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 –