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.

Monday 29 March 2010


Well, I've done it now. I've registered a domain for my bloggy thingy. It's been lurking around the internet for some months now and it deserved a proper home.

So I've got www.idifficult.org or just idifficult.org for short.

It was simple and hassle free. Except when I had done it, all your comments on my blog entries had vanished. I was mortified. I love the comments, sometimes more than the piece of writing that motivated them. It's nice to hear from people kind enough to read what I have written. In turn it inspires me to write the best I possibly can for them. Fortunately, somewhere between lunchtime and getting home, all your comments came back.

When I first tried to register, I went for idifficult.com, but someone had snaffled it. Besides I'm not commercial, my writing is for fun and to try to stop my brain turning to mush (too late there then!) idifficult.net would be completely wrong too. So I went for idifficult.org because .org is for non-commercial organisations. Although those who know me or have seen the wake of chaos behind me would perhaps believe that .dis-org would be the better domain.

Blogger, thankfully, ensure that idifficult.blogspot.com still works too, so people who have been kind enough to link to me aren't going to get horrible broken links.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Interview with a Vampire

"Well, Mr, sorry, Count. May I call you Count? Can I ask you who had the greatest influence on your childhood?"

"Hmm, Let me see. Hey, are you needing all that blood?"


Sunday 21 March 2010

Guide to Vampires

In the second of a series the doctor advised me against, I shall discuss vampires and methods of surviving an attack of vampires.

Please note this blog entry is called Guide to Vampires, not as in an earlier misprint Guiding for Vampires which was a club for vampire self-development started by Robert Baden-Powell.

This guide does not deal with zombies, werewolves, banshees, ghosts, poltergeists or bankers. It may discuss cheese and pickle sandwiches at some point.

Take care whilst attempting to identify vampires as sticking a pointy bit of wood through a neighbour's goth son or daughter is viewed with disdain by most local police forces. Check for slicked black hair, pasty complexion, very prominent eye teeth and a Transylvanian accent. Especially look out for a poor shave (male vampires only) or smarting eyes due to ill-positioned contact lenses. Vampires cannot see their own reflections in a mirror and hence have trouble with some personal tasks. Some attempt to hide their smarting eyes by the use of stupid little sun-glasses (see below).

As well as goths, it is sometimes hard to distinguish a vampire from a banker. Often this can only be done after an attack has taken place. Should you wake up with little memory of where you were or what you did and have two bites very close to one another, then you have been attacked by a vampire or a banker. If the bites are in your neck, you feel lightheaded and your heart is thumping as if it has nothing to pump around your body you've been attacked by a vampire. If, on the other hand, the bites are in your wallet, it is completely empty of cash and there is a small note saying that they have charged you more because you've run out of money, then you've been attacked by a banker.

When ordering pizza, ensure that you also order plenty of garlic bread. Hanging garlic bread on a string around your neck will keep vampires away. To be honest it'll pretty much keep everyone else away too.

Vampires cannot enter your home without being invited, but once invited they are nearly impossible to get rid of. In this respect they have much in common with double glazing salesmen. This guide firmly recommends asking for a business card before deciding to allow entry. If the name on the card begins with Count, or his or her job title is Exsanguination Specialist it's time to get that pizza order in.

Killing a vampire can be achieved with a stake of wood, thrust through it's undead heart. Please be environmentally sound and ensure that you use wood from renewable resources. Polished mahogany is not big and it's not clever.

Regardless of statements to the contrary, vampires do not like going out in the sun and seldom, if ever, sunbathe. It's all about image. How scary can you be if you look like David Dickinson (see below)?

There are a number of places to avoid. Graveyards (well, doh!), blood banks, big impressive but dark houses on hills into which coffins were taken the day before and, finally, snooker halls. The danger of snooker halls has been immortalised by Lawnmower Deth's Spook Perv Happenings in the Snooker Hall (Lyrics). Should you find yourself in one of these places, you'll probably be a member of the undead shortly. Prepare by having a decent shave and putting your contact lenses in as these tasks will be so much harder in the near future.

My final tip is to check the names of your companions. Should one be called Blade or Buffy you're doing pretty well and survival is pretty much assured. If you know a Van Helsing, it's time to order a pizza.

Sunday 14 March 2010


I have received comments that this blog is not educational enough. Indeed one complainant went as far as to inform me that he believed that some of the things written in previous posts had been made up. Lies and untruths he said. It has been said that this blog is just tales of Indigo Roth and I going for curries and then having chilli induced hallucinations.

Anyway to address one of these issues, I'd like to introduce this my first iDifficult self help guide. The chilli induced hallucinations will require further investigation.

The iDifficult Guide To Zombies

This is a guide to surviving an attack from zombies. 
To educate in survival techniques for dealing with one or more zombies in urban environments.
To provide information on surviving a zombie attack. It does not deal with vampires, werewolves, banshees, ghosts, poltergeists or bankers.
Intended Readership
The living. Should you feel undead or even slightly unwell please don't read this document. We really don't want you to know what we are planning to do next. That would be unfair.
Zombies are easily recognised by pale faces, staggering walk with arms outstretched horizontally in front, possibly with gaping wounds, and blood and gunk around their mouths. Their conversation is limited to a few moaning grunts. Please consider all of these factors together holistically. Do not batter granny to death because she has a pale face and a staggering walk. Similarly be careful not to mis-identify local youth coming out of a kebab shop at 11:30 - they stagger, have gunk around their mouths and issue moaning grunts.

Use fresh meat to distract zombies. Frozen meat is even better as they have to wait around for 6 hours for it to defrost, or 12 if they leave it in a refrigerator. If you are vegetarian please do not use quorn or soya products as they really don't have any interest in them whatsoever. Also they are terribly expensive.

Do not use silver bullets. These are intended for werewolves and just annoy zombies. Especially if they are waiting for the frozen meat to defrost. Irrespective of the effectiveness of silver bullets, if living in England you must already have obtained a firearms licence from the local police force. The police will only issue firearms licences to those considered too flaky by psychiatrists to appear on a reality TV show. I suggest taking silver bullets to your nearest jewellery store to exchange for cash. Remember if the person serving you has blood around their mouth, gaping wounds and a tendency to stagger slowly with their arms raised horizontally in front then they are a zombie. Walk quickly away.

Do not attempt to use a steak through the heart. It's a waste of a good cut of meat. Throw it between nearby zombies.

Zombies move quite slowly with a staggering gait. Walk smartly away from them. Do not run, because if you run they'll appear in front of you from behind the nearest tree or tombstone (see unsuitable places below). On flat ground a Segway is an excellent means of escaping zombies.

Do not walk smartly into wooded areas where it is most likely you'll trip whilst looking over your shoulder at a following zombie. Similarly do not go into graveyards, unless you happen to be Buffy. If you are Buffy, would you mind writing an endorsement on this posting, it'll improve my readership splendidly.

Should you find yourself in a wooded area or a graveyard just sit down and rest. You're pretty much doomed anyway. Use your cellphone to text friends and loved ones to let the know just what you thought of them before you became a flesh eating member of the undead. Do not leave a video camera on the ground, switched on and pointing at you. The footage will be most unpleasant for relatives and is unlikely to make them any money selling it to Bloopers and Takeout TV.

Nordic Walking is not a good means of escaping from zombies. It inspires the same confidence as running with the same pitfalls. Although fortunately you will have two metal poles with you to fight them off.

Going up stairs helps as it is well known that zombies cannot go up stairs. They have to congregate at the bottom and yell "Exterminate" in strange metallic voices. Sorry, scrub that. Apparently that's Daleks.

Wooden bats work very well against zombies.  Do not use Fruit Bats as they are a protected species.

Next week, The iDifficult Guide to Vampires.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Ten Years from Now

My friend Paula, Cat Lady Larew otherwise known as the creative mind behind How to Become a Cat Lady Without the Cats tagged me for this little meme.

Being me, and being a little iffy with the English language generally, I decided to look up meme:
A meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with "cream") is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.
I understand a little more than I did. Apparently it was one of Dicky Dawkins ideas. Which possibly may make it a meme in it's own right. 

Anyhow, the idea behind this one is you're supposed to tell what you hope life will hold for you ten years from now, tag ten more people to do the same, then dance naked around your computer whilst swinging a frozen chicken over your head*
  1. I am hoping for my future self to perfect a time machine and return and fill in my second hope for the future, because I cannot think of more than one for I am that feeble today.
  2. Sorry I'm late. Bloody temporal computer failed between here and ten years in your future. Had to re-boot it. I wish it didn't run on Windows Vista 10th Anniversary Edition. Note for past self: Buy a Mac. Hope for the future: that I did buy a Mac.
  3. Bye bye future self - like the extra ear - very fetching. OK back to the task at hand - I hope for an everlasting bottle of Glenfiddish.
  4. I hope for another everlasting bottle of Glenfiddish.
  5. I hope I don't become senile and start writing rubbish in a blog where everyone can read it. OK. I hope I don't become any more senile. Let's face it this blog is a fairly safe place, as no one actually reads it.
  6. I'd like my wife to be happy and content.
  7. I'd like my daughter to be pursuing her dreams. That doesn't mean lazing in bed until 3pm.
  8. I hope I shall still be in contact with my current friends.
  9. I hope to have met in person some of the wonderful people I've met through blogworld.
  10. I hope Twitter, You Tube and Facebook have combined into a single timewasting site called 'YouTwitFace'.
Now I have to pass this onto ten quite unsuspecting people.

Oh, bugger it! Cat Lady has got nearly all the people I'd pass it on to. There are but a few left:
Well, I've done a meme. Super. What's next on my list?

* It is possible I embellished this a little from the original, but I liked the 'gestures and rituals' bit of the definition of meme so much.

Friday 5 March 2010

The Basingstoke Project

"He's been droning on for hours," said the man I bumped into.

"Who?" asked I.

"Professor Fflaffington-Smyth."


"Press conference. Some new discovery or other. I'm not really sure anymore."


"High-Tedium Research Facility," he looked at his watch. Then at the sky, "what day is it?"


"It started Tuesday!" he became agitated, "I wrote down everything interesting he said in my notebook." He flipped it open at a page marked by the clip of his pen. There was one word. And then the signs of a mind becoming more and more distracted - little doodles, drawings, a carefully shaded picture, then a poem and finally what must have been the outline for a novel.

"I should introduce myself. I'm iDifficult," I said.

There was a flicker of recognition in his eyes, "I thought you'd be taller." he said at last. "Sorry, I'm Oliver Toenail. I'm a reporter with the local paper - The Slobbering Investigator." He produced a press-pass. It had science correspondent in small print under his name. "I have a big problem," he started once more, "I have a deadline tomorrow morning and I have only one word about the discovery. They're going to fire me. Again."

My politeness gland failed. "Oliver Toenail? Did your parents hate you?"

He seemed unfazed by my reaction. "Actually they named me Onychomycosis Toenail. They were both Chiropodists and mad keen on the profession. I adopted Oliver as it saves time and spelling."

Feeling a little shame, I took pity, "I'll help you out. Did some work with Neddy a few years back. We need to catch up. Besides, he owes me a fiver."


"Professor Fflaffington-Smyth. Of course, he liked to be known as Major Reverend Dr Fflafington-Smith then and had one less F but same chap."

We marched up to the doors of the High-Tedium Research Facility. I unscrewed the intercom panel as Mr Toenail watched.

"Aren't you going to ring the doorbell?"

"Where's the fun in that?" I picked out a few wires, scraped off the insulation and twisted them together. "Besides, if I tell them who I am, there's no way they'll let us in." I shoved the panel back. The door clicked open. The lifting barrier across the main entrance behind us started opening and closing rhythmically. We walked into the hallway. The lights were flickering.

I spotted my target, "Neddy!"

"iDifficult!", he exclaimed, "My old chap. I heard you were dead."

"I thought you were in the press conference?"

"Same difference. I was. Popped out briefly Wednesday, couldn't be arsed to go back. I didn't think I'd be missed."

Mr Toenail chipped in, "You called the press conference! You made the discovery!"

"Did anyone notice I'd gone? Anyway, who are you?"

"My fault, I'm afraid. I found him outside. He came to your press conference after a good story. I told him I knew you and would help him," I explained.

Neddy looked at me concerned, "He came here for a good story? We only do really boring research here."

"Then why did you call a press conference?" our science correspondent interjected.

"I'm a scientist, and scientists do that sort of thing. We're expected to. Read it in a book somewhere."

"So have you discovered anything?"

"Might have," he said enigmatically. "Have you heard of the Manhatten Project?"

Onychomycosis Toenail came alive in a way I can't imagine he had since his Christening, "Why yes, yes I have. My goodness this is awesome! And here in Slobbering too."

"Follow me. We call this the Basingstoke Project."

He lead us into a huge room. It was full of machinery. It was all painted battleship grey. There were some panels of flashing lights. Well they would have been flashing but most of the bulbs had long since blown. There were several scientists looking at screens full of numbers. Some were even awake.

"What is it?"

"It's a time machine, come over and have a look. We're about to do another test run." He held a finger up to his mouth, "Shhh! They're about to start."

A scientist leant over a panel and pushed a button. Nothing much happened, but the machine let forth a low and depressed sigh.

"Ohhhhhwwwwww," it went.

Some of the numbers on the screens changed. After a few minutes of examining the numbers the button pushing scientist spoke, "Professor, it's done it again."

"What are the results this time?" Professor Fflaffington-Smyth asked.

"7, 14, 17, 42, 44, 45 and 47."

Mr Toenail spoke, "What does that mean? It sounds like an order at the Euthanasia Curry House. Is it really a time machine?"

"Yes, it is indeed a time machine."

"Wow. I mean wow! This is soo big. I didn't think we'd be covering a story so large here." Then he paused, "Why aren't you overjoyed? This is world fame, Nobel prizes, chat shows for the rest of your life, maybe even a record deal from Simon Cowell."

"Because it will only, not matter which knobs we twiddle or untwiddle, or which buttons we press, go back in time to the previous Saturday and even then it only returns a few numbers. Just numbers. Just from last Saturday."

"What are the numbers?"

"Last Saturday's UK National Lottery winning ticket numbers."

"So all this machine does is get last Saturday's National Lottery ticket numbers?" He waved his arms around the room, gesturing at the machinery.

"Yes - the winning ones."

"Couldn't you just look them up on the internet?"


"I'm going to get fired aren't I?"

Neddy and I looked at him with sympathy. "Probably," we said in unison.