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.


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.




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.