Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Postman Pat

Postman Pat. Postman Pat.
Postman Pat and his black and white cat.
Early in the morning, just as day is dawning,
He wakes up and remembers that the post-office has been dismantled, and he doesn’t have a job there anymore, and today will be a blur of episodes of Come Dine With Me and trying to work up the courage to leave the house, but then remembering that he only owns the one set of clothes (the postman’s uniform) and he can’t bring himself to put that on again, and he knows that if he wants to wear something different he’ll have to go to the shops, but that’d involve putting on the uniform to get there so he just sits, slumped in a pair of off-white boxers, listening to Dave Lamb mock a bricklayer called Darren from Surrey as he tries to fry an egg.

Friday, 6 December 2013

How many lightbulbs does it take to change a man?

A: Knock Knock

B: Who’s there?

A: An Englishman, and Irishman, and a Scotsman

B: An Englishman, and Irishman and a Scotsman who?

A: An Englishman, an Irishman, and a Scotsman who walk into a bar

B: What did they call the man with the spade on his head?

A: To get to the other side.

B: Well, pull yourself together, then

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

One Nation

It was 2014, the year when Tesco’s started offering the elderly and terminally ill discounts on ‘bags for life’.

It was also the year when Ed Miliband ceased to say anything but the phrase ‘One nation’. He woke up one morning, as usual, and descended the stairs in red pyjamas, slippers, and no particular hurry. When he walked into the kitchen, his wife, Justine, was balancing a slice of toast against her ear, and spreading a thin layer of marmite over her iPhone (it was early morning, and she hadn’t yet found her glasses)*. “We’ve run out of jam”, she said in exasperation, and his general direction. “One nation,” Ed replied.

“Very funny,” she said. “Can you pass the paper?”
“One nation,” Ed replied.
After about two minutes, and fifty nations, Justine started to think something might be wrong.

Justine phoned the Labour Whip, who came round immediately, and in a car. Together, they worked out a crude method of communicating with the leader of the opposition; ‘one for yes, two for no’.
“Can you understand us, Ed?”
“One nation,” Ed replied.

They drove him to a doctor, but there was nothing physiologically wrong. It was psychological. (Or possibly ‘divine retribution’, as one nurse had so helpfully suggested). Back in the car, the Whip sighed and scanned her diary. There were three speeches to cancel. She got out her Blackberry**, and began to scroll through the contacts, when Miliband placed a hand on her shoulder. He gave her a deep, meaningful look across the leather seats of the chauffeured department car, like a Labrador, giving her a deep, meaningful look across the leather seats of the chauffeured department. “You want to do the speech?” she asked, eyebrows making a bid to join her hairline.
“One nation,” Ed replied.

The speech went well. Frighteningly well. Not only had the minister not been bottled off the stage - as was customary - but there had been applause. Actual applause! Back in the chauffeured car, the Chief Whip turned to Ed. “How would you feel about another speech?”
“One nation,” Ed replied.


* Texturally, this is not an easy mistake to make; Ed, however, had bought her a toast-textured novelty iPhone case. Unfortunately, this made the mistake far more likely to occur. Fortunately, the makers of the novelty iPhone case had had the foresight to predict this eventuality, so the case was marmite-proof.
**In a novelty crumpet-case. A cheap one, bought off a market stall in Camden, so not actually butter-proof, as the Whip would cruelly discover in three days’ time.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


Before the age of computers, before the era of MP3s, and FLACs, and pirates who don’t own boats, audio was edited on tape. Quarter-inch, magnetised tape. If you wanted to mix and master a track, you’d take a razor to the tape. Can you picture that? Good.

If you listen to music, you might be aware that certain songs have censored lyrics, versions where the expletives are replaced with awkward beats of silence. Before the age of computers, this was achieved by taking a razor to the vocal track The razor goes in, the swearing comes out, a couple of millimetres of silence are sutured into the void. Can you picture that? Good.

This process has a waste product. About a centimetre long, a quarter of an inch thick. A shiny, black rectangle, no larger than your fingernail. An expletive. Can you picture that? Good.

A major studio, under contract to a major record label, edits about two hundred tracks a year. Depending on the genre, in a month a single studio generates between twelve and sixteen thousand pieces of obscene confetti.
Each studio stores them in a small, wooden box.
Can you picture that?

Saturday, 2 November 2013


They say that ‘there’s nothing to fear but fear itself’. You shouldn’t believe that; there are lots of things to fear. The people that tell you that ‘there’s nothing to fear but fear itself’, for example. They’re trying to lull you into a false sense of security. Perhaps you should fear paranoia.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Owl and the Pussycat

The owl and the pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat
The owl took his iPhone, and when they crossed timezone
He opened up facebook and wrote;
“Kitty and I’m having such a great time, #Sea-trip 2k13”
Then he finished the post with a snap of the coast - retro-filtered, so it looked more green.

Past the Cape of Kaliakra, and twelve photos later,
The updates began to up-grate. It wasn’t so much that
The pair were in touch, but they seemed to be doing so great.
The ox and racoon, and the fox and baboon, and the wren and the hen and the tit,
With the frog and bat, yes they all had a chat - it was making them feel rather shit.

By the Bay of Biscay, they just wanted to say
“Stop your mix of in-sipid and –trepid!
Comparing to you, which we patently do, our lives seem so numbingly tepid”
Stop telling us of your whimsical love, and your Bong-trees and runcible spoons,
You’re making us feel, and this anguish is real - like we’ve wasted our Augusts and Junes.”

But the mink and the whale, and the skink and the quail
Did not say one thing to the pair
Nor the fawn nor the goose, nor the prawn nor the moose, nor the normally vocal brown bear.
Although they resented the smugly contented, no-one stepped forwards to strike.
They were all (I’d have guessed) too polite (or repressed) - so instead, they just gave them a ‘like’.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

SockSoc (Winned twith Spoonerism Soc)

Preparing to join university? Well, if you want to make friends, you’re going to have to start thinking about joining some clubs and societies, or cultivating some sort of personality. Do you have time to cultivate a personality? No, I didn’t think so. You’re weird and awkward and silently accept the judgement of strangers. So why not join SockSoc? After the horrific incident in which half of our members went missing inside a washing machine, we have plenty of space, membership cards, and personalised clothing*, available – SockSoc, the university’s biggest, and only, sock appreciation society.

In meetings, we exchange sock-based anecdotes, watch famous films, looking for sections in which socks appear, and discuss recent sock-related news stories. The sock-related question for our first meeting of term will be: “Are socks responsible for global warming?” As well as ‘social’ events (see above), we also have a number of speakers give guest lectures: in the past, we’ve written to request talks from such famous sock-wearers as J.K. Rowling, The Queen, Steve McQueen, Queen, Queen Latifah, and Steve Buscemi. None of them have agreed to speak, yet, but it’s the thought that counts. And the thought of receiving another couple of hundred emails from me should persuade them to come and talk.

Talking of talks, you may have heard about the controversy at this year’s Freshers’ Fair. I was manning the SockSoc stall at the time, so you can take my word for it, everything that you’ve heard about it is true; an argument between members of the Debating Club, over whether they should use a biro or pencil to sign people up, got increasingly vocal, until the club’s treasurer rugby-tackled the secretary, and, because they’re used to British Parliamentary style, the first proposition was joined by a second, third, and fourth. There was a brief pause, as the second opposition struggled to think of a case extension, but punching resumed as the proposition reminded them that they ‘had points of information, and weren’t afraid to use them’. It was such a shame to see them descending into violence like that. I mean, the first rule of talk club is that you do not fight about talk club.

So, erm, where was I? Right, yes, join SockSoc.

* If you want the personalised clothing to be specific to your name, you may have to change your name.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Metaphors are a lot like other things

You have never touched anything in your life. Not one thing. Not really. You see, when your hand goes to grasp a pencil, or a fork, or a sawn-off shotgun, you trap a layer of air molecules between the atoms of your skin and the atoms of the fork, or pencil, or pistol. There's nitrogen and oxygen and traces of argon between you and the world. You have never touched anything in your life. Not one thing. Not really.

But, and I want to stress, I mean this with complete sincerity, if you 'touch' my favourite mug again, I will end you.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Don't panic

Good evening, and welcome aboard this flight.
I will now run you through the safety demonstration.

As you are, no doubt, painfully aware, this is a no frills airline – so you can expect no frills… or seatbelts… or windows… or engine noise. If I’m honest, it’s actually quite difficult to tell that it’s a flight.

The plane is divided into a number of zones: the economy zone, luxury zone, Industrial zone, Aztec zone, and Eurozone, but no-one seems to like that one, and there’s some talk of getting rid of it.

Your lifejacket can be found either beside, underneath, on top of, or within your seat. (We have provided pen-knives to enable you to dig out your life jacket in that eventuality.) For the more fashion-conscious of our passengers, we also provide a range of life trenchcoats, life parkas, and life three piece life-suits, which come with a rather coquettish life hat. We’d like to again apologise, profusely, to everyone who road-tested our life-thongs.

You might have noted, upon entering, that there is a single door. Rather than fighting to get out at the same time, and all getting wedged in the doorframe like a looney tunes pile-up, the order of exit will be determined by a game of karate-jenga – a hybrid sport, along the lines of chess-boxing. The rules are simple; the removal of one jenga block by each player is followed by one kick, until the tower collapses, or someone passes out. The winner of each pair is allowed to leave the plane first. Wooden blocks can be found in the overhead lockers, while uniforms can be found underneath the seat in front of you. If you are located in the bulk-head seats, it will be your responsibility to distribute the karate-belts. If you are uncomfortable with this responsibility, please let a member of the flight crew know.

Those of you who’ve been flying with us for a while, which is quite frankly miraculous, might remember the old evacuation procedure: a game of bop-it polo. It turns out that the fifty horses in the overhead locker were actually what was causing us to crash in the first place.

We find our system to be much fairer than the traditional approach of letting the women and children leave first, forming a sort of crash-mat for the more valuable men to land on.

In the event of a water landing, three things will happen.
Firstly, a picture of Steve Buscemi having a tea party with a small girl will flash up on all in-flight entertainment screens. This is to remind you that although you’re on a crashing plane, things could be worse; you could be in a film with Nicholas Cage.

Secondly, members of cabin crew will distribute either a coconut or volleyball to each passenger. Extensive research, involving Tom Hanks, Julian Barratt, and Noel Fielding has shown that these are the easiest spherical objects to hallucinate a face onto.

Thirdly, a member of staff will remind you to remove your shoes and leave any briefcases behind when exiting the plane. Should you need to buy a replacement, may I urge you to check out the airline’s ebay account, where we have a wide variety of high heels and high-end briefcases available at suspiciously low prices.

The lifejacket is fitted with a light, and a periscope, so you can pretend that you’re a submarine. All lifejackets are provided with a whistle to attract attention, and a recorder to frighten away attention, in case you were planning to write a memoir about the experience of being ignored by a marine search party.

In the event of sudden cabin depressurisation, a mask will descend from the panel above your head. Please note, not all masks will dispense oxygen – for reasons that can’t be logically rationalised, some will be helium, others chloroform, and two lucky people will receive the smell of freshly-baked bread. Please do not attempt testing your mask on a child first – if it is oxygen, you’re left with the difficult moral choice of whether to knowingly asphyxiate a child, and if it’s chloroform you just look like a dick. Also, how do you tell if a child’s on helium?

Please take care your hand-baggage isn’t blocking the aisle or exit. If you need help storing your bag, you can ask any of our on-board staff - the cabin crew, cabin doctor, cabin osteopath, or cabin children’s entertainer. Just a personal aside, here. If I were you, I really wouldn’t ask the entertainer. He’s a bit... well, I once saw him twist a dog into the shape of a balloon.

Anyway. Please contact a member of our flight crew if you would like to borrow a set of headphones, or a complimentary mouse-trap. We don’t think that there are any mice on board, but we’re pretty sure this stems from our policy of complimentary mouse traps.

Today's film is ‘Harry Potter and the Ofsted inspection’, and today’s meal is the Schrodinger special: somehow simultaneously both dead and alive. I advise just not opening it. And while not opening it, you’ll have plenty of time to browse our selection of duty-free products.

New this season is a range of presents for children that you resent. How about getting them
- A book of Where’s Wally, but with Wally photoshopped out?
- A 12 set of tubes of paint – twelve identical tubes of grey?
- Or how about a 1:50, 000 scale model of John Major?

We hope you have a pleasant flight.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Curl (500 words)

The day my father sold his soul, he made us pancakes for breakfast.

This was a habit of his, using food to say ‘I’m sorry’. Over the years, we came to associate sugar with shame and butter with betrayal. Until the age of twenty, my sister was unable to pass a McDonald’s without bursting into tears.

It’s called ‘conditioning’. Or, at least, it is if you’ve studied psychology.

He broke the news causally. “Hey, kids, I’m afraid we’ve run out of clean mugs, so if you want a drink, you’ll have to wash one up. Also, I sold my soul.” For a few minutes, the enormity of the situation didn’t register. Partly because we were still half-asleep - stunned by the thick tendrils of light which crawled lazily over our faces, probing, first tentatively, then forcefully, into our eye sockets, squeezing into the space in our brains occupied by our dreams, forcing the half-formed visions out of our ears - but partly because of our father’s accent. He spoke the way the English think the Americans think the English speak. When he got into arguments, when he turned to walk away, the other guy would beg him to continue.

It’s called ‘charisma’. Or, at least, it is if you like him.

The obvious question came first (as obvious questions so commonly do); what had he sold his soul for? What’s the metaphysical exchange rate like at the moment? Could our father play guitar now? Did Peter Cook grant him seven wishes? The answer was so far below whelming that the region of underwhelming appeared as a small dot if we craned our necks, and used a pair of binoculars. Our father had sold his sold his soul for a pint of milk and a packet of blue rizzlas. Not to the devil. To Tesco’s.

Every little helps.

“Basically,” he said, “I was at the self-checkout. The stage where you have to say how you want to pay. Well, instead of selecting cash, or card, I accidentally pressed ‘intangible spiritual essence.’”

“Couldn’t you press to go back?”

“Oh, yeah, sure I could”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I didn’t have any change.”

Our father turned back to the stove, ladling another spoon of batter into the pan. No-one spoke. The sound of a metal spatula on non-stick coating cast a shadow on the air.

It’s called ‘awkward silence’. Or, at least, it would be, if calling it something wouldn’t defeat the point.

“Do you feel any different?”

“Not really. But when I went to leave, the automatic doors wouldn’t open for me. I had to wait for someone else to walk past, and follow them out”

“Is that all?”

“It’s probably unrelated, but I can also speak French now”

“Did you get a receipt?”

“Of course”

“Why don’t you get a refund?”

“I thought of that. It would make sense. But I can’t”


“The milk’s been used.”

He set the pancake down on the table.

Monday, 1 July 2013


You can tell a lot about a person from the way that they talk - a few missed pronouns and someone’s given away their childhood spent abroad, a fondness for surnames implies military service, or time spent in a boarding school, and talking or mumbling while rocking backwards and forwards in the foetal position can suggest that their military career ended badly. In a boarding school.

The principle translates from individuals to communities; the nuances of speech can reveal cultural mores and expectations. Consider the significance that the Japanese have a single word that expresses the sentiment ‘I’m full, but could still manage desert’, there’s no Spanish word for ‘Twix’, and the Cli’chay people of South America have thirty seven words for expressing the concept of having thirty seven words for something.

It’s slightly tautological, but then, most tautological things are.

Monday, 17 June 2013

There's no 'I' in 'misspelt'

There's no 'i' in 'misspelt', you have to read between the lines, and they've put 'ambition' on the map. This printing company's terrible, we're going to have to get the flyers re-done.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

People Like Us Curb Your Enthusiasm

Moved today. Unpacking took slightly longer than expected, after I realised that the DVDs could be arranged to make sentences. Highlights:

If you see God, tell him
I'm Alan Partridge

People Like Us
Curb your Enthusian

and my personal favourite:
Twelve Angry Men
Twelve Monkeys
In the Loop

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Do you know what a rhetorical question is?

"You know that thing when you start telling a story with the phrase 'you know that thing' and then it turns out not to be universal?"

(Picture: A shoebox painted black that I remember photographing and editing, but can't remember why.)

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Free verse

Let’s celebrate the aberration, consecrate miscalculation
eulogise a solecism, christen every trip, omission,
sing the mediocre’s praises (out of tune, and time, of course) and hoarse
although we can’t endorse the fall with all
we cherish the mistake. the bend, the break, and greet it with a smile.

The owl born when the sculptor sneezed, its strange repeating symmetries
the wrinkled face, descending folds, melted, drawn, it sags forlorn
so glassy-faced and glassy-eyed, from the neck all down one side.
it slopes, like an ill-fastened cloak, chance invokes
The image of
an overweight pug
having a stroke.

Show me sub-par oil paintings,
strange things, where kings
and queens are reported
but distorted, as if through a lens
of myopia and acid
where ear and nose and chin distend,
three-fingered hands grasp blurs
room slurs with corners
yawning into awning
roof falls into floor
melt into shoulders,
windows lack both glass and view.

But most delectable
that ineffectual of spectacle
the thing that really can be beaten:
mediocre magic
tragic thaumaturges try and fail
to find the card (it’s hard)
while knives fall out of the assistant.
distant cries disguise the fact
a dove, fate-freed, tunnels the magicians’ sleeve
taking two fake notes
and one false hand.
crashing with it to the floor.

Let’s celebrate the aberration
consecrate miscalculation
eulogise a solecism,
christen every trip, omission, common and garden mistake.
Let England shake
on cheap foundations, patience vacant
as we fill our tills with things that don’t do what it says on the tin.
let us please create a land of
shoddy crafts and half-baked plans
where things ends not with whimpers or bangs
but because the piece of paper
is the wrong size.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Apprentice: I'm Half Machine

The candidate stands, basking in the light of the cameras. She preens herself, drawing her fingers through her hair, drawing attention to the hair on her fingers. She pulls her lips into a smile, and says “I’m half machine”.

“Would you care to elaborate?” the cameraman asks. This is his fourth series of The Apprentice, and he knows that he needs to get footage of the delusional hopefuls swearing that they are going to push the boundaries of the envelope, know everything there is to know about businessmanshipment, and see themselves as the Genghis Khan of moist towelette distribution in the Ashford area.

“Sure” the candidate replies. “Press me here”. She points to a spot just below her ribs. The cameraman doesn’t move. She asks him a second time. “Just here”. She places his hand on her genuine polyester-blend jacket.

He presses.

She begins to cough.

It is not a delicate cough, but the frenzied, desperate cough of the terminally ill. It is the sort of cough that is usually accompanied by blood, and by chunks of lung dropping wetly to the floor. She bends in half, clutching her stomach. Her knees buckle and she leans forwards, dropping to her hands and knees. The guttural noise becomes lower, more intense. The cameraman swears he hears something click. Her face is turning red. The cameraman wonders if he should stop filming. She arches her back, her face is crimson. The cameraman turns to the director for advice, but he is watching the scene unfold through the cracks in his fingers. There are tears in her eyes.

She splutters.

Her mouth opens.

A can of coke, sealed, edges its way out from between her lips.

The coughing stops. The can falls to the ground, and in the silence its rolling is audible. The candidate stands, brushing the dust from her knees. She stoops to pick up the can, and offers it to the cameraman. She is still panting, but starts to speak:

“My father was a vending machine”.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Six Minutes

On Sunday nights, I do the ironing. This week, as with most weeks, my mind began to figuratively wander. As I folded my favourite blue shirt (crossing the sleeves over the chest to mimic the pose of a sleeping vampire), I started to wonder how long I had spent, cumulatively, ironing over the course of the last year. Now, every week I get through five shirts, and it takes me six minutes a shirt*. So over the course of every 52 weeks, I spend over 24 hours ironing.

I know it’s mundane, but I thought this was a statistic worth noting. So I got out my notebook, turned to the first blank page, and wrote it down. It was then that I flicked backwards through the book, and spied the entry from last Sunday: “Note: spend more than 24 hours a year on ironing”.

Now, assuming that it takes me thirty seconds to locate the notebook and a pen, and another thirty to write this down, I really think I should get out more.

* Yes, I do time it. No, I didn’t start mentally compiling a league table of my friends according to how long I thought they would take to iron a shirt. Yes, the previous statement was a lie.

Saturday, 20 April 2013


He’d been living with Anna for two years now, and things couldn’t have been going better. They’d settled into an easy pattern; he would get up while she was still asleep, being careful not to disturb her, and slip off to work. He liked that quiet time in the morning. The sunrise truce, he liked to call it. When everything was still and golden, and he could watch her slender limbs cross, and her chest slowly rising and falling as the air entered and left her perfect lungs.

He knew, with conviction, that she would have perfect lungs, and a perfect liver, and a perfect appendix. He sometimes felt a bit guilty about thinking about her like that. He wondered whether that was what other people meant when they spoke about objectification.

He would have asked her if she minded him thinking about her like that, but she didn’t say much. That was what had drawn him to her. She was mysterious. Whenever he came home, she would be there, curled up on his sofa, or sitting in the kitchen. He had no idea what she did all day, and she never told him.

They had met at her mother’s house. She had been staying there, in her sisters’ room. He’d asked her why she had moved back in, but she didn’t tell him. She didn’t say much.

He was there to fix a burst pipe. He was a plumber, by trade, and enjoyed his work. As he fixed the pipe, Anna had followed him around the house. As he moved from room to room, checking the pressure of the radiators, she had stared shyly at him through the doorway. He wasn’t a vain man, but he knew that he wasn’t unattractive. Years of fixing burst pipes had given him broad shoulders, and he enjoyed the weight of her gaze on his back.

He knew it was wrong, but he told her mother that would need to return in a week. He’d need to order in a part. He wanted to see Anna again.

He would talk to Anna as he worked. She didn’t say much. But she stared at him shyly from the doorway, her huge brown eyes beginning to wander downwards from his back.

Two years later, and they were living together.

Was it wrong that she was six?
Did it matter that she was a daschund?

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Dr Who: the next episode's plot

Warning, this post contains plot spoilers...

Next week on Dr Who, the Doctor and his companion will visit an alternative universe in which everyone wears masks of polystyrene and latex, all furniture is made of balsa wood and sugar glass, and all rooms are lit by a strange sort of diffuse lighting that's blue from one side, orange on the other.

When the Doctor and his companion walk into a room, despite the fact that they are completely unknown, the room's existing and legitimate occupants will rush over, and regale the Doctor with intimate details of their pasts. Perhaps their forwardness is understandable - anyone who hasn't told the Doctor or his companion their name, favourite teacher at school, name of their first pet, or their mother's maiden name will be killed within the next half-hour.

Aliens who do not have names, pets, or mothers need not be afraid - they'll be the ones doing the killing.

Greetings card unlikely to be manufactured in the near future

Front message: "On the eve of your son’s execution" written in looping cursive, with a picture of an adorable teddy bear being burnt at the stake by a lynch mob.

Inner message:
On the eve of your son’s execution
A message from the prosecution
though poison and needle
would suffice we’d all
quite like to see electrocution

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Edward Norton (Pastels)

I've been reading a lot of Chuck Palahniuk lately, and found a can of spray-fix while tidying. This happened:

(Click to embiggen).

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


He didn’t want to wake her so he levered himself out of bed slowly, and sideways. He could have sworn he didn’t move the duvet, but she rolled over as he stood up. He held his breath as she drew inwards, arms meeting legs slowly, but with purpose, like a Venus Flytrap closing. Why did he think of a Venus Flytrap? Freud would probably have something to say about that...

The curtains were drawn, and although it must have been past ten, little light managed to squeeze its way past the heavy, red fabric. The rays that did get through burst against the far wall, and dripped down her dresser. From his seat on the edge of the mattress, he could only make out vague shapes on the dark carpet. He cursed himself for wearing black the day before, and set about searching the floor for his trousers.

As he pulled on his trousers, she rolled again. Beneath her eyelids, she was looking straight at him. Where was his shirt? Why did he have to wear black?

He found it by the legs of the chair, and had managed to do up three buttons before she woke.

“Morning,” he said. He kept his back to her.
You off already?” She sounded disappointed.

He was relieved when she switched the light on; in the foreign brightness there was no obligation for eye contact, and he could see the rest of his things in a neat pile at the foot of the bed. He busied himself in lacing his shoes. She watched in silence as he cleaned his glasses. He hadn’t taken his eyes off his feet.

She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, turning so that she sat next to him. “We could do this again sometime. If you wanted to.”

He stood. “With my job... it’d be a bit weird.”

He slipped on his dog-collar, and left.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Television: The Logical Conclusion

It was 2013, the year that television reached its logical conclusion, and the first programme composed entirely of ‘coming up next week’ and ‘previously on the show’ segments aired. No-one voiced any objections; they were too busy checking twitter to see what other people thought about it.

I noticed, though, and decided that it was time to draw a line. Unfortunately, I hadn’t realised that the line was supposed to be figurative, and I hadn’t realised that the pen I had picked up was permanent. When my wife returned home to find our television set neatly bisected by a thick, black, horizontal line, she ordered me out of the lounge. I secretly suspected that she was feigning anger – she had always had a bit of a thing for moustaches - but decided to steer clear just in case. As the evening was young, I struggled to think what I could do; surfing the internet was out, since I put my foot down over getting broadband (again, how was I supposed to know that the foot in question should have been figurative?).

I would have liked to go out to a society. I used to have a great time as a member of Anonymous Alcoholics (you’d go to a bar, and get drunk while refusing to tell anyone your name), and missed the structure of ‘Taxonomists, Royal Society of, The’. But I was barred from both of those fine institutions, after a bit of a misunderstanding. You see, I had watched a documentary which said that ‘humans have the greatest aptitude for social bonding next to chimpanzees’. I thought that I would bring a chimpanzee to a meeting to test this.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Lesser known facts about zombies

1. The word zombie comes from the Latin ‘zombus’ meaning ‘lumbering threat suitable for a feature-length film’.

2. Zombies were not originally interested in brains. The first zombies, which appeared in a silent film in 1918, were originally after ‘body’. This was changed after they were accused of being shallow.

3. British zombies cannot over-ride the ‘happy birthday’ reflex: the duty to join in with a rendition of ‘happy birthday to you’ is so deeply ingrained that, should someone start singing the song, all reanimated corpses will stop attempting to eat you, and growl “hurgh- purgh- burgh-duh tee-oo”.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Amish

In some Amish communities, there is a tradition whereby the teenagers go out and explore the world. Very few return. Not because they've changed; they have no idea how traffic lights work.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Life Drawing

A: "I think you can tell a lot about a person's essay-writing style from the way they approach life-drawing. In my case, I find that I start at the wrong scale, and find it hard to fit the whole body on the paper..."

B: "I think you might be onto something; I usually start drawing one part in really fine detail, then lose interest in the rest"

C "Yeah, mine always seem to contain naked people"

Sunday, 24 March 2013

An Apology

Sorry for the lack of posts; I'm currently working on a script project for Oxide radio.
In the interim, please accept this picture of some armadillo armour:

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Performance-related pay

Actors should have performance-related pay, executives paid on commission, and removal companies according to the shifts they’ve done.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


One person talking.

Two people talking.

A paper doorstop.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

It's not yours

“Joe, we need to talk. I’m not pregnant.”
“That’s great news.”
“Well, the thing is, I think it’s not yours.”
“Not mine?”
“Yes. You remember that time that we didn’t have sex? You should, we were both very sober”
“Was that just after we didn’t go to Kate’s leaving thing?”
“Yes, well, I think it didn’t happen then.”
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I just... I just didn’t expect not to be a father so soon.”
“Would you – “
“I hadn’t thought about not supporting a child.”
“Will you – “
“Tell you what, I won’t sell my car.”
“Oh Joe, I don’t love you!”
“I don’t love you either.”

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A short history of the bicycle

The word ‘bicycle’ comes from the Greek ‘bi’ (meaning two) and ‘cyclos’ (unicycles stuck together). The bicycle was originally intended as a weapon, but proved unpopular due to its inability to fire bullets, and being ‘a bit too heavy to throw’. It’s a lesser-known fact that covering a bike’s frame in leopard print velour makes it levitate, while covering a bike’s seat in superglue makes you a prick.

Today the bicycle makes up a key component of the western diet, with doctors recommending that we consume at least five portions a day (preferably of different colours).

Bicycles have long been a staple of the circus, with the art of bike-swallowing outlawed only in 1962. The first bike in space was a Raleigh. The early suffragette movement attempted to gain publicity through a cryptic protest, where they threw bicycles under horses. This later gave way to the throwing of feminists under horses, conceding that “not only did it make more sense, it was also more fun to watch.”

Monday, 7 January 2013

Strange American Laws

In Idaho, it's illegal to make up strange American laws.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


It was 1846, the year that it was discovered that if you took every cell in an adult human’s body and lined them up end-to-end, you’d be arrested. It was also the year that I took up landscape gardening. I specialised in topiary, cutting hedges into the shape of slightly smaller hedges.

Friday, 4 January 2013

The Farmer’s Dilemma

I won’t be back in time for Jack’s birthday. I’m really sorry about it, but there was nothing I could do; you see, I got caught up at the docks. It’s a dangerous journey back from the cape to the mainland, and many a captain’s found himself between a rock and a hard place, and also underwater.

I was quite keen to return in one piece. I think my uni-piece-ularity is quite an attractive quality, and so I wanted to find the best crew that I could; a captain who was strong, a captain who was clever, a captain with fire in his hair and wind in his veins... but apparently ships don’t usually have three captains. In any case, my money could only pay for one man. So I walked along the dock in hope of finding a passage home, the captains doing their best to attract my attention. They leant provocatively against the figureheads of their ships, batting their false-lashes, one be-fish-netted leg forward on a coil of rope. The captains had rather misunderstood the fashion, and wore actual fishnets on their legs, the occasional half-dead albacore and six-foot marlin protruding from below the knee.

As I walked, I spotted a farmer standing over a fox, a chicken, and a bag of grain. “Are you okay?” I called. He looked relieved to see me.

“I have a problem,” he said “You see, I’ve got to take this fox, chicken, and bag of grain to market, and I can only fit one of them in my boat at a time. If I leave the fox and the chicken, or the chicken and the grain, alone, nature will take its course.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Fire away.”

“Why are you taking a fox to market?”

“I erm, well I. I hadn’t really thought about it. I wrote myself a note and left it on the fridge, so I just assumed it was something I had to do.”

“And another thing...”


“Do you go to market often?”

“Every other Sunday.”

“Do you think you ought to get a bigger boat?”

“Size isn’t everything.”

“Even so, you should be able to carry more than one thing. Who says that the other two items will still be here once you finish taking the first across. I mean, the fox would just wander off, wouldn’t it?”

“Would it?”


“I could tie it down...”

“If you can tie it down, why is it a problem to leave it with the chicken?”

“Well, I –“

“- Besides, if you leave a bag of grain on its own, someone’ll take it. Do you normally abandon it at the side of the docks?”

“Now that you mention it, it usually fits in the boat.” His eyes widened as the realisation hit him. “This isn’t my boat!” Now that I looked more closely, the object gently bobbing in the water in front of us was not a boat, but an upside-down umbrella. The farmer reached out and took the handle, then bent down and scooped the chicken and the bag of grain under either arm. As he walked away, he shouted back to me “You can keep the fox”. So although I’ll be late to Jack’s party, I’ve got the present sorted.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Arthouse Dream

A dream I forgot I had scribbled down before I forgot it (and forgot I had scribbled it down):

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a man in a headlock. The man had no defining features except that he was being held in a head-lock by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in a run-down car-park. I couldn’t tell to what shop the car-park belonged, as I couldn’t see more that a metre in front of me; in every direction, the view was obscured by tens of thousands of grey-haired, heavy-jowled puppets, crowding in to watch the fight. It wasn’t much of a fight; Wolfgang Amadeus had the upper hand, arm, and shoulder. I couldn’t back away from the fight as the puppets were pressing in for a better view. I couldn’t remember how I had got there, at the very front of the circular clearing in which they fought. It occurred to me that I could ask Wolfgang, but then I remembered that he was busy. The man he held was struggling, tracing ‘eights’ in the air with clenched fists as his face turned blue. His eyes were wet, and as water pooled and grey heavy beneath his lids, eventually breaking free and slowly sliding down his cheek, it occurred to me that the blue of his face went well with his eyes.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


I resolve not to feel pressured into making promises on the basis that it’s customary on a certain day of the year. I resolve not to feel too bad about breaking my first resolution.

I resolve not to tell friends with young children that ugly ducklings usually grow into ugly ducks. I resolve to go into a branch of ikea and pretend it is my home, and refuse to leave when the security interrupt me cooking dinner. I resolve to find out whether ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’ by taking an iPhone and an illusionist to a shopping centre, and seeing if shoppers can tell which is which. I resolve to stop dropping latin words into conversation, ad nauseam.

Finally, and most importantly, I resolve to finish what I –