Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Travel etiquette - A short guide

Thank you for choosing to visit Kalania, now open for the first time to international visitors. For the first time, tourists can take in the sights of our sulphur mines, lava fountains, and accredited burns treatment unit.

Now, as Kalania has been isolated for so long, there are a few customs that may seem ‘quaint’. We strongly advise that you respect these traditions, in order to avoid causing offence.

When greeting, it is considered polite to approach the oldest person present first – in this way, you tacitly acknowledge that their wisdom is superior, and that they are the most likely to die before you’ve finished greeting everyone. Kalanian women should be greeted with a nod of the head, unless married, in which case one should bow. It is considered a cardinal insult, punishable by death, to use the wrong greeting. It is also considered a cardinal insult to ask a woman her marital status. It’s quite a hard law to enforce.

Kalanian men smoke like chimneys; through a hole in the top of their head, and only with planning permission. Kalanian women watch the six o clock news religiously; while wearing silly hats and lying to children. Should you wish to participate in either of these activities, please dress accordingly.

While in Kalania, you may wish to sample one of our national dishes: salmon marinated in its own indifference, or pan fried chicken on a bed.

When offering or accepting food, it is considered polite to use both hands. At least one foot should be kept on the ground. Before eating a meal, it is traditional to sing the first verse of the Kalanian national anthem. It is considered a cardinal offence, punishable by death, to get the words of the national anthem wrong. It is also considered a cardinal offence to publish or otherwise disseminate the words of the national anthem. Again, it’s one of those rules that’s quite hard to enforce.

Fancy dress is legal, provided all parties dress as Peter Gabriel circa 1974.

Tipping is considered acceptable in restaurants, unacceptable on street corners, and cruel to sleeping cows. Kalanians hold animals in high regard; if you have a free afternoon, why not visit the Kolossov horse sanctuary? There are no horses, but it is a chance to see the village’s two most horse-like men.

The Kalanians are family-orientated people: on Thursdays it is considered impolite not to face a child while talking. Should you lack a child of your own, or should you have forgotten to pack it, you can find one to rent on most street corners.

Kalania prides itself on its progressive society. Here, women are not restricted to stay in the kitchen. No, most women’s ankle-chains will extend into the lounge, garden, and rhyming-parlour.

It is considered bad luck to place an empty bottle on the table, sneeze after saying the word ‘mortgage’, or to have invested money in Greek property after withdrawing it from Icelandic Banks.

Kalania is home to Bipolar World, Europe’s largest Cold War themed theme park. There you can ride the Yeltsin skelter, perestroi-carousel and the détentea cups. Laugh at the House of ICBMirrors, and marvel at the Marshall Planetarium. You can even get your photograph taken with the Russian Octopus.

It is illegal, and considered incredibly bad manners, to wear a watch, own a clock, ask the time, or be late. Again, it’s one of those rules that proves difficult to enforce. On a related note, most Kalanians think that we operate two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. If you own a watch, you may wish to adjust it accordingly, before they seize it in customs.

We hope that you enjoy your stay.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Invisible Hand

Adam was seven years old when he discovered the secret to life.

He was in the corridor, practicing ‘bowling’ for this new fangled game called ‘cricket’, as children in the 1720s were wont to do. There was a satisfying smash as the ball connected with the porcelain vase he’d been aiming for. His elation was tempered only by the realisation that the ball had just connected with the porcelain vase he’d been aiming for.

He threw open the door to his mother’s room, to apologise, and she gasped as he burst in – as married women having carnal relations with the butler are wont to do.

Adam explained that it wasn’t him that broke the vase, it was an, erm, invisible hand. Fortunately for the young Master Smith Mrs Smith believed in poltergeists (spiritualism had experienced something of a resurrection in Western Europe), and she just wanted him out of her room, as mothers whose sons have just walked in on them having carnal relations with the butler are wont to do.

Adam was waved away without punishment.

As Adam grew up and moved to London, so did the invisible hand. Whenever he found himself in a tight spot, the translucent appendage would come into play. When a young ladyperson accused him of groping her on the shared carriage (with good reason, it must be said – he had), it proved to be an ample excuse. “It was not me, Officer,” Adam said, “It was an invisible hand what did it.” The policeman shook his head. The ladyperson tapped her foot. Adam scratched his elbow. The policeman shook the ladyperson’s head. Adam scratched the policeman’s foot. The ladyperson tapped the policeman’s head with her elbow.

They all continued with their lives.

When Adam attended poorly-catered dinner parties, an invisible hand overturned his bowl. When Adam was invited to a four-hour lecture on the origins and nature of the square in Lithuanian architecture, an invisible hand stole his ticket. When Adam smelt the floral overtones of a pleading charity worker, an invisible hand would slam the door. Then Adam would wonder if he had synaesthesia.

It was an obvious choice to write about the invisible hand once he graduated from university.

The moral of the story should be clear. If you ever find yourself with anything incriminating, or undesirable, or unfair, or Swedish, just blame it on an invisible hand.

It worked for Adam.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Stock market news

Helter-skelters are in spiralling decline, while chimneys are through the roof.

Lifts experienced some ups and downs, while escalators showed constant ascension. Reptiles were initially sluggish, but picked up around midmorning.

There was chaos in the FTSE 100, after GKN announced a surprise merger with ICAP and AMEC, forming an unwieldy acronym. A trader sneezed, and inadvertently invested the entire contents of the treasury of Taiwan in George Michael’s comeback album. David Blaine bought a lilo, and attempted to literally float himself on the stock market, while Sean Connery was left ‘schlightly bruisched’ after there was a rush on British Bonds.

Critics branded the afternoon’s trading ‘derivative’. Falsettos wavered, and bombers nosedived.

Rulers remained stationery.

The Cavalier claimed that they saw it coming, the Blasé claimed that it wouldn’t make an observable difference, while there has been no reaction as yet from the Stoics.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Mouse

In a faraway forest, a dark, distant wood
Unknown to mankind, (no doubt for our own good)
A small population of animals live
Shrouded in shade exposition trees give

The moon lit the scene, for indeed it was night
The treetops below bathed in silvery light
The wind whistled softly, and no words were said
For all of the creatures were tucked up in bed

All except one; the brown mouse could not sleep
He tossed and he turned, counted fictional sheep
He walked to the window, and paced round the floor
“Oh, for this awakeness I must find a cure”

So he picked up his compass and threw on a hat
Gathered some string, put the door on the latch
Lit his best torch and walked into the trees
Hoping to learn to dispel his unease

The first soul he reached was the Internet Owl
A bird oh so clever, the wisest of fowl
Drawing his courage the mouse gave a stir
“Erm, sorry, excuse me, one moment, good sir”

“Too-wit” said the owl, his head turning to see
The mouse prone before him, frail and fatigued
He stretched out his wings before scratching his beak
To the mouse he then said “Too-what do you seek?”

“Forgive me, wise sir, but I cannot sleep.”
But then the owl motioned “Please cease to speak.”
“I have answers for you,” he cooed as he beckoned
“about two point five million in nought point one seconds”.

“There’s good news and bad news” he said with a sigh
“You might have cancer, but you’ve won a prize!”
The mouse felt unsure about this admonition
When the owl crowed “Let’s watch videos of kittens!”

“You see this woman? Dermatologists hate her!
Like what you found? Then bookmark it for later!”
The owl then turned round, flew into an ash tree
And with this he started singing Rick Astley.

The mouse gave a sigh; there was no answer here
Just an owl whose instructions were rather unclear
He heard, as he walked, and the big tree receded
The owl’s parting cry of ‘citation needed’.

The mouse did continue an hour or more
‘til his hind-legs were numb, and his paws slightly sore,
And he’d reached a great clearing, shrouded in fog
And there in the centre a large, lumpen log

The clearing was, within the woods, quite well known
For there were strange creatures that called it their home;
The politicobirds, of which there are two
One deepest red, the other bright blue

(Well that’s, not quite true, for you see there’s a third.
A yellow, a nervous, and much smaller bird
But she’s not mentioned much, and most students hate her
Something about being a fee-charging traitor...)

The birds take it in turns to sit a-top the tree
And once they are there, they loudly decree
“I know what is best for the fate of these woods
Now follow my words - you know you should.”

While not on the branch, they squark and they chatter
“That’s no way at all to settle the matter!
Squirrels should be free to keep their own nuts
Roll back the stoat; blame it on cuts!”

Today the Hedgefund Hogs were the source of debate
The red bird incandescent, yes, rather irate
“Remind me, again, why you’re given so much
Amidst accusations that we’re out of touch”.

“If you don’t, I might go offshore”
“But you cannot swim, and I’ll tell you what’s more
No-one can say what it is that you do!”
“Erm - it’s far too complex for the dull mind of you”.

The mouse gave a cough to attract their attention
But they were enthralled by their caustic contention
Aware that an answer would not be gleaned here
The mouse once again walked, the brave pioneer

The mouse stopped and thought about where he could go
Who could he ask? What friends did he know?
The aphorism otter? Laboured metaphor lynx?
Faux pas badger who speaks ere he thinks?

No, at this time of night they would all be asleep
Except for the meth mole, that doped-up blind creep
At an underground rave, he’d be completely wired
Dancing to Underworld, not getting tired

Then the mouse stumbled – he’d found resolution
An answer, some closure, a fix, a solution!
Drugs were the ticket, yes self-medication;
They would enable his instant sedation.

This story’s moral should now be quite clear
Don’t pester your friends for they don’t want to hear
So before insomnia takes a high toll
Go out to Boots and buy some Nytol

This poem sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Tiger food

You can tell when something’s cat food because it has a picture of a cat on the box.
You can tell when something’s dog food because it has a picture of a dog on the box.
Are Frosties tiger food?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012


Come quick! Santander
is haemorrhaging banknotes.
(A hole in the wall).

Steel actuary
chides in vain. Tries softer tone
‘Please take your receipt’

To bald man on bus;
wearing glasses on forehead
fools no-one. Sorry.

I think I need help;
I can’t stop writing letters
To agony aunts.

Monday, 7 May 2012

A love song, of sorts

When I met you first
It was a brief exchange
I asked if I’d see you again
You said “Please take your change”

But I could not stop thinking; I had you on my mind
So I went back to the supermarket, to try and make you mine

You were still at work
So I asked you with a grin
“Join me for a meal sometime?”
You said “enter your pin”

But I could not stop thinking; I had you on my mind
So I went back to the supermarket, to try and make you mine

“Look” I said, leaning in
I just want to take care of ya
But as I went in for a kiss
You said “Unexpected item in the bagging area”.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Double features

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The Producers.

O Brother Where Art Thou?
On the waterfront.

Who’s afraid of Virginia wolf?

Dude, where’s my car?

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Films (minus a letter)

• In the Loo
• The sock doctrine
• Lady and the tram
• Plane of the Apes
• Pus in boots
• Honey, I sunk the kids
• The da vinci cod
• True git
• Finding Neo
• A brief history of Tim