Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A poem about a duck


1.
The trumpetry duck
With the grobular shuck
Had a slirt that no dumpfer could slake.
So the trumpetry duck
Took a shork and a flucq
And deflampered the proventry drake.

2.
To the duck said the drake:
“Do you mind? I’m purlaique!”
And the duck rather crimply restrew:
“You’d be two times the quaicke
That I stravvy to mraike
If you knew what I’d grompified through!”

3.
But the thrumpettigrue
That the duck shrallie-hoo
Had a cramble two centiprons high:
For if he had permured
All the tamposite splured,
Then whop was it clottoried by?

4.
As the drake was no phnigh
To the wheans of his why,
He had frotted this cruxical yurde;
So he strambled an ecques
To the toins of his trex
And delivered a prominent verde:

5.
“I adstrive that your snex
Be unfloopily wex,
And your snoobit uncotterly hurd,
But to arbit that my
Battoliptical frigh
Are unflimpt is lecayly construrd!

6.
“Further, thencenotwithstirred,
It is hap-the-leff berr’d
That the jumbice of flaighterly high
Has an orfit of plew
Which regapes that no broo
Can relainder an unkimbered brai!”

7.
Did the duck even jigh?
With a sleave and a sligh,
He relacted his flimp and his floo,
And his brike and his braike,
And his frools and his fraicque,
And his phosphoridopholies too.

8.
For his parting madiou
He entrended a troo
To his dromboree, waiting in raicke,
And he said, said the duck,
“I just whinted a sluck,”
Said the duck to the hampified drake.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

An Entry to Mark S. Taylor's Short Story Competition


H from Steps was alone at last. Being fun-loving is exhausting, he mused to himself, as he stubbed out his cigarette and reclined into a bean bag. His friends never seemed to understand that “H” didn’t really stand for “Hyperactive,” as he used to tell journalists for a laugh, but for “Hushed,” “Heartbroken,” “Hurt.” Yes, that’s right, he mumbled, reaching for the gin. My friends don’t understand my pain. Maybe I should have called myself “P,” for “Pained” and “Pathetic.” How different, he thought, my life would be, if I had been P not H.

For starters, he’d never have got recruited for Steps if his name had been a homonym of an excretory function. There was just no way. So I’d probably just have stayed put at Butlins, where I used to work, he thought to himself, the cold glass rim of the gin bottle pressed between his lips like a delicious glass penis filled with gin, he thought to himself. And then what would have happened? I’d have spent my whole life smiling at wankers, telling them which way to the beach or whatever, and they’ve have been like, “Thanks.”

And another thing, right, if I’d been “P,” he realised, as he tilted up his arm slowly and watched the slim trickle of remaining gin creep gently up the bottle and felt an expectant rush within his lips, I’d have got the shit kicked out of me at high school. And he realised as well that if he’d said to his bullies “No but guys, it’s cos I’m pained and pathetic,” that would have just made it worse. It would, in fact, have made him deserve it somewhat. There really would have been no escape from a young-adulthood of pain, opprobrium and obloquy. He would perhaps have had to change his name.

But at least, he wondered, the final drip of gin at last reaching his throat with a sweet burning tang like the first touch of a poisoned mushroom in the heavy August rain in Kent, I would have been spared this tortured life of semi-famous hell, in which my friends assume I love to dance and sing and laugh. I don’t! he mentally exclaimed, suddenly aware again of the empty gin bottle protruding vertically from his mouth, his anger only intensified by its tyrannous right-angled precision; I don’t at all!

Those bastards! he exclaimed out loud, deciding in a flash to hurl the bottle at the chic neo-modernist plain white wall to his right, as if within this empty bottle were contained the spirits of all his many enemies and everything his life had come to stand for; they take and they never give! And the thought: I have gone too far, flashed immediately through his mind as the bottle went from being bottle to being numerous inadequate bottles with no plausible reservoir section, because it smashed against the wall, because actually my friends do care for me. Perhaps they are just trying to cheer me up, when they force me to smoke loads of drugs and party.

But that’s not who I am, he resolved, wearily pressing his arms down into the bean bag in a mediocre effort to stand up, much like a newborn foal, he mused, unsure of how to use its limbs but dimly conscious that if it didn’t then life was going to be pretty rubbish and wet: I’m an artist. And I will write a story. That is how I will channel my feelings. Into a story.

It shall not be a story about me, H from Steps decided, resting half-way to the vertical on one knee and simultaneously scouting for a pen but seeing only broken glass around him, like an over-eager vulture surveying a normal picnic; then he found one; but it shall be about someone whom I am not; some stranger; some... P. He pulled himself into a standing position with a heave reminiscent of how an unfit man would pull himself into a standing position at some other point in time, and sat down again, with a pen.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

criticising the critic's critic

I don’t know if Norman Lebrecht has some sort of personal feud going on with Anthony Tommasini, or if perhaps Lebrecht is just jealous that he wasn’t invited to teach the Oberlin Conservatory’s criticism course and is hence arbitrarily spouting bile at random targets. But either way, he has crossed a line with this post, in which he takes a completely unobjectionable piece of text by Tommasini and subjects it to a sort of incompetent pedantry, in an effort to make Tommasini look stupid. Needless to say, he not only fails, but he also comes across so spectacularly small-minded and dim that it's actually worth pointing out.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

a gratuitously aggressive title would be "occupy THIS"

With apologies for furthering the argument... in response to this. I have two outstanding questions after reading it, even though it's probably the fairest account in support of the protests that i've read.

1. What is an occupation? Why do protesters occupy things? Seriously. I’m not sure any more. I thought the whole point of occupation was to cause inconvenience. Presumably, the Occupy Wall Street thing chose Wall Street rather than, I don’t know, Sunset Boulevard, because it was a location broadly associated with the reason for protesting. Otherwise - if location hadn't mattered - they should probably have chosen a field, because it is easier to camp in a field than on Wall Street. Clearly, the occupiers wanted to occupy the place they had issues with. Occupy London Stock Exchange would have done the same, but as we all know they couldn’t go to London Stock Exchange, so they occupied a square outside a cathedral instead, because it was nearby. But as they had no particular issue with the cathedral, they attempted to be as nice to it as possible. Fair enough.

But they were, on the other hand, still occupying the area. And doing this quite successfully, it would seem, as they have caused the cathedral sizeable inconvenience. This is utterly undeniable. Even if the cathedral staff wanted to remain open and the police waterboarded them into coalescence (actually, especially if so, thinking about it), the cathedral has obviously now been caused sizeable inconvenience. St Paul’s has shut and is losing money needed for maintenance. This would not have occurred if the protesters had not occupied the square in front of it. The cathedral has suffered because of the protesters.

Given that (as noted) the protesters are not protesting against the cathedral, I can only conclude that they have massively misfired, and, somewhere along the way, forgotten why protesters occupy particular things.

2. Can the protesters really be credited with making bankers reevaluate their life choices and capitalism? I do know quite a few people who have gone into what is essentially the financial sector. None of them match the stereotype of the ‘greedy banker’. Maybe they are just not rich or fat enough yet. Or, on the other hand, maybe they have just chosen a convenient job which they know will earn them a good – excellent, in fact – living salary. Pretty logical really. I absolutely would have done the same if i'd had any common sense. (But no, i'll work three unpaid internships simultaneously, that'll be really clever and fun.) But the main point here is that my friends haven’t got these boring money jobs because they are massively enchanted with capitalism or because they love money and enjoy spitting on tramps and hippies. Working in finance makes sense for many practical reasons, and that’s it; we say that you ‘sell your soul’ when you get a job in the city precisely because such work is uninspiring and unengaging. 99 percent of the time, working in the city is not love for money, but just convenience. Greedy bankers are straw men; most of them are just bankers, profiting from a system prepared to give them lots of money for reasonable work.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that plenty of bankers and whoever else think that the protesters have a point. Why not? It's not like it's costing them anything. They may have a slightly greater vested interest in capitalism than the protesters, but let’s be honest – everyone knows that capitalism isn’t going to vanish any time soon; the protesters aren’t actually a threat, are they. And although they may depend on it to some extent, it’s deeply unlikely that a majority of bankers actually feel any particular attachment towards capitalism as a system in itself. It's just this weird alien thing giving them stuff. A banker expressing support for the Occupy movement is like a 12-year-old whispering to himself in his bedroom that his headmaster has a silly name, even though he’s just been given a scholarship. Or something. Hmm.

What annoys me most of all, though, is how my default writing mode is 'hugely sarcastic and bitter', but i don't seem able to change that. Plus it is quite late so i will stop. Sorry!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

because picking jokes apart makes them funnier

I wrote a crossword clue today that i'm proud of:
In which one might have weed or hemp - batch almost baked (7,3)
the answer is

Monday, 1 August 2011

crap riddles

That anybody, anywhere, could possibly have considered this to be anything remotely resembling a riddle in any conceivable sense of that word absolutely amazes me.  Here it is again.

A woman walked into an office building, looked at the guard, and said her name was Jenny. The next day she walked into the same building, looked at the same guard and said her name was Julie. What is going on?

CLUE: use psychology

ANSWER: The woman has Multiple Personality Disorder. This happens when a traumatic experience causes so much pain that they make another personality to cope with the situation.

If that's a riddle, so are these.  This is a decent enough conceit for a blog post right?


A woman walks into a shop and asks how much a particular item costs.  The shop assistant informs her that it costs £7.50.  The woman thanks the shop assistant and informs him that she will probably buy the item.  However, in fact she has no intention of buying the item and simply returns it to the shelf and leaves.  What is going on?

CLUE: use philosophy