September 30, 2015

When I woke up this morning, I had the blissful joy of thinking that I didn’t even have to leave the house today. I had everything I could possibly want for lunch, a Graze box on its way for nibbles and the lure of Tesco’s and something crap to eat was far out of my mind.

About two hours later I realised that I had no bus fare for tomorrow and, rather than leave the house earlier than needed to get some cash in the morning, I should stroll on to the cash machine, get some money and come home.

Which is how I came to find myself in Gregg’s purchasing a cheese and bacon wrap. £1.55 for a bit of folded over pastry, some cheese and a pot luck piece of bacon – it may be thick, thin, fatty, streaky, lean. It’s really nice if you don’t stop to think about it too much, or let your mouth register the texture of the bacon for too long.

Anyway, while I was getting that a man to my left was buying his lunch by card. The baked goods disemination operative had, for some reason, taken his card off him and was waving it round in front of the contactless paypoint.

For a long time.

“I don’t think we can accept this,” she said. “Can we accept this?” she asked of one of her colleagues. “It doesn’t work on the contactless, I don’t know if we can accept this. Can we accept this? I’m sorry, love, we can’t accept this. It’s not contactless.”

Her colleague came over.”No, that’s not contactless…”

And then the man, who had been watching this unfold before him, who had had his debit card taken off him by the baked goods disemination operative, just went “I know…”

“Do you know your PIN?” she asks, in a way that implies if he did she’d put his name forward for burning at the stake as some kind of witch. “If you know your PIN you can pay by card…”

“I know…”


Web Of Fate

September 29, 2015

There’s been something hard at work

Industrious through the night

It’s toiled and slaved for hours on end

To make this structure right.

Meanwhile, a creature stirs

Risen from its slumber

From bed into the bathroom

A bleary-eyed, slow-footed lumber.

These two are joined by fate

Soon their paths will cross

One will suffer psychologically

The other will feel a loss.

The creature now is washed and dressed

Leaving the habitat

With bag on back and shoes on feet

Having said farewell to the cat.

The other though is motionless

Just waiting, raring to go

But a terrible thing will happen soon

And both will feel the woe.

For the creature fresh from slumber

And the one who’s worked so long

Are occupying the same space-time

And that, my friends, is wrong.

So as the web sticks to the face

Of the creature not long woken

The spider can feel the vibrations of

The rude word that is spoken.

And while the spider’s lost his home

And source of food to boot

It still feels like there’s web on me

As round my face I root.

Ode To A Super Moon

September 28, 2015

Standing in the cold and dark

Staring at the moon

To anyone who was looking on

Quite literally a loon.

But it was a blood moon

And a Super Moon as well

If you like your portents of doom

This one’s straight from Hell.

Standing in the garden

In jimjams and a coat

I wondered what would happen

Would the Doomsday Preppers gloat?

Because as portents of doom may go

This one’s pretty lame

It’s essentially a shadow

Even Groundhog Day’s the same.

And as the reddish hue took hold

I waited for the screams

Of people snatched by demons

Reality tearing at the seams.

But none of that stuff happened

While the moon was sort of red

And it was cold out in the garden

So I went back to bed.

Dear Casualty

September 27, 2015

Dear Casualty,

You’ve been going for thirty years. Thirty long years of having to come up with elaborate, yet subtle, set-ups for injuries which may result in hospitalisation. And not just straight-forward ones like, ooo I don’t know, the guy who looked into the nozzle of a plastic extruder and ended up with hot, melty plastic in his eye to Charlie’s own will-he-won’t-he encounter with a gunman only for him to come through unscathed and have a heart attack on the crapper.

Thirty years calls for a lot of ideas, so I thought I’d submit one to ease your burden.

Our hero, a good-looking, young, dashing fellow is busy doing domestic chores. What could happen to him? He doesn’t have a dishwasher so no danger of him falling onto improperly placed knives or anything like that. But it looks like he’s about to take several glass  jars out to the shed to put in the recycling bucket.

Oh my, glass. How will this end? Particularly when you look at how precariously balanced the jars are. Oh the viewers will be salivating at the thought of this obvious catastrophe.

Our hero makes his way outside, across the patio, and the jars wobble and sway. Literally centimetres away from his destination the jar falls…

You’d cut to another scene here. Maybe a crappy bit about a doctor with a problem or a crush on someone or an addiction or some other nonsense. But I will just continue…

The jar falls. A seemingly impossible length of time passes in which you’re left wondering what could happen.

The jar lands.

In a plastic tub containing garden rubbish, which cushions the fall and leaves the jar in one piece.

But it’s far from over.

The garden waste consists of cuttings. From a rose bush. Sharp thorns, blood loss – everything your audience wants.

And when our hero reaches in for the jar he stabs himself on a thorn. Which causes hin to jerk his hand back. His hand which is holding the jar.

This sudden movement is too much for the grip  twixt hand and jar, and they separate. The jar spins through the air, before shattering onto the patio sending tiny shards of glass everywhere.

A sea of glass fragments between our hero and the house. Like that bit in Die Hard where they know Bruce Willis has no shoes on so they shoot all the windows out.

In fact, exactly like that as I neglected to mention our hero is not wearing any footwear at all.

Over to you, Casualty people, you’ve been doing this for thirty years. I can’t spoon-feed it to you!

Call A Doctor. Quietly.

September 26, 2015

One of the greatest challenges – if not *the* greatest challenge – since meeting Carole all those years ago, is the prospect of trying to watch Doctor Who in peace.

When I first met Carole, she was one of those people who made that dismissive grunt noise when you say you watch the show. It’s usually a grunt made by someone who has never seen the show but has formed an opinion based on something or other.

The first time I had to broach the subject of actually watching the show in her presence, it was met with some reluctance but I was allowed. And she like it. So it was a winner. And we still watch it together today.

It’s just when you factor in other members of the family it comes unglued.

I have definitely written about the trials and tribulations of trying to watch a Christmas Episode. For me, Christmas Day is mainly a thing I have to get through – a way to pass the time, if you like – to the Christmas special. But I’m usually faced with having to watch it in the presence if people who don’t want to watch it, but have put it on because they know I do. And I really do. I’ve eaten enough food to feed a third-world country, this is my lay back and digest it time.

It’s hard. There are sweets being passed round, drinks orders being taken, more food being offered… it’s a challenge.

Tonight it was babysitting. On a Doctor Who night. It’s September. There have been eight and a half months of non-babysitting Saturdays between the start of the year and now. None of those Saturdays have contained the Doctor.

But now’s he back, our services are required.

The kids like the show too, so I have that in my favour. What I neglected to factor in was the need to go and make drinks, including complicated microwave hot chocolate, a minute before it started. Or the need to get a blanket. Or to hand out buns. Or to take a picture of Carole for some reason. Or…

Six minutes of BBC One paused and ready to go. Six minutes. All of this stuff could have been done in advance of this. We’d been here since 7.

There are ten more episodes left.

If anyone wants me, I’ll be at home.

Assault A Battery

September 25, 2015

I’m always amazed at the inginuity of the kids that live on our street. I remember shortly after I moved in to Carole’s it was kites made by tying string to a carrier bag.

Then it was tying string across the road.

Then it was whacking golf balls as hard as you could down the street.

Then a long, annoying phase where they would literally attach wheels to anything and ride it down the road.

And you should never underestimate their skills when it comes to making something into a weapon of some sort, usually melee, or their ability to smash anything into smaller and smaller pieces.

So you’ve got to wonder what fun they will have with the remnants of the car fire. The car, as of this morning, is still there. It’s been moved about a foot down the road but all the detritus that was pulled off it by the fire brigade remains where the car once stood. Or, for some parts of it, scattered across the street like charred, metal confetti.

And prominently displayed in the middle of the pavement is the battery.

The large, charred remains of the car battery. Which, of course, we assuje to be the source of the fire. But which is now just a blackened acid-filled husk.

How long do we give it before a rudimentary shot putt range is set up on the grassy area in the middle of the street? How long before one or more children run hone to their parents partially dissolved due to japery involving repeated kicking of somethig they’ve found in the street.

Or bolted some wheels onto it and ridden it down ol’ Widowmaker hill…

Or the vague slope between top and bottom of the street, at least. But that sounds nowhere near as exciting.

The Hoofbeats Of A Zebra

September 24, 2015

I’d just reached a beautiful level of sleepiness last night. The kind where each blink you make is just a little bit longer than the last, and while your eyes are closed you have a wonderfully vivid dream that makes you wonder why you should open your eyes again and lose that moment.

So I went to bed. I cleaned my teeth, plugged my phone into charge and slid into the warm embrace of a duvet.

I was just drifting off when there was a loud bang outside. It sounded like someone banging on, or kicking over, a bin. I know where we live. I know the area.

When you hear hoofbeats…

Then there was the sound of, what I assumed to be, a trumpet playing a long sonorous note. And then it happened again. A longer note, this time. Longer, the back of my brain was telling me, than a human lung could sustain. But I know the area. I know where we live. A late night trumpet call is exactly the sort of thing you’d get.

… think horses not zebras.

I lay there some more. I’m not a big believer in leaping from bed into some unknown danger. You might call it cowardly, but I like compose myself. Allow an amount of time to pass in which I have performed a rudimentary risk assessment. If, in that time, the perceived danger has gone then so nuch the better, file the mental paperwork and move on.

My risk assessment thus far has identified the noises – a bin and a trumpet – and attributed them to a pissed up twat. Definitely a horse.

But I can here more noises. My hindbrain, some primitive link back to earlier times, is alert. I have to get up. I have to look. To assess. I have to satisfy my primitive centre, firing neurons off at a rate of knots, that something is amiss. That something is wrong.

That it’s not a horse.

It’s a zebra.

A massive, firey zebra.

There’s a car on fire in the street. In fact, it’s ON FIRE. Flames deserved of capitalisation. When I first looked out of the window I couldn’t tell what it was – flames were reflected in a house window but the source wasn’t as easy to determine.

The bang I’d attributed to a bin had been a small unspecified explosion – maybe an airbag mechanism, maybe a small amount of petrol, the right amount of air and a spark. The trumpet, meanwhile, was the death knell of the horn.

And the next however long was the soubd of firemen putting the fire out and tearing things apart to make sure every last ember was extinguished. I have the greatest respect for the Fire Brigade, but holy crap they’re noisy.

The sleep I’d been enjoying beforehand, that lovely, deep, sinking feeling as my eyes closed and the land of nod welcomed me to its shores refused to come back. Apparently, a fire is really detrimental to a good night’s sleep. It’s probably mention on a self-help website under “light sources invading the darkness”, or that you should make sure your Dreamcatcher isn’t retaining smoke.

Think horses, not zebras.

But when a zebra does turn up, you’ll know about it.