Once Upon a Wine (How not to write a fairytale, by a bored and drunk writer)

Fat-squirrel-2Once upon a time, is an overused trope. There are many established and recognised ways to tell a story. This is not one of them. There are accepted literary rules that must not be broken. Speaking directly to the reader is one such rule. You are embarking on an experiment. It might become tedious. Maybe it won’t. But before we start, here is a quick writing tip; you should never begin or end a sentence with the word “but”. But there we are.

This story is a fairytale about a drug addict. And it begins (also, you should never begin a sentence with the word “and”) in a magical forest just outside of Boscombe.

Boscombe was a magical (another thing you should never do is repeat the same word twice in near proximity, i.e. “magical”) place in the south of England. It is a small province in Bournemouth. Boscombe is famous for stabbings, alcoholics, a booming drug trade (they were lucky enough to have the first crack factory discovered in England!) and a happy-go-lucky 30 year-old pisshead called Trev.

Trev was enjoying a peaceful slumber under a sick-looking oak tree just down the path from that tatty little mini-golf course in Boscombe gardens.

“Urgh,” he moaned, stirring from a terrible hangover. He began to cry. Crying in your sleep is a talent one acquires after much practice and hardship.

A squirrel watched him from a branch above. He had a look of trepidation in his eyes. He sniffed the air and twitched his nose. Quietly, and slowly, he scurried down the tree and landed softly on the ground. He crept up to Trev and looked him over carefully. (By the way, if you are reading this and are a writer in the making please do not do as I do. I am making no attempts to avoid adjectives. Avoiding adjectives is very important).

The squirrel sniffed Trev’s nose and took a tentative nibble. “Could this mysterious thing under the tree be a giant nut?” the squirrel thought. Probably.

Trev was startled awake. His eyes opened wide. In his mad half asleep state he perceived the squirrel as some kind of small fury monster. He screamed. The squirrel panicked. Trev reacted without thinking and slammed his fist heavily down on the beast. He punched the poor thing into the ground. It lay still, sunken into the dirt. Blood seeping from its ear. It twitched and then vomited. (Jesus Christ. This is a horrible fairy tale. If you haven’t stopped reading by now there is something really very wrong with you).

It is said that every time the fourth wall is broken, and the writer addresses the reader directly, the illusion is destroyed and any kind of drama or suspense built up is shattered. If you decide to address the reader directly, in your own writing, you should make sure it pays off and has at least some relevance to the story. If you are writing in the first person it can be used as a way to give a quirky insight into the narrator’s mind but it is rarely done well and normally just pisses people off. What I’m doing now is just self-indulgent and awkward for both of us.

Trev pulled himself to his feet and brushed bits of twigs and dirt from his clothes. (A quick note about adjectives. I could have just said, “Tev stood up. His clothes were dirty.” But “dirty” is an adjective, and as I said earlier, they must be avoided. It’s all about showing and not telling, so they say. Building a picture for the mind’s internal cinema to follow).

Fuck. I can’t remember what this story was going to be about. Princesses maybe? Drug addled princesses. I don’t know. That will do. Fairy tales should have villains shouldn’t they? Yes!! (Exclamation marks, let’s talk about that. They should be used sparingly, and never more than one, ever). Right, let’s get a villain on to the scene.

A shadow fell over Trev, our prince. Trev looked up at the figure standing over him, shielding his eyes from the bright sun that was eclipsing around the figure, causing him to appear as a featureless silhouette.

“What the fuck do you want?”

The figure leaned forward revealing his identity. “Ello, ello, ello,” he said, stereotypically.

“Good morning Constable.”

“You just murdered that squirrel.”

“I want to marry your daughter.”

“Well, well, well,” said the constable (who had a recognisable trait of often repeating words three times just because the author doesn’t have the adequate skills to create a more distinct character and wants to avoid saying the words “he said” by letting the verbal tick do the work for him), “Doesn’t that add an interesting depth to our relationship. You’re nicked.”

Trev was taken to the police station and the author decided to wrap things up because this whole thing, whatever it is, is pointless and stupid.

The constable’s daughter beat her teenage fists on her dad’s manly chest and begged him to let Trev, her lover, go. He agreed and the teenage couple had sex resulting in an unwanted pregnancy. They got marriage even though they barely knew each other because Trev wanted to prove her dad wrong, and is a bit of a dick. They lived happily on benefits ever after.


The End



The squirrel that Trev punched survived but due to an unusually warm winter, making it easier than usual to find food, got fat and was killed by a cat because he couldn’t get away quick enough.


Tom Waits – Small Change

2137239Tom Waits was a man with a voice like burnt gravel and the mannerisms of Heath Ledger’s Joker. He sounded like Louis Armstrong when he sang. You don’t expect that voice to come out of him when you first glimpse this thin, junky like, haggard man on the album cover of Small Change. That voice comes out like a parody of Armstrong. So strange to hear it from this thin white tramp, stinking of booze and cigarettes.

In interviews his wit was so quick you wondered if it was planned ahead of time. The man was just sharp. One interviewer said to him, after Tom pulled a bottle of wine from nowhere and started drinking, “It’s kinda strange to have a guy sitting here with a bottle in front of him.” And without pause Tom said, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” This man was quick. That same wit, that odd poetic sense of humour, finds its way into his lyrics.

Small Change came out in 1976. You can put that record on and immediately find yourself transported to a world that maybe never even existed outside of fiction. A world of Beat Poets. Smokey bars. Dimly lit stages. You’re at a small table near the front of the stage. You can see your own distorted reflection in the side of the grand piano. Hunched over the keys, with smoke drifting up from his cigarette, is Tom Waits. His slow ragged voice singing, “The piano has been drinking…”

TomWaits1Normally artists easily find themselves categorised away in your mind with similar artists. But Tom Waits doesn’t fall in with Bob Dylan, or Leonard Cohen, as you might expect. He’s on the pile with Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs. All writers. And his influences are as deeply bound with comedians like Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley as they are with the jazz that feeds his music. Tom Waits was a wit-inflicted Beat Poet with a piano.

Small Change was his fourth album. The opening track, Tom Traubert’s Blues, is a twisted version of Waltzing Matilda. Although Written in London while on tour there the song is about an earlier time. The songs subtitle, Three Sheets to the Wind in Copenhagen, sums up the nature of the narrative.

But track two, Step Right Up, is where the album kicks off. Tom takes old clichéd advertising slogans and stitches them together in this humorous musical rant. “Step right up. You got it buddy: the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away.”

Every track has something worth hearing, a great lyric or grim scene (like, “Crawling on her belly, and shaking like jelly, and I’m getting harder than Chinese algebra.” From the dirty but brilliant song, Pasties and a G-String), but the stand-out track is My Piano Has Been Drinking (not me). A nonsense song about a singer in a bar. A drunkard passing blame to his instrument and voicing distain at everything around him. The piano is played with disregard. It’s like an act. Tom Wait’s playing the drunk. While drunk. As for the words, there will be no lyrical spoilers here, it’s worth waiting for.

I won’t go into the rest of the album, some things are worth discovering for yourself.

An Art: the Rules of Which are Ambiguous and Hard to Dispute.


This is a poem.

Don”t believe me?

Prove it.


That’s the whole poem. Clever isn’t it? (he said sardonically). I was just going to upload the picture and that’s it but it didn’t seem like enough, so now I’m writing more words. Do you see them? Wow, that was a metaphysical  question. Can you see these words? You wouldn’t know a question was being posed if you couldn’t could you? The question answers itself simply by the act of being asked. But, well… Poems.

I even wrote the poem again right after the picture just in case you didn’t realise that was the whole blog post. But now there’s too many words and I’m not sure how to stop because I have nothing to actually say. I’ll tell you what, this poem stuff is pretty fun isn’t it? I haven’t shared any of them on facebook so none of my friends or family know I’ve written any (I think I would get lynched at the pub if anyone found out I was doing something so unmanly).

What I really need is friends that read. Or have some sort of interest in culture or art. I’m on my own out here. With my dirty rotten soul.

Anyway, while you’re down here, getting distracted by my bullshit;

This is a poem.

Don’t believe me?

Prove it.


The Ignoble Poet


It occurs to the Ignoble Poet that all things are shit

We are many; us word beating priests of piss.

Cracking verse on a smoke ridden page

Death to all flower poems, and words about birds


Deftly we abandon the traditional iambic

The pentameter of ten can crash and burn

Structure will not decry our view

Of a world in need of absolute horror


We are many, as we have said. Poets

Against structure. Sadness has needs

Get drunk dear reader, or give up now

We care not for your worthy goals


Life is the same for every man, eventually

We die. Nobody will remember rhyme or verse

It must be clear by now that the rules are gone

In the new form of bollocks and honesty.


We give a fuck enough to be sincere.

Dystopian Insects. (The Emerald Society)

Emerald Society Pic

There is a wasp that stings a cockroach in the head

It picks its place carefully, like an emerald surgeon

The only attractive wasp, the worst of all its ilk


The innocent bug with its reputation for surviving

Fails wholeheartedly at upholding stereotypes

Obediently it is led toward the jewel’s nest


The bug fucks the cockroach, not copulate, it screws it

It gives birth inside it. Those babies, my god those babies,

What an introduction to the world.


There was a human woman. She was dressed in sequins.

She enthralled a cow and laid her foetus inside it

The living beef shed no tears. Mesmerised by the woman.


The bovine feedbag lived until each organ was devoured

The baby gnawed at each part, but kept it alive until

Finally the kid could crawl from its dead carcass


And the baby grew fast, and found another cow, to fuck

To keep alive. Its kids will repeat the whole ghastly thing

The natural world is a bewildering pit of shit


Apulex Compressa, if human was wasp, society

Would be a perfect metaphor for modern tragedy

But why be so blunt when we have reality


Unvailing, with no further introduction; modern life

The conservatives are here to fuck you in the ear

And give birth to a cockroach-cattle herd


Accept death. Or don’t. You don’t have to choose

Those conservatives in suits sure look nice don’t they?

Be the cockroach, be the wasp, or watch and cry

The best you can do is hates both sides.

Poems are for Drunks and Romantics.


I am a man of words. A novelist. I never expected, nor had any desire, to be a poet. Poetry clashes with my literal stoic mind. But here we are, cynical ugly poems started riffing out of my fingertips. But only after an inhuman amount of whisky. I can’t do it while sober. Limericks and comic verse comes out instead. Like this one –



A low rumble moves my bowel

I start to run with hurried howl

Doubled over and buttocks tight

I reach the door and pull the light

I struggle and try to remove my jeans

With a gasp the button does release

I pull my pants down past my knees

And sit down fast with great relief

I then let out a massive parp

Alas, ’twas just a fart


And this one –


New Brew

No milk or sugar or coffee too

No money or friends to get some juice

I checked the fridge and in the loo

To try to make an alternative brew

Marmite, Lemon and even Glue

Detergent, soap and juice from a shoe

Stir in a pot and heat it through

To make a drink I may need to chew

The drink is ready, it smells like poo

I took a swig and soon I knew

This gross concoction will make you spew

And even go blind and death and shrew

My body went limp and I sat on a pew

My god! I thought, I love this brew

It’s better than coffee and tea and soup

It’s better than music and even booze

The best thing is the following news:

I made a batch just for you!


Childish really. But the mad weird poems, they come while I’m half crazy with booze. I barely remember writing them. But they are mounting up so I figured I’d share a few, even if it is at odds with my normal stance as a humour writer.

The Vainglorious Abyss

The Hipsters are here. There’s no stopping them.

They are throw backs to beat poets who hate them.

The copycat brethren of false intelligence.

Hoodlums dressed like nerdy impersonate.


They stroll the poor towns they decorate with old art.

50s pin ups and 60s haircuts, they are the false smart.

“I am a canvas,” they say, “My life is poetry.”

Leave it to the useless to approve their own credulity.


Cult and fashion are not the flag of individuality,

You are confusing social grouping with vague sincerity.

Like mice convinced they own the maze of unique,

You are the Dumb that brow beats the meek.


You will not find wisdom in stylized polaroids.

Hipsters exist in a narcissists void.

Did a Ghost just fly out of this Trumpet?

(Video of ghost at bottom of post)

I don’t believe in ghosts. Let’s start with that. I have recently moved into the house my mother grew up in. 5 generations of my family have lived in this house over the years. We haven’t always owned the house, and there was a gap of about 40 years where other families lived here, but serendipitously the house wound up back in the family.

It is said that my mother’s grandmother haunts the small room upstairs (now my daughter’s bedroom. Please don’t tell her). My great grandmother didn’t approve of my parents’ marriage and on the morning of their wedding her ghost made her displeasure known. The small room upstairs is L shaped and on the far wall, around the corner of the L, was stacked some collapsible chairs. Those chairs had somehow moved around the corner and wedged themselves against the door so no one could get in. All of the wedding stuff was trapped.

Fast forward to present day. Last weekend my sister and her son moved in with me. My sister looks a lot like my mother, and I look a lot like my uncle. My sister, being of the hysterical type, is convinced that her being has stirred up the ghost.

“She’s going to think I’m mum!” she bellowed, like a mad twenty eight year old toddler.

“Ghosts aren’t real. Please move. You’re blocking the telly.”

“I was taking a picture of the cats yesterday and a ghost walked past the camera. I shit you not.”

“I’m trying to watch QI.”

“A real ghost.”

“You’re not going to move are you?”

“We should film me and see if there’s a ghost. What’s the best way to do that?”

“I think you have to play the trumpet while listening to Wagner.”

“Ok. Let’s do it.”

“You’re mental.”

“You’re just scared.”

“Fine. Go get the trumpet.”

And so it was that we came to film the video below. And lo and behold, at the end of the video, a fucking ghost flies out of the trumpet. Personally I think it’s a piece of dust with a sense of humour. My sister on the other hand is still crying.