Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pre-Jubilee Prostratosphere

Today sees me playing host to a telephone engineer.

I’ve laid on cups of tea and the finest selection of biscuits known to mankind, all delivered on an antique wooden tray (complete with doily).

Of itself, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to practice my social skills — she’s only been here for fifteen minutes and we’ve already covered the economy, Jamie Oliver and imminent nuclear war with Iran — but if truth be told I’m using this encounter as a trial run for my forthcoming audience with the Queen.

As you may be aware, it’s Diamond Jubilee year, and from the middle of March, H.M. and her entourage will engage in a nationwide tour to shame even David Cameron’s pre-election shenanigans.  According to the itinerary at, she’s due to visit my home town, and though I’m neither an ardent royalist nor any kind of weird-hat-wearing celeb-fiend, I nonetheless harbour a desire to prostrate myself before rich old ladies with too many dogs.

But try telling a female BT engineer it’s “only a rehearsal”...

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Mole People

Wizened devotees of the blog may remember this post.

Since then, tragedy has ensued.  Dear old Jack took himself off on one of his many aimless meanders, never to return.  Shortly after his funeral, his long-suffering mother joined him in the afterlife.

They left behind a beautiful house on the corner of our street and, as is the case with quiet suburban neighbourhoods, everyone began to wonder who would move in.  A nice family duly appeared, but with them came a huge fence separating the house from its garden and a flurry of planning applications from the council.  A new house, it seemed, was to be built on the modest lawn where Jack went hunting for his many cats.

When we took a look at the plans along with our neighbours, it was clear that all of the adjacent houses would have their sunlight reduced to zero and the privacy of their gazebos forever blighted.  So we sent off the usual letters of complaint, rich with mentions of ‘carbuncle’ and ‘monstrosity’, in the hope of squashing any plans like Galactus making merry with a handful of universes.

Thanks to our NIMBYtronics, the plans were shelved — only to burst once more from the sod with the thrashing undeath of a zombie hydra.  To accommodate our many concerns, numerous windows have been removed, along with half the roof, lending to the structure an air of cheeseboard favourite (only with fewer Emmenthal dimples).  To paraphrase Loyd Grosman: who the fuck would want to live in a house like this?


The Mole People.

Though this tiny, tiny house has been robbed of half its features and will no longer overlook those of its neighbours, we, the residents of this street, who never wanted said carbuncle to be built in the first place, will most certainly overlook it.

Work has begun this morning on the site c/o a couple of blokes and a SHUT THE FUCK UP digger, but in the fullness of time, the Mole People will burst from a removal man and scamper fitfully inside with their worldly chattels.

And we will watch for them, these Mole People, shuffling about in the dark, hunching over as they scurry from the big end of the house to the weeny one, fearful of the most horrific beatings.

When that moment comes, the Eye of Whirl will bore through the walls into their souls, teasing secrets from their grubby lair of shadows.

Tune in later this summer for news of any sightings — and pray they bring with them no young, no stupidly named twat breed pets...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fiction Podcasts R Go

It’s been a while now since anything new and exciting happened on the blog, and while I’d planned today to trail a selection of photographs of my various beards down the ages, it’s probably best that I lead with an announcement about the availability of free Whirlio podcasts.

Either of the following links will lead you to my audio door where no burly bouncer will force you to undergo a strip search before you enter.
Note: this link is proving to be less reliable than Sylvester Stallone's ability to depict the all-action hero to aplomb in movies as his age approaches that of Uranus...

Also, from some time later this afternoon, you should be able to type ABYSSWINKSBACK into the audio podcast search window on iTunes and download directly to your hand-held device or biocyborg construct assistant.  Thanks to a feat of breath-taking hubris, I’m now listed under literature.

Check out the menu bar overhead for further additions to this great new feature.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Self Publishing And Mucus

Torrents of mucus have gifted me a morning to blog.

Whether this post now descends into an ocean of nasal slime is largely dependent on...the volume of nasal slime squirting from my nasal.  Hell, if I were an American, I might even add, “not to mention squirting from my ass”.

I’ve never known a mucusy episode like it.  Normally, the Desiccated Crystal Gnomes inhabiting the space above my philtrum make like crazy with their shovels the moment any excess liquid fills my tubes.  Maybe they’re on holiday this morning.  Or maybe their shovels have warped.  All I know is, when I woke up, my pillow looked like a battlefield in the wake of an almighty gastropod showdown between slugs and snails.  It doesn’t help that in the two hours since my alarm clock sounded I’ve decanted enough eau de nostril to fill a swimming pool — maybe even the kind of football pitch you often see quoted in discussions about how much space your lungs would fill if rolled out to a thickness of a single alveolus.  By lunchtime, I expect to resemble a slice of French toast afloat on Kevin Costner’s Waterworld.

Imminent bodily fluid loss aside, my main problem as I write is how to prevent myself from dripping all over the keyboard.  I’ve attached two lengths of hose pipe to my nose and dangled them out of the window, but in the absence of the necessary hose/nose affixing fluid (which, ironically, I noticed was reduced to £3.99 a tube in B&Q last weekend) I’m having to use rather too much duct tape, and though my keyboard has remained relatively droplet-free, I can barely see what I’m typing and breathing has become very difficult.  That next door’s cat has taken a shine to my hosepipe danglies doesn’t help matters.  I comfort myself that the knock-on effect of her wild talon swipes is far from proper whiplash.

Mucus announcements over, it’s time to consider the thorny matter of self-publishing.  Formerly known as “vanity publishing”, the foisting upon the world of self-produced books has traditionally been the preserve of well-meaning grandmothers recalling their childhood days during the Blitz or anyone with a totally unremarkable baby.  You would see these people at car boot sales and charity events hosted by churches, offloading reams of poorly bound waffle in exchange for hubris-boosting smiles.  Invariably the material was not good and, thanks to unscrupulous “publishers”, the overheads were reminiscent of the heavens during the last few episodes of Doctor Who season 1 when you couldn’t see a patch of blue in the sky for Dalek spacecraft.

The internet has changed all of that.

In principle, anyone with a computer can now upload the products of their genius to Amazon,  iTunes, Smashwords — and more.  Had my grandad still been alive (it’s a push, I know — he’d have been a hundred this November) he could finally have told the world the story of the day he knelt on a six-inch nail, and (time warp permitting) got my five year-old self to crayon the cover.  Does the world beyond my immediate family wish to read such a tome?  I think not.

If it’s true that 2012 is set to become “the year of the indie author” then it’s almost inevitable that come December it will have been “the year everyone got sick of indie authors” unless the free-for-all is channelled in a way which benefits the eventual reader.  The glut of potential output opportunities for writers (of whatever talent) doesn’t alter the fact that, as readers, we have limited amounts of input power.  Any visit to an EAT AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE pizzeria will confirm this.  I’m guessing most of what gets written and uploaded this year will never be read — like an explosion of sperm in the literary uterus.  To continue the analogy, although more eggs will undoubtedly end up being fertilised, a considerable amount of garlic bread will be wasted.

My hope is that the explosion of self-published ebooks (let’s dispense with the sperm for the time being — allied to the mucus trailed earlier, it makes me look like some kind of Offensive Gloop Metaphor Fiend) will be accompanied by a network of informed sieve-wielders, ready to dispense reviews and generate Top Ten lists.  Likely, some of the sieve-wielders will be Trad Pub gatekeepers but it’s a sufficiently new enterprise for one and all to expect plenty of outside runners hogging the inside lane.  This kind of thing is happening already, of course, but not necessarily at a rate sufficient to keep pace with the current outpouring of ematerial.  It’s the only way a meaningful self-pubbing phenomenon can phenominalise its potential.  Interesting to see if it comes off —  with or without literary uterus.