And Now…A New Star in the Science Fiction Firmament. Let’s hear it for ‘Screen DeMister’.

You might have considered that most of the stuff that happens on here owes a lot to science fiction. If I was REALLY going to write science fiction; I mean, y’ know, seriously, I need a serious science fiction type name. So if you should see anything coming up written by ‘Screen DeMister’, you will know what to expect and take suitably evasive action.

Come to think of, it I could also write westerns under that pseudonym. ‘Rainstorm at the OK Corral….by Screen DeMister’. Hmmm…..wonder if Halfords might be interested….?

 

 

                                                              Charter Flight.

                                                                                                      By Screen DeMister.

 

            Through the screen image breakup, she didn’t look good. The fortunate hundred million miles between them meant he couldn’t see her ‘in the flesh’, where she looked a lot worse.

            “Can you not screech into the audio metaboliser? Please!” The distant audio metaboliser she screeched into cringed; she passed a damp flipper across her fevered brow.

            “Is this better?” whispered the brow-beaten prospective client for Canary Charter Flights Inc. A pained moan from a hundred million miles away said it wasn’t.

            “Try it again from across the room” she insisted. “…And walk quietly please.” The debauchery of the night before had taken a heavy toll on the suffering receptionist/metabolist; NGTOP tip-toed backwards until he felt his shoulders against the cold plaster of the furthest wall.

            “How’s this?” he hissed in a stagey whisper that sliced like a Turkish cymbal through the lady’s hangover. She rattled down a half bottle of aspirin.

            “Try outside.”

            “I’d rather not,” said the part time detective cum alien, an irascible edge beginning to cut through.

            “Why not?” She spluttered through a mouthful of the rest of the aspirin bottle.

            “Because I’m twenty three floors up; and” said NGTOP, well on his way to screeching the ceiling down,

            “And?”

            “And,” he bellowed, “I don’t want to broadcast this conversation on a loud-hailer because I’m on a Top Secret Mission. Ooops.” NGTOP dropped to his knees and looked furtively about his flat. Satisfied that his mission was still as top secret as it had been prior to his blasting its classified status from the tower block rooftop, he returned, at no more than a whisper, to his abortive conversation with the unfortunate lady.

After his near death experience with Derek Modley and his by now famous Dangerous Greenhouse, NGTOP had decided on an identity and career change. Not that he was convincingly the possessor of either of those things before the changes. The move into the private investigator business had seemed a relatively safe option, compared with his recent brush with the Colyster Generator and Universal destruction.

“Maybe I’ll try another charter company. It was the ‘Canary Charter Flights go Cheep’ advertising campaign that swung it for me. It’s just that there’s nobody else this cheap.” He assumed the Ben Marlin persona that he had recently invented.

            “I’ll confirm our conversation by cyber-trace, Mr. NG…err…Thingy” said the telephonist, unwilling to risk another brush with strangulation on NGTOP’s unpronounceable name.  

            “What, all of it? No, no. Don’t do that!” NGTOP did summersaults.

            “Only the booking arrangements Mr. err…Thingy, that’s all. It will lessen the risk of a distant suicide. Mine.”

            The bucket of colour that had drained from Marlin’s face filled up again, assuming its traditional tinge of puce while the gangrenous shades of the far distant telephonist scattered across the screen.

            “Marlin!” A corrosive voice from the corridor outside rotted the carpet. NGTOP’s adopted pseudonym had saved many an alien throat from strangulation by epiglottis reef knot. Such were the pronunciation impossibilities of the name of NGTOP. 

            “Marlin!” another voice, scarcely less musical than the first, elaborated. “We know you’re in there.” There would be little point in verbally stripping the paint off his letter box were he somewhere else, thought Ben Marlin, aka NGTOP. And he knew exactly what they wanted. Why they wanted it, was an answer he felt he might more likely stumble across in a mental institution. There seemed no sane explanation.

            “We’ve got the Modley guy. He knows all about the Colyster Generator. So we’ve got all the information we need.”

            Ben (NGTOP) mused on this for second. There seemed to be two flaws in their argument. First, Derek Modley knew sod all about the Colyster Generator; that was even though he’d built one by accident. Secondly, the McNasty Brothers’ numeracy went little further than the tally of their collective finger count. The idea that they might have a brain cell between them to wrestle with the quantum physics of the Colyster Black Hole Theorem was far-fetched.    

The hinges of the door flew across the room just ahead of a plasma ray beam, and Marlin sprinted for the exit and onto the balcony where he jumped off into the darkness. On his way down he found time in his busy schedule to look back at the half dozen pig-ugly black trilbies peering over the balcony in the company of Derek, who happened to be suspended over it by his feet; and also to wonder what had possessed him to jump off.

            “We’ll get you, Marlin, and the Generator” shouted he of the acid tonsils, after the plummeting form of Ben Marlin. “Death will be no excuse.”

            Threatened with imminent termination by floor, Ben showed exceptional agility; unprecedented in a life of lethargy. The flash of a grappo-hook split the night as it flew from his sleeve and tore through the decorative tenth floor awning, ‘Massage Parlour and Fish Bar’. Having creatively renamed this as ‘Fish Massage and Barlour Par’, the grappo-hook further rearranged the next six floors awnings into a messy parachute and broke Marlin’s fall by guiding him onto a passing group of carousers.

            “Sorry.” He said unsatisfactorily, as he stood up amid the welter of broken bones that had been his landing pad.       

 

            It had all been in the interests of making few extra bucks on his fee as a part time private detective, by travelling cheap. He drew up at the deep space terminal in the esotruck flaunting his ‘cool guy’ image, stepping out onto the mica shingle in his slick all-in-one grey moonsuit with the suave flashing rubber tassels.  

            “There you go, feller,” said Marlin, sweeping his plastic Credit Toad under the attendant’s nose. The Credit Toad was an extraordinary development of ancient credit card technology. The cornerstone of the barter system which followed the great Fiscal Downfall was the Credit Toad.

            Inside your trusty Credit Toad were all your worldly goods and chattels; compressed to fit into a plastic Toad. Most of these, in the difficult times after the great fiscal collapse of the early twenty-first century, were of manageable size and would stand in nicely for the rubber duck in your bathtub. There were very few people who had to carry theirs around on a truck. There were few enough left whose finances could stretch to the rubber duck, for that matter.

            “Sorry sir, we don’t take Toads,” said the attendant. NGTOP was incensed.

            “You don’t take Toads! You can’t be serious, man.” Actually, the attendant’s attitude was not unreasonable. When retrieving one’s worldly goods from the Toad, the resulting pile of broken glass and twisted metal was often not worth the plastic Toad that had crushed it to smithereens.

            “We’ve had too many receivership issues, sir.”

            The trick with a Credit Toad was never to open it. This was the problem that eventually sank the credit card system but for different reasons. The credit card because there was never anything left in it and the Credit Toad because there was always too much.

            None of this was helpful to Marlin.

            “How about this?” But before Ben could flick back his sleeve, the attendant had revealed two forearms full of ReAltime watches. “Maybe not” said the detective, wondering how he was going to pay for the parking for his flight; preferably before the McNasty brothers arrived.

            “Nobody cares what time it is anyway,” said the attendant; “I’m more into designer tassels. Like the ones on your suit; they’d look good on my hat.” He took his hat off and pushed it into Marlin’s chest. Two minutes later the attendant looked resplendent under his wobbly luminous tassels, and Marlin felt undressed without them. The deal done, NGTOP hefted his luggage and broke into a run for the departure lounge as the McNasty brothers spilled from an aging black stretch limo.      

            “Welcome to Canary Charter Flights, sir.” The lady behind the departure desk looked uncannily like the one on the end of the metaboliser. The hour’s sleep on the warp trip had done her no good at all.

            “Another hangover?” quizzed Ben Marlin as a matter of polite conversation.

            “Uunnggghhh.”

            “Thought as much” Marlin cast a rapid glance over his shoulder at the heavies stampeding across the departure lounge. “Would you mind if I…?”

            “Certainly, Mr. Marlin; please run along to your flight before those morons convert my nice departure lounge into a blood bath using your blood.”

            “You are very kind,” said Ben, spinning on a heel and sprinting towards the door for the takeoff pad.

            “Not at all;” she shouted after NGTOP’s clean pair of heels, “I’d have to clean it up.” Ben Marlin pushed through the exit doors and stopped as if poleaxed.

“Miss; er; miss!” he shouted in a panic.

“Yes?” grated the pained monotone from behind the desk.

“I might be having a mirage; or something. Could you just take a look at the takeoff pad, it seems to have a very large chicken sitting on it.” Marlin’s eyes boggled.

“No it doesn’t,” she said evenly.

“But, honestly, it is very large, it is a chicken and it is sat on the pad. I can see it.”

“No you can’t. It’s a canary.” The disinterested receptionist turned back to potter with the screen on her desk, and Ben Marlin’s mouth wagged up and down like a cat flap in a high wind. A man with a painter’s ladder strolled across to the giant canary, which looked down curiously at the little man.

“Cheep” it said to him, deafeningly. The receptionist shouted through the departure lounge.

“This is Canary Charter Flights, and you did want ‘cheap’. What did you expect?”

Ben Marlin was suddenly distracted by an unwelcome thought. He watched the approach of the ladder with morbid interest.

“How do I, er, sort of, you know, get in it?” Marlin’s vision was not a pretty one.

“Up the ladder to the little pod that’s strapped to her back,” the receptionist was busy pulling on a suit adorned with a plastic tag. The sparse text on the tag looked alarmingly like ‘pilot’, in red capitals. The McNasty brothers stood in the doorway to the takeoff pad, gaping at monstrous bird preening under its wings, clearly preparing for its take off procedure.

“Hey you!” said Monty McNasty, either to something he’d picked up on his shoe, or the receptionist/pilot/telephonist. “There’s a turkey sat on the take off pad.”

“No, there isn’t” said the pilot/ receptionist/ telephonist-turned-bouncer, walking with some attitude towards the exit that the McNastys were gathered around; “it’s a canary!”

She dealt out a few deft chops of her several flippers, and the McNasty brothers found themselves scattered around on a floor formerly used as a grill pan for fatty burgers. She charged through the doors like a falling tower block, and continued across the tarmac, stopping briefly to crane her neck up to the canary; which was fifty feet high if it was an inch.

“Hello Clara,” she said “nice evening for a flight.” Clara, distracted from her spray of millet for a second, uttered an affable if glass-splintering

“Cheep.”

The flight’s sole passenger meanwhile had an excellent vantage point from which to witness the conversation; and no interest in it at all. Ben Marlin was completely absorbed in hanging onto the swaying ladder about thirty feet from the ground. 

“Cheep” said the cheerful bird.

“Don’t do that!” said Marlin as avian vocal cords shook the ladder to its last molecule.

“Cheeep!” It said happily.

“Eeeek!” said Ben.

“Cheep, cheep, cheep!” replied Clara, clearly in raptures with the conversation, whatever it was about. The ladder began a series of bouncing movements as the pilot swarmed up the underside with incredible agility and passed Ben Marlin who appeared to have been nailed to it.

 

The McNasty brothers nursed their injuries in the decimated departure lounge. Monty McNasty fumed while poking at a tender black eye.

“That guy Marlin loused up our last Colyster deal; he’s not going to screw this one up; over my dead body.”

“The Martian Colyster Generator deal will settle those two and put us on easy street. We’ll be in the ‘Designer Asteroid’ belt.” Monty McNasty allowed himself a sneer. “They’re never going to get to Mars on a Canary. The job is in the bag. We’ll book the next flight with ‘Package Tours Inc.’

 

            The single most valuable possession in the Universe was a Colyster Generator. There was not enough money in a whole planetary system to buy one; these things were then, all but impossible to buy. And just as difficult to steal, as transporting the black hole at its core was not something you might manage in a Transit van.

One Colyster Generator could heat an entire dead planet for nothing; and Mars had been converted from a dust bowl to an Eden in the space of a decade or two by the Generator built by Derek Modley.

            Sadly for Derek, he took bad advice on patent issues and signed it away to a plausible guy called Monty McNasty, of ‘McNasty’s Preloved Armaments Inc.’ for a bootleg DVD of ‘Happy Days’.   

 

            Ben Marlin arrived at his seat and found a plain brown envelope on it. Not at that time feeling up to the challenge of a piece of brown paper, he stuffed it in his inside pocket and rummaged around in his bag for his hip flask of ‘Hell’s Dregs’, downing most of it in one. This stuff imbued super-being confidence and the skill levels of a crustacean. Ben was convinced he could fly without actually being able to walk. He fell in a heap in the aisle and took to swimming a front crawl.

            Take-off sobered him up with the cabin bouncing through three hundred and sixty degree rolls as Clara got the hang of it.

            “Captain!” wailed Marlin from the floor/ceiling.

            “What?” replied the telephonist/ receptionist/ bouncer/ pilot/ Captain; who appeared to be having little effect on the course of Clara. 

            “We’re all going to die!”

            The twisting rolls suddenly smoothed and Clara settled into a rhythmic flight not unlike a rowboat on a ski jump. The whistle of wind under Clara’s wings petered into silence and the cabin’s extreme rise and fall flattened out.

            “Can I ask a question, miss?” said Ben Marlin, still untying the knots in his stomach.

            “If you must,” said the Captain tetchily.

            “How do you expect a canary to fly in the vacuum of space?”

            “Clara has three boost stages; breakfast, dinner and tea” said the bored Captain.

            “I don’t understand” said Ben. The extreme G-force of an abrupt acceleration accompanied by a deafening farting noise kicked Marlin between the shoulder blades. “What was that?” he choked, fighting for breath.

“Breakfast” said the Captain.

 

            Back at the terminal, the flight from ‘Package Tours Inc.’ had just arrived and the McNastys stood on the tarmac around a brown paper package.

            “Has everybody gone mad?” remarked Monty McNasty.

            “This one is our mini economy flight; you have to blow it up.” The steward handed over a foot pump.

 

            “This is your assignment” read the note that Marlin had retrieved from his inside pocket. “The Colyster Generator on Mars will be attacked tomorrow: you must protect it at all costs.” Ben Marlin flicked through his regulation issue of ‘Code Cracking for Baboons’ before he realised it wasn’t a code. 

            “Ridiculous” thought Ben Marlin. “Nobody has ever stolen a Colyster Generator; come to that, nobody has ever seen one to know what they might be trying to steal.” The detective read on.

            “The attackers have the conversion kit.” The note went on; Marlin had heard of the conversion kit that converts the Generator into a bomb; the power of which made fusion physics look like popping popcorn. “We believe the intention to be Universal blackmail.”

            NGTOP scratched his head, and turned the note over, the surface of which was as blank as the expression on the detective’s face.

            “Why should anybody want to trade in the whole Universe for a clinker of ash? In what ways could the bomb-terrorists possibly profit? Had they a season ticket for some idyllic afterlife?” NGTOP (aka Marlin) had to concur that blackmail on a vast scale seemed the only plausible purpose. The private dick looked up from his reveries to see the hostess (receptionist/ telephonist/bouncer/pilot/Captain) reeling down the aisle with a tray of drinks and an in-flight meal.

            “For your comfort and delight” she read from the ‘recommended greeting’ sheet; “but discomfort and disgust might be closer to it” she improvised; and handed over the concoction to Marlin. Ben retched and made a break for the toilet.

            He returned to his seat in time to hear;

            “Fasten your seat belts for landing, please.” Ben searched about for a seat belt. “No, ignore that; I forgot this is a budgie flight. Sorry, ‘Budget Flight’. Anyway, the budget flight’s answer to the seat belt is the brown paper bag behind your seat.” There was another short pause. “Please check that this has not been used for, er, anything else, before putting it over your head. Thank you.”  

              Clara’s second booster stage kicked in as a retro rocket, and after being strained through the fibres of his seat, Marlin settled down to being merely terrified out of his stomach. The full complement of passenger and crew being absorbed in the hazards of a Martian landing, the brown paper parcel following entered the Martian atmosphere unnoticed.

 

            The underground labyrinth hummed tunelessly in sympathy with the infinite power of a Colyster Generator in tick-over. The hiss and crackle of an empathy door sent echoes bouncing along convoluted corridors. The creature strode with the brown paper parcel it had collected from lost property, through the door from other dimensions. It stooped and swayed gracefully as if in an undetectable breeze as it stowed the parcel. Its slender limbs flexed in the subtle glow emanating from walls of crystal, as it struggled with the tartan shopping trolley.

            “How do they expect anybody to do a professional job without quality kit?” The Caph cast a withering glance at the little trolley, and turned again to drag it along the corridor. The wheel that wasn’t there scraped unmercifully on the steel floor. “Aagghhh; my teeth!” The Caph swept a delicate aspen hand to its cheek. “Alright, that does it. They can count me out of the next Universe-destroying mission.” It turned back to its course and the trolley resumed its banshee squeal, the Caph mumbling a steady torrent of abuse under its breath.

            It plodded through the endless liquid plasma barriers, each one levelling molecule disintegrators at the Caph; which it ignored. The disintegrators could sense it was there, but beyond that had no sense of what it might be. They made enough noise about it though. After the twenty-third barrier of head-splitting bells, the Caph wearily stretched out its limbs into the endless corridor, yawned, and rummaged in the shopping trolley, carefully avoiding the Colyster detonator wrapped in brown paper, to fish out a parsnip for tea break. It munched meditatively while staring at the opposite crystal wall. Subtle reverberations of a distant door circled confusingly and disturbed the Caph. It stood up, repacked its parsnip, and continued its shambling pace towards the destruction of the Universe.

 

            Ben Marlin gazed down the twisting crystal corridor, trying to make out the strange, willow-like figure in the distance. The plasma barriers made it impossible to focus. He hefted a demoraliser ray from his tartan shopping trolley, levelled it on a forearm and sent a long burst into the length of the corridor.

            “My mum didn’t like me” blubbed the first barrier, utterly demoralised by the ray, ahead of the stream of heart-rending complaints from the succession of barriers. The Caph, way down the corridor, turned towards the commotion.

            “You should go home” it called to NGTOP, “it is dangerous here.”

            “Where is this ‘Home’ I might go to that isn’t dangerous?” enquired NGTOP, not unreasonably. This seemed to be something that the Caph had not much thought about, and it put down the handle of its shopping trolley while considering. Ben Marlin sauntered along without fear. There seemed little point in being terrified as he considered himself as good as dead already.

            “Nice trolley” said the Caph. Ben looked around. It was definitely talking to him. He smiled a wan shadow and pointed down to his shopping trolley for confirmation. “Yes” said the Caph. “Nice. Got all the wheels as well.” Marlin gulped and nodded.

            “Fancy a swap?” asked Marlin tentatively, as he continued to trudge the length of the corridor and up to the Caph. It was dumb ploy to relieve it of the detonator. But then anything dumb enough to consider blowing itself to bits for profit might not notice another dumb ploy.   It swayed a little.

            “This one squeaks,” it said making a suave gesture at its tartan trolley.

            “Nice pattern though.” Ben Marlin listened to himself and thought he’d already made a swap; from average humanoid brain to Lego windmill.

            “Yes it is a nice pattern; how good of you to notice. Unfortunately, it is quite heavy.” The Caph shook its head plaintively.

            “I don’t mind that” quickly interjected the detective, “it will… er…stop me blowing away in high winds.”

            “I am here to destroy your Universe, you know.” The Caph made an apologetic smile. Ben Marlin was a little taken aback by the Caph’s candidness.

            “Well, I’m actually here to stop you. But nobody seems very sure of what you might gain from blowing yourself to bits.” Ben Marlin had discovered the answer to that over the course of his brief conversation. The Caph were in no danger at all from the destruction of this particular Universe. They lived somewhere else entirely.   

            “Your Universe causes a lot of trouble with our TV reception. This Universe makes it impossible for us to follow the story of the ‘Happy Days’ programme. A pained expression crossed its face.

            “I’m not surprised you can’t follow the story in Happy Days. There isn’t one.” Ben Marlin stared up at the Caph’s sylvan form.

            “Oh.” It said. Then it blossomed into a radiant smile. “Are we still on for a swap?”

 

            Ben Marlin, lugging the alien shopping trolley squealing its objections back through winding corridors, couldn’t help but wonder what he might do with a Universe-destroying tartan shopping trolley with one wheel that was giving him a headache. The answer lay around the next bend.

            “We said that death wouldn’t get you off the hook for this one.” Marlin almost walked into the McNasty gang. “We want our shopping trolley back.” The detective’s trolley contained the destruction of the Universe, and to hand that over to a bunch of bent second-hand shopping trolley salesmen seemed less than sensible.

            “This, gentlemen,” said Marlin, having decided to brazen it out “is not what it seems.”

            “We can see you have not treated it with the respect it deserves, Ben Marlin. Where is our wheel?” Monty McNasty pulled out a randomiser-ray with a barrel nearly as long as tartan shopping trolley he pulled it from. “The deal is simple. Give us our trolley back, complete with wheel, or I blow your head off.” The rest of the gang were standing around sheepishly, each with his own trolley, and each sporting a subtly different plaid.

            “Nice.” Said the Caph as it materialised behind the gang, gazing in wonder at the assorted fleet of trolleys. “Don’t fancy a swap, do you?” Monty and the gang were surprised, to be sure, but the boss was quick to get his accountant’s head together.

            “I take it you ain’t big on arithmetic where you come from,” said Monty with a sneer, “we’ve got six trolleys, to your one. What sort of swop is that?” Marlin was fascinated. How was the Caph going to talk its way out of that one?

            “In here,” it said with an air of collusion as it pointed into its shopping trolley, “is the complete set of DVD’s for Happy Days.” It took a gracious bow for the applause that rippled around. It pointed to Ben Marlin. “His has the Colyster Generator detonator in it.”

            A quiet descended. The Brothers McNasty went into a huddle. Monty’s head surfaced briefly.

            “Why don’t I just blow you both to bits and take the trolleys?”

            “Because you’d wipe out the Universe at the same time?” ventured Ben Marlin. This seemed to settle the quandary and Monty McNasty turned from the scrum.

            “O.k. tall guy,” he said to the Caph, “you got a deal.”

 

            It turned out that the Colyster Generator detonator was an out of warranty OEM version that wouldn’t detonate the Caph’s parrot out of its ‘Beano’. Marlin left it outside the departure lounge as a monument to something.

            He checked his Toad for a new deposit. Satisfied that all was in order, he walked across the tarmac to where a very big canary sat, preening.

            “We’re almost ready for your return flight, Mr. Marlin,” said she of the multiple flippers.

            “Cheep!” bellowed Clara. Ben Marlin looked up at the soaring canary with a slight shake of the head.

            “I’ve decided to emigrate to Mars” he said.

                      

                               The End.

In Screen DeMister’s stories ‘The End’ is usually the best bit.

             

 

             

 

       

             

             

 

             

     

             

           

           

                                

 

     

 

   

        

  

 

 

      

                              

   

           

 

             

             

             

               

A thank you to Gareth for his Donation to my Macaroon stash!

I didn’t charge Gareth for my perambulations (didn’t think I knew that one, eh?) through his Cornell Romany Pro amp. If I charged folks for not fixing things I would be very well off. Anyway, it turned out that his problems with the amp were not faults, it just didn’t do what he wanted it to, so I didn’t actually fix anything, but spent a lot of time working out how it worked.

Make no mistake, this is a beautifully made amplifier; but I got the feeling in my water that there was some faulty thinking gone into the design of the amp.

Gareth turned up for his amp with a couple of packets of Macaroons! Chocolate and plain. Bliss!!!

So as a small “thank you” I offer this little piece of history of the origination of the macaroon thing.

A long time ago, when I was up to my neck in an industrial apprenticeship, I worked for some time with a hilarious cockney gentleman named Cyril Haffenden. If a problem reared its head, or if he just felt a bit stressed by it all (or any other reason, for that matter) he would pronounce in a loud cockney accent “THAT’S IT! BAGGER IT! A CAPPA CORFFEE AN’ A MACAROON!!!!

That’s where it came from, tempered by poetic license of my own.

Thank you, Gareth.

 

What to do After You’ve Written a Few Sensible blogs.

In the interests of staying insane, or at least becoming normal, one has to get away from the ‘sensible blog’ syndrome.

So don’t expect this to help you to fix anything that a couple of aspirins won’t sort out.

So here it is…………….

                                 The Allen Invasion of the A5 Services

                                                                                          

            Wailingpolice sirens belly-ached into the night as half the motorway cop cars in the county picked out the A5 Services outside Bromfield in their strobing beams. This was all highly irregular as the belly-aches were usually inside the cafe.           

                          #

            “It still looks like a burger in a bun to me” said the prone cop sighting at it down the barrel of the .45 calibre automatic pistol. Slamming his stomach down on the tiles after a bagful of chicken nuggets had not been a wise move, the sergeant quickly realised. The officer sprawled next to him raised his Heckler and Koch and dug around in his shirt pocket distractedly.

            “The bloke on the phone said they all look like burgers; ‘there’s hundreds of ‘em’, is what he said.”

            “There would be; this is a burger bar,” said the sarge; he didn’t take his eyes off the burger, though; “but it’s dead in my sights if it tries anything funny.”

            “If that bloke was right, we’re outnumbered, sarge” said Algy, with a nervous twitch. There were, indeed, hundreds of them dotted around the floor like acne.

            “They don’t look armed, Algy.” A silence descended on the deserted restaurant, broken inconsiderately by a waitress diving for cover behind the cutlery trolley. “But would I know what sort of killer weapon a burger in a bun might carry in its, er, pocket?”

            “Don’t that one look bigger than all the rest? What do y’ think, sarge?”  

            “Of course it’s bigger. It’s a Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger. What would you think if you ordered a Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger and a sausage roll turned up?” A cleaner lady with a power floor washer walked in without looking up and plugged it into the wall.

            “Are you mad?” said the sarge.

            “I’ve been doing this job for twenty years, what do you think?” She pushed things in and pulled things out of the machine with the efficiency of a robot. Algy’s face turned puce and he looked up her rumpled stockings from the floor.

            “Look, madam, we’re on a..a…stakeout for this… er…just a minute.” Algy pulled out a crumpled reporter’s note pad triumphantly and flicked through its tacky pages; “Allen Invasion!”

            “A what?” said sarge, his eyebrows standing well clear of his forehead.

            “That’s what it says here,” said Algy.

            “You’re telling me we’ve surrounded the Blastoff Burger Bar with sixty men on the whim of a bloke who can’t spell ‘alien’?”

Just then a disembodied voice shouted something that sounded like

            “’Ten…Shun!” and the burgers that had been scattered randomly about the floor of The Blastoff Burger Bar shuffled around willy-nilly before clicking into several ranks behind the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger. A floor-washer started up behind them and a thoroughly spooked Algy redesigned it into a cheese grater with his Heckler and Koch while surfing the soap bubble waves cascading across the tiles.

            “Help” said Algy, careering towards the ranks of the Allen Invasion Force as they opened fire with ketchup and Worcester sauce.

            “It’s ok Algy, I’ve got you covered,” shouted sarge.

            “There’s no need sarge, I’m covered already,” said Algy.

            “And you think I’m mad!” said the cleaner, formerly of the rumpled stockings and now of the floppy gumboots, as several of the Allens blasted off into the dizzy ceilings of the Blastoff Burger Bar. The sergeant battled to get a grip on his walky-talky as it danced out of his hands in the monsoon of ketchup from above and the tide of ‘Washy-Floory’ suds surging below.

            “The situation is getting messy, sir” said the sarge into the phone that was grotesquely distorting into something more Allen than the Allens.

            “Bring your leader to us!” boomed the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger, in radical break with tradition.

            “No,” shouted Algy to the ceiling, “that’s all wrong. Your line is ‘Take me to your leader’. I saw it in ‘The Allen Goes to Hollywood’.” Just then the glimmering of dawn was obliterated by an unimaginably vast Super-Dooper-Triple-Quadruplicately-Huge-Whale-Burger that cruised, silent and deadly, over the Blastoff Burger Bar and hovered, its ketchup cannons primed like a million bristling cocktail sticks.

            “Bring us the President of the World!” said Double-Whopper from his ceiling tile.

            The sarge at last dropped his eyebrows as there was nowhere else for them to go.

            “That could be tricky” called up the sarge.

            “What! You refuse! Puny services-ling?” Double-Whopper bristled. “In that case we shall eliminate your silly civilisation.”

            “Psst. Sarge.” Algy nudged the sarge’s elbow.

            “Not now, Algy. I’ve got to think this out,” bubbled the sarge through a mouthwash of Washy-Floory suds.

            “She’ll do.” Algy pointed at the cleaner with the floppy gumboots. The sarge, aghast, looked at Algy as if he was an Allen.

            “They’ll never go for that. Just look at her.” The sarge had another look just to make sure. He shrugged. “Here she is, then;” he called up; “the President of the World.” The President of the World looked up from her ceremonial mop and bucket.

            “No!” A panicky voice rang out from the Ceremonial Ceiling Tile. “You must not invoke the gods. It will be the end of everything as we know it.”  The President of the World stubbed out a distressed fag-end and smoothed down her floral piny.

            “What you got against dogs, then?” enquired the President of the World, rolling up her sleeves and bridling her bosom.

            “PSSST!” pist Algy at the President of the World. “It said ‘gods’: not ‘dogs’.”

            “Don’t you ‘pssst’ me mate. I know my rights. That’s oppression of a Pet Owner’s Society member. I’ll set my god on you.”

            “Aaaiiiieeee! The President of the World invokes the dogs yet again.” The Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger wailed pathetically. While outside, the Super-Dooper-Quadruplicately-Huge-Whale-Burger pulsated as it sent down a majestic silver stairway through the ceiling of the Blastoff Burger Bar; along which a crowd of Allens stepped equally majestically, each Allen carrying a majestic mop and tin bucket and primrose yellow rubber gloves. They raised their majestic plungers in salute.

            Things had become very confused by this time; so they might have praised their joss-stick slungers in palute. It was hard to say.

            “No; leave all that bowing and scraping stuff out” said the President of the World, “it’s embarrassing.” The plunger-gesticulating crowd of Allens looked shamefaced, their plungers drooping to an impotent half-mast.

            “What is it that you want?” said the sarge having strung together a couple of brain cells.

            “We are collecting for ‘Uranus in Need’ and doing a bit of market research on the side” said the Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger, grandiosely.

            “It seems like a good cause, sarge” said Algy. “Nice to think somebody is collecting for mine; even though it’s not in need, so far as I know.”

            “On what terms do you do the market research, Mr., erm Double-Whopper-Angus-Burger?” enquired the sarge.

            “Oh, the usual; you get to fill out a questionnaire that takes a mere twelve hours a day for six months and get a fluffy badge for it.”

            “It’ll never catch on, here on Earth.” The sarge looked dubious.

            “According to our market research it’s what everybody does for a hobby when they’re not shouting at a computer.” The Double-Whopper-Angus Burger looked as smug as one might imagine a burger in a bun could be.

            “So,” said the sarge, tentatively exploring the limits of lunacy, “if we have a whip round and donate a few quid, you go away. Is that about it?” The burger-boss clicked its crust impatiently.

            “Don’t forget the market research!”

            “And the market research; yes.”

            “Then we must move on. One of the little moons of Mars next, I think.” If it could have smiled it probably would have. “Nice spot, Phobos.”

                            #

            To cut a short story to about the same length; i.e. tedious; in the wake of the exit of the Allen invasion force of the A5 services, (it having collected £1.52 and given out several hundred thousand market research leaflets), a month or two later followed a queue of brave politicians and journalists, both of whom were writing a blow-by-blow, fly-on-the-wall account of the event; in the same way that a duck-billed platypus did of the invasion of Greenland by aquatic camels. These intrepid seekers of truth descended on said cafe, having first taken the precaution of booking into the Dorchester for lunch.

                         #

            The leaflets from one section of the archetypal activists read:-

 

              Politician Does Something    

The Conservative party candidate for Crackbracknel, the Right Honourable Mouthmore N. Getplaces single-handedly sent people to quell an Allen invasion at the A5 services near Bromfield. He says.

 

He also says that his bravery in sending people to quash this intergalactic attack far outweighed any previous bravery as reported by any of the other parties. Whichever they were.

Sporting an open mouth and a megaphone he modestly described his battle as ‘Heroic’. Some spectators erroneously interpreted this as ‘diuretic’, which was about when it hit the fan.

The report from the police department was somewhat different.

                      #

            ‘We didn’t see hide or hair of Mr. Mouthmore N. Getplaces. We did get some fluffy badges though.’

 

                   The End (is in sight).

 

That was definitely worth tea AND a macaroon. I feel so much better. I mean, there’s nothing actually wrong with normal………..?

A Travelogue….dedicated to Mark, the third reader of this blog

Yes; it came about after I had relieved Mark of £110 in aid of resurrecting his lovely Fender bass amp. It had blown a fair chunk of the power supplies, and fried three output valves. He admitted that he regularly read this blog. I had to believe he read it because there was no way he could hang his laptop on the nail in the bog for more useful pursuits.

So here’s one for you, Mark. Hope you and your lovely Fender are keeping well.

                       A Travelogue:-

                         How to go Somewhere Foreign.

           If you’re English, it doesn’t take you very long to catch on that there is something seriously wrong with you.

Your first problem after being born, which was finding out how to breathe, (in England, we have a Government Pamphlet for that. I know that because we have a Government Pamphlet for everything) you are then given another pamphlet that tells you who is Foreign. It’s quite a short pamphlet. It just says ‘Everybody’.

So ‘Going Somewhere Foreign’ is a really easy book to write, because if you live at ‘27, Bargery Street, Dipstick, Doobyshire,’ for instance, you know for a fact that ‘29, Bargery Street, Dipstick, Doobyshire,’ is Foreign. As are all the other numbers in Bargery Street and Everywhere Else.

So my Travelogue could be about, say; ‘32, Bargery Street’. I would then go on to discuss useful matters for the tourist of 32, Bargery Street.

The climate for instance; ‘Overbearing’ about covers it. ‘How to get around in 32, Bargery Street’; which of course contains bus timetables, when to hitch a lift on their dog, and avoiding the bedroom at certain times.

But on this occasion, just this once, you understand, I’m going for the adventurous approach. I’m going to do ‘the Solar System’.

Think big, just this once.

‘The Solar System is Very Big’. There we are, done that.

Onwards and upwards to…….A cup of tea and…..A macaroooooon!!!!!!

 

Elm Tree Soup

You might have guessed from the title that this is not going to be helpful. You may even be able to buy Elm Tree Soup off the shelf (so to speak) at your local garden centre. Any shop that has the gall to sell recycled plastic reindeer droppings with little bells in June might just do the same for Elm Tree Soup. At that last resort, I would have to say that anything home made will taste like soot. If I made it.

There is a serious philosophical dissertation coming here, so dust off your MA in soup-making. This is how it goes.

If I could find something so utterly gormless to build my thesis around, I wouldn’t have to agree with anybody, and still get a ‘First’. Or in the realms of Elm Tree Soup-making, a ‘Thirst’. The problem with getting all these ‘levels’ (you know ‘A’ or ‘O’ or ‘Spirit’ or ‘Mezzanine’) is that you have to AGREE WITH PEOPLE. It’s no good on the exam paper saying, “I don’t like the way you fart, so my answer is much better than yours.”

That’s a non-starter. What you have to do is memorize by heart every last hiccup of the examining board, disengage any suspiciously subversive brain cell activity, and write like hell. Anything. Unfortunately, I have a lot of trouble agreeing with anybody, which is why I repair electronics. If I disagree with it sufficiently, I can stamp my climbing boot on it.

This option, I hasten to add, is not usually one you might come across in an exam room. Neither do they ply you with tea and macaroons. Which is something else I can’t agree with.

 

Dedicated to Dave and Marc, the two readers of this blog

I heard, in person, face to face, unequivocally (didn’t think I knew that one, did you?) first hand, that there are two gentlemen who actually read this junk. I mean ‘these literary expositions’. So that they do not lose their respective jobs for their rank bad taste in reading these literary triumphs, they will be forthwith referred to in code as ‘Dave and Marc’. Ooops.

So here is blog of your very own, kind sirs. It’s actually a short story about Dick Big and Barney the Stoat, private dicks. When I get tired of writing this blog bollox, I turn my attentions to……writing some more bollox! What else?

 

                    The Dick Big Detective Agency. 

For best effect, recite through a mouthful of gravel, preferably in a down-market bar. If the venue is misjudged, the recitation may be improvised through a mouthful of loose teeth.

 

            Dick Big was suspicious. That was o.k. It was Dick’s job be suspicious. And to talk in short sentences.

Sometimes. Very short. Sentences. (Breathe here.)

            Barney was his sidekick; but he was starting to show the bruises. Dick would have to kick him with the plimsoll.

            It all started on a usual, short sentence. Day. But Dick knew that something big was up. Not enough roughage. Barney scratched a match along the hatch, and catched; sorry, ‘caught’; a cheroot with the side of his mouth. That was side that had a lot of blisters. He needed the practise.

            “O.k. Barney, this our big break. We get the lowdown on this trip and we’re fixed-up floosied for good.” Dick didn’t know what any of this meant, but it sounded helluva good. He was going to have to look up ‘helluva good’ in Roget’s Tyrannosaurus.

            The dry, dead, sylvan carpet sounded loud as a erm, stoat, in the still night mist of the forest, leaves of the twisted birch rustling their rhythmic salsa underfoot, and the owls owling their percussive pizza. Otherwise all was quiet. Except for the M63 in the background; delicately humming its low harmony; its irritating drone; its intolerable blood-curdling roar, driving the innocent to maim and kill and murder and COMMIT HORRIBLE CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY………

Other than that it was quiet. Too quiet. It must have been because Dick Francis said so somewhere. So did everybody else for that matter.

            Dick Big had a clue. It was the first one. He was, generally, clueless. As they walked together towards the ancient chapel, the flicker of a bloodied candle stabbed the forest through a cracked finger-nail. They dived into the ditch at either side of the forest trail as the hooded figure in flowing shawl slunk from the ancient chapel of devil-worshipping hamsters, and writers who put far too many words in a sentence and should be dismally ashamed of themselves; casting hunted glances, the ceremonial axe at its back dripping ceremonial blood, that whipped up in a petulant wind like a erm, stoat. The sleek furry creature followed closely and silently; and moving swift and deadly leapt at the back of the fleeing figure in black, ripping at the cowl like a, erm, stoat. (“Have I done that one already?” “Yes. To death, actually”)   There was the sudden wail of a screaming banshee through the catacombs of death. Or Waitrose car park at 2.00 am. The difference is a subtle one. 

            “I’ve broke my fuckin’ ankle”. It was Barney. He had. It was bad. They were back to short sentences again. Dick was supportive;

            “With all those bruises I’m surprised you noticed a broken ankle.” Fortunately for Barney, Dick was no good at first aid. He sympathetically levelled things up by breaking his other ankle.

            “That should hold it, till we can get help.”  He looked up. Quickly. Very quickly. In fact. The stoat was expanding in a very unstoat-like fashion, standing over the prone figure of the skeleton monk and hacking indiscriminately with the bloodied ceremonial axe.

            This was Dick Big’s big chance. He threw his plimsoll in the air.

            “O.k. Barney. If the shoe hits the ground, you go take the monster out. If it doesn’t, I go. Fair’s fair.” The shoe floated around at head height. Barney turned around. Dick had gone. Back to short sentences.

            “You bastard.” Barney slipped in this short sentence of his own. But Barney was made of stern stuff. He had a well-stuffed stern. Drawing himself up to his full height, he dusted off the dead leaves and stared into the alien’s kneecap.

            “Growl!” it said using the first exclamation mark in the whole piece. The axe sang through the night and hacked Barney’s head off.

            “Barney!” shouted Dick, extravagantly wasting another exclamation mark. “It wasn’t ‘heads you lose’.

            “Growl” said the blood-sucking vampire alien from planet zgrvtrblblet.

            “Growl” said the M63.

            “There’s only room for one blood-sucking alien in this piece and I’m it, buster” said the blood-sucking alien from planet zgrvtrblblet (which we will, for convenience sake, call Brian), running onto the M63 in a rage and no safety first procedure and was squashed flat by a Virgin; er…Virgin Express, having taken a wrong turn at the Maidenhead junction. And now back to short sentences.

            Dick Big was benighted. Barney had a head transplant from a stoat.  Everybody lived happy ever after. Except Brian who was dead.

 

                                   Nearly The End.

 

Well, there we are. The literary firmament has hit a new low. But only because it hasn’t yet read the continuing saga of Dick Big and Barney the Stoat.

Tea time. And I hope Dave and Marc imbibe also. It might improve the after taste.

             

             

The Philosophy of Shouting

Anybody misguided enough to follow these blogs, might find themselves a little bemused by the title. Forgive me for not running out to jump off a bridge in shame, but there really aren’t enough of you to warrant the effort of burying my hamster. That’s if I had one, and if it were dead.   

“Am I going to fix my amp by shouting at it?”  ”Is it going to take any notice of me?”  ”Will it shout back?” All these things and no doubt hundreds more will flood your mind. Unless you’ve just got up, in which case there will be three. “Where did I leave the toilet?” “When did I last use the toilet?” and “Is it too late to bother to use the toilet?”

Anyway, onward and upward. If I knew what I was doing (re- internet-things) I am told (mostly by people I’ve never seen in my life.) (And probably wouldn’t want to even if I had. If you take my point.) that I should put a reference to the TITLE, VERY EARLY IN THE BLOG. (No I haven’t accidentally put the ‘caps lock’ on; that was meant to be SHOUTED.)  And then there are allsorts of folks telling me about H1 and H2 and H3, none of which convey anything at all. I know a bit about the H-bomb, and I don’t like that at all, so I imagine that I don’t like the other ‘H’s’ either.

This is where we get to the PHILOSOPHY OF SHOUTING. (See, I can do internet things!) The point I make is this. If I know about SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION, and VERTICAL SEARCHES, and HORIZONTAL SEARCHES (you lay down for them) and SEAWARD-SKYWARD SEARCHES (I just made them up), then, without knowing anything else at all (in other words being a vacuous old git; so what’s new?) I could disseminate this absolute dearth of brain activity to millions. And much good might it do them.

On the other hand (that’s the one I have my jam sandwich in) if I happened to be the possessor of the Infinite Clue, the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything; and put it on my blog, the chances are that my dog might get a read of it. Eventually.  That’s if my dog could read and if I had one.

I don’t actually see much difference between knowing the in’s and out’s of the processes of promotion on the internet, and SHOUTING.  How can I put my point more succinctly?

Let’s say we have two perfectly reasonable human beings sat next to each other on their little computers. That might be a problem depending on the day. Monday is a bad day to look for these two perfectly reasonable human beings, as they are outnumbered by an astronomic number of unreasonable ones. Friday would be a better day. Let that go. We will, however unlikely, have found two perfectly reasonable human beings to sit in front of two perfectly reasonable computers.

The first one (who we will call Dufrace Moribund, for no good reason actually) writes on his computer:

               I AM VERY GOOD SO PAY ME A LOT OF MONEY. He then gets all his tags right, employs SEO websters and all the other stuff, and gets paid millions per click. Or whatever.)

On the other hand (at this time free, because I’ve been eating my jam sandwich) Fountainburg Slurry has just invented a matter tranporter that can be built from a shoebox and two bits of elastic, and is happy to give it away on the Internet. Except he only knows about matter transporters you can knock up from a shoebox, and nothing about SEO’s etc…etc… 

Centuries later, this is discovered by the remains of the human race (which is a rock on Planet Grunt) the rest of it having been decimated by ravages of global warming that everybody could have avoided by knocking up their own shoe-box matter transporter. Instead they (we) all fried shouting……

                                     “I AM GOOD SO PAY ME A LOT OF MONEY”. If you see what I mean.

And what about Einstein, then?

I figured if I constructed a post so devoid of any sense and reason, I ‘d be able to single out the robotic/semihumanoid at a stroke. For anything to post a comment that starts “truely, the philosophy of this site is such that I was moved to inculcate, nay opinionate, my devout respect for the ….blah, blah….” having just read such a total toadful of bollocks as I am about to insult this screen with, would be a dead giveaway, and I could metaphorically slit its throat with little more  reflection than a slight belch of satisfaction.

Were my name Einstein, I could guarantee that my other name would be Dinglebury. And it would undoubtably be hyphenated. So; Einstein Smithe-Dinglebury. What, you might rightly wonder, has that got to do with anything at all?

This would, at a stroke, and from birth, relegate all my researches in relativistic physics to the shelf marked ‘Music Hall Scripts’  and everybody at the ‘Queen Vic Variety Revue’ would be rolling in the aisles to ‘E=MC squared’ gags. You see? Contrarily, had my name been ‘Bertrand Reactionary’ I would have been guaranteed a seat on every subversive commitee this end of The Wash. Not that there are that many.

With a name like that, I would have been the recipient of vast fortunes from New Labour (that’s the same as Old Labour insofaras no member is even remotely related to anybody who ever did any) just to say “Ya Boo!” to anything that might look like a conservative.

Were I a  ’Tony’ or ‘Anthony’ Something-or-Other, I could start my own political party (called ‘The Tony’s’ of course), in which all members would need to sign a subs card that effectively pays the founder (me) in perpetuity, regardless of whether I’m any good or not. Not unlike buying a box of firelighters that only work in the rain, when you happen to live in the middle of the Sahara. A lot of politics seems to be founded on that principle.

In normal walks of life, the fact you can’t do a job at all, more or less assures that you won’t get to do it for very long. Politics doesn’t seem to work like that. If one finishes up with an Amin or Gadaffi or Hitler, (etc. etc. ) you get somebody who is probably exactly right for some other job, but incompetence is such an inbuilt seam running throughout the profession itself, they stick in there  like shit to a blanket.

I’m just wondering how many robots have stuck with this, on the subject of sticking.

Were there such a name (there’s bound to be somewhere) as Bigsby Syntax I would want it, as it would bestow at least a knighthood on its possessor, and probably an earldom. Or is that Earl Dumb. Oh well, let it pass. I do have a funny hat, which is bound to be a good start should I wish to sink to barristership; hood; whatever. The name to have for that one has to be one of those that looks like ‘Trimblsnout-Jinkinstrop’ and sounds like ‘Penelope Glass-Blower’.

“Robots on the port side, Cap’n”.  “Assemble the crew bosun”.  “Crew assembled, Cap’n”. “Altogether then lads”

“YA BOO!!!!”  Alright, so it’s not great as a piece of scintillating repartee; but I’m not wasting any of my emaciated supply of scintillating repartee on a robot. Time for tea.

Intercontinental

Here’s a small contribution to the vast wash of silliness to which I seem to minimally add on a regular basis. My regular visitors from the robotic quarters of the internet will doubtless split a spot weld seam in their jollity. I know they need the cyber-space, but it would be nice if they brought a shovel with them so I can clear away the bullshit that much quicker.

I did think of doing a sort expose-post of all the dismal flotsam that wallows around in the cesspit of the web. But I’d need pile of robots mile high just to manage the effluent. Ah well; on to more significant matters like picking my toe nails.

This a daft little story from a collection of  daft little stories, the entirety of which is not called ‘Daft Little Stories’. I don’t actually know what it’s called but it’s not called that.

Here it is, if I’ve not lost it. Altogether.

            Geography was never my strong point at school. The situation wasn’t helped as I could never find the classroom. Really though, this has never been big issue because I’ve never been far enough to need to know where I might be at any given time. The corner shop is a day trip out in my book (that’s the book I could never find because it was in the geography room); and I always pack a tent and a primus to go to Tesco just in case.

            With this sort of background it has become obvious that I should write travelogues. Let’s face it, it’s easy to write a travelogue for somewhere you’ve been to. But I haven’t been anywhere, so the World, the Solar System; the Universe, even, is my oyster. Here is a quick spin around the oyster

 

                                                             A Trip Round the In-Continent.

            It’s a big place, is a continent; and far too big when you’re sat next to an incontinent dog, on a sight-seeing trip around India after an evening meal of vindaloo; the continent seems never to know when to stop and the incontinent when to go. Should we wish to assess India in a different light, it’s not nearly big enough to allow the kind of space you’d like to put between yourself and the next seat.

            There’s no doubt it gives a travel writer a distinct edge over the competition if he’s never been anywhere. India to me is full of sacred cows and bullshit; a sort of annex of the Houses of Parliament. Having never seen one, I can give a perfect description of a sacred cow. It’s brown. That’s also my description of just about everything else. I might do Russia next; which will be brown, also.

            Just so that you might not miss the point; the only things I know for certain about India is that it’s very big, definitely brown, and I’ve never been anywhere near it. That goes for everything else as well.

            The train was an ‘Orient Express’ sort of thing, built entirely of walnut and corridors that don’t go anywhere. They had a pile of small Poirot figurines at the blank wall at the end of each corridor. This was evidently proof of something, but I never found out what. The continent stretched out to infinity across the paddy fields (or whatever), to a golden sun-something, depending a lot on whether it was going down or up. Rather like the lift at Debenhams in Sheffield, that could do strange things when you weren’t looking. Thanks to my fellow passenger’s (I christened him Dongo-Pongo), problems, I’d survived a good part of the journey with my head stuck out of the window (thereby acquiring enough dead mosquitoes in my teeth to keep the whole train in mozzie vindaloo for a week) except for the odd times I had to pull it in quick to avoid the bits that fell off the engine at intervals. These kept me on my toes like a butterfly in a blizzard (?) and after a week of this exercise, I had a hyper-fit neck and destitute everything else. Well, I wasn’t going to start anything with Dongo was I? He was twice my height and weight. It was a mystery how he managed to keep his weight as he evacuated his entire internals every five minutes or so.     

            Sepia photographs dating from the heyday of the Rag tend to mask the actuality of the transport of the time, as you can’t see it at all. Rarely is the romantic vision of the Orient Express responsible for depicting a bald guy with a mouthful of flying insects ducking shrapnel.

            The sleeping arrangements were similarly marred. Dongo had the bunk above mine. I slept with an umbrella up. Why I’d actually brought one along in the first place I put down to pessimism. For a continent that only sees a teacupful of rain every fifty years it was bound to pee down when I got there. It always does at Blackpool at any rate. We pulled into the station at Bongawaka, or somewhere, and were besieged by the whole of India in total. I had never realised the extent of the mania for autographs there. I managed to get one of David Beckham and Prince Walter, two sacred cows who had ‘David Beckham’ and ‘Prince Walter’ stamped across their butts.

            We were transported to our hotel on a fleet of wheelbarrows (I think). Mine was ‘David Beckham’ and I got its autograph.  

            The hotel was the epitome of opulence. Silk carpets, gold leaf, fountains; it was just that there was nothing in there I could eat. Dongo was ok; whatever he put in at the front came out of the back within twenty seconds of its disappearance so it didn’t seem to matter much. I ate the rush mats. I ran out of them pretty quick because of Dongo’s problem; with edibility you really have to draw the line somewhere.

            We moved on. I was disappointed that I wasn’t wheeled back to the train on David Beckham; the one I had was Adele; she looked about the same though; rusty handles, square wheels and a flat tyre. Nobody’s perfect.

             The next stage was (we were told by somebody who had plastic tag not unlike Dongo’s), a relatively short jaunt across some open space. Pluto suddenly sprang to mind, but was hurriedly pushed to the back burner. We were going to see a spectacular monument, a stunning piece of history, a never-to-be-forgotten experience. The experience was soon forgotten by me, because I can’t remember how to spell it, so the most memorable experience of that leg of the journey was relegated to unsuccessful attempts to hold onto a bowl of soup in the dining car. As it swept past under my nose to the east, most of it dashed against the window and on its fractured and emaciated return journey it fell to the floor, where Dongo pursued it up and down the isle, swerving and feinting between the diners’ legs while they in turn attempted to hold onto their soup.

            That was about it for India. We were thrown off the train (unfairly, I thought; it wasn’t Dongo’s fault that he converted everything he ate into a laxative), and made the long walk back without any form of navigation aid other than feet. Lucky really; with my expertise in geography a map would have been confusing.

            Dongo and I lived happily ever after that, having found that he liked to eat sticks of chalk and half bricks which alleviated his irritable bowel syndrome in favour of irritating me.

            We might do Eurasia next.

            It’s brown.

I don’t suppose there’s much point now.

                                              The End.

The Trouble with Marketing……

The trouble with marketing (so far as I’m concerned, anyway) is that I can’t do it. I put this down to a fault in my marketing DNA, or ineffective potty training. The former is a hereditary trend that I can confirm because my dad had a pHd in hair-cutting and could only ever get five bob max., for a full-Monte haircut, and blow-dry. Or something.   

I know that most marketing folks are a lot closer to their potties (might still be on ‘em for all I know) than I’ve been for a long time; but a cast-iron potty leaves its salutary mark. Even from those earliest moments, we were encouraged to advertise our gifts and expertise by placing them under tarps after burial at sea. Consequently, I couldn’t sell a bucket of water to a burning Eskimo.

Even allowing for that immense handicap, there is another that one must surmount before effectively surviving a ‘Marketing Strategy’. I’m not sure where that came from. Probably a weak moment while reading ’1984′. The readership of this arbiter of poor taste, which by now must number well into single figures (and I know who they all are), are all by this time straining to get some inside information on this ‘other handicap’.

I call it “sense and reason” and although it’s as rare an earth element as ‘Blowfeld-a-mite’ it will torpedo any marketing dingy and sink  it deeper than the Atlantic Trench. I suffer from this defect a lot, which is why I have trouble with electricity bills and the like. There might be reasons for the bills, but I can never make any sense of them. 

Which gets me to the reason for this blog. It’s my ‘Marketing Strategy’.

I have, at this very moment seen a huge flaw in my ‘Marketing Strategy’. So far as I know, robots rarely carry small change in their pockets, and as the visitors to this blog seem to be outnumbered to the power of some fabulous number, by robots, my little book sale idea seems destined for the slag heap. Draining board. Flush pile. Whatever.

So, in the unlikely event that you might want to waste a quid (dollar/euro/thing) on actually buying the sort of garbage you have just managed not to avoid, here is a link to Amazon Kindle.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005o0JGZG

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005o0JGZG

 

This, I’ve just found, doesn’t work, which immediately starts a series of convoluted thought processes mostly dedicated to some sort of victimisation syndrome. The first being ‘Amazon Doesn’t Want Me!’  Let’s face it, my ‘marketing strategy’ is clearly as accessible as a distant mirage; a tortoise surrounded by cliffs of the Eiger within a minefield of razorwire.

Not, then, overly inviting. Never mind; somebody might accidentally fall over it while researching ‘Dentistry for Bricklayers’. We shall see. 

The book is called ‘Star Truck. Tales of the Uninteresting.’ and it’s a collection of  ten science fiction stories.

 

 

 

It’s got a BONUS TRACK as well. So if you didn’t like the first ten you get another to make you even more irritable. And that’s my best shot at a hard sell.