townspeople to go about their normal business and actually get where they wanted to go with little disruption, interference or stress.

And, so, everyone lived happily ever after….

At least until someone in government noticed there was an area of the country that was living relatively stress-free lives, unencumbered by over-intrusive but inept bureaucracy and its pettifogging rules and regulations that attempted to control and distort those people’s lives,

The powers-that-be realised that this would never do and must be stopped before it spread to the rest of the country.

So, one morning, on the outskirts of that town, a small army of researchers appeared on the horizon, all armed with a clipboard and each with a multitude of boxes that needed ticking.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Emissions

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Well, it is not as if I needed a new one; after all why pay money for something just because it is new? I mean my old one was getting on a bit, but it still worked… more or less… after a fashion. Admittedly it didn’t have all the bells and whistles of a newer one… well it didn’t have any whistles at all, and the one bell it did have would have given a campanologist nightmares, but there you go. Technology marches on and before you know it, your left with something that makes people grin and wink at each other every time you lead it out of the stables.

Anyway, change was forced upon me when the EU brought in their new emission standards. She was rather old and well, you know what dragons are like when they get old. I mean, it is bad enough being around the front when they breathe fire, but when they get on a bit, it tends to get more dangerous around the back. Hence, these new EU emission guidelines for dragons of a certain age.

I suppose it is inevitable, the kind of things they eat which gives them their fiery breath. It is bound to take a toll on the digestive system as they get older.

Then there is the number of dragon pens that seem to burn down, all on their own, as the dragons in them get older. It plays havoc with the insurance premiums. Then there is all the hassle of getting them started on a cold morning. A dragon in a bad morning mood is not something you want to be arsing around with, especially when you need to take the kids on the school run and with the amount of traffic there days, getting to work can be a nightmare, especially if there is an accident. A mid-air dragon collision can be bad enough, but at least it only leaves a pile of ash on the ground waiting to be swept up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Climate Change

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It was hoped by certain environmentalists that the UK elections of a few years ago would bring about a change in the UK’s political climate. For a while now environmentalists have been worried about the increasing levels of dangerous stupidity in the political atmosphere. However, now environmentalists are disappointed that nothing seems to have changed at all.

It has long been known that left-wing politics does, almost inevitably, bring about an increase in political stupidity and idiocy, with environmentalists pointing to the ‘Loony Left’ and their nuclear-free zones and other such inanities that caused massive increases in global political-idiocy in the preceding decades. There are now fears that with the Labour Party turning itself into a ‘1970s Politics’ tribute act that we will see a return to those earlier levels of unsustainable political idiocy.

The political right has – of course – also been a net contributor to the amounts of political idiocy in the UK atmosphere, with it achieving sometimes dangerously high levels out in the Tory shires. Sometimes leading to outbreaks of ‘Give them all a damn good flogging,’ ‘Hanging’s too good for them,’ and even some case of ‘send them all back where they came from’ infecting otherwise quiet nice areas of the country and thus making these areas virtually uninhabitable for people with a ‘political-stupidity-free’ lifestyle and political-idiocy-neutral footprint.

However, since the new government has come to power, scientists are having to rework their political-climate models as the change of government seems to have had little effect on the amounts of political idiocy in the atmosphere, with even some reports of higher levels of stupidity, especially with reports of a dangerous increase in the common-sense hole in the ozone layer above the houses of parliament.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No Such Concept

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The longer Sydrill stood there just smiling that enigmatic smile of hers, the more uncomfortable he looked. That slow, languid blink of hers when she is thinking, or listening to her translation machine, makes it seem as though she is frozen, not paying attention, gone off on some alien daydream or something.

He turned to me, the heavy gold cross he wore on a gold chain around his neck flashed in the artificial light of the room. I smiled back at him. ‘Wait,’ I said.

‘No,’ Sydrill said.

‘No?’ the Archbishop echoed.

‘No,’ she repeated, turning to me and raising what would be an eyebrow, if she were human.

I shrugged.

The archbishop turned from Sydrill to me and back again.

‘There is no such… concept,’ Sydrill said eventually.

‘No… g… god?’ The archbishop was – to say the least – shocked.

‘No,’ Sydrill smiled again. I had to admit smiling was the one human concept she had mastered so easily, but then she’d been good humoured from the day we’d met, which was quite remarkable when you consider we met when I pulled her from the wreckage of her ship.

At times, I had the feeling that she found the human race perplexing in a way that tickled her sense of humour. After all, I think humanity is rather ridiculous most of the time myself, and I’m one if us, so I could understand how odd… silly, even, we could look to some outsider. I knew that Sydrill wanted to laugh at the Archbishop, but some innate sense of politeness, good humour, even humanity in a sense, kept her from making her beautiful tinkling laugh, a sound like a brook babbling over rocks, that I found so lovely.

‘Translation machine has records of old times,’ Sydrill nodded to the machine around her slender wrist that resembled a high-fashion lady’s wristwatch. ’Machine has memories of old long time ago… religion. But now only Drasken… the… the mind-damaged… think such things true these days.’ She smiled that smile at him again.

‘Oh,’ the bishop seemed deflated as he wandered off.

Sydrill turned to me. ‘Why you never mention this… this religion… thing before?’

I shrugged, wanting to take her home and kiss her, spend the night with her again. ‘I suppose it never occurred to me. It is not something I ever think about.’

‘Good’ she said and did that thing with her long purple tongue across her small pointed teeth that I now knew meant she was thinking exactly the same thing I was. ’We leave?’ she said. ‘We go home and fuck?’

‘Oh, yes,’ I said.

Oil in the Veins

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Obviously, I tried my best, but she refused to let go of the mallet until I’d promised never to look at a piston ring in quite the same way again. I couldn’t help it; I’d grown up in an industrial working class area. All my life I’ve been surrounded by engineering. When I was a boy I wanted a hat like Isambard Kingdom Brunel and I dreamt of trains entering tunnels and bridges and girders and constructing other massive erections.

After all, it was the way she pulled out her calculator that day in school that first attracted me to her. Up until then I’d been playing around with an old slide rule, usually under the bedcovers at night, but seeing the way her fingers stroked those keys as she calculated a square root brought back that glow of hot pleasures to me I hadn’t felt since I held the spanner of my first Meccano set in my hot eager hand.

I still remember rubbing away with my first bastard file with all the pride of one born to the sound of a shop floor and I will always remember the time I produced my first handful of swarf while thinking of her.

Now, here she was, many years later, naked in my workshop, standing over the Austin Maxi engine I’d rebuilt – mostly out of old cornflake packets and empty washing up liquid bottles, it’s true, but it still worked as well as the original – even better in the cold and the damp.

I told her to put the mallet down and step back, away from my piston. I could tell from the wanton look in her eye that she couldn’t wait for me to re-bore it. She licked her lips and put the mallet down, instead picking up a can of lubricating oil. Slowly, she tipped it up.

She hadn’t looked so sexy, naked, since the time I lost the nozzle from my WD40 can and had inadvertently sprayed her instead of my nuts as I worked to loosen them. Later that day we’d taught each other so much about the use of screw threads and the way she’d gripped my nuts had changed forever my view of the metric system.

‘Come here,’ she said, rubbing the oil into her perfect skin as she cleared the surface of my workbench and lay back, suggestively licking the tip of my favourite spanner. This was something I’d never seen in any workshop manual, and I’d read most of them – even the one for the Austin Allegro.

‘Service me,’ she said. ‘I need someone who knows how to use his tool.’

I stepped closer to her.

As she began to unbutton my overall, she whispered to me. ‘Later, I’ll show you some of my favourite blueprints.’

Sighing, I leant forward and kissed her as she took me in her arms, whispering dirty secrets about how she was overheating under her bonnet.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Changing Times

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These days we go back to places and see how they have changed. When we were younger we used to go to new places, seek out the new. These days we no longer want, or need, the new. The familiar and the changes to it – however slight – are what we look for these days.

Not that we are against change, or against the new. We know that we have no power to halt the march of time and we are not sure that if we did have the power to halt time, to keep everything as it is, or better, turn back the clocks to some other ‘better’ time, we would want to do any such thing.

We are happy that time marches on… well, not exactly happy, maybe resigned to it, but not in a defeated bitter way. We get older, the world gets older. We know all that and we accept it. We are not even sad or bitter that the world seems to have passed us by. We were not people who thought the world revolved around us, or that it ought to revolve around us. We never wanted to be the centre of anything, never wanted the world’s attention, never craved fame or glory.

No… now we are happy to sit and watch the world and time going about their business, passing us by. We do not have to scream for attention, for the world to notice us. We have found a place where we can sit and just let it all go by, knowing we have found a kind of peace… and that is enough for us.

Monday Poem: Creatures that Crawl

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Creatures that Crawl

We no longer need to believe
in ghosts or creatures that crawl
out of myth and superstition.
We grow too old for all that.

Still, though, you want to believe
still want to think that something
is waiting closer than safety
for the moment when it can crawl

out of the darker shadows and on
into your unprotected mind
that lies open now, it has not protector
hiding in the beards of the clouds,

to take all that you dread in hand
and then twist the sky in anger
to destroy all that you want to fear.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Waiting for his Return

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She would stand up there, day after day, looking out over the sea beneath her, stretching out towards the horizon or – on some days – as far as the mists would allow her to see.

She would stand there each day, at the times when the tides would allow boats to enter the harbour, and watch and wait.

He had gone years before. At first, she knew that he would not be coming back. After what had happened we all knew he would never return, except in chains and only then to live a short time until justice was done… probably up there on the same headland she now stood on, waiting for him to return.

We knew he was not coming back. She knew he was not coming back.

One day the grief must have broken something inside her, something must have changed, because from that day on she would make her way up the long twisting path through the trees, past the fallen rocks and the scrubby grass, up onto that bare cliff top where only the gulls gyred and the old broken gallows stood.

There she would stand and watch. There she would stand and wait.

All we knew was that she would wait up there every day until he came back, and then when he did, she would kill him in revenge for what he had done to her when he killed her husband on that night he escaped to the sea.

The Vegetables of Darkness

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‘The marrow, the marrow,’ she said in a voice that will haunt me every time I pass a greengrocer or walk the lonely haunted vegetable aisle of a supermarket.

Back in those days, of course, an allotment was a wild and dangerous place, a place for adventurers and those not afraid of the wild and savage heart of the artichoke.

Brassica Legume had that look of someone with a deep knowledge and understanding of the secret ways of vegetables; someone who had looked deep into the heart of the vegetable rack and survived all that it could do to her. If I was not mistaken, sometimes I thought I could see the fading leek scars on her elbows.

*

Due to a disappointment in romance I had turned towards the dark and forbidden need to grow vegetables. I had experimented with seed boxes and potted seedlings on my window ledge as a teenager, of course, but I had never wanted to become involved in gardening, not until that day I met Brassica Legume.

I had thought that we, Brassica and I, would - one day in the not too distant future, take up a small plot of land together and come our weeding day we would spend the rest of our lives working together in that garden, maybe even – one day – growing some cauliflowers together.

However, it was not to be.

One day I turned up at Brassica’s door and there in her porch I asked her to close her eyes. I whipped out my prize courgette and told her – without opening her eyes – to feel it.

She put out a slow, tentative hand, but as soon as her hand touched my courgette she screamed and ran back into the house, slamming the door in my face.

I banged on the door and begged her to let me in, let me explain, but she just screamed something mystifying about me seeing a doctor as soon as possible and to ‘keep away from me with that… that thing!’ and if I ever came near again and asked her to touch it like that she would ‘have me arrested.’

Perplexed by her behaviour, I gave up, tucked my courgette away and walked out of her life, I thought, forever.

*

Then, a few weeks later I met Brassica out on the street. She was carrying a suitcase and – eventually – let me walk with her for a while as I tried to apologise, but I could tell she was not really listening to me.

That was the day she left; leaving me on a bleak and windy railway station platform as she rode off to some distant horticultural adventure with another man she had met through the personal adverts in the back of a seed catalogue.

*

Then, several years later, I received a letter from Brassica, covered with mulch stains and with a pressed dried cabbage leaf I’d once given her as a romantic keepsake falling from the envelope I’d so hastily torn open when I’d recognised her handwriting.

In the letter, she begged me to come to her aid. So I dropped everything, then picked it up again, and ran for the train station.

She had – according to the letter I re-read sitting in the train – married the man from the advert in the personal column of the seed catalogue. Apparently, this Herr Doktor Sproutz was a world authority on vegetables with a professorship at the nearby University of Cudworth. They had settled down in a picturesque country cottage together to grow vegetables. All had been well at first, until he began sneaking back to their allotment at night.

At first she’d suspected he had a lover, or went off to meet one of the ladies of the night who hung around the allotments touting for business and in the hope of getting themselves a handful of radishes or a cucumber in return for their ‘services’.

However, one night she’d followed him, only to see him enter the allotment lean-to on his own. When Brassica built up the nerve to look in through the window she saw that her husband was standing naked in the lean-to with one of the biggest leeks she had ever seen and an economy-sized bottle of extra-virgin olive oil. At first, she’d wondered what he was going to do with such a prize specimen of the vegetable-growers art. However, Brassica’s letter did not go into the details of what horrors she’d witnessed that night.

*

Then, once I arrived at her cottage, Brassica told me she’d seen just what he was about to do with the well-lubricated leek.

‘I almost fainted then,’ she said, taking my hand and squeezing it. ‘B… but when he next turned towards the biggest marrow I’d ever seen and began oiling it up… th… then I did faint.’

She fell into my arms and sobbed against my shoulder. ‘The marrow, the marrow,’ she said in that haunted voice. I almost gave her my handkerchief, but then remembered when I’d last used it... and what for, and then thought better of it.

‘What am I to do?’ she said, once she had stopped sobbing.

‘I don’t know,’ I said honestly. ‘Just how big was this leek?’

I blanched when she told me.

‘…and the marrow?’

She told me about that too.

I felt my jaw drop and thought myself lucky to be sitting down, because I felt my legs go weak. ‘But how…?’ was all I could – eventually – say.

Brassica shook her head and wiped away her tears. ‘Just take me away from here,’ she said. ‘I’ve already packed my seed trays and my dibber.’ She looked up at me from under lowered eyelids. ‘I hope you don’t think that is a little too forward of me, especially since I was so cruel about your co….’

‘My courgette?’ I said helpfully.

‘Your courgette?’ Brassica blushed for some reason I didn’t quite grasp. ‘Oh, I thought it was your….’ She seemed to relax as though some great weight was suddenly gone from her mind.

‘Thought it was my what?’ I said, taking her hand.

‘Oh, nothing…’ she shook her head. ‘Nothing at all.’

I waited for a moment, but she said nothing more.

‘When will he… your husb… Herr Sproutz be back?’ I said.

Brassica turned and glanced at the clock.’ Oh, no,’ she cried. ‘He’ll be here any minute now… and if he finds you here…. Well, he has a temper, a vicious temper and he gets so jealous.’ She got up and began rushing around, gathering her things.’ Once a man took me to his allotment, just to show me his shallots…’

‘What happened?’ I said.

‘I shot him… dead,’ a voice from behind me said.

I turned and saw the gun.

*

A short time later, Brassica and I were tied up, bound together face to face, on either side of a roof-support pole in Herr Doctor Sproutz allotment lean-to.

‘You’ll never get away with this,’ I said, but Sproutz just laughed as he prepared something on a small camping stove over in the corner of his shed.

‘Oh… no…’ I could see the despair in Brassica’s eyes as she realised what her husband was preparing for us.

‘What?’ I said as tenderly as I could, staring into those fear-filled eyes only a few inches from mine. ‘I’ve always loved you.’ I added, wishing I could touch her. ‘Tell me, what is he doing?’

Brassica shook her head as her tears began to fall freely from her eyes. ‘Sprouts,’ she said.

‘What about him?’ I turned my head, hoping to catch sight of the dastardly German.

‘No… no,’ Brassica said. ‘Not him, the….’

But it was too late; he came towards us carrying an enormous plate.

‘Brussels sprouts,’ he said, coming closer.

‘Oh, god,’ Brassica moaned, almost fainting with terror. ‘Nooooo!’

‘Yes, my dear,’ Sproutz said. ‘My own creation.’ He turned to me. ‘Giant sprouts!’

He was right, there was no way such monstrosities could be natural. Each sprout was the size of a medicine ball and seemed to glow with some un-earthly green colour that made each of those monstrous vegetables seem far more dangerous than any ordinary sprout.

‘You’ll have to kill us both,’ I spat at him. ‘Neither of us is going to eat such an ungodly abomination.’

‘Yes, you vill die, both of you,’ the madman said. ‘And, yes, you will eat these sprouts I created. You vill have no choice!’

‘But why?’ Brassica said. ‘I thought you loved me.’

Sproutz laughed in her face. ‘No, my dear. I just used you… I only vanted you for your knowledge of vegetables.’

‘Why,’ she repeated as her tears flowed.

‘Because ve all know that var is coming soon and my government believes that chemical veapons vill be the veapon of the future!’

‘Hence the sprouts.’ I nodded. ‘One of the deadliest chemical weapons ever experienced.’

Brassica looked at me, puzzled.

‘You’ve been in the room with your family after the Christmas meal, haven’ t you?’

Realisation dawned in her eyes. ‘Yes, especially my aunt Edna. She always blames the dog, but we know it is her.’ She turned to face her husband. ‘You… you heartless baa.. bas… bastard!’

Herr Doktor Sproutz just laughed. ‘There will be no escape.’ He began to wheel over some device towards us - a giant hopper above a machine of some kind, beneath it he attached two tubes, each ending in a face mask. ‘You vill both have no choice but to eat,’ he said, fitting the masks over our faces.

Turning away from us he began to chop the already-cooked and immense sprouts into smaller, bite-sized pieces. He turned the hopper machine on and I could see the two tubes flexing as the deadly shopped-sprouts made their way – inch by inch towards our mouths. I looked into Brassica’s eyes, both of us knowing that eventually we would have no choice but to chew, eat and swallow. I gulped. I’d never liked sprouts.

Sproutz then took a candle, lit it and put it on the table, looking up to see us both staring wide-eyed at his dastardly trick.

‘Ja,’ he said. ‘When the gas builds up enough and reaches this naked flame…’ He turned towards the door. ‘Don’t worry I will be back to say good-bye before the end.’ He left, locking the door behind him.

Neither of us could speak, except with our eyes, then the sprouts arrived at our mouths and all we could do was eat.

And eat….

And eat….

I thought I would burst. Never if all my life had I eaten so much, and never so much of one thing. I vowed that if we were to get out of this alive I would never eat another vegetable again. I could see from the look of hopeless despair in my beloved’s eyes that she too felt the same.

Eventually, though, after the longest period of prolonged mastication in my life, I swallowed the last mouthful of sprout. A few moments later Brassica did the same.

A few minutes later, Sproutz came back into the leant-to carrying a full suitcase and a briefcase.

Seeing we’d eaten all the sprouts, he removed the machine, enabling us to breathe properly again, although, considering how many sprouts we’d both eaten we soon wouldn’t be able to breathe properly then either, at least not through our noses… and with the naked flame in the room with us, not for long either.

Sproutz hurried over to a filing cabinet and began transferring his papers to the briefcase. I presumed those papers contained all he’d learnt about making offensive chemical weapons from vegetables. A glance at Brassica confirmed my suspicions. We had to do something to prevent those papers reaching the German military high command, but our situation seemed hopeless.

I began to feel a stirring in my stomach.

A moment later, Sproutz sniffed the air. ‘I think it is time I said my good-byes,’ he said.

I glanced at Brassica. It seemed her eyes were swelling. I shook my head. ‘Can you hold it for a while,’ I whispered to her.

Brassica nodded through gritted teeth.

‘Wait..’ I whispered to her. ‘When I say, let it go… all of it.’

‘A…all of it…?’ There was panic in her eyes as she whispered back.

I nodded. ’All of it.’

She took a deep, despairing breath and nodded.

Carefully, slowly I manoeuvred us around the support-pole Sproutz had bound us to, until the candle was right behind Brassica and in-between her and where her husband was preparing to leave.

Sproutz fastened the briefcase and, after putting on his hat, picked up the suitcase. ‘Auf Wiedersehen, my darling and you… mister… mister… I’m afraid I don’t know your name?’

‘No, you don’t,’ I said.

‘No matter,’ Sproutz said and tuned to go. ‘Soon you vill have no need of it.’

I could see that Brassica was struggling to keep it in, screwing up her eyes and biting her lip. I could feel the tension in her body as she clenched herself against the inevitable.

Quickly I made sure the candle was between Brassica’s back and the fiend. ‘Now!’ I said.

I’m afraid I had to close my eyes as I attempted to breathe through my nose. Even with my eyes closed though, I could feel the heat as Brassica turned the candle flame into a deadly flame-thrower.

Sproutz screams were – mercifully – brief.

When we dared open our eyes once again, and breather through our noses, all that remained of Herr Doktor Sproutz was a scorch mark on the lean-to wall and a slightly-singed hat lying next to a pair of smoking shoes and the twisted charred remnants of a briefcase. Everything else was ash and smoke.

Brassica sagged against me in relief. She looked up at me and blushed.

‘Your aunt Edna would have been so proud,’ I said, straining to kiss her. She laughed and leant forward to kiss me back.

‘But how do we get out of here,’ she said, straining, but this time at our bonds.

‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘I went to public school and had to eat their vegetables, so I’m used to this,’ I said, taking a strand of the rope that bound us between my teeth and chewing.

‘Sounds just like my school meals too,’ Brassica said, laughing as she too took a strand of the rope between those lovely lips of hers and began chewing too.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Forty-Two

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Neil put the drinks down on the pub table, acknowledging Claire’s thanks with a nod. He sat next to her, leant back against the seat backrest and sighed. ‘In a few weeks time I will be forty-two. Where has all the time gone? Pissed away.’

‘Oh, come on,’ Claire said.

‘What?’

‘You haven't pissed your life away.’ She half turned towards Neil as she spoke and sipped at her orange juice.

‘What have I done, though, then?’ Neil stroked his fingers up and down his pint glass, but made no move to pick it up.

‘You've lived it... your life. You've had good times, haven't you?

‘Sometimes, yeah.’ He picked up his glass and drank about a quarter of the beer in one go.

‘Well, sometimes is as good as it gets.’

Neil licked the foam from his upper lip. ‘Oh, yeah?’

‘Yes.’ Claire was emphatic. ‘Nobody could survive a life of constant good times.’ She picked up her glass again. ‘You would get bored.’

‘Oh, yeah?’

Claire half-turned to look at Neil. ‘Yes, you, I, everyone. We need ups and we need downs. Can you imagine how unbearable someone who never had any downs would be?’

‘What?’

Claire took a small drink and put her glass down. ‘Well, you know how someone who is always a sad, moody, bugger gets on your nerves?’ She picked up a beer mat and stood it on an edge holding it upright between her fingers and tapping it on the table.

‘Yes! Oh, yes. I remember whatshisname…? Oh, anyway, it'll come to me. Go on….’

‘Thanks. Well… it would be the same if they were the exact opposite, wouldn't it?’

Neil thought for a moment. ‘What? Yes, like those happy-clappy inane grinning religious folks?’

‘Yes, that's it.’

‘Smug self-righteous bastards.’ Neil sat back, took a drink and cradled his beer glass against his chest. ‘I'd rather be miserable.’

Claire sat back too, smiling to herself as she sipped her orange juice.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Post-War Extreme Sports

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It is not often appreciated these days that, in the immediate post-war era Splunge Disinfectant was the closest these islands had to a peacetime hero equal to those heroes of the recent war. During the war, of course, the exploits of the men and women of the armed forces had become the mainstay of the media, providing a much-needed morale-boost to those on the home front as well as those actually serving on the front line.

However, it was during the dreary post-war years, as rationing, bomb-damage and other deprivations of the war still made ordinary life difficult, that Splunge Disinfectant and his team of daring back-up engineers and mechanics first attempted to break the world record for opening a tine of corned beef under strict competitive conditions.

Nowadays, we are all familiar with the peculiar characteristics of the corned beef tin and its curious little key and metallic strip combination. In the immediate post-war era, however, the whole concept of using a key to open a tin was still regarded with suspicion by the general public, used to the more traditional tin opener.

Furthermore, back in those early days, opening a tin of corned beef was a very dangerous act, even when taking all the necessary precautions, including a pair of stout gloves and an army-surplus tin helmet. However, to attempt a speed opening of a corned beef tin was considered the height of dangerous folly and many stern editorials in the daily press of the time warned Disinfectant, and his back-up team, against such a foolhardy task, and of the dangerous precedent it would set.

The war-weary British people, though, were desperate for something to bring a little excitement into their drab and dreary existence and Disinfectant’s bravery was glamorous and exciting, especially to the young boys who would save up every spare penny and ration coupon they could get their hands on in an attempt to acquire a tin of corned beef of their own they could use to emulate the antics of their hero.

The newsreels of the time were full of the exploits of Disinfectant and his boffins (as they were called) as they prepared for the first post-war International Corned Beef Tin Opening trials in Switzerland. The British team had developed their own top-secret tin-opening key in the same laboratories where Frank Whittle had developed his jet engine. Consequently, the media of the time, will still condemning Disinfectant for his foolhardiness, were full of praise for this new spirit of enterprise and technological innovation from the nation that had done so much to defeat the Nazi menace.

Boy’s comics too were full of stories about the brave men and their corned beef tins that had done so much to win the war and now seemed poised to win the peace too. It seemed that a new age of heroes and heroics was about to begin.

Unfortunately, though, tragedy struck on Disinfectant’s final pre-competition run, with a training tin, only days before the Swiss final in Innsbruck.

Attempting to get the key around the corner of the tin in record time, Disinfectant didn’t allow the tin to come up to proper operating temperature in the icy cold of a pre-dawn Switzerland. Tragically, Disinfectant’s high-speed corned beef tin key skidded off the training tin and entangled Disinfectant in the razor-sharp metal strip as it unwound from the key, fatally trapping him in its deadly coils.

His boffins rushed to the scene, realising nothing could be done for their heroic companion they gathered up as many of the slices of Disinfectant they could find. Unfortunately, his trade-mark ‘tin-opening cap’ was never found, some believing it was shredded into microscopic pieces by the vicious uncoiling of the metal strip from the tin.

The remains of Splunge Disinfectant were bought back to the UK from Switzerland and interred in a tin, ‘as he would have wanted’ according to the obituary writer in Butcher’s Weekly, then buried in the back of a cupboard at the Royal Society’s London Headquarters.

Although, one of Disinfectant’s ex-boffins later went on to create an attachment for the crude bacon-slicers of the time, that allowed the invention of ‘wafer-thin’ meat slices, refusing to comment when it was later alleged it was Disinfectant’s tragic demise that had inspired his invention.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Such a Cold World

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It was such a cold world. The squat stone buildings seemed to amplify the wind, rather than protect from it. The wind always blew too, day and night, blowing the snow, or the rain or sometimes both against any bare skin you were foolish enough to leave unprotected as you made your way across the gaps between the buildings.

The people on this desolate planet, when out on the surface were hard to distinguish from the animals that somehow managed to eke out a living from the unforgiving landscape. All were squat hunched-up figures, covered in fur, that scuttled and stumbled around in the blizzards, gales and downpours.

Sitting huddled up close to a fire in one of the squat stone taverns, where it seemed the wind threw barrow-loads of snow against the thin windows and sneaked in around the edges of those windows and the doors, somebody once told me, that the world had spring, summer and autumn as well as winter. I – of course – did not believe him.

I had been there many months, and still I had not got used to how one of those bundles of thick heavy cloths and strange dense furs could shed its outer layers and become a woman who would crawl into my bed and ease away the cold from my frozen bones in the way only a warm, living woman can.

It was only then, one morning, after months and months of cold and rain that I woke up to a strange silence, broken only by the slow breathing of the dark-haired woman who lay sleeping on my chest under the heavy fur blankets that covered us.

At first, reaching for my gun that lay on the table by the bed, I thought I must have heard some intruder, some sound that had woken me. Then I realised it was not a sound that had woken me, but the absence of a sound….

The wind had dropped.

Unbelieving, I looked over towards the window and for the first time since landing on that world, I could see its sky free from storm clouds.

New Technology

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Anyway, not that I’d used one before, but it seemed obvious enough – at least after you’d shook the lemur off the end of it and set it to vibrate at medium intensity.

Still, though all new technology takes a while to get used to, I suppose, and I am reasonably confident that the Kilt Detector app will come in useful one day, and not only on my very infrequent trips to Scotland. The ability to detect if there is anyone within a 5 mile radius who is wearing a kilt is bound to be nothing but a boon to mankind, if only to increase the awareness of the sporran as an endangered species. That is only to be expected really, as the life-chances of anything are bound to be somewhat precarious when having to eke out an existence that close to a Scotsman’s groin.

Anyway, it has a 32-billion megapixel camera, so those sextexting photographs you have a habit of accidentally sending to your aunt in Cleethorpes, instead of that new girl on Reception, are going to more resemble something like a NASA flypast of some distant planet’s moons rather than give the right romantic piquancy to your candid erotica.

However, I suppose that is the price we all must pay for technological progress.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Monday Poem: The Rough Certainty

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The Rough Certainty

Touch the rough certainty
of cold ancient stone,

feel the sudden shock
of warm life bursting

into flight from the dark
of a deeper shadowed corner

that turns unliving stone
into something more vital

connecting back through
the warm pulse of blood

to times far too long ago
when hands just like these

took stone from the ground
to make something to last

for reasons we can never know
or even if the gods they made
were satisfied by it at all.

Statistical Anomalies

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Seeing that there was nowhere else to put it, I gave it to her, strictly on the understanding that no zebras were to be harmed should she consider taking it out of the bag.

As you probably know, however, there are – at the moment – no recoded incidents of a wild zebra being assaulted by a Northumbrian part-time lottery ticket sales assistant wielding a golf club, which she removed from the golf bag expressly for that purpose. However, statistics are funny things and we wouldn’t want her hanging around the zebra enclosure at her nearest zoo with a golf club just at the time when the cosmic forces that create such unusual statistical anomalies are building up in the area.

After all, no-one around here expected a wild badger to win a seat in the local council election, but when it came down to a choice between candidates from the main political parties and a wild animal sauntering past the school hall used as the polling station on election night, most people knew where they were going to put their cross.

So, there you have it, and here we are all looking forward to having the local services provided by the council run properly for the first time in living memory.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Open the Box of a Moment

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There are times that contain their opposites within themselves; times when you can open the box of a moment to discover what it contains. Not until time moves on from that moment, not until you open the box of possibility will you know what is going to come from it, or not come from it.

There is a moment that seems to hang in the air between our two faces drawing closer as the world stops, waiting upon that kiss. If the kiss happens then a world spins into being that was not there before, but if the moment passes, escapes into the realm of what will never again be, then this world will carry on, with only the two of us knowing that a new reality was on the verge of creation and one or both of us turned away from it and left it to blow away on the breeze of lost times.

We, you and I, took a chance on that kiss that lasted longer than I’d expected it to, and when I drew away I saw something in your eyes I had not seen there before; a world growing out of that new moment we had created together. There was a chance of something new forming out of the air around us, air that seemed so full of possibility.

Here we are now, all those years later, and still I see that moment after that kiss when all of this could just as easily all disappeared, never to be.

A New Approach to Public Transport

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It did come as something of a shock, especially to those of us not issued with the requisite pogo-sticks by the local council. After all, when you look at the economic costs associated with it, there is a lot to be said for it. A pogo stick lane down the street takes up far less room than a bus lane as well as getting rid of all the unnecessary bus shelters and bus garages, not to mention the cost saving in bus drivers alone.

True, the pogo-stick can be a bit awkward and sometimes unwieldy, especially for young parents with prams and so forth, as well as those who used to use public transport for their shopping trips. For example, it is easy to spot the trail left by a newcomer to the pogo-stick based shopping experience as the bouncing does tend to liberate a not-unreasonable amount of insecurely–packed shopping, especially such items as loose potatoes or oranges.

However, such teething troubles will no doubt be a thing of the past as the local population gets used to, and more experienced, with this new form of transport.

Furthermore, looking on the bright side, the pogo-stick is infinitely preferable to the other similar option of individual self-powered transportation – that cursed pedal-powered vehicle of Satan himself - the bicycle, and all its evil works.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Putting the Shopping Away: Tactics

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It was not that she was somewhat provocative in her handling of the melon, it was more a matter that such an act on her part left me with little choice over what to do with the rather large chunk of cheddar cheese I was holding.

Of course, many practitioners of the game should be smiling a wry smile of recognition at what has now become one of the standard opening moves of a match.

Quickly, before she could manoeuvre the melon to a more convenient location, I managed to put the cheese in the fridge and move on to the next item in my carrier bag. This happened to be a bottle of milk, thus easily trumping her carton of teabags.

However, the teabags were a special offer containing 50% extra free, which of course completely invalidated any advantage I had with the milk, leaving her with a penalty move which enabled her to finish putting all her shopping away from her carrier bag whilst I was left with a tin of tomato soup still in mine.

Next week, though, there will be a rematch, and as the loser this time I get first choice of shopping bag, so I think I will make sure I get the one with the digestive biscuits, of course.

Thursday Poem: Where Worlds Lie

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Where Worlds Lie

Once all it seemed you had to do
was reach out, and the world was there
right in the palm of your one hand,

just waiting, breathing easily
prepared for whatever you wanted
it to become. And now the world

is growing tired and lies exhausted
still at your feet, no longer willing
to rise  on your command and fly

out to where you desire to bring
that woman you see standing down
by the riverside and watching

the slow reflections drifting by
just looking for a face to come
rising up from that clear water

to bring her back here by the hand
to meet you in this place where worlds
wait to obey your next decree.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The People of the River God

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So, this was how it began; a moment taken out of the river of time and set aside here on the riverbank, just for her.

I had travelled this river for such a long time. From the place where the river was no longer a stream, down all its twists and turns, I had travelled until I arrived here out on the great plain. Her people lived on the edge of the river, their villages spread along the fertile soils that the river provided for them.

Almost inevitably, since the river provided them with so much, it had – over the centuries – become their god.

As I arrived out of the mist of distance along the great river, a person from some distant place that not even their legends spoke of, they assumed I was – at the very least – some messenger, some emissary for the river god. A few even dared to whisper that I could even be the river god himself; coming to bring either great benedictions or heap great calamities upon the people of the river.

Anyway, as soon as they saw the way I looked at her, she was given to me. I was never sure if they saw her as a sacrifice or a gift, or even a spy sent to discover if I was really their god, or just a mere messenger.

All I remember from that first night was the way she sat shivering in front of my fire, her eyes fixed on the dancing flames, refusing to look up at me, refusing to move, both fearing and desiring the moment when she would feel my first touch upon her.

When Time Stood Still

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Time stood still.
I’d never realised the power of that old cliché, not until that moment. I was amazed, but also not amazed at the same time. That is the trouble with living in a world where Science Fiction exists. I had read books, I had seen films, TV programmes, where the time froze, leaving balls suspended in the air, birds fixed in mid-flight, people with their faces contorted in mid-speech and with suspended gestures, their bodies becoming awkward ungainly statues.
It happened just like that… as expected, in a way. All as if someone, somewhere had pressed a universal pause button and nipped off to the toilet or to see what was in the fridge, or to let the dog out or the cat back in, only to come back after some unpredictable amount of time to unpause the universe and set the whole thing rolling again.
At the same time, though, I was amazed that it happened at all. I was, after all, living in a world bound by the rules and laws of science. It seemed impossible that suddenly all that could stop, that time could cease, that I could step outside time… and later, at other times - when I thought to check - that electricity could stop, with electrons – I presume - no longer flowing. Don’t ask me how or why it was everything but me that had come to a halt like that.
I carried on; as far as I could tell - biology, like physics not being my strong suit – the same as normal, while all around me the world came to a halt.
I don’t think, don’t expect, I was chosen. I may not know too much about science, but I do know enough about religion to know I have never suffered from that particular delusion.
All I know is that the world stopped and I carried on. Then one day I wondered if this happened to everybody, or to some others that I did not know about. I had never seen anyone else in those instances that time froze wandering through the crowds like me. But each instant is just that, the chances of time – if it was an individual thing – stopping for two people near to each other at the same instant must be pretty small, considering how big the world is, and how much time there is.
Then, one day, I saw her dancing towards me through the frozen crowd.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Perils of Unsliced Bread

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It was not as though she had never sliced bread before, but I remembered only too well what happened the last time. Certain women should not be allowed near sharpened blades, especially those with a well-developed feeling of disgruntlement towards their nearest and – formerly – dearest.

Still, it stopped bleeding eventually and she did then proceed towards making some sort of more conventional approach to the construction of a sandwich, even though it took a week for the cat to come out of hiding.

Of course, someone like her with a rather relaxed grip on her temper, than is usually the case outside certain more secure establishments than this place, can make life a little too interesting for those in their vicinity. At least, it does give us all a chance to keep fit and to develop a more alert state of mind than would otherwise be the case. It is probably for these reasons that her children became so adept at hide and seek… as well as advanced first aid.

So, in the end there can be a lot said for it, even though it is best to choose just what those words are very carefully if you suspect she is somewhere within earshot and has easy access to something sharp and pointy.