Google+ A Tangled Rope: 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Something Unexpected

This was not what was expected. Although, as it happens it was the officially-designated day for something unexpected to happen. After all, it was discovered by someone involved in the vital Health and Safety field that one of the most common causes of accidents in the workplace was when something unexpected happened.

Therefore, in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents in the various workplaces throughout the EU, unexpected things were outlawed and anything that happened in the workplace which was not expected was made illegal.

Of course, as a typical bureaucracy the EU health and Safety executive expected that once they had made something illegal it would henceforth stop happening. Satisfied they had done their job they turned to the vital matter of cheese cracker safety and the heartbreak caused by premature breakage of the cheese biscuit during application of the cheese, especially in the case of so-called soft cheeses, whose often woefully inadequate spreadability often results in cracker-breakage despondency.

However, much to the surprise and consternation of the Bureaucracy – and thus in direct contravention of their new law – the unexpected still happened in the workplace, which deeply upset those tidy minds that wanted everything in its place and in order.

Therefore, in an attempt to tidy up the disparity between what the official mind saw as desirable and the awkward messiness of reality they decreed that henceforth the unexpected could only happen on an officially-designated day.

However, to no-one else's surprise the first officially designated Day of the Unexpected passed off entirely without incident. Much to the chagrin of those who had organised the special Europe-wide celebrations to mark this new day in the calendar.

Still, there is always next year – unless something unexpected happens.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Travelling Intimate Device Salesperson


Of course, being the kind of woman she was meant that none of the options presented to her - in my demonstration of all the available options – were entirely suitable. Although, in line with company policy, she was allowed to give each and every piece of equipment a full test, which I must say left me with both backache and a very tired tongue.

She, however, by the end, had a broad smile on her face and I like to think it was not all down to the comedy interlude I introduced halfway through proceedings when her Yorkshire terrier ran off with my trousers, whilst I was still partly inside them.

Such, however, is the life of the travelling Intimate Device salesperson. After all, it could be worse, considering I managed to avoid getting allocated to the offshore division, which mainly sells inflatable intimate companions to the offshore drilling industry and – I’ve heard – emptying the demonstration model, up on the helicopter landing pad, after a sales test-drive by the entire crew, can take several hours, especially in a force nine gale when it is essential to keep a firm grip on the ankles or risk losing the demonstration model on the winds and being forced to buy a new replacement out of your commission.

It also helps to stay upwind as it empties… apparently.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Unleashing the Banjo


Not that she was too unfamiliar with the use of a banjo as an offensive weapon; after all, she had – in her youth – frequented some of the more authentic Folk Music venues in the country. The sort of places where the beards are as unkempt as the woolly jumpers and the cider flows like rivers in spate and accordions are unmasked at the midnight hour.

Like I said, she was not afraid to unleash the banjo, providing she was sufficiently provoked. After all, she had lived wild and free on one of the remotest hill farms in the Welsh border regions and even knew how to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch without drowning her nearest interlocutor in spittle or strangling herself with her own entangled epiglottis.

Of course, coming from that region meant that she knew all the local words and expressions for rain – all thirty-seven of them – from: it’s pissing down to it’s absolutely fucking pissing it down, and she had even heard the myths and legends about the secret special word used only when the sun shone, although rumour had it that word had been last used in her grandmother’s grandmother’s time and then only once… on a Thursday.

Still, she was a fine figure of a woman, with all the necessary strength in her arms to keep a sheep in its place while the shepherd put his wellies on and to wrestle a wild accordion into submission.

And, yes, I loved her, loved her with all my heart, until that fateful day when the all the cider barrels in the cellar sprung leaks and she was the only one brave enough to volunteer to go down there and drink the cellar dry.

She nearly managed it, too.

Monday, February 25, 2013

EU Outlaws Disparagement


Well, as you are no doubt well aware, recent EU legislation has outlawed disparaging comments made against any woodland creatures, indigenous or otherwise. In some parts of the EU, which used to be separate countries until they were subsumed by the ever-hungry bureaucratic morass that is the EU’s governing bodies, there has been a long tradition of insulting the boar, for which animal rights (sic) campaigners have long argued for a ban, saying that this is little more than species-ism and that comparing a boar to one’s mother-in-law should be regarded as a crime more damaging to the self-esteem of a boar than the recently-outlawed showing a goose a jar of pate and sniggering in a way to cause distress to the goose and any vulnerable goslings in the vicinity.

The British delegation fought bravely for almost five whole minutes before giving in completely to get an opt-out from this legislation for the UK, considering the facts that Britain has no wild boars (plenty of bores, of course) and that the traditional rural sport of Taking The Piss Out Of The Squirrels is already threatened by urban encroachment, and could be dealt a devastating blow, just when the sport was showing signs of revival, mainly due to it being a demonstration sport at the recent London Olympics, where the UK’s leading exponent of arboreal mammal-related abuse, Ken ‘The Hazelnut’ Nonsequitor, won a silver medal for reducing a pine marten to a quivering wreck by calling it a ugly ferret – a move later condemned by the RSPCA and the UK’s powerful ferret-fondling lobby.

However, critics of the new law have suggested that the UK do what all other EU countries do, when a law is brought in they don’t like, by simply ignoring it and carrying on as usual.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Immanent Sardines on Toast


I would like to invite a member of the audience up on stage for a moment.

Thank you.

Now, may I ask your name?


And that was a name given to you by your parents, was it?


Are you sure you weren’t kidnapped by gypsies… or aliens or someone from Essex… or anything like that, as a baby?



Anyway, if you would please examine this perfectly normal tin of sardines and confirm to the rest of the audience that it is perfectly normal in every way… except, of course, for the mere addition on a small nuclear-powered engine… and the wheels, of course.

After all, I’m sure many of us – when we were young – longed for that far off day in the future when we would all have our own self-propelled sardine tins in order to enjoy the thrill of sardines on toast no matter where we were in the world when those particular hunger pangs struck.

After all, who amongst you fine people gathered here on this day of all days cannot – hand on heart – deny, that when those particular hunger pangs begin there is no other way on this planet to assuage them, except by the prospect of some immanent sardines on toast.

For that is why the world has been crying out in its need for self-propelled sardine tins, of which this is just the first of many, not only that, soon the day will come when I will unveil my time-travelling inter-planetary electric toaster able to deliver hot fresh toast to any point in the space-time continuum (and Tewksbury), and on that great day we will all know for sure that the future has – indeed – arrived at long last.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Kindle Book Out Now: The River is an Endless Rope - Poems


This book is a new collection of over 180 poems by David Hadley.

David Hadley's poems have been published in several magazines in the UK and US.

Several of his poems have been cherry-picked by the editors at


The River is an Endless Rope

Available here (UK) or here (US).


The River is an Endless Rope

All through this slipping of time
The river flows sedately onward,
An endless rope pulled by the sea.
Sometimes, though, the river swells,
Swells in anger, as it tries to twist
Break free from the grip of the sea.
But the sea’s grip is too strong,
Holding tight onto this river’s tongue
For millions of long winding years.

In all that time, the churning sea
Has not let the river drop once,
Not yet, and - perhaps – not ever.
Days flow on, pouring into the past
Like water back into deeper seas.
The river ties the rain back home
To the deeper distant seas,
Connecting now to then to now
Like rain to water and sea.

I spend a great deal of time
Walking along by this river,
Watching its steps, marking its moods,
Taking every day it brings
And trying to hold on, like the sea
Holds tight to its own rivers
Pulling them back towards it
Fearing that too much freedom means
They will one day break free.


The River is an Endless Rope

Available here (UK) or here (US).

Another collection of poems by David Hadley:

This Brief Life of Sparks is available for the Kindle here (UK) or here (US).

Some comments about David Hadley's poems:

“your lovely poem awoke my own memories”
“An elegant poem”
“wow well done”
“That was beautiful.”
“That captures my ambivalent feelings about morning! Love those last five lines.”
“This is simply gorgeous, poignant and bittersweet. Thank you for this”
“Lovely and delicate, like your dancer.”
“This is a beautiful poem, hadley! I love the two-stansa structure and whole reflective, traquil feel. Well done ;)”
“I like the way you write - sounds a bit strange, lol, but true.”
“very Keats like … much enjoyed.”
“another scorcher!”
“Lovely rhymes and rhythm, quite a warming feeling, good stuff!”
“What a beautiful picture you paint with your words.”
“Wow, this is pure perfection. I absolutely love this poem. You use a whole different dimension here- a unique story told in familiar ways. Each stanza, each line and each word is in perfect harmony. This is what I call craftsmanship. Well done.”
“Absolutely beautiful. I'm awe struck, well done :)”
“I really like the way this evolves… The line: 'Silence speaks like a sullen child.' is great,”
“really enjoyed, beautiful :) Especially the last lines.”
“I found this strangely haunting.”
“absolutely spell-bounding stuff.”
“I liked this, especially the last few lines”
“This is a nice piece of work - well done.”
“Thoughtful and thought provoking.”
“I like this. Can identify with the little things forgotten when waking and lost.”
“an interesting - and thought-provoking -piece.”
“fantastic! Love this line: 'where all the rules are torn / to scatter like coloured confetti '”
“An excellent evocation of the dreamworld.”
“'it's harder than you think to close / the doors of all those memories.' So true...”
“I think this is a beautiful poem…”
“Good one.”
“beautifully poetic, I really like this.”
“"Running the sands of my life / through my opening fingers" lovely lines”
“Brilliant stuff. Loved it.”
“I liked this. There is a good truth in this”
“Eloquent, beautiful.”
“Lovely words.”
“This is stunning, I've read it over and over again and will do many times today.”
“Great. Love the opening lines, turning a cliched image into a new, fresh one. This so mirrors my own reflections on where I am. Fabulous write”
“I love the first two lines. Gripped my attention straight away. A lovely poem. Well done.”



The River is an Endless Rope

Available here (UK) or here (US).

Shakespeare and Commercialism


‘The isle is full of noises’. As most people know Elizabethan spelling was more a matter of individual choice rather than adhering to any standard, so Shakespearean scholars have often overlooked the fact that here the bard meant aisles rather than isles as yet again he was working under commercial commission, something which today’s Arts Council subsidised theatricals would regard with abject horror, seeing their precious bard sullying himself with commercial concerns. However, those were very different times when Kings and governments pissed money away on endless pointless wars against each other rather than keeping a bunch of luvvies in breakfast champagne.

The Tempest as any historian of the time well knows was one of the more successful Elizabethan supermarkets well-know for its BOGOF offers on a surfeit of lampreys and its take-home sacks of sack. However, he supermarket had been losing market share to the somewhat slightly more upmarket Marlowe’s which had outlawed religious feuding on its premises and was therefore a much more pleasant shopping experience for the gentry.

However, in an inspired marketing exercise Tempest hit back, hiring Shakespeare to create a play which hinted at all the wonders available in their aisles and their magical product range, and – of course – hinting that the then CEO of Marlowe’s, Arthur Caliban, son of the famous Right-wing political leader Margaret Sycorax, was up to no good with all manner of schemes set up to fool his customers.

As with any advertising or marketing scheme which involved Shakespeare the whole enterprise was a massive success, allowing Shakespeare at long last to retire from the theatre business and to buy both a new bed and a much better new pair of gloves.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Worse Things Happen in West Bromwich


Well, as they say: Worse things happen in West Bromwich, which is not surprising really considering. Although, at this time of the day it is probably best not to dwell on exactly what those worse things are, especially for those of us with a less than robust constitution, or within a short bus ride of that locality. Still, it could be worse, but perhaps it would be best not to mention Carlisle, or even Hull; especially not under the current circumstances where the hordes of the easy offended swarm all over any pronouncement in order to find something to be outraged by.

She was one of them, of course, easily outraged – especially on other people’s behalf – by anything that was judged to lie outside her narrow and strict definitions of propriety. She who would mock and pout scorn on those of earlier generations who she saw as prudish, moralistic and hypocritical for upholding a different set of standards to her own, which she held as equally judgementally as they held theirs. Sadly, though, she too became an unintentional victim when the counter-terrorism forces of a major free Western power developed the Irony Bomb, the first prototype of which exploded in her vicinity just as she was accusing some people she disagreed with of abusing the concept of Free Speech by saying things which she disagreed with.

I could say she will be sadly missed… but I won’t.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Form and the Void


‘So, what is it?’ She was not as impressed as he’d hoped.

‘It’s a universe.’

‘Oh.’ His wife sniffed as she looked down on his creation. ‘What’s it for?’

‘Well… it’s… it’s….’ He looked around his shed for inspiration. ‘Well, you always said I ought to do something about that form and void I had at the back of the shed. Well… this is it.’

‘What’s it for, though?’ She poked at one of the galaxies, which set it spinning.

‘I don’t know,’ he admitted. ‘I was just tidying up the shed and it got a bit dark back there, so I said ‘Let there be light,’ next thing I knew there were these suns and planets all over the place.’

He pointed out one of the spinning globes. ‘I rather like that one there… Soil… the blue and green one.’

She peered. ‘I suppose its okay, if you like that sort of thing. I wish you’d made something a bit more….well, useful.’ She took her glasses off and looked down at the spinning blue–green globe. ‘Ew! There are things on it… vermin all over it.’

‘Those are not vermin, those are my creations!’

‘What are they… horrible pink and hairy things?’

‘I call them humans,’ he said.

‘Well, get rid of them. I don’t want them escaping off that thing and getting into the house.’ With that she turned and strode off, slamming the door of his shed.

Still, he thought as he tipped the whole universe into a rubbish sack for the recycling, he’d only wasted six days on it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Take it like a Man


Well, it is not always that clear who is to blame, but then once you marry her it becomes quite clear that it is all your fault – whatever it is.

This is quite logical really, quite sensible and goes a long way towards why philosophers have often been single men and – consequently – never realised that it is their fault that the world is contracted thus.

However, if you are wise you never mention these things again and just accept the fact that this is the way the world is, because if it wasn’t then that too would – somehow – be your fault as well and there would be nothing you could do about that either.

Hence the old expression: take it like a man.

Because that is what you are and it is – therefore – your fault and you have no alternative but to take it, or at least leave it at the back of the shed and hope she doesn’t – on her infrequent forays hence – notice that you have not done whatever it was that you promised you would do with the item that has suddenly become evil in her sight and therefore needs to be cast out to the dankest, darkest regions of the local tip – or recycling point, as those with bright official tabards now insist upon calling it.

Still, anything for a quiet life, that’s what I always say… only not when she is within earshot.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Poem: Symmetry



The placement of these things
is quite significant and precise:
a measure from here to there.

A feeling of exact symmetry,
as though this becomes
a balance, a fulcrum of forces

invisible but still quite tangible
going about their own purposes
for which we are merely instruments

and not actors in our own right.
We have rites but no rights,
we have hope of influence.

But our puny limitations
and tentative responses
are no match for the forces

that can unleash so many
unendurable horrors down
upon our unprotected heads.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Outside Her world


Within the enclosing moments, she turned and became, changing from the slow tentative writhings as though possessed by some need beyond what this ordinary world contains. She whispered my name as though it was some incantation to a new god she had discovered. Holding my head in the palms of her hands, her body writhed up to meet my kissing lips.

I could be that god, I thought in those few seconds I paused to let her press her need against my outstretched tongue. I have the power to twist her life away from the ordinary; to make her writhe and undulate in this desperate need to be taken to that world far beyond the ordinariness of this room in this tired world.

I could take her there, use my body: my tongue, my lips, my hands, my cock, to take her there, transport her beyond the edges of this world, but I was not a god, not omnipotent, not omnipresent.

I could take her there, but I would stay here on the edge, in the doorway; on the outside, denied entrance to that world of wonder that she came in while I stayed here, on the outside… only watching as she took hold of that world in her clenching hands and wrapped her legs tight around it as she made it her own.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Needing a Good Home


Well, it happens… I suppose….

But I don’t know, really, how it happened.

It wasn’t anything I really expected, not even in some of my more… er… imaginative dreams, and I do tend to have some odd dreams. My dreams are so odd I’ve stopped telling other people about them. There were too many times when, if they didn’t quite back away suddenly remembering an urgent appointment elsewhere, I have seen that look come into people’s eyes as I tell them just what the penguin was doing with the pogo-stick and why the vicar was fleeing in panic, his vestments on fire.

Anyway, as I said… not even in my wildest of dreams….

Although, it is a national symbol and all that. There is a red one on the national flag, after all.

But, I’m not even Welsh though.

The old man, white beard, wild wind-swept hair, who came over the brow of the hill as I sat cradling the cold, trembling, mite in my arms, did tell me though that when one of them adopts a human, you are theirs, and it is yours, for as long as you both live.

‘It is…’ he said, staring off towards where the horizon would be if it wasn’t in Wales and therefore shrouded in mist and rain. ‘… a pact that cannot be broken.’

Just then the baby dragon I was holding looked up at me, with its eyes the amber of deep flame, coughed up a tar ball and set fire to my sleeve.

The white-bearded old man looked down at the tiny dragon in my arms and smiled. ‘You’ll get used to that,’ he said. ‘I’d recommend getting some burn cream.’ With that, he strode off into the mists, leaving me with my new charge slowly furling and unfurling its delicate wings as it lay contented in my arms.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Social Media


Anyway, there she was holding on to the violin with all the determination of a semi-professional toad annoyer. Still – as you probably know – there is a lot of it about these days.

I blame the social media for it: why, I don’t know, but it seems to be the thing to do these days.

Of course, being an old git I can remember when it was all the fault of the permissive generation and even recall something being blamed on rock ‘n’ roll. So there you go, unless you don’t which means you’ll probably have to stay here, in which case, you might as well make yourself comfortable.

If you move the violin… and the toad… there will be plenty of room for your picnic basket over there… so, please make yourself at home. However, if you could refrain from any overly personal habits until you actually are back at your own home, it would go someway towards reassuring the llama that you have no untoward designs upon its person. Even though its person does seem to rather enjoy creating her own rather elaborate designs all over the areas of her body she can reach with a felt-tipped pen and a protractor.

Still, it stops the toad getting overly annoyed by her antics with the violin which, I suppose, we all ought to be grateful for.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Highland Terrors


Back then, of course, people were more in touch with the natural, the wild and the untamed. Even so, there were not many in those wild, Scottish Highlands who would walk out alone at night in case they were attacked by wild haggis or the even-more deadly bagpipe, a land mammal not too unrelated to that denizen of the deep, the squid.

Haggises, or to give them their more common Highland name: the wee savage bastids – are a sort of short-legged killing machine, famous for scaring the Highland terriers back to the lowlands and for the kilt to become the sure sign of the na├»ve tourist, rather than the traditional dress many pretend it to be, created just to see the look on a man’s face when he realises the danger of – and to – his predicament when a horde of haggises sweep down into the glen teeth bared and savagely-clawed legs pumping. Hence, the invention of the sporran as a device for distracting the rampaging haggis’s attention from a man’s vulnerable parts as he unsheathes his claymore and prepares to battle to the death, or at least until opening time.

The bagpipe was a much stealthier predator, often lying in wait in the branches of trees - where it was camouflaged - to lie in wait for its prey to pass underneath. Then it would drop down, emitting its unearthly wailing as in entangled the poor unfortunate in its deadly crushing pipes and squeezed the life out of them.

These days though, with the increasing tourism of the region, it is said – with the usual Scottish gift for accuracy – that you are now more likely to be killed by a low flying golf ball than be attacked by a rampaging horde of haggises or killed in a wild bagpipe attack.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Strange World


Of course, it does tend to happen a lot while you are not looking. That is the way it is with the unforeseen… or, for that matter, the not seen. There are as we all know forces that lie outside of what conventional physics claim – how else would we explain the sudden coming into being of so many price-comparison websites in what would otherwise be a rational universe?

In the past, people made up religions and political theories to explain all the strangeness. However, since almost by definition, you have to be pretty odd yourself to want to invent a religion or political programme, this rather increased the amount of irrational oddity in the universe, rather than explaining it. This is a bit like making a ‘Reality’ TV programme about the making of a ‘Reality’ TV programme – it just increases the amount of idiocy in the world.

We are all idiots, babe – that goes without saying, even though his Holiness - the Great Bobness himself - went ahead and said it anyway.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of these things.

Anyway, the point – if there is a point – is that we are all more than capable of being idiots by ourselves; we do not need religions or political theories, systems and programmes to do it for us. That is just overkill – often quite literally.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Apart From the Lemon


Still, anyway, it was not really that unusual – apart from the lemon, obviously – but then she was the sort of woman who knew things, especially about lemons. Lemons, and – of course – the best way to hold a jar of marmalade without causing unnecessary distress to any passers-by, but then these days we all know a little too much about marmalade to be entirely comfortable holding it in mixed company, let alone out on the public thoroughfare.

Still, you might wonder about the lemons… truth be told, so do I….

So do I….

There are times when I wake up at night, thinking of the way she held those lemons, so tight, so firm. Eroticism is a funny thing, especially when you consider the marmalade as well, but she was that kind of woman. It was easy to see she knew about the uses a couple can find for marmalade when the toast of their love is still hot. The way she spread her marmalade on her toast, well, I would have… I did… give everything I had just to see her do that each morning.

As for the lemons, well, the things she could do with a home-made lemon meringue, a spoon and her tongue… well, I would have crawled naked through vats of Marmite, just for one more spoonful of her lemon meringue.

But, of course all good things come to an end.

One day, there were no more lemons and the marmalade jar was gone from the cupboard.

She left me a slice of toast, but what use is a slice of toast when the woman who once buttered your toast has gone?

Saturday, February 09, 2013

The Shape in the Shadows


Sometimes, though, Mayla got the idea that she was not alone. There was something out there: watching, waiting, licking its lips. She could almost feel its hot, meaty breath on her as she walked the paths around the settlement, searching for berries, fruit, herbs and those special plants the wise woman, Belonda, had taught her to recognise.

There were times when she could almost she the shape of something, there, in the shifting shadows of the forest; some shape that could break free of the concealing darkness and take her in its claws, rip her apart with strong jaws made for killing.

Mayla hurried home, glancing back over her shoulder, knowing that she would not, could not, outrun the beast that waited, that stalked her, but still she had to look back, even as she left the forest behind and strode back down the path to the village, smelling the smoke of its cooking fires, hearing the voices of the children playing and the murmur of a village going about its life.

Even then, though, she did not feel safe until she was inside the stockade, through the gates, and had seen at least one familiar face. Still she had to take one more look back, over her shoulder, to see the shadows between the trees of the forest and how they shifted and writhed, impatiently waiting for her to return to them.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Putting your Finger on It


Well, there it is….

Not, I’ll admit, the most impressive specimen of its type you’re likely to see, I must admit, but considering the cold weather, it is probably the best one you’ll be getting your hands on, providing you warm them up first.

You will, however, have to be very careful, after all - as someone of your experience and worldliness must know - the Double Entendre is a very shy creature, not seen as often as it used to be out in the wild. There was a time when the Double Entendre used to run wild and free across this great… er… avera… mediocre… country of ours.

Back in those days there wasn’t a place where the wild Double Entendre could not be found, in both rural and urban settings, with almost every place where people gathered, both private and public, having at least a pair of domesticated Double Entendres about the place for the amusement of the people gathered there, especially when one of them ran up the inside leg of one of the ladies and its cheeky little head popped up whenever there was a lull in the conversation.

Of course, every comedian in the land had a specially trained herd of Double Entendres they would bring out during their performances, much to the amusement of the audience who waited with great anticipation for the sight of the comedian whipping out his Double Entendre for the first time that evening.

These days though, the Double Entendre is seen as rather unfashionable and rather old hat, especially when someone catches sight of its old hat. Still, though, times change and maybe one day the Double Entendre will again be as fashionable as it once was.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Thursday Poem: Within Constraints


Within Constraints

Formal arrangements are made, so we
Know of our place within them.
We do not have to step outside

What is required or what is expected.
We move within constraints
And only in acceptable ways

To do what is required, no more
Beyond what is deemed appropriate
For our station and situation.

Here is where we are appointed to
And this is where we shall remain
Until such a time as we are desired

To be somewhere else, or to become
Something other than what we are
As current circumstances may demand.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

The Trouble with Taxation


Of course, at first, not that many people had one… at least not that they’d admit to. After all, if you had one, would you mention it… especially to anyone in an official capacity charged with taking an interest in such matters, particularly in relation to revenue-raising?

I thought not.

After all, as soon as someone in authority thought about it, they made it illegal to have one without paying any tax on it, which is what those in authority like to do. After all, they assume, what is the point of being in authority if you do not use that authority to seriously piss other people off?

So, after the first ones arrived from wherever in the universe they came from, or – as some have speculated – from some other dimension not too unlike this one, but with more fluffy things, everybody wanted one, even if just to feel that fur purring peacefully on the bed next to them.

Luckily, or so we thought at the time, these creatures (if they are creatures) are very keen on breeding, almost as much as people are, or at least they are as keen on doing it as humans are….

Yes, they do – before you ask - and they like it, even with people you or I would run away from. Fumblies will mate with everyone and everything… including – for some reason – old car tyres.

So, everybody was having a good time – including the Fumblies (and – quite possibly – the old car tyres) and so those in authority realised that this would never do, so they decide to tax the ownership of Fumblies, and – when that didn’t put a stop to it – they thought about making owning one illegal. However the authorities soon discovered that there is a point beyond which even the authorities cannot piss people off, at least not if they want to keep their cushy jobs.

However, now the Fumblies have applied – through some very high-powered intergalactic lawyers, to have all the taxes on them revoked as contrary to, and in clear breach of, their (non-)human rights as set out in the Sentient Beings (Non-taxable status thereof) Act of Star Date: -322905.53873203794. Because, if there is one thing Fumblies like even better than eating doughnuts and having sex with all and sundry (and old car tyres) that thing is pissing off those in authority, often just for the hell of it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Sentimental Apprentice

You will believe a man can fly… well, at least until the sudden arrival at ground level puts an end to all that rather unseemly flailing about and screaming.

Still, it was the way he would have liked to go….


At least, that was what Nathaniel said as we took the lift back to the ground floor, turning in the opposite direction away from the flashing lights and sirens, away from the gathering crowd all rushing to see what they could film on their mobiles.

‘Did he talk?’ I said, once we were away from the building.

‘Of course,’ Nathaniel said, not looking at me as he spoke. ‘They all do in the end.’

‘Was it really necessary, though… in the end? His end?’

Nathaniel stopped and turned to me. ‘Sometimes your sentimentality puzzles me.’

‘Sentimentality?’ I stared back into his dark sunglasses, watching the familiar twitch along the edge of his jaw line….

Eventually, Nathaniel nodded again. ‘Sentimentality.’ He nodded at his own word as though it confirmed something. ‘Sometimes I think you aren’t cut out to be an assassin,’ he said before turning away from me and heading off down the street.

I thought about telling him that I didn’t want to be an assassin either, but somehow… at the interview, it had been decided. Now, here I was… Nathaniel’s apprentice, being trained to be a killer, despite my sentimentality.

I ran to catch up with Nathaniel as he strode away down the street, the sound of sirens fading into the distance behind us.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Monday Poem: Feel Good


Feel Good

All across the sky are written
the secrets of the night.
We look for meanings
in these arrangements,

but there is only distance,
in that cold darkness
that separates and divides.

We cannot reach beyond
but one hand over the eyes
can block out all of the sky.

This willing blindness
created by the need to believe,
to become a child again.

To be taken back to childhood,
by the hand to that garden
of innocence and protection.

Where what is too hard to face,
too dangerous, too real,
is taken away from us

and handed to the devils,
where blame is transferred,
so we can feel good again.

Saturday, February 02, 2013



It was cold. She had forgotten how cold it could get, this far north, in the mornings, even in late summer. Her breath formed clouds in front of her as she knelt in the damp grass, already with hints of frost down in some of the exposed places, out away from the edge of trees where she stood now. She watched the open ground spread out down the hillside in front of her for a few minutes. The road – such that it was, more of a sketch of a dirt track – was empty, bare for as far as she could see, no sign of movement at all.

Satisfied, she wrapped the travelling cloak around her. As she shivered, she decided to risk a fire, but only here amongst the trees, where – she hoped – the smoke would be contained, then diffused, by the heavy foliage above her.

She cleared the ground under a tree with the toe of her boot, gathered up some small twigs and dry leaves, feeling the stiffness of the night easing with the movement. Even so, she still shivered, her fingers feeling numb and heavy as she searched through her pack for her tinderbox.

Once the fire was going and its meagre warmth start to spread up her body from her outstretched hands, she began to think about food.

It was then she heard them, the sound of horses down on the road. She glanced up and saw that her fears had been correct after all.

They were coming for her.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Free Kindle Short Story: Twisting the Night Away



Twisting the Night Away

(Short story – 5,000 words approx.)

If you want to get an ex-girlfriend back, what could be a better way of impressing her than a magic carpet ride through the night to a romantic evening together in some alternate dimension?

Twisting the Night Away

‘What is it?’ I said, already thinking I knew the answer.

‘It's a carpet.’


‘A magic carpet!’


‘It is... honestly... would I lie to y... well, it is a magic carpet. Not a word of a lie.’

‘What, you mean flying... all that Arabian Nights stuff?’



‘Come on, then?’



‘I'm not going to fight you about it. If you want to think you've got a magic carpet... well, that's fine with me…. I'll just be off.’

‘No, not that. I'm going to show you....’

‘Show me what?’ I'd heard rumours about this strange little shop.

‘Come on,’ he said. ‘I'll prove to you that it is a magic carpet.’

‘I'll have to warn you...,’ I said, laughing as I followed him out through the back of the shop out into the loading bay. ‘... I don't like heights.’

We sat down together on the carpet in the traditional manner: him cross-legged at the front, me kneeling behind him, feeling like a tit, and giggling.

‘You won't be laughing in a minute,’ he said.

He was right.

A minute later I felt like puking over the edge of the carpet down onto the town far below us. ‘I told... I told you I don't like heights,’ I managed to croak in-between stopping myself from vomiting. It didn't help that there was a hole in the carpet I could look down at the town through, and that if I dared to look up I was immediately hit in the face by what seemed to be thousands of flying insects.

Not to mention the helicopter.

Not that I didn't try, but I'm sure he never heard it over the sound of the wind rushing past our faces, and having to fight off the swarms of insects.

Still, we – sort of – managed to land with most of the carpet intact.

Although, I'm sure the flight engineer will no doubt want to ask the pilot why he has fragments of shredded carpet entangled in his rotors.

In the end, I decided against buying the flying carpet after all, even when the price was reduced due to helicopter damage, like I said: I don't like heights.

There was one thing, though, that stopped me leaving his shop.

‘So, this being a… Magic Shop, am I to take it to mean that you don’t mean… er… conjuring tricks: rabbits, top hats and so on?’

The shop owner nodded. ‘I’m Morgan, by the way.’ He held out his hand.

I hesitated.

‘No tricks,’ Morgan said. ‘I promise.’ He smiled.

‘Tony,’ I said as I shook his hand. He held it for a moment longer than I thought really necessary while his eyes studied my face.

‘What?’ I said. ‘Have I got something on my face?’ As far as I could remember I hadn’t eaten anything that day which would leave a mark and usually I’m pretty good at getting almost all my food in my mouth. I wondered if one of those flying insects was smeared bloodily all over me.

‘No.’ Morgan shook his head as he let go of my hand. ‘You have the look, Tony.’

‘What look?’ I glanced around for a mirror, eager to see this look I apparently had.

Morgan tuned to a doorway which had one of those bead curtains instead of a door, he held it aside with one hand while he gestured me into the room beyond with the other.

‘You are a Twister,’ he said.

‘A what?’

‘A Twister.’ Once inside the room he sat on an easy chair and pointed to the sofa.

I sat. ‘A… twis… a twister?’

Morgan nodded. ‘This is not my world. I am out of place, far from home.’ He smiled at me. ‘I twisted another world to the shapes I wanted, took the facts of it and altered it... and, well, I ended up here.’ He sat forward, his elbows on his thighs. ‘Look, all the worlds we inhabit are much a creation of our minds as they are, separate and apart from us.’ He raised his eyebrows.

I nodded, feeling relaxed in his company, despite the fact he was talking utter bollocks. The magic carpet, though, had not been bollocks. It had been real. Far too real, I still felt queasy and had to keep touching the solidity of things: my hands on the sofa arms, my feet on the floor, my body pressed against the seat. I needed that reassurance of solidity.

‘What most people do not know though..,’ Morgan said, leaning back in his chair again. ‘…is that the world is not only a creation of the mind, it can also be changed, re-created by the mind.’

I nodded slowly, not really believing, but wanting him to go on.

‘Most people do not know how to change, how to alter, this world to make it turn into something else: some new land, some new country, some new planet, some new plane… into some new reality.’

As Morgan told me this, I – of course – did not believe him. I knew magic was something only ever found in stories and this world had physical rules, laws of nature that bound everything in it… despite my magic carpet ride.

Then, Morgan took me out onto his flat roof and twisted the night with one broad gesture of his hand and we were suddenly living in some far exotic land I had never seen, never heard of before. We were in a land of exotic sounds and smells, hot and spicy, a land of languid heat and shimmering diaphanous robes worn by dark-skinned women who looked at us though veils and scarves that kept all but their eyes secret from us.

I stood up on that roof, which had been one roof among thousands in a dark damp and cold town and found myself in a place far away from everything I’d ever known. One of those dark-eyed women sauntered towards me, her long fingers, stroked my cheek as though I was the exotic one… and then Morgan twisted the night again with a gesture that brought us back again, back to the cold and damp and lonely, with only the fading pressure from where those long fingers had stoked my cheek to remind me that it had all been so very real. As real as the magic carpet, as real as that helicopter.

I shivered….

Morgan turned to me. ‘And you, Tony are one who can do this. You, like me, are a Twister.’

‘Fuck off….’ I said.

Morgan laughed. ‘No, it is you that can fuck off…. He reached out and took my shoulder in his hand as he looked deep into my eyes with his eyes that seemed, suddenly, to be filled with infinite distances. ‘You, Tony, my friend…. You can fuck off anywhere… and everywhere you can imagine…. You have the power….’



I looked at my hands, they didn’t look that powerful. I had trouble opening a new jam jar with them, let alone creating a world out of nothing.

Morgan took my right hand in his, holding it just below the wrist. ‘Relax,’ he said.

I tried to relax as he manoeuvred my arm around, outlining some weird shape in the cold night air.

I felt something in the air change, as though the air around us had grown thick and heavy, then an instant later the feeling was gone. He jerked my hand back with a short sharp tug and let my arm drop.

‘Ah…’ he said.

The duck quacked.

Up until then there had been only the two of us standing up on the cold damp roof.

Now there was the two of us… and a duck.



[Available FREE here (UK) or here (US) for 5 days only]

The Undead and Allied Trades


And breathe….

Or not, if you are a fully-paid up member of the Undead and Allied Trades Association. Since the incorporation into EU employment law of legislation outlawing discrimination against those who are no longer alive. It has become clear that the rate of unemployment amongst the Undead still remains stubbornly higher than the national average for the currently vital. What is more, because the traditional employers of what used to be known as zombies – before that term was outlawed as prejudicial and discriminatory – are mainly public sector employees, with the recent downturn in such jobs due to the almost-noticeable savage cutbacks, even those jobs – such as working for the local council are no longer there for the Undead to fill.

There has – hence this current initiative – been some talk, often as a result of nothing more than unthinking prejudice – that the Undead are not up to certain jobs, often due to a lack of fitness and a – slight – propensity towards losing the occasion body part.

This is why this current scheme to bring daily exercise into the workplace has been introduced by this government, who - quite by accident - discovered a not-too-un-presentable young backbench MP who doesn’t look too bad in a leotard*, to lead the nationwide exercise programme currently shown on the Parliament channel at 9:00 AM every morning. A move that has seen the viewing audience for that channel at that time of the day soar into the tens.

However, such is the propensity for taking assumed offence in this day and age, any suggestion that the Undead are in any way less physically-capable than those still breathing, is now regarded as beyond the pale and – henceforth – why these physical exercises are no longer even suggested to be solely for the benefit of the ex-living community. This is why it is now obligatory for every citizen unit of this country to be up and ready before their viewscre… TVs each morning at the allotted hour, all ready to begin their physical exercises.


*At least, she is much better on the eye – and a delicate morning stomach - than - say – a similarly-attired Eric Pickles would be.