Friday, 12 February 2016

Thursday, 24 December 2015


“I think we’ve got too many pot plants,” Margaret said to Steve.
Steve said nothing. There was an azalea in his mouth,
and a spider palm leaning into his ear.
We’ve got too many pot plants,
he thought.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The start of a rubbish fairytale

Once upon a time there were two brothers, who were both landscape gardeners. Mister McGarbey, the oldest brother, wasn’t bad at landscape gardening, but he wasn’t brilliant at it, either. “It’s an okay garden, I suppose,” his clients would say, before returning to quaff their Prosecco and judge the poor (for they were the sort of people who employed a landscape gardener). His brother Luke, on the other hand, was a brilliant gardener. Talented, yes, but also creative. He would build little streams with wooden bridges, cut animals into the shapes of hedges, and, for a pair of eccentric billionaires, he had even installed a koi carp fountain. (There were initial issues with maintaining the pressure in the piping, since koi carp aren’t cylindrical, but once he liquidised the carp and strained the bones out, the fountain element worked perfectly.) Luke was paid handsomely for his work and, since he didn’t believe in savings, he led a lifestyle that most would describe as ‘extravagant’. One morning, while the two brothers were out walking with Luke’s personal trainer, his concierge, his butler and his stylist (most butlers don’t have stylists, but as mentioned earlier, Luke was extravagant), Mister McGarbey (Harvey) found his thoughts drifting. Did his brother really deserve to have more than him? What did his brother have that he didn’t (apart from a large coterie of largely redundant staff)? The main difference between them, Harvey McGarbey reasoned, was not talent. Or success. It was self esteem. Mister McGarbey lacked self-esteem. And because a lack of self-esteem is a treatable pathology, and not a reasonable reaction to one’s life, Mister McGarbey decided to see a psychologist.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Mister Bond

I trust that you are sitting comfortably, Mister Bond.

I am, of course, joking. There is no way you could be comfortable with those arm-shackles, and the laser creeping slowly towards your delicate, vulnerable, oh-so-detachable legs. If you were comfortable, that'd be strange, Mister Bond, and quite frankly inappropriate, given the context. Just nod if you are, and I will see that the situation is rectified. Again, I joke - with the leather head-straps, how could you possibly nod?

I must say, I am disappointed in you, Mister Bond.

What’s that? Yes, actually it is a new carpet. Quite observant of you, Mister Bond.
Just between the two of us, Mister Bond, if you’re getting renovations done, don’t tell the carpet man it’s for a lair. He charges more, Mister Bond, since he assumes you’re putting it down as a business expense. But I have my ways of negotiating price. When he handed me the bill, I had him shot.
In retrospect, it was a bit of an error, as it got blood all over the nice new carpet.
I had him shot again for doing that.

What’s that, Miss Vitshenko? Oh, sorry, Bond, I don’t think you’ve had the pleasure of meeting my associate. Miss Vitshenko knows her way around the body, and isn’t afraid to get… intimate. What’s that, Miss Vitshenko? No, I don’t think I am getting distracted. Mister Bond started it. Didn’t you, Mister Bond? I assure you, Miss Vitshenko, that he would be nodding, if it weren’t for the head-straps.

Soon, Mister Bond, in just a few, agonising minutes, the lasers will sever your legs. And I will be free to continue with my plan, undisturbed, unhindered by - Yes, they are nice curtains, aren’t they? Miss Vitshenko said that they clashed with the runner, but I told her it’s all about the complementary triads. Out with the pastels, in with the neons, eh, Mister Bond.

I’m not getting distracted, Miss Vitshenko! I’m gloating. I can gloat about whatever I like. And I like gloating about the curtains. No, I’ve told you, they don’t clash, they contrast. Besides, even you’re talking about the curtains now. It takes two to tango. What's that, Miss Vitshenko? Well, that may be the case, but I'm not sure that most people think of tangoing as a solo sport. What? No, it's not that I don't believe you, it's just - No, Nadya, I'm not calling you a liar. Okay, I believe you. Your brother was a champion solo-tangoist. Tangoer. Tangopher. Whatever it's called.

And you can stop smiling, Mister Bond.
It takes two to... put up a tent.

Besides, in just five minutes’ time, Mister Bond, you won’t have a leg to –

Nadia, stop screaming! Miss Vitshenko, you have not gone blind, the fuse has gone. Did you plug the laser into the same socket as the hairdryer? What have I said about that? Well, I know you shouldn’t use more than one extension. I did say this. Yes, I definitely did. That time we had Captain Scarlett to stay. Well, I know I said I wanted him on the lino. There’ll be blood. I’m not paying to get the carpet re-done again.

Miss Vitshenko, could you please go and reset the fusebox? It’s in the cupboard next to the ultrasonic deathray. No, not that one. Not that one. Yes, the one where we keep the Dettol.

I’m very sorry for the delay, Mister Bond.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Another year another round of Freshers' advice

The idea of making new friends can seem scary. But remember, they say there’s nothing to fear except fear itself. This is untrue. You should be scared of people who tell you that there’s nothing to fear except fear itself. They’re trying to get you to let your guard down, so that they can harvest your kidneys… In order to make friends, pretend to like the things that they do. It’s all about mirroring, copying their inflection, their gestures, their pose. This becomes slightly complicated in that, since everyone is doing this, it becomes a game of personality musical chairs, with traits and preferences rippling along corridors like a schizophrenic Mexican wave.

There’s quite a big drug culture among undergraduates, and, you know, at some point someone will offer you some Pink Floyd. The best thing to do is decline politely – explain that you had a friend who got into the Beatles, and you saw how that ended.

During the course of your degree, you’ll have plenty of time to sample the city’s many fast food outlets; kebab vans, onion barges, and custard trams. Many of the kebab shops sell skewered, grilled meat, and also kebabs. As an alternative to hall, you could cook yourself – but autocannibalism’s a bit extreme, so why not try making some food? There are a number of student cookbooks on the market, outlining such simple, nutritious dishes as cheese-on-toast, toast-under-cheese, and pan-friend chicken on a bed.

You’ll be seeing a lot of these. A wise man once said that ‘outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read’. I’ve also found that, inside a dog, there’s not really enough elbow room to turn the pages. Thankfully, e-readers with backlit, touch-sensitive screens have pretty much solved this problem.

When the fire drill happens, do not go to the fire assembly point – the most dangerous place to be is where the fire is being assembled.

And remember: staying on top of things doesn’t have to be hard work. It can be excruciating, mind-numbing work.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

My Lawyer

Dear Mister Brian,

My lawyer has advised me not to answer your questions. He has repeatedly told me that “you do not have to say anything; plead the fifth”. He’s standing over my desk, swaying gently with a glass of bourbon in his hand. He says he’s my lawyer, but I don’t remember hiring him. He just follows me round, shouting “my client pleads the fifth” whenever someone asks me something.

I went to Disneyland with him once. I hadn’t planned on going to Disneyland, I just woke up with the sky where the floor should have been, and he was dragging me over the tarmac to the Epcot centre. On the Rock’n’Rollercoaster he turned to me and said “you don’t have to talk.” I bought the photo; it’s framed above my desk, where he leaves his empty bottles of bourbon.

Yours Sincerely,
Martin Price

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Flash (Ah!)

The hedgehog looked down at his feet. He was upset that he had ripped his judo uniform, but more upset that the flamingo and the otter were laughing. His whole family had clubbed together to buy him the kit, and Uncle Albert had been eaten by a hawk on the way back from the shop.


The shoe fitted like a glove (that fitted like a shoe). Unfortunately for Emily, there was only one of them. She wasn’t sure that she could justify buying it, since she had two feet, but it fitted so perfectly she just couldn’t walk away. She resolved to wear it only at home, and on weekends.


Michael Jones remortgaged his house to fund a production of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’. His wife was furious, and threw the rights to the play out of the window. Over the next few days, the paper mixed with the heavy October rain to form a sort of grey mulch next to the roses. Nothing grew.