Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bug-a-Ghoul Nite

Hallowe’en is traditionally a great time for witches and spectres — a chance to let down hair and ectoplasm for a night-long festival of ghoulishness.

For the rest of us it’s a bloody irritation as gangs of spotty kids come a-knocking and a-tricking and a-treating while we’re trying to enjoy our supper or catch up on missed TV shows or generally persist in a kid-free zone.

It may be different in some parts of the world, but here in the UK you simply can’t get away with opening fire on the buggers with any kind of submachinegun, and pouring boiling oil from an upstairs window is a costly DIY disaster waiting to happen.

So what can you do?  To keep the howling, woooo-ing little brats from your door?

Here are some suggestions.

Hire Arnold Scwarzenegger

He’s expensive, but indisputably reliable.  Stick Arnie in your porch with a huge two-handed sword or cyborg zapper and any unwanted ghoulies will be too busy shitting their own pants to  scare you into shitting yours.  If he’s armed with any speeches from his California governor days, then so much the better.

Play a 70s Top Of The Pops LP at full blast

Guaranteed to turn anyone’s hair white with fear.

Pig-sit for a local farmer

Fill your driveway with stinking swine pumped full of max strength laxatives — then watch as  every skeleton and would-be Frankenstein’s monster is smothered in high velocity bum juice.

Dig a fifty foot pit and cover it with astroturf

Ha!  If you’re feeling fancy, you can tip the spikes at the base of the pit with toasted marshmallows.

Display an inflated hippo scrotum in your window

If a pumpkin says, “stop by here for treats”, an inflated hippo scrotum can only mean, “run for your lives, you little horrors, or I’ll do the same to your goddamn heads!”

If it helps, the pig thing worked for me last year.

Happy Bug-a-Ghoul Nite...

Friday, October 26, 2012

How To Get A Black Belt In Nanowrimo

   Nanowrimo is almost upon us once more — like an overenthusiastic grandma smothering a teenager with lipstick-splattered kisses as she presses a pillow to his face and cries from the second you were born I’ve dreamed of this moment, you offspring of the devil, you hell-child! — so I thought I’d take a minute to pass on my own Number 1 Writing Tip of Alle Tyme for those of you possessed by the urge to jot down 80,000 words over the course of November and proclaim yourself at the end of it all to be “The New Jilly Cooper” (perhaps) or “shagged to within a millilitre of my life-giving spunk” (most likely).

   Advice on the use of unnecessarily numerous adjectives and equally abundant adverbs, you’ll find elsewhere on the internet (not to mention on every page of every classic novel on your bookshelf) so I won’t dredge those waters of wisdom with my ladle.  Neither will I advise on story arcs or plot — such things are best left to Noah and estate agents, possibly even clued-up acrobats with a penchant for reciting fables.

   Character, dialogue, genre, semicolons — these things also I’ll leave to other experts whose sage advice bulges from every browser window summoned by googling WRITER.  You’ve visited the sites, you know what they all say, you’re aware of the ones who never shave their nasal hair,  yadda heck dang hell heck yadda yadda

   What I present for you today is my own personal secret.  It won’t guarantee you success (such things are impossible for most of us anyhow — unless we’ve slept with Daniel Craig or licked ice cream from his back) and it won’t mean that your characters, plot and prose will sing like a trio of reformed harpies, but it WILL prevent you from making the one fatal mistake guaranteed to piss off your readers (some of whom could be literary agents or President Obama).


   Then here it is, my sage nanowrimo advice.

   Never, EVER, EVER

introduce, mention or describe a character called Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive.

   To do so is FATAL, believe me.

   If you’re writing a detective story, he’ll kill it.  If you’re deep into romance or chick-lit territory, he’ll run your French kisses into the ground.  Even sci-fi/fantasy-cum-punk/garage/grunge buckles before the march of his entropic marauding.

    You want proof?

    Consider how his presence would have ruined every book you’ve ever read and enjoyed till your heart melted like a lump of chocolate...

    “I awoke in my own bed.  If it be that I had not dreamt, the Count must have carried me here.  I tried to satisfy myself on the subject, but could not arrive at any unquestionable result.  To be sure, there were certain small evidences, such as that my clothes were folded and laid by in a manner which was not my habit, and the Count’s manservant, Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive, danced and jigged at the foot of my bed, shrieking, ‘Woo, jugular boogie, babyyy!’”

    “I was eleven when Aunt Fiona died; I remember feeling both peeved and cheated that I was thought to young to go to the funeral.  So I telephoned the  Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive Hotline and said, ‘here, mate — can you come and fix my bloody family with your stunning weaponry array?  Maybe fire off a few lightning bolts?  Impale  some aunties and uncles on your spikes?’”

    “Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening till peace was restored: then, both began searching their father's pockets for the presents he had promised them.  ‘You won’t find anything in there,’ said Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive. ‘I’ve sucked everything into my uniquely grotesque gizzard, all ready to regurgitate into the faces of the rich and pompous.’”

    “In May 1945 the news spread around Jinzhou that Germany had surrendered and that the war in Europe was over.  Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman of The Fallow Cloud Hive, came amongst us like the weirdest kind of Santa we’d ever seen, squirting lemonade from his anal funnel and juggling fairy cakes into our mouths.” 

    “Throw physic to the dogs; I'll none of it.
Come, put mine armour on; give me my staff.
 Leon Perrigrew, Self-rupturing Coypu Shaman
of The Fallow Cloud Hive
doth his flabby stomach project
as the breasts of a comely witch
and I would flog him mercilessly
till his spleen, red raw, flyetheth from him.”

I rest my case.

Recognise the five excerpts of literature displayed here?  Note your answers in the comments trail and I’ll send you a personal (and possibly stunning) useless badge for you to display on your blog (or chest, c/o a suitably qualified tattooist).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Shagged Reclinotorium Blues

Looks like my Reclinotorium is shagged.

I had it built on to the back of my house in place of a conservatory for the sole purpose of practising my reclining.  The idea was for me to become so good at reclining that I could put myself forward for a few competitions, maybe building up to the Nationals.

I’ve always been great reclining at 30° and 45°, and with the help of my trainer I’ve managed to make considerable inroads into 60°.

Now it appears that the builder who erected my Reclinatorium laid the floor all wrong and it isn’t level.  When I think I’m reclining skillfully at 30°, actually it’s closer to 32° — a hopeless situation for competing professionally because

a) it throws my inner gyroscope all out of kilter


b) even though I could level my recliner seat with a few beer mats, this kind of adjustment is banned on the pro circuit.

Call me Mr Grrr!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How To Design A Shop Window Display

I love rummaging round charity shops.

Every Saturday morning I descend on my local high street’s umpteeniness of clutter-filled retailers dressed in old clothes purchased previously for less than it would take to groom an average cat.

In these moments I am Ernest Jackson, a retired factory worker with a gammy leg, on the hunt for a new set of dentures.  Thusly disguised, I rummage through the nick-nacks and ornaments, the bobbly crimplene trousers and the anoraks, rubbing shoulders with blue rinsed old ladies and  destitute souls from the underclass desperate for jigsaws to help feed their families.

I admit it’s a sort of a game, a theatrical exercise involving a method acting fullness of stubble, cheap deodorant and underwear even a strongman couldn’t bend.

“Morning Vera,” I’ll say to the woman in Spare The Mortally Duffed.  “How’s your husband’s allotment?” — then we’ll converse about everything from the price of sliced bread to her sister’s cousin’s daughter’s boyfriend’s dad’s ex-wife’s massively swollen haemorrhoids.

“Can you reach me down that porcelain dog?”  It’s another shop, another covert Ernest Jackson adventure.

“No,” I’ll reply.  “I’m a bit knocked about from my tablets this morning.”

And so it goes from the trio of mortal death related charity shops at the top of the street to The Badger Trust by the bus station.  I never cease to be amazed by the dedication of the staff and their zeal for sorting Betamax videos into almost alphabetical order.  Alchemists of tat, they can transform any random selection of chipped and tarnished ornaments into themed window displays without dropping a single biscuit crumb from their lips.

Here’s my favourite window display of the week — as arranged by Eunice Bates from OCD Alert! OCD Alert! OCD Alert! OCD Alert! OCD Alert! OCD Alert! OCD Alert!

Her positioning of these crap, crap pigs perfectly captures the dynamic of planets around a sun or sub-atomic particles close to a nucleus.  Each pig is placed just so, an individual statement of porcine grandeur, yet also part of a coherent and integrated collective.

As for the Kung Fu guys: fucking genius.