Sunday, May 27, 2012

A 1920s Railway Station

Close to where I live stands a 1920s railway station.  In the air around its quaintly utilitarian brickwork, the phantom steam of umpteen chuffers still billows and the ghosts of uniformed men with names like Earnest and Percival potter with their moustaches in proud boast between metal advertising placards for weird sounding soaps and household cleaning fluids.  To either side of the station sit ordinary houses, generous detached offerings whose variety of designs is at odds with the curious building in the centre of the street.  If I shut my eyes, I can hear the engines roar and tooty toot toot while a young Jenny Agutter races around in a bustle looking sad and lost.

This architectural anomaly isn’t a 1920s railway station, of course; it merely looks like one, standing right there in the middle of the street.  It’s so markedly different from the surrounding houses that, every time I pass on my travels (trying to avoid Mr Do Something, marvel at Mrs Waiting To Be 47, and greet Weird Dog Telepathy Guy with a hearty hey ho) I’m minded to stop and mutter to myself, “oh look — a 1920s railway station!”  Over the years, it’s become something of a game.

But here’s the curious thing.  Dead opposite lives a friend of Son of Whirl, acquired during the autumn term of 2009 when Big School thrust its pre-GCSE wherewithal into all of our lives.  When I walk this way now, I turn to look at his house, with its ordinary spacious driveway and unremarkable sloping roof.  The thought I have is, “oh look — there’s Friend of Son of Whirl’s house.”  For three years, as I reach the FOSOWH/1920s internexus of possibility, I’ve glanced left instead of right, seen one thing rather than another, thought blazers and wanky scooters rather than Earnests and bunches of roses for Ms Rumblebumbleton.*

* Yes, there was romance.  But I can’t go into that now.

I hadn’t realised
that I’d totally forgotten about my world of spectral steam and flustered Agutters until the other night, when the 1920s railway station suddenly reminded me of its presence in the wake of a now uncustomary glance to the right.  For three years, I have passed the ghostly metal placards, oblivious to their soapy temptations, all the time glancing to the left and failing to mutter, “oh look — a 1920s railway station!”  It’s as if the whole place had ceased to exist in that 'Dr Who sucked into a time vortex for a century' kind of a way.

In the great scheme of things, this is of less import than the whisker to general bodily hair ratio of Weird Dog Telepathy Guy’s dog.  Or is it?

What’s in your life — long forgotten, invisible and “gone” — that’s only a roll of the eyeballs away?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Broken Vacuum Cleaner & MacKillop

I have two eStories up for download over at my new Smashwords page.

The first is a freebie, the second will rush you 99c (less in the UK thanks to the miracle of dollar/quid conversion), but rest assured that downloading either great, great read will not earmark you for a visit by the Stomach Massaging Angels of Rhummbruddarrah.  You don’t want those guys turning up next to your naked abdomen in the middle of a full stress circuit of your local supermarket, I can tell you.

Here are the details of what’s on offer.

Broken Vacuum Cleaner & MacKillop Series 2 Episode IV: Yuckahula

The universe’s greatest ever investigative duo uncovers a plot to destabilise the Cosmos in a run-down London convenience store.  As booze-crazed alien slugs unleash unspeakable horror and terror, only a combination of MacKillop’s able brain and Broken Vacuum Cleaner’s array of cleaning attachments can hope to save the day.

Download here.

MacKillop and his vacuum cleaner sidekick return for another encounter with danger, this time aboard a battle cruiser heading for nuclear meltdown.  Entombed in an icy hellhole crawling with reptilian space marines, their salvation depends on persuading a megalomaniac overlord to abandon his favourite hobby.

Download here.

Both stories are available in a variety of formats, from pdf to epub to mobi (though as yet, thanks to industrial action by the genius simian community, there’s nothing in braille for your portable chimp savant to chant aloud).

If, after downloading and upreading, you like either of these, do feel free to blog, tweet and holler to your heart’s content.  Rave reviews are welcome, but please bear in mind that if The Rolling Stones should fly their tour jet into a mountain, your diminished capability for hysteria may single you out for suspicion during the inevitable post-Mick wailing and moaning.

Below, I’ve included a recorded version of the opening paragraphs.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mrs Waiting To Be 47

I’ve known of Mrs Waiting To Be 47 for quite a few years now.  Every minute, every second, every waking moment of that time, she’s been waiting to be 47 like there was no tomorrow.  It’s her life, her raison d’être, her petit poisson avec beaucoup du soleil.

When she was younger, Mrs Waiting To Be 47 looked so much older than everyone else, like a middle-aged hospital matron spun at speed in a time-twisting wizard’s twister (then covered in a thin veneer of shaved bushbaby pelt for that touch of extra softness to her skin).  She behaved like she was much older, too.  But not in the bossy, domineering way favoured by the kind of girls who later expect to be paid for such talents after denying men sex.  Rather, Mrs Waiting To Be 47 exuded a knowing authority, complete with the curled lips of I told you so and the mocking eyebrows of next time maybe you’ll listen to me; I’m a grown up.

As I passed Mrs Waiting To Be 47 yesterday afternoon, it occurred to me that, in all probability,  she must be 47 (or maybe even slightly older) by now.  She’s reached her peak, her prime, her goal, her dream, her escargot chaud sûr le chien acrobatique.  What now for the girl who probably popped out of the womb wearing sensible shoes?  Will she adjust her world view and assume the mantle of Mrs Waiting To Be 59?  Or wither away like a balloon pinned up on an office party wall, a tired sack of bagginess wrinkling to nothing in a forgotten corner?

Whatever path she chooses (or is chosen for her by a cruel god), she’ll always be Mrs Waiting  To Be 47 in my heart.  Clad forever in brown, and artexed with more tan slap than a posse of gay cowboys, she is my touchstone of dry sensibility in a world spinning out of control — the Rule Follower Sublime, the Slayer of all Hysterical Flap, the Archmaiden of Tut Tut.

Mrs Waiting To Be 47, I hail you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Throbbaliciousness Vexamundo

I'd planned to blog about something life-changing and important on the eve of the bank holiday but all the computers were poached.  Plus, I accidentally ate an old tin of Geoff's cat food.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Attack Of The Five Hundred Millimetre Alarm Clock

Alarm Clock

    Wake up.


    I can’t. I’m asleep.

Alarm Clock

    Ha! Got you!


    You have not “got” me — you have merely “functioned”.

Alarm Clock

    In the world of alarm clocks, functioning = got.


    What about all the idle “functioning” you do when I’m asleep? Sometimes I’m out for eight hours at a stretch. Where’s all your “functioning” then?

Alarm Clock

    I’m waiting to pounce.


    Waiting isn’t “getting”.

Alarm Clock

    Worked though, didn’t it?


    Well, yes, but—

Alarm Clock

    So, now I have you in my clutches, helpless as you drift in the void between slumber and waking reality, it’s time to tease you with something guaranteed to keep you going right through the day like one of these sensitive toothpastes that protects and protects and protects like a Duracell battery.


    What? What are you going to play?

Alarm Clock

    Eat hot 80s twang-twaddle, you snoozing oaf...