Saturday, 30 March 2013

Fiction Extract

And this is a more serious extract, again from Christabel. 

Breath. Life-giving, end-of-life fearing, ragged breath. The only sound that filled her ears as she crouched in the undergrowth, poised for flight. The only sound. But she knew from the shift in the silence that she was not alone. The breath leaving her body froze the instant it touched the air, like an eerie portent of a soul breaking free from its mortal prison. Not that she'd been in time to see this. Their souls were long at peace by the time she'd got back. No, not at peace. Their glassy stares and twisted expressions of pain and fear belied that. What soul could rest in peace once it had seen...

Movement. Before her senses could even acknowledge it, it was over. The thrown blade cut through the air in perfect kilter with the line of the horizon as the sun rose deep crimson, so that she never even saw it. But she felt it. Looking down, she almost lazily pulled her now scarlet hand away from her chest. Drops of scarlet pattered silently to white earth, glowing, the only form of colour against the snow covered landscape and the gray trees. The flow increased, the first few drops of rain giving way to the thunderstorm in summer. The blood was pouring now, her eyes rolled this way and that, frantic to catch sight of her attacker, desperate to intercept him before he...

Struck. A heavy blow caught her on the chin and she was down. She couldn't move at all now as the silent world became loud with the pounding in her head and her heart. How strange that her heart should pound so loud, right when it was about to cease from pounding all together. She didn't have this thought though. As the blood from her temple streamed down to mingle with the rest in the snow, she could think only one thing. She was not done. She needed to finish this. Raising her face with a dying man' s effort, every muscle trembling as its life source drained from it, finally she met the gaze of her attacker. The gaze of the being that had instilled those grotesque, transfixed affectations of horror on everyone she's known. And she smiled. A twisted little curve in the corner of her mouth that said one thing. I'm coming for you. I may be going now, but live in fear, wait for me, know this, one day I'll be...

Awakened. By what. A dream. No, the dream. Always the same one, though how she knew it was the same was beyond her, because she could never recall its words, its details, its events. Except the striking image of red on white. Blood on snow. She stretched the sleep away. There was no snow here. This was a land of sand, and heat, and, right now, drought. She reached out to pick up the empty water vessels as her muscles readied themselves for the ache of another day. With the uneasy feeling the dream always left still upon her, she walked backwards out of the hut, feeling almost like she had forgotten something...

'Duck!' A child's wooden frisbee whizzed past, missing her by inches. Her sharp intake of breath turned to the laughter of relief as one of the boys raced after it, his muttered apology flying back to her in the wake of his dash. Tolos, the man attached to the warning cry, followed swiftly after him, but gave it up as a bad job when he reached her, and, deciding his curses were quicker, sent them after the boy instead. 'I'm sorry my love, I've told him a thousand times...'

Silenced. But by her smile, not her words. He stood there with the punch-drunk look of a man in love. She smiled wider. 'Boys have to get rid of their energy somehow. At least he’s sticking to the new restrictions. It’s hard on them, now they've got nowhere to play.' She stopped talking, as his unchanged look of heady intoxication belied the fact he wasn't hearing a word. 'Are we still meeting for dinner later?'

'Dinner? Yes. Of course.' She smiled again and pushed past him playfully, as she went to start her work. Life was fine right now. She could hardly complain. There was always the threat of hunger and thirst but that was nothing new. Tolos was a new development and he was utterly devoted to her. Someone like him was all she could have hoped for. But the remnants of the dream tugged at her mind, and rather than fading, they expanded, like bread in a puddle, soaking up her thoughts, throwing her into a dull panic. Always the same dream. Always the same day following it, a day of sick unease. But everything was normal, better than normal even. Good. Then why should she feel this way. Why did she feel so...


Don't smoke, kids!

Another Christabel sketch-enjoy, people! 

Voiceover: And don't forget to join us tomorrow on channel 10 when we take a look at the effects of smoking, as part of the 'a healthier life is a longer life' week.

Scottish woman in lab coat: Viewers of a sensitive nature are warned that this documentary contains distressing images of people's teeth yellowed to a sickening degree, as well as the repulsive effects smoking has on people’s hands and fingernails, when coupled with never washing your hands or fingernails.

Bearded earnest presenter: Smoking is very bad. Just look at the effect a few puffs of smoke has on this perfectly white fluffy cotton wool, which is pretty much exactly the same stuff as comprises the human lung and therefore a totally legitimate and relevant demonstration of the effects of smoking on a human lung.

Scientist: Statistics show that 99% of smokers will die, at some point in their lives. Those that haven't died yet are frequently followed around by disembodied letters in the air, often forming the names of critical diseases like 'lung cancer' and 'heart disease'. This can be disconcerting if not downright terrifying.

Presenter: Smoking harms those around you too. In fact you may as well stab people in the lungs and then proceed to repeatedly beat burning ashes into the open wound. Smoking is essentially murder. And suicide. But sneaky murder and suicide. It’s not like going into Homebase and asking for a chainsaw oh god oh god those neighbours are bloody annoying. It’s like going into Homebase and asking for cigarettes. And then getting sent to the corner shop down the road because Homebase don't sell cigarettes. And then purchasing cigarettes and smoking them. Around lots of innocent people.

Scientist: Smoking makes you infertile. But then again, that’s probably good, because if you could have children you'd be filling their lungs with smoke on a daily basis, which is basically the same as being a terrorist.

Presenter: Expect lots of people in white coats using medical terms for what is essentially the bleeding obvious, in order to make you think you're learning new information.

Scientist: If you walk down the street smoking, living beings all around you will drop down dead like flies.

Presenter: Despite all this, there is nothing we can do to stop smoking being 'cool'. It is an objective fact that smoking is cool. It may not be the coolest thing, it’s not as cool as being able to kite-surf, or a small child punching the Queen. But it’s definitely up there. That’s why NHS anti-smoking adverts show men beating up unrealistically sized cigarettes. These are actually other men in cigarette costumes. But the point is, if smoking is cool, but giving up smoking is essentially the same as beating up smoking, that makes you cooler. So go on, be cooler than smoking, and join us tomorrow evening, at 7pm to find out how you can live a healthier, longer life by quitting smoking today.

Friday, 29 March 2013

An Interview with Neil Armstrong

This is by an up-and-coming writer called Christabel who's joining me on the blog. As such, it's actually funny. Enjoy! 

Jenny Saunders: Hi and welcome, you're joining me, Jenny Saunders, tonight in the studio, interviewing Neil Armstrong. Hi Neil.

Neil: Hi Jenny Saunders.

Jenny: Please, call me Jenny.

Neil: Likewise.


Jenny: So although no one has heard from him in a while, the space race being rather 'old news' and all, we're here to celebrate the launch chuckles to herself over the awful pun of a new album, which I am told was written recorded and played all by himself: 'Space, not all its cracked up to be'. I'm joined here by the first man on the moon-

Neil: cutting in I wanted it to be 'elevated'.

Jenny: Excuse me?

Neil: Space, not all its elevated to be. So you'd get a nice word play. Double entendre. You know, elevated like the sky, and elevated like its really good.

Jenny: I don't...

Neil: But my publicity manager said that was misleading. 


Jenny: So Neil, I'm fascinated in astrophysics myself, but I haven't made it out there myself yet.

Loud laugh abruptly cut off from Neil.

So I'd like to ask-

Neil: That was a question already, but you can ask me another one too. [grins winningly]

Jenny: I didn't ask you if I could ask you a question.

Neil: Oh.

Jenny: This is an interview.


What was it like seeing the earth from so far away? Were you overwhelmed with a profound sense of meaning, or profundity, beauty perhaps?

Neil: Well, the funny thing is that before I went into space, I used to try and imagine all the billions of miles between all the stars, and how compared to the universe a person is smaller and more insignificant than the tiniest ant swimming in a massive puddle of jam, which lead to bouts of severe depression and significantly factored in the breakup of my third marriage. But the thing is, when you're actually up there, you're the first man ever to be standing on the moon, gazing down at the tiny planet which is home to your entire race... you realise actually there's not that much to it.

Jenny: To what?

Neil: To space. I mean, its mainly just. Space. You know, empty space.

Jenny: Right. But really its not just about that moment I suppose, I mean it represents the pinnacle of decades of technology, years of training, days of travelling.

Neil: Well, yeah. But I mean, you can actually get to the moon quite easily.

Jenny: Really, I was under the impression it was quite a difficult task, what with the space race and everything?

Neil: Oh yeah, no, that was because we originally miscalculated the size of the moon. We thought it had a circumference of 6790 miles, by which we estimated that it was pretty far away. In actual fact its 12 miles in circumference, so its only about 15 minutes away, and you can walk round the whole thing quite comfortably in a couple of hours, I mean there's not much to stop and look at on the way, its mainly just rocks, and the scenery is just, space, so you could probably powerwalk it in about an hour/hour fifteen, that sort of time scale.

Jenny: Right.

Neil: You can even make your own rocket fuel at home using a 3 to 1 ratio of sodium chloride and diesel.

Jenny: I did not know that.

Neil: No, not many people do. But can we stop talking about space please? That’s all anyone ever asks me about, I'm sick of space. That’s why I moved back to Earth. There’s no space there at all its lovely. I never have trouble sleeping at night.  I've got this really great knack of getting to sleep. I can get to sleep whenever I want to. Just like that clicks his fingers I guess you could say its like voluntary narcolepsy.

Jenny: Ok. Narcolepsy, did you mean that? Sorry, its just the thing with narcolepsy is that its just the same as sleeping, but its involuntary, you can't decide when you do it.

Neil: Yeah, that’s it, and I can. I can always just go to sleep when I want. Voluntary narcolepsy. He beams So can we talk about my album now?

Jenny: Ok, sure Neil.

Neil: Please?

Jenny: Yes, that’s fine.

Neil: Please?

Jenny: Yes, we'll move on.

Neil: Can I just say...

Jenny: What?

Neil: What?

Puzzled look

Jenny opens her mouth to speak, Niel goes to speak every time this happens, so she stops, waits for him to speak, he says nothing. This happens three times.

I hate to be racist, but I dislike you purely on the basis of your ethnic origin.

Jenny: I'm from London.

Neil: narrows eyes I know.


It just feels like you're not on my side Jenny.

Jenny: utterly wrong-footed No, no not at all, I'm a big fan of all your... space...

Neil: I just feel like no one cares about me, its all space this and black holes that, no one cares that I've home recorded three concept albums since then, two of which aren't even about space, and I did the cover artwork myself. But no one’s interested in that. They just want to know all about higgldybiggldy particles and black matter. You know I went in to NASA the other day just to say hi, and the security guard at the door didn't know who I was. He didn't recognise my face. Cos its all about the astronaut suit. (spoken fading away to a whisper) Just about the external suit, no one gives a shit about the man inside. He looks wistfully into the distance

Jenny: Well thanks Neil.

Neil: whispered Jenny...

Jenny: Yes?

Neil: No, I said you can call me Jenny earlier. I mean initially it was a slip of the tongue, but as I didn't acknowledge it at the time I thought it would be best to play along with it and just pretend my name was Jenny too. Otherwise you might have thought I was weird.

Jenny: completely at a loss I'm going to hand us back to the studio now Neil, any last words?

Neil: He looks petrified Why, what are you going to do to me?

Jenny: No, we're just finishing up the interview Ne.. Jen... Mr Armstrong.

Neil: looking around wildly Dad?

Jenny: And you can buy Neil’s latest album online now featuring the additional bonus tracks 'Space- you took my breath away' and 'One small step for man, one giant leap for a much smaller man'.