Friday, December 24, 2010

T'was the Night We Call Christmas

Clement Clarke Moore's famous "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" reshaped a little.

This Christmas, as you tuck into turkey in the safety and comfort of your own home, spare a little thought in this festive season of goodwill to all for those whose Christmas will be just another nightmare.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, Not even a mouse.
The children lay dying, their parents were dead,
There was no pudding, there was no bread.

Their stomachs distended, their eyes just a glaze,
They’d eaten nothing, nothing for days.
There were no presents, wrapped in a bow,
No crackers to pull, no songs about snow,

The water had gone, the medicine too,
the diarrhea had not, though the spasms were few.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The bottles were slung, on the floor without care,
And stale cigarette smoke hung on the air

The children were quiet, though not asleep,
Even too frightened to cry or to weep.
The mother lay still, and wondered how long
The family would last, she must be strong.

The husband lay still, a heap on the floor,
Drunk and unconscious, yelling no more.
Frustrations suppressed, anger subdued,
Troubles forgotten, till tomorrow renewed.

No Christmas cards hanging, Just bills overdue,
No job and no future, in the dole queue.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The mother lay silent, eyes open wide.
But though she was breathing, there was no-one in side.

The father lay still, in a dreamless sleep,
But soon he would wake again, only to weep.
The knock on the door, that they’d been waiting to hear,
Had filled their hearts to the brim with despair.

Their world lay in pieces, a couple alone,
The daughter they loved, would never come home,
None of their friends, know what to say,
So they leave them to cope, alone everyday.

A road toll statistic, a common enough death,
A line in the paper, a family bereft.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Twas the night we call Christmas, And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The bombs had all fallen, the night became calm,
And just for a while, no-one did harm.

Even the orphans had fallen asleep,
As images of their parents, danced in their sleep.
A shot echoed somewhere, a cry in the night,
Another dead soldier, to not carry on the fight.

An elderly woman, lies on the floor,
Softly crying, and watching the door.
The moon shining brightly, a ghost in the sky,
Then all of a sudden, a harsh screaming cry.

Bombs crashing, More danger, More Panic, More Killing
Shame on it, Oh stupid, Oh dumber blitzi-krieging.
To the victor, the spoils, to the victor the oils Now dash away, dash away, dash away hope.

And Suicide bombers, light up the sky
And the rest of the world, pretends not to know why.
Jolly Old St Nicholas, did not visit there,
And a world celebrating, declined to care.

And a world celebrating, declined to care.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Out Of Work - Again!

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

I'm good at my work; enjoy my work; actually try hard in my work. And people say I'm one of the best they've had. They said it today. Max, he's my boss - WAS my boss - he reckons I'm about the best worker he's ever had. But now I'm unemployed. Again.

I'm one of the long-term unemployed. I spend most of the year unemployed. Yeah, there are lots who call me a dole bludger so feel free if you like. But I'm not. I just find most employment too difficult. I'm not stupid, but I can't focus on it, you know what I mean? I can't stick at it.

But then, I get the kind of work that fits me like a glove. I like it, and I'm good at it. In fact, I reckon that I'm the best and most of my employers agreed. But they still sacked me.

No, I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't break the law. I'm not a risk to the public. It's never that. It's just that they reckon that I've hit my use-by date.

For about six weeks I'm the bee's knees and they love me. Then, it's good bye, we don't need you any more. Redundant.

So I hang up my Santa suit for another year and wait patiently for November to rock around again. Out of work. Again.

Friday, December 10, 2010


"Hello Grandad. How are you today?"

'Grandad' just grunted. He always grunted. He was known by all the nurses at Bide-a-Wee Rest Home For Retired Gentle Folk to be their grumpiest resident. He never spoke to them at all - he just grunted. It was just his way. They said.

Mr Ernest Brown was actually not grumpy by nature. In fact, those who knew him found him to be very friendly, extremely witty, and the sort of man who was everybody's mate. That was the experience of those who knew him.

But the nurses did not know him. Which is why they called him 'Grandad'. And why he grunted back at them.

He was no grandad. He wasnt even a father. He wasnt even married - had never been married. He had not been engaged, or even had a girlfriend. And he was certainly no grandad.

Had the nurses read his records, had they talked to other residents of Bide-a-Wee, had they even talked to the Social Services who had placed him there, then they would have perhaps known a little bit more about him - known perhaps that he had a name, known that he was no grandad. But they did none of these things. They simply came to work, called him Grandad, and went home. None the wiser.

And things would have gone on that way if it wasnt for a little girl called Gina.

Gina had no family. She had been in a number of foster homes after her parents were killed when she was only a couple of months old. For some reason things had never worked out and she had spent most of her small life - about six years - being shunted from one home to another. She was alone.

At the time of the story, she was living with a good family called the Robinsons, but the years of instability had brought about a type of isolation - perhaps it was a protection. Although they cared for her, and tried to show love for her, she remained unaffected. She was alone.

One day Mrs Robinson called in to see her mother who lived at Bide-a-Wee. Her mother was feeling poorly and it was very much an emergency trip. There had been no time to organise a sitter for Gina, so Mrs Robinson had brought the girl with her.

And so it was that while Mrs Robinson sat by her mother's bed, holding her hand, Gina wandered away unnoticed, through the halls and relaxation areas of Bide-a-Wee, past the dining rooms, and ultimately to a small enclave in an out-of-the-way spot, favoured by one Mr Ernest Brown.

"Hello" said Gina.

"Hello" said Mr Ernest Brown

"Are you a prisoner here?" asked Gina.

"I suppose I am" answered Mr Ernest Brown.

"What did you do wrong?" asked Gina.

"I got old" said Mr Ernest Brown. But there was a trinkle in his eye.

Gina looked at him solemly, and he regarded her thoughtfully. She had big brown eyes and a face that held the sort of seriousness that takes most people a lifetime to gain. She had a story to tell, and one far beyond her years. It was a story of childhood lost, but not of adulthood gained. He smiled at her.

"Have you got any children?" she asked.

"No." said Mr Ernest Brown. "I never had a wife, so I never had any children."

"Are you all alone then?" she asked. It was more of a statement than a question though. She knew he was alone, had been alone all his life. In him she recognised a kindred spirit.

"Yes" he said. "Always have been, guess I always will be".

Unbidden, she climbed onto his lap. He winced at the pain as his arthritic legs struck out in protest at the unexpected weight, but he said nothing.

"Can we be friends?" she asked. "I don't have a friend".

He looked down at the little face looking deeply into his. He didn't have a choice, and he didn't want one.

"Yes" he said. "That would be nice," He paused, then continued "as long as you don't call me Grandad".

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I thought I'd just ...

I thought I'd write a poem
But I couldn't make it rhyme,
I thought I'd write a novel,
But I didn't have the time.
I tinkered with a tune,
But I couldn't write a verse,
Then I wrote this ditty,
And things got slightly worse...

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Heros

It had been a long journey - many days in fact. As time had passed, they had become more and more irritated with each other. Armstrong, with his strong-arm personality was as domineering as Buzz was with his incessant humming. But the pale green globe lured them on in the darkness of sheer space and they knew that they would ultimately reach it or perish in the attempt.

And it had been a journey not without risk. The launch had always been the most dangerous part and had been nerve racking. If they'd lost speed or been even a single degree out - they'd have fallen into the darkness of space and to certain death. The angles - the trajectory - had to be spot on. It all had to be planned to the nth degree and implemented with mathematical precision. And it had been.

They had orbited their target globe several times before the final approach. The brightly lit side was chosen so that they could set down safely. Great holes and craters offered both promise and threat, but the time for deliberation had passed and anyhow, it really didn't matter where they landed so long as they landed safely.

Some back home had labelled it a luna-tic plan and said they were aiming for the stars. Yet others called it a stellar journey. But everyone knew that - regardless of the outcome - they would go down in history as adventurers and heros. The first to ever try to reach that great globe of green cheese in the blackness.

And so now they had landed and landed safely. And with the dignity that such an occasion warrants, carefully explored the surface. And ate the surface. Most importantly, ate the surface. The launch from the top shelf onto the reject cheese bin had been carried out perfectly and Armstrong Rat together with Buzz Mouse were entitled to gorge themselves.

A small cheddar for mouse, a large cheese for rat-kind.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Good Imagination ...

It's hard to know where to draw the line. Do writers actually become their characters? Are feelings and emotions based in fantasy, or in the writers experience? Being schizophrenic essentially means not being able to tell fantasy from reality. But how many of us haven't cried at a sad film, or cheered when the hero beat the villain? How much of our life is actually imagination - how much is real and how much is fantasy? And where, and when do we draw the line?

I like winter - all those dark nights. You see, in the shadows of the night can be found the best mysteries.

But that has nothing to do with the problem at hand which is : what to cook for dinner? Perhaps braised steak, I thought, as I opened the cupboard door to hang up my overcoat. A huge bloody-eyed vampire loomed out at me with teeth bared. Yes, steaks would be nice.

In the kitchen, I opened the freezer and the fur-lined claw of an abominable snow man struck wildly at me. Damn. Only a frozen chicken and some of that terrible vegetable protein muck : Soylent Green. Yuk. I had a thought and checked the fridge - cold sausages I'd fried the day before! OK then, sausages it is.

A good imagination. That's what everyone has always said about me. A good imagination. I guess that's true. I know the things I see are only just that - imagination. They are not like hallucinations because I choose to imagine what I do. Life would be pretty dull without them.

As I was chopping up the sausages, I accidentally sliced off several fingers of a zombie who had sidled up to me. I put the sausages into a casserole dish with a little gravy. I may have added a little too much pepper because a banshee sneezed and fell off the top of the cupboard.

Having a good imagination is a very powerful tool. It certainly helps me get through the day which, I must admit, would be pretty mundane and boring otherwise.

I switched on the oven and roasted alive a couple of fairies who had been perched on the element. Almost at the same time, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a pterodactyl swoop down and steal one of the sausage slices but of course I was wrong. It was an alien spacecraft.

Mushrooms. Always good eating. I'd throw them in with the chopped sausages. I opened the larder door and took three or four large musshies, brushing off a couple of gnomes in the process. On my way back to the bench I bumped into the invisible man. I hadn't noticed him there before. I picked up the carving knife. Yes, I'll chop the mushies and add them to the sausages and gravy - a great addition to my hotchpotch hot pot! I checked the larder but apart from some rosemary, thyme, a small green gremlin and a packet of oregano, I couldn't really think of anything else to add.

Of course, I'd forgotten something. 'Taters' - potatoes. I should have peeled some but I couldn't be bothered. I took a small tin from the larder, opened it and emptied the contents (minus the 'juice') onto my chopping board. I roughly cut them into quarters and put them in with the sausages.

I turned and tossed the knife into the sink, unwittingly sticking the masked rapist in the heart in the process. I set the microwave for 2 minutes - everything was already cooked, they just needed heating up. I stepped over the warm corpse and waved aside a vulture that was trying to perch on my mixer tap. I'd leave the washing up for later.

Took out a plate ready for dinner. It was my favourite. I called it my 'John the Baptist' plate because it had a stain on it like a head. Or perhaps it was just the pattern.

The radiation alert on my mini nuclear reactor went 'ping' and then said 'Enjoy Your Meal'. I got a red tea towel out of the draw and flicked it at the bull that, true to form, came rushing towards me. I opened the microwave and took out the hot pot which smelt delicious and turning back to the bench fell over the corpse on the floor. The hotpot went everywhere.

There was a corpse on the floor.

There actually was a corpse on the floor. A real one. With a mask. And a carving knife sticking out of him. And he was covered in potatoes.

And sausages.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Aunty's Present

A cautionary tale with a spin...

It was a nice present. I expect. Hard to say for sure when the Aunt you never see sends you something you can’t explain.

It was carved out of wood and included just a tiny slip of paper saying ‘RANG A BOOMER’. Years ago, she sent me a computer club – it was padded and used for hitting the computer as a joke. With me being dyslexic, the computer always seems to need a good thump! Good old Aunty. I figured this was obviously similar - a telephone banger!

So, later when I called my friend and I got the digits mixed up, I gave the phone a satisfying whack with the boomer. They were right about the ‘boom’. I’d smashed the phone to pieces!

Angrily, I took the wooden phone-boomer thing to the rubbish dump and threw it as hard as I could.

And that's when it hit me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Peeping Tom

So I was at a loose end. So what to do? Then I thought, check out that new camp - True Eden. So that's what I did.

Well, what a sight to see. I just couldn't believe my eyes - everywhere I looked, there they were. How can I put it? Well, there's no delicate way of putting it. Nudes. Everywhere, naked people! My eyes nearly popped out of my head.

Everywhere I wandered, there were old men with crinkles all over. And old women too! And young girls, totally stark naked. You could see everything. I had to look away when I spotted them playing leap frog, I can tell you. There were even kids running about just as naked as they were born. And they didn't care. None of them cared. There they all were, not a stitch on, and they just didn't care.

I tried not to look offended - I tried not to look at all! But I'd just got most of the way through the camp when they all suddenly started jumping up and down, pointing at me and screaming. I tried to hurry up and just as well I did, cos one of them came after me with a shovel. Honestly, you'd think they'd never seen a porcupine before.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Diabetes of the Pen.

The days of story-telling seem to have passed.

It really has to do with superficial degeneration and growth. By empowering the candy and leaving the bread to fend for itself, we are abandoning a rich heritage-to-be for today’s sugary high.

It’s a sign of the times, I suppose, that people grossly underestimate the importance of the written word. They have vocabularies of five hundred words (with F being every second one). They spell late ‘L8’ because their brains have become fried with false simplicity. They prefer icons to images because they are only able to digest the big bits.

Language, and especially the English language, is a rich tapestry – not a printed t-shirt. It lies on the floor in a heap going musty and decaying while the mindless crowd around their iPhones admiring the 640×480 snapshot of tomorrows forgotten yesterday.

We need Wordsworth and we need Dr Seuss.
We need Tolstoy and we need Enid Blyton.
We need Van Gogh and we need Charlie Brown.
We need bread and we need sugar.

But all too often, today's entertainment is sugar. Pure sugar.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

To Write or Not To Write - which is right?

Should you, as a writer, adopt the policy of writing every day? Forcing the words out, if necessary, putting down word after word without joy, without weight and without meaning? Is there really any benefit to that?

Most in the writing industry will tell you that writing - good writing - comes from practice. They will actively encourage you to write each day. They will insist on it. Only through such good habits and developmental practices will you improve.

But is that always true? Should you always write - even when you don't feel like it?

The big question here comes down to you - you as a writer.

What differentiates a Writer from a writer (note the capitalization) is pretty well the same thing that differentiates an Artist from an artist.

A Writer (capital) is essentially an Artist (capital) because they literally live, eat, drink and breath their work. The thought of not producing that work is unimaginable. They literally are born to perform, so to speak. It's not so much a matter of a Writer writing than being a channel for the writing. Try to stop breathing - it's easy. OK, well it isn't easy, but it's about as easy as it is for a writer to stop writing.

If you are not driven then you are not a Writer. Or an Artist.

So having said all that, is it necessary to write every day?

The short answer is that - when the urge to write occurs - it is impossible to not write every day. If you don't do it then you feel incomplete.

At least, most days.

Some days even Writers don't have the urge.

And on those days, they do not write.

Which I think answers the question.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Kindling will start a fire

The new Kindle, more than the iPad, is literally kindling for a new revolution - the electronic book. More, it promises to deliver something that the mainstream publishers cannot - i.e. choice.

The big thing with the kindle is its Electronic paper. Oh, and the size of the Amazon store behind it. iPad might end up with the might of iTunes but the electronic paper will definitely win out, imho, in terms of reading. It literally IS an electronic book.

But the less commented plus with the kindle (and to some extend all the other 'readers' available) is the ability for those who are ignored or rejected by mainstream publishers to actually get their work online and in your face. And this is a big revolution.

For the first time in history, the world will be able to choose what they read rather than having their options limited by short-sighted publishers interested only in peddling existing authors and short-term profits.

The Kindle is kindling for every unpublished author. It's time to get crackling!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


A moment's fancy, sought with Nancy,
Foolish man's desire.
Now the other-woman's panties,
Subtly do conspire.

Roaming penis, takes his pleasure,
Jester dressed as King,
He pays the cost o' fem'nine treasure,
Snared by a ring.

Forbidden Union has its dues,
Her silence he to crave.
A husband with too much to lose,
A secret to the grave.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

PMT - A very short flash fiction dedicated to Australia's new Prime Minister

She cursed the clock that made that cursed noise that disturbed her cursed sleep.

As Austagaglia's first female Prime Minister, she was going to have to do it tough. They were all waiting for her to collapse in tears or - possibly worse - to emerge as some Austragaglian Margaret Thatcher. God! Why not just accept her as a Prime Minister - what had gender got to do with anything anyway.

She slammed the coffee pot down. Empty. Someone had forgotten to fill it last night. And there were no Popadoodles for breakfast. How the hell was she supposed to run the country when there was no coffee and no Popadoodles. She opened the fridge and reached for the bread. Or, to be precise, for the bag containing one half slice and a crust. She cursed again. Not even enough for toast. There probably wasn't even any marmalade. She slammed the fridge and checked the larder. Seventeen jars of marmalade. Somehow that made it worse.

She showered - cold water, the heater was on the blink again. More plumbers! Then she dressed and grabbed her brief case from her desk. Of course, as any normal human being would expect, it wasn't closed properly and - in deference to the laws of physics - the entire contents took flight. She chased the paperwork about the room until all had been secured. She felt awful. The day was not off to a good start. Her first day.

The car started (surprise) and she caught seventeen red lights (no surprise). On her way in the security guard asked who she was. Ignorant swine. The guy's first female Prime Minister and he didn't even know her name.

As she fell into her chair in the Prime Minister's office, she felt like she had just run a marathon only to find that the real race was yet to begin. Would it always be like this, she wondered? Or was today just a once off. Just a case of Prime Ministerial Tension.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Need To Write

Sometimes I wonder why I write. Isn't the whole point of writing to be read? And if you are not read, then isn't writing pointless? A waste of time?

On a totally different topic - you might think - I was watching an old episode of 'Tales of the Unexpected' on DVD. It was not, I think, one of the ones written by Roald Dahl unfortunately. But despite that, it wasn't a bad story. Anyway, in it a possible film-backer was talking to a new author and she said something to him along the lines that 'writers understand things'. Writers understand things. A line written by a writer but placed in the mouth of a well-to-do woman getting a free lunch.

The two paragraphs above are not unrelated as you may have thought. The whole point of that line in the episode was to really highlight to the view that writers do NOT understand 'things'. Clearly the writer in the episode did not. Clearly the many writers who have received reject after reject did not understand things.

Only when they become famous (read 'popular') is that special and magic 'understanding' characteristic applied to them. A little like the 'overnight success' that some actors achieve after years and years of struggle.

In reality, writers express things - that can be said. Some of them are very intelligent, some are very witty, some are extremely observant. But they all have two things in common.

Firstly, they express things. They may or may not like what they are expressing but they express them never-the-less. A writer - a true writer - will not sit back with an idea and ignore it. Regardless of whether or not they think anyone will read it, they still write it.

Secondly, like all artists, they are driven by their need to create. Creating for others is important but 'creating' is the driver. Even if no-one ever gets to read their works, they still must write them.

Which brings me to my first paragraph. If I write this piece and no-one ever reads it - is it a waste? Is it time to put down my keyboard and take up stoat-juggling?

The answer is, of course, no. Writer Wrote, Reader didn't Read, but there's always hope.

The following is a list of important things to remember for the budding writer. You may get rejections - you may not even get read - but at the end of the day, persistence is the bridge to achievement. I'm not sure where the original list came from - but what's important is that no-one's overnight success came without many years of struggle.

I’m sorry Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.

These were the words used by one of the editors of the San Francisco Examiner newspaper when rejecting one of Mr. Kipling’s short stories. Mr. Kipling is now a revered author and the San Francisco Examiner is….
Dune was rejected 20 times before successfully reaching print – and becoming one of the most beloved science fiction novels of all time
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (later Sorceror’s) Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers, including biggies like Penguin and HarperCollins. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it on at the behest of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter, who begged her father to print the book.
C.S. Lewis, received over 800 rejections before he made his first sale. Lewis’s works have now been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies over the years. C.S. Lewis Quotes: What you want is practice, practice, practice.
Richard Bach has always said that this story, told from the point of view of a young seagull, wasn’t written but channeled. When he sent out the story, Bach received 18 rejection letters. Nobody thought a story about a seagull that flew not for survival but for the joy of flying itself would have an audience. Boy, were they wrong! Macmillan Publishers finally picked up Jonathan Livingston Seagull in 1972, and that year the book sold more than a million copies. A movie followed in 1973, with a sound track by Neil Diamond.
Pirsig’s manuscript attempts to understand the true meaning of life. By the time it was finally published in 1974, the book had been turned down 121 times. The editor who finally published Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance said of Pirsig’s book, “It forced me to decide what I was in publishing for.” Indeed, Zen has given millions of readers an accessible, enjoyable book for seeking insight into their own lives.
MA*SH by Richard Hooker
Before the television series, there was the film. Before the film, there was the novel. Richard Hooker’s unforgettable book about a medical unit serving in the Korean War was rejected by 21 publishers before eventually seeing the light of day. It remains a story of courage and friendship that connects with audiences around the world in times of war and peace.
Carrie by Stephen King

If it hadn’t been for Stephen King’s wife, Tabitha, the iconic image of a young girl in a prom dress covered in pig’s blood would not exist. King received 30 rejections for his story of a tormented girl with telekinetic powers, and then he threw it in the trash. Tabitha fished it out. King sent his story around again and, eventually, Carrie was published. The novel became a classic in the horror genre and has enjoyed film and TV adaptations as well. Sometimes all it takes is a little encouragement from someone who believes in you.
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The only book that Margaret Mitchell ever published, Gone With the Wind won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1937. The story of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, set in the South during the Civil War, was rejected by 38 publishers before it was printed. The 1939 movie made of Mitchell’s love story, which starred Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, is the highest grossing Hollywood film of all time (adjusted for inflation).
oh, and just for good measure:

Dr. Seuss got rejection letters, too. Here is one:
“too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”
Here’s a rejection letter for THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK:
“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”
H.G. Wells had to endure the indignity of a rejection when he submitted his manuscript, “The War of the Worlds” that said, “An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would “take”...I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book’.”

And when he tried to market “The Time Machine,” it was said, “It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.”
Did you know that only seven of Emily Dickinson’s poems were ever published during her lifetime? A rejection early in her career said, “(Your poems) are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.”
Edgar Allen Poe was told, “Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works in which a single and connected story occupies the entire volume.”
Herman Melville, who had written a manuscript entitled “Moby Dick,” was told, “We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against the book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in (England). It is very long, rather old-fashioned…”

Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview with The Surgeon

What inspired my choice? I guess my initial interest came when I was quite young. It started actually when I was about five years old I think. I used to help my mother in the kitchen and I loved cutting up the meat. There always seemed to me to be a right and a wrong way to do it and even at that age, I would often admonish my mother for just 'hacking at it'.

Later I took biology at school and encountered dissection. The taking apart of some dead rodent left most in my class very cold, but the opportunity to - if I may use the word - 'artistically' expose the different organs such as the liver, the heart and so forth was something I delighted in. Bodies - all bodies - are amazing machines and to be able to open them up and discover their secrets was to me far more involving and satisfying than playing football or cricket - it was like an adventure into a foreign land. And as for 'art' - the splattering of paint with a brush or a palate knife hardly came close to the joys of painting in flesh with the scalpel. Naturally, I progressed my studies - it seems safe to skip the boring bits here - which led to where I am today.

Bored? No, definitely not. I haven't lost any of my enthusiasm nor my delight. The clean cut of the knife laying all bare to the observer; the near perfect separation of the skin to reveal the complexities of the most complex animal of all - man. No, it hasn't lost any of its magic for me.

Blood? Blood is natural - not like the chemical drugs that they'd like to pump into us. It's true, blood is a surgeons worst enemy but then it's also the friend. The pumping blood, oozing or spraying about the room is a living reminder of the real magic of the human body. I don't mind it a bit really. Things sometimes get a bit messy and it does reduce visibility a little but as I say, it's natural. It's a big ask to cut someone open and not expect blood.

Regrets? None. I've spent my life doing what I love. OK, well perhaps one. Yes, one regret. After all those years of being careful, I slipped up. I'd spent far too long opening up this old lady when her daughter came in and caught me 'in flagrante delicto' so to speak. Naturally, the cops were ecstatic - finally they'd caught 'The Surgeon' as they called me. Yeah, I slipped up and that's my only regret.

Psychotic killer? Yes, that's what the shrinks said. But no, not in my view. I'm an artist. An artist in flesh.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In Memory of the Tiny

There was not much blood. Small bodies have little blood anyway, but small, starved bodies have less. Or perhaps it just clots quicker.

The tiny lifeless corpse hung on the barbed wire and fried in the sun, with the tiny pool of blood under it congealing like soup. Human soup. And it smelt. And that was perhaps the worst part of it. Because the body, almost inhuman in its tortured form, could be glossed over by the heart but the smell invaded the heart and tore it into a thousand pieces. The smell of death. Young death.

In general, the children were taken and destroyed first, but somehow this one had survived. Perhaps it had been hidden well. Perhaps some incredulous pity had turned the eye of the butchers. It was hard to tell. But it had escaped the furnaces, with its parent. Parent, because gender had died along with compassion when they had entered the camp. The dead have no gender.

But then the mother was taken and the child had tried to follow, tangling itself on the barbed wire. The wire cut and through blood and tears the child had fought, not to free itself, but simply to be with its mother.

And the guards had laughed. Then shot it.

And then they ate their lunch.

And the tiny body hung. And stank. And all those who waited for their own death knew that the end of the world was come. And they named it Auschwitz.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Amazing Story of Dark Vader in the Alternate Universe 7

Supreme Jeli Knight, Dark Vader, once a power for good but turned instead into the universe’s eleventh most dangerous bad-guy by the power of the dark side, huffed and puffed and wondered why it was that they could build something as big and unimaginably destructive as the Darth Star, yet couldn’t provide him with a lung transplant.

Yes, they could blow up a planet – no problem. But find a cure for bad asthma? Forget it. It was the same with that nasty itch he had developed in his groin. Talking androids that could speak one thousand and forty-two different languages Sir? No problem. Jet across the galaxy in one parsec flicking in and out of hyperspace? Of course, Sir, right away Sir. But cure a simple case of thrush and they just scratch their heads and reach for a bottle of nanobiotics.

Dark Vader stood by the Darth Star death ray console. He couldn’t sit – the piles were especially bad today. The cream that the so-called medical officer had provided him with was useless. Firstly, it was almost impossible to put on himself and absolutely impossible to get anyone else to put on for him. And then, when he finally thought he’d done it right, he’d discovered that he’d used the toothpaste instead. Exctachloroform stipes all the way up his ass. Brilliant. He tried not to think about the unusual grittiness of this mornings toothpaste.....

“The time (huff, puff, huff, snort, huff) has come” he said menacingly. “Let us (huff, puff, puff, puff, huff, snort, snort, huff) test the full power of the Death Star Darth Ray” he growled. Or tried to growl.

“You mean the Darth Star Death Ray” corrected a little man with a big hat who suddenly found that his esophagus had completely disappeared into his intestines.

“(Huff, puff, huff, sigh, huff…..) whatever” said Dark Vader.

A replacement little man with a big hat moved two large levers, adjusted a neutron throttle control, slid back a large panel and pressed a big red button with an X on it. He then opened a twin-token logic gate, slid thirty-two slide gauges from zero to maximum, pressed seventeen light switches and looked at the large computer monitor.

“Are you sure you want to Delete Alderaan?” The display prompted.

The little man with the big hat clicked the ‘OK’ button.

There was a brief silence.
Followed by a brief hum.
Punctuated by (huff, puff, huff, snort, huff, snort, puff, huff, huff)
And then a short beep.

“Delete of Alderaan failed due to undisclosed error” said the display.

Dark Vader sighed. They couldn’t even get a simple destructor beam working successfully. Bugger!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Food for Thought

White jacket and straight jacket sat opposite each other. It could have been two business executives meeting for coffee. But it wasn't. It was psychopath meeting psychologist.

"Our first meeting" said straight jacket in a low, level voice.

"Yes" answered white jacket in a not-so-dissimilar voice.

"Our getting to know each other time." said straight jacket. "A time to get to know each other a little better".

"Yes" said white jacket. "A time to pick each others brains perhaps".

"Indeed" said straight jacket. "A little consideration of what each has to offer".

White jacket and straight jacket both leant forward and regarded the other.

"If" said white jacket, "If my arms were not tied behind my back, I would be pleased to pick your brain" and he licked his lips.

Straight jacket shifted uneasily and his jacket took on a lopsided look.

White jacket, whose hands were secured safely behind him in the arms of his jacket, licked his lips again.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Psychopath

The psychopath said nothing. What was there to say? Speech was simply communication and communication implied interchange of thoughts and observations between two individuals of comparative mind state. But who on this planet had a mind state like him? No one, of course. He was unique.

Of course, he did speak sometimes. It was impossible to get by in the world without some level of communications. But it was only ever as-required - intercourse based on necessity. You might snarl at a dog to indicate displeasure but you didn't bark, whine and pant to them about the weather or what was on television last night.

Dogs. That was a rather good analogy he thought. The world was populated by two-legged dogs. Except that dogs had tails. And loyalty. And love. Characteristics sadly missing from the two-legged dogs that squatted about the Eden that should have belonged to him alone.

The psychopath watched. He liked watching. Although his faced showed little if any trace of emotion, internally he would smile to himself as he watched them scurrying about the street with their self-importance and tiny minded obsessions. Stupid, pathetic creatures - entangled in their own pointlessness.

He would watch the antics of the young as they frolicked and sexed each other up. He'd observe the old ones as they shuffled along like broken robots with all their gears seized up. He'd see the thieves and muggers hit their victims, the religious freaks peddling their gods, and the business men parading about in their suits like marionettes from some absurd children's puppet show.

The psychopath killed. Every one of them he killed. It would take time to get them all, of course, but he would manage it. Every one a death. And not just a death - there would be beauty in their deaths - perhaps almost Art. Yes, every one would succumb and die.

Death, the great leveler of inequities, the great despoiler of ego - this was his speciality and his gift. He would get around to all of them, sooner or later, bringing finality to a world in denial.

The psychopath drew his bony skeletal hand across his dark hood and the white of his skull seemed to vanish into some hideous eternal blackness. Time to start work.

The Reaper, grim as always, moved down amongst the two-legged dogs and chose his victim.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

An Easter Story

1. Condemned

They say that my son is a criminal. They have locked him up in prison. They have sentenced him to death.

I don’t understand any of it. He did not murder anyone. He did not steal anything. He did not lie, or cheat, or rape. He did not start fires, or assault people.

But tomorrow, they are going to kill him.

They won’t even let me visit him. I tried to see him, but they wouldn’t hear of it. I asked the prison guards but they just laughed. I wanted to tell him that I love him. I wanted to tell him that I know he is innocent, that nothing anyone says can change my love. But they wouldn’t let me.

2. He is Dead

It is done. They have done it. My heart is destroyed.

They killed my son. They hung him up and he died. It was horrible. How could they do it?

He was a kind man. He helped so many people. He never did anyone any harm, but they killed him. They were frightened of him, because he wasn’t afraid of them. Because he knew that the world needed to be loved, not dominated.

They were afraid that their empire of fear might be toppled by one of love.

3. You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down.

You’ll never believe it. I can’t believe it, but I know it is true. What gladness, what happiness, what bliss.

When they came and told me, I thought they were mad. Then I saw and I thought I was mad. But I wasn’t mad - unless you can be mad with happiness.

Jesu, my son, lives!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lost in an instant

The future full of promise, full of hope – lies bleeding on the floor – a corpse.

The betrayer of our future glints in my hand, the knife that has cut me adrift from all that might have been.

It was so sudden, so quick. I took the knife to the bread. We argued, as we often did. One glare too many, one sharp tongue that drew a sharper sword. One slash that cut more than a slice of home-bake. And the knife now held neither crumb nor butter, but blood.

All that was is gone.
All that could have been is gone.
Lost in an instant.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happily Ever After

Alien Life.
We always expect alien life to be kind of like us. Rather strange idea, that, because if it is alien then it will likely be nothing like us.

This is a story of alien life.

Lieutenant Adam Tournier reflected on the planet visible in the ship's view screen and sighed.

He had left Earth - illegally - and set out to find a planet where he could spend the rest of his life without the interference or the stupidity of the human species. Considerable research had shown him the most likely location of such a planet, luck had guided him, and he had actually found it - a mere pinprick in the infinite reaches of space.

Earth had grown inhospitable. The hemispheres had fractured to extremes, cold in the north and hot in the south. Populations had blown out, there was war, violence, hunger - it was a disaster. The governments were reluctant to do anything except to build safe havens for themselves on the moon to retire to. It was a nightmare.

Even the space race - hope of mankind - had turned into a calamity of cost cutting and lip-service. They had ships to roam the galaxy it was true, but no way to fund them. The whole thing was about to be wound down to moon-shunting and the occasional ultra-rich joy flight to Mars. His was one of the last flights to be approved - a trip out to Pluto.

Only he didn't stop at Pluto. The ships were self-sufficient in power, water and air so longer journeys were quite feasible. Also, their speed was such that the old absolute of light-speed had long been forgotten. So it was that his routine trip to Pluto (remarkably well stocked with nutri-tabs for a mere ten minute trip) had continued on, and on, and on. Until now.

Lieutenant Adam Tournier reflected on the planet visible in the ship's view screen and sighed.

It was clearly uninhabited - a good thing.

It was clearly capable of supporting life - a necessary thing.

But he had hoped for something that looked a little bit more like earth had in it's hay-day - a blue, green, mountainous ball of potential and not a brown lump of dirt ball floating in space.

Still, the computer had confirmed that it could support him - it had water, it had edible grasses and it had gravity - albeit slightly less than 1/2 of Earth's. And it confirmed that there was no other life living on the planet. So it would do. He decided, with a certain amount of sarcasm, to name it 'EDEN'.

He punched in a few co-ordinates and settled back for the landing. The chair in which he sat reclined slightly and canned music softly filled the cabin. He closed his eyes and relaxed knowing that there was nothing to worry about. The landing would be smooth. Earth would not look for him. He would be just fine.

He awoke from a dreamless sleep to find that the landing had, indeed, been smooth - as silk. All the instruments blinked and hummed their happy way and every muscle in his body felt rejuvenated. It was a strange feeling which he'd not had before. Just the release of stress, he assumed, knowing that Earth and its troubles was far behind him.

He undid the regulation seatbelt and stepped out of the chair. The gravity seemed surprisingly appropriate - he punched in a sequence to the computer and it read back the gravitational pull. 1G. He scratched his head - it had been 1/2 G before - had the computers got it wrong? He didn't see how. He hoped they hadn't made any other mistakes - such as reporting the planet's atmosphere as oxygen when in reality it was methane. A quick tap at the keyboard reassured him. Oxygen, nitrogen - all the required gasses in exactly the right combination for the human respiratory system. The atmosphere was almost exactly the same as Earth - at least, the same as Earth's was before it was polluted by man's insidious quest for change.

At the end of the day (which the computer now had altered to 24x60x60 seconds) the only real test was to open the door and try it. He had nothing to lose - the chances of finding another planet were slim and he wasn't going back to Earth again. He'd either die here or in space. No, this was it. He flicked a switch on the wall and a panel in the spacecraft slid aside. Lieutenant Adam Tournier, Earthling, emerged from his shiny cocoon, wearing a t-shirt and shorts. There was no point in wearing protective clothes - if he was going to die, then he was going to die comfortably.

He didn't die.

He just stared.

And he wondered.

Had he somehow missed the planet and landing on some other? No, there were no others within at least 5 weeks travel. This had to be the same planet. It just had to be.

The brown dirt ball floating in space, now that he had landed on it, appeared to have undergone a radical change. Instead of the brown mud that had been shown in the computer viewer, there was sand - smooth, golden sand. Almost without thinking, he sat down and took off his shoes and wriggled his feet in it. It was soft and warm and although he'd never actually even seen sand other let alone wriggled his feet in it, he felt like he was returning home to some sort of childhood memory.

But it wasn't just a desert full of sand. There was a lake - or maybe an ocean - which lapped gently a few hundred metres away. It was blue and he could smell the salt in it. It invited him and he accepted, stripping off his t-shirt and shorts and underclothes and plunged himself into liquid delight. That evening, he sat on the spaceship's doorway, marveling at the golden sand and ocean blue that seemed to go on forever, watching the sun descend in the sky in all of its red radiance, until he slumped against the hatch, fast asleep.

The next day he got the surprise of his life! He had looked out on his Eden and nearly collapsed! He rubbed his eyes and looked, then rubbed them again. He must be hallucinating he thought. But there they were : trees! Large green trees shading parts of the beach where before there had only been sand. It was impossible - yet there they were, and had clearly been for years. True, he had never seen trees as such except in the special museums back on Earth, but he'd often spent time there as a boy, trying to imagine a world filled with trees. And here he was, in such a world. Suddenly, filled with trees.

That day he spent walking amongst them, delighting in the leaves that would sometimes come fluttering down, sitting propped up against their huge trunks, even climbing them and looking for miles across the trees, oceans and sands. In the evening he reclined a-top one of the smaller trees, the perfume of its leaves sending him gently into sleep.

The next morning he awoke suddenly with his heart banging. He had heard something. Something familiar that he'd heard only in recordings. He strained his ears and began to think that perhaps it had just been dream. But then he heard it again - and again. Soon, the sound was all around him and his heart raced with excitement. He looked now, straining his eyes as he searched each tree until he finally saw it. A bird. No, not a bird - a whole collection of birds, in every colour and every shape he could imagine. The trees were alive with birds and birdsong.

He climbed down from his perch lest he should fall down from sheer amazement, and sat at the foot of the tree, looking up at the creatures. And then one flew down a few feet away from him, ruffled its feathers, opened its beak and sung. He could hardly believe it - a bird. A real live bird with colours and voice and feathers. He could have reached out and touched it but didn't for fear that it might fly away. Yet, somehow he know it would not. So he held out his hand gingerly, and the bird cocked its head to one side, then hopped onto his hand. It looked its beady eye at him, whistled its tune, then hopped off and flew away.

Lieutenant Adam Tournier made his way back to the beach and lay back on the sand as naked of stress and frustration as he was of clothes. He didn't know why the planet which had presented in space as a brown dirt ball now was revealed as an Eden. He didn't care. He didn't know why there were trees one day when there were not the previous. He didn't care. He didn't know why today there were birds when yesterday all was quiet. He didn't care.

This truly was a garden of Eden and was his and his alone to enjoy. No one would ever destroy this one.

He closed his eyes and dreamt dreams as pleasant as the waking from them - from one paradise of the mind to another paradise that was his world.

He explored much in the first few weeks. He travelled by foot, partly because there was no other way but also because travel in such a place was sheer delight in itself. He explored mountains and valleys, streams and waterfalls - and every possible delight he could imagine was present on this wonderful world. If he walked a mile then it felt like only a few feet. If he climbed a mountain then it felt only like a hillside. Nothing seemed beyond him, everything was simply pleasure.

One day, while exploring a cliff face, he missed his footing and slipped. As he fell, he thought how wonderful to die in such an Eden. Even death here would be beautiful. But he didn't die. The 1G gravity that should have plunged him into the eternity of night seemed almost to relent at the last minute, and he fell to ground with just the slightest bump. It was impossible - yet perhaps he should have expected it. This was a place of life, not of death.

He did not fell trees to build a house, but returned when he would to the ship. Mostly he would sleep uncovered under the stars. No rug or protection was needed from the elements for the elements themselves were protection. If it rained, it did so like honey. There was no displeasure in being wet, nor in being dry. He felt no fear from the animals that now roamed about him. While there were very large beasts and plenty of what he, in his childhood in the museums, had learnt to be spiders, none caused him any harm. The bigger beasts would muzzle up to him and he would stroke them. Their great teeth would playfully pull at him, but never even break the skin. And when the spiders did chance to crawl across him, he was not frightened or disgusted, and their eight furry legs left only tiny sensations not unlike kisses.

As he lay, in the arms of pure bliss, in his Eden, Adam was at peace.

Yet peace never lasts.

For all of the beauty and the comfort, for all of the delight that Adam found in the animals of his Eden, he actually felt a yearning - a loss almost - for something that he'd never had, never known.

On Earth, Adam had had few friends. Mostly these were from the Space Academy. Some were male, some were female. They were good friends as far as friends go, but he had never had a real companion. Adam was always much of a loner and the absence of a wife or a lover had never really been felt. Others had such things of course, but Earth held no-one for whom he could hold any such feelings. Earth was full of despoilers - he knew of no-one else who felt like him and subsequently, felt no real feelings for anyone else. He left them all behind in the oblivion of a dark past and did not regret his decision to do so alone.

But yet, here in Adam's Eden, for the first time in his life, he actually realized that something was missing. Someone was missing.

In such a world, maudlin thoughts were easily banished by the beautiful colours, the aroma of pure nature and delight of the twinkling of streams and the melody of birdsong.

Banished but not destroyed.

Time and time again, he felt the ache of heart that he had never before experienced, and a yearning for 'her'. What 'her' in particular, he could not say - certainly, none of the women he had ever met on Earth. Perhaps it was just that living in paradise, it seemed natural to share it with that 'true-love' of which the songs and videos so often carol, but which he had never, ever, encountered.

And then, one day, he did.

He was bathing in one of the springs. The water was always cool and refreshing yet never cold. It was soft like honey, but clear like glass. And if he let himself sink, he would descend effortlessly to the bottom regardless of the depth, only with equal effortlessness, to re-ascend to the top again. There was no fear of drowning - it was not possible. The first time it had happened, he had panicked and started gasping for air but taking in only water. To his astonishment, he had not drowned - the water sustained him as if in some sort of dream. Through what wondrous properties he could not guess, the water seemed to be sufficiently rich in oxygen that he could just as easily breathe it as normal air.

On this occasion, he had just emerged from his bathing when he saw her. She was standing under a large and especially magnificent willow tree.

She was tall with long red hair which hung about her almost to her waist. Like he, she was naked, but in this place there was no shame or fear - to be naked was just a natural state. He stared at her as though fixed in a trance - and then, recovering, called out to her. She smiled, but did not move.

He made his way over the golden sand to her, and with every step her beauty and her purity was revealed more to him. Her eyes were the blue of the water, her hair the colour of the sunset. Her skin was the pale gold of the sand. As he reached her, she held out her hands for him to take and he did so. She looked into his eyes with the love that may be found only in Eden and he looked back into hers with that same love. They sat, together, under the tree, and he wanted to ask her where she had come from, who was she, to tell her that she was beautiful, that he loved her, that he was hers and she was his. But he didn't know where to start.

"I am Eve" she said simply. And in that, was carried the answers to all of his questions.

"I am Adam" he said - realizing perhaps for the first time the significance of being Adam in such an Eden.

"I know" she said and smiled and in her smile there were a million butterflies, the songs of all the birds and the gentle lapping of every wave on every beach.

"But, where did you come from?...." he began.

"I am" she said simply and waved her hand about her.

He did not understand what she meant. He did not need to understand what she meant. They were there for each other and they did - quite literally - live happily ever after.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Fung Glui Cried

Fung Glui had the sort of face that looked depressed. Even when he was happy, he had the countenance of one who was thinking that it was all going to go down the drain at any minute.

So when it was announced that the end of the world was coming, no one was surprised to see Fung Glui looking miserable. In fact, amongst the angst and distress that the forthcoming total destruction was bringing ahead of the actual event, it was quite easy to lose him in the crowd.

But Fung Glui was more than miserable. He was more than depressed. Fung Glui felt that his entire being was already dead. And he had good reason to feel that way.

He looked about the world around him and saw his family - moaning and wailing. "It's the end of us all" they cried. "We're all going to be killed" they sobbed. He couldn't really blame them, but ...

When he went out into the street, he saw a local shop keeper smashing jars of pickles on the floor. "All going to be destroyed" the man kept repeating, "All going to be destroyed. My business that I worked so hard to build" - smash a jar - "totally wiped out" - smash a jar - "My life savings gone" - smash a jar - "it's the end of my world". Fung Glui walked on past the man, keeping his distance. He couldn't really blame the man, but ...

A little further on a couple of young people were drinking and obviously out of control. "Fun before the end of the planet" they sang. They seemed to have lost their despair in their intoxication but Fung Glui could see the sadness that remained soberly in their eyes. He couldn't really blame then, but ...

Two very old men were sitting on the side of the road. They were talking of the past; of their lives; of their childhood. "I did so many things and saw so many things" one said to the other, "but now it's all going to be lost. My memories will die with the world" he said. "Mine too" said the other. "It's a calamity - it's terrible" and they both shook their heads. "It's the end of the world" they said together and put their heads in their hands. Fung Glui bowed at them with respect as he passed. He couldn't really blame them, but ...

A mother and father were cradling their children. The mother was sobbing, the children were crying and the father was ashen faced. "They'll never see the mountains. They'll never swim in our beautiful lakes" wept the mother. "They could have grown up to create beautiful works or art or wonderful machines" said the father, his voice breaking. He rocked his child in his arms and the mother clung to hers tightly as if to protect them from the unstoppable destruction. Fung Glui felt his eyes moisten. He couldn't really blame them, but ...

There was a hill where Fung Glui liked to sit. He thought he'd sit there now - it would be his last chance. He climbed the grassy slope to the top and sat down on the apex. From here, he could look down into the town at the villages weeping and crying, getting drunk, fighting and generally lamenting the loss of their village; their world; their lives.

But he didn't look down on them. He looked instead upwards. Up there, in the sky, was where the end would come - as certainly as this morning had come, as certainly as tomorrow morning would not. He thought of the villagers as he looked up - no, he couldn't really blame them, but ... they were so insular, so self-oriented. True, it was the end of their business. It was the end of their village. It was the end of their lives, of their children's lives. True, it was the end of their culture, of their history and of their world.

But it was not just their world.

For 'end of the world' was not the correct words - this was not what was going to happen. It was the end of the universe.

And, for the end of the universe, Fung Glui cried.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I hear the wind ...

I hear the wind in the dead of night, and on it a million voices ride,
A world is crying out for help; vainly crying out for help,
But will it be denied?

I hear the babies at the milk-less breast; I hear them barely breathing.
I hear their mothers frantic wailing, “Help my child” I hear them wailing,
And then I hear them grieving.

I hear the suffering of the sick; I hear their tired cough,
I hear their groaning, exhausted moaning,
That they’ve finally had enough.

I hear the shouts of angry families, torn by abuse,
I hear the violence never ending, the pitch of voices, all ascending,
And, after, the excuse.

I hear the echo on the streets, of footsteps through the night,
I hear the homeless search for shelter, anywhere offering secure shelter,
Who will ease their plight?

I hear the wind in the early morn, bringing sounds of war,
A world is crying out for peace, vainly crying out for peace,
With a voice we just ignore.

I hear the injured soldiers scream; I hear them as they die,
I hear their families broken hearts, shattered lives, and funeral carts,
I hear them as they cry,

I hear the rumble of explosions, of terrorist attack,
I hear the piercing shriek of sirens, the futile warning of the sirens,
My resolve begins to crack.

I hear the wind that rolls the waves and whispers in the trees,
The world is calling out for care; vainly calling out for care,
But, the consumer disagrees.

I hear the cracking of the earth, drying in the sun,
I hear the plaintive cries of sheep, as they lay them down to sleep,
The lullaby of the gun.

I hear the protestations of a planet under stress,
The mournful cries of hunted whales, of ducks, of rabbits, and of snails,
The painful end to human pest.

I hear the heartbeat of the planet, no longer strong and sure,
I hear the earth’s lamentations, victim of our own temptations,
Exploited to the core.

Oh, the wind that turns the sails of the windmills of our souls,
Hear it call and cry in earnest, screaming whispers in deadly earnest,
Silenced by opinion polls.

Harken to the praises of the foolish, for their paper gods,
Their frenzied babble of devotion, to plastic life and cheap emotion,
And wisdom built on winks and nods.

I hear the lost who call for succor, unsure where to turn,
Who blindly stumble through confusion, in the darkness of illusion,
Seeking truth they can't discern.

I hear the wind in the dead of night, and on it a million voices..... fail.
Each hope and prayer and expectation, mangled for media mastication,
Just Love 'em or hate 'em, 'till the news is stale.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Herod and the Dance

"Dance for me" asked Herod.

But the answer was always the same. No.

He'd asked many times - pleaded even, but always, everytime, without fail, the answer was the same. No.

He almost didn't ask again. Almost.

But he did ask just once again and this time the answer was YES. He could hardly believe his ears. The answer was YES. Finally, he was going to get to see the dance. He almost felt faint - the excitement, the anticipation - it was so great that he almost couldn't contain himself.

'Yes', the answer was 'Yes'!

He was sitting with his legs drawn up to his chest like a child. His eyes were sparkling like a teenager. His breathing was fast and furious and his pulse raced. It was going to happen - it was actually going to happen. And it was going to happen now.....

Herod felt his adrenalin literally spurting round his brain.

The lights went out. He drooled slightly.

The music started. He dribbled.

The scent of the dancer tingled in his nostrils.

And then the lights shone out and the dance began.

An enormous giant of a man gyrated before him, holding a large salmi in his hands. It was happening.

The dance of the salami.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Australia Day - Advance Australia Fair

Australia Day is coming (26th January) so I felt an update to the National Anthem was called for - one that encapsulated Australia as it is now rather than how it used to be.

Perhaps you'll hum along.....

Australians call out with one voice,
To all across the sea,
We value race and culture and
Rule with democracy.

   Black or white, we'll stand as one,
   So to the world we'll swear,
   To tolerate our Aussie mate,
   Advance Australia fair!

In human lives we shall not trade,
Nor human rights neglect,
We're all a part of this one world,
This globe we must protect,

   With terrorists we shall not deal,
   Nor give in to despair,
   Our calls for peace, will never cease,
   Advance Australia fair!

We've Muslims, Jews and Christians too,
Where all may choose their path,
Where elderly may walk the streets,
And little children laugh,

   Where spirits rise and friendships grow,
   Where people ever care,
   Where hate and fear are nowhere near,
   Advance Australia fair!

In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Get Over It!

You might notice, if you read blogs or comments posted to news articles and so forth, that there is a prevailing school of psychological thought providing a panacea to the worlds problems. It is the 'Get Over It' cure.

Unhappy about the abuses committed on the bodies of loved ones - well, 'get over it'.

Upset about people stealing your culture and art? - well, 'get over it'.

WWII cemetery desecrated? - well, 'get over it'.

There are three problems with this wonderful 21st century cure-all attitude of the n-lightened oxygen-starved masses of internet wisdom.

1. Because an issue has little impact on them personally, they have no consideration for those who are suffering because of it. Put simply, they lack empathy and they lack respect - two essentially qualities for building a better world.

2. It is not possible to just 'get over' things. If any of these self-appointed experts in human mental processes actually had any real insight or knowledge, then they would know that there are no issues that we can just 'get over'. Regardless of their determination or good intentions, a phobic cannot just 'get over' their fears. A depressive cannot 'get over' their depression. A carer cannot just 'get over' caring for others. It is not a choice. It is not like deciding not to watch Neighbours. Telling anyone to just 'get over' something shows up a level of ignorance which only perpetuates the mistreatment of those who are suffering.

3. Possibly the most important problem with this attitude is the hyper-egotistic assumption that the person in question should 'get over' their current problem or dilemma. In most cases, the 'problem' that they are told to 'just get over' is actually a sign of compassion in one form or another. What they are being told is to be selfish and egocentric. 'Get over it' and be like me, says the sage advisers of internet wisdom, care about no-one but yourself and stuff the rest. Seriously, is that really the sort of world we want? A world where everyone is out just for themselves without any care or consideration for others?

This fad for telling people to 'get over' things - their health issues, their ethical issues or their religious issues - comes down to one simple statement. 'Go away because I don't want to know'.

Well, for all those people out there who don't like other people having concerns about the world....... GET OVER IT!

For everyone else - Well Done!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Amazing Story of Tibetan Tim


This is an ********** story of ********** Tim and how he ******** the ************ against all the odds to ******** a victory against the *************** ***********.

********** Tim emerged one day from his makeshift home. It was a cold day but then most days were cold. The fire inside burnt bright and lit the eyes of his children as they huddled around it. His wife busied herself preparing the days meal.

It was a day like any other really - nothing much different, which was exactly how he liked it. At least, that is what he thought.

He had just walked perhaps a step or two away towards a friends home when he heard *********. He literally froze in mid step. ************ was almost unheard of, unless someone injured themselves. He looked about quickly to see the origin of the sound and made out a *************** running being pursued by a group of ***********.

The ************* were riding on horseback and they struck out at the ************ and he fell to the ground. Quickly they dismounted and beat the ************* brutally. His cries echoed about and people all rushed from their homes to see what was going on.

Several ********** from the local ************** came rushing out, their robes wafting in the wind. They rushed to the *********** and the *************** then turned on them. Although they were being ********** and ********** they did not fight back or defend themselves, just try to escape the blows. The ************ then marched one ********** over to another and gave him a *************. The language, being foreign, was not too clear but the meaning was. He had to *********** the other ************* or he would be *************.

It was a nightmare - one that they could not waken from. A nightmare that still goes on.

The *********** was crying and didn't want to ************ the ************* but they ********** and ************ at him and then he did. He collapsed on to of the ********** and then the ***************** shot him too.

Then the ************ took a bundle from one of the horses and dumped it on the ground. They laughed and rode off.

Everyone was afraid to go near it - they were frightened, but ********* Tim decided that someone had to take the risk. He unwrapped the bundle of rags to reveal a ********** very badly ********* and clearly ************. He wept for her.

*********** Tim then decided that he would do anything in his power to make people realize the *********** and ************** that was going on. So he packed up his family and undertook a mighty cross country trek to ********** where he discovered safety and security. There, he told as many people as he could about the ************ that were occurring in his homeland.

Want the whole story?
Go Here (if your country does not censor)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Work in Progress

Sometimes writers are asked about the techniques they use - how they create characters, how they devise plots - do they rewrite once? twice? a hundred times?

In order to give a small insight to the sorts of revisions that I personally put into my writing, I have decided to make a number of revisions of one particular short story public.

The story is entitled "The Dream of Ernst Meyer".

So far it has been through about five revisions - more will probably come. By clicking on the links below you can follow each revision as well as see some of the comments that others have left against each.

Perhaps this may inspire you to revise, revise and revise.

The Dream of Ernst Meyer

The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 1
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 2
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 4
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 5
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 6

In many ways, the story is never finished.

That's what writing is all about.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Death at Christmas

A Christmas Story - but with a difference.

The old man sat on the edge of his bed and belched loudly. There were exactly one hundred and fifty-eight unopened bottles of port on the floor, each one silently screaming at him to drink them. The hundred and fifty-ninth stood almost empty on a table beside the bed and whispered 'finish me' to him - over and over and over. He obeyed, pouring the remainder of the bottle into the biological wine glass of his mouth. He gulped it down. He hated port but then he pretty well hated everything right now.

He put the empty bottle on the floor carefully, next to two others. It had taken him seventeen years to drink the first bottle and less than seventeen minutes to drink the last one. But nauseating as it had been, it had done its job - done its job admirably in fact. He now had enough courage to do what needed to be done. He looked at the other bottle which stood on the table. He couldn't see the label - in his condition he could barely see the bottle - but he knew its contents. It was full of sleeping tablets, guarenteed to give you a good rest. That was what he wanted now - a good rest. A permanent rest. The Big Sleep. That was why he'd needed the port. He didn't have the guts to take them sober.

In actual fact, he did have the guts because he was extremely fat. What he lacked, when sober, was the courage to take the tablets. Guts, he reflected with one eyebrow cocked in amusement, was something he had never been short of. Guts, in fact, had been one of his trademarks. Even now - now that he was washed up, now that he was a total failure - he still had guts to be proud of. No, it was courage he lacked. At least, that was what he lacked when sober. But now.....

He was about to pick up the bottle when he remembered his promise. He could break that, he thought. It had been a stupid idea anyway. And it was a promise by a failure to a failure - himself. No, he could forget that promise.

Only he couldn't forget that promise. He had always been a man of honour - a man of his word. He had always kept his promises - he had always delivered. It was another of his trademarks. He wrestled with the thought for a moment or two, then put the bottle back on the table. No, a promise was a promise - even if it was just to himself. He had made it and he should keep it. Before he gave up completely and took the tablets, he would give them a call. That was what he promised himself before he'd drunk the port, and even failures have got their honour.

He fished in the bed for his mobile phone. He found and flicked it open. It seemed to waver in front of his eyes, so he shut them tightly then opened them again. A little better. He did it again. Success. He could see the keypad. Slowly and very carefully he typed in a number and put the phone to his ear. After a couple of seconds he heard it ring at the other end. Twice the tone went and he almost put it down. Almost. But then someone answered.

"Hello - you have called Crisis Line. My name is Jane. Tell me about your problem".

The voice was soothing.

"Well" began the old man. "I guess I'm a failure" he said quietly.

"Now I'm sure that's not true, but tell me why you think it could be" said Jane.

"You see I dedicated my whole life to my children. To making them happy" he said. A tear ran down one cheek. "But now it's come to an end. No one likes me - they won't even let me give them presents" said the old man and sobbed quietly.

"Are these children your family?" asked Jane sympathetically.

The old man took a deep breath and said "No. I have no family. I'm all alone. I just like to make children happy, so I give them presents."

Jane made a note in her book on mandatory reporting.

"So who doesn't like you?" she asked.

"Everyone. No one" he said - a little confused and certainly still somewhat drunk. "The church lot for example. They say I'm evil. Some of them used to love me - I gave some of them presents too when they were children. But now, they hate me. I'm a bad influence, they say. I am un-christian, un-islam, un-jewish. You name it - they all want to be rid of me - for the childrens' sake they say."

Jane made another note in her book on mandatory reporting and signalled her supervisor to come over.

"Even the schools and kindergartens are against me now. I mean what's the harm in sitting the kiddies on my lap and give them toys? They say people might be offended. Offended?" he felt hurt and angry at the word. "How can bringing pleasure to little children be offensive" he asked loudly. But then he apologised. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell. It's not your fault - you are trying to help" he said.

Jane's supervisor had picked up a headset and locked into the call too. He exchanged knowing and suspicious glances with Jane.

"Tell me" said Jane. "You like children do you?".

The old man's eyes lit up. "Yes" he said. "They are wonderful. Full of innocence and hope. I love to see them happy". His face clouded over for a moment, then darkened. "But no-one else seems to want them to be happy. They just want to keep me away from them. And I can't bare it." He broke down and cried.

Jane and her supervisor both scribbled in their individual books on mandatory reporting.

"And I've just had this letter" said the old man. "It came today. It says I have to get a police check or I can't even see the children. It's the law, it says. A police check. And I can't do it. I can't. It's over. My life is over" and he broke down and cried again.

"Why not?" asked Jane, but there was no trace of sympathy in her voice now. "Why can't you - what are you afraid of?"

The old man said nothing.

"Well?" asked Jane demandingly. "What have you got to hide then? Got some special secrets have we?" she asked accusingly.

Father Christmas pressed the hang up button. What was the use? He'd kept his promise - he'd tried. But it was no use. He knew it would be no use - but he'd kept his promise and tried. How could he get a police check? He thought about the form they'd sent him laughed a humourless laugh. It was ridiculous. Name - Father Christmas. Address - the North Pole. Family - Reindeers and Elves. Purpose of Request - To visit children in the middle of the night while they slept and give them suprises. How could he put that down? They really would think he was a pervert.

He let the phone drop to the floor and picked up the sleeping pills. After a few minutes he threw the bottle to the floor in exasperation. Those childproof caps were a menace, he thought. He fell to his knees and crawled over to the bottle. He picked it up again and this time he brought it down upon the floor with his hand. It smashed. He looked, hazily, at the broken glass and the pills weaving about each other. No matter. A little glass might quicken the process he thought.

He was just about to scoop the whole lot up when there was a knock on the door. It's quite suprising how something very unexpected - even impossible - can sober you up. Father Christmas swept the broken glass and the pills under his bed quickly, stood up, and went to the door. There came more knocking - urgent knocking. No-one came to visit you at the North Pole - but someone had and they were in a hurry.

He opened the door. A large rabbit, about six foot high, stood there covered in snow. "About time" said the rabbit. "I thought you were dead" and it pushed past him into the warm. He closed the door after it.

"I nearly was" said Father Christmas soberly.

The rabbit looked concerned. "I was afraid you'd try something like that. So I came over. I brought some port" he said and then, noticing the bottles on the floor, added "but mine's non-alcoholic. Come on. I've got a couple of chocolate eggs left - we'll share them".

So the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas sat feasting on easter eggs and non-alcoholic port. And for at least one more night, hope remained for the Spirit of Christmas to triumph over the strangulation of red tape.