Saturday, 28 July 2012

11 new Olympic games...

1.   Pinball
2.   Crazy Golf
3.   Shuffleboard
4.   Subbuteo
5.   Arm Wrestling
6.   Twister
7.   Bar Billiards
8.   Connect 4
9.   Swingball
10. Dominoes
11. Cribbage

Good news everybody! The Reticent Party has successfully petitioned the IOC to get the above sports added to all future* Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee was in unanimous agreement that these were indeed Sports of the People and wholeheartedly backed our proposal to bring them into the Games in place of the universally despised toff events like rowing, sailing, equestrian, fox hunting and tax avoidance.

*We attempted to get them added, retrospectively, to all past Olympic Games as well but this was deemed to be impractical.

As far as medals go, Team GB will have a great chance in both the bar billiards and the crib and an outside chance in the shuffleboard (if anyone can remember how to play it). The nimble Japanese will more than likely run away with the twister though and the tough, angry Russians will be hard to stop in the arm wrestling.

Pinball, as a sport, is currently in the middle of a huge power shift, with the previously unbeatable Americans suddenly finding themselves second best to the Chinese (who, as well as inventing a new way of pressing the buttons, have recently mastered the previously unpredictable and highly risky strategy of 'tilting'). The only thing in Team USA's favour is the choice of machine: Star Trek - The Next Generation. There is a feeling amongst the camp that the Chinese simply don't 'get' Star Trek and will be, therefore, unable to get to grips with all the subtle nuances of the machine.
"You try getting a multiball going on that machine without, at least, a basic knowledge of Klingon," said USA captain, Mitch Brookfield.

Crazy golf, of course, is the ultimate test of nerve and skill, but having been snubbed by all of the professional golfers (because the whole idea is 'stupid' and 'ridiculous', according to them; most believe it is actually because they are terrified of embarrassing themselves on the capricious, par 5 windmill hole), the tournament is wide open and could be won by just about anyone. Anyone who is mentally tough, that is. We all know that crazy golf is played as much in the mind as it is on the greens and the eventual champion will surely be the man who keeps his cool the best when his ball repeatedly rolls all the way back down the helter skelter and the temptation to smash everything to bits and chuck the club in the water becomes so great.

All of the talk in Connect 4 recently has been about the clash of styles between 28 times World Champion, Rick 'Brickwall' Brunswick (an ultra defensive Canadian grinder who consistently plays for stalemates and famously invented the impossible to counter 'don't let your opponent Connect 3' strategy), and exciting young Australian prodigy, Johnny 'Waterfall' Williams (an 18-year-old kid who cascades tiles down the grid at lightning fast speeds, often dropping before the previous tile has even touched down, and is so attacking that he doesn't even look at his opponent's pieces). Though Williams' suspect temperament is often called into question (he regularly upsets the grid and throws tiles at his opponent when things aren't going his way), many feel that the new 10-minute move clock plays into his hands. Brunswick doesn't like to be rushed (he once famously took 1 hr 45 mins to make, what looked like, a relatively simple opening move) and with just 10 minutes a move he will be forced to speed up dramatically. Will this quick rhythm upset his normally crystal clear thinking? Or will the fiery Waterfall self-destruct again?

Dominoes, obviously, belong to the Caribbean and it would be a major shock if they didn't bring home all 36 medals available in the men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles, mixed doubles and team events (indoor dominoes; outdoor dominoes; beach dominoes; water dominoes; horseback dominoes and synchronised dominoes). Incidentally, they're also pretty good at swingball... but no country seems to want to own up to being the best at that at the moment.

That just leaves the subbuteo and, as always, it's very hard to look past the Spanish with their patient, skillful and unbearably boring tiki-taka-flika passing game. Oh, and Team GB, in case you were wondering, are just as useless at penalties in table football as they are in ground football.

Oh, well. It's not the winning that counts, is it?

It's the losing.

Let the games begin...

Saturday, 14 July 2012

You don't have to cry...

Nobody likes to see a grown man cry and when angry, homegrown hero Andy Murray lost in the final of a local tennis comp last week, defeated by some dashingly smug, Mr Darcy-type with nice hair and a slappable face, the whole nation turned away in disgust.
"What a big fucking girl!" we said, in embarrassed unison.
Naysayers then went on to say that the man simply 'doesn't have what it takes' and has 'about as much chance of bringing home an Olympic gold at the end of the month as Stephen Hawking has of winning the triple jump'.

But naysayers always say things like that. They are, by nature, very negative people. I, however, am a yaysayer and I think Murray can triumph at the Olympics much like I did all those years ago in Atlanta.

Now, I know what it is like to ride the emotional rollercoaster that is competitive sport at the highest level better than anyone and I know how it feels to carry the hopes and expectations of an entire nation on your shoulders. It is a well known and often cited fact that during my twenty odd years at the top of the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of professional air hockey, I cried on no fewer than forty occasions. I cried after matches, before matches, even during matches when things weren't going my way, and I too had to listen to people calling me a 'big fucking girl' and a 'dickhead'.

The time that sticks in my mind the most was before my first World Air Hockey Championship Final when my opponent, Brad 'The Lionheart' Donovan (a man who I have the utmost respect for but also consider to be a total bastard) intimidated me with an unnecessarily firm handshake. On that occasion I wept solidly for a good twenty minutes - caught in a perfect storm of pressure, exhaustion, inexperience and terror - and the start of the final had to be delayed until I'd calmed down a bit. Unsurprisingly, I never really recovered from that and, though I was merely whimpering by the time we pucked off, the final was a terribly one sided affair (the most one sided since 336 BC, in fact) and I could do nothing to prevent Donovan from cruising to his 38th straight world title.
Looking back now, I can't help but feel that all that crying and screaming did me no favours. I must have looked like a beaten man before we'd even begun and it's hardly surprising that Donovan, a man of such legendary killer instinct, sensed blood. Indeed, he admitted as much afterwards in a rather big headed and, at times, nasty post-match interview, when he implied, and then simply stated, that I was 'there for the taking'.

The whole thing was very hard for me, at the tender age of 19, to take. I had been a warm favourite going into that match - 9 of my 10 opponents en route to the final had been forced to withdraw with various wrist, shoulder and eyelash injuries (that didn't bother me. As I always say, it's the winning that counts, not the taking part) and that had led me to believe I was invincible. I even remember arrogantly proclaiming before the match that all I had to do was turn up and I would win. So, to be swatted aside so comprehensively with the whole world watching was a bitter pill to swallow and it's hardly surprising, bearing all that in mind, that I started crying again during the trophy presentation. Nor is it surprising that I refused to officially acknowledge my opponent's victory for a full two years and spent many months trying to prove that what had happened to me during that match wasn't fair.

Of course, all this weeping and sour grapes led to suggestions from the press and my fellow pros that I was mentally weak - a bottler; a man who fell to pieces under pressure and was easily derailed by even the slightest setback; a man, they said, who had 'about as much chance of bringing home an Olympic gold at the upcoming Games as Ironside has of winning the triple jump'.
As you can imagine, this really wound me up and (after a quick cry) I made it my spiteful mission to prove them all wrong. Together with my coach, the great Willie Thorne, I set to work on a rigorous mind and body enhancement programme. I would do running, swimming and weightlifting in the mornings and crosswords, word searches and fiendishly difficult riddles (composed by none other than Willie himself) in the afternoons. In the evenings I would alternate between meditation and masturbation.
After three months of this I felt just about ready for anything and my detractors were already starting to eat humble pie. Before I had been the Big Baby (a nickname I never liked), now I was the Ice Man, Mr Unflappable, The Grinder, The Rock, The Robot, The Force, The Immovable Object. All of my nicknames now hinted at strength (and boredom).

At the Olympics I fought my way bravely to the final where I again came up against that cunt Donovan... only this time I was ready for him. This, I reminded myself, was what all the training was for, all those lung-busting, early morning runs and brain-busting, late afternoon riddles, it was inevitable that it would all lead to this: the moment when I would defeat my arch nemesis, Brad Donovan, on the biggest stage of them all.

Of course, you all know what happened next! That legendary final is burned into the memories of billions and I won't recount it all here. Indeed, most of that match is little more than a blur to me now anyway but one thing I know I will never forget is the way I felt at the end. The sheer elation of knowing that I had done it, I had achieved the thing I was put on this Earth to achieve, it had driven me close to madness and almost killed me on a number of occasions but I had done it! I had reached the very pinnacle of my sport - Olympic silver.

It felt like a dream. I remember shaking Donovan's hand warmly, saying 'better luck next time, pal' as he looked at me oddly and then just wandering off in some strange kind of trance. After this I remember very little but it is a fact that I wasn't seen again for over three weeks.

Breaking down, briefly, during the Olympic Final
after Donovan scored a lucky goal that went in
off the back of my puck.

My coach, the great Willie Thorne, spent the night of the
final dancing with this local prostitute.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The amazing Dartman returns...

Phew, what a night!! After two years of more or less constant waiting, the new Dartman & Cueball book has finally arrived and copies have been literally* flying off the shelves.

*not literally.

Just take a look at this queue outside Waterstone's in Piccadilly...

Apparently it stretched all the way to the Isle of Wight, with many queuers having to tread water for 13 hours just to prevent themselves from drowning.

"It was worth it," said this determined young fan (who also took the opportunity to buy a Harry Potter book). "I almost died five times in the queue, from dehydration, starvation, hypothermia, boredom and suffocation respectively, but I wasn't about to give up!"

I have since been told that this queue was the first in human history to be visible from space. Holy mackerel!

This man, at least, had the good sense to arrive early...

He'd been camping outside his local Waterstone's for the last six months.

"Most people just assumed I was a tramp," he smiled, clutching his new copy of Dartman & Cueball (which he'd sensibly hidden behind a Harry Potter book), "but I knew what I was doing."

You would think all this waiting around in the blazing sun and/or freezing cold and/or pissing rain with nothing to eat and nothing to drink might make people miserable but Dartman & Cueball launches are nothing if not fun and, as ever, some of you crazy cunts decided to dress up for the occasion.

Here are one or two of my favourites:

Excellent Commissioner Wilson costume. Ardent fans will, no doubt, approve of the addition of the small child. This being a knowing nod to the Commissioner's less than wholesome reputation around kids. That's what you call attention to detail.

This young chap decided to come as Chief of Police, Frankie Corleone. Pretty good effort. Not sure about the pink hat, and what's happened to Frankie's pipe?! But, on the whole, not bad. Not bad at all.

From left to right: Commissioner Wilson, Charlie Stanley and Dartman. Superb!
Ok, hope I've got this right! From left to right: Frankie Corleone, Officer Maybe, Cueball, Commissioner Wilson, Dartman and King Alan. I love the way you've captured Dartman's never-say-die attitude; and check out that brooding Commissioner Wilson in the background! Magnificent!

Do you know that if you took every copy of The Pointless Adventures of Dartman & Cueball - Forbidden Loot sold last night and piled them up, one on top of the other, they would reach the outer rings of Saturn! And yet, incredibly, there are still copies available:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

All you have to do is click on that little link and someone will actually deliver a copy right to your door - no queues, no camping and no cunts in stupid costumes. What an age we live in!

And if you haven't read the first one yet (and, believe me, there's always one), all you need to do is click on this link:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

And a similar thing will happen, only with the first book (The Pointless Adventures of Dartman & Cueball - Furiouser and Furiouser) turning up instead of the new one.

Brilliant, eh?

Oh, by the way, the final part of the Dartman & Cueball saga will be released in Summer 2014. Let the waiting begin...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Masterpiece for sale...

Ever heard that song When I Paint My Masterpiece?

Not many people have actually. It’s probably a bad reference.

Someday everything’s gonna sound like a rhapsody... when I paint my masterpiece.

The power that drives the song is this idea, this intense certainty, that everything’s finally going to be right with the world – peace in my mind and the girl by my side – when I paint my masterpiece… and not a second before.

Such a poetic idea. This battle, this constant striving and pushing. Killing yourself in the pursuit of some abstract thing that only you can see or even begin to understand. Sacrificing everything else in your world for it. It might take a hundred years and it surely will be the toughest and most arduous road imaginable but eventually you’ll get there and everything will be different… when I paint my masterpiece.

I believed it.

Only trouble is, now I’m a little bit older I’ve come to realise something deeply depressing that neither The Band nor Dylan even hinted at in the midsts of all this romantic rhetoric.

The something is this: painting your masterpiece is the easy bit. The real struggle begins when you start trying to get people to look at the fucking thing.

The problem is they’re all out there struggling with their own masterpieces and they don’t have time for yours. It interests them not a jot. Why would it? Your masterpiece represents nothing to them, no struggle, no journey into the abyss and back. It’s just another pointless thing cluttering up the universe.

I finished painting my masterpiece in January 2011. It is called The Bells Of St Mary’s. It is a funny, romantic, philosophical, supernatural, spiritual, fantastical play about a dead man. It is set at Christmas. You’ve all seen A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life… well, think of it as the next one in that set.

For people who’ve only got 30 seconds of interest remaining, this is the précis:

Dying was by far the most interesting thing that ever happened to Jimmy Henderson. His life had been a 0-0 draw, a dull grind, a 25-year stalemate of few highs and few lows which neither triumph nor disaster seemed to want to get involved with. Death was a blessed relief. Or it would have been, were it not for the fact that there was now the little matter of an eternal afterlife to struggle through. Jimmy’s mediocre life was just about sufficient to scrape into the ‘paradise’ of heaven, but far from feeling blissful and free, he soon finds himself just as awkward, out of place and useless as he did on Earth and his numerous disappointments and failures – notably his inability to fully capture the heart of his soulmate, the magical but agonisingly elusive, Mary – follow him around Heaven like a black cloud. The good news for Jimmy, though, is he now has somebody other than himself to blame. The bad news is that somebody is the Lord God Almighty. And he doesn't take criticism very well.

For people who’ve got about 5 minutes of interest remaining, here's a few random scenes:

JIMMY: What the? Where…
GAZ: Let me guess, where am I?
JIMMY: Um… yeah.
GAZ: (sighs) Every single person, the same bloody question. I mean, is it really that ’ard to figure out? Open your eyes. What does it look like?
JIMMY: Some sort of waiting room?
GAZ: Bingo! Some sort of waiting room. Well done.
JIMMY: But… what am I doing here?
GAZ: Waiting. Same as everyone else. You got your ticket?
Jimmy looks down and sees he is holding a ticket. It reads:

Jimmy Henderson

Born 23/05/1984 16:04 – Died 18/12/2009 08:09

please retain this receipt as proof of death

JIMMY: No, no… this can’t be right. There must be some sort of mistake, you see…
GAZ: (shakes head) Why are you newly-deads always so bloody confused?
JIMMY: I really don’t think that I’m…
Gaz hands Jimmy the roll of parchment.
JIMMY: What’s this?
GAZ: Your obituary.
JIMMY: (turns parchment over) It’s blank.
GAZ: ’Course it is, pecker’ead. You ’aven’t written it yet.
Gaz laughs and walks over to his desk.
JIMMY: You mean I have to write my own obituary?
GAZ: (rummages in desk drawer) Well, it’s not gonna write itself, is it? Besides, who in the world’s better qualified to do it than you?
JIMMY: No one, I guess, but…
GAZ: (returns with pot of ink and quill) There you go then. Get cracking.

JOHNNY: (agitated) So, we’ve sledged down Everest, hung out in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, dived off Rainbow Falls…
LOGICAL MAN: Have you taken him sky-fishing yet?
JOHNNY: Yep, day one. We sky-fished off the edge of Cloud 9.
JOHNNY’S DAD: (proudly) I caught a 20-pound bald eagle.
JOHNNY’S DAD: Big as a mountain lion, it was.
JOHNNY: We’ve done everything. (to Jimmy) You’ve experienced every last glorious thing that Heaven has to offer and you still haven’t cracked a smile.

GOD: So let me get this straight. You’re accusing me, the Lord God Almighty, of providing you with an incompatible soulmate.
JIMMY: In so many words, yes.
GOD: What nonsense. It’s physically impossible for you not to love your soulmate.
JIMMY: And I do love her! I love her with every ounce of my heart and soul and I always will. The problem is she didn’t love me.
GOD: The very notion is absurd.
JIMMY: You tell me then. Why weren’t we together?
GOD: Ask yourself.
JIMMY: I have been asking myself! I’ve done nothing but ask myself for the past ten years and I’m sick of it. That’s why I’m asking you!
GOD: Ok, fine. If that’s the way you want to play it, I’ll get the tapes.
JIMMY: What tapes?
GOD: The tapes of your life, of course.
God reaches under his desk and produces a cardboard box full of dusty, old VHS tapes.
GOD: Here we are.
JIMMY: (peers into box) You mean to say you’ve got my entire life on tape?
GOD: (proud) Every second of every life that ever walked the Earth.
JIMMY: And you’re still using VHS?
GOD: Actually, I’m still in the process of converting to VHS. Half the library’s still on Super-8. And now I’ve got Magic Alex telling me VHS is passé and I should go over to DVD. Whatever that is.
JIMMY: That’s on its way out too. It’s all Blu-Ray now.
GOD: Ray Who?
JIMMY: Blu-Ray. It’s like DVD but just a tiny bit sharper.
GOD: (shakes head) You humans just can’t stop tinkering with things, can you?

GOD: Don’t believe everything you read, Jimmy. And before you ask, I didn’t build the Universe in seven days either.
JIMMY: So how long did it take?
GOD: Considerably longer than that. I think it was about four and a half billion years, give or take.
JIMMY: Bloody hell! That is a long time.
GOD: And I suppose you could have built a whole universe quicker, could you?
JIMMY: No, but…
GOD: (suddenly angry) It’d take you that long to build a flipping Wendy house.
JIMMY: Sorry.
GOD: Just look at what you did to my cakes.
JIMMY: So where did they get seven days from?
GOD: How should I know? You know what Christians are like. Bunch of liars and cheats. I tell you, some of the stuff they’ve said about me down the years; stuff that could have been very damaging to my reputation, I might add. Floods and plagues, vengeance and wrath. Smite this, smite that. Sacrifice your son. It’s downright libellous, that’s what it is. The Holy Libel, that’s what they should call that book. (pause) Nothing proves the obvious insanity of the human race better than religion. They’re all mental. All those stories, all those rules. Don’t cut your hair; don’t covet thy neighbour’s ass; don’t eat meat on a Tuesday… or whenever it is; don’t use contraception; don’t drink; don’t have abortions; don’t masturbate. For crying out loud, I thought that was one of the greatest gifts I gave you people! Animals don’t impose any of these rules upon themselves, you know. They just live.
JIMMY: But their lives are devoid of meaning.
GOD: And yours isn’t?

JIMMY: Don’t worry. I’m working on another plan.
JOHNNY: (sighs) Why do you always have to have a plan? Just ask her out. Look, I’ll show you. You just say: Mary, would you like…
JIMMY: Yes, thanks Johnny. I do know how to ask a girl out, you know.
JOHNNY: Come off it, Jim. If I had a penny for every girl you’ve asked out, I wouldn’t have enough to rub two pennies together. (pause) In fact, I wouldn’t have enough to rub one penny together.
JIMMY: Just because I don’t ask out every bit of ankle in a hundred-mile radius.
JOHNNY: You don’t ask out any bit of ankle in a hundred-mile radius.
JIMMY: There’s more than one way to cook an egg. You just go diving in like a bull in a china shop, whereas me, I lurk in the shadows, biding my time, ready to pounce…
JOHNNY: Like a rapist.
JIMMY: No. Like an assassin!
JOHNNY: Why do you want to assassinate them?
JIMMY: It’s a metaphor, you idiot. It means I set my sights first, do my research, work out a plan and then I make my move.
JOHNNY: Only, by the time you do, the entire human race has gone extinct.

JIMMY: I wasn’t scared.
GOD: No, of course not.
JIMMY: I was thinking about our friendship.
GOD: I know.
JIMMY: And I didn’t want to put her in an awkward position.
GOD: That’s very admirable.
JIMMY: I was trying to figure out a way of asking her…
GOD: That didn’t involve actually asking her.
JIMMY: Precisely! Anyway, Ben Foster asked her while I was thinking about it and…
GOD: The rest is history.
JIMMY: (angry) She bottled it too! She could have asked me to the prom just as easily. Why is all the onus on me to make things happen?
GOD: Because you’re the man and it’s the man’s job to do these things.
JIMMY: Ooh, that’s a very old-fashioned sort of attitude.
GOD: Well, what do you expect? I’m 100 billion years old! I’ve got a right to be old-fashioned. I like a man to be a man, not a big, yellow-bellied wimp.
JIMMY: Maybe if you’d given me the tools.
GOD: What more tools could I have given you? I gave you eyes, ears, a brain in your head, two arms to hold her with, legs to chase her with, lips to kiss her with and something nice to fill her up inside. (God winks at Jimmy) Perfect fit, by the way. No sex like soulmate sex. (Jimmy sighs) Made to measure… literally.
JIMMY: You’re disgusting.
God chuckles.

GOD: (dejected) Why is it that everything you humans make turns to shit?
JIMMY: That’s a bit harsh.
GOD: Nothing works properly. Now take the things I make. The sun, for example. Imagine if that kept fucking up every twenty minutes. Or the atmosphere. If the atmosphere failed as often as a Ford Escort, say, the human race would be wiped out every other day.
JIMMY: Some of the stuff we make’s pretty impressive. What about the iPod?
GOD: Bah! iPod? That’s just a gimmick, that is. Magic Alex got me one of them and it broke after ten minutes. (God pulls his iPod from a drawer and slams it down on the coffee table) Cheap, human crap. Nothing’s built to last.
Jimmy looks at it, flips a switch and hands it back to him.
JIMMY: You had it on hold.
GOD: What? Don’t talk sh–
JIMMY: It’s working now.
God stares at it sceptically.
GOD: Well… I’ll warrant it’ll be knackered again in a couple of hours. (the screen goes blank) There you go, see? The screen’s gone.
JIMMY: It’s just switched itself off. Press one of the buttons.
GOD: There aren’t any buttons.
JIMMY: In the wheel.
GOD: What’s the wheel?
JIMMY: This bit in the middle.
GOD: Oh, that stupid thing. I could never get the hang of that.
JIMMY: It’s easy.
GOD: You need a bloody degree in computer programming to operate the bloody thing. I’d only just got used to the cassette. Now that worked.
JIMMY: But a cassette can only hold ninety minutes of music. Don’t you think it’s amazing that this tiny thing (holds up iPod) that’s no bigger than a cigarette packet, can hold 40,000 songs on it. Just think of that. All that music, trapped in that tiny little box.
GOD: You think that’s good. (God rummages around in his drawer) Take a look at this. (he produces a conker) What do you think that is?
JIMMY: It’s a conker.
GOD: Wrong. It’s not a conker, it’s a horse chestnut tree! Just think of that! A wooden structure, 40 ft high, covered in tens of thousands of energy-storing, food-providing leaves, supporting the lives of millions of creatures. And it all comes from this little brown ball. Makes your iPod look a little bit sick, don’t you think?
JIMMY: Let’s just say they’re both good, shall we?
GOD: You see, what you humans don’t understand is that you can make things, sure. You have made many useful and practical things that have stopped you having to work so hard, but they all have one thing in common, these things.
JIMMY: What’s that?
GOD: They lack soul. You see, only the Lord God Almighty – and that’s your name, not mine – can make things with soul. Go and have a look at the Pyramids and then go and have a look at Ayers Rock and tell me which one’s better.
JIMMY: Alright. The Pyramids are quite good as well though.
GOD: Symbols of power, that’s all they are. All my stuff is love, all your stuff… (he pokes Jimmy in the chest)
JIMMY: Hey! I didn’t build the Pyramids.
GOD: All your stuff is about power and hate. Every bit of incredible technology you create, sooner or later, is used to kill people. You start off with stones and arrowheads and you end up with hydrogen bombs and cruise missiles. You already have the ways and means to blow up the Earth and every living thing on it; pretty soon you’ll find a way to blow up Heaven as well… and me too, I daresay.
JIMMY: Not necessarily.
GOD: I should have intervened when I had the chance. I should have stopped it. The very first time I saw a monkey crack open a nut with a rock I should have been in there, all wrath and vengeance. (pause) Next universe I build I’m gonna remember that. Tools are bad news.
JIMMY: Next universe?
GOD: That’s right. Just as soon as your lot finally knacker this one, I’m gonna build a new one, a better one. And it ain’t gonna be run by humans either.
GOD: No. You had your chance. The new universe is gonna be run by dogs. They never let me down.

And for those of you with a whole hour to spare, this is where you can buy the whole masterpiece and read it in its entirety as the artist originally intended:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

It will cost you £6.99 but that’s cheap for a masterpiece. Nobody knows how much the Mona Lisa is worth but I’ll warrant it would cost you at least twice that… maybe more.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

11 good band names still up for grabs...

1. Mr Natural
2. The Communists
3. See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil
4. The Plain Janes
5. Chop Wood, Carry Water
6. Perpetual Motion
7. The Cowboys & The Indians
8. The Mathematicians
9. We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident
10. The Human Beings

And finally, one for gangster rappers...

11. MC Squared

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Big Things come in Small Packages...

I would hereby like to offer you, loyal readers, a once in a lifetime opportunity to join one of the most exclusive clubs in the universe. All you have to do is buy and read my novel, The Next Big Thing, in its entirety and you’re in. I give you my word that more people have walked on the surface of the moon than have read this book.

Just think how special that will make you!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Go on, buy one. It’ll be good for the economy.


The Next Big Thing is a comedy following a young, hard-working rock band through the dizzying highs, terrifying lows and pointless middles of their first ever UK tour, tracking their progress from local nobodies to national heroes over the course of one exhilirating summer. The story is split roughly into two parts, contrasting the gritty and sometimes bleak realism of life in an unsigned band with the glossy surrealism of superstardom.The adventure begins on the eve of summer when the four band members, their middle-aged manager, Paul, and lightheaded roadie, Lipstick, buy an old ambulance (cheaper than a tourbus, cooler than a van) and head to Brighton. Over the course of the tour they lock horns with the NME, encounter their first groupies, offend the good people at Radio One and learn a few lessons about life on the road from their more experienced touring partners, The London Underground (or the Ex Big Thing, as they've taken to calling themselves), before eventually arriving in Somerset for a potentially career defining slot at the legendary Glastonbury Festival where they will learn, once and for all, whether they really have what it takes to call themselves The Next Big Thing.

Praise for The Next Big Thing:

"I don’t like it."
Sheridan J. Twagthorn

"Take the absurdity of Spinal Tap, the gritty realism of Extras, the soul of The Commitments and the magic of A Hard Day's Night, boil them all up together and you'll get the book that this book is trying to be."
Chester Cleft

Author's Note:

Some of you may be aware of a book called Death Of An Unsigned Band by a bloke named Tim Thornton. I feel it necessary to point out at this juncture that my hilarious book about an unsigned band was completed a full four years before his hilarious book about an unsigned band and if anyone ripped off anyone then he ripped off me. Probably using some sort of telepathic apparatus.
Naturally, my intense fury at being the victim of such blatant plagiarism was the driving force behind my decision to publish this rubbish in the first place. Without you, Mr Thornton, this book would have stayed on the shelf forever... where it undoubtedly belongs. Now, because of you, it's out there. I hope you're pleased with yourself.

It’s not the first time I’ve been beaten to the market by someone with better connections either. The exact same thing happened to me a few years back with the clockwork radio. My prototype had been sitting on the shelf, ready to go for years before my nemesis, Trevor Baylis, crept in and shafted me at the last minute. I also fear there’s a very real danger that the same fate might befall my perpetual motion machine too if I don’t pull my finger out. That snake Baylis is bound to have his inferior model on the shelves in time for Christmas.

Baylis sent me this smug picture of himself posing with his radio at Christmas '97. On the back he'd written 'Better luck next time, pal'. I was unable to think of a suitably pithy reply so was forced to burn his house down.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Call out the instigators...

I know you're too reticent to actually say it but you've all been wondering why I haven't posted anything in such a long time.
There are two reasons for this, the first of which, the smartest amongst you will have already figured out: I have been in Alice Springs, Australia, competing at the 48th World Air Hockey Championships. There, after six weeks of gruelling matchplay, I successfully defended my title as undisputed king of the floating baize, beating that cocky left-handed Australian 'prodigy', Shane 'Bombshell' Brannigan 1099-1087 in a memorable final.

Brannigan, of course, was the people's champion. He had confidently swaggered through the first 48 rounds of the tournament like he didn’t have a care in the world, but the pressure of being on home turf and carrying the hopes of a nation on his young shoulders proved too much for him in the end and his flashy, crowd-pleasing game of power-serving and audacious shot-making disintegrated in the face of my steady and determined grinding. Indeed, Brannigan was so disappointed in himself by the end that he lashed out at me, claiming that I had sucked all the joy out of the game for him. Poor lad. He had cracked under the weight of everyone else's dreams.

I knew just how he felt. I had to deal with similarly high expectations when the Championships came to Bognor in '98, and came close to a meltdown of my own in the semi-finals when I accused my opponent Pedro Remigio, the Great Portuguese Man O'War, of striking a non-oscillating or 'dead' puck. Later on in the game, when he repeatedly bamboozled me with his mesmerising use of the angles, I called him a cunt.

So, you see, I know how it feels to be in that pressure-cooker situation, and I know how it feels to be taught a lesson from a more experienced player. What Brannigan mustn't do is 'give up and get a job watching paint dry' as he rashly declared he would after the match, but learn from it, as I did, and come back stronger.

A poster from the final. I was affectionately known as The Slimy Limey.

The unorthodox 'Eastern grip' as demonstrated (badly) by Westerner, Phil Michigan. He was whitewashed in the first round, ironically, by a Chinese player using the more natural, and better, 'Western grip'.

Pre-qualifying in Adelaide. Over 80 million people from across the globe entered the tournament.

My triumph in Alice Springs, however, was soon forgotten when I learned of the terrible events back home. I had been out of the loop for over a month in Oz (due to a sudden and unexpected Southern Hemisphere newspaper shortage) and heard no news from Westminster until I arrived in Tibet for a meeting with the Dalai Lama. The meeting was intended to be little more than a quick photo-op, a chance for the World Air Hockey Champion to have his picture taken with the Dalai Lama and a chance for the Dalai Lama to have his picture taken with the World Air Hockey Champion (air hockey and Buddhism having gone hand in hand for over two thousand years). But the look on Mr Lama's face immediately told me that something was wrong. I soon discovered that the Tories had seen my temporary absence from the political arena as the perfect opportunity to strike. They had launched Phase One of their dastardly plan: Blame The Poor For What The Rich Fucked Up.
And knowing that, even if news had reached me, I was in no position to respond (I was, at the time, locked in a titanic quarter-final struggle with Jurgen 'BrickWall' Mertesacker, which had already been going on for 94 hours) they immediately ploughed into Phase Two: Punish The Poor For What The Rich Fucked Up.
'Tighten your belts, folks,' Mr Lama read from The Times. 'These could be the biggest cunts since the Great Depression.'

As always, the Tories had moved to protect their fellow Normans and decided to heap the blame for the current recession onto the shoulders of honest benefit cheats and scoundrels.

A little perspective: the amount of money that Norman Overlord Philip Green (a man who actually 'works' for the government) 'avoided' in tax on one single payment in 2005 would be enough to keep one of these 'benefit cheats' in fags and drink and crack and whatever else they choose to spend their money on for 180,000 years (roughly the same amount of time that the human race has existed).

A little benefit swindling is a drop in the ocean. The state of the economy is fuck all to do with the poor. The poor don’t have the power to fuck up the economy any more than we have the power to fuck up the sun. It was solely the work of Norman fat cats.

People like this:

I took my leave of the Lama and returned to Westminster post-haste. There, at Reticent Party HQ, I announced that the revolution had been moved forward from July next year to tomorrow. I reminded my fellow peasants: 'Scum are not your enemy. We are all scum and we are scum because they make us scum. We have endured a thousand years of being stomped into the ground by these lizards and still they lord it over us with their castles of stone and crowns of gold. Why do we stand for it? We outnumber them thousands to one! It’s time for the workers and drug dealers and benefit cheats and all other Angles, Saxons and Jutes, to stand united and send these fucking Normans back home!'
A muted cheer was faintly heard. We Reticents are uncomfortable with cheering. 'Now let’s show them we mean business by smashing this window in…'
And so this brings me neatly on to the second reason for my lengthy absence: prison.

The Establishment, fearful of further unrest, decided to make an example of me by locking me in the Tower for 4 days and 4 nights without bread, water or pornography.

But I endured and now, a free man once more, I am here to tell you that the Reticent Party will not be silenced! Or, rather, we will be silenced but only because that is our wont. This is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends. In a few months parliament will fall and the monarchy with it and a golden age of Reticence will begin where everyone will be encouraged to shut up and be quiet.

One last thing:
During my time in Tibet, the Lama and I decided to write down Every Problem In The World on a big piece of parchment and then solve them all. This we did. In one big, amphetamine-fuelled orgy of problem solving, and by the end of the evening we held in our hands the document that would shortly become The Reticent Party Manifesto, which will be posted here next week.

Write this in your diaries, folks: this time next week all the world’s problems will be solved.