Monday, 17 January 2011



He was born in the war and he died in New York
His second wife was Japanese
He fell out with Paul McCartney
He wore glasses and a white suit
He was from Liverpool
He was probably a tiresome prick
That’s why Christopher Eccleston was a shoe-in to play him at some point.


John’s middle name was Winston.
Obviously his parents were feeling patriotic.
Hell, they weren’t going to call him Adolf, what would the
Neighbours have said?
Liverpool was his hometown, he didn’t support them or
Everton which prevents either team cashing in on his
No they named a fucking airport after him instead.
Oh well, at least they didn’t name it Woman is the
Nigger of the World airport..


I was thinking of writing a poem
Incorporating loads of Beatles song titles
But then my dad said Barclay James Harvest
Did that years ago.
So I shot the bastard in a pique of meta-irony.

Friday, 10 December 2010

I couldnt be arsed in the end

..somewhere between the initial euphoria of getting a first, getting published by a proper paper and having a piece in a proper book the horror of finding proper jobs and real life kicked back in. Anyway, I'm going to start afresh on 1/1/11.....A million words in 2011. 365 days. What's that, 3,000 a day. Piece of piss.

And I've started a novel too. That took up some time. And working. Shit, working. Misery, thy name is Employment.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Cormac McCarthy reports from the second day at Lords

See the boy. Born these eighteen years past in the time of Imran. And like Imran, he is a cricketer. What a time it was this morning to see him bowl. To watch a boy with the red sun spinning in the universe of his own delivery.

Not much of play possible in the day previous to this. The ground now wet by the cloud’s own googlies. Rain like none seen in these parts for some time. The groundsmen protect the pitch overnight with a wheeled contraption. Strauss the day’s sole slaying one short of forty and another one short of forty one.

The first over of the day given to the boy. That young slight thing not yet prone to the tears of men but tied to the tears of a childhood he will not see again. First two balls are good but the third is the one they will talk of in Islamabad. Cook gone again. His ashes in ashes so they say though it is not the done thing to speak of such things before a second innings. Though in his own walk back from the crease his eyes spoke not of ashes but of cinders. A burnt Christmas lunch at his mother's. Sympathetic telegram from one they called Trescothick. The unused sunblock crusting in the car boot.

Pietersen, Collingwood and Morgan. All men of the same company. All taken by the boy without so much as a run between them. Sitting ducks. The umpire’s finger raised like a sermoniser’s. Three men fallen to a child. The stripling tires, the captain rests him. A man named Trott steps forward and adds runs with the man Prior.
The man Trott and the man Prior walk on the umpire’s signal towards lunch. Ninety seven runs on the board and half the team already vanquished, such has been the work of the boy.

What is a sandwich but some foodstuffs placed between the parameters of two slices of bread? None can doubt it. Though others experiment with pancetta and Panini, whores of wheat from some land not yet familiar with Wisden, the cucumber green as an outfield lies between thick slices of bread carved from the same whiteness as a wicket keeper’s pads. The flask of tea a joyous sign of some benevolent God not yet revealed.

I will reach my millennia, says Trott, gazing out across the meadow as he descends once more unto the field of battle. But the boy, now fully rested, returns with the afternoon sun hot in his earth-scorched maw. Released with speed and guile, he takes out Prior. And soon Swann is gone and the angelic one they called Broady stepped into the line of fire.

And now these two men begin to score runs, they bat away the redness of the sun, the light that sat with the boy now a scorched shadow in his own dark hands, the clapping of the members becoming louder and more appreciative as the man Trott and the boy Broad begin to build a partnership. A century follows in those floodlit minutes after tea. And then another. And the end of play fallen upon the batsmen, bowlers and fielders. Walking away to the gunfire of the crowd’s approving hands, the boy’s work all but undone and Trott one short of a century plus half that score again and a record eighth partnership just two away. Forecast good for tomorrow, though I’ll have to catch the fucking highlights on Five.

Sorry, I meant to say, the red evening canvas spoke of wickets and runs once the stars had spun themselves another hemisphere hence, though the witnessing of sport would only be a listening to as the man Murdoch set the tariff in these parts and it was higher than most poor folk could stand.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Eight Habits of People Not Achieving Much.

Introducing the first in an occasional series of business-minded articles encouraged to take the pro out of productivity.

Habit 1: Do Not Have Personal Goals

The best way to stop worrying about hitting personal goals is not to have personal goals. Seriously, what’s the point. Oh, in five years, I have to be running Marketing – North and Midlands or I am so out of here. See that guy leaving early, grinning at the thought of a night on the piss. Guess what, not only is he not going to get that job either, he doesn’t give a fuck about it. If you're going to miss out on a personal goal, you’ve got two choices. Either work really hard, engaging with all the right contacts, widening your circle of influence only to be screwed over at the interview stage when they give the job to the MD’s daughter-in-law with the amazing ass or you can go to work late most days, never go the extra mile and always keep Sunday evenings free as another opportunity to get wrecked.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

In his pile of shit nonsense manual, Covey says you should consider your own death. What do you want people to say about you at your funeral? How will you be remembered? Hey, he was an amazing Head of Human Resources. Whoo. Build a statue. We all love administrators, right? Fuck that, my friends. Consider this instead. Tomorrow you could be on the way to work, hangover stamping in your head like a roomful of toddlers in Gary Glitter stack heels, thinking of how you could just murder another nineteen hours of sleep and maybe just a bacon sandwich, and guess what – that selfish terrorist next to you has blown you to fuck. We can die anytime, life is precious, and if you want to waste it working your tits off just so you get a parking space outside the office, well more fool you. Do you know the majority of people killed in 9/11 were people ON TIME? Promptness kills, people.

A lot of successful athletes use visualisation techniques. I do. I get to my job and I imagine myself on Friday, smashed with some friends watching Sean Connery’s Medicine Man on DVD and sniffing pretty much anything I can find in the bathroom. Oh yes, visualisation helps me achieve my goal. Who are the nation’s favourite sportsmen? Is it Gary Lineker or Jimmy Greaves? Stephen Hendry or Alex Higgins? Who needs a trophy when you can have the love of the nation and a taste for mid-price cognac.

Habit 3: Shit That Needs Doing Will Always Be Done By Somebody Else

You’ve all seen the film. There’s this hopeless military or armed robbery situation and basically some guy has to throw himself onto the grenade or into a shitstorm and get himself killed to save his friends. Don’t be that guy. Yeah they’ll remember you forever but being remembered isn’t as good as remembering.
Put into the context of work, it’s simple. How many times on a Monday morning have you gone “Ah shit, I forgot to compose that spreadsheet full of the February accounts.”

Again, you have a choice, eithgo into a panic, do a half arsed job and get shouted at. Or you can phone in sick, text an ambitious colleague saying “Yeah they’re on my desktop but IT had a problem when we had that crash on Friday, could you see if you could make a start on it for me. I’ll finish it tomorrow. Got to get it done by tomorrow afternoon cos Sir Doug wants to see it and it’s a chance for me to shine. Typical I should go down with the flu...”

What happens? Your colleague does the job for you, twice as well as you ever could have, saves your arse, raises his profile and everyone’s happy. Even better, it’s now quarter to eleven, the cricket starts in ten minutes and the pub is open.

Habit 4: The Customer Is Always The Customer

The customer is King. How many times do you hear that from some fucking idiot? “Ner, ner, ngggh, I want to speak to your manager because I was promised chicken and liver risotto/the February accounts/a working wheelchair” The Customer is King is a) sexist because women dig being equal and stuff, b) Shit. The Customer is just like you, a human being. So what if they don’t come back. Good. You don’t have to put up with them anymore. But what if we all behaved like that, I hear you cry. Well, nobody would complain. That’s got to be progress.

Habit 5: Listening Is Not The Same As Hearing

Blah blah blah. Sixty two percent of communication is physical. Whatever. The reason listening is not the same as hearing is this. If I wanted to listen to your fucking soul destroying quarterly management brief about the roll out of the Devon and Cornwall Synergy Map then I wouldn’t have invested in these practically invisible headphones for my iPod. No one cares. Well, I don’t.

Habit 6: Synergize

What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I have no idea what that means but I think that roughly it equates to - the company couldn’t give a fuck how many extra miles you do, it’s a great lumbering shit monster with the heart and soul of an enthusiastic gasman at Auschwitz.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Just as a machine will wear out quickly if not properly maintained, the same is true for your own personal productivity. You must take care of yourself. Stay in practise. That guy with the eye on your boss’s job, what are they like when they come out on the town with you and the gang. That’s right, they’re the one puking everywhere after a couple of drinks and boring you all shitless with work talk. Fucking loser.

Your body is the machine. Just as you can’t pour diesel into erm a thing you know a car that doesn’t need diesel, so equally you can’t spend your week drinking hi-energy smoothies and ristrettos like the boss does and then expect to hold your own at drinkies. Anyone ever take a photo of everyone writing reports? No. Anyone take a picture of you all holding drinks that are ON FIRE in the air? All the time. Stay sharp, like the saw, and you too can stay in the picture.

Habit 8: It's not Laziness, it's Altruistic Career Advancement

See, when I fuck up, delegate or just plain don't do something, it gives you the humble wannabe the chance to shine. If we were all determined and dedicated, nobody would get anywhere, nothing would happen. For every Neil Armstrong, there's a million guys in burger stained t-shirts sitting in bars telling anyone who'll listen that they could have got a shot at the Moon if they hadn't fucked up their knee playing drinks golf that one time. It's not that I'm lazy or that I don't care. Alright, it is those things but fuck it, I'm presenting you with the chance to shine. One man's delegation feeds another's dedication and all that.

Next week, in Business Seminars, I'll be showing you the Nine Thought Streams of Barely Solvent Kings of the Bar.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Land Of Piss

The genius that is Simon Croppier has ventured into the land of children's songs with this offering, a piece of work that pisses all over Puff the Magic Dragon and The Wheels on the Bus.

My Favourite 365 Songs of All Time Special - Seven Slices of Indier than Thou Joy

On the sleeve of the Fall's 1995 live album, The Twenty-Seven Points, there was the warning sticker: PARENTAL ADVISORY: EXPLICIT, INCOMPETENT MUSIC. Which, for sheer honesty, takes some beating.

My love of such wanton amateurism has led me down some shoddy lanes of listening down the years. For every endearingly shambolic Pavement single, there was also a Trumans Water CD you couldnt give away. But these seven slices of badly played cake will stay with me for the rest of time.

1: Royal Trux - Stevie (Song for Steven S). What's that, you say, heroin addicts rip off Richard Branson so much he pays them to fuck off forever. And then release a crack-addled tribute to shit movie legend Steven Seagal with the money he gave them. Sold, sir. Don't tell me the White Stripes haven't played this to death.

2: Guided By Voices - Game of Pricks. Basically what the Beatles would have sounded like if they came from Ohio thirty years or so later. A ridiculously prolific band, all the albums had about 98 songs on called things like "Man called Aerodynamics" and "The Official Ironman Rally Song", all of which sounded like a band who didnt know if they liked the Byrds, the Who or the Stones best and just decided to crash through their own impression of each band at the same time. This is a live version so you can see the joy of middle aged men being part time rock legends.

3: Quickspace Supersport - Do It My Own Way. A call to arms for people not easily put off achieving things despite the evidence of their musical limitations. Features an appalling recorder solo and perhaps the greatest one fingered guitar incompetence ever.

4: The Fall - Idiot Joy Showband (live) From the album mentioned in the opening paragraph, this is the Fall at their purest. Some soundman's fucked up, Mark E Smith leads the band off, puts a tape recording of him ranting over the PA, band walk back on and start again. Few bands would let this recording get out. Only one perhaps would release it as part of a live album.

5: Wesley Willis - My Mother Smokes Crack Rocks The title would be enough to tempt me at the jukebox but when you hear it's some fucked up homeless guy with even less musical talent than bedding, it's a guiltier pleasure than you anticipated. Like Daniel Johnston below, you think I shouldn't be enjoying this, this is like indie Susan Boyle. And then you think, indie Susan Boyle, yes I'll have a cup of that.

6: Daniel Johnston - Some Things Last A Long Time. In which the clearly troubled Mr Johnston sings yet another love song for the unrequited love of his life. And if this song had been at the end of Toy Story 3, there would have been public suicides.

7: Steve Bent - I'm Going To Spain. Like some kind of new genre, uneasy-listening, this kept Steve Bent going for weeks on New Faces back in the mid-70s. Covered by The Fall, this is a masterpiece of musical travelogue very much of the time. Y Viva Espana and Typically Tropical were the sound of the package holiday summer and Bent plummeted into obscurity after just one single. And it has to have been an influence on this legendary Reeves and Mortimer song from 1990....

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The Card - 1st draft

NOTE - This is the first draft of a short story. Comments welcome. Even ones about Tenby's nightlife and the album cover art of the Police.

The Card

In the weeks before the Last Crash the powers at Bank decided to launch a new product. Their cash points, though they had adapted to the various needs of the people in the previous decade, were still little more than holes in the wall filled with steel and paper. The banks were proud of these machines, with their shiny screens and fluorescent lettered buttons. The machines were their best employees, always on hand to dish out money for drinks and trinkets. Sometimes the machines dished out bad news, and sometimes they took a punch for their troubles, but usually they generously gave of themselves, neatly stacked bundles of faith for every denomination.

Things changed, the powers at Phone had produced little hand held phones and people became obsessed with them, wailing at night with terrifying dreams of separation from their little hand held children. The powers at Bank agreed to put an option on their cash machine screens to Add Phone Credit so people could chat and drink.

Then Internet came along. They made friends with Phone and Bank but the Cash Machine department never got invited to their glittering party. All the other departments at Bank knew it was only a matter of time before Cash Machine would be closed down. Physical money was disappearing. It was all in the ether now. And that would be for the better. No one could lose something that wasn’t there. No one could be mugged for the contents of a non-existent purse. On Fridays, the bars filled with people with tiny phones and money you couldn’t even see. The people who worked for Bank Machine would sigh and remember better times.

My father worked for Bank Machine. He installed the first notes in the first machine. The world’s press had been invited. People peered through the window as he switched the machine on in front of all the Bank employees. He was carried on the shoulders of cheering men and women as the array of lights and mechanised whirring began the revolution waiting to happen outside. It was half past five on a Friday night. My dad was lowered down to the street as he produced the first cash card from his wallet. The crowd went silent. Across the world people watched on their Televisions. People openly wept as he held up the ten pound note to the floodlights.

That was how things stayed for so long. People had their cards and took money out of the wall. It went from status symbol to everyday item in the blink of an eye. And once that had happened, the celebrity that my father enjoyed (and the acclaim that came with it for all who worked in Bank Machine) dwindled and died.

Until, the people at Bank Machine invented the Card. The Card would do everything. It was financial, telecom, entertainment and above all, it was doctor and sage. The Card would follow your transactions, your movements, make calculations arrived at from food receipts, altitude and speed of movement and give you your Life Score. People became obsessed with their Life Score. The queues at cash points once more reached the Biblical lengths of yore.

My father would tell me the Card was madness. He wondered when it would be that the madness would begin. The Card, he’d say to me as I came home late from school, will cause more wars than the Bible and the Bomb put together. I’d hear him downstairs at night, shouting at salesmen on the phone.


Although my father had warned against it, my mother had still bought me a Card for my 14th birthday.

“All his friends have one. You know how important it is to fit in at his age.”

It was slim silver. The 4th best on the First Card index. Everyone knew it was good.

My mum smiled as my dad begged me to be careful.

“I won’t lose it.” I said and my parents blinked back tears just like in the advert.


When you insert the Card for the first time the screen lines up a small beam of infra-red light that you must look at directly with your left eye. The screen clears and soon fills with all kinds of physical data about your body. It tells you your height and weight, your BMI, pulse and scans your brain for tumours. It tells you how much Money you have at that second and tells you where you could eat a good meal near to that Cash point. It books the table if you want. You already know that, though, don’t you.

I ate a burger and fries and twenty minutes later the Card told me to walk briskly home before the rain came.


The first incidents of Card Rage were dismissed by Cash Machines as myth and mischief-making by The Other Corporations. My dad was retired early by Bank for bringing it up at a board meeting. A man in Dusseldorf had left a print out of his Stress Levels on his desk in error and had been summarily dismissed from his job with Sport Clothing. He inserted his Card in a machine on the way home and was recommended a sushi restaurant for dinner. Raw fish, said the coroner, contains vital decoagulants for those with looming coronary issues. The man, a Herr Allofs, plunged a knife into the face of the waitress who brought him Drinks recommended by the Card.

Seventy four people, mainly Card users, died when the jet that took them to a new zoo in Utah plunged into a popular ski resort. Until the article was removed, an online journalist reported that the pilot had used his Card a mere ten minutes before takeoff and had received a horoscope he had badly interpreted. There were Card-related suicide cults in Uppsala, in Murmansk and Cleveland. A dentist in Cork removed all of his own teeth in despair when his Replacement Card was delayed.

Looking back now, we can all see that something truly bad would happen. My father said it would happen and we chose to ignore him. My mother left him for another woman after choosing Love Sage on the Card. They burnt to death when their car left the road near the Festival of Marksmanship at Sacramento. My father took the call in his study, I was sat upstairs framing my Statements; he put the phone down and sobbed loudly and pitifully. Eventually I went downstairs and took the news from him. My Card had just enough credits for chrysanthemums.


Ignacio Urfate Lopez was drunk the evening he was murdered for his kidneys. He was the owner and manager of a small bistro on the outskirts of Palo Alto. It was a dirty, dim lit place but popular with the local poor of whom Lopez proudly declared his membership. After each Saturday evening shift, he would clear the last of the customers, sweep as much of the floor as he could be bothered and pour himself a large wine glass of dark rum.

One of his staff, an elderly tall fellow of pale skin and yellowing eyes, a man named Suttree complained that he had not been paid that week and asked if Lopez would pay him from the till instead. Lopez apparently had cashed up and emailed Bank but said that if Suttree would wait ten minutes he would switch Credit from his Card to Suttree's via the Cardpoint on Utrillo Square.

What happened next depends on your point of view. Lopez was pretty drunk as he wandered over to the square with Suttree. It was gone midnight, not a soul to be found. Suttree claimed, and there was a lot of supporting evidence for a while on the Internet, that Lopez dropped his wallet and everything fell out. In the ensuing confusion and, no doubt in a rush to be rid of the whining Suttree, an adjective which to his credit the unfortunate Suttree did nothing to disprove or deny in court, Lopez inserted a Donor Card into the Card slot. Apparently he laughed when he realised his error and updated his record to say they could “take every fucking thing they wanted. Who cares, I’m dead?”

Suttree claims that Lopez then put the Card into the slot and switched 250 dollars to his account. The police claim there was a further row about monies owed and Suttree followed him back to his apartment and took his kidneys, eyes, heart and liver out with knives stolen from the diner.

People say they saw ambulances arrive twice.

I don’t know which people anymore. The Donor Card Company agreed to the Merger and everything appears to have gone back to normal.


Tonight the execution of Joseph Mark Suttree will take place on television. Firing squad as voted for by the people after the Justice Count. I myself voted against the Execution. I have a receipt for that Transaction framed upon my wall. I have a copy, as per the Regulations, filed away. But the important receipts I keep. In this, I am not alone. The disbelievers talk of the death of photo albums and letter writing; mock our electronic mementos and digital memories. Everyone has their favourite Receipts. I have my Marriage Bond, I have my Good Attendance Riband Receipt from the Bank, and I have a Loyal and Careful Driver Certificate from the Road Organisation. These are all framed and hang upon my study wall.

On the desk, the computer sits. I will switch the monitor off in a second. The execution is being streamed with a five-second delay, I won’t watch it. I have cut up my Card this evening and it is framed with the last receipt, a bottle of an excellent Chilean red which should improve my Heart Score.

To the left of the monitor, there are scissors. Underneath the scissors, there are tonight’s receipts which I will frame this evening. One for my updated Donor records, one for painkillers and another for chrysanthemums.