Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Alien Abductees: A Profile

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a list entitled “Have You had Alien Encounters?” ( This is a list of 52 signs that someone has had an alien encounter which they may have suppressed; your bollocks-o-meter, like mine, should be going crazy at this point, but evidently there are people who believe this drivel  (type “alien encounter stories” into Google and see what I mean). However, lots of people believe stuff I don’t, so to call this person batshit insane based on just the title might be going too far. So I decided to test my theory by creating a character profile out of the list, hoping that it would be so far-fetched and ridiculous that it would sooth my concerns (and be fun in the process).

This is a list (ironic!) of what I came up with:

1)      They are not well educated. They don’t understand the concept of “sunlight” (“Have seen beams of light outside your home, or come into your room through a window”), or indeed understand that household appliances often emit light themselves (“Have seen balls of light or flashes of light in your home or other locations”). Lightbulbs must send the character into palpitations.

2)      Carrying on from this, they have a great distrust of modern science, hence the distrust of medical staff, the fact they’ve never approached their fridge to find out it makes a humming noise, and “Have had electronics around [them] go haywire or oddly malfunction with no explanation”; they have not yet learnt that machines don’t need to be fed and that if you shove toast in a DVD player it tends to malfunction.

3)      They drink a lot. As evidenced by many of the things on the list, the choicest of which include “Have had missing or lost time of any length, especially one hour or more”, “Have awoken with marks, burns or bruises which appeared during the night with no explanation on how you could have possibly received them” and “Have unusual scars or marks with no possible explanation on how you received them, especially if you have an emotional reaction to them”. These three things may be markers of alien abduction, but are also markers of the fun time I had last Saturday night.

4)      They don’t understand the concept of safe sex. They admit to having “awoken with soreness” in their “genitals”, which suggests they have some kind of STD. They also awake to unexplained stains in their bed. Given that they feel constantly watched, and with the usual results of not understanding contraception, it is fair to assume they may have a few children, especially given that they “Have been suddenly compelled to drive or walk to an out of the way or unknown area”. Every parent will tell you they have wanted to do this pretty much every time their child throws a tantrum, often with the child and a shotgun in tow.

5)      They have some kind of belief in supernatural forces. They think they are psychic and have had telepathic communications with aliens. This could also be explained by them having friends who enjoyed playing practical jokes, but this explanation would require them having friends, which doesn’t seem likely.  Oh, and they believe in alien abductions.

6)      They are homophobic, evidenced by their fear of closets.

7)      They have not worked out that dreams and reality are not the same things, hence believing that their dreams are evidence for being abducted. They would benefit from a copy of father Dougal’s famous diagram (

So there you have it. From this list, I’ve worked out what someone who thinks they’ve been abducted by aliens must be like. An uneducated, alcoholic homophobic with lots of children, who believes in supernatural forces, cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality, and fears and distrusts science (despite owning a fridge). How ridiculous.

What do you mean, I’ve just described 90% of the population of Kansas?
Abject despair at the state of humanity, we meet again.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

A Week is a Long time in Politics; or, The Wonderful Wizard of Ozland

The first part of a story about politics, by someone who has no knowledge of politics, but in his ignorance is willing to make fun of politicians. NB It will get funnier in the next few (shorter) instalments, this one is needed to really set the scene.

As ever, it was a slow day on the farm. The chickens had been fed, the cows milked, and the horses ridden, and now the family had settled down in front of the television. There was Aunt Emma, sitting in my rocking-chair knitting herself a new scarf; Uncle Harry, his customary glass of home-brewed beer in his hand; and me, John, a soon-to-be university student with short hair, a short stature, and a short attention span. We were watching a party political broadcast from the Labour party, and my head was swimming.

How could one possibly choose between all these parties? They all promised so much, and the way they argued their cause, well, to someone who didn’t watch the Parliament Channel every day, every one of them seemed to be perfectly justified in doing what they wanted to do. I just couldn’t get my head around it. Rising from my seat, I told Aunt Emma I was going to churn some butter, and left the house, walking up the path to our small wooden dairy house. The wind whistled around the room as I churned away, my head still spinning with all the politicians’ words. Which one was the best party? Which one was right?

The wind was really getting up now, buffeting against the wooden walls of the dairy. I barely noticed, concerned as I was with the problem of tuition fees; but I was snapped out of my reverie by my Aunt Emma’s voice.

“John! Come inside, now! Hurry!”

I walked over to the entrance of the dairy, and, peering out through a knot in the wood of the door, saw my aunt gesturing wildly at me, hat akimbo and a woollen scarf around her neck with a knitting needle still stuck in it.

“John! It’s a general election! Get out of the dairy!”

Alarmed, I wrenched the door open wide, but was immediately buffeted back by the ferocious wind. A Conservative party pamphlet was driven through the air, embedding itself in the wood by my hand; other leaflets, red, blue and yellow were whizzing through the air like multicoloured wasps. A news reporter smashed against the side of the dairy, still shouting “Expenses!” as he bounced away. I shut the door and cowered in the corner, hoping to wait out the spinning storm of campaigning. Eyes tightly shut, I was unaware of the wooden stool which flew across the room and knocked me unconscious.

The air was motionless in the dairy when I awoke. Clutching my head, I stumbled around, the sunlight shining through the window stabbing my eyes. Evidently, the storm was over; it was safe to go back to the house. Still rubbing at the large bump on my head, I staggered over to the door, and gingerly opened it. Immediately, there came a great and joyful shout from hundreds of throats; but so strange was the sight that greeted me, I barely even noticed.

Standing in front of me were some of the strangest creatures I had ever seen. Hundreds of them were milling around in front of me, every single one of them barefoot, wearing eyeliner, and with long hair which stuck up as though they’d just received an electric shock. None of them seemed over four feet tall, and had evidently come swarming out of the gaudily-painted yet dilapidated wooden huts I could see behind them. Some were dragging pianos from underneath dusty covers, and each and every one had a beaming smile on their face; some were even crying.

A group of them rushed up to me and hugged me round the middle; they seemed to be thanking me for something, although I had no idea what. Where the hell was this place? What happened to the farm? On the verge of panic, I managed to extricate myself from the press of bodies and step out onto the dusty ground. Dimly, through the noise of cheering, I could hear the strains of song as some of the creatures began to improvise a ditty on the piano.

“Ding dong, the witch is dead,
A stranger came and crushed her head,
Her whale-like body is no more,
Flattened by the dairy floor,
The spiteful bigot has now gone,
Time for us to have some fun,
 Now we Minchins are all right,
We can play our pianos through the night...”

Getting closer to a panic attack every second, my eyes darting frantically around the scene, I noticed a pair of red boots sticking out from underneath the dairy. Nobody seemed perturbed by this, indeed they all seemed quite happy; what was going on here?

I grabbed the nearest four foot tall man and shouted over the noise: “What’s going on here?” The man, with a beaming smile and a faint Australian accent, replied “You killed our overseer! You are our saviour!”

“What? What are you? I killed somebody? What...?”

The little man was about to reply when a shadow crossed over us. I followed his gaze and saw a rotund woman carrying a trident and wearing a long, glittering dress twenty yards away from where I stood. Silence instantly descended.

“Now then. Are you the owner of this dairy?” the woman asked me briskly. I dumbly nodded, and she continued. “Well, I guess I should be thanking you. My name’s Libertas, and you’ve just killed my sister, Anne Widecomb.” Ignoring my stammers of terrified apology, she walked over to the boots jutting from the dairy and pulled them off. “These are yours now, I suppose. If all the Minchins agree, of course.” The little men nodded their heads, and I guessed they were the Minchins. “Fair’s fair. I’ll be off, then.”

“No, wait!” I managed as she turned to leave. “What’s going on? What is this place?”

She turned back, slight astonishment upon her (I now noticed) rather shapely face. “You ... aren’t from Ozland?” she asked, then broke out into a stunning smile. “Then you may be exactly what we’ve been waiting for. Let me fill you in.

Anne Widecomb was one of my sisters, but she stood against everything I stand for. She hated feminism, homosexuality, atheism, independent thought, and anything that people could take even the slightest bit of joy in; that’s why she oppressed the Minchins here so much. Now that she’s dead, I can take her place and instil democracy here,” (she broke off as the Minchins cheered). “You are the first person to come here from another land for a long time, and I believe it is up to you to restore Ozland to the state it was in before the White Supremist Warlock arrived.”

“The White Supremist Warlock? Restore Ozland...No, you definitely have the wrong person. I’m just...John. I wouldn’t know the first thing about democracy, or saving a country, or anything. I just want to go home!”

Libertas looked deflated, but she rallied. “Well, then, as a mark of our gratitude, we should help you. As long as that’s what the Minchins want, of course.” Another cheer; having gotten rid of Widecomb, anything I wanted was bound to be acceded to. “Well, then, John, here’s what you shall have to do. Take my sister’s magical boots and follow the Neutrally-Coloured Brick Road to the Golden City, where you can meet with the Wizard of Ozland. He will show you the way home.” And with that, she twirled her sparkling dress and flew into the distance, leaving me with the Minchins.

Well, I supposed, I had no choice. I took the boots and replaced my battered old trainers with them (luckily, Widecomb must have had very mannish feet; they fit perfectly), then the Minchins led me to the gates of the Neutrally-Coloured Brick Road. As I stood there, looking down the rather drab path which would lead me, I hoped, to the Golden City, one of the Minchins presented me with a small rucksack containing all the supplies I would need, and telling me that anytime I needed help, all I had to do was to sing a comical song and they would rush to the scene. I thanked him, despite my doubts at being able to make up a comical song, let alone sing it, and, slinging the rucksack on my back, started off on my journey. 


A poem, which I started writing a while back and will either sound very literary, very depressing or just very awful:

Glass shatters into shards,
Which slip against each other, catching
Jagged edge to jagged edge.
They scratch and scrape,
Silky, dangerous; slipping, slicing,
And screeching, eerie, rough,

Each grainy edge rubs
Against another, never smooth.
Drawing blood, dripping down
And staining.

Red-smears on smooth surface
Spreading out, uneven on the slipping-sliding glass


Transparent films of crimson,
See through one side, turn ninety degrees:
Opaque. Still the screeching, still slicing,
Deeper red now, darker, translucent,
Nothing but red-stain, no image beyond,
Just pain and broken glass.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

An Unseasonal Christmas Poem

About now is the time shops gear up to begin their big Christmas push, or at least it seems that way; so I thought I'd commemorate the occasion with a little poem. Or, you can see this as an interesting comment on the datelessness of the Internet (it's a word!) and how I can publish in July but you can still read it in December. Whatever tickles your pickle.

Santa is a paedophile.
There’s no doubt in my mind
When children sit down on his knee
He’s feeling their behind.

His elves are dressed in skin-tight pants,
They’re only three feet tall,
And Santa, every single night
Takes one into his hall.

He watches children every day
To see if they behave;
He gives the nice ones lots of sweets
But it’s the naughty ones he craves.

He’s not particularly fussed
If it’s a girl or boy;
He’ll try to take them to his house
By giving them a toy.

So take heed, kids, on Christmas Eve
To watch out for this creep,
‘Cos otherwise he’ll fly right in
And watch you while you sleep.

Facebook: A Grumpy Rant

Facebook. The most popular social networking site in the world, as Jeremy Clarkson might put it. But is that actually a good thing?

Let’s examine that word “popular” for a moment. It’s used to denote success; if it’s popular, lots of people like it, and if lots of people like it, it generates money. Vast quantities of it in Facebook’s case; according to Forbes, Mark Zuckerberg is worth $17.5 billion. Everyone with access to the internet uses Facebook, and every time someone joins it puts a bit more money into the shareholders’ pockets. And, Facebook is undeniably useful because of its popularity; because everyone is on it, it’s the easiest way to track down old friends, to organise events with current friends, and for those inclined to nose into whatever their facebook-friends are doing at all times. Popularity-it’s great.

Yet it isn’t really, is it. “Popular” does not mean “good”; look at Justin Bieber, Twilight, and the Transformers films for examples. Facebook is exactly like the “popular” kids in school, who, invariably, turn out to be vacuous assholes whose poisonous influence follows you for your whole life. Like their conversation, 95% of what is said on Facebook is utter shit; like them, the number of friends you have (on Facebook) is seen by many to be a defining characteristic about you*; like them, Facebook is empty and soulless. And really, really annoying.

Let’s deal with the “utter shit” part first. I have a few friends on Facebook who log on first thing every day and post “good morning”, and every night “good night” (often with worse spelling). Why they do this, I have no idea. Do people need to know their getting up and bedtimes? Would they, without Facebook, send everyone in their phonebook a text saying “Good morning” every morning? What possible purpose does this achieve? Even worse is when people post their shitty musical tastes on their Facebook walls, in an attempt, I think, to advertise the tracks to the outside world and to make songs known to their mates. Seriously, if this is the case (and it isn’t just “look at me! I’m musical and deep!”, which I’m not ruling out), who actually thinks people won’t have heard “I heard it through the Grapevine” or “Someone like You”? When someone puts a video on someone else’s wall, then fair enough; it could well be something they’d enjoy. But when they put it as their own status, well, how arrogant must you be to assume that every one of your Facebook friends shares your musical tastes, or will be better educated once they’ve checked out your choices? There are a million examples of this and other instances of vacuous crap, and a lot of them are detailed in much funnier ways than I can on other sites.

On the subject of posting onto friends’ walls, how many actual friends does the average person know well enough to do this? I’d imagine very few; most of the friends most people have on Facebook are barely deserving of the title “acquaintance”, let alone “friend”. Perversely, because Facebook has this system of “friends”, people see everything they put on Facebook as private, shared between a group of people who know them and who they are comfortable sharing with. Yet, much like the popular kids in school, it isn’t just their friends who hear about this, but everyone on their friends list; EVERYONE, including that girl you drunkenly added because her name was “Wiener”, or that creepy guy who added you for no reason you can think of. And, what might be even worse, Facebook knows what you’ve written, and stores every status, comment, photo. This is fine while you’re 20 and have no responsibility, not so fine when you’re running for Prime Minister and your opponents unearth “that” striptease routine you did for a laugh back at uni. “Popular” means “public”, no matter how much Facebook might like to pretend they have privacy settings; and the more “popular” Facebook gets, the more powerful it grows.

That Facebook has now implemented a system of close friends and acquaintances demonstrates this far better than I ever could; people are now so vociferous about not wanting to have the thoughts of complete strangers clogging up their newsfeeds that Facebook has stepped in to help. But not, you’ll notice, to make people get rid of “friends”; they want people to have as many “friends” as possible, to get more people to join, to play the stupid games, to click on the adverts, and get revenue. Facebook, as an entity, is soulless, just like those dead-behind-the-eyes popular people at school; it exists purely to be popular and thus to gain money. I don’t actually have a problem with this, as after all, that’s what businesses do, but I do hate the sheep-like state it forces on the users. Take trending articles, for example; ostensibly they are a way for everyone to be included in the loop, to be made aware of pressing issues, to be made a part of the culture of information and community provided by the site. Yet what they actually are is a way for everyone to get the same news, to read the same opinions, and then be satisfied. They prevent thought, they don’t encourage it; in allowing everyone to read the same thing, they reduce originality, diversity, and individuality. If you get some poster paints or all the colours imaginable and mix them you get a sort of dirty brown colour; that’s what Facebook is doing to us by making everything common to everyone, and it really, really couldn’t care less. Everyone at school wants to be like the popular kids but it’s lucky for the world that they aren’t.

 The thing I hate most about Facebook, though, is that I can’t escape it. It’s everywhere, on every website, in the news, in the media. It’s the dominant social networking site and as a social networking site it is the best. But it’s also a dependency I don’t want. Like the existence of “popular” kids, it’s something we all have to accept as an inevitability; just don’t expect me to like it.

*Granted, it can be; the creepy guy with the crazy eyes who has no friends, real or facebook-imaginary, tends to be that way for a reason.

So, blogging...

The heavy metal door grinds slowly inwards, screeching into the darkness of the room beyond. I step inside, my foot slapping against one of the dank puddles covering the floor, only briefly revealed  by a faint and intermittent flicker of blue light which is the only source of illumination. Rusted pipes cross the ceiling, an unidentified dark liquid occasionally dripping through the jagged holes. This is it, the final hiding-place of my quarry; those long months of hunting have reached their climax.
Pushing past the door, hardly able to draw breath, I peer into the far corner of the room, and see  the source of the light.

The blinking power light of an old laptop, screen up but black, perched on the edge of a worn wooden table. An upturned wooden stool lies in front of it in another of the pools of dark liquid; but there is nothing else. He has eluded me again! 

I smash into the door with the palm of my hand, and a booming echo reverberates in the gloom. Immediately, the laptop screen flares, stark white, drawing my eye to it even as I throw my hand up to guard myself against the sudden light. Is it a trap? Slowly, I lower my hand, still gazing at the laptop across the room. Words have appeared on the screen:

Come closer.

Wary, unwilling, my feet shuffle towards it. I can see now that the liquid on the floor and in the pipes is deep red, bright red...I try to turn, to escape, but I cannot resist the pull. Slowly, inexorably, I am dragged across the room, until I stand directly in front of the computer.

Your quarry was here. He was entertaining for a while. As you will be. Now, type.

My trembling hand is pulled from my side, dragged towards the keyboard by an unseen force. I fight with all my strength to resist, my whole arm shaking, but it is too powerful. My fingers come to rest on the keys. Slight downward pressure and 

You're mine.

 God help me, and all who stumble across my tortured words. I am blogging.