The Madness of the Criterion Collection

I’ve never owned a Blu-Ray player. I had amassed a towering DVD collection from the late 90s to about 5 years ago which got so large and cumbersome I moved it into storage. In the end streaming services took over and large swathes of it were sold off. I like streaming but I’ve always missed my physical movie library.

My film nerd friends out there will know the words, Criterion Collection. They are a company that, in their words, dedicate themselves to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film.

They don’t release the films that made the most money, or got the best reviews, they release the films that they think deserve to be presented in the best possible quality.

The Criterion Collection breeds madness. There are videos on YouTube of people standing in their Criterion Closets (walk-in wardrobes racked floor to ceiling with expensive Blu-Rays) swooning over their own obscure knowledge of movies you’ve never heard of. “The visual poetry of Jean Cocteau’s, Orpheus is… etc etc etc”. And in the next breath they’ll be equally excited about their Criterion release of Robocop. And rightly so.

It is a cult.

I am now a member of that cult.

For it is my birthday today and Rachel has given me my very first Blu-Ray player! And… My very first Criterion Blu-Ray!

Destry Rides Again is James Stewart’s first foray into the Western genre… etc etc etc

David’s Inferno

I’ve redesigned Dante’s Inferno just for David Chapman.

Some backstory first. I experience a severe type of misophonia when I hear the sound of a fork scratching on a plate. It’s normal for people to hate that sound. My reaction to it is a physical one. (I think it stems from watching Nightmare On Elm Street when I was six and the months of nightmares that followed).

It makes eating in restaurants a battle of survival. Not for me, but for the other diners. A battle they don’t know they are a part of. I hear a SCHREEE and it’s all I can do to not stab them in the forehead with my fork.

All of my family are aware of this. Any time we get together for a meal, and somebody accidentally makes that helll-spawned sound, the whole table stops what they’re doing and look at me. I’ll be gripping my cutlery tightly, my eye twitching. Sometimes threats of death will lurch from my mouth in a way that is beyond my control.

Somebody usually asks, tentatively, “Are you okay?”

A question I can’t reply to because I’m grinding my teeth so hard I can feel them break in my mouth.

This is more than a dislike of the sound. It is an adrenaline fueled panic that triggers the fight or flight response. It’s primal. If I ever go to prison for murder that will be my reason.

My brother knows this well.

Before I had even sipped my coffee this morning I noticed a message from him. It was a video. I clicked on it. A fork was pushed along a plate and my phone was on full volume. SCHREEEEEEEE!!

I dropped my phone and started shaking.

He is a total and utter c**t.

When Virgil guides him through hell, just as he did with Dante so many centuries ago, he will get to the bottom and find that it doesn’t go deep enough.

As such I have redesigned the Inferno to include a new layer just for him.

Using TikTok to Build a Readership. #1

TikTok is a social media app that mostly involves lip syncing teenagers and dance routines. It is not a place for literature… Seems like the perfect place to chisel out a niche.

If you are unfamiliar with the format, here are the basics:

There are three ways to post content; a 15 second video, a 60 second video, or a photo montage.

You can easily add special effects and filters. You are limited to 100 characters in your description, which must include your hashtags.

You film your short video, post it, and with any luck you start to amass likes and followers.

I am new to TikTok but I thought it might be interesting to share any insights and tips that I glean along the way.

Here is the first TikTok I made with my manifesto –

I’m writing a dark fairy tale horror based on the Brothers Grimm story, Gnome. I will be documenting my progress and process regularly.

I will also be posting writing tips (sometimes serious, and sometimes not so serious, as in the TikTok below).

It is important as authors that we experiment with different ways of reaching and interacting with readers. This TikTok thing might crash and burn, but it might not. Either way I’ll be doing weekly updates with stats right here on my blog. So please follow me if you are curious about how this goes. Maybe you’ll decide to take to TikTok too, in which case you must let me know; we’ll do a duet.

I’ll get into TikTok duets in another post but, should I gain momentum, a duet is a way of giving new TikTokers an introduction to like minded followers. We’ll grow together.

The link below will take you straight to my TikTok profile. Feel free to cringe at my early attempts at content. Eesh. It’s a learning process, right? And don’t forget to press that follow button!

So, I’ve been on TikTok for three days so far. At the bottom of each TikTok update on this site I’ll publish my stats so you can see my growth and decide if it would be a worthwhile venture for yourself.

I’ll share my failed posts, my successful ones, everything; the good and the bad. Things are going to get experimental and weird. Until next time.


One Page Punch Up

I submitted the first page of my new book to The Bestseller Experiment podcast to be criticised in what they call a One Page Punch Up. There were many submissions but, to my joy (and sudden apprehension), I got selected!

And so best-selling author, Mark Stay (author of Back to Reality and the film Robot Overlords starring Gillian Anderson and Ben Kingsley) and Juliet Ewers (Publishing Associate at Orion Publishing who has previously worked with Ian Rankin and Michael Conolly) critiqued the opening page of Shelley Town RPG, my latest novel (it’s a Stephen King-esque horror).

The episode came out. Me and Rachel pressed play and listened. A grin started to spread across my face. By the time it was done we were speechless.

If you want yo hear what these two respected experts had to say about my writing you can listen on the link below! They reviewed five pages. Mine is first so you won’t have to scroll through the audio trying to find me.

EP231: One Page Punch-Ups with Juliet Ewers

10 Amazing Coincidences From History


The First World War wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for one fatal coincidence involving a sandwich and a botched assassination. Had a car not stalled in just the right place, at just the right time, maybe the entire 20th century would have been completely different.

Not all coincidences from history carry the same weight but they sure are interesting. Whether it’s a curse bringing forth Hitler’s attack on the USSR, or a crossword accidentally leaking British Secrets, or the many things John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln have in common, there is something fascinating about the symmetry of a good coincidence.

A coincidence is described in the dictionary as, “A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” However some people might begin to wonder if fate has something to do with it. After you’ve survived your third ship sinking disaster (each of the three sister ships that the Titanic belonged too) you might start to wonder if a higher power was trying to send you a message.

Fate or not, one thing is for sure, history is riddled with coincidence.

 Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy

Lincoln Kennedy

Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy, may have lived 100 years apart, but they had a lot in common.

Both presidents were elected in ’60 and were both succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.

Both died after being shot in the head on a Friday, while seated next to their wives.

Both presidents had four children and both lost a son during their presidencies.

Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theatre. Kennedy was shot in a Ford Lincoln.

Lincoln sat in box number seven at Ford’s theatre. Kennedy sat in car number seven in the motorcade.

After Lincoln’s assignation, John Wilkes Booth (the killer), ran from the theatre to a warehouse. After Kennedy was shot his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, ran from a warehouse to a theatre.

 Titanic Coincidence


The Titanic was one of three sister ships built by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line. The three ships were, RMS Titanic, RMS Britannic, and RMS Olympic. Violet Jessop was on both the Titanic, and the Britannic when they sank, and was on board the Olympic when it crashed into a warship.

In 1910, Violet Jessop started working as a stewardess on RMS Olympic. On 20 September 1911 the luxury liner left Southampton and collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. NobodViolet_jessop_titanicy died and they managed to get the ship back to port before it sank.

Violet boarded the RMS Titanic on 10 April 1912. She worked as a stewardess for four days and then the Titanic crashed into an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. As an interesting aside, she was ordered onto lifeboat 16 and handed a baby. When Violet and the rest of the survivors were picked up by the RMS Carpathia a woman grabbed the baby she was holding and ran off without saying a word. She never found out what became of the baby or if the woman was the child’s mother.

The First World War started and Violet served as a stewardess for the British Red Cross on the Britannic, which had been converted into a hospital ship. An unexplained explosion caused the ship to sink in the Aegean Sea. 30 people died. Violet Jessop survived.

Undeterred by these events Violet returned to the White Star Line in 1920.

 Tamerlane’s Curse


Tamerlane was a 14th Century Turko-Mongol military leader. He followed in the footsteps of Ghengis Khan, who reigned a century earlier. Tamerlane idolized Genghis Khan and used similar methods to build his empire. His wife, Saray Mulk Khanum was a Chagatai princes and direct descendant of Genghis.

During his reign, Tamerlane’s armies killed seventeen million people, about 5% of the entire population of the globe.

In 1941, Russian archaeologists escavated Tamerlane’s tomb and found inscribed within were the words, “When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble.” Another inscription on his coffin read, “Whoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.”

Within two days Hitler invaded the USSR.

 King Umberto I Of Italy And His Doppelganger

 King Umberto

On 28 July 1900, King Umberto I of Italy was having dinner in a restaurant. The owner came over to take the King’s order they quickly realised they had a lot in common.

For a start they were both called Umberto and were almost perfect doppelgangers of one another. They got to talking and discovered some more unusual coincidences. They were both born on 14 March 1844 in the same town of Turin, and were both married to women named Margherita, who they married on the same day, and the both had a son named Vittorio.

The restaurant owner opened his restaurant on the same day that King Umberto was crowned King of Italy.

The following day the restaurateur was shot dead. Later that same day, while out in a public street, King Umberto learned his death from his aide. While expressing his regret a rogue anarchist in the crowd pulled out a gun and assassinated him.

 Franz Ferdinand And The Sandwich

 Franz Ferdinand

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the catalyst that kicked off the First World War. But it almost didn’t happen. Ferdinand’s assassin was 19 year-old Gavrilo Princip. He was part of the freedom-fighting Black Hand Gang.

While waiting in the street for the Archduke to pass in his open-top car, so that he could shoot him, another member of the Black Hand Gang, further up the street, threw a bomb at the car. The bomb hit Franz Ferdinand’s car and bounced off. It rolled under the car behind and exploded, injuring an officer and several bystanders.

The car carrying the Archduke sped off towards the town hall to escape. Gavrilo Princip, feeling dejected that the assassination had failed, walked around the corner and entered a delicatessen for a sandwich.

Having calmed down a bit, Franz Ferdinand decided to go to the hospital to visit the victims of the attack. Unfortunately the driver took a wrong turn and while trying to reverse to turn around stalled the car. They had stalled directly outside the delicatessen that Princip was now exiting with his sandwich.

He saw, to his utter astonishment, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, right there in front of him. He pulled out his gun and shot them both dead.

Robert Lincoln, Presidential Angel Of Death

 Robert Todd Lincoln

Robert Todd Lincoln was the son of President Abraham Lincoln. His life was riddled with coincidence. In the history of America there have been four presidential assassinations. Robert was present for three of them.

Robert wasn’t at Ford’s Theatre during his father’s assassination but he was rushed to his bedside and was present when the President succumbed to his injuries.

16 years later, in 1881, Robert was working as Secretary of War for President James Garfield. A few months after he started the job, Robert was accompanying President Garfield to the train station in Washington. A man named Charles Guiteau jumped out with a pistol and shot the president twice.

In 1901 President William McKinley invited Robert Lincoln to join the Presidents entourage at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. An anarchist named Leon Czolgosz ambushed the President. Leon shook President Garfield’s hand, pulled out a gun, and shot him twice.

After this event Robert Lincoln refused any invites to events involving Presidents. After one such invite he said, “No, I’m not going, and they’d better not ask me, because there is a certain fatality about Presidential functions when I am present.”

There is one more coincidence in Robert Lincoln’s life that is worth mentioning. When he was still a student at Harvard he fell onto the tracks at a train station between the carriage and the platform. A man reached down and grabbed him by the collar, pulling him to safety and saving his life. That man was Edwin Booth, one of the most famous actors of the 19th century and the brother of John Wilkes Booth, the man who would one day assassinate Robert’s father.

 Russian Coin

 Russian Coin

During the Cold War soviet spies used to use hollow coins to hide secret messages in. A delivery boy named Jimmy Bozart, who worked for the Brooklyn Eagle, was collecting payments on his round when something odd about one of the coins caught his attention. He examined it briefly and then threw it to the ground where it spit in half and revealed a small piece of paper inside.

Jimmy showed his friend at school who then told his dad, who was an NYPD officer, who passed the coin up the chain of command until it ended up in the hands of the FBI.

The piece of paper found inside the coin turned out to be a tiny photograph that consisted of columns of numbers. It was a code. There was no key for the code and cryptologists and code-cracking machines were unable to decipher it.

Four years later a Russian KGB officer named, Reino Hayhanen, was called back to the USSR. Not wanting to return he stopped on his way from America to the USSR in Paris and gave himself in. From there he called the U.S. embassy and soon found himself back on US soil.

Someone involved remembered the coin from four years previous and asked Reino if he would be able to decode it. He could. It turned out the message was meant for him and was simply welcoming him to Amercia from Moscow.

 Mark Twain and Halley’s Comet

 Mark Twain

Mark Twain, author of Huckleberry Finn, and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was born 30 November 1835. Halley’s Comet, which passes Earth every 75 years, also made an appearance in 1835.

74 years later Mark Twain gave a prediction. He said, “It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together’.”

On 20 April 1910, Halley’s Comet came by again. The following day Mark Twain died of a heart attack.

Crossword Secrets


In 1944, D-Day codenames started to appear as solutions in the Daily Telegraph’s crosswords.

The crosswords were created by Leonard Dawe. When not creating puzzles Dawe was the headmaster at Strand School in Leatherhead. Next to the school was a large camp of US and Canadian troops getting ready for D-Day. The security at the camp was so lax that school boys were able to enter the camp and hang around with the soldiers. The boys overheard codenames for D-Day landing sites and spoke about them at school.

Looking for new words for the crossword, Leonard Dawe, put some of these codenames the boys were unknowingly sharing into the crossword.

For a few months leading up to the D-Day landings the words, Gold, Sword, and Juno, all appeared. Those words were codenames for landing sites. The British Secret Service put these down to coincidence but a full investigation was launched when things got more specific. Overlord, Utah, Neptune, Mulberry, Omaha, and Dieppe, all appeared as solutions in the puzzle, and all were codenames for different aspects of the attack.

The War Office called for an investigation and Leonard Dawe was interrogated by MI5. They concluded that Leonard had no idea he was leaking British secrets and the whole thing was put down to coincidence.

 Hoover Dam

 Hoover Dam

The building of the hoover dam was bookended by two related deaths. On 20 December 1921, John Gregory Tierney died in a flash flood while surveying locations for the dam along the Colorado River.

96 people died during the construction of the dam but John Tierney was the first.

Fourteen years later to the day, on 20 December 1935, the last person to die while working on the dam was Patrick William Tierney; John Tierney’s only son.

10 Bizarre Cases Of Mass Hysteria




From meowing nuns to an imagined monkey-man, mass hysteria is a bizarre and little understood aspect of the human condition.

It can be caused by religious extremism, cultural superstition, isolationism, and even the accidental intake of LSD.

The only cure is the passing of time and, on at least one occasion, a good old whipping.


The Laughing Plague (1962)

Laughing Plague

In a classroom in the African country of Tanganyika (now Tanzania), on 20 January 1962, three girls began to giggle. By the time the hysteria ended more than a thousand people had been infected by their laughter.

The hysteria spread through the school. One girl would laugh, and then another, and then another, until 95 of the 159 pupils were laughing uncontrollably. The symptoms lasted anywhere between a few hours and 16 days. By 18 March the school was forced to shut down.

The girls were sent home and the madness spread to a local village, Nshamba, where some of the girls lived. 217 people had laughing attacks in the village.

It wasn’t a good laughter either. It was not a laughter of joy or amusement. It was born out of stress. In 1962 Tanganyika won its independence and new ideas were being taught in school that clashed with their beliefs. The girls couldn’t reconcile their beliefs with reality and they just snapped.

The laughter was accompanied by bouts of screaming, flatulence, and crying.

As the hysteria spread 14 schools were shut down. It took between 6 and 18 months for the phenomenon to wear off by which time more than a thousand people had been effected.


 The Dancing Plague (1518)


It was summer in eastern France. A place called Strasbourg, then a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Mrs. Troffea wandered out into the street and began to dance. Six days later thirty four others had joined her.

A month later four hundred more had joined in. This was not a festival or a celebration, it was an uncontrollable urge. The dancing crowd was mostly made up of women and many of them died of stokes, heart attacks, and exhaustion. Some reports say around fifteen people died every day during the dancing plague.

Nobles and physicians didn’t know how to treat the hysteria and believed if they could keep the dancers moving maybe they would get it out of their systems. To that end they built a stage and had musicians play for the crowd.

It is now believed a fungi (ergot fungi) that grows on grain in the region caused the event. The fungi contains ergotamine; a psychoactive product that is structurally similar to lysergic acid diethylamide; otherwise known as LSD. The Dancing Plague of 1518 was essentially the first ever rave.


Meowing Nuns (Middle Ages)

Meowing Nuns

Not much is known about the meowing nuns. It happened in the Middle Ages and records from then are hard to come by.

In a secluded convent somewhere in France a nun began to meow like a cat. It spread. Other nuns in the convent began to meow, sometimes for hours. As the hysteria progressed the nuns began to sync up and would meow together for a period of time every day.

The surrounding community were bemused. The meowing only stopped when the nuns were threatened with whips.


 Mad Gasser of Mattoon (1944)

Mad Gasser of Masttoon

The Mad Gasser of Mattoon was a tall thin man. He dressed in black and wore a tight fitting cap. He carried a flit gun; an agricultural tool used for spraying pesticide. He crept up to peoples bedroom windows at night. People claimed to see his ghastly figure at the window. Gas silently spraying out of his flit gun into their rooms.

The papers reported the story. People got sick. The only problem with the whole thing is that The Mad Gasser of Mattoon did not exist.

On 31 August 1944. Mr. Raef was awakened by a strange odour. He felt week and nauseous. His wife, suspecting gas poisoning, got up to check to pilot light on the stove but found that she couldn’t. She was partially paralyzed and unable to move.

The following day a young mother, having heard the sound of her daughter coughing, tried to get up to check on her but found that she too was paralysed.

More reports started coming in. People were complaining of a mysterious sweet smell and then losing feeling in their legs.

A taxi driver coming home reported seeing a tall thin man dressed in black, wearing a cap, hiding close to one of the houses windows. This is where the main description of the Mad Gasser comes from.

Over the course of a week 26 people reported being gassed.

There was never any evidence of a prowler going around gassing people and it is general believed to be an example of mass hysteria encouraged by lively reporting in the newspapers.


 The Shrinking Penis Epidemic (1967)

Shrinking Penis

A rumour spread in Singapore that if you eat vaccinated pork your penis will shrink, retract into your body, and you will die.

In July of 1967, 55,000 pigs were vaccinated. The men of Singapore reacted badly.

Despite official announcements and constant assurances that your penis will not shrink and kill you the sale of pork in markets and restaurants dropped to almost zero.

Government hospitals and dispensaries were crowded with over 80 men a day over the course of the outbreak, all convinced their penises were disappearing. Some men tied blocks of wood to their penis to stop them from retracting into the body.


 The Halifax Slasher (1938)

The Haalifax Slasher

A few people show up with little cuts on them and before you know it all the businesses in town have shut down and a vigilante group of locals are hunting down an imaginary killer.

It all started on 16 November 1938, in a town called Halifax in England. Two women, Mary Gledhill, and Gertrude Watts, claimed to be attacked by a mysterious man with a mallet and bright buckles on his shoes.

Less than a week later Mary Sutcliffe reported that she was attacked by a mysterious man with a knife or a razor.

Three women in one week, the papers had a story. They gave him the nickname, “The Halifax Slasher” and a myth was born.

Vigilante groups hit the streets and several people, thought to be the attacker, were mistakenly beaten up. In fact, more people were attacked by the vigilante mobs than the (imaginary) Halifax Slasher had attacked. Things got out of hand and Scotland Yard got involved.

More reports of attacks by the Halifax Slasher came from nearby cities.

A man named Clifford Edwards was accused of being the slasher when he tried to stop a group of vigilantes from beating up another innocent person named Hilda Lodge.

A mob gathered and started chanting for Clifford Edward’s death. Luckily the police were able to escort him home.

On 29 November, Percy Waddington, who had reported one of the attacks admitted that he had injured himself and blamed The Halifax Slasher. Others soon made similar admissions.

Scotland Yard concluded that there had been no “Slasher” attacks and the whole episode was an example of mass hysteria.


 Monkey-man of Delhi (2001)

Monkey-man of Delhi

A dangerous monkey-like creature was scaring the crap out of people on the streets of Delhi, India.

Eyewitness accounts describe the creature as being about 4 feet tall, having thin black hair, metal claws, a metal helmet, glowing red eyes and buttons on its chest.

Some people claimed to see something bigger. A huge ape-man, maybe eight feet tall, jumping from roof to roof in India’s capital.

On 13 May 2001, 15 people were attacked by the monkey-man, suffering bruises, bites, and scratches. Three people died trying to escape the strange beast by jumping off roofs and falling down stairwells in an attempt to get away from it.

More sightings in 2002 describe the monkey-man as being a monkey-like machine that sparked with red and blue lights.

Nobody knows what really went on in Delhi in 2001/2002 but the incident has been described as a slightly odd example of mass hysteria.


 Strawberries with Sugar Virus (2006)

Strawberries with sugar virus

A popular TV show in Portugal called Morangos com Açúcar (Strawberries with Sugar) aired an episode of the show in which a life-threatening virus affected the fictional school.

The following day 300 or more students across 14 schools reported similar symptoms to those experienced by characters in their favourite TV show.

Their symptoms included rashes, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. Before anyone made the connection between the over dramatic teenage girls and the TV show, many schools were forced to shut down fearing there was a serious medical outbreak.

The illness was eventually dismissed by The Portuguese National Institute for Medical Emergency as mass hysteria, once the connection between the TV show and the epidemic were made.


 Irish Fright (1688)

Irish Fright

England was reaching the end of “The Glorious Revolution”. King James II of England was about to be overthrown. King James tried to flee to France to live in exile but his plans were thwarted.

Troops of the Jacobite Irish Army were stationed in England to prop up James II’s authority.

The protestant Brits hated them.

In December of 1688 rumours spread that the Irish soldiers were planning to massacre and pillage the English population in revenge for King James II’s overthrow.

False reports began to filter around the country of the Irish burning down towns and massacring the inhabitants. Panic spread.

At least nineteen counties around England formed armed militias to guard their towns. But the Irish never came. The Irish knew nothing of it. There was no massacre. No towns were burned.

After a few days the panic subsided. Nobody ever found out where the rumours originated.


 Salem Witch Trials (1692)

Salem Witch Trials

Some kind of madness had infected the people of Salem, Massachusetts. In the space of a year, between 1692 and 1693 more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft. 20 were executed.

It all started when Betty Parris, Ann Putman. Jr, Abigail Williams, and Elizabeth Hubbard began having fits. A minister described the fits as being, “beyond the power of epileptic fits or natural disease to effect.” These supernatural seizures is what kicked the whole thing off.

The Salem Witch Trials are a notorious case of mass hysteria. There are few people who haven’t heard of it. It has been blamed on religious extremism, false accusations, and isolationism; there are many theories.

It is interesting to note that the same fungus that was thought to cause the Dancing Plague mentioned earlier in this article was also implicated in the Salem Witch Trials. Maybe the whole thing was just a bad LSD trip.

No Such Thing as a Frozen Girlfriend

It’s hard to write when your girlfriend is turning blue on the sofa. Shit, do I stop writing and get gas, or carry on and let her freeze to death? It’s a tough one. Fuck it, I’ll de-thaw her when I’m done.

I’m lucky, the cold doesn’t worry me too much. Shit, her lips are actually blue. But her teeth have stopped chattering. Either she’s warming up naturally or her jaw has frozen shut. Either way, at least I can concentrate on what I was writing without all that noise from her teeth snapping together.

It’s a snow day. The kids are off school. I went outside to see what dramatic weather event had caused this entire shutdown of the education system and found the snow, where there was snow, barely reached passed the souls of my shoes.

We are weak, us Brits.

I think the reason the schools are shut is because of the snow they think is coming. They are predicting 10cm – 20cm of snow. That’s a hell of a guess. If you asked me how big my cock was and I said between 10” and 20” you would probably think the higher number was unlikely. You would probably doubt the lower number too. 20cm of snow is unlikely.

Having said that, me and the icicle, if I can unfreeze her, are off to Brighton tonight to see No Such Thing as a Fish live. The power steering in my mini bus has gone (can power steering fluid freeze?) so I’ll be driving her Land Rover. Things are already conspiring to fuck up my plans. Snow, a broken car, and a frozen girlfriend. But then, if things always went smoothly, there would be no good stories to tell.

Man, No Such Thing as a Fish! I can’t wait to go see them. If you don’t know what that is, I will enlighten you. No Such Thing as a Fish is a podcast hosted by the QI elves. Every week they sit around a microphone and share their four favourite facts of the week. In the live show they do the same thing, just with more beer and wine in them.

Anyway, I have things I should be doing. I’m off now to prepare a manuscript and cover letter to be sent off to 42 literary agents. My deadline, imposed by the frozen one, is World Book Day. That day is today so I have much work to do. Off I go. Wish me luck.


God and Pasta

It’s Wednesday. There’s a full moon. God is throwing up in the corner. He normally is. He has no reason to be sober these days. Last time I saw him he was threatening a stripper because the coke she brought to the party wasn’t pure enough.

“Don’t milk down my shit,” he was saying. “Do you know how much time I spent creating it?”

I’m living in places right now. Sometimes I’m at my sisters’, sometimes I’m in a hotel with a woman who seems willing enough to put up with my weird shit, sometimes I’m crashing at my ex’s when she isn’t there. Its’ a fine mess. Or a mess I’m fine with. It’s no way to be an adult. Plans for a mortgage are on the horizon. Then I can be a normal.

I’ve spent too much of my life as the guy crashing on your couch.

God slumped on the sofa. He wiped some bile from his lips and turned to me. “It really doesn’t matter, Andy, as long as you have your mind together your abode is unimportant. Life is more interesting when you’re close to its broken edge.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, God,” I said, “You’re a mess.”

“You ever seen Rick and Morty?” said God, picking up the X-Box remote. “You want to watch it with me?”


“It’s one of my favourite creations.”

I shook my head. I didn’t want to say it but, man, he takes too much credit.

He put Netflix on and started it from episode one. He fell asleep before the opening titles ended. The guy’s a real dick. It’s no wonder so many people have it so bad.

I wasn’t planning on talking about God. I don’t know why he keeps coming up.

One of the cats, Calcifier, has just jumped up on my lap. He’s purring and rubbing his face on mine. The cat is a fool. Last week I paid a vet to cut his testicles off. If only he knew. Maybe his opinion of me would be less favourable. Maybe this is how God feels. Maybe we don’t realise he’s clutching our bollocks in one hand and has a knife in the other. Telling us he loves us and laughing into his sleeve when we turn away.

Fucking hell. I’m not even religious. It’s not my place to say bad things about the giant insane monkey in the clouds.

Did I ever tell you I’m a Pastafarian? That’s the one true religion. I’m a registered minister. I can legally marry you if you’re willing to wear a colander on your head. I’m just talking nonsense now. All hail The Flying Spaghetti Monster! May his noodly appendage reach down and touch you somewhere wholly inappropriate.

One day I’ll write a proper post about The Flying Spaghetti Monster. For now though I urge you to click on the picture below and spend some time lost down that hilarious rabbit hole.


Beyond the Cogs


I’ve been standing in my lounge now for nearly an hour. You ever done that? Just stood there. Doing nothing.

I got home from work. Came in. And just stood there. I wasn’t thinking about anything. Or, maybe I was feeling something. Ideas are hard to explain. You don’t think in words, or maybe you do (who can really know the minds of others), thoughts just are. You have them. You don’t word them out.

The trick to solving the riddle of life is explaining a truth that you feel but don’t own. I wasn’t in a state of meditation I was in a state of loss. It’s wrong, you know, the way we do things. We have created elaborate social structures that most of us are unhappy with but, as a whole, we strive to maintain. None of it makes any sense.

Do you ever find yourself in a shop looking at an ornament that is designed only for you to purchase and then put in your house? A purposeless thing that might be cheap or might be a serious consideration financially. You think one of two things. One: this would look good in my house. And two: this doesn’t fit with my colour scheme. Do you ever hold that thing and just look at it. Just look at this decoration and feel the absurdity of modern life collapse around you?

Reality begins to break and before you know it you’re walking down the street, your car left unlocked somewhere behind you, just wondering why the fuck everyone is trying so hard to maintain this odd living situation we’ve all made for ourselves.

I’m the worst. For someone struggling with the idea of a fabricated and mostly aesthetic society, I spend my days as a delivery man, going out of my way to help people fill their homes with pointless shit. And I get paid to do it so I can buy shit that someone else gets paid to deliver to me, so he can buy shit to be delivered to him. I work six days a week doing this. How about we all stop buying crap we don’t need so I can have a fucking day off?

Just one day. Nobody buys a thing. All the delivery drivers will get a day to see their families. All the things that weren’t bought that day won’t need to be made, and all those people can take the day. How about we all take a day off at the same time. Everything will be closed because everyone will be off. And let’s all just chill out for a day. Let’s see, as a species, together, what it’s like when everyone stops for a moment. No road works, nobody reading the news, the radio is tuned to static, the fire stations are unmanned, submarines have risen to the surface, scientists have powered down the telescopes, cows are going un-milked.

 “That’s a good idea, I can finally get around to cleaning my car.”

No. No work. Leave your car be. No decorating the lounge, no mowing the lawn, no day to finally get your accounts together. The pubs are shut, you can’t even go for a beer. It’s just you and the people around you. We can cook and we can drink what we have. If you run out of anything? Ask a neighbour. They’ll be happy to share this unusual day with you.

I bet it will be a day remembered as one of the strangest, hectic, interesting and happiest days in all of history. If we let it carry on for a week, or a month, or longer, the riots would cease and the community will naturally grow to a more humane balance between work and pleasure.

On that day, when humans are just being human, with no Instagram or fashion shows, try and see life move with its façade removed. See the cogs. The meaning of life is just behind them.