Monday, 13 July 2009

Wordzzle No #71

For rules and so forth visit

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…


Lydia said...

Marvelous job on all. I don't know how you do it! I should give it a try one of these weeks.
I particularly liked the way "blueberries" was used in both...made me laugh.

the watercats said...

You clever bleeda! It was a very nice surprise to wake up on this piss awful monday morning (weather) and have such a brilliant chunky, amusing and grabbing read!.... LOVE IT! Particularly love the "if braincells were blueberries".. :-D

Raven said...

These were wonderful! I can't choose between them. They were delightfully clever. I love both ways you used blueberries. Great job.

Argent said...

I heartily echo the "gooseberries..braincells" praise! All three pieces were excellent. You should write more stuff about the 2 security gueards.

gabrielle said...

Loved the mini, the clever use of blueberry and your impeccable writing in all of the pieces.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Lydia - thanks. You should definately do it one week. It's always interesting to see which bits people like. I still like "all the acid-spitting pens you can eat" - appeals to my odd sense of humour!

Watercats - glad that i managed to cheer up a monday: they are hard going.

Raven - thanks for introducing me to the idea and keeping me amused.

Argent - everyone seems to have liked the blueberries thing. I guess the truth is that i just like word-based comedy, so playing with words is always fun. I'd wanted to write a spy-based story for a while: this wasn't quite what i had in mind, but it worked out ok. Maybe Tyler and Barnstonworth will return - we'll see where the wind blows my mind!

Gabrielle - thanks for visiting. Doesn't look like i can return the favour as there's no link. I think a fun thing to do would be to try and turn the mini into a song each time...

Friko said...

Hi Pixie, I've visited Raven and Delusions of Adequacy with a view to having a go. May yet do so.
Anyway, great stories, as ever.

Stephen said...

I liked your poem and the two stories. I liked last week's story, too.

Stephen from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Friko - you should definately have a go: it's interesting to see what you can make from the words.

Stephen - thanks and thanks for visiting: i shall return the favour!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to get into espionage more now. I have "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" but didn't finish it. I will pick it back up soon.

That was quite amusing, the way you used blueberries in the second story.