Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Sounds Of The Underground

OK: I did threaten some more songs, but you’ll be glad to know that these are “it” for now – mainly because my recording system: an old Tascam 488 tape system is on it’s last elbows (it’s already past its last legs)

This system is great so long as you want to record fairly basic songs, but the more you multi-track the more quality you lose: so whilst Phil Spector created the wall of sound technique and Phil Collins created the gated drum sound I have inadvertently created the “Man shouting into a bucket” technique.

So, in alphabetical order, a word about all the songs so far:

My main memory of writing this is just thinking about a book called “The Meaning Of Liff” which gives words to all the feelings that we have for which there are currently no words. One phrase that struck me was “any otherwise sensible looking adult walking as to avoid the cracks in the pavement in case the bears come and get them” – I liked this and realised it was something I did, so I wanted to write something upbeat and catch about those moments when you’re just in a world of your own.

I’m a big fan of miserable music and this is inspired by two different Morrissey/Smiths songs – “I Have Forgiven Jesus” and “The Death Of A Disco Dancer” – not so much lyrically, but both seem to build up musically as they go: so when I was programming the synth I was thinking about building up the song. Apologies if you can’t hear the lyrics in places (see head-in-a-bucket comments)

Sacred Ground
A couple of years ago I was going through my old tapes to review my songs and I found this – I have no memory of writing it or what it was about: I think I was just trying for a menacing atmosphere – its one of my favourite songs.

(The mighty) Terracotta
My friend (she of the guest-starring vocals) and her husband came round for a meal one evening and we were talking about our respective trips to China. She had seen the Terracotta warriors, whereas I had not. It got me thinking about all the things we hope for and how easily they slip away if we don’t stick to them – I wrote this the next day and am very pleased with it. PS: the song is just called “Terracotta” but somehow it seems to have become irrevocably connected to the proceeding (the mighty)

Sadly I don’t have decent recordings of some of my most favourite compositions, so will have to try and do something to rectify that situation. I think the world needs to hear “Mad Axeman Blues” and “The Year Of The Gun” to name but two!

The good news is that myself and "Anne" (must think of a new nom-de-plume for her) are hoping to get together for a jam again soon - so if you are currently struggling with a bat infestation then the Pixie is available for scaring them away with his high frequency shrieking!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Wordzzle #73

As usual for rules and so forth visit http://ravensviews.blogspot.com/
This week I’ve tried to write a serious one as well as the usual fluff. Hope you enjoy them:

The Main: riverboat, procrastinaton, drank, demons, invisible, candle, enough, film stars, summer job, computer

For the mini: general demeanor, surprisingly, masked man, reach, standards


Song To Catch A Thief (a sort-of sea-shanty)

It’s surprisingly tricky to get what you need
When you’re young and ambitious, with children to feed
If you haven’t got standards, you’ll soon lose your job
And there’ll be nothing else for it, but to go out and rob

Oh who was that masked man, the mild-mannered cleaner?
He had us all fooled with his general demeanour
When we finally catch him we’ll have lessons to teach
And we’ll bring him quite quickly to the gallows reach


Closeness In Distance

The thing that came back to Lucy that spring was no longer her husband. It looked like him, walked and talked like him: sometimes it even smiled like him. But something had been lost along the way, taken away by whatever demons he was fighting.

Most nights she would lie awake next to the stranger that had returned home until the early hours, reading endless books by candle light in the hope of finding an answer. Every book had a different theory, leaving her feeling more confused and isolated than ever. For his part he showed little interest in her, answering her questions with a distance that had never been in his voice before; like some vital part of his personality had been left behind in the killing fields, like she had somehow become invisible to him.

And of course the Army were no help. They came, they spoke in conciliatory tones about shock and about treatment and offered counselling, but he just sat out on the porch and drank all day. Even this was better than the way he threw himself under cover whenever a car backfired.

Sometimes, in her darkest moments, she found herself wishing that he had come back in a body bag – at least that way she would have been able to mourn and move on.

As the spring turned to summer she began to feel stifled by the regime at the base and packed up their few belongings into the trailer. He followed her around like a man in a coma, helping where he could but mostly getting in the way. The last thing she did before locking up was to turn on the old computer and send emails to the few remaining friends that army life hadn’t taken away. Then they were gone, taking a steady pace out into the countryside.

Her father was waiting by the old riverboat when she arrived, his smile as warm and welcoming as the reflections of the sun in the water. He held her close for as long as she would let him before allowing her to pull away. The old man greeted her husband next, extending his hand and pumping the younger man’s arm enthusiastically, casting only the briefest of concerned glances at his daughter as he stepped backwards, allowing Lucy to watch him as he silently assessed the space between her and her husband

‘Haven’t seen you up here since your mother passed’ the old man stated with no hint of bitterness. Nevertheless Lucy was ashamed and put her head down. Her father chuckled, ‘Still, you chose a good time of the year to come out here Roy: fishing’s never been better’ Lucy looked back at her husband for any sign of a reaction, realising that she had barely been able to use his name since he came back, but if he had any interest in the fish then he wasn’t showing it.

She took a summer job looking after the trailer park just up the road. The work was a relief from her routine of tip-toeing around the house, taking her mind away from the endless buzzing of her thoughts. Mostly Roy just sat on the water’s edge watching the sun go up and down whilst her father cleaned the boat, made meals and fished in the pure blue waters. Sometimes she would spend the evenings climbing into the mountains, trying to tire herself out enough to sleep, knowing full well that all of this was just procrastination from her problems.

‘Give him time’ her father would say to her most evenings as he sat out on the stern of the boat, ‘He’s still in there somewhere’ and he would chew the end of his cigarette and toss it into the water the way he had always done.

And then one day the birds came. They crested through the skies with military precision, diving into the cool waters and coming repeatedly back to the surface until they had enough fish to feed the five thousand, their wings catching the light and shimmering with energy.

It was a perfect day with no clouds, a cool breeze just taking the edge of the heat, and as Lucy stood by the water’s edge and watched the birds preening like film stars in front of a camera she realised that she was no longer alone. Something about the sight had finally roused Roy from his seat, brought him down to the water until his toes were washed clean by the tide. As she turned to face him the sun caught his eyes and he shielded them from the glare with a lazy salute.

No words were exchanged, but she found herself reaching towards him and placing an arm on his shoulder. For once he didn’t flinch from her touch: instead he turned away from the view just for the briefest of moments and smiled bright enough to shame the sun.

They stood there together that way for a long time, watching as the birds came and went and for the first time in months Lucy allowed herself to feel hope.

The Mega

Protesting Too Much…

The masked man clung to the shadows as he scaled the sheer cliff of the wall, clinging to the bricks like a limpet.

The night was silent aside from the occasional sound of a siren in the streets below, making him pause and shrink into the shadows, trying to become invisible until they had gone. If he was seen here he would certainly be arrested before he had chance to complete his mission.

Finally he reached the balcony of Buckingham Palace, the one where the Royals appear from time to time to demonstrate the skills they’ve learned in waving school, clambered over the rail and fell straight into Marilyn Monroe.

A second glance was sufficient to tell him that this was not the long-deceased starlet: for one thing as far as he could remember she hadn’t been six foot five and built like a builder and for another he was pretty sure that she’d had significantly less facial hair.

There was a moment of silence as the masked man, who was dressed as Batman under his heavy coat, and the builder-dressed-as-Marilyn regarded each other…and then Batman noticed the others.

There were, at a quick count, three Devils and several assorted Demons, a couple of Elvises (inevitably), a man who seemed to be dressed as a chicken, Marilyn, himself and two Michael Jacksons looking embarrassed by the rear parapet.

The Batman took a long look at the small gathering of film stars and minor celebrities and decided he’d seen enough, ‘What the hell are you lot doing here?’ he said

Marilyn drew himself up to his full size, his general demeanour announcing to anyone who wanted to know that he had every right to be here, dressed in drag or otherwise, ‘Friends Of The Earth’ he announced, ‘Who are you?’

Batman tried to reach the same height and stance and failed spectacularly to do either, ‘Father’s For Justice’ he responded, ‘Campaigning for better rights of access to my kids’

Marilyn shook his head, nearly causing one of his false breasts to pop out of his bra and catch on fire from the candle in the hand of the Elvis next to him, ‘Well you’ll have to campaign elsewhere: we’ve already got Animal Rights, Friends Of The Earth, Free Tibet and Amnesty International up here’ Batman silently acknowledged the wave from Michael Jackson #1 at the mention of Amnesty, but returned to his original antagonist, determined to maintain his standards

‘Well’ Batman replied, ‘I’m not going anywhere until the camera crew from the BBC arrives’

‘Been and gone mate’ Elvis #4 replied with just the slightest hint of a Newcastle accent, ‘They interviewed Chicken man there and two of the Animal Rights Elvises and buggered off’ Elvis #4 shrugged, ‘I think there was a Tube strike to report on or something’

Batman cursed loudly at his surprisingly bad timing. He had to admit that the hour or so of procrastination at the pub whilst he drank a bit of the old Dutch courage had probably cost him his headline, but it was too late to do anything about it now.

‘You guys really should check your flags’ a new voice announced. As one costumed avenger they all turned to the window and set eyes on Terry, the bored looking Security Guard. Terry, who had often had cause to resent his decision to take a summer job rather than go on the riverboat holiday with his University mates offered them a friendly smile and gestured towards them with a small flask of coffee

‘Sorry?’ said the Newcastle Elvis

‘The Royals are out mate’ Terry replied, pointing to the half-mast flag, ‘not a soul at home apart from us guards and a few kitchen staff’

‘Well we’re not going anywhere’ Batman replied, his voice suggesting that he was about ready to call it a day.

Terry sucked air through his teeth, ‘Well…’ he paused, ‘Thing is: we’ve got this old computer see, still got tape rolls and takes about half an hour to load anything more complicated than Space Invaders…and if you guys stay I’ll have to call the police and log it on the computer…whereas if you were all to scarper within the next five minutes then we can just forget this ever happened’ He smiled again and let them see the night stick and can of pepper spray on his belt, ‘I’ll just leave you alone to think about it shall I?’

Terry vanished and there was a moment of embarrassed silence whilst the protestors thought about the warmth of their beds and about how bloody stupid they all felt.

Finally the chicken man shrugged and stood up, ‘I don’t know about you guys’ he said, ‘but I could murder a curry’

Friday, 24 July 2009


So here it is and there it was - i had to cheat slightly to get the media player onto blogger (I pasted and copied the code - seemed to work) but for anybody who isn't already suffering enough finally you have the opportunity to listen to the imortal "Bears" with yours truly and a Very Special Guest singing (We'll call her Anne Onymous for the moment)

Anne is the most scarily intelligent person i know and someone i'm very happy to call friend.

You can hear the song by clicking play on the left.

You can also visit me at the below link - be warned: more songs will follow (including The Mighty "Terracotta")


Have a great weekend

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Everyday I Sing The Blues

It’s quite bad

You can tell it’s quite bad because I’m listening to B.B.

I only really listen to B.B. when things are quite bad.

Now if I were listening to Joy Division THEN we’d be in serious trouble – but as it is I’m riding with the King towards the far distant horizon that is a horse called hometime.

But today I’ve got the gentle sounds of Lucille (B.B.’s guitar) to make me feel a bit less rubbish: because there’s nothing like the sound of a man whose been miserable now for going on 70 or 80 years and done pretty well out of it to make you feel like you’re in a better place. Plus the man sure can play the blues and there ain’t no other colour without the blues.

This week I’ve been on the bus four days out of five and will be more than a little relieved to wake up tomorrow and haul my bike out of the shed. It’s been one of those weeks where I’ve had Things To Do each and every night.

Tuesday was the Depressing Reality Check from the woman at the Chamber of Commerce (Government body set up to give advice and support to new businesses), followed by yet another bus journey across town which took me past the music shop where I was supposed to spend my millions when I finally win the lottery/get published/sell my paintings for shed loads of money (delete as applicable) has closed down.

Somehow I doubt that my occasional five-yearly trips to buy new strings were sufficient to keep them going: but it was one of those places that was run by Enthusiasts (note the capital letter) who hate anyone who has less knowledge than they do (see the film High Fidelity if you haven’t experienced this in person) and was set up so that you immediately felt like you couldn’t go any further than the counter without someone doing a Townsend on your head with a worn out Stratocaster. What with this and the local artists shops both having closed in the last twelve months I will have to go elsewhere to be patronised in future.

Wednesday (yesterday) was Toastmasters and I’m still really enjoying that, even if it does mean that work on my latest painting got no further forward (I now switch between this and my Old Fogies Art Group). I narrowly avoided the tidal wave of fun during the “Table Topics” (talking with no prior knowledge) when someone else with the same name stood up instead – I know: what are the chances of two of us being called Hungry Pixie? Weird!

Sometimes the endless clapping, evaluations and timings of absolutely everything does get a little wearing, but its worth it for the long haul.

S’cuse me a second coz Robert Cray is with B.B. right now, so a tiny diversion as I tell you that the first time I heard Cray play was when I was working in theatre (see the story about my involvement with Godspell) – we had this truly awful play about an Asylum starring a very faded film star who was mostly famous for drinking her own pee – it was so bad that we had to turn down one of the sound effects in the second half because it was waking the audience up. The only good thing about it was that the Director had a tape of Robert Cray for the intervals, so I would just sit back and listen to that ole blues guitar and yet more songs about playing around and feeling bad about having done so.


Tonight is my last night of Bus Purgatory for this week as I’m off to see Mad Penguin Lady after work for a one-on-one art session, following which I’m going to show my face at Deaf Club (there are two rules about Deaf Club: 1 – you don’t talk about Deaf Club 2 – aw you know where this is going) and see my mate R before he goes on holiday.

R is profoundly deaf and an annoyingly talented artist – does all these pictures of superheroes just straight from his head. These days he’s about the only Deaf person I can understand when I sign, but that’s just fine with me because his impersonations of Deaf versions of famous films are nothing short of hilarious (you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Deaf Alien – in space no one can see you sign)

But in the mean time I’ve been cheering myself up by ringing around all the Funeral Directors and trying to get a gig as a Celebrant (so far i've steered away from using my abandoned slogan: putting the Fun into Funerals) – so far I’ve rung 8 or 10 and only set up one interview: but it’s not as bad as it sounds, coz most simply were too busy to speak right now.

Still, as we all got pulled into a meeting last week and got told that as from October we are well and truly shafted, the wheels do need to start turning.

And going back to the shop thing – I can’t help feeling a bit robbed now, because when I go into the big superstore with wall to wall hobby stuff I can never find anyone who knows a thing about it and I can’t help feeling that this is where the small shops have got it wrong – by not focussing on the one thing that might have kept them in business.

And just exactly where am I supposed to go when I do win big so that I can point at the wall and just say ‘I’ll have one of each please?’

Life just ain’t fair sometimes.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Wordzzle No #72

My apologies for writing yet another story about a disgruntled worker. Guess it must say something about the way i feel about my job right now!

For rules and so forth visit http://ravensviews.blogspot.com/


lavender cowboy, over the moon, preparation, zebra, area rug


corn pone, delegation, nectarines, happiness, 12 going on 13, prancing horses, magenta, butterflies, fragmentary, arthritis

Mega – include all the words listed above


Lavender Cowboy (putting the sic back into country music)

Well I’ve rode the midnight highway, on a zebra painted blue
And I’ve made my preparation, as we went back to the zoo
When the headlights started fading, you know I’ll still be true
So I sing about a lavender cowboy, or I’ll surely eat my shoe
Yes I sing about my lavender cowboy, or I’ll surely eat my shoe

Though my carpet may be fading, my area rug is new
Though my body may be weary, you always keep me true
When my feelings take me over the moon, I know I’ll still have you
So I sing about a lavender cowboy, or I’ll surely eat my shoe
Yes I sing about my lavender cowboy, or I’ll surely eat my shoe


Cookery For Numpties (or all the things TV Chefs never tell you)
(Numpties – silly people or someone who does something daft)

1) arrive home in a bad mood having listened to inane chatter all day until your brain split into fragmentary pieces
2) Look at the mountain of washing up and remind yourself that you can’t simply have beans on toast again
3) Spend half an hour trying to clear enough space on the side to make dinner
4) Open fridge
5) Look at contents of fridge in despair
6) Go to the shelf containing the cookery books and find the recipe that has a) not too many ingredients that you don’t have and b) has the least number of pages eaten by butterflies
7) Spend twenty minutes with a calculator trying to convert the meal-for-six proportions into a correct amount for one person before eventually conceding that this is the meal you will be eating cold for the next six evenings
8) Start to prepare the ingredients
9) Get half-way through measuring the ingredients and realise that what you thought said “12 going on 13” tables of castor oil was a misprint.
10) Start preparing ingredients from scratch
11) Realise that you are fresh out of nectarines
12) Realise that you are fresh out of corn pone
13) Realise that you have no idea what the hell corn pone is and that it would probably have been a good idea to check this in the first place.
14) Spend ten minutes on Wikipedia and decide that grapes and half a wholemeal loaf will just have to do instead.
15) Mix the ingredients
16) End up with a magenta-goo all over the wall
17) Ring your elderly parent/friend for advice and spend half an hour listening to them complain about their arthritis, but come away none the wiser
18) At this point some people may chose the optional ingredient of going mad and singing a song about prancing horses
19) Look at the clock in horror and realise that your dream of going straight to bed is still no nearer
20) Realise that true happiness lies in the art of delegation and call the pizza delivery man
21) Bury the meal you made quietly at midnight under the light of the full moon


The Samples Girl

Nicky plastered on her best customer-friendly smile and smoothed down her purple apron. The smile was well practiced and practically flawless: only the closest of observers would have noticed the tension lines around the side and deduced that it did not denote true happiness.

She closed her eyes, counted to ten and then let off a stream of expletives that would have shocked the coarsest of builders before opening the door of the toilets, adjusting her magenta lipstick, washing her hands and proceeding to the shop floor. All this: the bullet-proof smile, the swear-words, the lipstick and the tiniest amount of alcohol were all just part of her daily preparation for her job at Fresco.

She had worked out fairly early into her tenure as Samples Girl that she would need a technique to survive the banality of the questions she would face on a daily basis, a technique that would stop her from taking a cleaver from the meat counter and committing murder.

Life hadn’t always been like this: she had spent twelve going on thirteen years as a personal secretary, undermining a millionaire’s wife to the point where he was ready to dump the bitch and elope with her: then the bastard had been killed by a zebra and she had gone to the bank. Four years answering customer complaints had given Nicky the ability to answer any query with a degree of politeness that was veering so far towards sarcasm that 90% of her customers came away feeling insulted without quite knowing why.

And then the credit crunch had come and she had found herself working on the samples counter, squashed by the nectarines and the kumquats, breathing in a daily dose of halitosis from an endless supply of moronic shoppers.

She reached her spot, unsurprised to find that she would be sharing it with a display of hand cream that left her with little room to breathe. Nevertheless she laid down the little area-rug with the “Stop Me And Try One” motif and assembled her products. What were they expecting her to sell today? She looked at the packet and saw it was called Kent’s Traditional Corn Pone. Jesus, why did the bastards have to be so smug with their names: couldn’t they just call them bread rolls and be done with it?

Tim, the Duty Manager with the roving hands, approached her from behind the cornflakes, ‘Morning Nicky’

‘Tim’ Nicky replied shortly, silently imagining a gang of prancing horses appearing and stampeding him to death. Having a conversation with Tim was like being mugged by butterflies.

Tim, as blissfully unaware of any sarcasm as ever, smiled with the happiness that only comes to insignificant nobody’s who have acquired a degree of power to wield and are determined to make everyone beneath them totally miserable, ‘You did well last week with that aftershave…what was it called again?’

‘Lavender Cowboy’ Nicky replied, failing to add that almost all of the twenty-seven bottles she’d sold had gone to the same sixty-eight year old man. He had said that he didn’t mind the picture of the bare-chested man on the bottle wearing nothing but a leather thong and chaps, and that he was over the moon to have found something that cured his arthritis at the same time as covering the otherwise persistent smell of wee.

The tannoy cut into life above their heads, announcing in fragmentary bursts of information that a member of Customer Services was required at the check-out.

Nicky tried not to let the relief show too visibly on her face as Tim nodded and clicked his heels together, grateful for once that where delegation was concerned he was totally agnostic.
As he trotted off with a steady clip-clop of patent leather shoes Nicky adjusted her smile and turned the full force of her personality on an unsuspecting customer, ‘Croissant madam?’ she asked…with just the slightest hint of malice.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Wordzzle No #71

For rules and so forth visit http://ravensviews.blogspot.com/

Words to include for the mini: economy, Michael Jackson, ladder, clue, structure

Words for the medium challenge: sober, spoilage, knight, laugh and the world laughs with you, peak, blueberries, owl, drugstore, lampshade, keyboard

And also had a go at the maxi – which has to include all the words

Apologies on this post to Michael Palin for shamelessly ripping off the name of the football club and the associated joke, to Raymond Chandler for stealing his prose style, to John Le’Carre for messing with his titles and ultimately to anyone who has ever learned to read in the English language!

The Mini

The Economy Blues

Tried to climb the ladder, hadn’t got a clue
The structure of my life, was using too much glue
I got the blues, the struggling economy blues
Sometimes I feel like Michael Jackson: may sound funny, but it’s true

Take it away Eric…

The Medium

Gumshoes and Gumdrops

It was four in the morning and the hang-over was already kicking in. I’d asked the guy at the bar to call me a cab…and then smacked him in the mouth for making the obvious joke. Now, two hours later and desperate for some aspirin, I shuffled quietly into my office, happy not to find myself facing a man with a gun for a change, but distinctly unhappy to be sober at this hour.

I picked up the case file on John Knight and threw it down on the table, glad to know that the mean bastard was finally behind bars and thinking that, whilst it may be true to say laugh and the world laughs with you, this was one particular comedian that wouldn’t be joking for a while.

There was a text message waiting on my phone. I adjusted the lampshade and tried to access the message – but I’d just upgraded it to one of those damned blueberries or whatever the hell they’re called, so I couldn’t get it to work.

I put the phone back into my pocket and tried to think of someone who could help me with the damned thing at this hour. I knew from past experience that Macy would be starting down at the drugstore by now. She was a whizz on the keyboard, could probably have worked for NASA at her peak, but somehow she had fallen in with the likes of me and, five years later, had nothing but the spoilage of her career at her feet. Sometimes, on an off night, you could still see the ghost of that dream reflected in her eyes from the light refracting on the glass counter.

I closed the door of the office and stepped out into the moonlight, turning my collar up to the cold. Somewhere in the skies above an owl hooted once and was silent. It started to rain. Why the hell does it always have to rain?

The Maxi

The Spy Who Came In From The Clod

‘Do you ever wonder what happened to her?’
Tyler jumped in his chair, aware that he had been on the verge of sleep and subsequently had no clue what his co-worker was talking about. Two days ago it had been “was the song Flying Without Wings aerodynamically possible”, last night it had been the latest gossip about Michael Jackson. Tyler looked over at Barnstonworth and took a moment to wonder at the structure of his companion’s brain before asking the inevitable, ‘Who?’
Barnstonworth adjusted his feet on the desk, allowing the soles of his boots to catch the keyboard and push it backwards on the desk. He indicated the pan-pipe music that was emanating from the speakers with tinny regularity, ‘The girl from Ipanema’ he paused, considering the question with his usual sober expression, ‘I mean: that song was written back in the 60s when she was young and at her peak. Most of her is probably sagging by now’ he paused, ‘could have had cosmetic surgery I guess: but still…’

Tyler looked at Barnstonworth and thought, not for the first time, that his companion had all the intellectual capacity of a lampshade. How the hell had he climbed the career ladder so high? By rights the man who cleaned the lavatories should out rank him ‘It’s just a song’ he explained, ‘she wasn’t a real woman’

Barnstonworth, who had the disadvantage in life of being called after a lower-league football club (Barnstonworth United: his middle name, United, was no better), scratched his head and popped the last of the maltesers that he had bought from the all night drugstore into his mouth and considered the response.

Tyler sighed, well aware that this was probably only the start of a very long night. “Come to work for MI6” they had said, “a great career” they had said, “all the acid-spitting pens you can eat” they had said. Funny that no one had mentioned the endless nights trapped in pointless conversations with a man who if brain cells were blueberries wouldn’t have enough to make a crumble. Still, the perks were not bad: there was little actual work to do, you got access to the best gym in London and the MI6 car pool (which included a nice Jaguar DBS that was fine so long as you steered clear of the cigarette lighter switch) plus two free weekend breaks a year to anywhere in the world – economy flights, but free nonetheless.

Fortunately Barnstonworth was interrupted from embarking on a long monologue about the relative clarity of song lyrics by the main door to G Division swinging open and Sir Malcolm Griffin coming through. Tyler ushered Barnstonworth to take his feet from the desk, but relaxed internally. Griffin was easy game for a bored security guard. Promoted beyond his ability into the secret services he had all the strength and personal assurance of a dead badger. The Russians had taken forty-two seconds to establish that he was a spy: a record still unbroken even despite all the laptops and memory sticks being left on trains over the past year or so.

Tyler watched as the short man approached, smoothing the spoilage of his hair into a ragged comb-over. As he approached the door Tyler leaned forward and locked it with the remote switch. Griffin turned and stared over his round glasses with eyes as wide as an owl, ‘Could I get through please?’
Tyler shook his head, ‘Sorry Mr Griffin – but you haven’t said the password’
‘What!’ Griffin replied, making a good attempt at bluster, ‘But I come past this door every evening’ he raised himself to his full five-foot nothing, ‘I’ll have you know that I’m a Knight of the realm – can’t you use your brain?’
Tyler smiled slowly, knowing as well as Sir Malcolm did that the honour had been drawn out of a hat by the Shadow Chancellor and was officially on records as being awarded “for services to the paper fastenings industry”,
‘I’m sorry Sir Malcolm’ he replied, ‘but I’m not paid to think. Password, please: or I will have to shoot you’ Tyler produced the small pistol and pointed it lazily in the newcomer’s direction – his general demeanour announcing that a bullet might just be too good for him.

Griffin shook his head angrily, but said the password and Tyler flicked the switch that opened the door. As the short man disappeared Tyler allowed himself a chuckle, after all laugh and the world laughs with you, as his dear old mum had always said. He sighed as he looked over at his companion, wondering what pearl of wisdom would come from his addled brain today. Tyler gritted his teeth and reached for his coffee cup, wishing with all his might for just a single spoonful of arsenic. It was going to be a long night…

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Song For A Friend (and other stories)

Video posted for Lydia at Writerquake

So the inevitable happened: I got a "funny" (note quotation marks) email from someone at work the other day.

Hi Pixie - someone was telling me that you do funerals and my pet guinea pig Gulbinder died the other day. I was wondering if you would do a service for him and give me a discount?

Well - because i knew the person who had sent it i knew that they weren't serious...but i was determined to treat it seriously just in case and responded:

Hi B - yes, i am trained as a Funeral Celebrant. If you are serious about holding a ceremony for your guinea pig i will be happy to talk to you about the details

And of course - no response.

Later on i went over to his desk to see if he had received the email and discovered that a) Gulbinder really was dead and b) the email had been a joke. I repeated that i was serious about offering a service if he wanted one and asked him what he had done with the body

"It's in my freezer"

I looked at him seriously, 'You ARE joking?' I asked.
'No' B responded, 'it won't be a health concern there - perfectly cold'

Shocked and stunned i responded, 'You can't keep a dead animal in your fridge. Apart from the fact its extremely unhygenic and you'll have to clean out your freezer, its also disrespectful to the deceased to shove the body next to your frozen peas and pizza'

B assured me that he would "do something soon" about arranging a decent burial.

This was two weeks ago.

As we speak Gulbinder is still very much stuffed in the back of someone's fridge freezer doing a very good impression of a Guinea pig-popsicle

Monday, 6 July 2009

What's in a wordizzle?

Inspired by sheer boredom at work today and by the super-human entries by Watercats and Delusions...I thought i'd give it a go myself this week.

Anyone who wants to know the rules etc should probably visit http://ravensviews.blogspot.com/2009/07/saturday-wordzzle-challenge-week-70.html - even if you don't want to play it's worth a look.

Words to include: florida, spit, child bride, operatic, busy, holding pattern, sunflowers, ginger jars, office, superintendent.

It took some time for her parents to work out that what Lucy wanted for her birthday was a Super-Nintendo and not, as she had insisted for some hours in the taxi back from Florida Airport, a Superintendent. The plane had been held in a holding-pattern above the sunshine state for nearly two hours whilst the worst of the hurricane passed below; Lucy kept busy splitting her time between singing loudly in her 6-year-old operatic style and adding to the ever-growing list of presents she absolutely had to have.

They took a detour via her dad’s office to pick up Mr Wiggles the stuffed frog: she’d been desolate to find that she’d forgotten it and pledged once again to her parents that she wanted to marry him. Her mom, tired now and developing a nasty headache, cleaned the remains of the crappy in flight meal from her daughter’s face with spit and a handkerchief and explained, for the fourth time, that she couldn’t marry Mr Wiggles because a) he was a stuffed frog and b) she was far too young to be a child bride.

Back at the house she was first up the stairs to check on her pond, spending all the pent up energy from the long flight on running around the garden trying to catch flies and seal them in her ginger jars. Finally seeming to tire she collapsed amongst the tall sunflowers and watched innocently as one hand kept Mr Wiggles dancing through the stalks. It was good to be home.

Friday, 3 July 2009

A Fate Verse Than Death

The lights go down and there is a slight hush in the audience as Jabarant Sintwort, former journalist and manager of The Prisoners, comes to the microphone

JS: Ladies and gentlemen – I know that this evening has been advertised as an extended Bingo Marathon, but the truth is that for tonight and tonight only the surviving members of The Prisoners are here with us (muffled applause). So please welcome on stage: on drums, the one, the only Mister William D. Beest (applause as a rather shaggy looking individual enters stage right wearing Jonh Lennon style sunglasses and waves drum sticks in the air)

On keyboards – all the way from his hairdressing academy in Totnes please welcome Malcolm “Milky” T Wallace (applause rises as smartly dressed man looking vaguely like Rick Wakeman from “Yes” enters and plays a few random chords on a battered looking keyboard)

Next up: please welcome the Buddhist Bassist of Brentford: Jack Hammer (a long haired individual with leather trousers and a low-slung bass enters playing a famous bass line by Fleetwood Mac)

As you all know Randy Sexpot vanished some years ago now following a freak yodelling accident. To this date we have no idea whether he is alive or dead. So tonight, on lead guitar and backing vocals, please welcome the one, the only Mr Eric “Mr Spoon” McGraw (polite, if slightly bemused applause)

Back with the band one final time from his retreat in Tibet, on harmonica it’s the legendary Howling Jay Cloth! (room goes wild as an incredibly tall and thin figure lollops onto stage, waving with both hands)

And finally: the man with a plan: he’s been described as having a voice like an off-key pneumatic drill…It’s that most neglected of pixies…Don’t Feed The Pixies

Our hero comes to the mike to the sounds of applause and JS slopes off stage

DFTP: Hello Derby & Joan Club, it’s great to be back! (there is a combined rattling of Zimmer frames). We’ve got a couple of new songs to play to you tonight – hope you like them. This song is a protest song…at least, that is, people always protest when I sing…so here goes:


I’m falling through the cracks in the pavement
Slipping on the stones in my shoes
Trying to stay dry under a fountain
Wondering how to wash away my blues

I’m trying to call out in the silence
Checking out the tracks of my feet
Smiling at the strangers who know me
Trying to stay alive on the street

And the bears may come and get me, but I don’t care
The bears may come and get me, but I don’t care

Laughing at the dangers around me
Scared of every shadow I see
Tempted by the lights and the noises
Afraid to take the time to be me

Climbing every mountain before me
Looking for the wood through the trees
Counting out the hours of a lifetime
Wondering what it takes to be free

And the bears have come and got me, but I don’t care
The bears have come to get me, but I don’t care

I’m falling through the cracks in the pavement
Slipping on the stones in my shoes
Trying to stay dry under a fountain
Wondering how to wash away my blues
Wondering how to wash away my blues
Wondering how to wash away my blues
Wondering how to wash away my blues

(Rapturous applause, combined with a few snores)
DFTP: thank you, thank you – you’re too kind. We’d like to finish now with a bit of country and western.

Ladies and gentlemen: I’ve suffered for my music – and now it’s your turn…

Picking Fleas

Picking fleas off one another, picking fleas
My neighbours dream of swinging through the trees
Between their ears there blows a gentle breeze
Picking fleas off one another, picking fleas

My neighbours are Neanderthals, they really aren’t too bright
They couldn’t find their backsides if you turned out all the lights
They wouldn’t eat banana’s, they’d rather drink some booze
If you ask them any questions, they get angry and confused

Picking fleas off one another, picking fleas
They like to swear and curse like a disease
They couldn’t quite outwit a slice of cheese
Picking fleas off one another, picking fleas

They never do a day’s work; it’s all there on a plate
You’ll often see them taking, a leak on someone’s gate
You’ll always hear them shouting and looking for a fight
And when the summer comes, they burn the evidence each night

There is some applause and The Prisoners exit the stage. The bingo begins


A note from The Pixies: The Prisoners are an entirely fictional band and have no existence outside of my head and some old CDs i did a few years ago. Any similarity with any real band of the same name is entirely co-incidental.

The lyrics are mine, for what they are worth!

Support the cause to find Randy Sexpot: buy the CD single "Where Are You Randy?" today