Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Queen of the backhanded compliment (or New Year's Eve with Aunt Margaret)

Your ears look much less saucer-like
When your hair is up like that
But it doesn't do your forehead favours
Consider wearing a hat.

Your dress is so unusual
Wherever did you buy it?
They do your size M & S now
Really, you should try it.

And your shoes are so adorable
What lovely little bows
They're so conveniently pointed
You can barely see your toes!

How are your dear old mum and dad?
Do you still live at home?
I guess it's that much cheaper
Than renting a flat on your own.

And are you still in your old job?
I must say I'm impressed
You stuck to your guns, and didn't give in
To better prospects of money and success.

It must be nice and comfortable
To not be striving for more
Climbing up the career ladder
Can sometimes be a chore.

And no one on you arm tonight?
No new boyfriend to share?
Cheer up my solitary dove
There'll always be next year!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Fairytale Psychiatrist

In all my years as a psychiatrist
I never knew such strange cases could exist
Till I was seconded to a practise in Fairy Land
The mental health problems there are really out of hand!

The first through the door with a flick of her hair
Was a full-blown narcoleptic, full of despair
'A spinning-wheel spell left me dazed and confused.'
She murmured before falling into a snooze.

I wouldn't have minded apart from that she
Left in an ambulance without paying the fee.
The next was a women who lived in a shoe
So I phoned social housing, to see what they could do

With over twenty dependants (from different fathers too)
She's clear a nymphomaniac through and through.
I gave her some pills to curb her carnal desires
And told her to hold off the shagging, in case she expires.

Goldilocks next came into the surgery
She jumped straight over my desk and sat on my knee
It was clear that this woman had no boundaries
She'd been charged with house-breaking, a minor felony

So I booked her a course of CBT
Hoping they'd help her be less friendly.
A similar trouble for Gretel and Hansel
Whose unhealthy relationship needed some council

After a traumatic experience with a witch in the woods
They'd become much closer than siblings should
And though they were shy and didn't want to admit it
Marks on the boy's neck matched his sister's lipstick.

A phone call was made and police were sought
You can't admit incest and expect not to get caught.
Though their father disowned them, and things were quite fraught
I hope they can all make it up, once they're out of the courts.

The day's end loomed and I was feeling glad
This was the most exhausting job I'd ever had!
The last girl to come in had skin white as snow
And lips as red as the reddest rose

At first, or course, she was coquettish
Worried she might her reputation tarnish
Forced to come by her husband and feeling foolish
She admitted she had a severe midget fetish.

Before she married her man, and settled in France
She had lived with seven miners of diminutive stance
She went on to describe what great lovers they were
And I decided the session should end right there.

With the day finally over, I heaved a sigh of relief
In all my years as a shrink, I've never taken such grief!
As I packed up my bag, one thing was plain
I'll never cover for Mother Goose again!

Friday, 3 December 2010


These portable creatures -

suitcases in green and grey -

lay down their luggage,

deposited on the banks.

Venn Diagrams, consensual circles

pressed together.

The vitreous humours

of a thousand unblinking eyes.

A tangled rope of pearls

yielding to the whim

of Vesna and the water's gentle cadence.

All Spring they cultivate duality.

Amphibious, aqueous, anomalous...

flickering like the lights in your eyes.

Till at last, tiny commas break loose

To punctuate the pond.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Giant Panda

Giant Panda

The Giant Panda (Latin name Insolitus Vultus Cattus per a Frendo Visio, which literally translates as 'Strangely-shaped Cat with a Bruised Face') is a bear native to the south coast of Britain. It is thought that the first pandas originated from the slow formation of minerals dripping from stalactites deep within the famous catacombs of Southampton. As a result of this, Giant Pandas are composed entirely of sediment, mineral compounds and iron ore. Although this makes them impervious to bullets, their high iron content makes them prone to rust. To combat this evolutionary disadvantage, Giant Pandas are able to hear rain clouds forming at a distance of up to ten miles away, and construct elaborate umbrellas to protect themselves from moisture. In 1921 August Van Cummings experimented with Giant Pandas as the basis for a new type of barometer. Unfortunately, the Giant Panda he was using was ill-tempered and chewed off Cummings' hand before he was able to patent his invention. Unsurprisingly, modern engineers are reluctant to replicate these experiments.

The Giant Panda subsists mainly on a diet of greasy take-away food, which probably accounts for its impressive size. Although most Giant Pandas will eat Curry, Pizza, Kebabs and Fish and Chips, the Giant Panda favours a Chinese takeaway above all others. It is estimated that an adult male can consume as many as fifty pounds of beef chow mien in a single sitting. In the last twenty years there has been a mass exodus of Giant Pandas from their native Britain to South East Asia, where their preferred food source is more abundant and less expensive. It is also thought that Giant Pandas were disillusioned with Western politics, and are sympathetic to the Maoist Communist Regime. (Citation needed.) The few that remain in Britain tend to abstain from voting in General Elections.

The Giant Panda can grow to seven metres tall and has distinctive black and white patterned fur. Scientists think that the two black patches around the eyes of Giant Pandas are a result of bar brawls over territory, although the zoologists that study the creatures are too polite to inquire directly, and the Giant Pandas are obviously too embarrassed to broach the subject. Competing theories suggest that the markings are a result of the Giant Panda wearing too much mascara while watching the X Factor auditions.

Giant Pandas enjoying singing and the sound of Panda song has long been used as a narcotic in some parts of Europe. Similar in style to Barry Manilow, their melodic warbling has been known to put unwary travellers into hallucinogenic trances. In 1989, seventeen backpackers were rendered comatose by one Panda's particularly doleful rendition of 'Love in an Elevator' by Aerosmith.

For many years, the pharmaceutical company Xogenics Limited sold ether impregnated with Giant Panda song. This substance was marketed as an aphrodisiac, but in 2003 it was suggested that unscrupulous foot fetishists were using the substance to subdue their victims, before sucking their ankles and stealing their shoes. Several hundred victims came forward and Xogenics were forced to discontinue the product. The Giant Panda responsible for the song used by the company was so embarrassed by the débâcle, that she had extensive re constructive surgery and is now living in Surrey and working as a Gillian McKeith impersonator.

The Giant Panda is the only known mammal that reproduces by mitosis. When a Giant Panda is ready to reproduce, it burrows down into the earth, making a small chamber for itself about twenty metres underground. It then sheds its fur, revealing two smaller Giant Pandas. These two off-spring are genetically identical, although one of the pair is always pathologically evil. Sometimes the evil off-spring will grow a small, pointed goatee in order to distinguish himself from his twin. It is thought that all instances of deja vu are a result of Giant Panda mitosis occurring beneath the earth. Panda reproduction has also been blamed for the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle, the haunting at hill house and the world shortage of toblerone. Scientists who study Giant Pandas (Pandologists) are still not sure why this would be, but many believe that its just one of those things.

In popular culture, the Giant Panda is often referred to as the bringer of head lice, and many believe that if you invite a Giant Panda into your home, a case of nits is sure to follow. This is unsubstantiated, however, and it is more likely that you will receive a nasty smack in the mouth, as Giant Pandas are notoriously unsociable and demand Yorkshire puddings with every course of a meal. In Mexico, Giant Pandas are worshipped as Gods and in Ethiopia their skins are fashioned into carriages that the wealthy use to transport their children. In the Former Yugoslavia, the locals refer to the Giant Panda as the Sun-eater. No one knows why.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Blog Tour - a chapter from The Lost Daughter by Ella Grey

The lost daughter

Chapter 2

Part 4

I stood in the corner of the field and closed my eyes. I raised one hand and took a deep breathe. How to control the elements 101. Firstly know what you’re working with. Also, knowing the runic symbols and glyphs helped to center your will and intent. I had practiced the symbols so many times that I could probably do them in my sleep. I'd placed six objects around the field and I was going to use Air to try and levitate them. It was a test to see if I could split my focus between different objects.

I took a deep breath and as I gently let it go opened my eyes, drawing the glyph in the air. It glowed blue and I reached out with my will. Searching for the alien objects, the things that shouldn’t have been there. When I thought that I'd found all six, I imagine the air around them becoming a bubble, trapping the object in the center and then them all becoming unbelievably light. Raising my hand, my eyes scanned the open field, counting each of the objects as I saw them rise up. I had managed all six. The field came into sharp focus. I knew that my eyes were now an unnatural shade of green. It happened every time I used my, for a lack of a better word powers. I heard a twig snap somewhere near the road. My focus broke, the objects fell back to earth and I ducked down behind the trees. I couldn’t afford anyone seeing me. I have to admit I looked pretty weird hanging out in deserted fields. I waited for a few minutes before I started again. I walked around the field to where I put the objects I had used in my experiment. The first one was a red sharpener and I went through the routine again. Focusing my will, imaging the bubble of air and as it rose to eye level I reached out and grabbed it. A well prepared witch is an alive witch. Well that was what Dad had said. I went through the same motions with the other objects and went back to the trees when I was finally finished. There was one more experiment. Actually it was the first experiment. When I had first started to see Dad he'd told me to bury a ring somewhere in the field. I was then told to forget about it for about a week then try and find it again. It was proving impossible. I just didn’t have any affinity for Earth. I sat down crossed legged and tried to relax, this was going to take a while.


When my eyes had finally snapped open I was nowhere closer to finding the bloody ring, I was also going to miss my train back home. Scrambling back to my feet, and grabbing my bag that held my supplies before climbing over the fence and back to the main road. I wasn’t the fittest person in the world but I still ran. Okay walked, really fast. My boots sounded loud as they hit the road. This was the last train home. If I missed this? Then I would be walking home, mostly in the dark since there weren’t that many lamp-posts from Carnell to Crescendo Falls. I heard a noise which sounded like the train. I had many talents but outrunning trains wasn’t one of them. I nearly skidded as I turned the corner that lead up to the platform. It felt like my heart was about to explode but I pushed myself forward.

Like the most recent stop in the world of Alice Young? Part 5 can be found tomorrow at http://www.myspace.com/spiderfingersclay and if you missed Part 1 check it out at http://www.seanhayden.org each of them has the link to the next one.

My eshort, 'What a way to start the day' A Molly O'Brien Tale is being released on the 1st of December. http://www.omnilit.com/product-whatawaytostarttheday-484430-139.html

Waking up to realize you may be in the family way would make anyone worry. Especially if the would-be daddy has fangs and is the hunted son of the vampire mafia.
Molly O’Brien runs the small shop ‘Forbidden Charms’ and is the witch to go to if you want something. Operating on the outskirts of a supernatural world isn't easy either, especially when trying to keep your secret from the human world. Who would have thought life could get any more complicated for the little fire witch?

Saturday, 25 September 2010


tell the truth
tell the lies
build the fires
fill the skies
tear down the past
rip the stitch
construct the fort
and dig the ditch
devalue the dollar
run on the pound
raze their cities
to the ground
debts absolved
and sins confessed
of thought resolved
the puzzle solved
storm the gates
level walls
remove blockades
heed the call
a fallen state
a darker fate
a new regime
a new tirade
back to work
for you Comrade.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Tractor Tractor. Headlights bright

Tractor Tractor. Headlights bright
On the B roads day and night;
What infernal hands or feet
Gave thee permission to roam the streets?

In what distant garage or shed
Burnt the tracks of thine tyre tread?
In the hands of which conspirator
Was thou licensed to overuse the right indicator?

And why, on such a narrow road
Must thou carry a great wide load?
And why affix cargo so it is less than secure
So those in your wake are showered with manure?

Which evil hands suffered thee to make
So slow yet so difficult to overtake?
What hellish mechanic and deadly crew
Made twelve miles per hour the fastest thou canst do?

When John Froelich set down his tools
And promptly threw out all highway rules:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the lamborghini make thee?

Tractor Tractor. Headlights bright
On the B roads late at night;
What infernal hands or feet
Gave thee permission to roam the streets?

Oedipus! You idiot! What have you done?

Oedipus! You idiot!
What have you done?
You've killed off your father
And married your mum!

Melodrama this gruesome
Ultimately renders
The Greek tragedy
As grim as Eastenders!

The Oracle at Delphi said
If Laius and Jocasta bore a son
He'd kill off his father
And marry his mum.

So like every good parent
With the greatest composure
The King order the lad to be crippled
And left to die of exposure.

The servant took pity
On our poor protagonist
(If Laius had known about that
He would have been pissed!)

So after a good few years -
A strange chain of events -
He became the prince of Corinth
With royal adoptive parents.

The oracle from before
Gives the same prophecy
The Oedy will kill off his dad
And marry his mummy.

Oedipus, worried
Flies into exile
Away from the King and Queen of Corinth
And into the wild.

But who should he meet
But Laius, his father,
With whom he argues and kills
What a massive palaver!

For killing the Sphinx
The king's widow is proffered
And you know its quite rude
To refuse a Queen when offered!

So the oracle was right
And true the prophecy had come
Oedipus had killed his own dad
And had four kids with his mum!

When he found out the truth
Oedipus gouged out both his eyes
(Well this is Greek tragedy
So it should come as no surprise.)

If you ask me, the oracle
should've been straight from the start
She caused all the trouble
With her mysterious art.

The moral of the story,
Don't be stupid and dumb
Don't kill your dad
And don't sleep with your mum!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

The Suitor

The Suitor

'I think she was drunk when she met him. Of course, that's no excuse.'

'If anything, its all the more shocking!'

'Well, apparently he was very charming, despite the obvious...' She searched for an appropriate phrase, one that would leave the liberal, politically-correct image she had constructed for herself intact. '...physical abnormality.'

The three women pursed their lips and drank their tea.

'You should she the claw-marks on her back! So vulgar.'

'But really! A Bengal Tiger? Where did she meet him?'

'The theatre, so she says. He asked her to dinner, made impeccable conversation and walked her to her car. He even mauled the traffic warden who was gave her a parking ticket. He's a real gentleman.'

'He's taking her to Goa this weekend, to meet his parents.'

The three women sighed and drank their tea.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

I want a geek

"I want a man who knows I.T.
Who can get me a refurbished hard drive for free.
A man who has two Star Trek uniforms, one red and one blue
And who measures time in terms of who is Doctor Who.
I want a geek, a first-rate nerd
A man who owns a a model of Brains from Thunderbirds.
I want a man whose not ashamed
To invite me into his World of Warcraft game.
I want a bloke who can quote Monty Python
And knows what I mean when I ask 'Picard or Riker?'
I want a man who owns five computer screens
And has Firefly on V.H.S. (whatever that means)
I want a man whose idea of fun
Doesn't involve beer, football or sun
And whose idea of sex talk is 'Set phaser to stun!'
And feels constant embarassment for Episode One."

Its a proposition that techies cannot resist
But, bad news for them, this woman doesn't exist.
That's what you get for trying to find love on the net
Wookielover99 is actually a fat man called Chet.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Police Statement

"A man of usual moderation
I do avoid intoxication
Quite resent that implication
A minor source of aggravation.
A man of highest toleration
I will admit to some libation
I must continue protestation
On the cause of this altercation.
Of course, we had a conversation
From which arose the complication
A thorough round of provocation
I came to weary realisation-
There outside the petrol station-
That vague attempts at pacification
Could not halt the situation.
And, as my moral obligation
(Please excuse exaggeration)
I gave the youth a demonstration
And caused his shoulder's dislocation
Without a moments hesitation.
But he started it."

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Attack of the Fifty Foot Fedora

When Vogue said hats were out this season
Ladies ditched their Chapeaus without rhyme or reason
The hat makers – as you'd expect – were quite cross
And hatched a plot to make up for earnings lost.
They stitched a hat fifty-foot tall (the process took hours)
And made the buttons of Uranium, to give it super powers.
Then they set it loose on down town New York
The fashion editors would pay for their idle talk!
The hat caused chaos, reducing whole blocks to rubble
The authorities knew they were in for some trouble.
With millions now dead and the streets all aflame
They realised the seriousness of the fashion game.
The police called the mayor and the mayor called the military
Who brought their tanks in to destroy the militant millinery.
Top scientists engineered shells filled with moths
Resistant to fission yet hungry for cloth.
The soldiers loaded the barrels and fired the shells
And the head-covering monster let out such a yell!
The hat was defeated and the city-folk glad
The moral? Don't mess with the hatters – they're mad!

Sunday, 23 May 2010


The scarecrow
Watches the crops grow
With wheat as high
As an elephant's eye.
While the encircling hoards
Of seagulls soar
Over the fields of corn.
The fear on his face
As the growth gathers pace
And the struggle for power begins.
With stop-motion eyes
He watches it rise
And envelope him like the tide.
When October rolls round
And the crops all come down
With one swipe of the harvester's blade
The scarecrow stands tall
Surveyor of all
With a slightly smug look in his eye.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

'Better Than' Sally

'Better than' Sally has done everything
Been everywhere
She's got an opinion on every topic
A total nightmare
'Better than' Sally makes conversation
Into competition
And relaxation
Into agitation
With every blatant exaggeration
'You've been to the moon?
'Oh, I've been there twice.'
She once joined the circus, and has swallowed live mice
And in her garage she's got a doomsday device
She claims to have worked through every vice
She's smoked crack in Brixton
And dealt blackjack in Spain
She's never been through child birth
But she can understand the pain
She's a strange mix of egoism and just being vain
Introduce her to your friends, and you'll never see them again
She's allergic to equations
Once saw an alien invasion
Lost her virginity on THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS!
'Better than' Sally has been there, done that
And even her T-shirt is better than yours.

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Redundant Tongue

This world is no longer built for lickers
Now that stamps come as pre-glued stickers
And envelopes are already lined with gum
So you'll never again taste that weird taste on your tongue
Administration's not the same
Now that my mouth lies dormant and tamed
With nothing to lick, life's such a chore
Standing, jaws gaping, with a dribbling maw
Soon they'll ban ice creams, there'll be nothing to scoff
And I'll have to get kinky to get my rocks off
The way things are going, at this alarming rate
I'm sure even men will learn to self-fellate
This world is not built for the enthusiastic lickers
Now that stamps come as pre-glued stickers.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Thinking about Politics

Frowning muscles, skin pulled taut
Scanning BBC News, lost deep in thought
Ruminating over issues that you've never been taught
Ask the pundits simple questions, and they'll derisively snort
Like what is a QUANGO? Have the voters been screwed?
How deep does the debt go? What's Sam Cam's favourite food?
Will there be Anti-Cameron riots? Or pro-labour mobs?
Will all civil servants lose their cushy, pointless jobs?
Are we heading for a certain creek with no paddle in sight?
Was it really worth staying up on election night?
And of all those who watched them announce the coalition
How many were waiting for some hot Lib on Con action?
(Let's face it, you can tell there's some level of attraction
It's like the political equivalent of Brokeback Mountain.)
They say Western Democracy is fair and diverse
But to be ruled by two losing parties, is kind of perverse
And if all this politics talk fails to make you swoon
Then worry yee not, Big Brother's back in June.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Short poems

Cycling on a Hot Day:
Why do flies
Always fly in my eyes?
Seriously, does eye-gunk taste of jam?

Radio 4:
I listen to women swallowing swords on the radio
And, for the first time in my life,
I understand the word pointless.
And the concept of irony.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Writer's block

Every writer seems to have a poem about writer's block in their arsenal, and this is my effort.

The insecurity of the chronically untalented:

I speak in convoluted metaphors
Write my rhymes in semaphore
A inconsistent yawning pause
Impregnated with creative spores.
My words - still grounded - long to soar
But I am naught but a Muse's whore
Writing just to settle scores
Hyperbole my only claws
But simile won't help my cause
And help me win such lonely wars.
My heart, inside, shows such remorse
Meagre talent ran it's course
And left me beached on barren shores
When once poems dripped from every pore
Now the words no longer soar
And I will be a poet no more.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Dogs Die in Hot Cars

Dogs die in hot cars
Or so the saying goes
And growing up in a shit small town
Was not the life I chose

I wanted the glamour of paris
I wanted the edge of New York
I'd settle for London, despite all the smog
Anywhere but here, I thought

Here were there's no inspiration
And I feel like a rat in a cage
And all of the kids are on welfare
While parents scrape minumum wage

Here where the crime rates are soaring
And there's nothing to do except drink
Where you have to play dumb just to fit in
And never let on what you think

The men in the pubs blame the council
For allowing the discord to grow
There's a festering mess, where this town used to be
And dogs die trapped in hot cars you know.

'The lack of community's frightening'
People moan, and then in the same breath
Complain 'bout the blacks, jews and muslims
And kick immigrant workers to death

And its alright for you in your cities
With the escapism of places to go
Spending all of the money you've made off your stocks
But dogs die in hot cars - don't you know?

A town full of people, all talk and no take
Resigned to their lot in the world
But I can't sit back in this back-water place
My flag of ambition unfurled

I just need to get out of this dead-town
Because I feel like a rat in a cage
And if its true that dogs die inside hot cars
Then this puppy's got major road rage!

Saturday, 10 April 2010


Smoking Break:
“The reason dinosaurs are extinct,”
She says, twirling a cigarette
Through fingers of manicured glass,
“Is because they were stupid.”
I counter
Blowing smoking rings towards the ceiling.
“Dinosaurs were the victims of circumstance.
They did their best to react
Given all the available indicators.
They tried their hardest,
To outrun prevailing preconditions
But global factors beyond their control
Coupled with geothermal anomalies
And unforeseen difficulties
At both an economic and cultural level
Along with an inadequate system of checks and balances
Inevitably led to their collective demise.”
“Oh,” She said.
Stupid Dinosaurs.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Cat

The Cat has a purr like a scooter-motor and a meow as thick and sharp as brambles.
The Cat wants what you have, right up until the moment you relinquish it
When the value of any object decreases exponentially.
The Cat will take care of any crumbs or dropped food items, and doesn't even charge for the service.
The Cat has a loving - if not entirely reciprocal relationship - with the tin-opener.
The Cat is under the impression that she is transparent, and thus is able to sit directly in your field of vision.
The Cat is an expert interior designer, with a particular specialism in 'holes and dribble' chic.
The Cat has not mastered the art of decorum when washing herself
And thinks that it's appropriate to lick her bum, then try to lick your face.
The Cat needs to be shown how to work the cat flap EVERY SINGLE TIME.
The Cat does not appreciate being forced in to any items of clothing
Or having banana labels stuck to her nose.
The Cat does not care for telephone conversations which exclude her,
And sometimes conducts dirty protests, in order to make her feelings known.
The Cat has forgotten her real name
Instead she is Puss-Cat,Fluffy-wuffles, Chubby-Tubbington or Mrs Pussington-Smythe.
The Cat does not enjoy being shut out of rooms, and expresses her displeasure by being sick on the rug.
The Cat walks around with a smug sense of superiority
And watches in disgust as you eat cereal from a mug and watch children's cartoons
At three o'clock on a tuesday afternoon.
The Cat knows that she is not your pet, that you are her person.
The Cat is infuriating, condecending and emotionally-distant.
And as soon as she grows thumbs
You'll be the first against the wall.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Hassle that comes when you don't do the washing-up when I ask

'What would happen if I didn't do the washing up?' He asked.

She scowled into her tea cup, thinking of the mountains of plates he had offered to clean last night. The plates that still lay in drunken piles beside the sink, with crumbs and congealed gravy, limp lettuce and wrinkled potato skins. He had promised.

He asked again. 'What would happen?'

She put down the book, and raised her eyes to his.

'Well,' She said, 'Its not something you can easily predict. Every time is different.

'You probably won't notice anything at first. You'll go about your business, getting ready for the day as if there was nothing wrong. Your morning shower might be a little bit cold, and the temperature dial might become a little unpredictable - veering wildly from bracing mountain stream to molten lava and back again. But that's nothing.

'Your breakfast might be tricky, as any toast you make will burn in that deep-tissue way, so that no amount of scraping will remove the charred bits. The milk will be off and the yogurt too. There will be no bacon and the last egg will fall from the fridge as you open it, leaving a sticky mess on the toes of your socks.

'Slipping on your last clean pair of jeans, you'll notice large hole in the crotch, exposing your fetching Dennis the Menace boxer shorts. You'll search the house for a needly and thread, but both will remain elusive. Finally you will resort to the Bermuda shorts that you bought in Alicante as a bet, the ones that are bright green with cute little pictures on them of pigs mid-coitus.

Walking into town, your new trainers will be inexplicably drawn to dubiously grey puddles and piles of dog mess. A group of beautiful women will walk passed you at exactly the moment when you are scraping said dog mess from your sole with a gnarled old stick. They will laugh and you will pretend not to notice.

You will be splashed by passing cars on three separate occasions and some of the surface water will work its way into your mouth, leaving you with a strange earthy, metallic taste that will not wash away no matter how much juice you drink.

When you arrive in town all the shops will be closed due to a power-failure and you will be accosted by a woman in a red jumper who will persuade you to send £20 a week to a dog sanctuary on the Isle of Skye. (Given that you still smell faintly of dog mess the irony of this enforced charity is almost laughable.)

As you begin you walk home - empty-handed and twenty quid worse-off - the heavens open and within minutes you will be drenched.

Upon rounding the corner to your street, you will be knocked off your feet by an old man on a mobility scooter who will swear at you for being in his way in such colourful language that you won't know whether to be impressed or offended. When he begins to hit you with a walking stick you will realise that the latter is the correct response.

Once home you will find the front door ajar and seven burley men in leather motorcycle jackets in your kitchen. They will be drinking your beer and eating those olives stuffed with chilies that you are so fond of. You know, the ones that you hide in the top cupboard so no one else can have any? You will ask them to leave but they will ignore you, only consenting to go when all the alcohol has been drunk and the olives have been eaten.

They will also - through thick beards and a series of impressive belches - chastise you on your poor house-keeping skills.

Finally, exhausted and confused, you will crawl into bed, only to find that one of your house-guests had mistaken the bedroom for a bathroom. Warm and wet, you sleep fully clothed in the bath, wishing that you had done the washing up when you were asked.'

He blinked.

'I'll get the marigolds.'

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Competition winner

Hi everyone,

I won my first writing competition yesterday! www.reviewfuse.com is an American online writing community which lets contributors post their writing online. Other contributors are then free to offer contructive criticism to each other. It's a great idea and every month they have competitions for poetry and short stories. And I won first prize for February! I am one hundred dollars better off. Which is lovely. The poem that won is reproduced below:

The sculptor

I could never sculpt hands.
I can transfigure my chisel
Into a typewriter and speak a personal history,
Sculpt the deep rivulets of emotions
Around the eyes of dictators and devils,
Divas and demigods,
Fashioning life
From bronze and stone.
Or recreate the folds of gowns
That envelope sleeping nymphs,
While patterns, Klimt-like
Wreath the delicate tendrils of their hair.
But if I could emulate the warmth of a handshake,
The articulation of a hand raised and lowered
In debate;
Or capture the vitriol of an obscene gesture...

I cannot conceive the corrugation of weather-worn knuckles
Bleached and tanned by an unforgiving sun.
Or the elegant ebony hand
Whose pale palms serve a contrast of colour
More pleasing than any canvas.

I only wish I could sculpt hands.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

TV Licence Fee

'Dear Ms Sheppard. It has come to our attention that you have recently moved into the property - address listed above. Please fill in the attached television licence fee form so we can send your licence in the post.'


'Dear Ms Sheppard. We sincerely hope you are well and, in case you did not receive our last letter, here is a copy of the form for you to fill in. There are several easy ways to pay, by direct debit, cheque or postal order. You can even drop in to your local post office and pay by cash - the old-fashioned way! We look forward to hearing from you and wish you well in your new home.'


'Ms Sheppard. The first several weeks in a new home are a muddle of setting up new accounts and bills and it is said that moving home is the third most stressful thing that can happen in a person's lifetime, behind bereavement and divorce. But now is the time to obtain a TV licence for your property. Here is a copy of the form, please fill it in and return it in the free-post envelope. Nothing more will be said about your seemingly habitual lack of organisation.'


'Ms Sheppard. We have still yet to receive our licence fee agreement form. As it seems that you are incapable of looking after your own affairs, we have written to your old school head master to inform him of your conduct. He was very disappointed as he remembered you as an able and conscientious pupil. Unfortunately, this is not a side of yourself that you have chosen to show to us. We regret that the matter has proceeded for as long as it has and have taken the liberty of setting up an online account for you, since you are too lazy to deal with this issue yourself. Simply go to the website below and click the “pay now” button. Really, we could not make this transaction any easier. We look forward to your payment and hope to re-establish channels of correspondence soon.'


'Miss Sheppard. We recently send an enforcement officer to your home to ensure that you were not using our facilities without proper reparations being paid. The enforcement officer found the house seemingly full of people, with loud music blasting from an open second-storey window. However, when the officer knocked, the music was immediately switched off and the people were silenced. The officer, after making several attempts to alert the occupants to his presence, was informed - through a partially-opened letter box - that no one was in and that he should go "boil his head". Is this really the behaviour of a grown woman Miss Sheppard? Are you aware that it is an offence to refuse entry to an enforcement officer? Incidentally it is also an offence to make one cry by insisting he "sod off back to the land of the morons." You may not think it Miss Sheppard, but our officers are sensitive, compassionate beings and to have them spoken to in this manner is simply not on. A second officer has been informed and will be visiting you shortly. Failure to comply will result in very dire circumstances.'


'To the occupier. As our enforcement officer refuses to speak of the incident, and has since taken a leave of absence due to work-related stress, we are unable to ascertain just what you might of said to upset him so. However, as a result of your conduct we are now taking further advice. If you do not pay the balance of the debt immediately, we will make things very difficult indeed. That is not a threat Miss Sheppard, it is a promise.'


'To whom it my concern. We have begun seeking legal advice in connection with your blatant disregard for the law of the land. We are compelled to inform you that failure to pay the licence fee constitutes a criminal offence. A court summons will be posted to your address within the next few days. The maximum penalty in cases such as these is a fine of £1,000. We will see you in court.'


'Dear Miss Sheppard and family. As per the court order, please consider this written proof of our agreement. We sincerely apologise for any distress caused by our threatening and aggressive actions towards you. (Although had you made it clear from the beginning that you were a blind paraplegic then this whole messy business might have been avoided.) It was wrong of us to assume that the people in the flat above yours were related to you and your carer has fully apologised for his rude behaviour towards our staff. (Although, a man with such a sparkling array of profanity in his vocabulary hardly strikes us the right sort of person to be caring for someone in your condition.) By way of apology, please accept the enclosed voucher for a free television set. We will be sending you a licence fee form by the next post.'

Thursday, 18 February 2010


I could never sculpt hands.

I can transfigure my chisel
Into a typewriter and speak a personal history,
Sculpt the deep rivulets of emotions
Around the eyes of dictators and devils,
Divas and demigods,
Fashioning life
From bronze and stone.
Or recreate the folds of gowns
That envelope sleeping nymphs,
While patterns, Klimt-like
Wreath the delicate tendrils of their hair.
But if I could emulate the warmth of a handshake,
The articulation of a hand raised and lowered
In debate;
Or capture the vitriol of an obscene gesture...

I cannot conceive the corrugation of weather-worn knuckles
Bleached and tanned by an unforgiving sun.
Or the elegant ebony hand
Whose pale palms serve a contrast of colour
More pleasing than any canvas.

I only wish I could sculpt hands.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Valentine's Day Poem

Chemical leak

The shopping centre
Is shut today.
Something malignant
In the air conditioning.
The woman
On the radio
Says scores of people
Complained of dizziness
And breathlessness.
As I switch to another station,
I wonder if
I am being poisoned
Every time you smile.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The mystery button

There's a button, nestled snugly amongst the dials and levers and meters, on the dashboard. A uncontrollable control panel. And it has no label, this mystery button. All the buttons and buzzers and bells that surround it are worn smooth by the ridges of my fingerprints. Weather-beaten and care-worn. But, the mystery button remains fresh and pristine. Like a ripe kumquat. Or a new pair of shoes. I fear it. The mystery button. El boton de misterio. It's mystery is the source of it's awesome power. Perhaps I will cover it with masking tape, and mask it's wrath. And cover my temptation.

N.B. This is not a convoluted metaphor for female sexuality – there really is an unidentified button on my car's dashboard.

And it preys on my mind.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


The meerkat is a fascinating animal, elusive and misunderstood. First invented in 1962 by prize-winning physicist, Dr. Meera Katskill of Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent. While working on a project to separate the whites from the yolks in duck eggs, she mixed a bucket of egg-whites with hydrogen sulphate. Accidentally feeding the resulting mixture to a domestic cat, the animal was transformed into 37 small furry mammals. The new species was named the Katskill Moggy in her honour, which was shortened to meerkat in 1963.

In 1974, as a result of advances in meerkat sexual practices, the meerkat population grew to untenable proportions and the government - led by known meerkat hater Harold Wilson - signed a bill to ship the entire meerkat population to Johannesburg. Luckily, meerkats enjoy life aboard ship and none died on route to their new home. Once the colony was established in Africa, the meerkat population grew year on year until they were almost a native species. The warmer climbs did wonders for the meerkat's constitution and the extra hours of sunlight allowed the animals to grow to six foot in height. To compensate for this, all wildlife documentaries featuring meerkats are now shot from very, very far away.

Meerkats have many domestic and commercial uses. For example, their fur can be polished up to form a highly reflective surface and in Botswana they are often caught and tamed for the express purpose of providing elaborate vanity mirrors for children.

Baby meerkats are known as gibbets and a group of meerkats is often referred to as a vadge. Meerkats are also famed for their ability to tap dance, although they are notoriously shy creatures and will only perform if fed vast quantities of red wine and told how marvelous they are.

The anatomy of the meerkat is particularly interesting, in that they have twelve stomachs and no livers. Instead, their fifth stomach acts as a filtering system, ensuring that they are able to digest the pennies and handkerchiefs which make up the majority of their diet. It is this unusual configuration of internal organs which renders the meerkat incredibly buoyant, and because of this, meerkats are routinely used to fill modern life-preservers. The only down-side to this is that meerkats lose all buoyancy post-mortem, and so life preservers containing the live creatures have to be fed twice a day and given a good brushing with a stiff-bristled brush once a week.

Meerkats are incredibly intelligent, and are said to be the third brightest species in the animal kingdom, behind meal-worms and chihuahuas. Meerkats are also the only animals that are fully self-aware and as such, are achingly introspective. Some have even been known to write bad poetry and wear jaunty black berets. Not unlike some pretentious bloggers I could mention.

But meerkats make very poor house pets, due to their distinct lack of anger-management skills. For a brief period during the 1990s the official Blue Peter pet was a meerkat called Encephalitis, painted black and white to look like a boarder collie. But, after John Leslie mocked the meerkat's velcro shoes, Encephalitis saw red and bit him on the left buttock. Diane Louise Jordan, a keen amateur marksman who just happened to have brought in her shotgun, gunned the animal down and John Leslie was set free from the jaws of the beast.

Despite their terrible tempers, meerkats are very polite animals, conforming to a code of manners that most would now find old-fashioned. They only speak when spoken to, and as no one has ever bothered to address them, they have never found the need to chat. Doesn't mean they can't though, they just choose not to.

The main thing to remember with meerkats is that they are more afraid of you than you are of them. So, if you meet one in a dark alley of an evening, simply tip your hat in greeting and carrying on walking. And hopefully you won't find yourself in one of his twelve stomachs.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The rabbit with the face of a man

The strangest dream? I'm sitting in a beautiful garden, the kind of Edwardian English country garden that you often see on television. With climbing roses and a kitchen vegetable patch and a area of grass scattered with wild flowers and budlia bushes festooned with red admirals. And I'm wearing a starched crinoline petticoat under a bright blue dress. The stiffness of the dress makes it flare out, so that it is difficult to sit demurely on the picnic blanket, without looking like an upturned funnel filled with legs and frilly pantaloons. But somehow I manage to remain decent. Because that's what happens in dreams.

And it's incredibly quiet in the garden. Not in a eeiry way, nor in a fashion that suggest that something is about to happen. There is no anxiousness about this lack of noise. And I am not at all bothered by the lack of bird song, or the gentle buzzing of summer's insects. The calmness seems fitting here and the discomfort of my dress is but a passing thought.

But although I am sat on a picnic blanket, there is no finger-food banquet. Not even a solitary jam sponge. I feel a little bit cheated.

As I wonder which direction would most likely lead to the kitchens, a highly-couffiered magnolia bush bristles and shudders, and the silence of the garden changes timbre. Apprehensive now, I peer through the thick summer's air, fearful of what creature might greet my gaze. And a small brown rabbit appears. Only, he has the face of an old man. Wrinkled and liver-spotted and grey. As grey as if the creases of his face had been allowed to gather dust for a number of years. And these greying folds of skin merge seemlessly into the soft downy rabbit's fur of his neck. And I can't see the join. And I know that it's not just a man in a costume of fur. Because the rabbit is rabbit-sized. And the man's face atop it, is also rabbit-sized.

But the worse part is the ears. The long, twitching rabbit's ears that reach heavenwards, are mirrored by the large, flat, disk-like man's ears that also occupy his cluttered head. A head overcrowded with ears. Both sets far too big, with the lobes of his man's-ears stretching almost to the fur at his throat, as if they were melting clean off his head. And the rabbit's-ear soft and velvet-lined, like a magician's jacket, stretch and writhe and twist, searching for danger that may never come.

And I feel sick at the sight of so many ears on one head. And the proportion of man's face rabbit-sized. And fact that this most definitely is not simply a man in a costume.

Then, he cocks his head, and looks me square in the eye. And, with the voice of Bill Nighy, he splutters genially,
"Terribly sorry, I didn't know this plot was in use." And scampers back through the undergrowth.

I think I might be allergic to sleeping.