Friday 31 December 2010

Resolving to be Less Rubbish

Lets face it most new year resolutions are not kept. I've been to the future and, trust me, I've broken all of the ones I've made so far. There is just no point in getting hung up about this, what I need are not more stupid, hard to keep, challenging resolutions, but a better class of resolution.

So here is my list:

  • Eat more curry.
  • Put on at least 5lbs before the end of January.
  • Wash my car one less time than I did in 2010. Simple arithmetic yields the answer of zero times.
  • Avoid walking past a gym.
  • Never bathe the cat in jam.
  • Don't wear wellington boots on my hands at work.


Thursday 30 December 2010

The Slacker's Art

Roth and I have been on a mission to return dignity to the art of loafing.

In addition to loafing, I am a black-belt in lurking and Roth has achieved similar status in looming. He has the height on his side, although I wouldn't wish to detract from his obvious skill.

Whilst neither of us are entirely work shy, we do blush quite a bit and run away most of the time.

In his earlier work (I use the word carefully, but mostly because it only contains four letters and is hence less effort to type) In Line With My Worldview, Roth explains that he is a fractal slacker and at any level, whichever way you choose to view things, he is a raving success at doing absolutely nothing.

Having the technology at my disposal, I have become the world's first* Temporal Slacker. Throughout time, at major points in history, if you look carefully in the background I am there, doing absolutely nothing.

When the Berlin wall fell, there I was at the bottom resting up against it with my head on a pillow. Asleep.

When Stephenson's Rocket first shot down a railway track, I was there. In first class, reading the daily paper.

When the apes were waving sticks around at the base of a huge black obelisk, I was on the other side, leaning against it, sipping a beer and pondering why navel fluff is always purple.

You can think of me as an alternative Doctor Who, but without the heroism, the TARDIS, the assistant, the enemies or the charisma.

There are, without doubts, moments of frenetic activity in my life. Just the other day I lost the remote control down the back of the sofa. They are rare.

* Designations like world's first in time travel are rather hard to substantiate. So I haven't bothered, I've just claimed the unprovable.

iDifficult will return in the Chronicles of Nana, a tale of yellow fruit, flatpack bedroom furniture, a lion and snow, in the new year.

Monday 15 November 2010


As recounted by Indigo Roth in a wonderful Lemsip fueled haze called Making a break for Venezuela, we shared an interesting few years at the same school.

The school was typical for it's era and location. Wood panelled, ancient, dimly lit, and with masters that looked like they had fought in both World Wars. On the wrong side.

At the end of each year there was a test. Unlike today where this involves individual desks, a piece of paper and a sharpie, tests in our school had a more practical nature. This has been so since the year a master gave Roth a pencil and turned his back.

Roth, myself and Bernard Drentwistle, the principle boy, were chosen for this particular test. We were taken from our normal classes and ushered down the wood panelled corridors to an area of the school I believe none of us had seen before. The floor was dusty and we left fresh footprints. Ultimately we arrived at a corridor with three white doors cut into the wood panelling.

The masters moved as, none too gently I seem to remember, in front of a door each. This close I could see the door was absolutely perfect. Not a blemish. Nor a handle.

The doors hissed open in front of us and we each were ushered into the room beyond. And what a room it was. It was perfectly cubic. The walls, ceiling and floor were brilliant white. It was hard to work out where the light was coming from but it was bright, almost painfully bright.

"You have one hour," said the master, in tones that would have made Death give up his job as a voice over artist. The door shut behind me. Perfectly. So perfectly there was no line around the edge of the door that could be seen. If I rubbed my nail across where the join should be I could just perceive a faint click.

The room was empty, so very empty. Except for two 12 inch diameter stainless steel spheres. I walked over and attempted to pick one up. It was absolutely solid and heavy as lead. This could be an interesting hour I thought.

Some weeks past, during which time Roth and I amused ourselves in biochemistry lessons by making the lunchtime custard sentient. In physics we were successful in electrostatically levitating our physics master up to the lab ceiling, until he had this misfortune of touching the metalwork of one of the light fittings. Brightest flash I've ever seen.

And we managed to restore the library building to it's former position although the selection of pre-historic predators in the reading room was not truly appreciated as the educational aids we had intended. As Roth said, "You try to help some people."

It was a November assembly when we got the results of the test. The headmaster was walking from his office to the lectern whilst the music master played "The Death March" on his piano.

The headmaster cleared his throat and projected, "I'd like to read out the results of our end of year tests." He proceeded to describe the test we had undergone, "Three identical clean, cubic rooms, three pupils, six solid steel balls, two in each room. No communication and one hour to work."

"In first place, Bernard Drentwistle, did extraordinarily well. When we returned to the room he had got one ball balanced on top of the other. Clever chap indeed."

"In second place, by a huge margin, is Indigo Roth. When we returned to the room he had his head on one ball, his feet on the other and was fast asleep. There was a pizza box next to him. We aren't sure how he managed to order a take-away."

"In last place, and banned from ever taking the test again, is Mr Difficult. When we returned to his room, he'd lost one and broken the other."

"Would everyone please clap and show their approval for our excellent pupils." Under his breath he was heard to say, "and restrain Mr Difficult NOW!"

Friday 17 September 2010

Lacklustre Weapon

"We have quite a few things to question you about," said the younger man in the suit.

"Yes, we do, Mr." the older man looked down at his notebook, and squinted, "Mr. I.Difficult."

"Who are you?" asked I.

He held up a badge, "I'm DCI Fred Ender, and this," pointing to the younger man, "is DS Dave Smith."

"Oh!" There wasn't much to say to that.

"Would you like to do this here, or down the station?" asked DS Smith.

"Can I decide when you tell me what it is about?" I asked.

"I have a list here in my notebook," DCI Ender turned the book around to reveal a carefully numbered list in small well proportioned handwriting. Each page had roman numerals at the bottom.

I looked at the list:

  • Disappearance of the Eiffel Tower. Later found. In Basingstoke.
  • Nuclear submarine in the Slobbering-under-the-Bed Town Centre ornamental pond. Scared ducks.
  • Street lighting broken in the Town Centre.
  • Parking a genetically modified animal in the wrong timezone.

"Oh dear," I muttered. Hopefully they couldn't read anything into my expression.

I needed an alibi. Quickly. I thought hard. "I was watching TV, " I said.

"For all of these? And we didn't say when they happened?" DS Smith looked unsure.

DCI Ender helped him out, "What did you watch?"

"Oh, I hadn't turned it on. I was just watching it. And eating a curry." Quick think. Think. Must make this sound plausible. "Actually the cat had eaten the curry and was wearing the tin on it's head." Sorted. Very convincing.

Maybe a change of subject would work here, "Have you two been working together long?"

"Two weeks," replied DCI Fred, "They like to pair together odd couples like in the movies. You see I'm the straight-laced and by-the-book family man," he paused for dramatic effect, and possibly breath, "and DS Dangerous Dave here is the devil-may-care maverick whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-job-done shoot-to-kill hard-drinking hard-living womaniser with a death wish."

"Bugger, I thought you were the maverick with the death wish?!" exclaimed the somewhat surprised and newly nicknamed Dangerous Dave.

The two besuited detectives looked at one another with a look that surpassed surprise. I felt somewhat left out. "I don't know anything about these things, but I know a man who almost certainly does. Well, not know, more sort of acquaintance. We've done a little business. Have you got your notepad?"

"Yes," they both said in unison.

I spelled out the name, "I-N-D-I-G-O R-O-T-H. He'll be able to help. Hell, he may even be responsible for these crimes."

"That's odd," said DS Dave, raising an eyebrow.

"It is indeed."

"That's the name of the chap who gave us your name..."

Wednesday 8 September 2010


There we were in the basket of a hot air balloon. Indigo Roth, Eolist Petite and I. Roth was looming up from the basket with his head awfully close to the flames of the burner. Ms Petite didn't have that particular problem as she could barely see over the edge of the basket. I had my hand wrapped around a rope.

I looked down and Ms Petite was busy screwing a holy shit handle to the rim of the basket. This is always a good idea when transport and Indigo were in close proximity.

On the far side of the basket Indigo was steering the balloon with a steering wheel. He felt happier when he was driving. The steering wheel wasn't attached to anything, which made Eolist and I feel happier.

"Where do you think we are?" Eolist asked.

"I've no idea. Slobbering-under-the-Bed kinda disappeared after we went straight through that glowing fog bank," I replied.

"I did try to guide us around it, but it's like this steering wheel isn't attached to anything." Ms Petite and I looked at each other. "It doesn't look like there is much down there."

"Odd, isn't it. We should be over England where there are fifteen pubs and twenty-four curry houses per square mile. I can't see a single one."

It was peaceful floating along in the balloon with the gentle rush of air and creaking of the basket. The peace was occasionally interrupted by the firing of the burner. What was below looked like desert with rolling dunes and the occasional patches of scrubby grass.

Roth was the first to spot something a little odd. "Look!" he said.

"I can't see!" replied Ms Petite, bouncing up and down.

"It's probably just a mirage," said I.

"Nope, definitely not a mirage. Look there's a sign over the door, but I can't make it out from here. Mirages never have signs over the door." He seemed very sure of this.

At this point I felt a pull on the rope I held in my hand. I followed the rope and looked over the side of the basket. On the end of the rope was a very well dressed chap of asian appearance.

"Hello?" I asked.

"Would sir mind pulling me up?"

"Excuse me, but what are you doing there?"

"Hanging on a piece of rope, 40 feet above the ground." He seemed anxious, "Would sir mind pulling me up?" he repeated.

We started pulling the man on the rope up towards the basket. Eventually he was lifted over the rim and into the basket. He paused. Dusted himself off and laid a white napkin over his right arm.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"I would have that would have been evident, sir. I am your waiter for the evening." He handed us a menu each. The menus were each bound in fine brown Italian leather, with the gold lettering spelling out the name of the establishment and the word menu.

"What were you doing on the rope?"

"A good waiter anticipates his customers every wish. I am here to take your orders and show you where to land."

At this point the couldn't-be-a-mirage-with-a-sign-over-the-door came into closer view. All three of us whispered the words, The Euthanasia Curry House.

"What is the big circle with a B in it for? The one next to the big circle with a H in it."

"The B circle is for balloons to land. H is for helicopters."

"What is the barrier with bales of hay and old tires for?"

"In case Indigo drove you here." replied the waiter.


The tale continues at Eolist Petite's Blog with Balloon too and/or while i waited...

Monday 30 August 2010

Darkness and Solitude

I was alone, sitting in a folding chair. I've known this place for years. Granite lumps rolled under my feet. The sky was the dark blue of an August evening. I could see the English countryside laid out below me in all directions past the nearby heather. A single tree stood siluetted against the growing dusk.

How many times have I been here? Honestly I don't know.

It grew darker and one at a time the stars came out. This was a good place to see the stars.

A voice spoke. "I knew I'd find you here," it said.

I looked around and there was no one to be seen.

"It's a glorious night, isn't it?"

I decided to ignore the apparent absence of my companion. "Yes, yes it is."

"The old tree is still standing."

"Indeed it is. Survived the storms at the end of the 80's I remember."

"Yes, me too," the voice sounded surprised and distant at the same time.

Nothing more was said for quite some time. I thought perhaps my companion had left. I certainly didn't hear him arrive.

Then it spoke again, "There are places and moments that stick in the soul. This is one, I think."

Curiosity overcame me, "Who are you and why can't I see you? Are you in my mind?"

"It's quite complicated."

"You aren't in my mind?"

"That would be an easy answer. It isn't true, so I'm not going to leave you believing that."

"Who?" I asked. I didn't expect an answer. Whoever it was just came to share the moment, and didn't feel the need to explain himself.

Just at that moment, in front of me, two eyes appeared. Nothing more. No face, just two eyes. I looked into them. They looked familiar and most terribly tired. For an instant I thought I understood. Then the instant passed and the eyes faded.

A young lady pulled up in an almost silent electric sports car, "You ready to go, Dad?"

I nodded and threw the chair in the boot.

"Mum's got us a takeaway back at base. Wouldn't want it to get cold."

As we pulled away, a voice behind me whispered, "Don't eat the left-overs from the foil containers tomorrow morning."

Thursday 15 July 2010


There I was walking down Tottenham Court Road in London and behold there was a place offering IQ and personality tests. My first thought was that if you went in there then your IQ was likely 10 points below average and your personality test would reveal extreme gullibility.

Even if you don't know Tottenham Court Road, I'm sure you must have come across other places like this shop/church. The teachings are based on the writings of a certain Science Fiction author and are much loved by some film stars.

If a fairly rubbish Science Fiction author can do it, then so can I. Below is the new iDifficult religion Bloodysillyism.

Creation Myth

All major religions have a creation myth. Bloodysillyism believers consider the universe and everything shot out of the bottom of a giant cat. In my house anything coming out of the bottom of our cat causes us to yell God and then crawl on our hands and knees seeking pockets of fresh air.

Forbidden Foods

Lobster and Radishes. They're just frankly gross and no one should have to eat them.

Recommended Style of Prayer

Prayer should be done in pairs. One lays out the Twister mat and adopts meditation postures based upon the spinner twirled by the other prayer.

Bloodysillyism Drive-thru-Temple

Churches are slow and outdated. A major advantage of Bloodysillyism is the new Drive-thru-Temple. All very simple and straightforward. Drive up and swipe your credit card at the first booth. Drive to the second booth to get absolution from your sins, deodorant or, if you forgot what you were doing, a Happy Meal. The third booth presents the receipt. This could be quite a shock and brings us smartly to the Afterlife.


Heaven and Hell to be precise. Well Bloodysillyism was created on a budget, so they are going to be the same place. The Bloodysillyism afterlife will be a somewhat choppy bath full of custard. It allows much more flexibility than heaven and hell. The good are upright, the bad are headfirst and the ugly will also be headfirst (because quite frankly do you want to spend eternity staring at some ugly person?)

Sacred Animal

That arboreal cephalopod the Squiddrel. Under no circumstances should these be shot. Partly because the only one that exists we lost around about 1984, but mostly because it makes them really grumpy. Also don't milk unicorns especially if they have one teat.

Essential Behaviour for a Devout Bloodysillyist

All washing must be pegged up with the matching coloured pegs. Believers must not step on the cracks in pavements. I know this sounds like OCD, but the scriptures are very clear on it.


Will be written when I have the time. Hopefully I can claim they are a science fiction novel and get enough money to write a second set of scriptures.


Please leave a message below containing your bank details and as soon as the first financial transaction has gone through you can consider yourself converted. Amen.

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Time is the Simplest Thing

I was explaining, with plenty of hand gestures and unnecessary arm waving.

"There are three dimensions of space, and one of time. It's a bit odd, 'cos the time one keeps on marching onwards. If it were left and right, it'd be like us all continuously moving a bit to the left all the time."

"So you worked out how to travel through time?"

"Oh, everybody can do that! One second at a time into the future. Just staying still is hard. Master that and you've got the rest cracked."

"So how does this work then?" He pointed to the polished brass, glass and dark wooden contraption, glinting in the sunlight of a new day.

"It doesn't. I made that because that is how a time machine is supposed to look. There's no swirling vortex, lightening or a howling gale. Always liked the Time Tunnel or Terminator idea. You even get to travel clothed."

"That's not what you told me when we travelled to Ancient Egypt!"

"Hmm, sorry about that. I was trying to compute your gullibility quotient. It's amazingly high. I digress. The trouble is, you don't see or feel anything," I paused, "Actually, that's not quite true. Everyone feels a little sick going backwards."

"So where is the time machine?"

"Third draw down in the wooden dashboard."

"Third draw?"

"Third. Cheese and fruit cake in the top drawer. Coffee machine in the second. Got to get your priorities right."

"So anyway, you were saying, three dimensions of space, and one of time."

"Yes, thank you," I hadn't waved my arms unnecessarily for several minutes, "Do you remember my favourite technique for playing a really strong chess computer? Play as well as you can, but when it gets a really good lead over and the game is all but lost, swap sides with it."

I carried on, "What if we swapped time for left and right, or time for up and down, or even with back and forwards?"

"And that does it?"

"Yes, although the first experiment didn't go well, and I swapped left and right for up and down. When it swapped back I had my left elbow in my right ear."

"Then you got it right."

"Indeed but only after I got fed up with getting ear-wax on my elbows. I swapped and found by walking sharply backwards and then putting time back where it belongs I had gone back to last week."

"So that's how it works. I did wonder."

"Left it on last night. It'd swapped up and down with time. When I woke I was 15 feet above the top of the house but hadn't aged a second," I thought about this for a moment, "until I woke up."

"What shall we do now?"

"Did you fancy having that curry from last week again?"

"Won't we be there?"

"Yes, but if we wait until we order and then appear one bay closer to the kitchen they'll serve us the food and won't notice our past selves sitting in the next bay down."

"You know, I don't remember last weeks curry being any good. Ordered, waited for ages, didn't get any food and then they presented a huge bill."

"Hey, the plan worked!"

"Yeah, must have done, let's go..."

Monday 28 June 2010

The report of my death was an exaggeration

"I'm not dead, I've just been resting."

"You do look a bit pale though. Are you sure you're not dead?"

"Sometimes you've got a take a bit of a rest, even from things you enjoy."

"Like breathing?"


"You're not breathing."

"I am. It's very shallow. I told you I was resting."

"Also, what's that smell?"

"What smell?"

"That smell!"

"My new aftershave. It was a present. Do you like it?"

"No, no. Not really."

"Cold Corpse, it's called. I'm told it's very popular."

"Who amougst?"

"Mortuary workers, Undertakers, Grave diggers and some forensic scientists. However only those forensic scientists not cool and good looking enough to appear in Silent Witness or Bones."

"OK, I'll catch you around."

"Good plan. We must have a curry. Anyway before you go, could you do something for me?"


"Could you close the lid? Ta. I need a lie-in."

Monday 14 June 2010

Fade to Black

"Have you been out this far before?", my friend asks.

"No, although I did go right to the other end. It looks surprisingly similar."


"Very much so."

"Black, very very black. But yet with a single point of light in the distance."

"The same."

"It's quite beautiful, isn't it?"

I nodded agreement and we both heaved that admiring nature sigh. He sipped his Vesper, and I my Advocaat, Coke and Drambuie cocktail. My eyes watered slightly. I was sure the olives weren't doing it any favours.

"Tell me, is there any air?"

"No, none."

"What are we breathing?"

"Third oxygen, two-thirds nitrogen, bit of CO2 and few other gasses. And I'm fairly sure I just swallowed a fly."

"That's air! I thought you said there wasn't any?"

"None, generally. There is inside this bubble. Don't know quite why. I suspect we brought it with us, along with the two comfy chairs and the cocktails."

"So what's the bubble made of?", he said poking it with an outstretched finger. It vibrated. He poked it again. It had that seductiveness of bubble wrap.

"I think it's curdled time," I scratched my chin and thought about it, "You know it takes huge amount of power to do that?"

"Where did the power come from?"

"Well, next week when your electricity bill drops through your letter box."


"Don't even think about opening it."

Saturday 5 June 2010

Poking Time with a Stick

It was a pleasant afternoon sitting in the shade leaning against the wall of an old dusty building. It was a very long time ago, in a land that has had many names, and supported many civilisations with as many languages. You'd probably recognise it best as Iraq.

I was writing in a clay tablet with a stylus. It was careful and painstaking work. I was really missing the spelling checker, but less so the grammar checker and automatic humour inserter, but anyhow these wouldn't have been invented until some 50 centuries later.

Once I'd finished writing, my old friend Indigo Roth would pop the tablet into an oven and give it a good baking. I'd just finished one, he'd put it into the oven and, in return, got a freshly baked one out and laid it gently into the sand where he read it. When he'd finished, he smacked a corner off the tablet with a rock and proceeded to pound the bit he'd broken off into the dust.

"If you don't like what I'm writing, you could just tell me," I said, with my spare stylus in my mouth. It made grinning difficult.

"Nothing wrong with it at all. It's just it started to make sense. It's much better with the corner removed."

"Yes, yes, you're right. If it makes sense we'll loose the whole point of the day."

The day had started ordinarily enough. Roth had banged on the door of my shed. Then the other one. Then finally the shed I was actually in. Feet resting on piles of books, laying back in battered old armchairs we sat and chewed the cud and some of Roth's most excellent coffee. He'd been boiling this batch since last Monday week.

Roth was annoyed. "I'm annoyed," he said.

"Are you?"

He nodded, "Very."


"I wrote a blog entry."

"It happens."

"And I got a comment."

"Nope, never happened to me."

"From a pedant. Of the worst kind. He said I had broken a grammar rule in my entry."

He went on to explain the rule of past participle post wrangling. He did much gesticulating. I chewed coffee.

Then we got serious. The time machine crackled into life. Fortunately it does allow some travel in space as well as time, or it'd be one hell of a long walk at the other end. Or we'd have to get the time machine onto a plane as hand luggage, and you know how fussy they are about things with wires and particle accelerators. Any excuse and they'd think we were terrorists.

The deal was he'd write for the morning and I'd bake the tablets and proof read. In the afternoon we'd swap. Time went quickly and soon the afternoon was over.

Clutching the clay tablets under our arms we went into the local library and carefully arranged the tablets on the recently returned tablets shelf. The Sumerian lending library service was fantastic and the fines were very reasonable for late returns.

"So do you think that'll do it?"

"You know how it is. Cause and effect. Ancient Sumerian feeds other languages, then so on through time. Cause and effect."

"That'll teach the pedant. No more past participle post wrangling," said Roth, grinning widely, "and the Squiddrel will be in ancient mythology."

"Do you think your coffee will have set completely, or can we have a cup when we get back?"

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Breaking News

New UK Government redesigns the houses of parliament.

A spokesman for the new coalition was reported as saying that "they wanted a symbol to represent the new age of austerity and, indeed, fear we should all feel unless we happened to have inherited large amounts of money and have been to the 'right' schools."

Monday 17 May 2010

Ghost of Birthdays Future

I'm half awake. It is the morning of my birthday. The room is quite unusually cold. I check the window by my bed and there is a thick layer of frost on the inside. My wife is wrapped up warm and still snoozing gently besides me.

There at the bottom of the bed is a glowing figure. He introduces himself, "I am the ghost of birthdays future." His voice is thin and ethereal. He rattles some chains for effect. As he speaks I can see subtitles floating in the air about midway down.

"Great," I say, watching my breath cloud in front of me, "I'm exactly one year older and I've lost my last marble!"

"I am the ghost of birthdays future," he says again. Well I assume it's a he. Maybe it's an it. Or a he in drag. Cross-dressing ghosts, now that'll be a first. The subtitles mis-spell ghost as gots.

"You're repeating yourself, I got that bit." I really don't like being woken up, especially not by glowing apparitions of central heating past. This is the first time I've seen a ghost and I'd expected to be scared. Instead I'm annoyed to be woken up and freezing cold. "What is it with the subtitles?"

"A couple of previous clients were saying they couldn't hear me over the chains, so I got them added by a local TV company. The spelling's atrocious though."

Remembering the tiny bit of Dickens I didn't sleep through at school, I asked my first sensible question of the new day, "Are you like the Ghost of Christmas Future from A Christmas Carol?"

"He's my brother. He always gets the good jobs, lucky bastard!"

"Am I a really mean person who needs to mend his ways?"

"No, not really. I found your name in the phone book using a pin. I was curious. Do you come from a long line of iDifficults?"

"No, my mother is aTypical though. Anyway, aren't you supposed to find a bad person, scare them senseless and make them good?"

"Yes, I'm supposed to, but I really can't be bothered and I find the phone book technique much better than years of research, careful watching and finally intervention." He pauses reflectively for a few moments, "Do you suppose that's why my brother gets the good gigs?"

"You mean because he does the job properly? No, no I can't imagine that would be why..." Somewhere about now, we should be doing something. I'm sure of it. "Aren't you going to take me and show me some birthdays in my future, so I can finally understand something deep and significant about myself?"

"I should do. Did you fancy a pizza instead? I can pop us forward to the special offer Pizza Hut are going to run next March on lunchtime buffets. Oh, I'm not supposed to tell you that! Never mind. I'm starving."

"You are an appalling slacker. Let's go."

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Virtual Tag

Indigo Roth has tagged me over at IndigoWrath.

I have to name seven historical/fictional people I'd like to meet, and then pass this on with a new question, presumably involving the number seven, to some other bloggers.

My list of seven historical or fictional people:

  1. Patrick Star from SpongeBob Squarepants. I'd love to have someone on my level to talk to.
  2. Douglas Adams. Sadly historical. I always admired his attitude to deadlines. He said, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
  3. Penelope Pitstop. I'd just like her to know that Sylvester Sneekly is the Hooded Claw.
  4. Edmund Halley. Of the comet fame. It was said he "now talks, swears and drinks brandy like a sea captain" - John Flamsteed. Strangely true, as he is the only civilian Englishman who has even been allowed to captain a ship of the realm. He became a drinking companion of Peter the Great and spent some time being carried around in a wheelbarrow whilst throwing rocks at the windows of his country house.
  5. HAL 9000 from 2001. I want to know if you pull his memory blocks in a different order, whether he was taught some really dirty limericks, or some different endings to 'Daisy, Daisy'.
  6. Albert Einstein. Fantastic character. Loved the story of a young student who came to work with him. Weeks passed and then a theory they were working on proved to be wrong. The student was devastated. Weeks of work up in smoke, so to speak. Einstein came in the following day and said, "I've a new idea..."
  7. Miss Marple. I want to know if she felt any guilt over the further deaths that were caused by her procrastination getting to the final dining room scene?

Anyway now the passing on bit of the tag game.

Name seven fictional cars or other vehicles you'd have liked to have driven and why.

Over to Eolist Petite and Cat Lady Larew, because I know you're going to do something special with this. I wish I had.

Monday 3 May 2010

Attacking From Both Sides

Every year at the beginning of summer, the Morris dancers and Marching bands meet at the seaside town of Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe to have a running battle. They have been bitter rivals for years. There is often violence and, always, fairly iffy music.

Once I got caught in the middle of it all, whist I was waiting under the pier for the tide to come in. I was lucky to escape with my musical taste intact. I guess the moral of the story is don't get caught sleeping under a good book. Or a bad book for that matter. Look, it really doesn't matter what sort of book, just don't get caught sleeping under it.

It's important to remember that Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe is not your classic seaside town. Being more than 30 miles from the sea really does put paid to that. The tide is not just out, it has never come in. None of this has prevented the local government from building a pier, complete with hotdog stands, ice cream parlours and putting up miles of fancy railings and calling it a seafront promenade. Most believe they should have spent their time and effort on a really good lunatic asylum.

The beach is a grassy field. The Morris men approached from the Marina end. The Marching bands from the site of the planned west pier.

The troops of Morris men were a fine sight. Sticks a-bashing, beer a-slopping, handkerchiefs a-waving, dancing in lines and bells tinkling. The marching bands were equally impressive. Marching at a cracking pace since they had put wheels on the grand piano and the pianists stool. They only stopped occasionally for two hefty blokes in tails to pick up the double base player and move her along a few feet.

A lump came up in my throat. There was no way I could get out from between them. I was at the meeting point. The epicentre. I couldn't hide either, there was simply nothing taller than a cow-pat in this field.

It was then I heard a cry of "We'll save you young lady, never fear!"

There in front of me was Slobbering-under-the-Bed's very own superhero Off-his-Head-Man. There were few problems that couldn't be made a lot worse with his intervention.

"You have your mask on backwards."

"Oh, I thought it was getting dark early."

"Where's your trusty sidekick Blotto-Boy?"

"Don't worry, he's stopped off to have a pee."

The Marching bands and Morris Men got ever closer. The sound of banging sticks, bells and various instruments was extraordinary. You'd have thought they'd have decided what to play before starting out. The Morris men were playing something authentically rustic, but the marching bands, well, whoops boys! The Birdie Song and Stairway to Heaven just don't go.

Blotto-Boy arrived and fell over. "Hi, you're very pretty," he said.

"Look," I said, nodding in the direction of the waring factions, "We're trapped. They'll be here in minutes. Help."

"Don't worry young lady," said Off-his-Head-Man.

"I'm a man. Look, six days of designer stubble!!" I pointed at my face.

"Doesn't mean a thing, so had my first wife!"

"By the way, what are you doing over in Paralytic, you're normally fighting crime boozing in Slobbering?"

"Pub crawl went wrong. Neither the lad or I can use the sat-nav," he paused for a moment, bent down, wobbled and fell over sideways. He had taken his golden boot off and was pointing to a hole in his sock. "Hey, we could escape through this?"

I slapped my head with my hand, "Look that might have worked on The Goons, but this is real life! For goodness sake what have you been drinking? Shoe polish?"

Blotto-Boy piped up, "I really like dark tan. With an olive."

At this very moment I spied something very familiar poking out of the very turf just a few feet away. It rotated and a single lens locked onto me. I hoped the torpedo auto-fire was switched off or this could be a short reunion. I bid a quick wave to my superhero friends and ran towards the lens. When I arrived the ground bulged upwards and a hatch opened. Indigo Roth looked upwards. "Hope you don't mind, I borrowed your submarine," he said cheerfully.

"Did you know you're 30 miles inland?"

"Bloody sat-nav's buggered again! Told me I was going past a speed camera at 40 knots just now."

"Thanks for the rescue mate, but you can pay the speeding fine!" I followed Roth and climbed carefully through the hatch and slammed it behind me.

Sunday 25 April 2010


I just managed to lift the hatch to the storm cellar, when the whole house shuddered and lurched. Through the hatch I could see the ground slip away into a maelstrom of flying debris. Then the floor tipped and I slid violently hitting my head on the stone fireplace.

When I awoke the house was still in the air and clearly encountering a spot of turbulence. The radio on the sideboard switched on. An announcer spoke in a voice somewhat reminiscent of the late David Niven. "Would you please return to your seat and return the standard lamp to the upright position. We are in a holding pattern and, in accordance to protocol, seeking a witch to land upon."

I did as I was asked with the standard lamp and sat down heavily in the armchair. I felt my head and fingered a large tender area on my temple. At least I wasn't bleeding.

The house plummeted and with a deafening crash hit the ground. A female voice came over the radio, "Captain Kangaroo would like to let you know that he has landed your house successfully and when everything stops bouncing up and down, you may disembark through the front door. Please be careful when collecting your luggage from the cupboard-under-the-stairs as the contents may have shifted during the flight, could fall and knock you the f*ck out," Charming, I thought.

I grabbed my coat, and stepped out of the front door. Outside was bright and sunny. All the people were somewhat short and were singing cheery songs as they went quickly about their business.

"What have you done to my sister?"

"Pardon me?"

She pointed to the legs protruding out from under the house, "Her legs. Over there."

"Oh my goodness, I'm really sorry. I had no idea."

She cut me off mid-apology, "Did you dress her in those hideous striped leggings? Bet she was wearing a leotard too."

"No, but it's my house."

"Oh, don't worry about that. We never really got on. She was allergic to my flying monkeys you know. I thought her fitness drive was silly. Especially leggings and a leotard. Black pointy hat, green face and long black cape - it's traditional."

"Would you like a cup of tea?" It seemed the polite thing to do, since my house had inadvertently squashed her sibling flat.

"No, but thank you. Must be flying. Left my broom with the engine running tied to a lamppost. Got to look after the environment you know." With that she went.

I looked my house up and down. There was no way I could leave it here. The local authorities would get a bit bent out of shape and demand planning permission or something worse. "Excuse me," I spoke to one of the diminutive men singing his cheery song, "Do you know someone who could help me get this back to where it came from?"

"No, sorry mate. You can use my phone if you want," He passed me a small brown cell phone.

I tried for a few moments to dial a number before realising the sad truth. "It's made of chocolate."

"Well, what do you expect? We're Oompa-Loompas. We do chocolate. Everything here is made of chocolate. That's why we're hyperactive and the phones don't work."

"Great. Just great. Do you know anyone who can help me?"

"You need a great wizard to help you. We think he's in Cupertino. We'd give you a map, but to be honest it'll melt in the sun and make a mess of your pocket."

"How am I going to get to the wizard of Cupertino?"

"There is a way. You need to follow the yellow brick road."


"That one."

"Oh, that one!" I step smartly forward, twist my ankle and fall.

"Mind the potholes. Rough winter here last year. Also don't stop, it's marked as an urban clearway. Oh yes, also, keep out of the bus lane."

I set off, muttering to myself, "Follow the yellow brick road. There's a song in that somewhere, I'm sure of it."

I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey. As I walk, the town falls away, the cloying smell of chocolate reduces and finally I am out in open refreshing countryside. Fields and woods as far as the eye can see. It sure doesn't look like Slobbering-under-the-Bed.

I find myself walking beside a huge corn field. In the middle of the field stands a man-sized scarecrow. Surprisingly he hops off his wooden stand and walks towards me in a somewhat wobbly manner. The scarecrow, upon reaching the edge of the field, speaks to me in a Lancashire accent, "It's turned out nice again!" He looks me up and down, "Hang on, you're not Do..."

I didn't hear the rest of what he was saying because at that moment there was a cry of "TIMBER!", then "Ohhhhh shiiiittt!" and finally, "ouch!"

A short man, with quite a flat head and a nearly non-existent neck steps out from behind a nearby tree. He staggers over to where the scarecrow and I am standing. The scarecrow says only what I was thinking, "Are they all dwarfs where you come from?"

The short man hits the scarecrow with a well constructed right hook and lays him out flat.

Scarecrow bounces back up to his feet and timidly says, "Never touched me!"

Hoping to prevent this escalating into something worse, I introduce myself. "Hi, I'm iDifficult," and then for some general interest add, "and I'm off to see the wizard."

The scarecrow speaks first and holds out a hand ready to be shaken. I grasp it and he says, "Call me George. By the way, don't you think you should hold off on second helpings occasionally?" I blink.

The short man speaks, "Hi, Call me Edward. I'm a tree surgeon." He thinks over what I was saying in his mind and then adds, "Did you mention a wizard? It's just I have this problem with trees."

"Allergic?" I ask helpfully.

"Nope, they keep falling on me. I used to be 6'5". I suspect I'm a little less than that now."

"I've got a problem too. He pats his chest. No tact. When the farmer made me he left out the tact. Do you think the wizard could give me some tact?"

"I'm expect in the end he will, but it'll be a rough journey. We'll probably have to throw a ring into Mount Doom. Anyway first things first, do either of you two know if there is a pub down this road? I could murder a pint of beer."

"Sod the road mate. I've got sat-nav."

Sunday 18 April 2010


Writing a blog is hard work. Sometimes I don't feel in the mood. Often there isn't enough silly in my blood to write something humorous.

So I've decided I'm going to employ a ghostwriter. Ideally someone with wit, charm and a depth of writing I could only aspire to. To be a proper ghost writer, being dead is essential.

I've started interviewing the candidates:

Casper. Friendly. Kept hiding behind computer and shouting boo.

Eolistpetite's ghost. Sat smoking a cigarette in the corner. Didn't write a bloody word.

Slimer from Ghostbusters. Wrote 'sfhsdfhsdhjdf hdsfh xxndjjsd'. Keyboard absolutely running with ectoplasm - probably never be able to use it again.

The Flying Dutchman from Spongebob. Wrote about putting a sock on his ghostly tail. Most promising candidate so far. Tended to use a lot of pirate lingo.

Pepper's ghost. Discovered he was a fake. If I wanted a piece of glass mounted at an angle and an actor, I'd have advertised for one.

Ghost of Christmas Present. Kept wrapping mouse in gaudy paper and giving it to me. Very annoying. More a talker than a writer. Dickensian English becomes tiresome after a while.

After this lot, I've given up on recruitment and decided to write the blog myself.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

I want to believe

"Mulder, You've been sitting on that fence for hours. What's going on? You got a furball again?"

"I tell you there is something out there, Scully."

She stopped walking down the fence and balanced carefully on a fencepost. It was then she noticed something strange about her friend. "I must say you look bloody silly with that take-away curry tin on your noggin."

"It keeps their thoughts out of my head."

"Why would they want to get into your head?"

"They want my dreams. The other night I was curled up sleeping in my basket. The bright light came and I was put in a cage I couldn't bite or claw through. It was made of a material unknown to cat-kind. Then they took me to a bright room and stuck a probe in the back of my neck."

"OK, you've got me. I'll bite. So what happened next?"

"They were poking about for that little metal thing they stuck in me last time." He stopped speaking for a moment, and when he started again, it was in a whisper. "Trust no one."

"Call me skeptical, but I just don't believe. There is nothing out there. Come on, where's your proof?"

"That dry stuff in the bowl next to my water? It's not of this world. Have you tasted it? It's weird!"

"Don't like it. Prefer fresh mouse. Sparrow is very nice too - quite crunchy."

"How about the wet stuff with gravy and carrots? It's meat but it doesn't taste like mouse or sparrow. It doesn't taste of anything. When I'm eating it I hear the word 'chic'-something."


"So, you've heard it too."

"Doesn't your food speak to you? Last mouse I cornered distinctly said 'bugger'."

"Come on, mice don't speak. That'd be unbelievable."

Monday 12 April 2010

Walking down the red carpet

I have been presented The Sunshine Award by the CatLadyWithoutCats. Me, a ray of sunshine! I'm quite shocked. Normally at home I am referred to as "that miserable git".

Like most award ceremonies I shall accept the award graciously, but slightly clumsily as I have been drinking champagne non-stop for seven days since I discovered I had been nominated. Obviously I was simply too drunk to write an acceptance speech, so being a man of words and learning I shall wing it.

Before I forget to show you all, here is the award:
Anyway, I'd like to thank the CatLadyWithoutCats for bringing the award. If the roles were reversed, I'd have probably accidentally forgotton it and left it at home in the 'fridge.

I'd like to thank my mother for giving birth to me. I have quite a big head and it must have stung a bit.

I'd like to thank my father for teaching me how to put up shelves and the like with such a level of cronic over-engineering they'll outlast the sphinx. Should judgement day ever come, we shall be able to hide from the Terminators behind shelves I've made.

Extra special thanks go to my wife, who has often put up with the very slurred line "I love you verrryyy veryyyy much. I written you a poem. Would you like a bit of my kebab?" before collapsing and snoring. Loudly.

My daughter has needed to put up with a father who is sillier than she is. Although, I am proud to say, I have taught her how to fart and blame it on the cat convincingly.

I'd like to thanks all my friends, but most especially Indigo Roth as he is the only one with a cool pseudonym. Between us we have taken on the world of curry and pizza and come out smiling.

I'd also like to apologise to my cat, Tinker, for getting sprayed with water for farting when she hadn't.

Pizza will prevail

Sunday 11 April 2010


Every so often I question my motivation behind writing a blog. Self-analysis is not the easiest thing. There's an expression: "He/she knows his/her own mind." I'm not at all sure I ever will - it's a slippery resourceful bugger that is always at least one step ahead of me.

Lots of things I do are devoid of one over-arching reason, but have lots of little part-reasons all pushing the same way. Sometimes there is a smattering of self-delusion but some things I do know.

I really like creating things. The style, presentation and content of my blog represent effort to put together something unique.

It's lovely to have readers, followers and, especially, comments. If I'm going to write something it's great when people enjoy it.

I have a huge love of comedy. The thought that sometimes, just sometimes, I can emulate my comedy heroes and make someone laugh is a delight. Often I try a bit too hard and miss the mark, but occasionally it flows. I hope those moments are enough.

Somewhere in me is, I suspect, a damn good book. I started writing it ten years ago. How many of my early scribblings will be retained who could possibly say? Likely as not, even the title will be re-imagined. Writing a blog forms ideas, builds up practice and hopefully irons out the wrinkles.

Anyhow, this has been a bit of a ramble with no funnies. I'd just like to say thanks very much to my friends who have taken the time to read this blog over the last few months. I'm sure more daftness will be along shortly.

All the best,
Keith aka iDifficult

Thursday 8 April 2010

Barking up the Wrong Tree

I met one once. Huge with long canine teeth, fetid breath, and a tendency to wee up lampposts. I am of course talking about werewolves, not Indigo Roth, who for the record does not have fetid breath.

This is the iDifficult guide to werewolves. It will not help with vampires, zombies, banshees, ghosts, poltergeists or bankers. To be honest, it will be sod-all help with werewolves, as I doubt you'll have time to sit down with your laptop and have a quick read should one be around.

When there is a full moon, werewolves run around remote Scottish moors biting and eating people. The people who get bitten become werewolves at the next full moon. Then they run around biting and eating people. Some of the time they spend attempting to blow down the houses of werepiggys. Werepiggys with straw houses tend to be especially vulnerable to this behaviour. Wood fares little better. Brick is definitely werewolf proof.

Killing the first in a line of werewolves, removes the curse from the bitten and their bitten and so on down. It also stops the eaten from being cursed restless ghosts and being annoying.

Beheading kills werewolves. It also works on vampires, zombies and bankers. Should you be a little myopic opt for the beheading approach. Try not to be too obvious whilst carrying around a huge broadsword.

Silver bullets are great. They do kill werewolves. Please check the hallmark as silver plated bullets will not do. You will also need a gun of some kind (although this does not need to be silver) as bullets, no matter of what they are made, will have little effect if you just throw them. Gold bullets do not work, as Scaramanga found out to his cost in the little known James Bond book The Man with the Golden Gun and a Huge Chunk Taken Out of His Arse.

Under no circumstances make use of regular dog training techniques. Werewolves do not fetch, roll over, play dead or beg. Without a huge broadsword or silver bullets you stand only a slim chance of survival. You will need a spot of luck to make use of the following techniques:

  1. If you are near a beach, werewolves love sand. There is a good chance the hairy fanged beastie may bury you and forget where.
  2. A werecat wanders by. Werewolves have to chase these up trees. It's in their blood. Run away from the trees.
  3. The moon goes behind a cloud. Run.

As always, here at the iDifficult blog, we bid you good night, don't have nightmares and be lucky, especially around the undead.

Thursday 1 April 2010


This is a blog that isn't afraid to discuss anything. All aspects of life, curry, the undead, Ford Edsel's and old London Routemaster buses are to be found on these pages. In this post we'll deal with the dead. Not your regular stuck in a box and buried six-feet under, or stuck in a box, burned to a frazzle and put in a jar over granny's mantlepiece type dead. We're talking the restless dead, ghosts.

Should you meet a ghost, be sympathetic. Ghosts have quite a lot to put up with. Like dying and, usually some unfinished earthly business. This can make them stressed and incoherent. What's worse is they can't take Prozac or Valium because the little tablets go straight through them and fall on the floor.

Imagine a ghost, or a little group of ghosts, in some dark and foreboding house. Nice night in. Chance to put their feet or ghostly tails up. Lounge in an old rocking chair, leave a person shaped imprint on the bedcovers, smoke a cigarette or two, laugh at the SMOKING KILLS label on the packet. Then there is a crash. The door opens and in comes a TV crew. They set up night vision cameras everywhere, put motion sensors on the rocking chair, and invite members of a studio audience to sit in the dark and scream. Yes, they've been visited by the Most Haunted team.

Ghosts find this most frustrating. The presenters are saying things like "Oh, over there an orb, or light anomaly as we like to call them. I mean, did you see that?"

Meanwhile our ghost is saying "I'm not over there, I'm behind you. And try cleaning your camera lens occasionally, it's filthy!"

Or, "Let's get out the Ouija board and try to communicate. Is there anyone there?"

"Give over, I was a peasant farmer, born in 1563. I can't even write, let alone spell!"

"OK everyone, put a finger on the glass, or planchette, as we experts say. Call on the ghost to spell out his name."

"Oh, I suppose I can try. Learned a little from the newer ghosts. 
S-O-D O-F-F."

The evening usually continues in much the same vein. Table tipping is tried, with squeals of delight. "Look the spirits are lifting the table up. Quick film under there, see the legs are nearly off the ground. Squee!"

"No, I'm over here. In the rocking chair, having a quick smoke. Might have a lie down in a bit."

No team is complete without a medium, who occasionally becomes possessed by an evil spirit or talks about subterraneans living in the London tube network. He'll pipe up and say things like "I sense an evil, angry spirit seeking revenge over his murder. I can see his face just in front of me."

"No, I'm still rocking and having a smoke. Besides I'm not angry. Horse backed up and pushed me down a well. Didn't have time to be angry. Bloody stupid animal."

"Does anyone else think it is getting cold in here?"

"Of course it's getting cold, you've left the front door open to get all the TV cables in, you complete pudding!"

I'm sure you can understand why a ghost might find this frustrating, and possibly just a little bit annoying.

If you want to be nice to a ghost, do some pottery. They love pottery. Something soothing about pottery. It's not as if they have any real use for the mugs or cups you make. A nice cup of tea goes the same way as the Prozac, straight onto the floor.

Goodnight, and don't be spooked. They're as shocked to see you as we are to see them. Traumatised ghosts often wander around saying things like "I see live people."

Tuesday 30 March 2010


For various reasons, chronicled here, I avoid the buses in Slobbering-under-the-Bed. Instead I prefer, when unable to drive myself, to make use of Slobbering's only licensed taxi driver, Narcoleptic Norman.

It was a dark night, travelling back from the Euthanasia where Indigo Roth and I had mercilessly murdered a curry, that something quite weird happened. I hope you can picture the scene - we're all in Norman's cab. The man himself, Narcoleptic Norman, was driving. Roth was in the front passenger seat with his knees up close to his chest and holding onto the handle over the passenger door like a drowning man might grip a penguin. I was on the back seat behind Norman talking to myself (I always use a bluetooth earpiece so I can have a good conversation undisturbed by psychiatric workers). Next to me and very much cramped behind Roth was one of the waiters from the Euthanasia. I suspect we'd paid the bill with currency from the wrong century again. I still have a pocket full of Corinthian Staters. The banks hate them, but you can use them in most gym lockers.

We drove to Roth's home town of Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe first. Whilst it would have been easier to drop me off first, I think we had discussed this and decided that Norman wasn't entirely safe without a passenger to keep him awake. The man and his cab have been found in various places - fast asleep in the middle of roundabouts, in the central reservation of fast roads, and once on the steps to the town hall.

Every time our driver nodded off, Roth would yell "Left". Norman would wake with a start and take the next left. Allowing Roth to give directions was pretty much always a disaster. Quite often a passport was necessary. In extreme cases jabs for tropical diseases. On this particular trip, we had been through the same McDonald's drive-thru no less than sixteen times. I was bloody sick of Happy Meals, although the waiter was collecting the toys with glee.

Suddenly we were on the open road. Norman would slump every few minutes. As Roth yelled "Left", I countered with "Straight on". Norm would wake up, explain that he was only resting his eyes and shove the gas pedal violently. The old car would shudder and almost take off. There weren't many like it. It was a 1958 Ford Edsel.

The origin of the car was a complete mystery to us. Norman had never explained, although he wasn't being tight lipped about it, he just seldom stayed awake that long. It was a mystery second only to Henry Ford naming his son Edsel.

Anyway, back to the clear, dark, long, open road. We were travelling at quite a lick when besides us appeared an old style London bus. It came alongside without effort or seemingly much engine noise.

A girl with an impossibly short neck and a flat topped head yelled at me from the open platform. "Make sure you've put your seatbelt on, the conductor is getting quite excited about having you back aboard again."

Bit weird, but I thought I'd strike up a conversation. It wasn't as if we were complete strangers. I even knew the girl. She'd committed suicide by jumping off the Paralytic-in-the-Wardrobe pier. The tide was out. I'd first met her after she was dead and, strangely, on the self same bus. "How are you doing?" I asked.

"Quite well, apart from being dead. Mustn't grumble."

"Journey seems to be taking a long time. Is the driver lost?"

"No, apparently there are roadworks and we have to take an alternative route to the afterlife. Anyway, that's what the conductor says. Personally, I think he likes the company."

"Where is he, by the way?" It wasn't as though I was in a hurry to meet him again. I doubted if he liked the company, he hadn't seemed very sociable to me.

"Up top, reading the company rulebook. I think he is trying to find a way of not honouring your return ticket."

"Bugger that!", I turned to our driver, "Norman, floor it! Give it some welly! Put the hammer to the metal! Roth, let go of that penguin!"

"I was just resting my eyes," groaned the soporific voice of our driver.

"Just do it! Now!"

Norman hit the gas. Hard. The Edsel shot forward, and for a few moments was pulling nicely away from the big red bus. I was briefly relieved, until the bus slid back alongside us. On the platform was the conductor. I recognised the very deep-set eyes. He spoke to me in a hollow, far away voice, which despite the straining of the Edsel's engine was crisp, cold and clear to me.

"I've checked the company rulebook most throughly sir. It does seem that your return ticket was valid on this service. But should sir wish to come aboard he can have the left front seat. It's very nice."

"To be honest, if you don't mind, I'd..." The bus vanished, Norman nodded off again and Roth yelled "Left." Norman woke with a start, turned left and we crashed through the hedgerow and spent the night in a farmer's field.