Monday, 30 December 2013

Very Short Mondays: Hard Shoulder

Elspeth took a deep breath.  She knew the alarms were about to go off.  She braced herself and thought of the heating bills, as she always did.  It was only since her operation that she'd been able to pay them.

Leading with her new shoulder, she charged at the vault door.  She knew it was wrong, but the account holders wouldn't be affected, and the bank bosses could make up the difference, out of their bonuses if necessary.

The NHS had been good to her.  It was a scandal what they were doing to it.




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Friday, 27 December 2013

Slightly Less Short Fridays: A Stumble On The Way To The Supermarket

Simon did not see the wonky paving stone in time.  What he did see, however, was Carla.  Carla was unattainable, but that didn't stop Simon thinking about attaining her.  Not that Simon wanted to "attain" her in any kind of way that implied ownership.  He just wanted to attain and, with any luck, retain her affections.

So he shouted her name across the street and waved.  And just as she looked over was the moment that he stumbled.  Mortified, he didn't take his eyes off her for a moment.  Not even when she burst out laughing.

In hindsight, not taking her eyes off her was just about the worst thing he could do, because he had stumbled directly into the path of a mobility scooter.  And not just any mobility scooter, but one owned by George Rayburn.  George Rayburn's daughter, Tessa, was something of an electronics expert and had only that morning finished modifying George's scooter so that it had a new top speed of twenty miles per hour.

When Simon woke up, a small crowd had gathered around him.  A small crowd that included, notably, neither Carla nor George Rayburn.  The crowd did not included Carla principally because, while she was genuinely mildly concerned for Simon's welfare, she was also late for a hot date with the local dreamboat, Manfred Archer.

George Rayburn, meanwhile, was well aware that he was probably not supposed to be travelling at twenty miles per hour on the pavement, and so did a runner immediately after the accident.

Simon looked up at the sea of concerned faces, who all at once asked him if he was alright, and realised his pockets had been emptied.  His mum was going to kill him when he returned home without the shopping.


Link of the Day: 850 Meters


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Monday, 23 December 2013

Very Short Mondays: Last Night

Karen couldn't stop thinking about the pub last night.  She had tried to tell everyone about the time that Allan had caught his little finger in the bathrobe, and ended up calling out the fire brigade to cut him out.  She ended up embarrassing herself by getting it all in completely the wrong order and forgetting key details entirely.

Still, she thought to herself, as she worked alone in her private wool mill.  I may be totally useless at telling stories, but at least I can spin a good yarn.

She smiled.  Then she stopped smiling and wished that she had thought of it last night.


Link of the Day: How to Fight a Baby


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Friday, 20 December 2013

Slightly Less Short Fridays: Trick Of The Light

Just for a moment, the lights on the train flickered and went off.  When they came on again, just for a moment, the book that Carl had been reading was no longer there.  No one had taken it off him.  His grip on it, whilst not strained, was firm.  It was just not there any more.  Even though he could now feel that there was nothing in his hands, he had not noticed the transition from having something in his hands, to not having something in his hands.

The lights flickered again.  They went off.  They returned.  The book returned.  Carl found himself immediately drawn to the sentence he had started before the first blackout.  All of his being urged him to accept that everything was normal.  There was no panic, no overt reaction when the book disappeared, and no impulse to understand now that the moment had passed.

Everyone else on the train acted normally.  Nothing had happened.  Carl caught the eye of another passenger.  Just for a moment.  A man of about thirty.  He had seen it too.  Something had happened.  For a moment that they shared.  And, after, nothing.


Link of the Day: Here's How You Ruin Wonder Woman For The Movies


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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Video Blog Thursday: A Christmas Story

Another story from the version of myself that I like to call Fictional Phil.  (You can call him whatever you like.)

This time it's a Christmas themed story, about Santa's reindeer.  With one small mistake in it, that I can't be bothered to change now.  (Can you spot it?)

Direct link to video

A couple of other items on the agenda:

Tomorrow I'm performing stand-up comedy at Tooting Market.  Rather excitingly, I'm on the same bill as Arthur Smith.  Details can be found on - I believe there are a handful of tickets still left, which you can buy from wegottickets.

Also quite exciting, is that I've designed this book cover.  I'm not paid, but 10% of the proceeds will go to The Hoja Project, which is the charity I helped set up in my friend's village in Tanzania.

You can buy the book on Amazon, and read more about how this came about on


Link of the Day: Hamburger Earmuffs


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Monday, 16 December 2013

Very Short Mondays: Slow Mews Day

"Mmmmeeeeoooowwwww..." said Flossy, drawing the last syllable out as long as she could manage.

"Mew!" said young Captain Fluffkins in reply.

The other cats gave stern disapproving looks to Captain Fluffkins, because they were supposed to be doing a sponsored 'Slow Mews Day' to raise money for an all-night charity telethon, and this was the third time he'd broken the rules.


Link of the Day: Antisocial


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Friday, 13 December 2013

Slightly Less Short Fridays: The Man Who Ran In The Gas Mask

Anissa sat on the left hand side of the lower deck of the 122 bus, facing forwards.  As usual, the bus sat in traffic in Forest Hill.

She looked out of the window.  A man ran past wearing a gas mask.


It wasn't one of those old cumbersome leather World War Two gas masks.  It was modern, a bit like the masks you see cyclists wearing in the city centre to avoid breathing in the pollution.  But it was a full face affair, and it looked like it meant serious business.

Anissa couldn't tell whether he was running towards something, or away from something, or just out jogging.  He could have been just out jogging - he was wearing a tracksuit.  But it was a full tracksuit, with a hat.  And while it wasn't summer, it wasn't exactly cold either.  He must have been roasting.

Anissa instinctively looked back down the road, towards the swimming baths, to see if there was anything unusual or suspicious.  She looked back to the man as he disappeared into the distance amongst the other pedestrians.  What if something was about to happen?  What if it happened when the traffic finally started moving and the bus had caught the man up again?

On the other side of the bus, a bag sat on the floor between two passengers, who didn't seem to know one another.  A man, and a woman.  Did the bag being to the man, or to the woman?  Or did each assume it belonged to the other, but it was actually unattended luggage?

Anita shifted in her seat uncomfortably.


Omar was dripping in sweat.  Next lamp post.  Just focus on getting to the next lamp post.  And then the next one.  He felt like he was going to faint.  Surely he was going to faint?  He was so hot.  Maybe he could take the mask off, just for a moment.  No.  No cheating.

He couldn't imagine how he was ever going to complete the Marathon des Sables.


Fun Fact: I genuinely saw a man run past wearing a full tracksuit and a face mask when I was waiting in traffic on the 122 bus in Forest Hill (or it may have been the 176 or a Rail Replacement Service).

Link of the Day: I discovered a new species up my nose


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Monday, 9 December 2013

Very Short Mondays: Wemmy

"I want to call it Wemmy."


"I want to call it Wemmy."

"Are you sure?"

"I want to call it Wemmy!"





"He said that?"


"It's a bit ... cutesy."

"I promised."

"You promised?"


"Oh well that's alright then."

"Don't be like that."

"Like what?"

"Nothing.  Maybe we can think of an acronym."

"Yeah.  Maybe."


Fun Fact: I wrote this story on the bus when a small boy of about 6, a couple of seats in front, said to the slightly older girl (presumably his sister) sat next to him, "I want to call it Wemmy."  Or at least, that's what it sounded like.  I assumed they were playing some sort of role play based game.

Link of the Day: Coffee Frog


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Friday, 6 December 2013

Slightly Less Short Fridays: The Beginning Of A Long Slippery Slope

Nigel looked on proudly at the new installation at Heathrow Airport.  He thought of all the naysayers and how, when he came to power, people said this couldn't be done.  He'd "only said it because he never thought he'd actually win and have to keep his promises", they'd said.

But here he was, at the top of the new 'Literal Slippery Slope', down which all new immigrants would be directed.  From where he stood, safely harnessed to the rig, he could see where the sloped forked into five chutes, four of which led to the new shark pool under the airport.  The other led to the Border Agency's visa department but, as the set-up was changed at random each day, no one could ever be sure which chute led to safety.

Immigration soon fell dramatically, while local tourism scored a huge boost thanks to the new public aquarium.

Nigel would hold onto power for a full forty years.


Link of the Day: The Odon Childbirth Device


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Monday, 2 December 2013

Very Short Mondays: The Button Wall

Zoë and her parents had reached the end of the tour. Inside the final room, the guide encouraged them to come back the following week to fill in one of the feedback cards.

Zoë looked up at her Mum and Dad, who were listening attentively. Eagerly.

She looked at the wall of buttons. Next to each button was a little pocket containing the cards already filled out by previous visitors. Hundreds of them.

Some had detailed accounts of what the buttons did. Others showed "emotion faces", or complained that nothing had happened.

Two next to each other, both filled out in thick black marker pen, caught Zoë's eye. One said "DO NOT PRESS", while the other simply read "$$$".

Zoë looked back to her parents, and then to the guide, who was still wrapping up the tour. Everyone was engrossed.

Making her movements as small as she could, Zoë slowly swapped the two cards around.


Link of the Day: You Look Just Like Your Mother


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