Thursday 16 April 2015

Fit for Purpose

Sadly I didn't make it into FlashFlood with this one but that's no reason not to post it up here


It was his bloody fault. Alan. Always into something for nothing so when he saw the offer he says to me
'There you go, new years resolution let's have a go.'
A Gym. I ask you a Gym. What do I want with a frigging Gym? I might not be fit but I'm not fat and the only time I need to break into a trot is when I'm late for the bus. 'Come on' he says, 'try it for the free week and we'll just have a laugh. Gentle stroll on the treadmills and watch all the birds working out.' He was always more of a letch than me.
So we turned up, got the pep talk from some muscle brained steroid advert and took to the treadmills. Only five minutes in and Alan's weighing up the talent giving it his usual would, wouldn't and maybe after a few pints when he says 'That ones giving you the eye'. I'm looking around and can't see who he's on about. 'No that one, over there on the skiing thingy, the older one'.
I'll admit to a slight feeling of panic. Women don't smile at me these days unless it's across a counter and accompanied by 'dear' or even worse 'grandad' but she was. I smiled back and she came over and got on the treadmill next to me.
'Hello , haven't seen you before. New Years resolution?'
'Sort of, he dragged me along for the free week, course I don't really need it'
Straight back to eighteen and bragging in front of women. Why do we do it.
'No you look fit enough to me.'
I just had time to realise I could still blush when the pain in my arm stopped me. It hurt from all the nudge, nudge and 'You're in there' from Alan the other side of me.
'Come on' she says 'I'm just going to do a gentle three miles. Keep up and you can buy me a drink afterwards.'
That should have been my cue to gently bow out and make up some excuse about an old injury but macho took over. I lasted about a mile I think, I even managed a sideways smile or two. Then the lights went out.

'Does he have to poke about in my insides like that.'

Well it's difficult do a post mortem otherwise.

'Yes but he's not exactly being delicate about it and he's whistling away like a bloody butcher preparing tripe.'

You're not going to need any of it anymore.

'So is this it? I mean is this what comes after?'

That rather depends on you and whether you think you can let go and move on.

Oh!....... Maybe I'll stick around for a while and haunt that bastard Alan.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Force of Hobbit

With apologies to Tolkein, a minor edit to Lord of the Rings which is the result of a frequent 'Why didn't...'
574 words. Saves an awful lot of that questing stuff on the way.


His eyes were streaming, though not from the wind in his face. Every one of his sneezes carried a curse for the stubborn little so and so that made this journey necessary. His great admiration and even love for Gwaihir did nothing to assuage his allergy to anything feathered and nothing could be considered more feathered than the greatest of the Eagles.
Two days he had argued, persuaded, cajoled even threatened but what they lacked in height your average Hobbit more than made up for in stubborn. They were impossible to shift once set on a course or task and unfortunately the task Frodo was set on was entirely concerned with the Shire and the coming celebrations. One Hobbit obsessing over a party had thwarted the plan he had nurtured for over a year. It would have united every race and tribe against Sauron and had been rendered useless by one insolent Hobbit. No other race would have suited as the ring bearer. There would have been far too much resentment and competition between the races of men with none prepared to accept a subordinate role. Elves wouldn't do it and considered themselves above such things. Dwarves? Even the thought of letting their aggression and obduracy loose made him shiver. No only a Hobbit would have united them, triggering that innate desire in all species to protect the apparently young.
Avoiding Sauron's ground forces had been relatively easy, Gandalf's main concern was the Nazgul and even their attention was directed goundward. Gwaihir was capable of such height that Gandalf nearly lost conciousness due to the thinness of the air and they would have passed over them but for another sneeze at just the wrong moment. Suddenly the Nazgul became aware that what they sought was above them. A frightening chase ensued and was still in progress for the rest of the Eagles that had massed around him. Wheeling and diving, one moment together like a flock of starlings and then bursting apart like one of Gandalf's own fireworks. In the confusion Gwaihir had folded his wings and dropped from the melee like a stone. Gandalf only survived by locking his arms round the eagles neck and burying himself as close as possible into the creatures neck, more violent sneezing. The drop succeeded and Gwaihir managed to disappear from the Nazgul's sight pulling out at treetop height and putting considerable distance between them and their pursuers by hugging the contours of the valley.
Gwaihir soared up the slope of Mount Doom to a rising, earth shaking roar as Sauron became aware of his imminent defeat. Gandalf let the ring fall from his fingers and watched it disappear from sight into the fires below. The roar turned into a wail and merged with the sound of splitting rock and explosions of lava as the mountain tore itself apart.
The final act had been surprisingly easy. Sauron had never expected Gandalf to succeed, confident that his massed forces would have dealt with the annoying wizard well before he was anywhere near the end. The few arrows from confused Orcs on the last approach to the mountain had been no more annoying than a wasps at a summer picnic.
Picnic. Yes. Now to return to the Shire and deal severely with a certain young Hobbit. Even more severely than he originally planned if there was no cake left.
Gandalf sneezed. And a handkerchief. The sleeve of his cloak was reverting from white to grey.

Friday 20 March 2015

A Cap Full

Harking back to the days of National Service.


The last Trolley Bus spat him out at the top of the hill seeming anxious to divest itself of the once smart passenger, smelling strongly of the traditional Saturday night blend of beer and fags mixed with a last lingering whiff of cheap aftershave.
He walked downhill with all the certainty of a Pinball on a Bally table, and into the chip shop to add that last essential ingredient, a bag of chips smothered in salt and vinegar, which he cradled in his cap. A habit since he was young and something his mother still laid into him for every morning after. Where once it was his scout beret now it was his cap. He wouldn't get away with it after tonight though. Scary as his Mum could be there was always a little smile and a lot of love behind the shouting but he doubted the same would be true of a drill sergeant.

Not much of a send off, a few pints and a bag of chips on the way home before he was off to National Service in the morning. He looked about him at the dark terraced houses which looked only less dark but still as grey in daylight and took a deep breath. He failed to notice that clean smell of the first rain after a dry spell due to the steaming chips just inches from his nose as he kept bag close to mouth in fear of losing any.

He'd done his best but still come up short. Played the national hero off to foreign parts, one last chance before he went, no idea when or if he'd return, all with his best stoic expression. Though he stood as much chance of finding Stoic in the dictionary as he did of getting in Alice Randal's knickers.

'Oh push off. You're going no further than Aldershot and you'll be back on leave in six weeks'

He was off to do his bit for his country, not that he'd got much choice in the matter but that wasn't the point. Marching up and down a parade ground and whatever else they had in store for him was going to be hard work. Surely that warranted a last nights tumble but no. Harry was the one. Harry could get stuff. Harry could get silk stockings and make up and Harry could get into Alice Randal's knickers because Harry probably gave them to her. Harry with the flat feet and medically unfit for bleeding service. He wondered, not for the first time, if you could flatten your own feet and if it would hurt.

The van careering round the corner very nearly flattened more than his feet and missed him even more closely with the bundle of newspapers hurled from the back. The bundle skittered to a stop against the door of the newsagent and had he not been busy hurling abuse and a V sign at the departing vehicle he might have appreciated the accuracy of the throw. He went back to his chips, having held onto them with the certainty and dexterity only a drunk possesses and mumbled into them as he walked the last few yards to his front gate.

The bundle lent against the door with the last few drips of rain from the guttering above giving a darker look to the headline on the top copy 'More Troops Committed to Malaya'

Monday 23 February 2015

Not a Clouseau

This was after being set the task of using a well known board game as the starting point.


“So you're Miss Scarlet”


“Charlie. Scarlet”

The inspector had a nasty habit of sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth like a small boy when writing in his notepad


The inspector slowly crossed out the name and looked at her. It was difficult not to as although she wore a robe she hadn't made a great deal of effort to fasten it.

“Surely not Scarlet Charlie?”

“No just Charlie. Charlie Ramsbottom”

He continued to look at her, pencil poised. “Short for?”


“Your full name miss, just for the record”

“Charlotte Ramsbottom” He continued to look at her, half as a policeman and half as a
heterosexual male. Well maybe a bit more than half.

She answered his stare “Well would you be boasting about having had a lap dance from Charlotte Ramsbottom”

“Quite” He looked down and wrote the name, still with his tongue out but after licking his lips.

“and your relationship to the deceased?”



“Customer. Just another dirty old perv willing to pay to have some tits waved in his face”

“Died happy then did he?”

“How would I know”

“Miss Ramsbottom you and he were the only two in, shall we say close proximity, when he died which means you are under suspicion for causing his death so the sooner you persuade me otherwise the sooner you can go home”

“Inspector please” The manager of The Lownge ingratiated himself into the conversation Syrup on his head and in his attitude. “Is there anything we can do to speed this up I'm losing money while all this is going on.”

“and you are?”

“Sean Preston. I'm the manager”

“Well Mr Preston you won't be earning any more money tonight or probably longer until we finish our investigation. This is not the wild west where they drag the body out and the piano player starts up before the Saloon door swings shut. Did you know the deceased? Had he been here before?”

“The professor, yes he was a regular always about the same time of the month. Look it must've been natural causes. I mean who's going to want a harmless old sod like that dead. His heart probably just couldn't take it.”

“Until I hear different Mr Preston it's a suspicious death. Now how many girls did he have dance for him”

“Just the one. He had a thing for Charlie, always asked for her and waited if she was busy or on a break”

“I thought you said you didn't know him Miss Ramsbottom”

Charlie opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by the bustling presence of Jimmy Holden excusing himself past any human obstacle to get to the inspector and closely followed by a flustered looking PC.

“Hello inspector, something for the Examiner? any clues, name of the deceased, cause of death? Shot? Stabbed.....?

The inspector looked straight past him to the PC who wasn't sure whether to stand to attention or grab Holden.

“How did he get in?”

“I'm sorry sir he just shouldered past while I was dealing with someone else”

The inspector looked at the flustered, out of breath PC “That someone else female and scantily dressed by any chance?”

The officers blush answered for him.

“Holden your messing up my crime scene get out, Officer help this gentleman out of the door”

Holden wasn't to be dissuaded that easily and was at risk of leaving the part of his jacket the PC had hold of in his efforts to get some kind of statement. “No ideas at all Inspector?” in a last attempt he used his free hand to gesture a mock headline in the air 'Clueless Clouseau' 'Investigation stalls'

The inspector gestured for the PC to release Holden who shrugged his jacket back into shape and walked back to the inspector with the smug smile of someone who had already won the Pulitzer prize. He stood waiting for some kind of statement or attributable quote. He was disappointed.

“Holden. You are beginning to annoy me. Every time I'm called to a scene of crime lately you turn up like a bad smell. If you print anything like that I will have a word with traffic and ensure that all blue five year old Fiestas are perfectly roadworthy, being driven at 30 miles an hour, three feet from the kerb and the drivers have not so much as sucked a wine gum in the previous six months. Do I make myself clear?”

He may as well not have spoken Holden looked straight past him into the private booth

“Just doing my job inspector is that where Prof Plum bought it”

“It's Professor Plume and we haven't released the name yet so how...”

If it was possible Holden looked even more smug “Oh just doing my job and asking round. The girls are quite gossipy if you know how to tackle them. Have you spoken to Mayfield yet?”

The inspector couldn't help the querying tone in his reply “Terry Mayfield?”

“Terence Frederick Mayfield, drug dealer of this parish. I thought you'd have been onto him straight away”

The inspector and Holden looked at each other. Holden was obviously giving no more without encouragement which drew the hardest “Why” the inspector had ever uttered.

Holden straightened and beamed “Well what with him and Miss Scarlet being an item and the old Prof getting dragged in to young Mr Mayfield's enterprises.”

“Okay Holden You've obviously got more on this than I have so let's hear it all”.

“Drug dealer likes dancer, Prof likes dancer. Drug dealer gets dancer to encourage Prof and tries to get him to provide certain chemicals. Prof does for a while and then gets scared. Prof threatens to tell you lot. Prof meets untimely end and nobody lives happily ever after”

“I don't suppose you'd like to tell me how they did it as well”

“No idea inspector” Holden looked past the inspector and into the booth at one stiletto that had been kicked under the bench seat. But the old fella did have a foot fetish.” The inspector followed his gaze. “Old fashioned, used to like drinking out of a ladies shoe.”

“Sergeant! Get some men going through the bins I want the other shoe to match this one”

“So inspector do I get an exclusive interview?”

“No. You've got more than I have already” and in answer to Holden's disappointed look “But you can have a wine gum and drive at 33”

Holden already had the headline written anyway.

Miss Scarlet in the Lownge with a shoe

Thursday 8 January 2015

It's All In The Mix

The inspiration for this was a premier league match that was moved at very short notice costing the away fans a small fortune in already paid for accomodation and rail fares. The increasing irrelevance of fans taken to a not so illogical conclusion.


As he approached the players entrance the few old school supporters that still gathered there looked at him without recognition and carried on their conversation. Their attachment was more to the stadium than the players as you could now follow them on match day's in intimate detail. Heart rate, blood pressure, adrenalin, lactic acid, training history even psychological profiles. As many or as few readouts as you selected. They would be gone before kick off anyway, home if they were local or to one of the sports bars if they were willing to forgo total immersion for just a holo and a few beers.

He walked into the control suite through security programmed to his unique pheromone pattern and keyed in his randomised warm up. The monitors showed the digitised crowd filing in to their seats, faces and crowd indistinguishable from reality unless examined on a pixel by pixel level. As the tunnel entrance opened to allow the teams out for their warm up the recognition algorithm picked out individual players and patched in chants and calls from round the globe. All but the oldest players were completely used to the new system and most of them actually enjoyed the interaction and knowledge that they were now virtually as close to the millions as they used to be to just sixty thousand. Crowd and supporter cutaways were now prioritised on a number of criteria for the accepted main edit. Maybe paid for individually or by sponsors, supporters groups or influenced by media demanding a certain bias for their ever increasing financial input.

Donning the headset he experienced the familiar shiver as connections were made, settled back and bought up the inputs; geographical, emotional, sponsors, owners, media etc. Any one of which could either ruin the day, lose the club a fortune or him his contract if he got the mix wrong.
There was no provision for the visiting team they operated from their own home base which was either as well appointed as his for the more successful teams or picked from a pre-recorded bank for those who couldn't afford realtime suites. In more important matches they might hire them or sometimes they would be gifted by a sponsor or even a media organisation that was hoping for an exclusive or a possible upset.

The ongoing row over who ran the show now, League, Club or Broadcast media was not something he could pay any attention to. He was paid by the club so until he was told different that was where his loyalty lay. He was well up in the ratings with still a few games to go and determined that this season was not going to a be a 'not quite'. This season he'd be grinning from ear to ear with a best Match Mix award to his name. After that he'd see who came in for him if the club wouldn't up the ante. After all supporter he may be but, like the players it was now a job.

Sunday 28 December 2014

God 1.01

There's always someone further up the ladder.


Frankly, it's a mess

Well it's a bit...

No it's not a bit anything, it's a total disaster. Look, you started out reasonably well. You got the shape right, covered it well, if a bit prematurely considering the inside was still cooking. Lots of lovely blue with a sprinkling of green and brown bits. It really looked quite nice. From a distance, but then what did you do?

Well I...

That wasn't a question, don't interrupt. You let 'them' loose on it. Not too bad on the face of it, mostly harmless, ugly, but reasonably well laid out with a support on each corner but one decides to balance on two and you suddenly get ideas. What did you give them?


Self awareness and, not content with that mind you, free will. What in the name of universal truth were you thinking. You'd already introduced sex. Going directly against my advice I might add. Do you really think you stand any chance of passing.

But the experiment is a long way from finished.

Really, you think so? You have a world infested...No don't protest. Infested! With that ridiculous species entirely caused by your own ineptitude. It's bad enough that they spend half their time finding new ways to play with their bits because you had to associate pleasure with the activity.

I thought it was a perfect way to encourage them to reproduce.

Oh it worked on that level I'll grant you but as soon as they worked out how to do it without the inconvenience of any offspring off they went. Practically every waking hour they're chasing round trying to put part A into slot B and I don't know what you did with the instructions on that because they seem totally confused about what A and B refer to and who does what, with what and to whom.

I have tried to restrict...

I was coming to that. Religion. “Believe in me. I am great. I am the one true....blah blah blah.” Possibly it would have worked but how many times and in how many different guises did you appear to them for pity's sake?

I was trying to fit it in with the many different societies they had developed.

Didn't work, did it? When they're not 'fiddling' they're killing each other over which version of you they consider the true one.

But I really think...

No you don't. If you thought at all you wouldn't have created this unholy mess. A world full of rutting, retarded, religious nutcases is not going to get you through to full Deity.
Now reformat and start again.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Ho Ho Hi Tech

Re-surfacing with a seasonal tale. Never stopped writing just posting up here. Self promotion never was my forte


Good morning, good morning and how is my favourite Elf this fine day.

Santa! Well you're up early it's not even November. Maybe you should have a bit more of a snooze, you don't want to be tired when the big night arrives. You're not as young as you where, you need to conserve your strength.

Oh nonsense. There's the naughty and nice list to go through...

That's already been done X.M.A.S collated it in real time throughout the year.


Xtreme Mean Attitude Surveillance... The system assimilates all the Facebook, Twitter. Webcam coverage and....You're looking confused. Oh, of course, you were asleep. We set it up back in February.

But that's my job

Yes but we thought...

No I mean that's ME. It's what I exist for.

Oh it'll still be your face they all see, still your name on every child's lips. It's all been set up with your previous years decisions as the parameters so it's what you would have done anyway. So just pop back up to bed and I'll send up a nice cup of Cocoa.

I need to check all the present allocations and make sure we've got enough coal for the naughty ones...

All done. X.M.A.S automatically fills in the orders.

...we were really pushed for time last year we might need to put the Elves on overtime, will we have everything packed and warped in time.

Oh you don't need to worry about that. We predicted the amount needed way back in March. Previous years statistics, birth rates etc. XMAS sources them locally too so a lot of it never even gets out of sight of the equator, much less to the north pole. In fact we've had to lay quite a lot of Elves off

Lay them off! You can't lay them off. What on earth will they do.

Well due to the generous re-settlement packages we could afford due the the reduced labour costs, do you realise how cheaply some people will work in some countries, most of them have found other work. Film, TV, personal appearances. Of course we did have to include the no-revelation clause in the severance agreement after that 'I was Santa's bitch' headline...

...and what do you mean never leaves the equator how on earth are they ever going to be delivered if Santa doesn't take them down the chimney.


I beg your pardon

Drones. Every present delivered in person, well personalised. They're even programmed with a Ho Ho Ho recording and the sound of hooves on tiles. Little mail merged greetings as well with a from Santa (in association with card.

...and who in the frozen wastes of the north is


So what precisely do I do now after this, so far, bloodless coup.

You just be yourself. You after all are Christmas. There'll be all the photo calls, chat shows and promotional stuff and you'll be amazed how much we charge for personal Santa present deliveries. You'll only have to do a few hundred for those who can afford it and...

Those who can afford it! What about all the other less fortunate children what are they...

Oh we've included a few raffle winners and hidden a few coupons in the right places so they stand a chance as well.

What about Rudolph and the others what are they supposed to do.

Already doing it. North Pole Experience. Sleigh rides for the kiddies. We're going to have to put up a 'No Carrots' sign though they've put on quite a bit of weight lately.

I've thought of everything. You just pop up and have a bit more kip I'll wake you in plenty of time for the celebrity run on the 24th. Just excuse me while I take this call from a Mr McPartlin
'Jungle? Well I suppose I could ask, yes I know he could stand to lose a couple of pounds but...'

Thought of everything has he. Bloody short arsed little know it all. I suppose he's even got an impression of my teeth for the mince pies and a sodding syphon for the sherry.

Santa. How do you feel about Australia?