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.

Monday, 1 September 2014


Dear library users,

You may have noticed that the shelves are looking slightly sparser than usual. This is due to our ongoing improvement works, and the installation of a new, online cataloguing system.

This is an online system of unparalleled sophistication. By feeding it all of the borrowing records of the last twenty one years (when we installed our first digital cataloguing system), we have taught the catalogue to recognise user preferences. The new system is capable of predicting, with depressing accuracy, the books that you will want to borrow in the future.

To our surprise, the system told us that the only book that will be borrowed in the next two years will be Gregg Wallace’s autobiography, ‘Life on a Plate’. When we saw the readout, we were incredulous. But we have checked the calculations. We have re-checked the calculations. We have checked and re-checked our checking. And the computer is right. So we are taking the other books away,

You have only yourselves to blame.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Two dogs of equal strength walking in opposite directions

Two men sit on a park bench. One stares straight ahead, one looks to the side, into the wings of the stage.

How’s Ollie?

Good thanks. Starting school in September.

And the twins?

Still dead.


What’re you looking at?

I know you’re going to find this hard to believe, but there’s a man standing in the middle of the road. It looks like he wants to move, but he can’t, because he’s holding the leads of two dogs of equal strength, walking in opposite directions.

The worse cranes his neck to look offstage as well.

So he is.


I’ve never seen such evenly-matched dogs.

And both with exactly the same desire to walk in opposite directions

This almost seems like a thought experiment.


Do you think they’re his dogs?

They must be.

But if they’re his, wouldn’t he just let one go? It’d come back

Well, they seem quite independent

Or maybe he tied them to his wrists -

Exactly. They can’t be his dogs, otherwise he’d know about their independence, and avoid tying them to his wrist to prevent exactly this.


Do you think they’ll rip him apart?

Well, he doesn’t look comfortable.
Actually, it looks like he’s got an itch.

It’s going to be hard for him to scratch that, what with him being pulled by two dogs of equal strength walking in different directions.

Do you think we should help him? Go over there and scratch it for him?

Someone else’ll do it. See, there’s a guy going over there now... No, wait, he’s just taken his wallet. And there’s nothing the man can do about it because both his hands are occupied by two dogs of equal strength walking in opposite directions.

Oh, and now his vulnerability’s been established, someone else’s taken his phone as well. Pity he’s stuck by the bus-stop; there’s a whole crowd of people with some time to kill.


In his position, I think I’d want one of my arms ripped off. That way, I’d just be a one-armed man taking my dog for a walk, not a two-armed man trapped in the middle of a road, at the mercy of the general public.

Yeah, the public are awful.

Especially those two teenage lovers carving their initials into his chest.

Surprising amount of blood, there

And yet the dogs don’t seem to be tiring. Or perhaps they are tiring, but at exactly the same rate.

Quite a pool of blood now, over there. More than a pool. A puddle. No, a puddle sounds smaller than a pool. A lagoon? Sounds too geographical. A pool. Yes, a pool.
Do you think we should do something?

WORSE (shrugging)
Well, what can we two men do?

We could call an ambulance.

Someone else probably has

No, I think they’re just filming it on their phones.
So should we?

Nah, their lenses are better.

No, call an ambulance, I mean.

We could, but what would that really achieve?

They’d help him.

Sure they’ll help him today, but this’ll just happen again tomorrow.

It seems unlikely. If I were him, I’d never take the two dogs out at the same time ever again

No, the real problem is a system that allows things like this to happen.
And what can we two men do about a system that allows things like this to happen?

Well, we could smash the system

Well, we could. But then there’d be bits of broken system everywhere.
Who’s going to clear them up? It’s not going to be me.

I’d never thought about it like that.

What if someone stood on a bit of broken system? They could get Tetanus. I could get tetanus. When’s the last time you had a tetanus shot?

I can’t remember

We should get tetanus shots.
I’m off to A and E, you coming?

Sure. Do you think we should take him with us?
If we’re going to A and E anyway?

No, he’ll just slow us down.
We could have Tetanus.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A Cover Letter

Dear Sir or Madam (but statistically Sir),

I am writing to apply for the position of “apprentice pest-controller”, as seen advertised on the Warwick County Council website. Please find enclosed my CV, and a fly I killed on the way to the post-office.

I feel I should be honest from the outset; I am probably not the candidate you are expecting to apply for the job. I am currently employed. I have a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering. I am a vegetarian. But, you see, I found the advert for the job – an image of a middle aged-man standing by a van full of rat poison – strangely compelling. His arm was resting on the roof of the van, and he was smiling, as if to say “one day, all this could be yours”. He looked genuinely happy.

I want to be genuinely happy. Please, can I be happy?

I understand that the position involves killing animals. What am I supposed to say here? That from a young age, I’ve always loved killing animals? No, that gives the impression that I’m psychopathic, or a member of the landed gentry. And I’m not. I’m just a man who’s intrigued by the look of absolute serenity on your employee’s face.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this application, and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours Sincerely,
Martin Wilson

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


[SFX: An answerphone beep]

I thought about you this morning, as I nailed my hand to a piece of MDF. To clarify, the nailing of the hand to the piece of MDF wasn’t a statement about how I feel towards you – If I’m honest, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be - I hadn’t wanted, or, indeed, intended, to nail my hand to the piece of MDF at all. I had wanted (and intended) to nail the piece of MDF to another piece of MDF. And then to the wall, to make a nice set of shelves.

But as I stood there, with the hammer poised, a blur of movement outside the window caught my attention. It was an enormous plane, descending slowly to the ground in the distance (or a tiny plane, landing in my garden; but time has taught me that the latter option is significantly less likely). And this plane, this fusion of steel and engineering and optimism, it reminded me – reminded me that I was supposed to pick you up from the airport last Tuesday.

So, I guess I’m ringing you to apologise. The last time I checked, it was considered bad manners not to follow through on a promise to pick someone up from the airport. But, then, the last time I checked was probably about seven years ago. It wasn’t something that I saw as being particularly liable to change, and in many ways, the fact that I once checked is more remarkable than the fact that I haven’t checked recently.

When you get this message, can you please ring me back? I’d love to hear about your holiday, and would also welcome any distraction from the fact that my hand is currently nailed to a piece of MDF.


Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Sorry to keep you waiting.
But, obviously, not sorry enough not to keep you waiting…

You probably think it was another patient that kept me busy. Actually, I was at a stag-do last night. They had one of those strippers which burst open to reveal a cake. It was horrific, actually – blood everywhere. Spent the entire night just trying to get the carpet clean, and in the end no-one felt like eating the cake. But that’s the great thing about being a doctor. You can walk into work covered in blood, and no-one bats an eyelid. They’re all too busy wondering whether anyone will notice whether they’re covered in blood, and wondering where they left the eyelids.

So, let me just take a quick look at your chart.

Ah. An appendectomy. Have you ever had your appendix removed before? Silly question. But, I don’t know, it might have crawled back in. The appendix has quite a strong homing instinct, and most people’s first thoughts upon seeing an appendix crawling towards them - like a fat, pink slug - is to scream, affording it an entrance.

Now looking at your chart, it says that your date of birth is 1993. Is that correct? Okay, so you’re young enough to believe that the world is still full of opportunities, old enough to realise that they probably won’t won’t be offered to you.

Now, I trust that you received the release form. And you signed that, yes? Good.

Now, I don’t want to scare you – because that would be an emotion, and I know your generation isn’t used to them - but as with any procedure, there is a chance of complications. Now, obviously, this will involve sedation, and as with any use of general anaesthetic, there is a risk that you won’t stay under for the length of time intended. You know, there’s a one in five or six million chance that you may stay under for three, maybe four, hundred years. And you’ll stumble out into the street, feeling over-exposed in just your surgical gown as the breeze dances over your shoulders, and the streets will be empty but for cockroaches and posters of Boris Johnson the sixth, and it’ll be like one of those films where Cilian Murphy runs away from things (only there aren’t any credits, and you look nothing like Cilian Murphy. Actually, I find it quite insulting that you would think to besmirch his name with such a comparison.)

Now, me and the guys were talking, and we reckon that your best bet is actually to sedate yourself again, and cross your fingers that by the time you wake up again, the fall-out from the nuclear war between Tesco and Ecuador will have died down to a sort of tolerable level.

Of course, there’s only a very remote possibility of that happening.

What’s more likely is that the operation might be disrupted at some point. A group of alien ambassadors might burst in here and take me captive before I can finish the operation. In the event of that happening, you’d probably just bleed to death here on the operating table, while I’m marched in front of their leader, and asked to speak on behalf of the human race.

But as I say, there’s only a very remote possibility of that happening. The last time I checked, weren’t any alien craft hovering in a geostationary orbit above earth. But, then, the last time I checked was seven years ago. It wasn’t something I’d foreseen as a pressing probability, and, in many ways, I think the fact that I did actually once check is more remarkable than the fact I haven’t checked recently.

Oh, come on now, there’s no need to look so panicked. You’re not the first person to ever have an operation! I’ve put hundreds of people to sleep – some of them patients – and if I’d taken a medical exam, I’m sure I would have done very well.

So you have nothing to fear.
Except jellyfish.
Jellyfish are terrifying.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Agent

A lot of people have asked me how I got into the role of ‘Claire’. Well, one day my agent came to me with the script for the show, and I said ‘no’. And he said ‘yes’, and I said ‘no’. And he said ‘yes’, and I said ‘Dad’, and he said ‘don’t call me that when we’re working’ and I said ‘Daddy, we’re just sitting in the kitchen’, and he said ‘We’re having a working lunch’, and I said ‘I’m not eating anything’, and he said ‘Good, with a figure like that it’s no wonder you’re not getting any decent roles’, and I said ‘I think I should be in school’ and he said ‘You’re just a comic device, your school didn’t exist until you mentioned it until just then’ and I said ‘Well, since it does exist now, can I go?’, and he said ‘If I did permit you to go, that would somewhat undermine the callous father figure that I seem to represent’ and I said “Would that matter?” and he said “It’d be bad writing” and I said “Isn’t having a conversation descend into a discussion of whether it constitutes bad writing bad writing?” and he said “It depends how long it lasts” and I said nothing, because we suddenly both decided that the conversation had finished.

Friday, 4 April 2014


Much of Darwin's later writing was on earthworms. Very few people read it, as it was quite difficult to get them to stop wriggling for long enough to read the words. Darwin could only fit a couple of words on each worm, so potential readers had to go to the book shop with a wheelbarrow, to bring a cubic metre of worms home. On the journey home, the worms would, rather inconsiderately, re-arrange themselves, meaning that it could take a good hour to find two consecutive worms, and the best part of a fortnight to read a sentence.

Reviewers widely agreed that they preferred his work on finches.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The battery-powered Luxembourg Army Knife

Unsure what to buy your friends, family, co-workers, or psychologist this Easter?

Why not treat them to a JML Battery-powered Luxembourg Army Knife? It’s like a Swiss Army Knife, but smaller, and with a constitutional monarchy. It also doesn’t contain a knife… but it does come with an attachment for getting horses’ hooves out of stones.

Buy the battery-powered Luxembourg Army Knife!
Please buy the battery-powered Luxembourg Army Knife!
Please, please, somebody, buy the battery-powered Luxembourg Army Knife…

Tell you what, buy one get one free.
Actually, buy one get ten free!
My wife is furious that the kitchen is filled with unsold boxes of Luxembourg Army Knives, and she can’t get to the toaster.

Buy one, get a free gift.
I’ll give you my wallet.
There’s nothing in it, as I spent all my money on 10, 000 Luxembourg Army Knives, but it has enormous sentimental value.

Please, buy one. Free postage and packaging. Well, free for you.
My wife says that if the kitchen isn’t clear by Tuesday, she’s going to stay at Keith’s. Keith has a granite-topped kitchenette with breakfast bar. I can’t compete with a granite-topped kitchenette with breakfast bar. She’ll never move back in.

She told me this was a bad idea. She took me to one side and said “Alan, this is a bad idea”.
But I thought, no, it’ll be fine. I thought it’d be more than fine. I thought ten thousand people would want a Luxembourg Army Knife. Ten thousand people. That’s the entire population of Leeds. If 740, 000 people suddenly died.

And that’s assuming that everyone in Leeds would want one to begin with.

I don’t even know if the knives work. They don’t come with the batteries included, and, as mentioned earlier, I didn’t have any money left to buy batteries.

I asked Sarah (the wife) if I could take the batteries out the remote and she just said no and went back to watching Emmerdale. I don’t know what she sees in Emmerdale.

I know what she sees in Keith, though. They have a laugh together at the office. Reading Buzzfeed articles at lunch. Sharing sandwiches, and lucozade, while reading about “Twelve car journeys with elderly strangers that remind you of the nineties”

I only went into the Luxembourg Army Knife business to impress her.
Well, that and I genuinely thought that people would want to buy them.

Buy one, get 9, 999 free?

Monday, 3 February 2014


Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was built in Italy.

The pen is mightier than the sword, and also considerably cheaper.

There's no smoke without fire, unless you own a smoke machine.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three rights make a left.

The early bird gets the worm, but the early worm gets killed, so it’s important to establish whether you see yourself as a bird or a worm before deciding how much time to leave for your journey.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Resolutions for 2014

This year, I resolve:
a) To wait until it’s half-way through January to make any resolutions
2) To be more consistent
c) To stop expressing everything as lists

I also resolve to spread fake conspiracy theories. I resolve to tell people that eating healthily does not make your life longer - it just makes it feel longer. I resolve to tell people that just to the north of York, there’s an enormous, cardboard bank where lottery winners can cash their enormous, cardboard cheques. I resolve to tell people that ‘The Matrix’ was an elaborate double-bluff by the machines that control us, and that ‘Groundhog Day’ is actually just multiple takes of the intended first scenes of a different film (the director was a perfectionist, who insisted on re-taking the scenes until it was perfect, and the production ran out of money. They dubbed all the voices on afterwards to make a coherent plot.)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Unnecessary journeys

Following a decrease in wind speeds, a drop in flood water levels, and a press conference, the government has informed drivers that it’s now okay to make unnecessary journeys. Drivers are welcome to go up the M6 to check if Scotland still exists, or to chauffer crisp packets to the nearest recycling plant because they like the irony, or to drive to Croydon to tell a vague acquaintance about a dream they had the night before, where a man travelled back in time in an attempt to become his own uncle.