Friday, October 31, 2008

WIPometer Barometer Ahoy

It’s now three months since I launched my WIPometer (and, coincidentally, took up biting my fingernails down to the scapula (and my scapula down to C7)).

Here’s what I said at the time.

I have roughly 60,000 words of hard draft, much of which is more or less finished and some of which is actually entertaining. My problem now (in addition to writing the final 30,000 words, figuring out the ending and draining the purple goo from the florid simile swamps on which the plot floats like a series of disjointed tectonic plates) is that I’m a hopeless reviser.

Turns out I was right. Check it out. In the margin.

(And isn’t this the interesting thing about the written word? That it’s impossible for the reader to discern how long the writer has spent banging his/her head against the table in between lines and paragraphs? Three, before the parenthesis, as it happens — plus six loud ‘elephant being stuffed with another, slightly bigger, elephant’ type groans and the merciless destruction of a blueberry muffin.)

So, I still have roughly 60,000 words out of 80,000 (though they are, now, finished) and have proved to myself beyond any reasonable doubt that my revising skills are on a par with Mike Tyson’s ability to dress up as a woman and go looking for ladyboys with a megaphone on the outskirts of Disneyland. In a PVC tutu.

However, before I fling myself from a human pyramid of misery (no cliffs for miles, and I can’t climb trees), it’s not all bad news. Only yesterday morning, as I was opening a tin of cat food, I had the mini-brainwave that would unlock the remaining seven chapters. So, although I’m going to end up two weeks to a month out (like Dubya’s comic timing, I suppose), I figure this is no bad place to be as the year draws to a close. Weird, but writing a novel is the least like completing a jigsaw of all the tedious mind-bending pursuits in which I’ve ever engaged: the closer you get to putting the final pieces together, the harder it gets.

What’s been very useful is having friendly whips cracked... No, let’s try that again. What’s been useful is having words of encouragement sing from the comments trail with the regularity of that drippy water torture thing they do in concentration camps and certain discount furniture superstores. I can’t count the number of days this has made the difference between folding up my notebook and ploughing on with another 500 words, so thanks to everyone who’s chipped in with a cheery get on with it, you tosser. Especial thanks go to the Peevenham Ladies’ Nit-Picking Circle. You know who you are.

No fireworks bursting from the WIPometer yet, then. It flickers on with the dazed half-life of an elderly grandparent nailed to the ceiling. So be it.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Protrudio Says — Hey! 3

As you may recall, Abysswinksback-goers were invited to partake in the following writing exercise:

“All or part of you has turned to chocolate — just seconds before meeting your hot, hot new date...”

I can confirm that the results are now in, and in the time it takes you to scroll down and read the entries, Protrudio will have picked a lucky winner for the extra special Abysswinksback crap crap crap crap crap prize.

So here they are, lovingly recreated in the order they were received...

Sings Off Key In The Shower Writes

My duodenum is chocolate
or very nearly so
no matter how I purge it,
a melting it will go
so possibly I'm thinking
an ice cream it should chill
but Nancy (she's my doctor)
says my mind's just taken ill!
So off to hospitally
I'm dragged in my new frock
(the one you know with big old bows
that tie around the back!)

Mom In Scrubs Writes

(this can’t be happening…)

“Bing-Bong!!” the doorbell insists. I pull my fingers from my lips. Smell.


Lick my fingertips. Chocolate!

My lips. Are. Chocolate.

I can’t meet him like this!!


Inhale. Shoulders back. Open door.

He is studying his hand. It’s behind his back in an instant.


His breath! Redolent with…

Peanut Butter.

(this has potential…)

Writtenwyrdd Writes

What needs to be written is a short treatise on the reasons for chocophobia. Mine, specifically, yours secondarily. I mean, come on, you think you’ve got it bad? I’m the one whose forefinger is permanently chocolate coated! I’m the one who can’t grab a cup of coffee without leaving suspicious stains all over the mug, or who is forced to write left-handed so that the pressure won’t snap something—

Well, yes, it started as a warty looking blemish. And within the course of a week or two it was like a big strawberry birthmark.

Yes! I did see the physician! I’m not totally stupid! Sorry, you know it ‘s just that this whole thing is getting to me. Okay. The doctor thought I was having him on, because it rubbed right off, and the stuff smelled like chocolate. Yeah, the really good Belgian stuff. But the doc sent me home with a flea in my ear, told me to quit wasting his time, and the insurance company made me pay the tab, too.

But it came back, and now it won’t go away. The doc finally believes me, too, because now the stuff is all the way through the skin like a melanoma, and subverting the skin, too.

I’m in the weird medical case books. That’s something, isn’t it?

No! They aren’t taking the finger. The odds are it’s too late, anyhow.

How do I know? I started peeing chocolate last week.

Kiersten writes

I stared despondently into the mirror. Another hot date and I just didn’t care. How could I love anyone else if I didn’t love myself?

Please, I prayed, make me something I can love. Suddenly an irresistible scent wafted upward. I looked down. Chocolate hands—chocolate legs—chocolate everything. I smiled. I was perfect, and in love. With myself.

JaneyV writes

I sat at my dressing table, the lacy cuff of my negligee falling over my perfectly manicured hand as I regarded my reflection thoughtfully. He would be here soon, the mysterious stranger in black and there was definitely something peculiar about my face. In place of my two eyes, perfect straight nose and large mouth with full pouting lips were two hazelnut whirls, a noisette crunch and a strawberry kiss. Hold on! There were now two orange truffles where my ears used to be. If only I had the requisite facial parts I would have been staring in abject horror.

A cool breeze stirred me from my chair. The French windows of my boudoir had inexplicably opened and my pointless voile drapes were getting soaked by the storm that had for no reason started to howl outside. Encased in floaty chiffon I ran to the doors and dramatically battled with the wind to shut them again. My heart pounded in my chest (at least I think it was my heart – it may have been an eastern delight) as I returned to my mirror, chocolate tears streaming down what was once my face. Then I saw it - laying exactly where it hadn’t been before I went to sort the bloody doors out – a small card with the silhouette of my handsome stranger printed boldly on its upper side. I turned it over. My heart (or possibly the Turkish delight) stopped. Written in cursive script was…

...And all because the lady wants to be Milk Tray

What a stupid git!

Protrudio Responds

Riotous nibbly quillcraft! So pleased am I with these offerings, my slurping glands have been drained of all enzymes. While I cogitate on the impossible conundrum before me — the conundrum of choosing my favourite (for the much-heralded crap crap crap crap crap prize) — let us proceed without delay in our steam-powered custard tart pastry housings to...a honker of a recipe.


For this unashamed stomach thriller, you will need

4oz breadcrumbs
1 egg*
2oz grated suet
Your fave combination of chopped fresh parsley, rosemary and thyme
Some milk.
A trained Cocker Spaniel

*Regular — not ostrich, wren or velociraptor.

First thing you need to do is find yourself a bowl — and remember, folks, the Protrudio Signature Bowl Finder is available at selected stores right now. It’s compact, it’s handy, and it’s so, so useful. On my recent daring excursion to the underworld lair of the Marzipan Pansy, I had one of these clipped to my belt and on no less than two separate occasions, it successfully pointed me in the direction of husks of giant crab shell under which I was able to hide during the countless life-and-death sub-custard pursuits I found myself embroiled in. Third time, of course, it found me a bowl.

So — get that ole bowl and flick in those breadcrumbs with your thumbs like you were firing marbles at a trussed octopus. It’ll improve the final flavour and make you look hot, hot, hot — not to mention pseudo-acrobatic. Do the same with the grated suet, then shower on a little salt and pepper and mix heartily.

When it comes to herbs, in my opinion, you’re always going to be treading a very fine line between No Flavour Whatsoever and Potential Poisoning, so as you chop the parsley, rosemary and thyme, you’ve got to pay heed to all that Baby Bear Stuff in Goldilocks. One sliver of parsley too little, and you’ll overmom the whole shebang. One sprigette of thyme too much and you’ll spend the next week grunting like you’ve enjoyed a liquid testosterone enema at the hands of a ferocious grizzly. My recommendation? Play middling/moderate and go with LOADS of parsley and be SPARING with the rosemary. Then mix heartily till your booty quivers (or, if you have no booty, your brain is shaken down beneath your skin to roughly hip height).

If you’ve never strummed a banjo while breaking an egg, now’s the time to start. One day, you may find yourself falling from a great height after being scooped from an ocean of whipped cream by a giant pteradactyl — a giant pteradactyl from which you’ve subsequently escaped by virtue of guile, cunning and offensive weaponry — and, believe me, this is the trick with precisely the allure for amazing and beguiling nearby birds as you freefall past them. Nine times out of ten, upon hearing of your spectacular banjo/egg acumen, any eagles, hawks or albatrosses will swoop down and rescue you, keen to behold your outrageous feat of dexterity. So — tune up, and crack the egg into your bowl of goodies, and as you stir in repeated swirls, mix in some milk a sloshful at a time. The more of a mess you make as you sloosh it in from a great height (or even the other side of the kitchen), the more of an accomplished culinary wizard you really are. What you’re aiming at (apart from the GLORY) is a semi-liquid dop of a grey/green hue. Adding some milk will allow you to experiment. My preference is for a somewhat sloppy mixture, baked fresh in its bowl, which I spoon onto my plate next to my choice of fowl after everything is cooked, but you might wish to go for a more solid mixture which you can pump up that cockerel’s ass with your Protrudio Signature Hydraulic Stuffing Pumper. If you go for the first option, 30-40 minutes at 220 degrees C ought to swell your bowlful of yummification big enough to feed four. With the second option, set the temperature and cooking time according to your choice of deceased winged beastie.

The Cocker Spaniel? Merely a frippery. Ride it, strum the banjo with it or throw it in the mix: you’re the impressario.

And now I’m suitably expunged of all culinary wherewithal, in spite of all the entries being so so good, I declare Mom In Scrubs the winner of this modest distraction — though I feel I must immediately counsel against any and all celebration lest she forget that, in being singled out thusly, she is soon to be the recipient of a crap crap crap crap crap prize.

Time for me to slip away now and arm myself with an array of Bakewell tarts for the arduous sojourn ahead. So long...

Thanks, Prote. All that now remains is for me to invite said Mom to email me at from whence the disappointment may unfold...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Memophilia 3

Tagged, as if by a gossamer lasso slipped round a stray eyebrow and tugged deftly upwards, I bow to Writtenwyrdd for reeling me in on this one.

Page 56. 2-5 lines of whatever you’re reading right now. Fortunately, I’ve just finished How To Dress Like A Woman Yet Feel Like A Real Man, and started The Complete Bat by James Robertson.

So, here goes...

This allows me to make a small digression. It concerns a friend who was not unnaturally taken aback by one of the recipes in a perfectly ordinary cook book he had acquired. The book, which was dedicated to ‘the natural way of eating for good health’, contained a recipe for fruit bat soup ‘on an off-chance that a reader may find himself in Micronesia’.

Protocol and generosity now decree I hoist this meme otherblogward, so I summon Robin S, Blogless Troll and Sarah Laurenson to wrestle with the lure of memophilia...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Protrudio Says Go Write! 3

In the spirit of internet blogging and cyber-hugging, Abysswinksback is pleased to announce its very third writing exercise.

“Part (or all) of you has turned to chocolate — just seconds before meeting your hot, hot new date...”

300 words or less (or exactly 59), by 11.55GMT Sunday 19th October.

Entries will appear at the beginning of the following week in the order they are received and, as ever, Protrudio will take a short break from his custard-guzzling exploits to reward any and all participants for their efforts.

In addition, this time round, I’m happy to announce that there will be an additional mystery prize for our favourite entry — so, mysterious, in fact, that neither of us have thought of it yet. Correction — a mystery and probably quite crap prize...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Memophilia 2

I made my mind up after my last life-and-death skirmish with the powers of Memophilia that I would never again succumb to revealing factually incorrect information about my idiosyncrasies on the basis of someone else’s whimsy — but then I got tagged by the delightful JaneyV and came over all enthusiastic, like a shamelessly unreconstituted Elvis impersonator whooping out the chorus of Heartbreak Hotel half a millimillisecond after beholding an image of his beloved pelvic thruster bobbing past on a puffy cloud.

Truly, I’m doomed.

1. What do you do before bedtime?

Watch TV, check on my favourite blogs and fix any damage to the fire-resistant carapace of my Whirlochre costume.

2. What is your favourite sound?

Anything capable of drowning out Whitney Houston.

3. What were your childhood fears?

Slugs. I used to be so afraid of the dark, I’d hide myself right down the bottom of bed. When I woke up in the middle of the night, half-suffocated and drenched in sweat, I frequently misinterpreted the yucky, hot stickiness as an Attack Of The Killer Slugs.

4. What place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back?

Chirpingford Liposuction Clinic — they have an enormous water flume in the gardens, only instead of pumping water along the vast convolutions of day-glo plastic, they ladle out the vacuumed cellulite.

5. What has made you unhappy these days?

My teeth keep falling out whenever I floss.

6. What websites do you visit daily?

I try to get to most of the sites featured in my Nexus Deperplexus sidebar, along with and

7. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

The greatest miniature ukelele player the world has ever seen.

8. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?

Jive Talking has been lodged in there like a piece of discovatin’ shrapnel since it was first released in 1975.

9. What’s your favourite item of clothing?

Besides my stripy socks? That would have to be a filthy old overcoat I wore to the pub in my teens while pretending to be Ian Anderson from the cover of Aqualung.

10. What is your dream for the future?

That there might just fucking be one.

OK, that’s me done — so now it’s over to Kiersten, Writtenwyrdd and Natalie (unless you’ve already been nabbed by the Blogosphere At Large and made merry with your trivia...)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Tender Heart Screams From The Ventricles: Excerpts From The Colin Frape Poetry Omnibus 2


did I course
and gambol
and leap
in the woods
by the B40 bypass,
with verdant whiskers
and a bobbety tail
to tell-
There I did meet
with Hopsy the Rabbit
by the ferns
under the tree
in the spinney
on the hill
in my best black wellington boots.
We sang
of bunnykins things
and hopped
over the logs
like flamingoes,
our pinky reddy hearts
pumping blood
round our imaginations
till my mum
broke the spell
by ringing a bell
(Not my neck, this time!!!)
and driving me home for
a big plate of fish and chips
which was my favourite.
But I soon found Hopsy there,
hidden between the peas
and occasionally a potato.
Other places too,
like the sitting room, the kitchen,
the stairs, the cupboard under the stairs,
the front bedroom, the back bedroom
and even in the bathroom.
You may think this strange,
but I
do not.
No no.
Friends I had,
whose friends were merely
bubbles blown in the bath,
perpetuated their childly ways
into manhood and womanhood,
so why
oh why
not I?
I thought to myself
as I grew into a young man, a middle-aged man
and now a man midway between 55 and 60
grown like an oak
on some humus of childhoodesque wisdom.
And when I come to collect my pension,
I won’t stand hunched in a line
with the whiskery old men with coughs
and ill-looking eyes,
probably with a heart or a chest complaint,
a lonely wretch
oh no
for Hopsy will be ever
by my trusty side
with her ears flopping in the wind
or the general air if we’re inside for any reason.
And when I’m finally
all hopped out,
I shall pass into the breeze
like a sky you’d fly a kite on/in.
I’ll be with you now
with you now
with you, Enid Blyton.


Colin has very kindly submitted a podcast of one of his pupils from the Fop-On-The-Wold Wednesday Night Creative Poetry Club, reading aloud from Enid Blyton’s “Brer Rabbit’s A Rascal.”

Further links of a more adult nature may be found here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Identity Theft

Is it really only 25 years ago to the day since I had all my skin flayed off by that gang of drunken youths joyriding in a combine harvester?

No, wait a minute — that was someone else.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

With Apologies To McKoala For Omitting The Vomit...

Picture the scene.

The space transporter, Lady Armadillo, hurtles through the gas clouds on the perimeter of the Legumaruma sector.

From behind every planet, star and sun, bow-tie shaped fighters of the Evil Imperium/Emporium/Sanitorium, come screaming, vapourising every inch of the interstellar vacuumscape with laser beams to rival Metallica live in LA.

Up on the bridge, the ship’s computer (a trillion trillion megahertz monolith called Zany Bob) initiates emergency procedures, springing the vessel’s guardian from his velvet-lined snoozonutrient pod.

His name? Conan!

His game? Hot high-kicking ninja action!

His problem? He’s a potato.

Strapping genetic implants to his every beady eye and twirling his colossal bo stick round his head like a helicopter blade, Conan skips to the bridge with the finesse of Bruce Lee dancing the foxtrot. There, he finds a gaping hole in the hull next to the Captain’s toilet, its melting perimeter alive with swirls of radioactive spacey gunny stuff.

A transparent plastic punnet flies through the opening, spilling a quartet of two-for-the-price-of-one miniature plum tomatoes onto the Alien III leadlook lino.

Conan gasps. His ninja hood renders him immune to other potatoes — and certain varieties of leek — but not these scarlet spacetroopers, and behind them come more invaders: a salad onion and an avocado, both wielding photon cannons and looking decidedly worse the wear for having spent the last millennium holed up in a crisper.

Finally, a small bottle of Tabasco completes the Septet of Terror, and Conan knows this fight may be his last.

‘For the glory of the Empire!’ he screams, ‘or the umpire, if this is just some sort of game,’ and throws himself towards the evil vegetable horde with a ferocious triple salchow...