Screaming at Millionnaires

Football fans serving drinks to football fans at the football stadium before the football match. Good view of the pitch from the bar. The match starts and they close the doors and bring the shutters down over the windows. There are three screens on the wall. If the game was being televised we could watch it. They guess what the score is from the noise of the crowd. We eat tiny triangular sandwiches. Their guesses are confirmed by texts from people on the other side of the shutters. They talk numbers and money. It's not the big league. If it's not a draw they'll either win or lose. At half time it's two-one in a good way. The doors open and a gammon-faced man-cloud billows towards the bar. We've lined up fifty pints in preparation. We can't serve drink while the players are on the pitch. It's also a rugby stadium. They say the rugby crowd can buy drink whenever they like. They down four pints at once and have a special corner for dying in. By full time it's three-two in a bad way. They buy shots and go home.

Now Snappy Sometime

Argos phoned for a catch-up. I'd purchased something and instead of it arriving when they said it'd arrive, what arrived was a voice, through a phone, saying there's been an error, and why not spend the rest of the week nailing yourself to someone who gives a fuck. So I did. Then I emailed to complain about the delayed arrival of the item and the tone of voice used to deliver the news of the delay, which I felt did not tickle my fancy nearly enough and sounded if anything delighted that I'd been catastrophically inconvenienced. So the reader of this email had picked up a big red phone to tell me how entertaining my whinge whinge bloody whinge had been, well done for writing most of it in lower case and would I perhaps accept a refund of the delivery charge and a tray of figs. I said I was embarrassed slightly, not expecting any kind of reply really, certainly not one so personal and after dinner. I wrote the email on a high horse in the library and was shooed out before I had a chance to remove all the bluster. So sorry about that, but I am still angry, but not at you personally, and did you say figs or fig rolls, because I find a fig on its own is not worth the effort. She said she'd check, and everything's alright, and she was also a fully-trained psychiatrist. Fully-trained, she said. Fully-trained? Yes, a fully-trained psychiatrist. It was Saturday night and I'd just found some lager in a bin. I told her I had absolutely no other problems at all, so all that fully training would be wasted on me. But can I tell you the story of the rug my housemate ordered and which right now my toes are enjoying, he ordered it from you, not you personally, last month, just by pressing the screen of his phone, and it arrived at exactly the time specified and was delivered by a vibrating man just happy to be alive. Touched the screen on his phone a few times, I said, and then made some coffee and chuckled for three quarters of an hour in his dressing gown, whereas I've had to use my legs to walk to the shop, fingers to find the item in the catalogue, voice and face to arrange delivery, buttons to transfer money, and still the only thing I've received is a knife in the arsehole. And she said well how about a ten pound voucher then, and I said yeah alright.

Honesty Rampage Ruins Community

I'm going to stand and point at the output of two people.
I don't know if they're mortified by their own output. But if they didn't want it being looked at, they shouldn't've put it on the internet. They also shouldn't've, after that, told me where to find it. I might've had to do some mild wheedling. But I didn't cajole.
I look at their output and think two things. One is: I wish I could do that. The other is: output isn't a very nice word for what might've been decades of isolated creative anguish only broken up by the odd brief cloud of confused satisfaction that dissipated as soon it settled, leaving behind a damp-smelling emptiness larger than the space it filled and the vague but persistent thought that things aren't quite as they should be... But it's also the name of a colossal DJ Suv tune from 1997. And colossal tunes from 1997 don't get played much these days. Whenever they do, people who've heard them before but not for ages immediately begin screaming like derailed trains. Check out the other Saturday when this happened at Metalheadz History Sessions. At one point MC Moose has a sip of champagne and almost instantly does an impression of Alan Partridge. A bit later Goldie gets so boisterous that Moose gives him a red card, which makes you picture Moose, against your will, for the entire rest of the set, dressed as a football referee with knee-high socks and Adidas Predators and a tiny whistle-shaped microphone. What I'm saying is output is one of the best things there is.

Bid Submitted

Caroline made a world out of cardboard. There were devices and the sea and industries. People were invited to paint it and they did. It was part of a big yearly thing. It went on for about eight hours and as soon as it ended we took it down. Next door someone was making something out of paper and everywhere else there were things popping up and whizzing about and films and music and singing on the beach at dawn by some underground choir I think, but instead of noise when they opened their mouths I heard that what came out was Maltesers. We didn't make it. The next day we wrote messages onto bits of paper and put them in cigar boxes on the walls of somewhere Mark E. Smith isn't a fan of.


We were given a load of cash and asked what we thought about chewing gum. We didn't think it was very good.
Weird texture and it makes you make a noise.
Yeah the noise is horrible I have to leave the room.
Do we buy it.
Not really.
Maybe before a job interview or before we think we might be about to put bits of our mouths inside other mouths.
So if you were offered some you'd decline it.
Never. Accept it, every time.
But you don't like it.
Not at all.
But you accept it when it's offered.
Right. Would any of these things make you buy it do you think?
And they showed us some A4 adverts featuring TV brains like Stephen Fry. They all had a bright little gum packet peeping out of their top pocket and a phrase next to their face saying chewing is good and healthy and buy this gum or your face'll collapse.
Do you like these people?
I did but not now they're trying to sell me chewing gum no. I'm surprised and disappointed. And, they've probably had their teeth whitened anyway. This guy in the white coat's the best. I've never seen him before so I'm not disappointed in him.
Here's one with Desperate Dan on it, I think this is our favourite.
Why would I take health advice from a 2D pie addict?
Would it make you buy the gum?
I'd have some if it was free. If it's so essential why isn't it part of life for everyone like underpants and panic? I'd have it if they've somehow made it nice. But it's not saying they've made it nice it's just saying I should have it.
There was a plate of biscuits on the table and two of the people who'd objected to the noise of chewing gum being chewed took a biscuit each and started chewing. Then we were subjected to Joanna Lumley in a cafe expressing the intensity of her belief that chewing gum is a good thing by using the word jolly. As it was passed around there were tuts and groans and someone said oh christ not Lumley.
But people like her.
Well they won't when they see this. It hasn't run already has it?
It has yes.

Giant Incisive Brain Attack

By following instructions and also doing things I wasn't instructed to do but which needed doing I filled the kitchen with astonishment. The guy who'd had the job before me was so bad at it he'd broken his leg. I was invited to spend eternity in the corner with my sleeves rolled up. My fellow scrubbers would be Harry and Giuseppe. Harry walks very slowly and makes large metal noises by hurling trays into the sink. Giuseppe talks very quickly in twitching crippled English about how mad Harry is but how he's also a good man but he's mad but he's a good man yes a good man but mad. These are the only comprehensible words that come out of his mouth although he's always talking. Everybody else has given up trying to understand him or to help him make himself understood. I didn't go back.

Eaten Anyway

I asked a window to give me some work. It said there were very many repetitive tasks available and asked what kind of thing was I looking for. I said I was looking to exchange my time and basic limb-manipulation skills for cash I can spend on things I won't remember.
Yes, it said, I have some work for you, tonight, in the Stuff Parade, you have to stand at the end of a tunnel while bits of stuff come at you and you decide whether that stuff is good stuff or bad stuff. Bad stuff goes to the left where the electric boffins furrow their brows at it until its purpose emerges. Good stuff meanwhile gets put in a shipping container which is then loaded onto a massive cackling boat and never heard from again.

The Old Sense

That whiskey, there's a woman's face advertising it too. She's got something about love written on her in gold and her photo is black and white so you know she's from the past. I don't know who she is and neither does the internet. The adverts mainly appear in what used to be the chasm of despair but is now quite a nice road. Its buildings were designed by war-drunk architects who thought that the primary effect of all new structures should be to induce a whitewater flood of hopelessness in anyone who lived in, glimpsed, walked past or smelled them. So if they were bombed into chunky dust like their predecessors then nobody would really mind. Then in the nineties the IRA exploded the Manchester Arndale Centre but accidentally got the Corn Exchange too and all these architects got together and said sorry to Mo Mowlam and asked her to do something and she did and that's why things are better today. They didn't bomb this road in Bristol but it was recently niced up by loads of people who can paint massive things and some people who put fabric round trees so it's alright now and people take pictures of it and can even be seen openly enjoying themselves.


We went to the all-human circus and the best thing there was the man who wore loads of hats.
I tried to post this yesterday but the bottom bit got cut off, which was unbearable, so I deleted it and now I can't remember what else I had to say, but:
My friends had a show and asked me to write about it so I did.

Other Operators 1

Twice now some people I've never met have printed something I've written together with other things other people I've never met have written or drawn and distributed it to other people I've never met. I haven't thanked them for this yet, because I'm a fucking monster. And monsters get scared of confronting reality. Ask anyone (who's a monster). They're at Darklane Quarterly and also some of them I've been led to believe sometimes do stuff with words on the first Wednesday of every month at The Thunderbolt in Totterdown, which is an area of Bristol very close to Temple Meads, which is the train station, which is what people used to call the railway station until that began to sound silly, which is a shame but we're not going to fucking cry about it are we? Like they do in the Letters page of the fucking Guardian?

Guarantee The Consistent Freshness

Samuel Beckett's face is advertising whiskey. Maybe it's not his face. It definitely looks like his face. Drink yourself clever, it seems to be saying. The actual slogan is something else. Something about a bard. Would you really call him a bard though? Maybe it's a coincidental face. A lot of old wiry white men end up looking similar. But it's got the same glasses and hair. It doesn't say his name. It's like you're supposed to see it and think wow the literary lookalikes agency is winning some major contracts, and then go and get yourself a bottle and hasten your own death. If a smart ghost endorsed it then if I drink it I'll become one of those fussy-tongued bon-vivants I've heard so much about. Not just a guy who enjoys a special offer like when they were hard-pushing Jameson's. He's come back from the dead to tell me about a liquid. He wouldn't do that if it wasn't good. It's a strange niche to go for. But it makes sense that it's only up at the bus stops.

Comprehensive Information Really Good

We ate elaborate breakfasts and walked round looking at stuff. Some of it was art and some of it was architecture and some of it was peril and one bit of it was a blob in a jar. It used to be alive. I think it had a mouth. There were very many other things in jars and we were hungover.

Inexpensive Holiday In Other People's Enthusiasm

Impossible not to think of that Sex Pistols song when you're in front of the Berlin wall. It's very tall and close and forms an impression in your mind and neck. There are many murals or one big mural, and signs asking you not to write anything on anything and a lot of writing on everything, thoughtful things like fuck yeah and woohoo and security round these parts is not what it used to be.

Shrubs For The Small Formal Border

An old man said you know things used to be different round here, it wasn't like it is now and it isn't like it was then, back then we had an unalterable allowance of things and the differences between these things were very carefully monitored by scrupulous hawks and if the differences became too great we had to dig a big hole and put the differentest things in it until the children stopped crying which is why them hills are so big. Similarities were very rarely mentioned, it was differences we cared about and if there weren't any we'd make some up using a calculator if necessary and let me tell you it's awful the way this country's being handed over to the
It was a dreary monologue that needn't be repeated.

Ankles On The Other Hand

Can I no. Is there a chance of no. I know it's not allowed but could we no. Have you got a bit more no. Are dogs allowed in the no if we're no. Last time we were here we did that so could we no. Have you got any more no. Could we have a no. Yes. What do you think. I try not to think.

A Simple Excuse Me

The new Stella glasses arrived. They're big news. They have a gold rim and a red logo and a stem and a flat bit on the stem with magic on it. And if you put one round each ear you can hear Belgian angels getting to know each other. Stella already has these egg-shaped glasses with lovely mess all over the outside like something you'd give a dying prince for Christmas. Sometimes a manly man asks for a pint and you get one of these glasses down from the shelf and before it's under the tap he's halfway to tears and begging for a normal glass in case anyone sees him and concludes he's significantly less heterosexual than he was before he drank from a fancy thing. We're not giving the new ones out yet.

A Whole Portion

What've you got that's local?
That's weird for a country pub.
For you maybe. For me it gets a bit less weird every day. And it wasn't that weird to begin with.
It's not right.
Most things are from somewhere else.
I thought you were supposed to support your local breweries.
There aren't any.
There's one in Hawkshead.
That's too far to be local. Go and stick your tongue in the lake.
Er no thanks.
It's surprising what you can get used to.
Is the food local?
It's prepared locally.
Where are you from?
I got here via Preston. Are you having a drink?
I want a local ale.
Howabout one that tastes nice?
What would you recommend?
None of these. They all taste like shoes.
With a real ale you've got to have a full pint or two to really know what they taste like.
Last time I did that I vomited into a cattle grid.
You weren't doing it right.
I never do.
It's a bit quiet in here.
It's the modern world. They eat and leave.
It might be the music.
Public Enemy are the people's champions.
It's a bit irritating.
There's nothing I can do about it

All Straws Final

A queue sometimes forms. Of squashy red and orange people and their little gobshite squadrons. The queue eliminates waiting-time-based arguments at the bar. Which is handy because they all look the same out of your eye-corners and you have to decide who's next by who's being less of a cunt. And when they're hungry that's very hard. Then they find out we don't have Foster's. Sometimes you suspect that they suspect you of having previously had Foster's but removed it when you heard they were coming. I don't know why they're so angry.

The Beth Gibbons Forehead Approach

We ran out of some stuff and told people we were out of some stuff and the most miffed asked questions that revealed a lack of understanding of the information delivered two seconds previously, even though the information delivered two seconds previously was very clear and delivered two seconds previously: It is all gone. You have as much of it as we do. There is none of it left. Where it was is now where it isn't. I mean everywhere is now where it isn't, but where it was is where its where-it-isn't-ness is most apparent, what with where it was being where you'd look for it first if you didn't know that that's now where it isn't, like everywhere else always is except the depot and your stomach and the other places it gets delivered to, if there are other places it gets delivered to, I haven't checked. The bald wet red folk have demolished it all by eating half of it and leaving the rest for the crows, or are they ravens, I'm not an expert.

The Roomy Shoe

Can we come in if we're a bit wet? Yes. But if you get any wetter I'll have to ask you to leave. They all had hot chocolate and ate fruit and hooted kayak-related technical terms at each other and laughed. One of them was particularly not good at doing something while also doing something else, they said.
They got in their boats and went away. I mopped up. The remaining customer returned from the garden and saw the floor and said Jesus did they all piss themselves? He left and no one came in for the next five hours.
I thought about going over the road. There's one road in the village and you can, if you like, go over it. That's what there is to do. On that side there is another pub. It has an enticing outer shell but the unbearable typeface used in the under new management banner tells you the inside is probably full of blind people being lied to by their dogs. There's a shop, but it doesn't sell newspapers and I've heard its sandwiches described as catastrophic. Up the road a bit there's a different shop with a big sign on it I can't quite make out. Something to do with a barn. I haven't been up there, either. I went to the post office next door and asked them if they had what I wanted and they said sorry we sold out this morning.

Less of This In Future

Some temporary work in the country near the wet place known as England's most beautiful lake. They say. And they've seen them all. They had a big lake show and everyone put their lakes into carrier bags and went to a stadium and poured them onto a catwalk. This one won because of its versatility, unusual length and agreeable breeze. Some of the other lakes thought they should've been allowed to bring their surrounding scenery, but the chief judge said no, you don't judge the food by the cupboard it's kept in, do you? Do you? And does this look like a fucking cupboard-judging competition? And all the lakes were quiet and dribbled back into their bags and their owners took them home and sloshed them out into their holes.

The Shirt On Him

The box of flashing lights made a noise like a boiling zoo and its lights stopped flashing and everyone stared at it and stared at each other with their longest faces and stared at it again and someone switched it off at the wall. Speculation built. We had to get a man in. He arrived early and we posted him through the slot and he furtled about with the innards and dropped out through the bottom with a snort and a chime and dust on his arms and old money shards on his face. Should be right now, he said, and we gave him a bowl of soup and he went off over the bridge on his electric wagon.

Mouth Isn't

Everyone puts their money in the box of flashing lights. They soon run out of money. They get some more money and because the box hasn't given them their money back they put more money in it. It's a laughing matter. Eventually the maximum amount of money that the box will ever give back if it feels like it which it nearly never does is less than the total amount of money everyone has put into it. At this point they put money into it in small amounts although they have agreed not to. One person tells another one off for doing it and hours later the person who told the other person off is at the box again doing the same thing. Sometimes a person who hasn't put any money in the box comes along and starts putting money in the box. Then everyone gathers in a hush to see what will happen. What will happen is that this person will put all their money in the box and leave. The behaviour of the box is very predictable and no one can predict when it will become unpredictable. It doesn't ask any questions but it does offer some choices like whether or not to associate flashing lights with disappointment. It has never pretended it doesn't do what it does.

Up Sticks

I watched some music in a big field full of mammals. The coverage of it in the media was nothing like what it was. When the last band came on I was wearing my hat and I got excited and threw it in the air like at the end of the first world war. If everyone else wearing a hat threw it in the air at the same time that would've been something to see. But no one else did. There were a lot of people and very few hats. So it wasn't.
A DJ brought in a classic at the end of his set and the MC went who remembers this one and me and this other guy turned to each other and shat our hearts out because we remembered it and were happy, we made a single prolonged and ragged mouth-noise and the MC went yeah this one's goin out to all the oldies and we realised that the first time we heard it was a very long time ago and we were older than everyone else or they were strangely reluctant to admit to their knowledge. After that he played some other classics and when each one came in we turned to each other and made very loud noises with our mouths. Then he stopped doing it so so did we and left the tent separately.

The Woman at the Front Desk Has Given Up Saying Hello

A new person was there instead of the large man-cloud I usually exasperate without knowing why and she knew how to ridicule her job while doing her job. She apologised for keeping me waiting so long then retracted the apology after I said it hadn't been long enough.
She told me about the forthcoming changes to the system and the new doom they will bring, something about forcing people to do things and how she's not supposed to have an opinion but she does have an opinion and so there it is. I had a book with me and she saw the title and said it out loud.
"It's David Foster Wallace."
"Is it any good?"
and I was going to say he hanged himself, but I said
"Yeah it's good so far."
"I want to read that new one about psychopaths, a journalist followed them round, apparently they run things you know. Working in here I can believe that."

Extract From Fuck Knows What

"I've just realised you've had a haircut. You're likely to already know this, but I'd like you to know that I now know it too."

"Thanks. I wasn't going to mention it, but then if you didn't mention it I was going to mention that I hadn't mentioned it. Your above-eyebrow area looks much the same as it always has to me, unless you've recently changed it and I haven't noticed, in which case it looks tremendous and very you."

"Thanks. What're you doing with the weekend?"

"I am going to reject mediocrity."

"How long'll that take?"

"My entire life and a bit of yours."


"You're going to live longer by not putting any effort in but when I die you'll decide to wear a heavy helmet of guilt which will deflect the suggestions of other people trying to persuade you to stop doing things like producing a magazine that reviews all the other magazines and is called Not Quite Good Enough."


The man came round to look at where we live and I pointed out the things about it that aren't good and he said he'd have a look at them. He looked at them and went away saying we'll be in touch soon and not very soon after that he didn't get in touch and we put eight hundred pounds in his bank account.

Two Books

I read this one about a man who had a bad time and it was quite good, the characters were nails and the author twatted them on the head repeatedly until he'd got his point across. Some of the words were in a funny order which was delightful and there was a lot of repetition. The front and back covers were wider than the pages they were covering but folded over to create inside flaps for the adulation to go on, so you could use the front cover-flap as a bookmark during the first half of the book and then when you arrived in the second half you could use the back cover-flap in the same way until you reached the end.

While I was reading that I was also reading this autobiography of a woman who knew a woman. It was written by the woman herself but from the perspective of the woman who knew her. The woman herself had asked the woman who knew her to write her own autobiography but the woman who knew her wasn't ready so the woman herself wrote it and then died. She arranged words in a way that made people flip their wigs. The front cover was a photo of the woman and the other woman but it didn't say which was which but eventually it became obvious that one couldn't possibly have been the other.

Discomfort and Basic Errors

One bar was playing some music and the other one was playing some other music but louder and we were on the shared terrace so you could hear both musics, the quieter one being better musically and the louder one being a lot worse musically but a lot better sonically or at least louder which is often better except when you want to hear the noise someone else is making with their mouth or have your own mouth-noise reach the holes in either side of their head uninterfered with. There were roughly thirty five brains close enough to be capable of being annoyed by what was happening, the continuation of it happening and the continuation of nothing being done to stop it happening, but there must've been maybe a consensus that no one minds it happening enough to ask anyone capable of stopping it from happening why they aren't stopping it from happening, even though if surveys were issued privately to or vox pops harvested discreetly from each individual the majority of them would use the words asunder, tension, understand and collapse. We went somewhere else.

I Insist

Twelve of us were called in one by one to sit side by side and learn about the different kinds of help the government is removing. There were boxes to tick, everyone should tick one, he said, some of them lead to learning and some of them lead to lunch. This one this one and this one will not be available next month. So now is the time to tick them. There were two spelling mistakes on the sheet and the boxes didn't line up like you'd like them to line up if it was you who was lining them up. You might as well line them all up in a happy column, you aren't obsessed or anything but also you are no slouch. Next to the last one were the words tick this box if you'd like the person who prints this sheet to raise their standards. If you'd like help with reducing your alignment-based rage and making your Oxford English Dictionary worship less furious, draw your own box underneath this box and tick the fuck out of that one why don't you. The department has no time for petty concerns. We are learning to communicate good.

Your Prospects Are Slugs and It Hasn't Rained In A While

In the pub opposite the coach station waiting for a coach, a man sat down next to me and I borrowed his lighter and he asked me how my weekend was. I said great thanks and asked him how his was and he told me it was shite and why's his real ale so fucking expensive then started going on about foreigners and how it's their fault this country's gone to shit they drain the system send em all back and I said what're you going to do to change it and he said I've just bought a house in Bulgaria.

He went away and was replaced by a man shouting into a phone about the fucking cost of his pint and the traffic and the expense and the foreigners and the expense and the traffic and the cost of his pint and the foreigners and the expense and the cunting eternity it takes to get anywhere in this fucking dungeon. I wrote a very long text on my phone and he finished his conversation and sat staring at me while I made my message longer and longer and sent it and put my phone down and looked up at him. He went scuse me mate are you drinking Stella and I said yes but I'm not getting another because they're three eighty and I don't have many three eighties left and he said do you want mine, I'm so angry at how much it costs I can't bring myself to drink it, and I said well thanks very much cheers yeah thanks a lot and he slid it across the table and stood up and went over the road to the station.

European Cinema

The Thor riots went largely unreported by the mainstream media. Thousands took to the cinemas to kick the piss out of Kenneth Branagh effigies. "It was his vision", they bellowed, "and he is therefore most blameworthy. But don't think we aren't also going to smash the teeth out of Natalie Portman's cardboard cut-outs, and the face and brains out of anyone who dares to go around resembling Anthony Hopkins."
And they did, and it went on for seventy five hours, and even those with no limbs turned up just to scream things like "Branagh is a wallet-raping dangleberry."
The cost of the damage is still being calculated, but insiders say the total is likely to be "nowhere near enough."
Hopkins has been fired into space, where he will be safe from the families of the goats, goblins and Cleveland Steamer enthusiasts who were slaughtered just for looking like him.
"I'm off", he said, in a statement read by his lawyer. "If I'd've realised how woeful the finished product would be, I'd've nailed Branagh's thespian ballsack to the wall of a public toilet and streamed his whimpering demise live on my website. Suffice it to say we are no longer on kissing terms. I hear the Chinese have had him placed under house arrest even though he lives in Suffolk. If you ask me, they should cover him in duck shit and stab his shins with a chisel until he's fucking dead."


The following week there was a riot re-enactment. People threw things again, the police charged through people again, at home the windows were open for the breeze and we couldn't hear Mad Men over the noise of the helicopter for four hours. Next morning the re-aftermath, the road still closed and people watching the police watching the people. Stories of wallopings and pummelment, summed up by a man slumped against a wall, head down, eyes closed, with a sign on his belly, red-on-white, that said: non-aggresive protest.


We went to a small drinking-music place and three and a half hours later I went home and everyone else including the local MP went to get their faces clobbered by shield-wielding flourescent brutalists or their ribs rearranged by the batons of those special beserk officers they have nowadays, the ones with no number on their shoulders, shield or helmet, I think they came from Cardiff and must've been told it was a war they were off to and nobody should be left un-screaming in surprise agony especially the ones walking home in high heels trying to avoid the action, they must be crushed, and then it was on the front page of a national newspaper but I couldn't face reading the article because it was all anyone was talking about all the time afterwards anyway and every new person had witnessed another unspeakable thing.
Walking through it before it became what it was there were maybe two hundred people milling around between lines of police confused about their presence waiting for their shift to finish without getting a breezeblock dropped on their head and Everybody Loves The Sunshine was playing from somewhere and it's impossible to be rioting while that's on so no one was.

Protect What You Value

The beach for the weekend. The far away award-winning one. We did good beachtime things and at one point walked to somewhere and arrived somewhere else and came back. There were large ancient things to look at and the sun was very close. My sardines were controversial. An iPod crept out of my pocket and crawled into the sea. The loss makes me wince, a day-long wince broken up by roaring laments.
I went to the job centre. They did not throw me any kind of welcome back party at all. No jelly. No hats. They are full of questions and can no longer afford to dish out plastic envelopes. It's the cuts. Their questions include where have you been, why did you go there, who were you there with, when did you get back, why did you come back, who are you back with, what are their names and dates of birth, what is the relationship between you and them, describe it, how many rooms do you share, how long will it last and what makes you think this, have you ever looked out the window together and said nothing, do you think that other people think the relationship is unlike how you said it is, what are your hopes for the future, do you often go around the house barefoot, do you ever catch yourself staring, was there a time in your life when you considered going into the ice-cream business, do you know any other people, really know them, would they give you a kidney, what have you forgotten.

Many Thanks

Men queueing for the toilet will talk about men queueing for the toilet. A bright afternoon in the park and we were lining up to squelch into the darkness. The women in the women's queue were not outraged and one crossed over to say here is a taste of the gender-biased amenity-planning medicine we all have to swallow though it's only you who are sick. Banter was muttered.
I shuffled up. The trench was big enough for two and there were three of us at it, harmonising, I thought of previous privacies and noted the lack of phone numbers and appointment times written on the walls. No one washed their hands.

We finished our drinks and went back to Matt's and had more drinks and a curry. Went to the pub over the hill. Music was playing outside and a man on stage was trying to co-ordinate a mathematical hoedown. About twelve people joined in. We sat on a wall drinking gin. The pub began closing and we went to another one down the hill through the tunnel round the corner. We met some people. A woman drinking red wine sold us pills. We talked giddily about things important at the time. We speculated that the only effect the pills would have would be a jagged sense of loss and some unusual bowel mischief the next day. This would turn out to be true. We sat on a bench and drank pints and shots. Upstairs was dancing in a small room with chewy air and doof-doof music. I shook my birthday maraca. Maybe there was some Jagersomething. I had another conversation in the toilets about toilets. I was wearing black and white trainers Leo had found on the street and beginning to wonder if maybe whoever had lost them could be here right now looking and so for the rest of the night I tried to catch people glancing at my feet and made sure never to refer to myself below the knees.
We drank more and talked a bit louder and then went home to our houses, why can we say home to our houses but not house to our homes, there was no one to ask. Another thing Leo found on the street was the blue security-style jumper I was wearing which smelled quite remarkable which was good for keeping people away but I worried if maybe the shoulder patch things were a bit flamboyant for two thirty in the morning in St. Paul's and coupled with the long hair which is always a physical weakness I began hoping I'd make it back to the couch without being killed with a hammer, and I didn't see any people or hammers and when I lay down my teeth were heavy.
I woke up tremendous and bought a pastry full of fat magic and ate it walking and no one asked me for any money.

Church and Destroy

No more moving about except in postcodes that begin with BS. Kyuss are playing tomorrow. Most of them. Afterwards we will not be washing our ears.
The bus left Wales without me. I had to make some hasty rearrangements that involved four hours in Cardiff. I ate a pasty and thought about where my life is going. After I'd finished I thought about where it isn't going. That took a lot longer and I almost missed the bus. Almost missed the bus is another way of saying I was on time for the bus. I wanted to be more dramatic, I don't think it worked.
Bristol has sprouted a new bakery round the corner from our house. A pastry-based euphoria lives in my mouth.

Ship Jumping

The sinks never emerged. We drove to Wales. In the morning we moved some things from one place to another. When they were all in the other place there was some debate about whether they'd needed moving at all. Out of these things we then assembled bigger things. It went on for days. I broke two drill bits because I am not a real man. Also weeded a path. Twelve tons of woodchip didn't arrive. Evenings we drank. Eight a.m. we stood in a circle and made decisions. There were a lot of other people there in training to become better at what they enjoy. I slept in a bunk bed and became itchy. Lunchtimes there were classic soups.

You Do Do You

There were no more holes to dig and fill in again. We smashed up some hard things with big sticks with pointy bits.

There is a sink mystery. We need some sinks to go in the sheds that we built for the sinks. Months ago they were in the shipping containers on site. When we opened them yesterday they were not there. There were a lot of items there that were not sinks, like forks and mattresses and urns. We would pick something up and ask: is this a sink? If the answer was no, we would repeat the process with a different item until there were no more items left to assess.

After it turned out that nothing we had was a sink, we then made sure that the things we initially thought were not sinks were not sinks disguised as not-sinks. We were right. Then we put everything back again.

There were no flies. The spiders ate rust flakes.

Before all that we spread some gravel on a bit that didn't have any gravel on it.

Down and Right a Bit

We stayed in the peasant palace with the whole top floor to ourselves and six beds each. The other buildings were mostly roofs and the bank had a big mosaic of a wench on it. The shops were open for five minutes a week.
The site was placed between a lake and a prison for screaming geese. It was about the size of a large Tesco. We dug some holes and filled them back in again.
Then the drive to Hauteville. I used to work there. So did Shane. He is managing the site this year. I am not. We dug some holes and filled them back in again. What we filled them in with was better than what we took out of them. At one point one of the holes had to be moved to the left a bit. Then we went for dinner at the bar restaurant up the road along the beach round the corner. They know us and Hassan immediately made Geoff go behind the bar to pour us a load of drinks, flavoury ones with unusual aromas served in fancy glass hats. We drank them and some pizzas appeared, followed by more drinks and more pizzas and so on until everybody had had enough pizza and then more drinks appeared and I think he invited us to Morocco, I'm not very sure, one of his kids was there sat opposite with a shirt on looking like when will I see the end of all this hooting drudgery, they must think they're the magnificent fucking seven, and it turned out he was waiting to go bowling and had been since before we walked in unannounced and he was ten years old and we quickly departed shouting and demonstrating advice about bowling technique.
The next day we dug some holes and filled them in again, and there was a bit of a side-plot involving posts and screws and ropes and chainsaws and the sun behind us. Hassan dropped off some enormous ham baguettes and fizzy drinks and glasses. When we'd finished things off we went back for a meal, he'd bought us white fish, I can't remember its name, it was with potato and exactly right and there was a lot of wine and some beer and some whiskey and it became extremely difficult to leave.

Then the drive to Savane. It's almost the length of France. The length is like the width but longer. It took about forty years and the satnav lady has a patronising voice, did they hold auditions for it or did they already know just the woman. We went to a very tense service station and ate cheese. My phone stopped working while I was right in the middle of something and I realised the charger was the length of France away and I went beserk to myself and then calmed down angrily and then relaxed.

Portion Control

Buses in Birmingham don't give any change. None whatsoever. This isn't advertised to the visitor, you have to find out yourself by getting on the bus with a tenner, maybe it's slightly too much but there's a chance he'll have a fiver and there's always a load of coins and you don't mind coins really they're good for buying snacks so everything'll be alright, but it wasn't and I had to get off dejected and sweaty with two bags having jogged from the hotel thinking I wouldn't want to not be on that bus because it could make me late and I don't want to be anything that isn't early, but I was because I had to go to McDonald's because it was the nearest place and quite far away too to hassle the moonfaced hunchback for some change from the till that doesn't open if no-one's making a purchase which I definitely wasn't because it was McDonald's so we had to wait for a girl with one earphone still in to umm and ahh and oh I'm not sure until she decided on a coffee at which point kerching and he slopped out some change and I went back to the bus stop with my two bags and less sweatily got the next bus and sat down upstairs until I saw the Audi garage the driver told me to look out for, I thought he was saying Irie garage, you want the Irie garage mate, right cheers, but when I saw the Audi sign I thought ah this must be the place, and I went back downstairs and the air was thick with schoolkids in uniforms tittering and I had to smash all their foreheads off just to reach the exit. Then I wasn't anywhere I should have been and I went into the garage and consulted an a to z and then another one and got a man who drove a lorry to point me where I needed to go then I went there and arrived.

The ferry was grey and we bought food that strongly resembled disaster and Beth paid nine euros ninety nine for a decomposing yellow shoe with some green beans round it and after we'd all finished we stuck our fingers in each other's mouths and brought the whole mess back up onto the plates and took it to the hatch for a partial refund. I still had some change left from the bus and thought about buying The Book of Mince which featured a martini glass full of meat on the front cover and contained "the" seventy-two recipes you'd be needing in your new mince-based existence.

We drove to Ardres which Geoff calls Calais' armpit. The local speciality is kebab on a grand scale deep fried and served with chips on a plate the size of Russia.
The next day we worked on the site and there was some confusion about a shed.
The day after that twelve tons of gravel arrived and some of us spread it and some of us did more cement-based things, while the shed-centric befuddlement escalated until eventually it was decided we should smash it to fucking pieces so we did and then burned it and went out for another massive kebab.

Windermere Behemoth

A beast in the lake. The size of three cars. That's a quote. Skin like a seal and humps like black rainbows. Reclusive, the eighth sighting in sixty years. Lazy you might say. Dossing about underneath all the tourism. A customer this morning bought five copies of the local paper and told how she had seen the monster yonks ago with her ex-husband and she'd been telling the story for years and today's the day people are going to stop disbelieving her after they see the one blurry photo of something that could be anything. It was good to have not-the-weather to talk about. I asked a few people what they believed. Is it going to eat the village? Will there be hullabaloo and t-shirts? If we all got on its back could we ride it out of the recession? There was much discussion, but in the end what people wanted to know was how much their shopping cost and whether or not they could have a bag to put it in.


Do you have the variety of prawn that I want that isn't any of the three varieties of prawn on your shelves? I want the big ones full of nice bits. I've forgotten where they're from. They're not the Thai ones that you have. I can taste the air miles. No I've never been. I hear it's full of sin and disease. Are you sure there's none in the stock room? Maybe you have them in a sort of backup pond? Maybe they're being delivered as we speak? I can't start dinner without them, the wife's hell-bent. As am I. Well if you don't have them I'll have to take the inferior ones. It won't be the same. We'll end up arguing and I'll say something about settling for second best. We'll be tense for days. It'll put me off my heron-slaying.


From now on the Sea Lion will take care of the small stuff. He lives behind barbed wire and his best days are ahead of him.

Polite Demands


The river's escaped. It's all over the road. It's going up the hills and getting in everyone's shoes. We called the sheriff and he rushed over in his canoe with the sirens on and shot sponges out of a big pipe.

Smashing Bloke

He had himself made into a chair?

Yeah he insisted. He wanted people at the funeral to sit on his lap and talk about how they knew him. He was smirking.

The Infinite Bag of Crisps

I handed in my notice, in black biro on white A4, I filled it up with sorries and words like abrupt, understand and accept. It was well-received and I was congratulated by everybody in the company and they let me have the day off and gave me a crate of broccoli and a fairtrade air-horn to toot whenever I'm delighted.
I feared the notice-handing-in would be more uproarious and huffmaking as I haven't even been there long enough to know for sure off the top of my head whether or not we sell crunchy peanut butter. Someone asked for it and I said maybe and took them to the gap next to the honey, pointed at it and said well we definitely have space for it to develop, and they said but I can't spread that on my fucking toast can I, and I said your lack of self-belief is not welcome in this shop.

Bare Minimums

If you're reading this, thanks for reading this.

There is no news except that Sting has a cottage round here and his favourite hobby is to drive round in a small old car pretending not to be Sting. This is a fact so true that people are bored of talking about it. Unlike the cold and miserable future.

If I was to make something up out of slices of things I've made up that didn't make it anywhere it would look like this and be called some sentences taken out of context are a lot better than the things from which they've been removed.

The sand was havoc in our foldy bits.
The sun had arrived and was beginning to claw people's faces off.
I told her about what I would need to tell her about if I was employed to be doing the job I was pretending to be doing.
Oxgoctional bumbunctions.
The sun was throttling people with its nuclear hands.
I burst into the shop and composed myself.

How Can We Help?

In order to continue improving our service we want to know what Helpful Banking means to our customers.

* Tell us about any instances where we've been particularly helpful.
* Have there been any instances where we could have been more helpful?
* We're constantly looking for new ways to help our customers.
What could we do to help you?

You could help me by making sure the branch opening times listed on your website are exactly the branch opening times in real life.
I went to the Ambleside branch today, to deposit some cash in the account of a friend, Mr Dan Bown. That's Bown, Brown without an r. He didn't write the Da Vinci Code and is sick of people mentioning it.
If he had've written the Da Vinci code, he wouldn't need me to put any money in his account.
It was 3.55 p.m.
I was strolling.
"The bank closes at half four," I thought.
"I have loads of time. It's not very far away."
There was a fine drizzle in the air and some small dogs in the park.
I'd just finished work.
I wasn't too cold or too hot.
I wasn't hungry or angry or in a rush.
I withdrew a hundred and twenty pounds from one of those "cash machines".
I thought: "After I have put a hundred and ten pounds in Dan's account, I will purchase a can of ginger beer, open it, and pour its contents into my face. This will be lovely and marvellous."
But I didn't do that.
Because when I arrived at the Nat West, Ambleside, the door was shut.
It was in such a state of shutness that at first I didn't think it was a door. I thought it was a bit of the wall with a lock on it.
Shocked to my very balls, I searched the area for a way in.
The only one that presented itself was the window. I would need to glue a diamond helmet to my head, take a very big run up across a busy road, and launch myself helmet-first at the glass, cash in one hand, printout of opening times-as-stated-on-the-website in the other.
But where was I going to find a diamond helmet at that time, in that town, and for a tenner?
All my tears came out at once and left a puddle of sorrow on the pavement.
Naturally, passers-by assumed I had done an accident with my nether-parts, and gave me a wide berth, as they say, in some cases even turning around and walking in the opposite direction, muttering and flabbergasted.
Imagine this in detail, please, for it is one of those instances in which you could have been more helpful.
It's not your fault, of course. It's a communication breakdown, isn't it. Someone hasn't bothered to check, or someone else hasn't bothered to inform someone else.
Possibly they are getting round to it this week, but don't think it's of maximal priority.
It's not going to hurt anyone.
But what about your customer Mr Bown?
Now he's sitting at home, in London, muttering and disgusted.
Disgusted at me, his friend, because I haven't done what I said I was going to do.
In effect, your website has turned me into a cack-hearted monster of betrayal.
And Dan can't afford any of those things he thought he would be able to afford today.
I don't know what those things are, but I'm sure he would rather be having them right now, than right now not having them.
So I'll return to the Nat West, Ambleside, tomorrow morning, and put the money in his account then.
But could you tell me what time you actually open? Because I don't want to start weeping on the pavement again.

Thank you for submitting your comments.


I'm glad I have a job and that shops still provide employment opportunities. Unlike in the future or the Japan I've never been to where shops are massive vending machines powered by robot juice and greed that never close or run out of anything.
We are being elbowed in this direction by the new brilliant ideas, which require fewer workers to do more work in less time. Competence is now laziness and being amazing the bare minimum. The till administers electric shocks based on unknown measurements. And they've put up pictures of the robot arms that we're keeping out of employment. And the ones that haven't clenched their fists have all got their middle fingers raised. It's a bit much.

Juvenile Dementia

The taxman wrote. We’d lost touch. I miss him. We’ve never been very close, but now he’s showering me with numbers. I’m not sure what he wants exactly but I’m not turning anything down. He’s full of remorse. I can tell by the lack of apologies. When he says calculations he means errors. When he says within fourteen days he means sooner than never. Maybe he’s joined a religion that requires him to make amends for everything he’s ever done.