Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My address to the world on the occasion of New Year's Eve, 2014

Ah, New Year's Eve, we meet again, each of us 12 months older, but neither one the wiser.

At this eleventh hour there is a choice to be made and it is Hobson's choice:

Either the purgatorial limbo of a party, where time will slow to a near standstill as the outgoing year drags its feet like an irritable child reluctant to go to bed. And on the horizon the god-awful moment where asinine social convention compels you to link hands with people who you would quite happily nudge over a high precipice if you thought that you would get away with it, while the whole rotten lot of you pretend to know the words to Auld Lang Syne, and give a single ounce of a fuck as to their meaning and sentiment.

Or, if not the party, then the dismal prospect of the Hootenanny on BBC2. The spectacle of Jools Holland locked in stilted conversation with Dawn French, before accompanying Dave Stewart (formerly of The Eurythmics) on boogie-woogie piano in a re-tooled version of a song that he wrote for Alisha's Attic in 1996. I was young then. Even the prospect of Oasis releasing another dreadful album, written in the plodding tempo of a knackered dray horse, could not dampen my enthusiasm for life.

The greatest and most inspired New Year's Eve celebration I ever participated in took place in 1999 during the premature millennium festivities: I began urinating shortly before the stroke of midnight - a continuous stream of piss that, like a gracefully arcing, golden bridge, spanned two arbitrary ages, each one bearing the weight of a thousand years.

"Start as you mean to go on!" I yelled to no one in particular as outside fireworks pointed at the witching hour, like batteries of nuclear weapons, launched on either side of it, and the sky was momentarily filled with colour and noise.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Last Christmas by Wham! is an ambiguous and confusing head fuck

Last Christmas by Wham! is an ambiguous and confusing head fuck

Like listening to your eight year old self making an enthusiastic but mostly inaccurate attempt at describing sexual intercourse, the lyrics to Last Christmas by Wham! make absolutely no god damn sense whatsoever.

Last Christmas
I gave you my heart”

Clearly we are in metaphor territory, only apparently we're not:

But the very next day you gave it away.”

So George Michael has given his heart away to someone who has in turn re-gifted it to somebody else. How does that work exactly?

Is George Michael no longer in control of his heart and compelled to love a stranger chosen by the very person who spurned his affections? What in the name of honey-glazed fuck is going on here?

The final lines only add to the confusion:

This year
To save me from tears
I'll give it to someone special.”

At this point George Michael is one year older and wiser. He has regained possession of his heart; how, we do not know and George can or will not say. Possibly it has been returned to him by the recipient, perhaps out of pity or embarrassment, or in exchange for a small sum of money. Or it might be that legal ownership of the heart reverted back to George after a period of time had elapsed.

No further insight is provided in the remainder of the lyrics which are sketchy at best and would not hold up as testimony in court. Consider the following verse:

I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying, "I love you,"
I meant it.”

What the shitting hell did you wrap up and send George?. If it was a heart then it clearly wasn't your own and was only yours in the sense that you momentarily possessed it. Before that it beat inside the chest of a terrified living thing.

For fuck's sake George who did you kill?

Jesus fucking Christ!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Why it must never be allowed to rain men

Why it must never be allowed to rain men

Far from being a cause for joyful celebration, 'man rain' as it is described in the hit single - It's Raining Men (Homer Simpson's favourite song) would be a tragedy on a par with Hurricane Katrina, a tsunami, or an alien invasion of Canada.

It is a practical reality that few of the men would survive the fall from several thousand feet. Going out and letting yourself “get absolutely soaking wet” would in this case equate with allowing yourself to be thoroughly drenched in blood and gore and impaled with shards of human bone.

Among the surviving men the majority would be seriously injured, requiring urgent medical attention and, in the long-term, extensive physical rehabilitation. As somebody who investigates and writes on local health issues, I can say that the healthcare providers in my home town of Southend are ill-prepared to deal with an incidence of man rain.

It is likely that on the ground further casualties would result, either directly from the rain itself, or as a consequence of accidents caused by it. Would man rain be intense enough to bring down an aeroplane? I would like to answer 'no' but we all know that the real answer to this question is 'Yes.'

There would be extensive damage to property. Emergency services would be stretched well beyond capacity. It is likely that in some areas the rule of law would break down altogether.

In the aftermath of the man rain somewhere would have to found to store the bodies and the other disparate remains until such a time that these could be identified and the next of kin notified. Every death would need to be treated as suspicious until the police could rule out foul play in individual cases.

The Guardian newspaper would invariably pronounce the man rain as misogynist. For The Daily Mail it would be held up as yet another example of the government's failure to control immigration. The Daily Express would, with some wild leap of media logic, link it to the death of Princess Diana.

Disco music has a way of making mass tragedies seen acceptable (see The Trammps - Disco Inferno). We must condition ourselves to look past the catchy rhythms and infectious melodies and see the human cost that lies beneath.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Parson's Hassock - Lady Margaret Seacombe answers your questions on matters of modern etiquette

The Parson's Hassock - Lady Margaret Seacombe answers your questions on matters of modern etiquette

In her new monthly column – The Parson's Hassock - Lady Margaret Seacombe bids a fond temporary adieu to her busy social calender of organising charity dinners and giving out the prizes for good attendance in school assemblies, to answer your questions on matters of etiquette in the 21st century.

A refreshingly modern approach to age old dilemmas” - Country Life

Dear Lady Margaret Seacombe

Last week my housekeeper walked in on a threesome involving myself and two other men. She is an unmarried, deeply conservative catholic woman and so was understandably traumatised by the sight of a trio of naked male bodies writhing together in an exquisite carnal ballet, choreographed by deep-seated, libidinous desires that are as old as mankind itself.

How can I apologise to her in a way that communicates that, in my eagerness to see Jason's and Roy's penises, I momentarily forget that it was 11am on Tuesday?

Bill (Clerkenwell)

Dear Bill of Clerkenwell

Bone china is the traditional gift for a transgression of the kind that you describe in your electronic communiqué.

Gladstones' of Old Bromptom manufacture a tea set for precisely this situation. The number of cups will relate to the number of partners who were engaged in group sex. In your case that will be three. The teapot represents the intended recipient of the apology. A design that in some way some way reflects their moral character and beliefs should be carefully chosen.

The nature of the other items included in the tea set will very much depend upon the sex act or acts that were witnessed by your housekeeper. In the interests of maintaining decorum I will not provide a full list here. Gladstones' have a private room where you will be able to discuss the incident further. The staff there are very discrete, broad-minded, and well versed in the colourful vernacular of the boudoir, and the lengths to which men and women will go to avail themselves of sexual pleasure.

You will be asked detailed questions which will be used to refine your apology gift.

The tea sets are made individually to order and may take upwards of three months to finish. In the interim, Gladstones' will send a card of apology to your housekeeper describing the gift and explaining in detail the significance of each item. Based upon some of the graphic details in your letter, which I have omitted here for fear of offending those of more timid sensibilities, I most strongly advise that you order the larger of the two sugar bowls.

Yours in earnest

Lady Margaret Seacombe

Thursday, 23 October 2014

As part of my community service I must polish the ghost of Jeremy Bentham

As part of my community service I must polish the ghost of Jeremy Bentham

As part of my community service I must polish the ghost of the social reformer Jeremy Bentham who died in 1832.

I am compelled to perform this court-appointed punishment for a period of 8 months. At the end of this time I will be considered rehabilitated, the act of polishing having in some way redeemed my character and righted my errant moral compass.

To aid me in this my task I am given special ghost polish. The polish is made from rendered lemur bones. It is manufactured at a factory in Basildon and is sold in 100 litre drums that I must wheel along the corridors of University College, London, on a metal porters trolley.

Occasionally one of the professors at the college will usher me to one side and quietly enquire as to whether I might be able to siphon off a little of the polish: They are expecting important dinner guests and there is a ghost at home who must be made to look presentable. I am duty-bound to for account every last drop of ghost polish on a paper form, copies of which must be submitted to three different departments. I give none of it away. There are charities that offer ghost polishing services, although these use inferior lemur-friendly polishes made from synthetic compounds.

My supervisor impresses upon me the importance of regularly polishing the ghost of Jeremy Bentham. The more tarnished a ghost becomes the harder they are to clean. Jeremy Bentham's ghost is prone to fidgeting and sometimes wanders off. I follow behind with my squeaky porters trolley and my bouquet of dusters. When I am finished Jeremy Bentham's ghost emits a lustrous golden glow that attracts magpies. He must remain indoors until his aura has sufficiently dimmed.

When Jeremy Bentham died his skeleton was dressed in simple clothing, padded with straw, and placed in a sitting position inside a glass cabinet. His head was mummified according the practices of the indigenous people of New Zealand. The end result was macabre and so a wax head was attached to the body instead.

The ghost of Jeremy Betham is unhappy with this arrangement. He continually petitions me to include the reattachment of his head to his body as an item on the agenda at University College board meetings.

I inform him that I am not an employee of University College and have no influence over the agenda in any of their meetings. I am one of criminal classes convicted by a jury of my peers of selling a counterfeit stegosaurus skeleton to the Royal Society of Junior Palaeontologists.

With the end of my sentence approaching the ghost of Jeremy Bentham becomes agitated. He asks me who will polish him after I am gone. It will probably another community service worker. If there is no-one suitable then maybe somebody who is claiming job seekers' allowance will be forced to polish the ghost of Jeremy Bentham in return for their unemployment benefit, or the job will be offered as an unpaid apprenticeship.

It is the final day of my sentence. Me and the ghost of Jeremy Bentham journey across the road to the park on Gordon Square where we both sit in reflective silence. I watch the ghost of Jeremy Bentham as he is slowly dulled by traffic fumes. Around us the dusk gathers erasing the fine details of London. The end of the day and our time together is sketched out in abstract in the sad evensong of a blackbird, perched in silhouette, high in bare, still branches.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

The five stages of grief are remarkably similar to the five stages of being attacked by a Eurasian Eagle Owl

The five stages of grief are remarkably similar to the five stages of being attacked by a Eurasian Eagle Owl

By Mark Sadler

Last Saturday, after leaving a friend's house in the early hours of the morning, I made a decision that would profoundly alter the direction of my life. Instead of taking my usual route home, following Larchers Lane to where it joins with Willmarck Boulevard, I opted for a bold diagonal course across a chain of neighbouring farmers' fields. This off-road detour would, I calculated, shave 20 minutes from my journey time. If judged correctly, I would emerge further along Willmarck Boulevard, just before the petrol station and the big roundabout.

It turns out that there is a good reason why more residents of Larchers Lane do not take this short cut: Unbeknown to me, as I entered the second of three large fields, I unwittingly strayed into the hunting territory of a Eurasian Eagle Owl. It was this giant bird of prey that descended like a fallen angel from out of the cloudy, starless night sky, its orange eyes burning with infernal hatred as it set about me in a blur of talons and feathers.

In the fraught melee that ensued, I had ample time to reflect upon how the emotional states that one transitions through when attacked by an owl of this particular species, are the mirror image of those described by the Kübler-Ross model charting the five stages of grief:

When the owl first struck I was overwhelmed by strong feelings of DENIAL. During the opening seconds of the assault I found it hard to admit that I was even being attacked! Instead I rationalised that the wind must have caught the hem of my coat and blown it over head.

Even after I had finally come to terms with the stark truth - that I was being savaged by some kind of large, predatory bird with excellent night vision - I was unable to accept that my assailant was a Eurasian Eagle Owl. I refused to believe the living evidence before my eyes, that was hell-bent on raking deep bloody furrows into my face. Instead I conjectured that the south of England lay outside the normal range for an animal that is more commonly sighted on continental Europe, and that my attacker must therefore be another large bird – a nocturnal seagull, perhaps.

Hot on the heels of denial came ANGER. Over the course of four decades I have donated small sums of money, amounting in total to 10 pounds and 43 pence, to The Owl Enhancement Trust – a charity that is run by owls for owls. Donations from the public are used to promote issues affecting owls and to provide owl-friendly habitats, for example by constructing more derelict barns to encourage the spread of barn owls across the UK.

Many is the time that I have spoken favourably of both eagles and owls in public. Furthermore I have always openly challenged those who attempt to spread untruths or incite violence against these birds of prey.

Yet now, in spite of my philanthropy, I was being attacked like a common vole, under the cover of darkness, by an eagle/owl hybrid!

As my anger subsided and it occurred that I might very well come off second best in the struggle that was unfolding, I resorted to BARGAINING. I wrenched from the twisted pocket of my jeans a mixed offering composed of small change, faded milk-chocolate M&Ms, and used tissues. I cast these down onto the bare earth in the hope that they would provide adequate compensation for whatever transgression I had committed.

When this desperate attempt at mediation proved futile I lost heart and slipped into a DEPRESSION, where I recalled the lyrics of a song by Morrissey titled 'Charles Hawtrey is Snatched from the Set of Carry On Doctor by a Giant Tawny Owl'.

In this despondent state of mind, where the embrace of death felt preferable to the reality of having my flesh gouged by the sharpened talons of an enraged owl, I almost gave up. It would have surely been the end had ACCEPTANCE not come riding out of my existential darkness to save me. It was in this moment of clarity that I thought:

'I am being attacked by a Eurasian Eagle Owl. I am not okay with this, but it is happening.'

As I spoke these words to myself something changed: Our physical bodies seemed to fall away and the owl and I were unified as a single entity; one that was composed entirely of light and energy. I knew the personal history of my strigiforme assailant and the history all owls. Likewise my attacker knew my past and the past of all humans. Together we ascended through the earth's atmosphere, out into the solar system and beyond into the vast and unfathomable cosmos, where we now dwell, immortal and omnipotent, presiding over the secrets of the universe like a god.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The social justice warrior in four seasons

The social justice warrior in four seasons

A tanka cycle

Spring blossoms. I write
on bare skin in our combined
sexual juices
a fawning review of your
terrible video game.

Summer winds blow favours
from friends. Undeserved status
wealth and influence.
Your money buys the ink for
my pen that sings your praises.

Autumn rot. The body
that we pronounced dead rises.
I, a megaphone,
cannot drown its words or still
the voice of my enemy.

Winter snows. Our febrile
heat cracks the ice underfoot.
A cold spider web
showing through starved foundations
slowly pulls itself apart.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Three or four angels

Three or four angels

By Mark Sadler


The unlovely office block where I worked from the week that I left college right up until August 2014 is called Moorcroft House. This is in reference to an 18th century redbrick mansion that formerly occupied the site where it survived two world wars but was ultimately flattened beneath the jackboot of urban developers in the early 1960s. The block overlooks Lambs Passage; an L-shaped road located just north of the Barbican, painted on either side with double yellow lines and barely wide enough to accommodate a single lane of vehicle traffic. It is more of a glorified alleyway.

My desk was situated in an open-plan area on the second floor, adjacent to a row of windows. Several times a day I would rise from my chair and stare out through the darkened glass.

From this vantage point I would often see in the street below a gathering of three or four angels who would congregate at the same spot on the pavement opposite. A colleague of mine once remarked how peculiar it was for us to be looking down on them when in biblical writings angels are portrayed as descending from on high and typically remain aloof from the ground.

The angels were dressed as one would expect in flowing white or champagne-coloured robes. The only time I ever saw any variation in this uniform occurred a few days before Easter 2009 when they manifested wearing hard hats and with fluorescent safety jackets pulled over their vestments. I attributed this change in attire to angel humour as further along the road a trio of workmen dressed in very similar clothing had dug up a short section of the tarmac exposing the pipes underneath.

The angels always appeared pre-occupied by some inaudible conversation that one felt compelled not to interrupt. However there was an occasion when, as I passed by on my lunch break, I noticed one of the host looking in my direction as if inviting my questions and so I asked him: “Why do you congregate here on this spot in the heart of London?”

He replied: “We gather here because beneath our feet lie the remains of the poet William Blake.”

I responded:

You are incorrect. The marker for the grave of William Blake lies in Bunhill Fields and his true resting place not more than 20 metres from the site.”

Then the second angel spoke:

It is true that William Blake lies here beneath our feet. As a boy he ate of bread that had fallen from the heavens. That which sustained both his body and his soul was incorruptible and never left him.. It remains in the ground to this day where it radiates something of the heavens above.”

The third angel joined the conversation:

William Blake died singing of the wonders he had glimpsed in heaven. In his memory we raised the pulpit spring upon this site. Alas, it has been forced underground and forgotten.”

It was then that I became aware of a fourth angel who seemed to exist only sporadically. He did not speak.

A few months ago I looked down from the window of the office and saw only bare pavement. The angels have not returned. Today as I packed my belongings and cleared my desk in readiness for my successor I have resigned myself to never seeing them again.


In the grounds of Fulham Palace, once home to the bishops of London, there lies the grave of an angel whose name is known but to god. A letter written by the bishop Edward Milbourn on the 7th July 1812 records how the seraph had fallen from clear blue sky the previous afternoon. A local doctor pronounced its neck broken and the body was quietly buried.

The following morning the heaped dirt over the burial bristled with long white flight feathers. Milbourn ordered these removed and placed in a studded wooden trunk that he kept in his office. 

New feathers reappeared on the grave the following day and have done so every day thereafter. Every morning before dawn a caretaker removes them and places them inside the Milbourn trunk. When the trunk is full the feathers are transported to an un-named bank where they are stored securely in a vault.

I once asked bishop Angus Pomroy whether he had ever considered either exhuming the body of the angel or destroying the feathers, which must surely now be very large in quantity.

He replied:

I would greatly fear the consequences for my soul were I to pursue either action.”


As you enter Bromfield's Tailory you will see hanging from the panelled wall directly adjacent to the door, a large tapestry. Its lower left corner is ragged from being brushed against by people as they enter and leave the premises. The piece as a whole is moth-eaten and riddled with holes. It is so filthy that it deflects all but the most determined gaze. However when subjected to scrutiny it reveals an image of the river Thames in London at some time during the 17th century, the water teaming with a great variety of boats and sailing vessels.

The tapestry was woven by Mr Bromfield 17 years ago during a long convalescence. I asked him once whether he had considered repairing it and perhaps treating the fabric with a chemical that might deter future insect infestations. He directed my attention to a hole which had been gnawed clean though the threads and to a caterpillar that appeared to be in the process of weaving silk across the empty space:

Am I to judge the work of god's hand as inferior to my own?”

One Sunday morning, while Mr Bromfield was attending mass, an angel entered the premises. He was carrying with him a black plastic bucket that was filled almost to the top with small coloured button badges – green, red, yellow, or blue, all decorated with pithy slogans.

He silently offered me one which I declined.

I explained to him my atheist convictions and my belief that angels do not descend to earth from the heavens but are the benign ambassadors of an alien race.

He nodded his understanding but still plucked a red badge from the bucket and handed to me. Printed in black ink across it glossy surface were the words: 'Hey! What's up?'

Upon Mr Bromfield's return I showed him the badge and inquired after its meaning. He pondered it for a few moments before responding:

What you have to take into account when dealing with angels is that everything they say or do occurs within the realm of the avant garde. Which is to say that there may be some meaning or intent to their actions but its been buried beneath so many layers of imagery and symbolism the chances are you'll drive yourself mad trying to work it out.

Trust me, I've been dealing with angels for over 70 years and unless they're waving a flaming sword in your direction I would take their behaviour with a pinch of salt.”


While wandering back home through the sketchy pre-dawn streets of Chalk Farm I saw what appeared to be an angel approaching from the opposite direction. As we drew closer to each other I realised that what I had initially assumed to be a celestial being was in fact Francis Newth, the lead guitarist of The Wens. Like me he was returning from a party which he had attended in fancy dress.

At a book launch the following week I relayed this story to my friend Jon Horsman who is a professor of logic at Woodford college in Dulwich. He asked me:

But how do you know that what you saw was not an angel disguised as Francis Newth disguised as an angel?”

I considered inquiry at length and found that I could not answer him.

Horsman took full advantage of having knocked me intellectually off-balance and seized the opportunity to have sex with my girlfriend in the cloakroom - an incident that I was only made aware of four months later.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Today, at 6:52am, I entered Super Power-Up Mode

Today, at 6:52am, I entered Super Power-Up Mode

Dear human reader, search-engine web-crawler, or itinerant porn-bot,

I am writing to you this evening on a matter of great import.

At 6:52am on Monday 1st September, 2014, a fortuitous set of circumstances, which I will describe in greater detail below, allowed my upward transition from Ordinary Life Mode (OLM*) to an elevated state of being known as Super Power-Up Mode (SPM).

Although this enhanced state lasted a mere 30 seconds the discrepancies in time perception between OLM and SPM meant that for me events taking place within this half-minute window seemed to be unfolding over the course of several hours. This afforded me plenty of opportunity to explore my modified environment and make detailed observations, some of which I will attempt to describe, though words alone will not do them justice.

(*more commonly referred to by people over the age of 40 as “Mode Five”)

How did you enter Super Power-Up Mode?

At 6:50am I exited my study which is located on the upper floor of my home. Having ventured onto the landing and established that there were no patrolling ghosts in the vicinity, I noted an unbroken line of yellow pep pills, each spaced a uniform distance apart, arranged along the middle of the carpet, starting at the closed door of the spare room then trailing down the stairs before disappearing around the corner into the hallway/lobby. Working from the beginning of the line I immediately began to eat the pills one after the other. After I had consumed around 50 (which by my estimate comprised just over two-thirds of the pills in total) a crude electronic fanfare sounded and the words “Super Power-Up Mode!!!” flashed repeatedly before my eyes. It was at this moment that a gnarly electric guitar riff began to play on a continuous loop.

You must have shit yourself! What is Super Power-up Mode like?

I did not shit myself. Such a thing would not be possible in Super Power-Up Mode where the laws of the universe are altered in a such a way that the outcome of any action you attempt can never be anything less than objectively awesome.

Scientists who have studied this parallel reality have concluded that the ambient levels of fail in Super Power-Up Mode stands at around >0.001% (for more information read Super Power Up Mode is Mostly Made Out Sex and Win – Dilkes & Townshend – East Anglia Journal of Transitory Modes, Vol 14 Issue 9). This is opposed to the 79% fail that comprises Ordinary Life Mode, which is often said to be “made of fail” by those with a fondness for hyperbole over facts.

Below I will outline my main observations of Super Power-Up Mode:

1. Upon entering Super Power-Up Mode I immediately became aware of long dead friends and family surrounding me, embracing me, warmly shaking my hand and congratulating me on my achievement. In that moment I was taken by a most peculiar sensation – a melancholy blend of aching sadness and soaring joy that surged through me as, one by one, I was reunited with those who I had thought lost to me forever. “Help us for we are damned to wander this curse-ed realm for eternity,” spoke one of the shades as a gathering wind blew them all from my sight.

2. Having regained my emotional bearings and wiped the traces of spittle from my reddened cheeks, I realised that my clothes had changed. I was now wearing on my top half a flared navy-blue jacket with epaulettes that had been cleverly fashioned from a pair of living raccoons. Occasionally these raccoons would detach from my shoulders and launch themselves high into the air where they would snatch pocket watches that were suspended from fixed points in the sky. Initially I assumed these antique timepieces were a means of extending the length of my stay in Super Power-Up Mode. However closer inspection revealed them to be ordinary watches of the kind that might have been worn by a Victorian gentleman.

Back in Ordinary Life Mode I attempted to sell some of the watches on Ebay. This resulted in a visit to my home from the local police who informed me that four of the timepieces I had put up for auction had been reported stolen. It seems that unscrupulous thieves are using Super Power Up Mode as a convenient place to store their pilfered goods. These thieves clearly had not taken into account the heightened scavenging tendencies of my raccoon companions. It is advisable that any the watches harvested from the blue skies of Super Power-Up Mode are handed in to the police upon your return so as to avoid the possibility of a criminal record.

3. In addition to my two normal arms which I keep beside me at all times Super Power-Up Mode gifted me with six additional arms which manifested as ghostly overlapping appendages. While my original arms busied themselves with mundane tasks my new phantom limbs engaged in all many of frippery sewing half-finished quilts, playing whatever the collective noun is for a group of xylophones, and engaging in light office and administrative duties. On those occasions when this flurry of disparate activity became a blur, the word “COMBO” followed by a multiplier would flash-up in front of me. The highest combo multiplier I achieved while in Super Power-Up Mode was x14. The next time you enter Super Power-Up Mode why not see if you can beat my high score.

4. A physician who was monitoring my vital signs for the duration of my stay in Super Power-Up Mode noted that my green health bar (which is used by doctors to gauge the well-being of their patients) had turned red and had expanded so that it was twice its normal size. An analysis of my blood taken during this episode indicated that, for a period lasting around five ordinary seconds, I also entered the complimentary state of Invincibility Mode. During this time I was immune to every known virus and all but the most aggressive forms of cancer. As my doctor put it: “If god had chosen that moment to punch you in the groin, he would have walked away with a sore fist.”

5. In Super Power-Up Mode I am able to perform a handstand, a feat that I find impossible in Ordinary Life Mode.

6. In Super Power-Up Mode making physical contact with trees causes them to momentarily become featureless silhouettes that rapidly flash blue and white. Striking them while they are in this state causes their canopies to shiver and eject showers of gold coins. I gathered some of these coins in a wheelbarrow and took them to my bank where the teller informed me that they held no monetary value. My theory is that this coinage is representative of the currency of an internet-based nation which has thus far eluded discovery. I vow to locate this civilisation and live among its people until such a time that the diseases I carry with me wipe them from existence.

7. The number '7' does not exist in Super Power-Up Mode.

8. There are many species of animal that are indigenous to Super Power-Up Mode. Swatting at these creatures causes them to evaporate in clouds of coloured vapour releasing points which can be redeemed at participating petrol stations. Strangely these points cannot be off-set against the cost of petrol. During my time in SPM I was able to identify nine new species of moth, previously unknown to science, and able to render eight of these extinct, earning me enough points to purchase a four-bar Kit Kat in Ordinary Life Mode.

9. There are no motorised vehicles in Super Power-Up Mode. Any long journeys are undertaken either on foot or on the backs of lions all of whom are carbon neutral and emit no harmful greenhouse gases. Unlike their African counterparts who dine on gazelle, antelope and wildebeest, the lions of this realm recharge by standing adjacent to immense sentient gemstones that rise up out of the ground and exude waves of powerful energy. In return the gemstones benefit from the lion's protection from leprechaun prospectors.

My friend Murial say that Super Power-Up Mode is addictive and that all those who return from it do so as empty shells of human beings. Is that true?

I am confirm that your lover Murial is correct, or at least she is in my case. I would happily betray both Queen and country for another another 30 seconds in Super Power Up Mode. Evidently my family soon grew weary of witnessing the varied tawdry and sordid acts that I was willing to perform for a chance of returning to my earlier state, as this afternoon they staged an intervention.

As of this evening I will be entering rehab where I will undergo intensive group sessions as well as 'Venezuelan Bark Spider therapy' where you offload all of your problems onto a South American spider that makes a reassuring nodding gesture whenever it feels threatened.

My other friend Erzbet, who is prone to making wild claims, says there is such a thing as Ultra Power-Up Mode which is even more awesome than Super Power-Up Mode!

Your friend Erzbet is a liar and a fantasist. To enter Super Power-Up Mode is to become one with the omnipotent and divine. To experience anything even remotely similar in Ordinary World Mode you would have to lick the naked body of god starting at the toes and then slowly working your way up. There can be no greater feeling than that experienced in Super Power-Up Mode!

Is their a cheat code that will grant me access to Super Power-Up Mode?

There is no cheat code. To gain access to Super Power-Up Mode you must first prove yourself worthy by eating 50 pep pills while avoiding the roaming ghosts. Many have tried. Very few have succeeded.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Please give five minutes of your time to read an emotional plea from an internet spammer

Please give five minutes of your time to read an emotional plea from an internet spammer

Good day to you Sir or Madam

I am writing to you with a unique investment opportunity.

My best friend's sister-in-law's cousin's aunt makes $80 every second that she spends on the internet. She has been fired from work for eight months but last month her payment was £150770000000 just for working on the internet for a few hours clicking on gold coins and bonus gems as they tumble down the screen, while avoiding the giggling goblins which incur a small penalty and sign you up to a mailing list that bombards your email inbox with inspirational Taylor Swift quotes.

I can vouch that all of the falling moneys are 100 percent genuine bitcoins issuing from a virtual leak in the online bank account of the late Colonel Gadaffi. As the executor of his estate I have been unable to stop the leak. Therefore I must proceed with the dissolution of his finances with all due haste. As the primary next of kin (you are Colonel Gadaffi's son or daughter) you will be entitled to an inheritance of 72 million pounds sterling which I will release to you as soon as you transfer the sum of £15,000 to cover administrative costs.

On a tenuously related matter my PR, Roxy, wondered if you might be interested in viewing some lewd photos that she and her friends took in a secluded cove while on a yachting holiday.

I also promised to pass on an offer from my UK-based business associate, Sandy, who along with her hot single friends in Brentwood is looking for no strings attached sex with strangers who she met on the internet. I appreciate that Brentwood is a long drive from Southend however I strongly urge you to join the sex commuter revolution at your earliest opportunity. Why not take advantage of the special train and bus services that have been laid on for itinerant man-candy like yourself. I assure you that this public transport is run by reputable operators and will definitely not deliver you to an unbonded travel agency on the outskirts of Birmingham where you can inquire about our many concessions and saver fares.

If you are concerned that your bedroom performance may not satisfy the unchaste desires of HOT MINXES LIVING IN THE VICINITY OF YOUR NEAREST INTERNET EXCHANGE then why not take advantage of the latest offers from our online Canadian pharmacy in Canada. Our Canadian Viagra is aged on cross-sections of redwood for seven years to ensure a smoother longer-lasting erection.

Our miracle penis-enlargement pills can make your manhood equal in both length and girth IN UNDER FOUR WEEKS! The longing for a cubed penis is the secret desire that fuels lust in the heart of every woman. They will marvel at the uniform dimensions of your mighty beef whistle. She will call you stud or your money back!

I wish to take this moment to recommend to you the benefits of taking a Canadian lover. One can be dispatched to you by overnight courier. See online for our latest offers on hot Canadian brides.

Why not meet me in the Mauritius Suite of my virtual casino where we can play blackjack and discuss all of this along with the size of the donation that you will make to my porcupine sanctuary.

Every minute a porcupine living in a sanctuary makes $40 working on the internet when they could be earning double that amount as an independent operator. Your £10,000 donation will purchase the materials to create a disguise that will allow a porcupine to slip past the guards and live out its days in the lush countryside surrounding Bradford, where it can take advantage of secret wi-fi nodes to conduct exclusive online auctions.

My fluorescent safety jacket speaks of my seriousness on these matters.

I await for you to confirm your urgent response immediately when you confirm this letter today.

Andrew Smith, English Minister for the Stock-market

Saturday, 2 August 2014

The abiding incompetence of Mr Neaves

The abiding incompetence of Mr Neaves

“I have urged Mr Neaves to contact me with due haste.”

Thus spoke Mr Warton over breakfast. He furrowed his brow into a succession of three orderly creases which he hoped would convey the seriousness of the situation to the only other person in the room.

Mr Warton's daughter, Rebecca, was seated at the opposing end of the long dining room table. She returned the marmalade spoon to its crystal vessel beside the butter dish and drew a deep breath as if to compose herself before speaking:

“I find Mr Neaves to be a most vexing gentleman. His every action, no mater how mundane its purpose, seems to bring our family closer to penury. That we cannot easily rid ourselves of his unwelcome presence is a cruel fate indeed.”

The opinions of father and daughter were bolstered by the facts themselves which bore ironclad witness to the abiding incompetence of Mr Neaves. He was, to the insoluble regret of all who dwelled within the ivy-clad walls of Lavendon Manor, a distant cousin of Mr Warton. Formerly he had been a resident of Stribling, prior to the town being wholly occupied by wasps.

His most recent blunder, which teetered atop a pile of previous indiscretions, had occurred after his long-suffering host had placed him in sole charge of a cargo of live snakes. His duty in regard to these reptiles lay in arranging their conveyance from the Cornish port of Bellton-on-Milne, to Haroldwick in Buckinghamshire.

In pursuit of his objective Mr Neaves found it expedient to secure passage for himself and the consignment of serpents upon a commercial airliner. When attending to the matter of storage in the hold of the plane, he delegated to the smaller snakes the task of tethering the larger ones. With one half of his cargo secured and the remainder gainfully employed as jailers he satisfied himself that the job was well done and took his seat in the cabin.

“Mr Neaves evidently did not foresee the many casualties that would result from such a haphazard arrangement,” continued the brooding Mr Warton.

“I fear I will once more be compelled to procure the services of Mr Jackson. Though there are some in the village who refer to him as a bad-ass mother-fucker I have always found hum to be most agreeable.

“Rebecca, my dear. With your compliance I will avail of Mr Jackson and ask him to arrange for the bothersome Mr Neaves to be felled by a volley of musketry, fired from a passing carriage that will speed away from the scene before the assassins can be caught and blame apportioned.”

For the second time that morning Rebecca Warton composed herself, carefully selecting her words before speaking:

“I would approve of this course of action were it so, yet if asked in public I would censure it in the strongest terms.”

Mr Warton nodded.

“I fear that such a severe resolution will not be without cost. The expense involved in the engagement of Mr Jackson will dwindle the sum that I can offer for you as dowry. You must be prepared to forego both your first and second choice of suitor and thereafter must accustom yourself to the lowly role of wife to Andrew Catchpole who resides in one of the cardboard houses in Lower Mockford...”

Friday, 1 August 2014

Is the love affair with flying sharks finally over?

Is the love affair with flying sharks finally over?

By Tamara Winicott-Preedy

It was 11am on a Wednesday morning. As per usual Sera and I were enjoying a well-deserved cocktail brunch. We had decided to try a new place called Condensative which is just down the road from our office in Shoreditch. Cosmo recently branded it the most humid bar in East London.

As neither one us enjoys an over-abundance of moisture, and since the bar staff ignored our requests to turn off the humidifiers, we chose to sit at a table outside where it was cooler. Even there a waitress would appear approximately every five minutes and drench us both with a hand-operated plant mister.

We were idly chatting about a Darlia gig we had attended the previous evening which we had both filmed on our iPads. After about five minutes my arms got tired from holding mine above my head and I talked Graham into taking-over for the remainder of the show.

Anyway we were joking and laughing when suddenly Sera got all serious. I know when Sera is serious because she pauses the conversation and looks me straight in the eye. I was hoping that she was going to tell me that she'd slept with Graham as I'm getting a bit tired of him. I don't want to be the one to do the dumping because he's a part of our social circle and it would make waves.

More's the pity, it turned out that Sera's problem was nothing to do with Graham:

“Tam do you realise that this time next year we wont be drinking margaritas out of jam jars?”

“I don't see why we wouldn't be doing that. Drinking margaritas is practically my entire job description,” I replied archly.

Sera reached across the table and grasped both of my hands by the fingers. She held onto them so tightly that it hurt a bit.

“But don't you see ,Tam? Jam jars are on their way out. Gladstones & Mabel says that in a few months we'll all be drinking mixed drinks out of reconditioned boilers from Victorian steam locomotives. And you know very well that I am terribly allergic to anything from the 1800s. I'll end up drinking on my own at Muciform, or I'll have to talk to Oliver and his horrible stockbroker friends.”

Sera's dilemma reminded me of something I had overheard one of my interns reading from a magazine to my four-year-old boy - Nathaniel - during story time.

It concerned a film called Sharknado which is about a tornado that sucks up a school of sharks and causes havoc.

The flyaway success of the movie led to budding shark actors from all over the United States travelling to New York to audition for the part of one of the flying sharks in the sequel, which I believe is called Sharknado 2. Apparently the queue for the auditions stretched for five blocks.

All across America now there are colleges where instructors run courses teaching sharks how to fly, but the success rate is low. The man who does all the casting for shark movies said: “The truth is most sharks can fly like most L.A. actors can do a convincing British accent,” by which I assume he meant “not many”.

Not all of the flying sharks wanted to appear in Sharknado. Some wanted roles in highbrow productions like the Doctor Who Christmas special from a few years ago which also had flying sharks in it.

The problem is that there weren't any highbrow films or TV shows being made that required shark actors. Plus people were beginning to get a bit bored with the novelty of Sharknados which are going the way of jam jars as drinking vessels.

Some of the shark actors couldn't afford the fare home to whatever part of the United States they had travelled from and so had turned to drugs and prostitution.

Anyway the upshot of all this is that Sera is back on cocaine and has to go into rehab, otherwise she'll have to go to prison. Since I am one of her known triggers we won't be seeing each other for a while .


Thursday, 31 July 2014



A giant employed by Southend Council will ensure that residents of the seaside town will never again forget the horrors of the First World War.

The 60 foot tall giant, who was discovered last September in a cave in Benfleet, will be dressed in period German military uniform and will recite speeches given by the Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II from a site outside Southend Victoria railway station. On weekend evenings black and white newsreel footage from the conflict will be projected onto his bare chest. It is hoped that the giant, who is currently being read war poetry by volunteers from local branch libraries, will eventually give weekly recitals of poems by Siegfried Sassoon.

Councillor Derek Notes said:

“From July 28th, people living in Southend will be reminded of the First World War on a daily basis by the bellowing of a fearsome giant, who will be shackled in cold irons in the barren wilderness that lies beyond the high-street, behind the Odeon multiplex cinema.

“As part of the council's drive towards accessibility I would like to assure those who are hard of hearing that the giant's speeches will be both signed and subtitled on an accompanying video screen.”

In addition to acting as a “Knowledge Point” for information on the First World War, the giant will also take the lead in re-enactments that will introduce the horror of life and death in the trenches to a generation who have never fired a Lee-Enfield rifle in anger.

Events coordinator Sarah Wednesday said:

“In our contemporary society it is difficult imagine a scenario in which 60,000 Englishmen are slaughtered during a single day of fighting. I am therefore pleased to announce that on July 1st 2016 - the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme - the giant will be freed from his bonds, armed with a custom-made machine-gun and several cannisters of mustard gas, and instructed not to return until 60,000 residents of Southend lie dead.”

The plans have drawn criticism from local historian Harold Petley, who is chief lecturer of Giant Studies at Southend University:

“I seriously doubt that a single giant, even one who has been armed with a machine-gun and archaic chemical weaponry will be able to kill the required number of people within the 24 hour time limit,” he said.

Critics have also expressed concerns over the costs of keeping the giant in Southend. Level 15 Rotarian, Magnus Harte, said:

“I question whether this so-called giant, who I am told eats upwards of 30 sheep a day and has already threatened to destroy the Royals Shopping Centre and lay waste to Westcliff-on-Sea, represents good value for the taxpayer.”

Derek Suttling, UKIP MEP for the fictional home counties village of Lower Rosefistings, responded:

“Southenders should be justifiably proud that their town is now home to the third-tallest World War One Remembrance Giant in England.

“Need I remind you that we inhabit a flat earth that is precisely 6000 years old, where the Welsh have a dragon with the voice of Tom Jones, the Japanese have a radioactive moth and various tentacled monsters, and the United States have a 100 foot tall robot battle suit called Patriot One which has been fashioned from the wrecks of planes and ships destroyed in the attack on Pearl Harbour.

“In addition to teaching us about World War One, these giants act as a strong deterrent to anyone who is considering an invasion of mainland England, the French for example.

“I hope that one day these giants will stand at the head of a mighty army who will occupy Europe and give birth to a new age of British imperialism that will last for a thousand years.”

Residents of Southend have so far given mixed reactions to the giant:

14 year old accountant Scott McFarlane said:

“As a seasoned Call of Duty player I mainly concern myself with the actions of rogue states, dissident groups who are aiming to destabilize western governments from within, and the activities of my arch-nemesis on XBOX Live multiplayer - Joel13 - who claims to have to have slept with my mother and has, on numerous occasions, demanded that I perform oral sex upon him.

“However the pained roarings of the giant, which I hear in the morning when I am waiting for the bus, have given me pause to ponder this early 20th century war, in particular how its outcome affected the modern geopolitical situation and perhaps indirectly fuelled the armed conflicts of today.”

120 year old Maurice Simms who fought in the original First World War said:

“I had all but forgotten the terrors of the trenches; the sight of men broken beyond recognition and the terrible booming of the big guns. Coming face to face this salivating giant dressed up like a German officer has brought the horror of it all rushing back. Must I, along with my fellow 120-year-old veterans, fight World War One again so that our nation can be free of these monsters?”


The final of a BBC series in which celebrity chefs compete for the honour of cooking a dish in a 25 course banquet, fit for the nation's World War One Remembrance Giants, will be decided on Friday.

East Anglia finalist Michael Panrucker said:

“Many of my fellow chefs have grown beanstalks which they plan to serve in a variety of imaginative ways. However, I know that what all giants really crave is the grinding of bones and blood of free-range Englishmen dribbling down their chins. 

"If successful I will be making a deconstructed cow tartare, served on a sharing plate made from the roof of The Imperial War Museum. I can think of no better way of honouring these giant men who have taught us so much about the First World War.”


Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Golden Dream of the Hive

WOKRER BEE c9826a: “The time of pollen will soon be at an end. The golden dream of the hive fades and dies with the ebbing warmth of a dim sun that weakly crests the horizon. Come first frost our unburied dead will litter your patios and decking areas.”

BACKWARDS7: “That sucks.”


WOKRER BEE c9826a: “Ghlamayce, the dragon, has awakened in the master bedroom of his assisted-living bungalow lair on Tyrone Road. When the worm-eaten Autumn windfalls spoil and ferment in the long grass, he will take to the skies of Thorpe Bay despoiling your farms and seizing virgins.”

BACKWARDS7: “Good luck with finding either in Southend. All other considerations aside, Ghlamayce is a douche. One of his tattoos is supposed to say: 'Unashamed to be English' in Mandarin. What it actually says is: 'Reeboks 180 RMB.' They caught him shoplifting frozen lasagne from the Tesco Metro on Thorpe Bay Broadway. I believe he's still on the sex offenders register for the virgin-snatching thing.”

WOKRER BEE c9826a: “The sun is a sleeping red giant; the devourer of planets; the parched drinker of tepid oceans.”

BACKWARDS7: “Yeah, listen can I run something past you:

“The witch who does the weather forecasts on Thorpe Bay beach told me that I would soon be Thane of Cawdor. The thing is I don't want to accept this title as it will entail me moving to Scotland. I understand that the duties of the Thane are rather heavy on paperwork and administration which isn't something I want to get into again after my last job. The trouble is, if I don't accept the position the Job Centre will sanction me. If that happens then I'll have no choice other than to round-up the old crew and go back to robbing food banks at gun point.

“The witch told me that, when I signed-up to her service, I should have unchecked the box that opts-in to all prophecies. The thing is I don't even remember seeing this box; to be honest I just scrolled through the terms and conditions.

What legal recourse do I have, if any?”

WOKRER BEE c9826a: “This isn't really my area of expertise. I could pass it on to our legal team if you want.”

BACKWARDS7: “That would be great, Thanks.”

WOKRER BEE c9826a: “Okay, will do. Look, I've gotta go. Remember me to your parents.”

BACKWARDS7: “Yeah, laterz.”

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Is it Friday yet?

(The band name 'Egg Friday' was conceived within the fevered imagination of Mark Ellen)

Is it Friday yet?

In 1991, Richard Markwell was a young man poised on the brink of fame and fortune as part of the boy band Egg Friday. Despite some early success, with two top ten hits and a nomination for Best New Act at the Brit Awards, their short career was to end in tragedy for one member of the group.

“At the peak of our popularity we were all in our early to mid-twenties. Somebody from the record company told me to lie and say that I was 21. We all had to conform to the back-story that had been written for us. After a club appearance in Grays, which was down the road from where I lived, our manager took me into a back room and instructed me to break up with my girlfriend. When I refused he said: 'Well she can't come to your shows any more and I don't want you mentioning her in interviews.'

“Sean was supposed to pretend to be 19, which was funny because he was already starting to lose his hair. He used to wear a blue paisley bandanna to cover it up. When they exhumed his body in the back garden at Morecombe Avenue...

“...I knew it was him even before he was formally identified. I just had a feeling: That was where he had been all this time... We never stopped looking for him. Nobody ever gave up.

“His sister told me that he had been buried still wearing the bandanna. As it rotted away the blue dye had seeped into his skull and discoloured the bone.”


“From day one Egg Friday was a manufactured band. None of us knew each other beforehand. I answered an advert in the local paper and was called to an audition at a community centre in Tilbury. We were all from dancing/performing arts backgrounds, with the exception of Joe who was a county swimming champion. We nick-named him the 'breaststroker'. Sean and Craig were both credible vocalists so they ended up doing most of the singing. The rest of us just muddled along in the background.

“Our career, if you can call it that, was an eighteen month whirlwind. We were raised to a great height and then dropped without warning. The amount of coverage we were getting in the media, mainly in teen magazines was massively out of proportion to our actual success. We all thought these articles and appearances were driven by fan demand. The truth is that, beavering away behind the scenes, there was a team of people who we never saw attempting to create a buzz for our music. We were being positioned and marketed to a target audience.

“In total we had three singles. The first two were top ten hits. Egg Friday went in at number seven but the following week it was number 33. Tender Lies was number two for a week. We lost out on the top spot to a Luther Vandross remix. Our cover of My Girl went to number 14 and was tagged on to a Christmas re-release of our first album.

“The album did okay. Not as well as everybody hoped;. That should have been a warning to us but we were all quit naïve.

“Our first TV appearance was for a Saturday morning kids show. It was filmed on Mitcham Common in South London. We mimed our debut single inside an inflatable castle, up to our knees in foam. What we didn't know was that some teenage girls had gone around the back. They were blowing up condoms like balloons and writing obscene messages on them with magic marker – 'Fuck me Sean,' 'Eat me out' and so on. They were pitching them over the walls while we were performing.

“Fortunately, given that it was a live broadcast, the wind was blowing the condoms over the top of the castle before they came into shot. After we finished one of the presenters made some comment about 'a swarm of balloons.'

“When we all dived into the foam at the end and started chucking it about, that was the happiest moment for us as a group. If you were making a film and you wanted it to have a happy ending you'd have stopped it right there.


“We all knew that Sean was gay. It was ironic because he was always the girls' favourite. He always got the most fan mail. The incident in the Ipswich hotel was nonsense (Sean Perry was charged with sexually assaulting two under-age girls in his hotel room – the charges were later dropped). The problem for Sean was that he wasn't 'out' and he didn't want to be 'out'. His parents were very old fashioned and Victorian. He didn't want them to know about his sexuality. As tragic and ridiculous as it might sound he was prepared to face the charges rather than tell everyone that he was gay.

“The second album had ridiculous title - I want to go to the Fair - I don't know who came up with that. The cover was a photograph of us swaggering in a row through a fairground at night with sticks of candy-floss. That wasn't staged. It was a picture our PR took of us one evening outside Darlington.

“The record company had given up on the band and were keeping us at arms length. I think they were hoping to recoup some of the money they had already invested, but they weren't prepared to spend much more. We were saddled with a different team of writers who didn't really care about us as a group. Most of what we recorded had already been rejected by other artists. 

“We were dropped a month before the album came out. It ended up selling a couple of hundred copies. Suddenly you find yourself in a situation where nobody from your old life wants to talk to you any more. You're not quite famous enough to parlay your celebrity into a career in TV or on stage. You have no job. You have no money. All your friends from school have careers and are in the process of settling down...

“Fortunately I managed to get a job in a bank. I had only been there a few weeks when somebody took a photo of me working behind the counter. It ran as a story in a couple of the tabloids. I think that was the last time I was in the papers.

"Sean's sister, Gill, contacted me six months after the band was dropped. She told me that Sean had been sleeping rough in London. It shook me up a bit. Here was someone who had received fan mail from all over the world. Girls had screamed at him and sent him their underwear. Now some of these same people were probably walking past him in the street. Later, when I think she'd decided that she could trust me, Gill confided that Sean had a drug problem. It shocked me because nobody in the band ever even drank that much. His family got him into rehab but he walked out after a couple of weeks.

“I remember getting a call from Gill in November 1994, asking me if I had had any recent contact with Sean. She sounded concerned. He was sleeping rough again but nobody had seen him for a few weeks. None of the people he associated with seemed to know where he had gone. We reported him missing to the police but they weren't really interested.

“In November, 2005, Graham Nibbs was arrested and charged with multiple murders. He had been picking up homeless men in London, taking them back to his house and strangling them. I saw the photos of some of his victims on the news one evening. They were all boyish-looking and blue-eyed. I think then, deep down I knew what had happened.

“After the police finished searching the house they moved on to the garden. That's where they found Sean.

Is it Friday Yet? is a charitable trust set up by myself and Gillian Perry. It aims to help homeless young people by providing them with the training and skills that will give them a stable foundation and keep them employed and off the streets. We also do signposting to charities offering support for victims of drug addiction and sexual abuse, and mental health organisations.

“Recently Egg Friday received an offer from a promoter to take part in a 90s revival show. I don't think any of us would consider doing it without Sean. Plus I don't really have the figure for it anymore. I have a pair of teenage daughters who would both be absolutely mortified at the prospect of me whipping my shirt off on-stage.”