dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

dark am i, yet lovely, a lily among thorns, majestic as stars in procession

Friday, 26 February 2010


Here are some examples of the more memorable nicknames me and my friends have used to refer to people between ourselves, mostly in the gym or the workplace. The fun thing is when a ridiculous nickname would get used in the middle of a serious sentence because sometimes the nickname can be more or less a sentence in itself. The last dude on the list had a nickname which was basically poetic verse! The first one is a classic too. For example: “Aw shit! I’ve just bumped who the f**k is he’s car!”

Nickname: Who the f**k is he
Reason: We didn’t know what his job was
Actual name: Paul

Nickname: The biggest bacon buttie ever
Reason: We saw him eating it
Actual name: Dunno

Nickname: Poo Poo
Reason: After the tennis player Mark Philippousis
Actual name: Phillip

Nickname: Blancmange/The black mange
Reason: Dunno
Actual name: Matty

Nickname: Bones/Skeletor
Reason: He was really thin
Actual name: Dunno

Nickname: Fruit loop
Reason: He was nuts
Actual name: Alex

Nickname: Tan Man
Reason: Sun beds
Actual name: Dunno

Nickname: He’s Massive/Tom Cruise
Reason: He was massive/Looked like Tom Cruise
Actual name: Dunno

Nickname: Flick Over
Reason: He had a comb over hairdo
Actual name: Dunno

Nickname: Smirker
Reason: He always seemed to have a funny look on his face
Actual name: Brian

Nickname: The Daywalker
Reason: All he ever did in the gym is treadmill
Actual name: Dunno

Nickname: Superman
Reason: Very Clark Kent-ish
Actual name: Dunno

Nickname: Knows what he wants, gets what he likes/Likes what he has, loves what he’s got/Has what he’s bought, can afford what he likes/Has what he’s got, loves what he’s gonna get/The best of everything Reason: He had a pool table in his huge house Actual name: Tony

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Celebrity Masterchef

"Yak Off with Gregg Wallace and John Torode"
from Newsjack in BOOK 12.

GREGG WALLACE: Let’s have a conversation about Rolf Harris’s cooking.

JOHN TORODE: Yeah. The Beans.

GREGG WALLACE: They were gluggy, they were gloopy, they were gloppy…

JOHN TORODE: With a beans dish, one has to use Heinz.

GREGG WALLACE: Ab-so-lutely. Yet we have a guy here who starts off with economy beans, mashes them to a pulp with a fork, zaps them in the mike until they bubble like crazy, adds a heap of chilli powder, then pours it out all over the toast like pigswill.

JOHN TORODE: His toast was terrible.

GREGG WALLACE: His toast was unbearable. It was soft, it was soppy, it was soggy…

JOHN TORODE: I’ve never seen someone use so much margarine to butter a couple of pieces of bread.

GREGG WALLACE: He asked me for another tub! I thought he’d lost the first one! Unbelievable.

JOHN TORODE: Okay. What about Titchmarsh’s treacle cake.

GREGG WALLACE: It was gummy, it was gluey, it was gooey… I thought my teeth weren’t going to make it through my one and only bite. I could literally feel them melting on the spot.

JOHN TORODE: He used too much cane sugar, he used too much caster sugar, he used too much beet sugar. The man knows nothing about sugar.

GREGG WALLACE: I was practically reaching for my phone to book the dentist.

JOHN TORODE: My skin broke out in spots just looking at it.

GREGG WALLACE: If he seriously thinks that anybody could possibly ever sit through that dish and still have a single tooth left in their head, then he needs some professional help.


The Apprentice

"Yes Chef Sir Alan" from Newsjack in BOOK 12

GORDON RAMSEY: Welcome to Kitchen Nightmares everybody, I’m Gordon Ramsey, and with me I have the man everyone loves to hate, star of The Apprentice, Alan Sugar.

SIR ALAN SUGAR: Excuse me, but it’s Sir Alan to you.

GORDAN RAMSEY: Oh my God, this is a nightmare already. Pardon?

SIR ALAN SUGAR: My name. There’s a sir before it.

GORDAN RAMSEY: Come on, for *BLEEP* sake, what’s so uncomfortable about Al?

SIR ALAN SUGAR: I think the idea of you calling me Al is a complete bloody shambles. No. It’s Sir Alan, thank you very much.

GORDON RAMSEY: I thought it was just the wannabes on your show you made call you that.

SIR ALAN SUGAR: No, it applies to everybody, especially lightweights like you. Do you think I got to where I am today by letting people call me Al? Listen, I run a successful business because I’m minted, and I didn’t get minted by granting morons like you liberty to call me whatever the bloody hell they bloody well want. Got it?

GORDAN RAMSEY: Well, let’s get another thing straight, you old bearded pig: Whenever you address me, you address me as chef. Yes?

SIR ALAN SUGAR: You what? All that Yes Chef nonsense? From what I understand, Chef isn’t a title worth squat. I’m about as impressed by the title chef as I am about those bleedin’ Michelin stars you’re always banging on about.

GORDAN RAMSEY: This isn’t a job, it’s a passion, and my restaurants are the best in the world. Yes?

SIR ALAN SUGAR: You’re bound to tell me that, aren’t you, but I have it on good ground that your restaurants are a bloody disaster. People aren’t stupid, they know a kiddy-sized portion of your pan-fried bollocks shouldn’t cost twenny bleedin’ quid.

GORDAN RAMSEY: You amount to nothing as a man, do you know that? Take away the Amstrads and the Rolls Royce and what are we left with, eh? A tall Bill Oddie. You’re not powerful, you’re pathetic.

NOEL EDMONDS: Okay. What we have here are two titans of reality television, locked at the horns in a tense dual. But who will be the first to break? How long will Gordon hold out from addressing Sir Alan as the rest of the nation do? If and when will Sir Alan agree to answer Gordon with Yes Chef? Tune in next week to find out!

50% Rude Latest




4 are finished, 3 have yet to be started, and 5 are well underway. You are only as good as your last production. This one is going to be the shortest of all, hardly long enough to be called a book, really, but maybe it will be put to use as part of something longer. Forget chunky novels though; they are like three-hour films.

Why am I writing rude? The answer is simple: It’s just the stage where I’m at. It’s called 50% Rude because I’m 50% Rude. It’s all about contrast and context: The sweet and the sour. In previous plots, this concept has been intermingled, but now it’s divided equally into two halves. I’ve emerged from the foggy confusion of my distortion phase (THE VIOLENT ARSONIST), with all its seductive shades of grey, and am now back to painting the world either black or white.

I’ve been accused of selling out, by wearing the rude label. I see it more as buying in. But my general rule of thumb is of course no blood, goats or kids. I prefer friskiness. Naughtiness. Like in the old black and white movies, the suggestion of sex is so much sexier than the sex itself. With most modern movies now the fake sex scenes equal cringe-time big-time, apart from the odd super-realistic few which work almost too well! The movies Red Road and Fishtank by British director Andrea Arnold come to mind. Also, and this may be unrelated, but I can’t help but chuckle at the prospect of an unsuspecting teen couple on their first date together going to watch the extreme Last House On The Left at the cinema, thinking they are in for just another spooky movie!

So on one hand I’m submitting to and embracing the rude half of my inner being, or writing with my penis, if you like (wouldn't that make for a swell party trick), but on the other I’m leaving it out of the equation altogether. The idea was that the second half of these stories would be purer of the heart and soul, done this way. It’s kind of like a chemical distillation process. Stolen Escort should hopefully shine with the beauty of a person trying to write a love story not really old enough to know what true rude even means. In such company, it should shine brighter than it normally would in a similar-minded collection of non-rude stories. A whole book full of love and happiness is too goddamn much; the other night, during a soppy movie, I was secretly praying for a stalk n slash character to burst onto the screen and lob off Pierce Brosnan’s head with something out of a toolbox. But in the midst of dark loveless horror, the faintest touch of genuine romance can have just the same effect.

In association with Big Don

Friday, 12 February 2010

CLARENCE (my friend)

When my good buddy Clarence was a teenager, he developed a crush on his Maths teacher. He flunked every other G.C.S.E apart from Maths, in which he managed an A-grade, and four other subjects, in which he was satisfied with C-grades. He stayed on in Sixth Form just so he’d be able to remain in contact with her. That was his one singular reason for further education! A hard knock with a rep, nobody could believe big Clarence was now a college boy while most of us had the whole of the day to start drinking and smoking.

He had no clothes, though……and no more school uniform meant fashion heaped pressure on everyone. Clarence’s family, however (sigh along now……) were very poor. He came to class in baggy cast-offs donated by his older cousin with only a pouch of Golden Virginia in his back burner, and a box of Swan matches. He hardy bothered with the other A-Level subjects, never so much as popping his head into General Studies. It was all about Her lessons, where he was first in and last out (although he did sneak into the Art Department from time to time to nick charcoal pencils).

The pictures he drew were disturbing, to be frank. I’m at a loss as to how the other teachers refrained from pulling them down; by a miracle, just perhaps, She saw them and liked their boldness upon the magnolia common room walls? Just perhaps? The scenes always depicted two lone figures, male and female, the man holding onto the woman in the pathway of an advancing legion of spectres, ghouls, monsters and beasts. Nobody batted an eyelid when he was present, apart from me. I told him they were too two-dimensional, lacking depth. I told him they needed colour. Felt, or crayon......anything would do.

He was never out of the Computer Room, bashing away at the keys which made a jolly change from his typewriter, but it wasn’t theological essays he was typing (he completed those at home with a calligraphy set). It turned out he was writing a book. We used to browse Borders after school to check out the tag lines on the covers of Point Horror teenage books. They must have inspired him. They inspired me.

Anyhow, what I forgot to mention is the fact that Clarence was arriving at college every morning in a secure ambulance and leaving every afternoon the same way. He’d had an acute “psychotic reaction” to speed during the summer break and gotten himself detained in a madhouse. His bedroom, I recall, before his admission, was like a shrine to Her, his fav teacher, its altar a Polaroid of him and Her together on the last day of school, glued on his cabinet mirror. I seem to remember him oddly tippexing-out his face from all other photographs in his mum’s treasured biscuit tin of family memories (tut-tut-tut). There were endless short poems too, like poison pen letters from newspaper cut outs, sellotaped every which way but loose.

I was there when he went mad with the lump hammer and destroyed his house from top to bottom. He avoided jail, after his psychiatric assessment, but didn’t finish college and ended up hostel-hopping down south. A jabbering gollywog, as he calls himself (try as I might, that expression will never fail to hit a comic nerve).

This was thirteen or so years ago, and I’ve only seen him once since all that business. I received a letter from him last month after we connected on Twitter. He completed that book he was writing back in the Computer Room, start to finish, all handwritten, on a nutty ward with wildly-bearded cardigan-wearing maniacs, but he left behind the manuscript during his homeless ramblings, optioning to carry his portable television instead. Gone forever.

A decade on, he finds one single chapter sandwiched down the back of his National Record of Achievement, the only thing he’s managed to keep a hold of after all these years. The book was entitled CLOSER TOGETHER THAN EVER, and I will be helping co-rewrite the only chapter that remains (by his request) as a story called Stolen Escort in the upcoming 50% RUDE.

JENNY (my valentine)

I did some voluntary work over Christmas that involved reading some creative writing from people in secure mental health institutions, and I think I came across a gem. Not in the quality of the poem to follow, but because of who I suspect wrote it. I’ve actually been inside a secure unit myself, when visiting a friend, Clarence, back in college, and I’m 90% convinced that one girl in particular I met there, on a number of occasions, was the same girl whose entry I read for this years Koestler competition. Same Christian name, same hospital……I think it is her. There is no way of checking, but in my mind I will make it her anyway, for my own pleasure. Although I’m sure I don’t have to.

Although I was there to see Clarence when I found myself inside one of these institutions, it was actually Jenny who I was most interested in laying eyes upon. Clarence didn’t need me, he was having a great time playing darts with and taking the piss out of a pyjama-clad slobbering nutter from Ireland. Her room was just by the table where we sat. We weren't in a visiting room, oh no, but right there in the middle of the ward. Dangerous. Clarence wasn’t on the high-risk floor, but you still had to watch your back. The slobbering nutter, to me……(this might be difficult to explain, but here goes)……okay, the slobbering nutter looked like he felt he was armed, with those darts. That’s it. He looked like he felt like he was armed. Hence I didn’t play. I just sat watching Clarence act like he was still down the youth club.

The first room I would see whenever I came onto the ward would be ‘Jenny’s’ room. The door was always open. The window was always open. She was always fully-dressed in brown corduroy pants and a heavy red wool pullover. She always had a small porcelain angel on her table, and she was always sat on the edge of her bed, hands resting on her knees, staring out the window. She had short thin dark hair, kind of like a big fluffy flattop brushed forward, and thick-rimmed specs. She never moved, like a statue, peaceful.

Whenever I left I would see her turn at the last minute, as if she had made a note to say goodbye but saw me too late in the corner of her eye. I never had the courage to retreat a couple of footsteps and lean back to smile or say hi. Until the last time I was there, when I knew Clarence would be getting out, and I would not be coming back. Then I stuck my head in and said, “Bye, Jen.”

The look. That look on her face. The warmest expression I’ve ever seen. So welcoming and hopeful. So warm. Not a single haunt or shadow in it. From a block of concrete to animated light. She edged further along the bed as if expecting me to sit down next to her, which my stupid idiot self didn’t do. I’d always wondered why Jenny was in such a place, as she looked perfectly normal, but now I could see how her arms were horribly disfigured. There were tidy blocks of neat slash marks, as if she was counting the days of every month and ticking them off in her flesh.

She explained, apologetically, embarrassingly, “Days without masturbating.” Then it was time to go. A nurse was telling me to leave the room. So I did, saying bye again. Jen said goodbye back. And that was it.

Not much of a verbal exchange by any means, but there was so much of a connection deep within I still feel it to this very day, and often wonder if she still ever thinks of me. She was so pretty and gentle, so delicate and soft in nature. I could tell immediately, within seconds; it was in her aura. She would never harm a fly, or a soul, but inside I could not imagine the complexity of whatever turmoil felt it necessary for her own hand to guide blade over skin. And yet I wanted to know every detail. I wanted to fix her. The bad part was knowing for sure in my heart that I could fix that girl. The even worse part was believing that she would have actually liked me to fix her.

A Trip to the Shops by Jenny

I unpeel myself from bed and dress
Then realise I forgot to wash
I face the morning with empty guts
Treading warily as if lost

Taxis, wagons, planes and trains
Assault my senses in the light
Counting pennies in preparation
Groggy from my medication

I stand in the queue for things I need
And I cannot breathe
It is rush hour beyond the automatic doors
My will is melting through my pores

Chocolate and cola until I am sick
Then water and today’s fresh drugs
Radio and telly till midnight comes
Take me away if this is my home

Thursday, 11 February 2010

DB Tinkerbell

Album Title: The Aliens Are Coming

Composed on: Yamaha PSR-160, PSS-360, YRS-248

Is a musician only as amateur as his instruments. He has always said that if WOL could give him a studio then he would give WOL the world. He created his debut album on ancient second-hand keyboards. His tagline was, at the time, although not any more, ‘music without computers’. Despite the concept being good, and the most notable tracks very moody, the ultimate recording of the project was not even competent enough to be classed as amateurish. At times the CD can be tinny and hissy to the extent that one reviewer deemed it ‘horrendous’(although it was a close friend trying to get some kip at six in the morning after a very heavy night!)

There are more tunes to be released from that same album at a slower tempo, and a couple of additional new bonus tracks, but work will not begin on a new album until WOL can provide some more modern equipment. Then he hopes to compile his second album in the blink of an eye.

Personally, I still immensely enjoy ‘The Aliens Are Coming’ now and again, but sometimes I feel like it hurts my ears.

DB Tinkerbell profile:

AGE: 25
FROM: Liverpool
LIKES: Dancing
HATES: Legal highs
BOOK: Doesn’t read
MOVIE: Zeitgeist
FOOD: Chow Mein
DRINK: Cheeky Vimto
FOOTBALL: Torres (pre-haircut)
CELEBRITY: Worral-Thompson
HAIRCUT: Ponytail
BRAND: Lacoste
FITNESS: Shadow boxing
BEARD: Sideburns
BLING: Chain, bracelet

One of Those Days

TUE: 16/12/2008
Hokey-dokey, my bullshit white van won’t start, so I goes and deposits ten pounds at the nearest garage for a set of jump leads. Pack ya bags Peter the Travelodge manager kindly agrees to give me a jump with the hotel van, but we can’t find the bonnet-release switch for a damn good twenty minutes. Then we can’t even gain access to the battery once the damn thing finally opens, so he uses his wife Debbie’s car instead. I am away to sunny Widnes and relatively honky dory until I run out of diesel. Blast! I gets out and starts pushing. Another white van man helps me. Gotta stick together, haven’t we? Mercifully, there is a cul de sac closeby and a garage on the other side of the dual carriageway. I darts across and am forced to buy an overpriced petrol can. Wotta rip! I puts £2.50 diesel in, returns, and puts it in the van. Has the battery recharged yet? Well, even if it has, the van won’t start because I haven’t put enough diesel in, or so my dad explains on the dog n bone anyways.

So I pops over to the garage again, sprinting across in front of the lollipop lady and setting a terrible example to the kids (it’s home time). The vehicle still doesn’t start though so I opens the bonnet and attaches the jump leads before waiting against the side of the van hoping someone will stop and offer assistance without me even having to ask. I’m not about to go flagging cars down, no way, forget about it. The overall effect I achieve is the serial schoolgirl killer look, like I’m plotting to drag someone in. Anyhows, I am right opposite a library so I asks in there. A woman comes out in her car but for some reason my van won’t jump. Another woman comes out in her van and this time both our batteries explode when I attaches the leads. Woman 1 has really sexy thick lipstick on and Woman 2 is so blissfully na├»ve with her willingness to help out I can imagine her not even calling the police if some nasty yob burglar trashes her house, but rather clean up the mess with a dustpan and brush with a smile on her face saying, ‘Not too worry, we’re insured.’ I calls it off I do, and says I’d feel too guilty if I blows her van as well as mine. Even though Woman 2’s car starts again (only just), she is still willing to try again. My Dad would help but he’s stuck beside his own van while it gets a new windshield fitted (some nut with a vendetta written his car off and done his van in at the weekend, so I starts jogging back, and realises, when I eventually gets in, that I’ve gone and left the door key to my room in the van).

So I can’t even gets back in when I'm starving and tired. I need Debbie, Travelodge staff member, to open my door for me. But guess what? She can’t. Guess why? Because she is locked in the office. Listen to this......the door handle had fallen off. I put my mouth against the crack and told her I thought I was having a bad day! Imagine being held up for something important because a goddamned door handle falls off? A team of comedy writers couldn’t make that one up, could they? She had to be rescued from the window.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

DNMF Interviews


Here my cousin A.Michael, editor of the very small press DNMF that publishes exclusively to Widnes and Warrington central libraries, interviews six of his writers: Errol Babbage, Cam Lee, Doogie Howsar, Taz, Ed Drew, and Ste Ghost. All six writers featured in the KIXTER anthology.

ERROL BABBAGE on his story Hippy Ritual.

What is Hippy Ritual about?

Hippy Ritual is about a lurid stranger who has his wicked way, basically.

Is it rude?

Not at all. What he does is left completely to the imagination. It’s a situation piece, all in all. A character encounters a problem at the very beginning and that same problem carries all the way through until the end.

What gave you the idea?

Television, as a matter of fact. The tube is a haven for ideas.

Any show in particular?

The world’s wildest police videos, or something like that. The one with the white-haired sheriff who hates bad guys.

I know who you mean. Sheriff Jon Burnell.

You know his name? Wow, that’s hellishly random. I can’t believe you know his name.

He’s awesome.

He is awesome. I love the different terms he uses to describe people, like ‘desperate lunatic’ or ‘drug-crazed madman’.

Does he feature in the story in any way shape or form?

Unfortunately not, no, but he could have. I could rewrite him in quite easily. For the reprint of DNMF back issues, maybe?

Great idea. What are you working on at the minute?

Bit of poetry here and there, but playing the recorder is distracting me from it.

What’s a recorder?

A flute. I have a cheap plastic flute. When I get good I’ll upgrade to a horn made from bone.

Oh, okay. How’s the day job?

Still up to my eyeballs in human trash, basically. It’s no secret what I think of my job and the people I work with. But what can you do but stick it through?

I understand. Whatever pays the council tax and puts Kingsmill on the table though, hey?

Exactly. Times are tight.

Tell me about it. I’ve been strapped for publishing funds for most of last year. At least 30 people have heard of you, however, due to DNMF. You were the 1st story in the 1st issue.

It’s a start.

Have you anything else to contribute to future issues?

Of course. I think I could rustle something up.

Alrighty then. I look forward to it reading it. Cheers, Errol Babbage.

Thank you, Mr Michael.


CAM LEE on his story Fishcakes.

Is Fishcakes the eeriest story you’ve ever done?

I’d say so. I’m usually a kind of Mills & Boon writer, but there was no problem doing a creepy one.

You say it’s virtually all true. Is that true?

You bet. I did it in a couple of sittings. It was so natural, coming out, it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

The fact that it takes place in the morning, in the daylight, adds to the tension and suspense. Would you agree?

Yes. It doesn’t have to be dark for you to be scared.

Do you enjoy writing female characters?

Love them, yes. I always wanted to be a teenage girl, for some reason, when I was young. And before you ask, I never tried my sister’s clothes on.

Do you have a sister?

I have three sisters. You’ll see them if you come into the chip shop. That’s probably the reason why I felt like things would be better if I was a girl too, so I could play with them. But, also, there is nothing quite so vulnerable as a teenage girl.

Is business good?

We’re getting by. Being there for years now. You can find us directly opposite the Moorfield Arms pub, next to Booze Buster.

Do you serve teenage girls generous portions?

My sisters serve everyone generous portions.

Oh, I see, you just command ship now.

I chip-in now and again.

Plugs and puns, eh? Ha. Cheers, Cam.

Thank you. Hope to feature again.

Ready when you are.


DOOGIE HOWSAR on his story Emergency Servery.

I know a woman who said Emergency Servery made her feel sick. Was that your intention?

No, but that reaction sincerely pleases me.

It is a total gross out in a way though, wouldn’t you agree? Even the central character pukes up at one point.

I disagree. It’s all suggestive. There'll be people out there who enjoy all the foodstuff I mention in the story and aren’t grossed out at all. It’s not like part of the script from Slaughtered Vomit Dolls or anything.

I beg your pardon?

It’s a dodgy internet movie where people are pulling heads off, scooping them out, being sick in them, and drinking from them. Clips from nightmares, more or less.

I’ve never had a nightmare like that.

Me neither. My friend coined the phrase. I thought it was the best one-line review of a movie I’ve ever heard. Clips from nightmares.

Any truth in the rumours that EM was a play, originally?

None whatsoever. I have no idea how to write stage directions.

But there’s hardly any prose.

I think it’s fresh, that way. I learned from the professional writer Terry Edge that dialogue can carry a plot all by itself. Plus I was getting fed up of writing ‘he said’ and ‘she said’ all the time.

I like the way the story develops into a place completely different from where it started. Is Berky the most engaging character you’ve ever created?

Berky is a potential series, yes. He’s a DVD box-set waiting to happen.

Any plans to write out of 1st person soon?

It depends. 1st person is so much more involving for the reader.

What will you be having for dinner tonight?

Tea, you mean.

Tea then.

Probably some cereal. I eat a lot of cereal these days.

What kind of cereal?

That’s a tad personal, isn’t it? Asking a single man what kind of cereal he eats? You’ll be asking me what particular brand next.

No I won’t. Frosties, cheerios, coco pops……what?

Coco pops? How old do you think I am? Is that how you really picture me, Mr Michael? Sat on my own in my house at night eating coco pops?

(laughing) I don’t know what you eat. Tell me and I won’t have to guess.

You promise you won’t tell?

Cross my heart and hope to die.

Okay then (leans close and whispers). I’m eating Taz tonight.


TAZ on her story Moon Rabbit.

Hey Taz, how you doing?

Oh, you know, still smoking, drinking and getting high.

Is that a bad thing?

On a weekday morning it is. It’s a very bad thing.

You still dividing your time between Runcorn and Hough Green?

You know me. Always back and to.

What about your old lodger, Roy? You still see him?

I see him around, but we don’t really speak much.

Remember the time when he was playing the guitar and you were singing?

Oh yeah. You were recording it with your thingy.

I still have the tape.

Christ, no way. I can’t sing for toffee.

You’re good. And your dancing, well, wow……

I can’t believe I did that. Too much beer. You mentioned it in my introduction too!

You were fantastic. Seriously. But tell us about Moon Rabbit now. You said some of it was inspired by Pet Cemetery.

Absolutely. Some of it is a direct result of that book. I’ve seen a couple of cute animals get hurt and it’s horrible. I wanted to share that distress.

Is that how the sky at night seems to you, the way you described it in the story?

Depends on what I’ve been chonging, but yeah, it can sometimes. Makes me feel like an ant.

I have a lady friend who read the story and found a dying fox on her doorstep the next morning.

Holy baloney. Does she think I did it?

(laughing) Haha! That thought didn’t even cross my mind. Is that esspecially weird or what?

That is simply brilliant. That’s easily the best connection I could ever hope to have with a reader.

What genre would you class the story in?

I’ve no idea. It’s kind of mysterious, kind of uncanny, but it’s not horror, and it’s not a thriller. I don’t know.

That’s why it’s in DNMF.

Exactly. Of course.

Have you written anything else since?

I write emails every day, and I keep a journal, but apart from that, nothing.

We have to change that. Promise me you’ll send me something soon.

About what?

About anything that doesn’t involve banned taboos. Promise me.

I promise.

Cheers, Taz, thanks a lot. Did I mention that Doogie Howsar said he was eating you tonight?

No worries. I’ve got two knuckle sandwiches waiting for him right here.


ED DREW on his story Ripper.

(Interview conducted over telephone)

Hey Ed, how are you hanging?

Sound, yeah, are you alright?

I’m fine mate. What’s happening? When you getting out?

Don’t know. Either three months or six. Times flying though. Had a game of rugby last night.

Widnes top on?

Yeah, yeah, you should have seen it, some big hits. I was singing that chant, the one that goes meat pie, sausage roll, come on Wigan, give us a goal!

Is that a footy chant or a rugby chant?

I don’t know what the f**k it is. Wanky-wanky-wanky-wanky War-ring-ton!

Any seagull frenzies going on lately?

Yeah, I tore up three loafs outside some pricks window last night.

How’s that woman screw? The one who was there when I visited you?

Who, Kim? She’s still fit. She wore a skirt yesterday. The whole wing was mad for it.

Are you still working as a councillor?

No, I’m in the kitchens now. I put a bottle of caramel sauce in the chips last night (laughs). Last week I swapped all the pasties for apple pies. One lad complained that his steak pasty tasted like apple pie.

You producing any more stories?

Ripper 2. He escapes and goes to Creamfields dressed as Dracula.

Don’t spoil it, I’ll put it in.

When? Listen, are you sure my story was in Widnes library?

Damn right. It wasn’t a wind-up.

I’ll be out soon to check, anyway.

Hope so. Catch you then. We’ll go for a steam.

Where at, Kingsway, the Autoquest or JJB?

JJB is DW Sports now.

Anywhere’ll do. I know that trick how to make them hotter, don’t I?

Pouring cold water over the thermostat? You certainly do. I’ll see you soon. Send us Ripper 2 when it’s finished.

I will.


STE GHOST on his stories Foxy Gabe and Wolf Where?

What have you been up to, Ste?

Out in the garden mostly, throwing ninja stars into the tree.

Really? Are you into ninjas then?

Ninja assassins especially. I can practice with the nunchuckers for hours.

Have you got a suit?

I’m after one. At the moment I wear my old karate suits.

Have you got The Karate Kid movies?

I do, yeah, from years ago. I also have the old Shinobi video games.

I remember that. We used to play it in the arcade hall at school dinner times.

Those games are what got me into ninjas.

What got you into the supernatural?

Just darkness, I suppose. I love it when it starts to get dark. The body reacts chemically. I love it when the sky is purple at sunset, that very moody violet colour you see sometimes. I love to go camping by caves and rivers.

Why, in DNMF, did you opt for spills of the four-legged kind?

Round here, near the rubgy ground, when I was a kid, was a huge grey shaggy dog. It was taller than me at the time, one of those great mastiffs or something. I used to think about it for hours after I came in from playing, and then have nightmares about it. But it was friendly, really, so I had nothing to be afraid of.

Is Ghost your penname?

No. Ghost is my real name.

That’s a good name for writing supernatural fiction.

I know, you couldn’t make it up. I want to do my surname real justice and pen something really creepy soon. A haunting, or a possession. It’ll take no prisoners. Voodoo, the spirit world, the lot.

Make sure you send it to me.

Of course.

Any news on that story from your childhood which inspired you to start writing?

The Tailypo? Aw man. I‘d do anything to see that story again.

I’ve got news for you. It’s on Amazon. Clarion Books. By Joanna and Paul Galdone.

Result. You can order me that as payment, if you don’t mind.


Thursday, 4 February 2010


In my notes from a few years ago this has a title (World According to Me!) which suggests that I made it up, but looking back over it I can’t believe that I did. I can’t have. I didn't. Little bits, yeah, but some of it looks as though I may have been making notes from a textbook. The term "non-intentionally" sure sounds textbook to me!

I’d like to take a minute to consider the ‘automatic response’ that occurs when you see a flashlight or hear a siren, about the way the brain has no choice but to experience it, whereas a concrete block doesn’t. What is that automatic response all about? The sheer autonomy of it!

What about the ‘occasion of flight’ too? The point where a moving grounded object takes to the sky. What exactly changes in the physics world to allow that to happen? A blackboard full of mathematical equations, that’s what.

Is the world an idea in the mind of God? Is God an atom in another structure? Believe in what you have good reason to believe in. Reality develops between reconciling of contradictions: Synthesis.

Is the aesthetic skin of what we know a fragile cloak to something else? Does pleasure-seeking influence a loss of morals and failure of duty and obligation ethically? Does despair submit us to God, and in turn true freedom?

We control what we can of the world. Private property through labour makes people means to another person’s ends. Nothing can be proven, but sufficiently vague is certain enough for poetry.

Truth in thought: Morality in action. Value has no value in itself. Nature is valueless. We bestow currencies and determine worth. A tree is non-intentionally conscious.

Does the method of how we perceive our thoughts have any bearing on their content? Ideas are instruments for affecting the physical world. Is there a relationship between the physical world and the kinds of these ideas we have about it then?

The longing for love: The search for knowledge. Pity for mankind: the inhumanity of man. It’s a world of facts and rules, not objects.

Above image: Rene Descartes

Faithful Prayer

I believe in God but I think he doesn't like me very much! No seriously, I tell people I am not particularly religious, but hopefully not forever. I want some faith in my life. Faith is like an insurance policy. Faith is a manipulator. Ever since Russell Crowe prayed before he entered the coliseum in Gladiator I knew faith was the only difference between life and death. Imagine if he had just been sat there trembling like a leaf, waiting for the gates to open? It would have been a different story. Instead of being dragged out whimpering like a babby to his death, he strode out into the arena with his faith. I especially love the bit when he disobediently walks back to those huge gates after he is victorious, like he owns the damn thang and he just wants to go back to bed. And the bit when he throws his sword into the crowd at the emperor. But I won’t allow myself to get started on Crowe, jeez! Coz then it'll be Clooney and Geer......

A PRAYER, written on the summer solstice of 2007

Please God, let us learn your intentions
Allow us to discover what you want for us
Help us to accept the challenge of your plans
And succeed throughout the passage of time
When we fail we know you will still be there for us
But we will try again and again
To be good because we know it is right

The greatest barrier between us and you
Are the petty battles within ourselves
With knowledge of our problems
And awareness in peaceful moments like this
Guide us to a state of mind
Where we are free from our own follies
And able to consider others
As we dream of being considered ourselves

Let possessions not be our shackles
Our prison not society
We exist in such a vast place
And we are such small creatures
And the world is full of so many things
But we have the freedom to decide
What it is we like our eyes to see
Who it is we each can be
We will try
Again and again
Again and again and again and again

© Andrew Donegan 2007

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Short Story Index

Comprehensive list of the short stories, short-short stories, and flash fiction that either appears in KIXTER or BOOK 12. Numerous pieces were taken from the brief 3-issue run of Definitely Not Mainstream Fiction, edited by my cousin A.Michael, which featured a handful of stories from Widnes writers, and appeared in Widnes Library for several weeks early 2009, 45 copies or so in all. The DNMF series has since resumed not only an interest in distributing to Widnes library, but Warrington too, although it will be downsized considerably, focusing on single stories

THE PLACE by Sebastian Worboys (co-written)
RIPPER by Ed Drew
FOXY GABE by Ste Ghost
WOLF WHERE? by Ste Ghost
HIPPY RITUAL by Errol Babbage
SPELL PINOCCHIO by Doogie Howsar
CIRCLE HOST by A.Michael

Gus Kidney E-mail

This is an e-mail I received from Gus Kidney earlier today. We've gelled really well together. I've been lucky to land him. I can call him for a lift if I get stuck, we're that close. I nearly had to last night when the last train home was replaced by a bus. He's constantly looking for openings and opportunties for me. He's got my back. You can see he's got a sense of humour too. For christmas he sent me a wrapped packet of Mr. Brain's pork faggots! I can't wait to offer him a glass of olive oil when he next comes round here!

Hi Andy,

I did as you requested and facef**ked 10 of your old chums from school. Will do so again now that I have much more concise contact details. Not yet checked to see if any of them got back to me yet. Could you explain that I am having problems connecting to friend requests. My facef**k account is outgoing only at the present time. I am not ignorant and trying to remedy the problem. Will continue to contact others, but where do you want me to go from friends and family? Will any known associate do? (To impart some advice, don’t be electronically tagging people if you’re not prepared to stand on the street and gab with them in person, face-to-face. Leave that to the spam brigade. My personal filters are being overrun and it’s a nightmare.) I gather you know loads of townies from childhood so forward me a list would you, text message if poss.

Be careful not to incriminate anybody other than yourself! Remember, no names! Make them up, it shouldn’t be too hard. Then again, I think you get me on that one. I’m not totally convinced you’re telling the truth 100% of the time, but I imagine it’s your craft to take liberties, judging by the e-zines you’re in. Did anyone from WOL solicit your submissions for those? I wasn’t aware. I will look into flash fiction genre to pursue development of novel-length short short story anthology. I’ve never heard of such a proposal before. If the market is choked then why not make a market of your own?

Dean Koontz has got a new novel out called RELENTLESS. I heard he writes 9 hours a day, six days a week. Surely that can’t be beneficial for the circulation? Perhaps he has someone under his desk massaging his feet? He sells 17,000,000 new copies every single year, so he can afford it. Books coming out of his ears. Pulling titles out his arse. Got Clive Barker’s latest effort on my desk, Mister B. Gone. The gimmick is that the actual book itself is possessed by a demon. Majestically produced, but 1.5 line-spaced and slash marks ( ------- ) longer than I’ve ever seen. How do you do them slashes, by the way? Different authors have different ways of doing them, but I prefer yours. I know you can’t do them in blogger, but in hard copy I’ve seen them and they are just the right length with no gaps in. I am curious about that as I am upgrading from Notebook to Word for my sloppy memos. You owe me that one after I recommended the Palatino Linotype font for you.

Speak soon. Stay fit.

Old Man Wins Euromillions

Remember this story in the press early 2009? Imagine him telling his wife.

WIFE: Hello love, have you checked the numbers?


WIFE: And?

OLD MAN: We won.

WIFE: What, another tenner?

OLD MAN: We matched every number.

WIFE: Yeah right.

OLD MAN: I swear. I’ve checked them a dozen times.

WIFE: Check them another dozen times dear – with your glasses on.

Imagine him talking to pal in pub.

PAL: Bloody hell well done mate. Is that Boddingtons you’re supping? Why not champagne? It’s a little late in the day for success, isn’t it? What are you going to spend the dollar on?

OLD MAN: A flash car, probably.

PAL: Well I was hoping you could buy me one of them, to be brutally honest. What else? And don’t say a sexy coffin.

OLD MAN: I’ll pay someone to look after the allotment, suppose.

PAL: You’ve just won a slice of Royal Mint big enough to make all those fools at Royal Ascot wearing silly hats look like fruit and veg shop owners. You can do better than upgrading a carrot patch.

OLD MAN: They have a cash reward for best dressed lady at Royal Ascot, you know. Four figure prize. I’ve seen a hat of strawberries and cream with a decorative spoon in it, and I’ve seen one like a giant flake ice cream which took six weeks to make.

PAL: Four figures is peanuts to you now, isn’t it?

OLD MAN: Do you want a packet of peanuts?

PAL: Seriously, what you thinking of doing with all that kah-ching?

OLD MAN: Well, I was thinking of making an offer for Ronaldo’s right leg.

PAL: That supercar he crashed in the tunnel was worth two hundred grand. You could buy one of those beauties one hundred and twenty five times over.

OLD MAN: I could? Wow. How many of them would I have to write off before the police charged me?

PAL: Never mind that plonker. How many peanuts do you get in a packet?

OLD MAN: I don’t know – how many?

PAL: It isn’t a joke. Over a hundred, wouldn’t you say?

OLD MAN: Easily. Why?

PAL: Let’s say you get one hundred and twenty five in a bag. Right then, if you had a packet of peanuts, yeah, and I asked you for one, would you be so kind as to give me one? One peanut, out of a whole packet?

OLD MAN: No problem with that.

PAL: What I’m asking you for, in effect, is one half of one quart of one peanut.

OLD MAN: I don’t understand.

PAL: An M3. Twenty five grand. How about it?

Departed Poem


Those who have fallen asleep
Have left us who are still alive
To encourage each other
With the belief that reunion
Awaits in the clouds and the air

Neither death nor life
Angels or demons
Present or future
Or any other powers in creation
Can separate us from what they were

A place was prepared for them
They will wait for us there
We will know where we are, then
With our loved ones, who care

May fond memories untrouble our hearts
They have not perished
They are eternal

© Andrew Donegan 2009

Crimes of Fashion

Most crimes of fashion occur in post offices and batty boy clubs, but the worst offenders can pull it off simply sitting in their cars. Others can be guilty of multiple crimes of fashion at once. Here are both some common and not-so common examples:

1 Tucking a hoodie in
2 Black footwear and white socks
3 Wooly hats with enough free space on top to fit another head in
4 Caps slanted at preposterous angles
5 Trackies with shoes
6 Skinny jeans with belt hanging like snake
7 Blue jeans with blazer
8 Scarfs long enough to wipe your arse on
9 Turn-ups high enough to put your keys in
10 Over-sized pants all muddied and ripped at the bottom


11 Wearing an open shirt over a fastened-up one (my invention)
12 Wearing a vest over a T-shirt (my invention)
13 Fish nets with trainers
14 A watch on each wrist
15 Mobile phone on a string around your neck
16 Ring on every finger
17 Loud Bermuda shorts
18 Wearing all your collars up
19 Footy socks above the knee
20 Dungarees

Girls can do a lot worse than:

1 Purple leggings
2 Rubber boots
3 Sleeveless tops
4 Any variety of suit
5 Bubble jackets
6 Dresses
7 Blouses
8 Tank tops
9 White almost-transparent combat pants
10 And my personal favourite......pyjamas in public & flower in hair

Ladies be aware that Gus Kidney (sorry G!) reckons the biggest fashion crime of all is having absolutely nothing on. That is so not sexy in any way as it reminds him of the holocaust gas chambers. So please......slip on some -

Rammstein Concert

Awesome display of lasers and explosions as is expected but I felt like a Man U season ticket holder at Old Trafford: You know it's gunna be a brill experience but can it live up to the VERY first time you were dazzled by the Theatre of Dreams? I've been 3 now and this time I even left a song early, after ICH WILL. Plus because their latest album was a let-down the song listing didn't thrill me either. I feel strangely not-very-happy, because several little aspects of the night didn't go my way. This should have been the best night in ages, but I've presently got a bit of a sulk on. Not forgetting postives:

1 The lead singer sang the first song with some kind of lightbulb in his mouth.
2 Loads of spooky dolls hanging from the set blew up.
3 Someone on stage was set on fire.
4 The keyboard player played his keyboard walking a treadmill.
5 Geeky dancing is the best kind of dancing there is.

But there were other mild dissatisfactions that marred what should have been an exceptional occasion. I won't go into them: They're just me......it's just me.

Earlier today I was listening to Dani Filth from the band Cradle of Filth talking about Gilles de Rais who was one of the wealthiest men in Europe from the 13th century and a knight who fought alongside Joan of Arc, but he is best known for being a serial murderer of children (yeah I know, nice bloke). Dani described him as "not giving a stuff", which to me seems like a glowing review, but this shocker slaughtered hundreds of innocent girls and boys between the ages of 6 and 18 in unbelievably cruel fashion after sodomizing them. This news may have played a part in the conspiracy to spoil my day, as I've just realised the WHY of it all now, about ALL bad deeds, call it a revelation: The ghastly f**k was just having things HIS way, at the end of the day. When people go ape shit and do crazy stuff I reckon they're simply seizing control and having things THEIR way. That's what it comes down to. Because surely no c**t can enjoy doing wild crap like that. Surely our nature doesn't stoop that low on its own. Please tell me it must be pushed into a corner first.

Tonight I did not have my way. That's why I'm here, where I can. It's the little things, sometimes, innit, that set you off down the lane of irritations and regrets? There's nothing bigger.