Round Peg in a Square Hole

•May 10, 2013 • 1 Comment

I am a relic from an era that never existed.

I don’t know the difference between a premiership and a championship. I have no idea what playoffs are. I can only look on, confused, and hope no one notices my complete ignorance when they talk about tries or runs. “Four for two” sounds like something that would be entered into the Enigma machine, and for ages I was convinced that scoring “a birdie” meant hitting a passing pigeon with the golf ball. Three love sounds like something the hippies did. At least they had the right idea. Not that in would fit in there any better than any where else. Which is to say: not at all.

I would rather have one lasting relationship than “pull lots of birds”. I’m not even sure that isn’t another golf thing. I do not “respect women” because I do not understand why they are treated any differently in the first place. On average women are better at some things than men, and not as good at others, but that is an average and no more descriptive of individuals than saying “human adults are on average 5’6″ tall” accurately describes everyone you meet. I recognise that it is anyone’s right, male or female, to be seen as sexual beings if they wish to and this does not turn them into objects nor is it a betrayal of their gender. However to see or treat someone as nothing but a sexual object reflects an almost wilfully sociopathic lack of insight into other people.

I would rather talk and listen to someone than fight them, no matter how much of an ass they are being. I try to retain my honor and dignity, even though I admit I’m not sure what they even mean. Homophobia, racism, religious intolerance and other forms of persecution of people just for being different really stick in my gut. But I do not react with hate (as much as it may be my instinct) because meeting hostile intolerance with more hostile intolerance can never lead to anything better. I smile at strangers I pass in the street, and talk to anyone I happen to meet. Especially when they are serving me. If someone has got the mundane job of scanning every item of my shopping, the least I can do is ask how their day is going and give them a smile.

I do not have a type of music, I enjoy almost all genres. Except opera. I just don’t get opera. The same with movies and books; as long as they are good within their genre I can appreciate them or at least understand how someone else might. I will never say “That’s shit” because liking things is entirely subjective and I am no better a judge of the objective quality of something than any one else. Except Twilight. That’s shit.

My idea of a good night involves friends and games or movies, not crowded rooms and lack of conversation. It doesn’t require alcohol. I would rather have an evening in with candles and a book than out trying to overcome my insecurities at a pub that smells like beer and sweat. And i never, ever, want to wake up next to half a kebab again.

I have no useful skills. I cannot fix a car or rewire a house. My clothes always get washed on the same setting because I don’t know what the other ones do. I can’t iron for shit. I can’t even paint a shed. I don’t own a shed. I don’t own a house – I rent. I can sew, and write, and even draw. But not very well. I can drive a car, speak another language, and build a fire. But not very well. I can cook. That I do well. Skills wise, generally, I am pretty average.

But I am definitely not your average kind of guy.

A Wonderiffical World

•May 5, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Ladies and gentleplankton, welcome to my world,
With spider-web trees and a monument of knees
There’s oodles to do,
And doodles to see!

You’ll squawk and squeak at the strongful sight
Of sparkletails in the sunrise
Or a nannymoth family
sunbathing at night.

There’s a farm for frozen funghoppers
Far from fierce faddleflops
Who flop on frozen funghoppers for fun

And a truck of tired tyres who like to tease
Swerving sleepily sideways
Almost smashing the tuckabees’ trees

Ladies and gentleplankton, enjoy my world!
Today I am very busy so journey on without me,
I have toodles to oo
And noodles to be!

If They Could Talk

•May 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

You spend so much time taking video game heroes through incredible adventures, but while you are just tapping buttons did you ever stop to consider how it feels for them?

Dishonored
They call it “blinking”, as if to suggest it is as easy as that. Well it feels exactly like it is: a massive acceleration of every part of my body simultaneously then a jarring stop that shakes my organs around inside. It feel like being hit by a speeding tank, and it takes everything I’ve got not to scream out in pain each time!

Sonic
“Lets spin-smash through that wall!” Did you never learn that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it? How would you like it if I made you jump through every plate glass window you passed, hmm?

Prototype
Do you have any idea what this feels like?! My arm is literally torn apart, shredded inside out, then twists into this sick perversion that makes me sick! Not just a little sick, deep intense nausea that stretches to my soul and leaves it’s mark there. I am an abomination, I hate myself and what I have become!

Dead Space
No amount of therapy will ever save me from the pure terror and horrors that I have been through for your entertainment. I hope you have nightmares every night of your life, because I know I do.

Mario
Why do you make me run all the time? Right across the land you make me run! Why can’t I just call a taxi? I’m a fat plumber for God’s sake – you’re going to give me a heart attack! My feet are in tatters, and my butt is so beaten the bones are bruised!

On a Mountain Side

•February 14, 2013 • 1 Comment

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They called her Ma Mountain. A wildly unimaginative name chosen more because no one knew enough about her to pick a better alternative than because it was a good moniker. Children believed she was a witch who ate her victims. Adults said she was a crazy woman, and told stories of her howling naked at the moon. She was neither of these. Ma Mountain was a woman like you or me, who one day, for reasons we may never know, decided to remove herself from society.

I first heard about this “wild woman” through a friend. An urban myth that had been passed from person to person, embellished with the fanciful imaginations that make such stories so interesting to hear, and more interesting to tell. With your own imaginative additions of course. But there was something at the heart of this legend that piqued my journalistic interest. I wondered where it had come from, if there really had been a woman at some point living in the mountains all by herself. There was a story here, I could sense it. But it wasn’t the story I expected, and I certainly never imagined I would actually meet Ma Mountain.

It took five months collecting different versions of the story to trace its origins, a location that I will respectfully not publish. I discovered many variations, some of which ventured into the plain absurd (that she was an exiled and secret member of the British royal family), while some remained perfectly sensible. One in particular has always stuck in my mind. Ma Mountain, so this tale went, was a single child of a poor family. Not overly endowed of beauty nor charm, she was overjoyed when the very man she had secretly admired since she was old enough to do so asked for her hand in marriage. But the wedding day passed with no sign of the groom. The very next day the utterly heartbroken would-be bride walked tearfully out of the town and into the mountains.
There is no reason to believe this version of events any more than any of the other variations, but it always appealed to me. Maybe because I am a hopeless romantic at heart. Maybe because few things other that this kind of heartbreak would seem to justify withdrawing from all society, hiding away from everything.

It took almost another month to find the exact location where Ma Mountain had been living, and I was almost too late. As I passed through the cave she had fashioned into a home, the first thing that I noticed in the low flickering light of a small fire was the collection of ephemera. Carved into the wall were shelves which had been filled with an apparently random assortment of items. On one shelf sat a snowglobe with a miniature Eiffel tower inside. Next to this, its distorted reflection wrapped around the curves of the snowglobe, sat what seemed to be an red plastic photoframe holding a photo of a woman and a child. The huge grins and perfect slightly soft focus gave it away as the stock photo that came with the frame. As I walked deeper into the cave the flickering firelight caught the silver of a ring on another shelf, the reflection winking at me as the light moved around. As I looked closer I saw next to it was a children’s drawing of a dinosaur, on wrinkled paper that had seen better days. I think it had been scrunched up then laid out again. In the corner was a name that I couldn’t quite make out in the dim light, and as I was peering closer to attempt to read it I was startled by a noise from the back of the cave. A weak splutter echoed out of the darkness, and once  got over the start it gave me I strained my eyes against the gloom and could just about make out a figure lying on a makeshift bed cut into the wall.

She was old, so very old, and frail beyond words. The woman I saw was more bone than flesh, wrinkled skin hanging so loosely over a skeletal frame that I feared even her shallow breaths would break what was left of her. Her gaunt fingers held on to a threadbare old teddy bear that looked as old as she. Quietly I approached, afraid of literally scaring the life out of her. I kneeled next to her bed and introduced myself in a soft whisper. Ma Mountain opened her eyes and looked in my direction but did not move. I knew then for certain that she was no longer able to, these truly were the last moments of her life. Without really thinking about it, without considering what it might mean to someone who had long ago severed all contact with other humans, I took this dying woman’s hand in mine and held it.

A look of pain washed over her face. Not physical pain, but something deeper. As her weak fingers curled around my hand I could swear I sensed regret in that look. Regret, and relief. A tear rolled down her wrinkled cheek, losing itself in the deep folds as she took a deep breath. Her hand tightened with the effort, but I could tell she wanted to speak. The whisper that came out was as much just escaping air than speech. One breathy word, the first word in many years, and the last. “Thankyou”. Almost as if she had been holding on for this last moment, Ma Mountain went still and silent, the gentle rise and fall of her chest finally at rest.

After all those years of self-imposed isolation the one thing Ma Mountain longed for most in her final moments is the same thing we all need: to feel the touch of another human.

The Secret

•February 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

On a cold night look for the steamy breath from below, lit by the golden glow. This is how you will find me and my secret. Under your feet lies a mouth with no face, one of many arteries of the living, breathing organism we call The City. The giant pipe spits a watery fire like an apathetic subterranean dragon, and on the seventh expulsion you may step into the bowel of this putrid beast and a step closer to my home.

Here I live in seclusion, my days absorbed by my work. For you see, although I know the secret, knowing is not the same as doing. But I see your confusion, so let me backtrack and correct your ignorance before I continue. Or maybe that is not confusion but indigestion, in which case you may wish to avert your ears as what I have to tell you won’t help any. It’s ok, you can put them in the box over there, I promise not to boil them. I’ve already tried that.

Custard. The yellow nectar of the gods, sunlight in delicious form. You may think you know what I am talking of but really you know no more about it than you do about the smell of a centipede’s armpits. Trust me when I tell you that you are ignorant at best, but more probably wilfully wrong. Where does it come from? Wrong! See, I told you! Do you really think Adam was tempted by something as boring as an apple? Did you seriously buy that, even for a second? It was custard, the fruit of the hard-working custard-bees of Eden, that Adam was powerless to resist. God was angry because of Adam’s defiance, but mostly because Adam ate a particularly delightful batch of most exquisite custard that He had been saving for a special day. He was so angry in fact that He decreed that no bees of this world would ever produce custard again and that no human would ever experience its heavenly pleasures from that day forward. God struck this yellow temptation from our history. This is why there is no mention of custard in the Bible. However the secret of custard, its blissful taste and soft creamy texture, has been passed from father to son in hushed whispers over countless generations.

This is where I came in. A very, very, long time ago my father told me this story and I made it my lifetime mission to uncover the secret of true custard. Thanks to the secret support of many religious leaders and people who make the fortune 500 look like cider swigging hobos I have been able to delicate many lifetimes to this quest. So where does custard come from? Me. At least everything you know as custard does. But that is only a shadow compared to the real thing. True Custard is an experience of nirvana so powerful that afterwards even Heaven is disappointing. I have shared the results of my work so far with the world, but now I am entirely consumed by my final challenge. Because, as I said earlier, I now know the secret. I found it a quarter turn between alchemy and sorcery, three steps into enlightenment and behind the ethereal spice rack.

The only problem is, as I mentioned, knowing the secret and using it have turned out to be two entirely different problems. For sixteen generations now I have been down here working on it. The substance I can produce now makes what I have released before seem like rusty rainwater. This custard is so good it literally glows, providing me with all the light I need, and tasting it makes the neurons in your brain spark to life as if you’ve never truly thought before. The taste is so wondrous that the best poets on earth are wordless to describe it (believe me, they have tried), and the richness so finely balanced that you can consume as much as you wish and never eat too much. Yet still my work is not complete, and finally my incredibly long life is drawing to a close. So please, come find me so I can pass on the secret to a new master. For I fear that if I pass before I get the chance, the true secret of Custard will be lost forever and mankind will always live wondering what it might have had, how history may have been changed.

Please come soon, my time is running out.

On a cold night look for the steamy breath from below, lit by the golden glow.

Breakfast Not Included (Part One)

•January 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

“What’s going on here dammit? Where the hell is everyone? How are we suddenly the only fucking people in this shitehole of a hotel?!”
It wasn’t just his colourful language that showed Adam was freaking out. I had to calm him down before I lost him to the same oblivion Susan had fallen into, or I’d be dragging two vegetable around with me. Actually stuff it, if it came to that I’d leave them both behind, a pair of baskets in the corridor waiting for death under what I figured to be one of the worst landscape paintings I’d ever seen. What a way to go.
“I don’t know mate, but we’re going to figure this out and get out of here ok? I need you to hold it together though, Susan needs us and I can’t do this alone.”
Adam’s eyes turned towards the mute woman cowering behind us, and immediately his eyes sharpened. Say what you like about the Scots, none would let down a damsel in distress. It brings out the alpha-male protector in them. He took a deep breath and looked right into my eyes.
“Alright, ok. What do we do now?”
How do I always get myself into the position of leading? I don’t ask for it, I don’t try for it, and I certainly don’t want it. All my life I tried to avoid anything that felt like responsibility yet somehow people always dumped it on me while I was looking in the other direction. I figured it wasn’t so bad at that moment though, Adam was a good bloke but I’m not sure I trusted him to lead me to the end of the corridor without winding me up, and Susan wasn’t exactly leadership material right then.

“Well I guess we need to find everyone else. If there is anyone alive.”
I shuddered as I thought of the mess in the room where we found Susan. It looked like someone had been butchered in there; the carpet was wet with blood and we found half a hand by the door. Whatever had happened it there was bad with a capital F. It was no wonder Susan was so gone when we found her, curled up over her own knees and sobbing but completely unresponsive. We had only learned her name from her passport left on the bedside table. That was almost three hours ago and she still hadn’t said a word, or even given any indication that she was aware of our presence at all.
“We can’t get out,” I continued, “so for now we don’t have many options. Maybe we can find a phone…or a weapon.”
Adam seemed to think for a moment then said simply, “Kitchen. Knives.”
I had to hand it to him, that was probably our surest way to find something to defend ourselves with. I took Susan’s hand and led her toward the stairs at the end of the corridor, with Adam following behind, his eyes glancing constantly around like some kind of squirrel with a panic disorder. I would rather be alone, but something very bad was going on and if I hit trouble I wanted some backup, or at the least someone to use as fodder while I escaped!

We were just taking the first steps down to the first floor when the silence was torn apart by a terrifying scream from the floor above us. I barely had time to register what was happening before Adam was sprinting up the flight of stairs. Suddenly I wasn’t so keen on his inability to resist a damsel in distress, and I strongly suspected it would get us all killed.

Bliss

•January 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

She grabbed it with a hungry anticipation with both hands as the warm liquid splashed in her mouth. For a moment she allowed herself to absorb the distinct and familiar taste, before letting it slowly trickle down her throat. She could feel the heat of  the life-giving substance as it slid comfortably down towards her waiting stomach, and let out a little groan of pleasure.

Amy set down her mug and thought to herself “This isn’t just morning coffee, this is M&S coffee”