Sunday, 27 December 2009


I have two sheds. The one is not enough. The first shed is empty with a trapdoor in the floor leading down to the Large Sweetcorn Collider as has been exaggerated appallingly by Roth. The second is just odd.

From the outside it is a lapped wood panel shed about 6' x 4'. I keep a workbench, a comfy chair, a little coffee table and a few books. The workbench looks out through the tiny window onto the garden. There is a fluorescent lamp running down the inside ridge of the roof. Very simple. Very ordinary.

Now push open the door and enter. It is totally as I described. I can stand at the workbench and look out the window. The chair, coffee table and books are behind my bench standing position and also facing the window. The light buzzes above. Everything faces the window.

Everything faces the window because to look the other way is a little disturbing. The far wall is missing. In its place is a tunnel. It has wooden lapped walls, the fluorescent lamp continues along the ridge of the roof. It looks like it goes miles and disappears at a tiny point of light. It draws the eye awfully, in the way that something totally impossible in a shed often does.

Sometimes I look into the distance, turn, go out and walk around my shed. There is nothing unusual outside. Not that unusual anyway. A couple of tulips fighting a neighbouring cat. Genetics is so fiddly. One false gene and you've got plants that hate cats and can express their feelings.

Maybe when inside I should face the tunnel entrance, because things come out of the distance. Alternatively, I could just buy another shed.

I'm also fairly sure the other end sort of 'flaps around' a bit. I've distinctly smelt sea air and fish and chips. I've had a small amount of desert sand blow around my feet.

I was sitting in my comfy chair when a strangely dressed man on small green ride-on motor mower shot past my chair and came to rest against the leg of the bench. He cut the engine, jumped off yelling "Where are the French?". He noticed me for the first time.

"No French here", I said, a little surprised. This doesn't happen often to me. Even in this shed.

"Are you sure?", he said.

I patted my pockets, and looked around. "I'm positive".

"You speak strangely for an Englishman. Are you sure you're not French?"

"Yes, I'm sure". I had a small piece of brie in the fridge. Better not mention that.

He thought on this for a moment and seemed a little more relaxed, relatively speaking. More relaxed, like one sugar less in a whole bucket of espresso. He'd decided I was friendly or at the very least neutral.

"Would you be kind enough to point me in the direction of Henry's line?"


"Henry. The King. His Majesty. King Henry V."

Why do I have to get a nutter on a motor mower in my shed? It's not fair. I wanted a coffee, a nip of nice malt whiskey and to sit down. I decided to humour him until I could escape or hit him on the noggin with a large mallet.

"How did you get here?", I asked.

"I was caught in a French charge. d'Albret's men were wielding two day old french sticks and cutting through the lines of English lawn-mower men.", he paused, "There is nothing as hard or nasty as two day old french loaves. In the right hands one of those will cleave through the blades of an English mower like a burning arrow through hot lard."

I was a little surprised, and tried hard to remember my history. "I thought the English used longbows against the French?"

"Dear me, no! That would be so 1414!", he gasped. "Ride-on motor mowers. Fantastic". He thought some more. "Well, until the French started using old, stale bread. Not so clever then."

I couldn't find my mallet, and the door was behind him. I also wondered if there was a platoon of deadly bread-wielding Frenchmen closing on our position as I we spoke. With haste I helped him turn his mower around and pulled the starting cord. It chugged into life. They don't make them like that anymore.

"The French will be closing on our position any minute now. Head back down the tunnel, I'm pretty sure they'll be gone when you get to the other end". I was pretty sure I'd be gone as soon as he was out of sight.

He revved up. I was impressed how well tuned it was, it sounded like a Harley-Davidson after a service.

"Good luck", I yelled as he roared off down the tunnel. "Bring me back some Camembert".

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Slow News Day

All news services suffer from the Slow News Day phenomenon. However investigative or creative they may be, there is nothing to report. Nowt. Diddly-squat vaguely interesting things. On the TV news in England back in the 80's they did lots of film clips with ambulances and fire-engines racing to places before finally admitting that no-one had been injured and, in fact, absolutely nothing was on fire.

It was to cover this problem that the recent culture of celebrity has developed. On days when all the interesting stuff is having a sabbatical, or what is happening requires more brainpower than a hamster on Mogadon to understand, something can be reported. Usually at length.

Anyone who thought news filling was a recent practice would have been brought up short by the recent discovery of a diary by the most famous of Slobbering-under-the-Bed's Town Criers, Mr James Southsea. He was famous because during his tenure in the office of Town Crier so very much happened. There was the Mysterious Cattle Rustling, a terrible stage coach crash and, last but certainly not least, The Great Fire of Slobbering.

The diary starts in September 1835. The first few entries in the diary run like this:

Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Everyone turns and looks. I tell them nothing has happened. Townsfolk look a little cross.

Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. It's traditional you see? Everyone turns and looks. Once more I explain nothing has happened. I mean whose fault is that? If they did something then I could announce it. No use the townsfolk getting annoyed with me.

By November the entries have become like this:

Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Bored. Bored. Bored. Tell everyone that nothing is going on. They stare at me. I stare back. I can keep this up as long as they can!

Rang bloody bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Still absolutely nothing going on. Dammit. It's not my fault people! If you weren't all so very very boring I'd have a fulfilling job.

In December, the Christmas tipple was getting to the man:

Shouted at bell. Bell did not ring itself. Told townsfolk I was going for another ale. Nearest they'll get to exciting news.

By January things had not changed for the better:

Decided that since Slobbering-under-the-Bed is the jewel in the crown of boredom, it needed brightening up. Am now going to make up the news. Started lunchtime. Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Told the townsfolk that the Vicar's wife had just had a baby and would any man claiming to be the father please report to the vicarage. Stunned silence. 


Needed more interesting news. Waited until three in the morning and then left cow field gate open and the back door of the mayor's cottage. Once four cows were inside, closed the gates and back door. Went home satisfied and waited for my first announcement of the day. Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Latest news: mayor implicated in cattle rustling scandal. Oyez.

Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Mayor arrested for cattle theft. Man, that caused a bit of buzz in the town. Maybe this is an interesting job after all.


Bored. Nothing going on. Mayor seemed a little offish with me. Seems the vicar wasn't too pleased with him confessing to having an affair with his wife.


Slipped into coaching inn at the dead of night and loosened the wheel bolts on the left side of the stagecoach. The stage would be riding out at midday. Prompt news reporting would be needed.

Two minutes before midday. Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Bringing the news to the townsfolk as it happens, right now. The stagecoach shot past me pulled by four horses. I announced a major stagecoach disaster just outside Slobbering. Aboooouuuuut NOW. There was a crash. A wheel rolled back past me. How's that for prompt news?


Slow news month again. Apparently the mayor was on the stagecoach trying to leave town. He was mightily peeved when the wheels fell off.


Slobbering has just had gas street lighting fitted. One of the new gas light posts was put where I normally make my announcements. Feel a little aggrieved about it. Especially since the gas supply, like that of the rest of the town came from the local sewer. Some of the posher cottages had gas light too. Must really smell bad.

After the third day, I could no longer stand the smell. That night I snuck out with a hammer and flattened the pipe on my gas light. It went out. It no longer smelled. Job well done. As I was walking home, the gas lights down the street over-pressured and flared up one by one. Bang, bang, bang, bang. Oh dear. Finally the mayor's cottage exploded in a big ball of flames.

By my first announcement at six the following morning, most of the town was ablaze. Rang bell. Shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez. Great Fire of Slobbering consumes most of the town, faulty gas supply suspected. The townsfolk did their staring at me thing again.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Nearly at the Seaside

As I have mentioned before, I live in the town of Slobbering-under-the-Bed. My best mate lives in the neighbouring town of Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe. He visits me. To my shame I seldom visit him, as the asylum doesn't often allow me out unless they are very sure of my medication.

Today was different. I'd got a day pass and intended to visit Roth. He is the God of Extremely Tall People and an Expert Pizza Worrier.

Our preferred meeting place was the Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe pier. I arrived and noted today the tide was out. In fact the tide was always out. It was out 30 odd miles, and had been for quite some time.

Just after the Second World War, the town council, after a particularly long meeting and one or two strong bevvies had decided that what town could do with was more tourists and holiday makers. What brings in tourists and holiday makers more than being a seaside town, they reasoned. A couple of dissenting councillors mentioned a small matter of geography but they were firstly shouted down, and finally had their glasses topped up.

Construction began immediately on all the facilities a seaside town needed. They built a pier. Then a second pier. Then burnt one down. They created an electric fun railway. There was an amusement arcade. There was even a man employed to rent deck-chairs. The smell of fish-and-chips was pumped into the air day and night. Lights were hung along the fence that was to be the sea front. A local celebrity was to turn them on every November as soon as a suitable wander-lead was found.

When global warming was first recognised in the 50s, the councillors and townsfolk were overjoyed. It was just a matter of time before the tide came in and they had a beach, they felt. A matter of time before binge drinking on the seafront, they thought with glee.

In case of a shark attack, the search went out for a police chief who looked a little like Roy Scheider. Roth's grandfather went for the job, although for reasons he'd never let on, he didn't get it. Too tall I expect. This was a town in love with the romance of the sea.

Anyhow, I ramble. We met at the land end of the East Pier. Actually land end as a location isn't helpful. Both ends are painfully land-lubberish. It's probably the lack of sea that does it. Yes, now I come to think of it, that'll be the case.

I walked over to a fortune tellers booth. She told me "you'll meet a tall dark stranger". "Yes, I know", said I, "he's standing right behind me and you don't get stranger than Roth".

"Flat, Authentic and Boring Pizza?" said Roth.

"I thought you didn't like that place?"

"It's not as good as The Wrong Topping Pizzaria in Slobbering", he admitted.

"Let's go there instead", I suggest

"Can't", he said, and added, "It's being redecorated"

"Oh. Another buffet accident?", I smiled a knowing smile.

The pizza was memorable. It had that kind of three-in-the-morning memorability about it.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Rejected by the Publisher

Tonight I set out to write a blog entry. It would have everything. Mystery, humor, time-travel and sheds. I wrote, nay, I crafted for an hour.

I reviewed what I had writ. It sucked mightily. Shame 'cos it made sense (one up on Phillip K Dick there then), but it was dull. There was no point, no payload, no pleasure in the journey.

So press the publish button I did not, and off to watch the snow fall I did.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Dark Is The New Light

It was a dark and stormy night. Roth and I were walking down Slobbering's eclectic high-street. As I have previously mentioned, I live in Slobbering-under-the-Bed. Roth lives in the neighbouring town of Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe and visits regularly. Actually the night wasn't at all stormy, but it certainly was dark and for a reason I shall come to mention.

We were heading towards our latest "discovery", The Euthanasia Curry House. We had been there but once before, and despite having to eat a pot of yoghurt each to restart a stomach culture, we had survived.

Something odd was happening. Every time Roth and I went under a lamppost the light flickered and went out.

"It's very odd that. It keeps happening to me and I'm getting quite a thing about it", muttered Roth.


"The streetlights going out"

"Oh that". I pulled a small box out of my pocket, placed it near the failed street-furniture and pressed a button. The light struck and proceeded towards full brightness.

"Why do you think it happens?", asked Roth quizzically.

I thought for a moment. "It could be your height?", I speculated. It is worth mentioning for those who haven't met Roth, he goes up a depth. I thought some more. "Alternatively, it could be I'm pressing the other button just as we walk underneath the light." I gave the idea some more thought, "Yes, that seems more likely", I concede.

Just to test my theory, I pull the box out of my pocket and press the buttons alternatively in quick succession. "I made it in my other shed" I explained. The light extinguished and re-struck in time with my button pushing. Then it fizzed, popped, released a shower of sparks and went out. So did all the other streetlights. "Bugger!", I said.

"Would you like a curry?", asked Roth

"Hell, yes", said I.

"Can I take your order sir?", said a waiter, with a flourish of his notepad.

"That's odd", I said out loud.

"We haven't even got to the restaurant yet", Roth noticed. "How do you even know we're going there?"

"A good waiter anticipates things, sir. And, if you will excuse me for saying, I am a very good waiter", and as if to prove his point, he removed a torch from his pocket and illuminated our way.

Monday, 7 December 2009


Slobbering-under-the-Bed has one Indian-ish restaurant. The Euthanasia Curry House. I say Indian-ish because it serves a range of dishes that no native Indian would recognise but are staples of the British diet.

The restaurant was discovered one night by Roth after he left a particularly unsuccessful buffet at The Wrong-Topping Pizzeria. It was right next to my favourite (partly because it was the only one in town, but mostly because it was cheap) Chinese restaurant, Happiness. Neither of us could remember seeing it before, nor did we have any idea what kind of shop or eatery was there before.

Some days after we ate there the first time, we tried to find it using my Sat-Nav. It couldn't actually find it, but plotted a route via Basingstoke and Luton. This was perfectly normal, it did the same for every location. If it was switched to shortest route mode, it included Edinburgh and Southend in the journey. We tried finding the Euthanasia on council planning maps. It wasn't there, there wasn't even a gap for it. Happiness butted directly up to The Big Blister Walking and Hiking Emporium. We got an arial photograph. It wasn't there. Maybe we need to hire a hot-air balloon.

Maybe this general not existingness was responsible for the ambiance we found on our first visit.

The Euthanasia had a cavernous interior. Little private bays heading back as far as the eye could see. It was quite full of diners. Waiters were bringing out dishes that flamed, sizzled and very occasionally exploded with a small mushroom cloud surrounded by miniature flashes of lightening.

A very sharply dressed waiter greeted us. Combined with Roth's fine suit, I was convinced I'd been doorstepped by a fringe religion. "Table for two sirs", he said. We nodded. I believed.

He showed us to an empty bay, and produced two menus. He removed the glass shade from a table candle holder, released the catch and the candle sprung up. He lit it, and pushed it back into the body of the lamp. It was clearly sprung loaded to keep the flame at the same level. Nice touch. I hoped the heated napkins were as good.

We ordered starters. Roth had a thing on a stick. I ordered pterodactyl burgers. Whilst we were eating other guests were being shown to their tables. One chap had a very pale face, a fine tailed evening suit and slicked black hair. "Vlad", cried the waiter, "How was the snooker match?" "Fine" he muttered as he took his seat. "Can you keep the light down low, please?"

Too intrigued to do otherwise we'd both ordered the special. Actually it was listed as the Very Special.  The waiter said the dish was "very delicately spiced by their expert chef and spice master" "from a distance of 37 miles", he added under his breath. The waiter arrived wearing a Hazmat suit and pushing a trolley supporting two large lead containers. Using steel tongs he lifted the lid on the first container. He carefully removed a balti dish and placed it between us. Ever so carefully he removed the other balti dish and placed it down at a safe distance from the first. He turned and ran, shouting "Enjoy" at the top of his lungs.

More regulars arrived. "Mr Lucan", enthused another waiter, "How's your missing person's agency going?". "Oh, so-so", he replied before taking a seat carefully shielded by a huge pot-plant.

Our two dishes then shot a column of flame straight at the ceiling in unison. When the pool of smoke cleared, there were two neatly burned circles on the ceiling tiles. The sprung loaded candle took this moment to spring up and extinguish itself by embedding in the ceiling.

For a restaurant I'd never even seen before this was quite stunningly popular. Regulars were arriving every few minutes. "Mr Kirk, how was your day at the office?" "Bit of a no-win scenario. You know how it is..."

Well, a finer curry I have never tasted. Waiters would come by occasionally to see if were still enjoying our meal, to ensure we were still alive and to replace forks that had dissolved too badly to be used. "Would sir like a CO2 extinguisher with his meal?" "Oh, ta. Thanks."

Roth paid, unfolding four huge white five pound notes.

As we left, we heard a waiter greeting another regular "Mr Methuselah, your usual table sir? Did you know you are our oldest customer?" "Really?"

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Restaurant Guide To Slobbering

There I was in the best chinese restaurant in my home town of Slobbering. It is also the worst. Actually, there is only one. In my childhood, I thought there were two but it later turned out the second one The Texaco was a garage, not a chinese restaurant after all. Unleaded is not a way of cooking duck. This restaurant is called Happiness. Apparently the originally name The Golden Vomit didn't bring in the punters, so they changed it.

Anyhow, they do the very best finger-bowl in town. I was spooning my way through my third helping, and looking forward to the hot napkins. I tell you, there is nothing to beat the taste of a freshly prepared hot napkin. But my napkin course was due to be politely interrupted. There was a terrible crash and the door flew off it's hinges.

"Roth", I beamed, a piece of escaped lemon clinging to my teeth. My smile faded when I noticed the red gloopy substance dripping from his attire. He could be injured. He still owes me a fiver.

He spotted one of my concerns and waved it away. "I've been stuffed crust diving", he said, flicking a small disk of pepperoni from his collar.

I was much relieved. It explained the gloopy red stuff, the wetsuit, snorkel and mask. Meeting Roth for the first time you'd have never have thought he was such an extreme sports adrenaline junkie, and you'd have been right. He isn't. He spends much of his waking time in The Wrong Topping Pizzeria next door leaping from the edge of deep pizzas into lashings of red sauce. They attempt to discourage Roth from attending buffets. To date they've tried: leaving the doors locked; opening at 2am; and more recently strange toppings.

"Have you eaten?", he asked. "The buffet isn't good. Sprout, seafood and chocolate sprinkles".

I looked around the interior of Happiness. The tables, the empty finger bowls, the wreckage of the door lying on the floor. The napkin warmer was just getting going. One of the waiters had a small piece of pepperoni stuck to his forehead. He looked sad.

"No", I lied, leaving a pile of Yugoslav Dinar for the staff of the Happiness. The waiter still looked sad.

"Good", he said, and removed his wetsuit to reveal a perfect pin-striped suit. He looked ready to sell double glazing, used cars or insurance. "They've opened a new restaurant. Next door I think."

"What's it called?", I ask.

"I think it is the Euthanasia Curry House"

"I like the sound of that".