Saturday, 8 January 2011

State Visit from God

- Hello
- Woah!
- What?
- Nothing.
- Did you say Noah?
- No. Woah! An exclamation of surprise.
- Ah yes, because of all this.
- Yes. What is that exactly?
- I don’t know what you’d call it really. I was so busy naming other things, I never got around to calling it anything. What would you say?
- Erm… the closest I could come to it would probably be… electric tentacles?
- Well that will do for know. You were expecting me weren’t you?
- Not exactly. Did you call ahead?
- I left a message with someone.
- Who was that?
- Some guy, I don’t know. Wears a lot of tin foil. Hangs out by that bridge.
- Oh him. Yeah, actually I think I heard him shouting something about it the other day.
- Huh. Thought there might be a band or something.
- Have you been before?
- Yeah, ages ago. I popped down to see how things were going. Lot of big lizards. I don’t remember putting that together at all. They still around?
- No, they died. How come it’s taken so long to visit?
- Well, I do have the whole universe to look after. And I had that back thing.
- Right, I had one of those.
- Anyhoo, I better be off. Looks as if you people are doing ok. I guess I’ll see you in another couple of millennia.
- OK great.
- See ya.
- Bye. And thanks for visiting Bongo Burger. Next!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

64 Excuses

1. It was the enchiladas.
2. I’m rehearsing for a play.
3. I’m rehearsing for an avant-garde play.
4. I’m rehearsing for an avant-garde play that features brief nudity.
5. I may be Australian.
6. It’s a sort of sexual stigmata.
7. No, I own several identical pairs. And the smell is coming from elsewhere.
8. Sorry, I’m allergic to the metal in wedding rings.
9. In my country that sign means ‘men’s room’.
10. In my country, there are no such mores.
11. Poor night vision officer.
12. A dog took it, yes, there was definitely a dog.
13. Cyborgs!
14. It’s a sort of Buddhist thing.
15. Are you familiar with the condition known as sleep-dredging?
16. Still going through the grieving process. I’m at stage 9: inaction.
17. Have you read that book Holy Blood, Holy Grail? It was a bit like that.
18. Listen, I don’t think that haircut does you any favours.
19. Wow that was crazy. Just like in the story. What? You didn’t see the bears?
20. Oh, I read the message sarcastically.
21. There was a flood. It got everything, your underwear, everything.
22. I am a maverick Professor and this is a complicated series of experiments.
23. The S stands for sexual? I thought it was a sensationally transmitted disease.
24. Glandular.
25. They’re too far away now.
26. Oh he isn’t a jockey? Where are my manners?
27. It doesn’t go that way. Nothing goes that way.
28. No thank you, I believe that particular practice steals your soul.
29. I really don’t think it will take our weight.
30. No batteries, damn.
31. Sorry about all that, they think I’m probably borderline bi-polar.
32. It says school? I thought it said ‘scuba’.
33. I saw David Bowie and decided to follow him.
34. I had that thing where your eyes seal shut.
35. A foreign form of chapstick temporarily blinded me.
36. Crap, did I miss it? That pesky leap year.
37. Sorry, I think I deleted it. I must have read ‘Birthday Plans’ as ‘Penis Enlargement’.
38. It’s a kind of jury duty that I’m not allowed to talk about.
39. Darren Aronofsky asked me to play the part of ‘Chet’ in his remake of Expresso Bongo.
40. It’s just coming.
41. There’s reason to believe I am the second coming.
42. May I be re-seated? I don’t trust this man’s breathing.
43. I can’t let it go, it once belonged to Cher.
44. All the proceeds are going to a home for injured horses.
45. Don’t worry, it will all be obvious when this thing is over.
46. Oh yes, that was my coma year.
47. Are you sure you’re not having a mirage?
48. A power surge may have put that stuff on my phone.
49. Quiznos?
50. You say negligence. I say a breezy outlook on life.
51. I didn’t expect that analogy to be so porny.
52. Define ‘gay’.
53. Oh that, that’s just caused by over-zealous ironing.
54. They decided to end it early – a leak from an unspecified gas I believe.
55. Sorry, these are new contact lenses. Yes they are thin aren’t they?
56. Shabba Ranks was on the concourse.
57. I’m not allowed near children. Not since that whole mascarpone thing.
58. I was inspired by a scene from Dragonslayer.
59. It was a ploy to raise awareness for that particular, unspecified thing.
60. That sometimes happens when I don’t eat.
61. It was a joke.
62. It was a lie.
63. It was a bet.
64. Oops…erm…happy anniversary!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Crows - part 2

I am not a man particularly interested in identifying the shortest possible distance between two points, but even I recognised that the route Mr. Twender had insisted I take to his factory was not conventional. Like all drones however, I knew my place and decided it would be impolite to rock the boat at this juncture. It could be a test, though the fact that my future employer had conducted the previous day’s job interview with his flies open made me think he was not one for tests. I followed Twender’s crudely rendered map as closely as his scrawl would allow. The route began quite naturally, following the road from my squalid but adequate dwellings towards my destination. It then steered me pointlessly through an expanse of green I’d previously failed to notice. It sat at the end of a forgotten street, silent and remote.
Due its importance in this tale, I feel it would be relevant to describe this park in more detail. It was ringed by houses and a fence on all sides, producing quite a claustrophobic and suspicious feel. There was a large flat area of turf at its heart, which seemed to serve no purpose besides the collection and retention of mud. There were no people present, all life seemed to have ended. No children, no vagrants, none of those you’d expect in a park. In one corner sat a set of playground apparatus that, in its condition, looked more like a collection of ineffective contemporary art, dried blood on the concrete beneath. On the monkey bars sat the crows. Many of them. They appeared as a mass of black, wet tar, a shifting, dangerous shadow in the corner of the park. And they had noticed me, turning as one to watch, passing the occasional cackle to one another. They seemed particularly interested, almost amused, by the map I was following. I thought I heard one of them laugh.
I passed them by, tried not to, but couldn’t help foolishly looking back. They were still watching and positively identifying my fear. Though they failed to move or present any threat, I quickened my pace. There was a short, shielded path and then the factory, my new place of employment, loomed over the privet. It was silent as usual. In the office Mr Twender waited in the same spot. His jaw was half-hinged, as if he were still completing the final word from the day before.
“You’ve arrived,” he said with a mixture of excitement and awe.
“Yes,” I offered.
“Oh,” he seemed a little thrown by this. “Yes.”
He turned his body to the desk and began to violently rifle through a stack of documents, most of which were plainly menus from the same Somali restaurant.
“Well today I have a series of important functions to perform,” he announced. “They occur in various other rooms and their purpose would be exhausting to explain. So I’ll have to leave you to fend for yourself somewhat.”
I nodded.
“Unfortunately, the telephone you require has not been delivered. This is an error formed by a company I no longer speak with. So spend the day acquainting yourself with the office. The drawers of course and…the window.”
He pointed to the window.
“Miss Home is on hand to proffer any direction you need.”
He moved his tugboat bulk to one side and revealed a bird-like woman sitting at a child’s desk. My first impression was that she was bald, but on reflection I realised her head was swaddled in a number of headscarves. Her desk was piled high with paper and her gaze followed a fly on its journey around the light fitting.
“She’s a quiet sort,” Mr Twender felt an explanation was needed. “Think she’s from The Balkans. Somewhere with a climate. You know the kind of place I mean.”
I wondered if she’d been there on my previous visit, completely blocked by my employer’s mass.
“Then I shall leave you to commence,” he said, grandly, considering, I think, a little bow before thinking better of it.
“Yes,” I said, looking at my functionless desk and considering how exactly I could commence.
“Oh,” he theatrically interrupted his step to the door, “did you come by the recommended route?”
“Yes,” I replied. He licked his lips.
“Anything unusual occur?” He tried to appear casual, but sweat suddenly appeared on various parts of his body and his hands began to wring the neck of the baguette he was holding.
“No,” I said.
“In the park?” He sounded like a cheap game show host, coaxing the answer from a particularly dim contestant and desperate for someone to win that bloody speedboat.
“Not really,” I allowed. “Some crows.”
“Crows,” he shouted. Miss Home blinked. “Did they see you?”
I considered this. It was an odd question in an odd environment and I felt my answer might be judged. Twender released a little squeak, possibly down to anticipation, covered by a cough.
“They looked at me,” I finally fixed upon.
He put his hand to his chin and his eyes to the ceiling. He began to make an unpleasant clucking sound. Then returned.
“But no movement?” He asked. “No…flying?”
“Interesting…” he drifted away in thought.
“Is this significant to the role?” I asked.
Twender looked terrified and then prised a fake smile between his lips.
“No, no,” he giggled. “Just passing time. Conversation.”
He half fell, half ran towards the door, adding on departure,
“Please follow the same route this evening and keep me abreast of any developments. I am reachable by shouting.”
Any further questions were abated as he fled from the room. I looked at Miss Home. She still followed the fly’s circuit. I sat at my desk and considered its contents. Some of it appeared to be a child’s homework from several decades ago. It was quite dusty. I began to pile the papers neatly. This appeared to rouse Miss Home who started to scream in some language I didn’t understand and then threw something towards me. It appeared to be an atlas. It missed me by a considerable distance, but to be on the safe side I moved away from the desk and looked out of the window. In the far distance I could just identify a chef who left a large white building and sat down on some steps, commencing to smoke a cigarette. He immediately burst into tears.

To be continued…

Monday, 5 October 2009

Crows - part 1

“Welcome aboard!”
There was something quite wrong with Mr. Twender. And in that way he was the perfect representation the Handicourt Blacking Company, which I had now formally joined. As a man, he was the size and consistency of a reasonably priced Christmas tree and as a potential employer, he was baffling. He draped a meaty paw before me and I felt obliged to shake it. Rather how a child approaches a snake, I expected his hand to be slimy to the touch, but, in fact, it was hard and cold.
“Glad to have someone of your calibre joining us. With a degree.”
He’d mentioned the degree a number of times during this less than conventional interview, and on each occasion spoke of it as I expect the Magi spoke about our Lord Jesus Christ. Which was unfortunate, as it was entirely fictional.
“You will be joining the sales force. This will be a demanding position and, as such, you will have access to a telephone,” Twender said.
I think he expected me to be impressed by this and so I released a little, ‘oh’.
“Your desk will be here.”
He offered me the desk we were currently sitting around. It was stifled with a great deal of paraphernalia; mainly take-away menus and empty graphs waiting to be filled, plus a child’s colouring book, seemingly from the 1950s. It didn’t appear to carry a phone.
“The telephone will be attached in due course,” he said, reading my mind.
“I assume you can make your own lunch arrangements?”
I assumed that I could.
A silence grew between us. Twender was staring at me as a imperceptible smile drifted across his face like the long shadows of the afternoon.
“Erm…” I began
“Yes?” He looked a little nervous.
“What will the role involve?” I asked.
The gentleman appeared crestfallen.
“That element can be discussed once you’ve settled. No point muddying the waters at this point.”
“But the premises are active?” I asked, noticing the belligerent lack of sound. “For a factory,” I continued, “it’s rather quiet.”
“Hmmmm,” he said and left the room. In due course the distant sound of manufacturing began. He breathlessly returned to the room.
“There,” he said with joy. “You see?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Now,” Twender vigorously began to rub his palm against the thigh area of his trousers, which perhaps explained their sheen. “One important thing. Vital, in fact. How will you be approaching the establishment?”
I think this was one of the interview questions they primed us for in Job Club. The answer involved the words, ‘prioritisation’, ‘commitment’ or ‘work flow’. But before I could answer, Mr. Twender elucidated.
“I mean literally. How will you get here each day? From what direction?”
The final part of the question was shouted at quite a clip. I must have appeared slightly stunned.
“Sorry,” he said. “I have an inner ear problem. It affects my balance. And volume. You’ll soon acclimatise.”
I tried to picture any evidence of this impaired balance, but nothing sprang to mind. He was tilted slightly, but that may have been the floor.
“Now, travel arrangements.”
I considered this.
“I expect I’ll take the bus,” I offered. His face fell.
“Oh dear,” he gulped and I instantly felt shamed. “I’m afraid we have something we do insist on here at Handimans.”
“Handicourts,” I corrected.
“Yes, here at Handicourts,” he continued, unconcerned by the feeble grasp of his own company. “We do like our employees to walk to work.”
“Yes, walk. There are many reasons for this. Many, many reasons,” he stopped. It appeared these many, many reasons would remain anonymous.
“And here’s our preferred route.”
A well-thumbed square of paper appeared before me. A cube represented the factory, a smiley face within it and the initials HBC hovered above. A line snaked from the factory, through a shaded area and then petered out.
“Obviously you can fill the latter half in yourself. I don’t believe I know your exact address. I trust you have one?”
“Very good. But if you can follow this particular arrival method and pitch up at around 9.30, everyone here at Handicourts will be delighted.”
Again his hand was offered. This time it was damp.
“That will be acceptable? You won’t deviate from the route?” He asked while continuing to damage my hand.
“Yes. No,” I answered.
“Then we’ll begin when you arrive,” he said and lightly pushed me towards the exit.
I left the office and walked past a concrete structure that I assumed housed the factory. As I drew level, all sounds of industry ceased. There followed a series of hurried footsteps, a slew of muttered curses, then the obvious sound of a phonograph needle hitting a record. Then the sounds of machinery began again.
I walked home.

To Be Continued.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Quite Poor Advice with Professor Simon Poor

Dear Professor Poor: small woody shoots have suddenly begun to appear on my lawn – any idea what could be causing this? Glen, Whitby.

My mother swore by a sprig of parsley held in the cleft of the mouth for everything from Nervous Stomach to Climbing Fever and she lived to the ripe old age of 56 before fever claimed her.

Dear Professor Poor: I’ve been feeling lacklustre lately, should I consult a physician? Phil, Dartford.

They say dolphins can sniff out cancer. It seems unlikely, but why not give it a go? Or if there are no dolphins are available, why not consult your local fishmonger. He may have some pointers. Or flounders. I knew a man, let’s call him Duncan. He was afflicted in manhood with cancer of the lap. It then moved up his whole left side. He was the size of a pitta bread when it was over.

Dear Professor Poor: I’m eco-conscious and wonder about the environmental damage that dry-cleaning causes – do you have any thoughts on the subject? Helen, Whitstable.

I was cursed myself by a local dry cleaner after disagreements over the most apt method of removing hummus from a lapel. She was of Eastern European extraction and in the same week my mother died and Stevenage were knocked out of the Sherpa Van trophy tournament, so I know she was up to something Wiccan. It was only after a boxed-set of Birds of a Feather, some Terry’s All Gold and an apologetic dance that the whole sorry saga ceased. Now we are the best of friends and have even considered entering a corn maze together.

Dear Professor Poor: I fear my husband may be the Medway strangler. His dungarees are frequently flecked with blood and I’m not allowed in the attic. Am I being paranoid? Kathy, Medway.

Wasn’t it Aeschylus who said, “Who is the King Shag Corpse? / Have you been to the English Deer Park?” Run to him.

Dear Professor Poor: I currently have a bit of an old gas guzzler, but I’m thinking of switching to an electric vehicle. Thoughts? Barry, Tenby.

Cars can be a slippery mistress. I had a companion – let’s call him Duncan. Cars were his be all and everything. He died. Rectal cancer. There was talk in the family of a car shaped plot, but in the end they felt being driven in a hearse would be enough to satisfy him in death.

Dear Professor Poor. I have one testicle that is larger than the other. Should I worry? Jasper, Fleet.

Christ, there are some things you should keep to yourself. There’s that clinic in Switzerland where they gas you humanely, though I doubt that even they would touch you with a barged pole. During my first marriage, I often planned out my own life-taking. My favoured choice would have been to march, nobly and humbly, into an English winter sea, perhaps Broadstairs or her nautical sister Ramsgate, with some kind of children’s choir trilling through that song from Cats, until the pain stopped forever. Feel free to steal my idea.

Dear Professor Poor, I’m having trouble stripping some woodchip. Tips? Biff, Grinstead.

My marriage to the first Mrs Professor Poor was punctuated by meals and hot beverages being flung about with vigour. I noticed that part of the lounge wall, which became known unaffectionately as ‘the stain’, behaved differently when various substances were applied. Bovril, though ghastly, seemed to take the flock off a treat, as did the wife’s risotto, though I have no idea which active ingredient caused the dissolvement. Her risotto recipe was a closely guarded secret which she will take to her (expected) grave – though there was biscuits in it, I am quite sure of that.

Dear Professor Poor: I will be in Stevenage at the weekend, could you recommend a good vegetarian restaurant? Pauline, Leicester.

One good way to irritate wait staff is to hurl your cutlery onto the floor with a modicum of violence. The women who work there (and they increasingly are women these days) will be forced to replace the items without judgement. After the sixth or seventh time, their faces are a picture. Priceless.

Dear Professor Poor: I find that I cannot make an emotional connection with my newborn daughter, what can I do? Elaine, Poole.

I’ve also found that wait staff are quite troubled by anything vomit connected. If you can prepare some fake vomit (I vacuum pack my own using Irish Stew – Kibblemanns is a fine brand) or can induce yourself to vomit at will, either before, during or after the meal, the wait staff will be forced to respond, usually with firm frowns intact. I whiled a happy afternoon in Chester this way – I believe that particular waitress is still on sick leave compo.

Dear Professor Poor: I’m getting married in October but just want a small wedding. Is there a tactful way to announce this and avoid annoyance by those not invited? Fiona, Dundee.

I’m sorry, but only trash are wed in the autumn months. I apologise for the language but there it is – trash. The men have work enough to do at harvest time with ploughing and the attention to crops. Weddings and so forth just add an unwarranted distraction and also alienate those workers who have failed to mate – leading to disaster amongst the furrows. Crows and vermin will soon litter the fields and the Harvest Festival will be less than festive indeed. Why not wait until the winter when spirits need reviving or in the spring when Christ was risen? No, your pointless and gormless behaviour has all the hallmarks of a harlot. Be gone.

Dear Professor Poor: I’ve noticed my memory is failing me more and more these days – I’m clumsier and often forget the most obvious things, even the names of my children. Should I worry? Henry, Bloxwich.

Do you have any pets or other animals that you could pass the blame onto? It sounds cruel, but they probably wouldn’t be aware that they’re being punished for your indiscretions. I used a parrot belonging to the first Mrs Professor Poor as a plausible alibi in a frivolous fraud and hotwiring case brought against me by a major county council and would have had a successful acquittal if the damn thing hadn’t started talking.

Dear Professor Poor: my boyfriend wants to take our relationship to the next level, but I’m not sure I’m ready – any advice? Trudi, Harlow.

The first Mrs Professor Poor favoured a technique known as ‘The Gondolier’, I won’t trouble you with a description but rest assured the results were harrowing.

[Professor Poor is the currently visiting professor of architecture (coving, pelmets and cornices) at the University of Trent.]

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Katy Perry

I just don't understand why my Katy Perry answer record didn't do better. I think the plugger guy really dropped the ball with 'I Kissed a Bloke'. And the production was muddy.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Paul Simon Denier

For too long now that seething balloon of pomposity known as Paul Simon (not real name) has survived unchallenged. For what seems like decades Mr Simon has flounced around the air-waves and pop charts as if he owned the place. With his 'gee shucks' smile and off-putting comb-over, this hanging basket of smugness has clogged up popular culture for far too long.

Take his song America, and in particular the line: "I said be careful his bow tie is really a camera...". Now this seems incredibly far fetched. How likely is that to happen? But there are other examples. The song America features the line: "...laughing on the bus" Again, how about some consideration for those around you Paul. While Simon and his goofball riddled harridan girlfriend are guffawing violently, a young mother might be attempting to rock a hungry child to sleep. The elderly often use this form of transport - they could be resting. The driver may become distracted by a near-naked love child rolling on the floor and cackling their angel-dust laugh of doom.

But there are further examples. Take the song America that features the line: "Pass me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat..." How about a 'please' Paul? Would that be too troubling? Dictating his orders like some half-pint Stalin, screaming his orders in the face of his poor confused companion and keeping others awake. Manners cost nothing - even to you Mr Rock Star. Besides, smoking on a bus contravenes the ordinances of practically every haulier including National Express, First Direct and Megabus.

You'll find a similar tale in the song America. "Let us be lovers, we'll marry our fortunes together..." The calling card of the con man. Some poor unfortunate child, won over by his golden records and celebrity address book - promises of parties and access to discotheques. No wonder her head was turned, only to have her pocketbook emptied as a consequence no doubt. Further indignity is represented in the song America and particularly the line: "...and the moon rose over an open field" I think we can all read between the lines with that one. We are all adults. You should be ashamed Mr Simon - besides I believe that in some of the states you are passing through those sort of antics are illegal.

There you have it - a conclusive trawl through Paul Simon's back catalogue proves that this so called 'songsmith' is nothing but charlatan. In conclusion I will leave you with a line from another song of his, America. "Michigan seems like a dream to me now..." I think that says it all.