New short story: Armed and quite LITERALLY dangerous

INSERT PIC HERE!

Really, I’d like to be able to get on the train just ONCE without things turning weird…

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In my last post I said something like I was going to try not to get into any fights on the Bank Holiday Weekend…

OH, GO ON THEN, MAKE MY DAY!

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New short story in: This Bank Holiday I plan to not get in any fights!

I’m off for a few days…no computer access and I am looking forward to it. Here’s a story to pass the time…I thought I’d put it up on the home-page as some people don’t make it to the page linked below.

For more STORIES THAT ARE SHORT, you know where to go.

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After reading that title, I suppose you might think Did you get into a fight on the last Bank Holiday, then?

The answer is no, no I didn’t. I didn’t get into a fight on any other weekend either. But I did almost get into a fight on a week-day — or a School Night, as I can’t help but still think of week-days (I blame my mother for the creation of this particular mental deficiency) — recently. It was all because I had decided to be more assertive when out and about.

My mistake was being assertive with someone who is always out and about: I won’t call him a vagrant, as one of the definition’s for vagrant is as follows and you can see how this does not apply:

        1. One who wanders from place to place without a permanent home or a means of livelihood.
        2. A wanderer; a rover.
        3. One who lives on the streets and constitutes a public nuisance.
        The man in question doesn’t qualify, however, seeing as:
        1. He doesn’t wander, he stomps angrily or else just sits and shouts.
        2. See above.
        3. I have never seen him be a nuisance to any other member of the public. He seems to only be a nuisance to me as I walk past (this one I’m not 100% on, seeing as this only represents about 0.000001% of my average week. But it definitely feels like it, so I reckon that counts).
        No, instead of a vagrant he was more of a Roamer — someone who leads a wandering unsettled life.
        Also, every time I see him he’s holding an iphone of some description, which definitely rules Tramp out (this is not Las Vegas, after all). Which makes my own phone look positively out-of-date, I should say. When Roamers start wielding powerful machines like these, it is time to start worrying.
        Let’s hope his iphone isn’t internet enabled and his favourite past-time — when not harrassing passerby, of course — isn’t reading blogs from people residing in the Cambridge area!
        Anyway, less of all that, the point is I was being assertive and I was at a gig. My brother’s gig, to be exact. He plays in a band called 50 Metre Moving Target (he is in one of those bands which change their name constantly but when you see them your face, in surprise, does a funny thing and you go Wow, actually they’re really quite good! I’m not even that biased, check them out and you’ll see what I mean).
        My problem with being assertive at this gig was that there was really nowhere I could be actively assertive. Short of asking those men next to me at the urinals to move over 4 inches so I could be allowed to inhabit my own personal space — a taboo I didn’t feel comfortable with, what with the inches reference — there really wasn’t much of an opportunity for any of that (and I don’t drink either, so how assertive can you be while holding a pint of Diet Coke in your hand? It just doesn’t work to stand at the bar banging a fist on the counter and saying, just shy of aggressively, “Oy, mate, I’m waiting for a pint of Diet Coke here, hurry the hell up!”)
        So I decided to venture outside. This was allowed — my brother and his band-mates didn’t mind it, seeing as there were a few other acts on before them which were all total crap. Ha. Not really. They were all quite good actually (and included a group of guys and girls from the Chech Republic — much easier than spelling out the country — who were expertly performing what I dubbed “Peasant Rock” as I left the place).
        I should also say that I wasn’t specifically leaving the pub to be assertive. It was more a combination of assertiveness being the theme of the time and me wanting, very badly, to get my hands on a Wispa.
        Fortunately for me there is a mini-supermarket opposite the pub which has both a plethora of chocolate (all melting, but you don’t know this until you’ve actually got it out of the shop, where it suddenly dies on you and dares you to take it back, but you never dare to because you feel somewhat foolish) and loads of room outside which once had trolleys when people used trolleys, and now doesn’t and is spacially ideal for those with no fixed address. Nothing generally against those with no fixed address, though, I’d do the same and who knows, in another life I might well find out (Sainsbury‘s would be my supermarket of choice, seeing as they always have dapper outside areas).
        This time, however, I had a feeling that the tramp — he was a tramp at this point, as I had not seen his iphone — was going to be less one who just sits and stares at you, and more a man after my own heart: an assertive one. I quite liked this actually, so as he got up and started speaking to me I put my hand in my pocket.
        Almost immediately I knew I had made a grave mistake. On closer inspection — I was now a couple of metres from the automatic doors — I saw he had a furious look in his eyes. Extra furious, on top of that already disconcerting God-I-bloody-hate-the-world look. Also worrying was his tone as he demanded my change. It reminded me a lot of the wonky-eyed, slightly-too-enthusiastic butcher we had in our village when we were growing up. He wouldn’t allow my mum to leave the shop without taking his finest cut of meat and he always took too long to cut what looked like a tender piece of meat. Please, no jokes.
        By the time the tramp had spouted the second or third demand, I was all demanded-out. So I told him No. “Don’t demand money from me,” I said, with an echo of Jeremy Kyle somewhere in there which was too late to take back. “Because that is not going to work.”
        This only seemed to spur him on more. I could see my mistake and remembered the effect JK so often had on his so-called ‘guests’.
I darted in quick through the swoooshing doors before he could say another word. I quickly found myself lured by other chocolate bars not of the Wispa persuasion. Then commenced a difficult 5 minutes as my inner-Wispa-desire fought hard with the part of my mind which held memories of all the other chocolates.
        But the Wispa won, fortunately. I’d never have forgiven myself otherwise.
        Upon leaving, the exact scenario I had envisioned happened; the vagrant — in the shop I had developed sympathy for his plight and felt bad for calling him a tramp — gave me hell for not giving him change. I made a noise at him which wasn’t even close to any kind of word, but he seemed to get the point, because he looked even more furious than he had.Very,
        It was then, when he kept badgering me, aggressively demanding I give him money — that I had to give him money — that I told him to “piss off and leave me alone.” Which I thought was fair under the circumstances. He clearly didn’t, though. He paused and then looked at me like someone had just whispered into his ear what swear-words were all about.
        Two minutes later I was back inside the safety of the crowded pub, wondering things which cross your mind when you are standing alone and forced into making observations to bide your time (wondering why some peoples necks were taller than others and what that might actually mean, if you were interested).
        Something hit me from behind. Just the door. I assumed it was someone trying to come in and subtly notify me that I was standing in their way. It wasn’t, it was someone — the angry Roamer — kicking the door in and shouting at me…something. It sounded like a challenge and he had all the gestures of a good hip-hop video going on, but without the scantily clad girls shaking their electric-gold hot-pants.
        Obviously I didn’t take him up on his challenge. For one thing, I was with about 10 mates and a pub-full of people, and for another, the guy’s fury scared me a bit to be honest.
        Not that it was really my decision not to challenge him. He stomped angrily away quickly, with his iphone, looking over his shoulder, and by then I had my Wispa out and was onto other matters, like wondering why I still had a Pay as You Go.

Villagers lose legal-battle over tree with penis-shaped branch

February 18th, 2009 Last updated 19:24

Villagers lose legal-battle over tree with penis-shaped branch

Villagers in Ecton, Northamptonshire, today lost their battle to have an offending tree branch removed. The decision to leave the eye-height branch untouched, which had been the subject of debate and controversy for some time, was made after Northampton Crown and County Court cited the case as “a dubious waste of Northampton’s legal resources.” The case, led by a committee who don’t wish to be named, is said to have cost in excess of £55,000 so far.

Northamptonshire County Council were first made aware of the so-called “perverted tree” in 2001 when a petition by villagers surfaced with over 1500 signatures.

The spokesowoman for the group said: “we won’t be satisfied until the offending branch has been removed and destroyed. We intend to pursue this case for as long as it takes and an appeal has already been made.” Northamptonshire County Council declined to comment.

You can always trust the BBC News to come up with compelling headlines, can’t you?

Now here’s a test: which of these headlines from past and present do you think genuinely come from the BBC?

Can Donkeys breakdance?

Wiltshire cash machine attacked by woman wielding shoe

Meet the man who eats broken glass with his cereal

New research on whales may hold clue to erectile dysfunction

Could being mugged actually be good for you?

If you’re screaming But Donkeys can breakdance! I saw one once on Blackppol beach! then what can I say? I’m jealous! Note: seriously, Donkeys cannot breakdance. Unless there is some bizarre urban-inspired mating ritual which I am unaware of, which is quite possible (but probably not in Blackpool, to be honest) — I’ve never been anywhere near mating Donkeys and I hope that never changes…

If you said Wiltshire cash machine attacked by woman wielding shoe, you would be 100%  right – and I think you’ll agree that you have to admire the dedication of any villain capable of such a thing. And no, you definitely shouldn’t eat broken glass in the morning. Also, if you see a beached whale, it’s probably pretty pissed off and embarrassed; please leave it alone or you may end up as the one with erectile dysfunction.

And if you were wondering if being mugged is good for you, I can tell you for a fact it isn’t! (Unless your name is Bernie Ecclestone. In which case it might shut your money-grabbing mouth up for five minutes — maybe — and wake you up to the genuine problems encountered by real human-beings every single day.)

To see a story very similar to the one described above, click here.

When a cretin dispenses financial advice

"Really dad? Two plus two equals five? Yes! I always knew I was right and everyone else was wrong!"

As a child I had immense difficulties with telling the time (or, more precisely, learning to tell the time. This was in the years just before every child had a Casio digital watch and when, tragedy of tragedies, calculators weren’t allowed to be used in school, even if you were showing all the signs of your head exploding and your trousers going sodden from numeracy-induced-fear). Thing is, just picking one thing which I had trouble with as a child feels a bit unfair on all the other things. So, to be completely fair to all the things I was terrible at while growing up, here is a short but comprehensive list of all the ones I can remember (yes, my memory was about as good as my adding up…):

1) Anything to do with numbers, which, when you’re anywhere between 2 and 12 years old feels like just about everything (and, really thinking about it, probably is).

2) Lots of things to do with logic. I won’t list them here; just think of all the things the average dog struggles with and you should be on about the right track.

3) The dreaded times-tables. Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned numbers, but my attempts at learning the times-tables were so utterly disastrous — thank you Mrs Brown for making it even harder by being nine feet tall and a smorgasbord of pure evil — that it’s only right I make it a point on its own.

4) Understanding why the hell the entire world needs to revolve around numbers. (something I am still highly uncertain about; if/when I procreate, I hope to pass this natural healthy skepticism onto my off-spring, so as to ensure that they do not become that most dreaded of things: du-du-duuuuu…an academic! Only messing! Nothing against academics, it’s just that it really wouldn’t be fair to give an academic severe problems with maths, would it?)

Now, you’d think that as someone with such a hideous mis-grasp of numbers – something that has, if anything, evolved into an ever-worse black-hole of inescapable un-knowledge, thanks to my Dyscalculia – there would be no chance in HELL that I would ever be in a position to dispense any kind of financial advice.

BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG! For today was the day that I did that very thing. Such is the life of a freelance writer. What could I do? Turn it down by saying “sorry, I’m abysmal at maths, I had better not”? I don’t think so. Part of  being a successful freelance writer is also being able to lie as well as a con-man, don’t you know.

Note: seriously, don’t worry! There’s no need to tell everyone you know that there’s a totally inept freelance writer on the loose! I wasn’t allowed to roam free and use my own brain to compute the information for the article. All I had to do was re-write something someone else who has a clue had already written. And seriously, I am pleased about that…

Crimes against sleepage (and if you think I care that sleepage isn’t a real word, you are very much mistaken)

PIC OF PISSED-OFF COUPLE TO GO HERE!
I’m sure it’s obvious to anyone that this couple have made the fatal mistake of trying to put the covers on the bed TOGETHER. They will not make this mistake again. Mainly because this is the last time they will be sleeping together!

Out of all the mundane things in life which I absolutely hate doing – most of them unavoidable and inevitable things, such as waiting to fall asleep (POINTLESS and ANNOYING!) or putting on poorly designed socks which actually cause you real physical pain (EVIL! JUST PLAIN EVIL!) – putting the covers on my bed is easily in the top ten. You may think Well, if that’s all he’s got to worry about then he should shut his bearded face, that’s nothing! and you’d be right I expect – especially if you’re the proud owner of a new puking baby which refuses to shut up crying, in which case you have my sympathy, but really what did you expect? – but at the same time, there’s bound to be millions of lucky people out there with baby’s who don’t puke or cry all the time and who can relate perfectly to this woe of mine (they do not have my sympathy — because to me this kind of Omen-like-child seems to go against everything that babies ought to do. Except for when they’re changing a nappy and find an alarmingly colossal brown stinking sloppy gift in it. In that case the notion of unprotected sex must lose its appeal, I expect. It’s losing its appeal for me just thinking about it…).

Now onto why I dislike this putting-the-bed-covers-on-my-bed-thing, and here’s where my argument starts to unravel itself at alarming speed…can you tell I’m just writing this as I go? Ah, the beauty of being your own Editor!

…the reason it is such a hated task, for myself, is really because of all the stuff in my hovel that surrounds my bed – yep, it’s true, very little of the whole annoying drama is actually my bed’s sole fault. But still, if we were in some surreal LSD-induced court-of-law and I was taking my bed to court for crimes against sleepage – my mattress an imposing flat defendant with pipe-cleaner arms and legs, being represented by its more legally-minded friend the pillow in a battle-of-words which could potentially result in the worst sentence of all: being dumped in a skip or even set on fire! – I would argue that if the bed wasn’t there then the mess wouldn’t either. Ha! A pretty much water-tight argument if I do say so myself (still, I do hope I never end up in that court-of-law…)

Until I take my bed away…

The point is that someone needs to come up with an invention to make putting the covers on the bed and duvet a hell of a lot easier than it has been for the last however-many-thousand years (nobody say “Women!” or “Bedmakers!”) Cpink the blog does not endorse sexism or making fun of Bedmakers). Dragon’s Den is waiting . That new vampish, manly one with the big square shoulders and the worryingly deep voice is waiting to see your pitch…

Post 98: Don’t be a (s)nob, buy a Big Issue

My local Big Issue seller and I have what I like to think is a somewhat unique relationship — that is, I bother to acknowledge his existence (whether I am buying a Big Issue or not) and he bothers to acknowledge mine (likewise), while for the most part the majority of people wander by without a second glance in his direction, some actively avoiding his gaze and others even taking the trouble to cross the street. But don’t get me wrong here, I can understand why people avoid the guy — I won’t deny it, I have avoided people like him in the past, for whatever reason — and I also highly doubt that he stands there eagerly expecting me to walk past and spend £2. All I’m saying is that from the look he gives me when he hands my Issue over, I am willing to bet that this moment means something, however small that something might be. I like to think I’m someone who he doesn’t look at and think What an arsehole.

I don’t buy The Big Issue for his personal charity or self-esteem, of course, or to make myself feel better and like more of a good person — I do it because The Big Issue is actually a good read and I’m always up for supporting a good cause if I can. That’s really all there is to it.

I see it like this: the way our lives eventually turn out is, to a large degree, dependant on thousands of unique combinations which are wildly out of our control. Our lives are also dependant on numerous other factors which are established well before we are even born and are nobody’s real choosing — things like history, soco-economic standing and family status. Things which just are the way they are. Yes, people who grow up as orphans or are abused for years probably have just as much power to change their circumstances as anyone else, but don’t miss the point: really, the gap between how some people end up on the streets and how you ended up in your high-paying, high-flying job is much smaller than you think. Flick a switch and everything really can change.

If you like to read and want to support people who are genuinely trying to help themselves, The Big Issue is a fantastic place to start. If someone took a risk and gave you a chance and it paid off for you, why not give it a go and help someone else out?

(This post is not affiliated in any way whatsoever with The Big Issue!)

Breaking-Otter-News

Three things which crossed my mind as I saw this on today’s BBC News:

1) Does this fat, deeply unbothered animal look, to you, like it’s just returned from the brink of extinction?

2) Otters have very human-looking faces. This one resembles a man in my village who only ever wears a white vest and is known universally as “the village thug”.

3) It’s hardly surprising Otters became nearly extinct. Look how short this one’s right arm is! I’d also give up collecting food and fending off predators if my right arm was this short and I was this fat and very few people cared I even existed. (Unless this otter is a dwarf-otter?)

And while I’m at it, here’s a joke I know Frankie Boyle would approve of, from yesterday’s BBC News: