An Early Childhood Chapter 17 Part 3



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: A SUBPLOT WITH A PLOT, OR VICE VERSA (PART 3)

Continued from Chapter 17 Part 2.



Act I – Scene IV

THE CORRIDOR OUTSIDE THE INTERROGATION ROOM – 1987 – AFTERNOON

GENE, ALEX AND FLANAGAN ARE LEAVING THE ROOM. THEY STEP INTO THE CORRIDOR. FLANAGAN IS BEING LED AWAY.

FLANAGAN
I’ve already explained…I was only sure where I was going when Billy Boy Cullen indicated to me that the portal was open and gave me a leather pilot’s cap and goggles! How many times do I have to tell you?


SHARON COMES WALKING INTO THE CORRIDOR. SHE LOOKS AT FLANAGAN AND SMILES, SIGHING AT HIM LUSTFULLY, THEN LOOKS AT DRAKE

SHARON
Ma’am!

DRAKE
Yes, Sharon?

SHARON
When we was in the station room…you said…

DRAKE
Yes, Sharon?

SHARON
Ma’am…you was talking about the case we’re working on.

DRAKE
Yes, that’s right.

SHARON
But ma’am…then this man arrived by a cake.

DRAKE
Yes, Sharon?

SHARON
Well, he ain’t a character is what I mean. Is he? In our script?

DRAKE
My God, Sharon…my God you’re right. (LOOKS HORRIFIED AT HERSELF, STARTS TO BACK AWAY FROM EVERYONE.) Maybe there’s some kind of an ultra shoddy, intertextual postmodern meta-narrative going on here. (FROWNING IN HORROR.) So if Paddy Flanagan is here from some other format…maybe it’s not his life he is living, or MY past in which I’m embedded…or maybe it’s his REAL future and I’m just a…just a character! (SHAKES HER HEAD BACK AND FORTH.) This isn’t happening…this should not be happening.

HUNT
Cheer up, Bolly! Have you two lezzers forgotten that before Jippy here arrived on the Used Condom Express, we were actually working on a case involving corrupt police Captain Larry Weathercape?

FLANAGAN
So that’s why I’m here! (HE GETS THE ATTENTION OF THE OTHER THREE.) In my lifetime, Captain Larry Weathercape is in actuality an evil demon. And he’s my mortal enemy!

HUNT
So what’s your point, please?

HUNT AND FLANAGAN STARE AT EACH OTHER. FINALLY, HUNT LOOKS AWAY

FLANAGAN
Back to Captain Larry Weathercape, Hunt. Due to an unfortunate error that gave Weathercape super strength in the mortal realm which has yet to be revealed in my reality, I have come to this realm in order to dispatch him.

DRAKE
Wait a minute…slow down…this is all too much to take in!

FLANAGAN
He’s basically like the Incredible Hulk of my timeline. Don’t you get that, Alex? (HE GRABS HER AND SHAKES HER.) Isn’t that getting through to you! We don’t have time for this nonsense!

HUNT
When did all this happen?

FLANAGAN
Between the years 1850 and 1990. My timeline is very ill defined!

HUNT
You don’t say?

FLANAGAN
Oh yes I do. And the vile warlock likes casting spells on people. There is talk that he also enjoys skinning women.

HUNT
So he wasn’t a chubby chaser.

FLANAGAN
SKINNING! Not skinny!

HUNT
Right…so he…so he likes…fat women?

FLANAGAN
He likes all kinds of women! Skinned!
(FLANAGAN LOOKS AT ALL THREE OF THEM, WHO RETURN HIS LOOK WITH ONE OF SHOCK.)

SHARON
That horrible warlock…doesn’t like women at all!

FLANAGAN
That’s what I said.

HUNT
What sort of a sick pervert are you to tell us that he likes women? And then you tell us that he skins them?

DRAKE
That is so wrong! Even in 2008, they wouldn’t allow this! What year did you say you come from? (PAUSE.) How permissive can your society be that you say women are liked when they are skinned?

FLANAGAN
No, no, no, no, no. Let me start again. (PAUSE. TAKES DEEP BREATH.) Larry Weathercape…liked…skinning…women.

DRAKE
So…he’s fond of thin girls.

FLANAGAN
Look, we don’t have time for this! Where is Larry Weathercape right now?

DRAKE
He’s about to leave his Hounslow residence for a flight to Nevada.

FLANAGAN
That makes sense. He may try to gamble and win a lot of money based on some kind of a sports almanac, if we’re dealing with time travel parodies! To the batmobile!
[FLANAGAN SPRINTS OUT THE DOOR. HUNT AND DRAKE FOLLOW HIM.]


Continued in Chapter 18.


Fabulous Facts from the World of Entertainment

See another entertainment fact here!
Did you know?
In his original Star Wars film, George Lucas was going to name the planet “Alderaan” not “Alderaan”, but in fact “Alderman”, after his great-great-great-grandfather, Chelmsford Lucas, who was the First Alderman of Nantucket. However, Mark Hamill, who played central character Luke Skywalker, struggled with the pronunciation of the word “Alderman” early on in the film’s shoot and subsequent references to the word ended up on the cutting room floor.



The problem was so pronounced that Lucas decided that the planet would have to be destroyed.
 

A purpose-built Death Star was introduced into the script in order to obliterate the planet, sending the movie sky-rocketing over budget and postponing the shoot by four months.

The delay led Lucas to the conclusion that any sequel containing a similar Death Star could only be financially viable if the massive weapon were only half built. Luckily, the success of Star Wars at the box office covered all the losses for the first movie. Co-star Harrison Ford later publicly humiliated Hamill about his inability to say the word alderman and as a consequence ruined his career.

More entertainment facts here!

Fabulous Facts from the World of Entertainment




Did you know?

There was a final, unaired episode of television series Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury as crime-solving novelist Jessica Fletcher. It featured a storyline in which Jessica was exposed as a serial killer who had murdered some 314 people over the previous ten seasons, framing hundreds of innocent parties in the process.





Grey hair solutions

Numerous celebs have spent years trying to achieve a certain look. But if you're looking for a solution to grey hair, then look no further than some of the amazing image changes that ALL of the celebs have gone through! Not just George Clooney.



The word on the grapevine is that Kelly Osborne was tired of being overweight - so she took the heat off herself by dyeing her hair. Now people aren't saying she's fat - they're saying she's got grey hair!

When asked about it all, mom Sharon Osborne said:
"She did lose a lot of fucking weight. What are you fucking talking about, you shithead? You miserable fucker! Get away from me! You fucker!"

From Katy Perry all the way down to Kelly Osbourne - and maybe not even Katy Perry - all of the celebs are now dyeing their hair grey! So if you want a solution to grey your hair too - take a tip from the stars!

LITTLE MIX
That's one star of Little Mix who mixed up a grey hair solution - AND CAME OUT LOOKING GREAT!



Katy Perry adds the years with this wonderfully distingushed grey bob!



And you'll be in the Pink with this celeb too. So if you're looking for a grey hair solution, try a pharmacy or a hairdresser. Responsible proprietors of businesses like these are reluctant to let you perform treatments like this, and they may refuse to sell you that blue rinse. Always remember to shop around and simply get it on the blue rinse black market!

An Early Childhood Chapter 17 Part 2

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: A SUBPLOT WITH A PLOT, OR VICE VERSA (PART 2)

Continued from Chapter 17 Part 1.

 

 


Act I – Scene II

INT. LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE STATION, 1987 – AFTERNOON

GENE HUNT, ALEX DRAKE, RAY CARLING, CHRIS SKELTON, SHARON GRANGER AND EIGHT OTHER DETECTIVES ARE GATHERED AROUND LOOKING AGOG AT PADDY FLANAGAN AS HE STANDS UP. HE IS WEARING FRILLY UNDERWEAR AND A PAIR OF SUSPENDERS AND IS COVERED FROM HEAD TO TOE IN A THIN FILM OF LIQUID. ALL OF THE OTHER OFFICERS ARE ALSO SPLASHED IN THE LIQUID

ALEX
What is this vile liquid?

SHAZZ
I’m not sure, ma’am.

ALEX
Eurrggh!

FLANAGAN
Where am I, exactly?

CHRIS
Does this mean that we’re covered in his…?

SHAZZ
Whose?

FLANAGAN
I…I…I’m a bit discombobulatered altogether.

CHRIS
Wait a second – I have a question here. Are we all covered…in…?

FLANAGAN
Put me back in the cake! I want to go back – back to the Twenties!

SHAZZ
From his silly banter, this man covered in his own silky muck seems to be a time traveller, ma’am. It appears that he had to be covered in birthing fluids in order to be “reborn” in the future – or today’s present…

ALEX
Yes, yes, of course…but it doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s covered in his own filthy guy-juices!

FLANAGAN
It’s ectoplasm! Or else it's from a fox! Do you understand?

RAY
Wait a second here…if this is my birthday present…well then it’s a present for fucking poofters! I can’t be having that! (PAUSE. LOOKS AT FLANAGAN SEXILY.) But I would love to take him home and give him a good roger---beating. A good beating. (LOOKS TO GENE.) Guv?

HUNT
No, Raymond.

RAY
It is my birthday!

HUNT
NO! This man is in breach of several laws of Physics. And biology. How did he manage to produce so much… (MAKES DISGUSTED FACE.)

FLANAGAN
It’s ectoplasm! Do you not understand what I’m saying?

SHARON
And of course, sir, we cannot fail to pick up on the significance of the folding of space time via a birthday cake. Which is, in and of itself, a cultural symbol of age and time.

GENE
Nice detective work, Shazza. If I need to know anything about time loops and breaches of the four dimensions, I’ll be in touch with you…rather than DOCTOR FUCKING WHO!!! In the meantime, Raymondo, could you take Mr Jippy Longstockings here to the showers? Wash him down and give him some period clothing – then we’ll find out why he’s here!

Act I – Scene III

INT. INTERROGATION ROOM – 1987 – AFTERNOON

ALEX DRAKE AND GENE HUNT ARE SITTING OPPOSITE FLANAGAN, WHO IS SITTING IN A HAWAIIAN TEE SHIRT AND A PAIR OF STONE WASHED CHINOS. THERE IS NOW ALSO A STREAK OF BLOND HAIR THROUGH HIS FRINGE, WHICH HAS BECOME A QUIFF. HE IS ALSO WEARING A THICK MOUSTACHE.

FLANAGAN (IMPATIENTLY)
This is the last time I’m going to tell you. I was shot…with fluids…by a fox…in a fantasy land…which was opened for me…by the business boy apple salesboy…Billy Boy Cullen. What part of that do neither of you understand?

(PAUSE. THEY LOOK AT HIM, AND HE LOOKS AT EACH OF THEM IN TURN.)

ALEX (LOOKING AT GENE, SADNESS IN HER TONE)
No…he’s…he’s still delusional. (PAUSE.) It’s so sad, because he’s so handsome. (EMITS A HIGH PITCHED SQUEAK.)

Continued in Act I Scene IV.

An Early Childhood Chapter 17 Part 1



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: A SUBPLOT WITH A PLOT, OR VICE VERSA (PART 1)

Continued from Chapter 16 Part 2.

            Meanwhile, back in Fantasy Land…

            Black Typo turned to me.

            “So…you’ve had your trailer.”

            “Yes,” I said. “Now take me to Floudh Rak the evil weatherlock.”

            “The evil weatherlock? Are you sure?”

            I touched the comb in my pocket, the gold comb of the banshee found at the scene of a double murder.

            “Yes,” I said.

            “You need to go to the realm beyond this,” the fox explained.

            “Back to the world of the trailer?”

            The fox shook his head.

            “Deeper than that,” he said. “You need to follow different conventions, and this place represents a purgatorial environment with which you are not familiar now. But you will understand that environment while you are there, much like you understand things in dreams that on waking make no sense.”

            “I don’t getchya.”

            “You don’t need to “get” me, Paddy. You only need to know that the future will be the past, and the past the future. And it will be unlike any world that you know now, although you will be familiar with it once you are snuggled into its parodic conventions.”

            Black Typo reared on his hind legs and completely sprayed me in a gush of what I hoped was urine.

            I stood gasping at him.

            “What did you…?”

            A second stream of fluids covered me, leaving me gasping.

            “My God, man!” I shrieked, disgusted as I licked my lips, and then spat, cringing at the taste. “What the hell are you…?” I felt myself going weak at the knees, both from drowning in the fox’s liquids and from the sheer disgust at my predicament. I fell to the grass, into a slumber.

            “Ashes to ashes…” the fox intoned, his voice ringing in my ears.



Act I – Scene I



INT. LONDON METROPOLITAN POLICE STATION, OCTOBER 1985 – AFTERNOON



GENE HUNT, ALEX DRAKE, RAY CARLING, CHRIS SKELTON, SHARON GRANGER AND EIGHT OTHER DETECTIVES ARE GATHERED AROUND THE OFFICE. THEY ARE DRINKING TUMBLERS AND MUGS FULL OF WHISKEY. GENE HAS A BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE IN HIS HANDS.



GENE

Happy Birthday, Raymondo! The big Four-Oh! Does that mean Chris gets to inherit all of your porno mags?



EVERYONE CHEERS LADDISHLY



CHRIS

What’s a porno mag? Anyway, happy birffday Ray-zor!



GENE POPS THE CHAMPAGNE OPEN. EVERYONE CHEERS.



RAY

I’m not into porno! Porno’s for poofters!



EVERYONE

Yayyy!!!



DETECTIVE (OUT OF SHOT)

Hurray for porno!



ALEX

I can only hope, Raymond, that you realise that you’re among friends. And friends…are the best. And the best…are friends. Here’s to friends, Ray! (SHE RAISES HER MUG WITH A SMILE. THERE IS SILENCE. EVERYONE STARTS TO MOVE AWAY, TO GO BACK TO WORK.)



RAY (TO HIMSELF)

Party pooping bitch.



THERE’S A KNOCK ON THE OFFICE DOOR. VIV COMES IN, WHEELING A MASSIVE CAKE.



SHAZZ

Oh, look – a big cake! (SHE GETS A KNIFE AND SOME PLATES FROM OUT OF A DRAWER) Ray – everybody – tuck in!



RAY (SMILING TO HIMSELF)

That’s not a real cake, Shazz – there’s a stripper in that!



(THE TEAM GATHERS ROUND THE CAKE, PEERING AT THE TOP.)



GENE

You can come out now!



(THE CAKE EXPLODES, AND EVERYONE DUCKS FOR COVER AS A THICK SPRAY OF GLOOPY LIQUID COVERS THE WALLS, DESKS AND DETECTIVES. GRADUALLY, SLOWLY, EVERYONE GETS UP, WIPING THEMSELVES DOWN. THEY LOOK DOWN AT WHERE THE CAKE WAS. IN ITS PLACE LIES A MAN IN A FOETAL POSITION, JUST COMING INTO CONSCIOUSNESS. HE IS WEARING NOTHING OTHER THAN A PAIR OF FRILLY KNICKERS, A BRA, AND A PAIR OF SUSPENDERS. IT IS DETECTIVE INSPECTOR PADDY FLANAGAN.)



FLANAGAN (LOOKING UP)

Where…where am I?



RAY (FROWNING, STARING AT FLANAGAN)

Guv…Is that one of those…Tory politicians?



FLANAGAN

Oh boy!



ROLL CREDITS.



SEQUENCE WITH FLANAGAN WALKING BRISKLY INTO A QUINNSWORTH. AS HE REACHES THE DOOR, HE TURNS AROUND TO FACE THE CAMERA, WHIPPING OFF HIS SUNGLASSES.



FLANAGAN (IN VOICEOVER)

My name’s Paddy Flanagan. I’ve just been jazzed all over by my fox spirit guide Black Typo, whose chemicals had a kind of electrifying penile electricity that was so electrifying that it has sent me forwards in time to the year of our Lord 1985. AD. Or am I stuck in some kind of a sci fi British screenplay parody that was itself quite parodic, from circa 2008? Don’t forget, I have been fired at by a fox! So your guess…is as good as mine!

Continued in Act I, Scene II.

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Apparently, fantasy scribe L.T. Dalin has invited me to Norway, where the Nobel Committee are going to present me with my award for the Artist of the Millennium. But I might've got some of my facts wrong.

L.T.'s blog is replete with flash fiction, and shout-outs about various contests, and word count tallies. Her posts about craft dedication are an inspiration in themselves. Now, I'm not really into fantasy. When I say that, what I actually mean is that I can dish it out, but I usually can't take it, to be honest with you. But some of my more successful stories in competition have had fantastical elements, or could be classed as magic realism, if I was to be so pejorative about the genre. How and ever, inter alia and other fancy Latin I don't really understand, what little I've read of L.T.'s work grounds itself in an emotional depth that always impresses and surprises me. Inter alia.



The Very Inspiring Blogger Awards have some rules associated with them. Once you are nominated by a fellow blogger, you have to share facts about yourself and nominate other bloggers, and put the above image on your blog, and contact the bloggers who inspire you to let them know they're nominated. But this is a bit like a chain letter, and I'm not going to expect the folks who've inspired me to play along, unless they have time. Some of them are, like, busy? That's why they're an inspiration. So although I'm very happy to go through this horrible chore imposed on me by L.T. Dalin (what a mean-spirited blogger!), and to recommend inspirational blogs or web presences, I won't expect the same rules to apply to them. 


The number when it comes to said facts about oneself - and the nominations of those who inspire you - vary according to any rules out there I've cared to read. Being an out and out waffler, I've provided more information below than I anticipated, and I'm probably in breach of several award rules.

Most of these facts are in tip form. It's writerly stuff I do, and writerly stuff I should do. (Or maybe this whole post is just a big charade. Or a set-up, to draw a criminal out of his lair, and I'm the bait, coz he doesn't like what I have to say below.)

1. I definitely don't read enough. I should read more. Reading short fiction in magazines (by famous writers whose novels I should've read three years ago) is cheating, but it's what I'll sometimes do. I encourage anyone to do the same if they want to cop out a lot and just be lazy. But I should really, really read a lot more.

2. I don't write enough (creatively). The more busy that I find myself, the more exigent comes the creative urge. So my output is higher when I am sitting exams in the near future or I'm starting a stressful job or I'm otherwise occupied and I just don't have the time and I shouldn't have the energy. (Don't be this way. Write whenever you can.)

3. If you're not hot on ideas, take a look above, before I started these points, with the silly idea about drawing out a criminal? Writing fiction means you hypothesise, you tease things out, you ask "What ifs?" from real life and elsewhere. "What if he was actually a cop?" "What if she's an eco-terrorist?" "What if my narrator is likeable, and then he does a horrible thing at the end?" Whether you completely alter a story you've already got, or it's the focus or sub-plot of a new one, don't be afraid to tease things out. Save finished stories with another document name and edit them and see if the new idea pays off. Make a note if you come up with a funny line, a good idea, or whatever else, if you're not at home or in front of a computer. Any misheard lyrics are your own ideas too, by the way. So it pays richly to be a little debt. DO YOU HEAR ME? DEAF! Put the idea in your phone. Or scribble it down. And make sure that you'll fully understand it when you return later. Spell out heavy symbolism to yourself, and hide it from the reader (if you want) when you return to that idea later, to work it into narrative form.  (This is just stuff I attempt to do, and sometimes fail at.)

4. Execution of the ideas: Word count limits make great editors if you're diligent. A 3,000 word tale can often be pared down to 2,000 or 1,500 words - and it invariably reads better for it. As Twain reputedly said via correspondence to somebody: "I'd like to have written a shorter letter, but I didn't have the time." In this sense, flash fic competitions like the ones in which L.T often partakes - or various other short story contests that impose word count limits - act as great editors, if you want to enter your work. I encourage taking part in such competitions, for this reason alone. Short story writer Tobias Wolff (recommended to me many years ago by Reamonn) has said: "Leave out anything that the reader doesn't need to know." For the short story form, I usually heed this advice.

5. People say me, they say me: "Why you not write novel?" I have a couple wrut out on the computer, still agentless and unpublished for a number of reasons (all my fault), but it's a fair question. I can argue back that I require a certain amount of inspiration when it comes to extended narratives, before I feel confident that I'll have the mileage, and before I become assiduous, yaddah yaddah yaddah. Sposeda doesn't cut it though. I'm pretty poor at heeding my own advice, but I believe that if you don't have something on the go - and you want to write every single damn day - get started on it before you actually want to. Kickstart it if you must. Blow on those embers you scrawled in that college notebook from 1985, or typed up in that document in your Sociology Essays folder in 2007, or the scribblings on your little pad when you were waiting tables at the greasy spoon, instead of taking the diner's orders, early last year. No excuses. Get them out. GO! GO! GO! That's my motto! And I'm not gonna stick by it right now! But I wish you all the best.

6. Don't just write. Shop stuff around. Market your work, however badly. Approach people. Submit to agents and producers and contests and be your own secretary. Print stuff out and mail it. If you don't like printing but you like jogging, print stuff out and jog down to the post office. Email is free. This blog is free. Build up a portfolio of achievement, a document containing the agents you've approached, stuff you can put on your CV or your resumé. It's only a bit of fun at worst and a multi bulti publishing deal at best. Bulti! It could happen, you know. But if you're not, as they say, "in", you can't, as they say, "win".

Incidentally, I heard somewhere that if you approach an agent seeking representation, and you've already submitted your work to a publisher - and it's been rejected by that publisher - it's more difficult for the agent to get the publisher to buy it once he/she starts repurrrazentin'. I dunno how true that is, but perhaps it's an idea to approach the agents first.

7. Criticism: I read in a recent article that big people like Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett and their ilk, listen to the message, and not the messenger. This will come as second nature to most writers too. It means that if someone is being overly critical, telling you that your work didn't sustain their interest because your syntax is garbled, and there's really no hope for you at all, well then you just have to take what you can from that. Simply make an effort to improve your sentence structure, and move on. Oh, and if ten people tell you these things, DON'T stop writing. If 100 people tell you, DON'T stop. It could be that they just don't get you. I mostly don't like modernism or metal or freeform jazz or Zappa or Cubism. Some art just hurts my noggin. It's mad and scary and just noise and invites disgust and bring back that other Frank, Sinatra, and his safety and warmth and his organised crime links. What is it with the kids these days and their Beatles? Some of my own more depressing stories are difficult to handle. But other people lap that stuff up. So always, always, always take what you can out of something, and move on.


And now the conclusion:

The bloggers or web presences I recommend could be complemented with many more. The people below already "pay it forward" in the words of Heinlein, with their enthusiasm and advice and their writing.

Subscribe to their newsletters, or sign up to their forums (fora? flauna? fauna? Pass the margarine, Rose Violet!), or just see what they have to offer.

Point 7 above reminded me to mention Louise Beech. She's won contests I've entered, and she's good enough to correspond occasionally. She also knows only too well that the latest work she chose to share with me - many months ago - has given me brain damage. She knows this because I've tried to articulate my feelings about the confused, dribbling, drooling mess I now am, as best I can. Instead, it comes out like when Homer asks: "Lisa, where's Christmas?" As with most great work of its kind, her stories raise as many questions as answers. Some of her short fiction is among the finest I've had the privilege to read.

Vanessa O'Loughlin is part of the Inkwell publishing consultancy. Her Writing.ie site is a wonderful resource. Vanessa's suggestions to me have included:

-giving your work's Unique Selling Point more prominence in your synopses, summaries and query letters
-being more of a Twit
-blogging
Vanessa has some experience in helping to secure nice deals for authors too.

John Yeoman's Writer's Village contains a great forum, and the man himself has been more than helpful in offering advice. I think I could have some serious debates with John over things literary, and he'd tear chunks out of me, but his provision of constructive criticism is beyond valuable. He also has some great contests on the site that are worth entering. He has claimed that he does all this stuff for beer money, but I definitely owe him a few pints.


John Wiswell's Bathroom Monologues are just the dog's b*ll*cks. Like L.T., I stumbled across John's work via Blogger.  The quality of his posts - often in story form - frequently make me question why he'd want to share this material for free. My mouth is agape. Furthermore, he has posted dozens of terrific, imaginative ideas, that he says he won't need or use and has offered up to other scribes, coz he's too busy.


Yeah! Magazine's blog and site are aimed at the International Student in Ireland. I've been lucky enough to submit work to the magazine, so it's inspired me personally, on a selfish level, to write articles and to improve my own journalistic skills. It advocates on behalf of international students (particularly those learning English in Ireland), and it's a great information resource for any number of organisations and international-type people. So Friend or follow Yeah! now.

Elizabeth Guy ran a free-to-enter contest with a $100 cash prize roughly every quarter for ages, on a site called Reading Writers, that no longer exists. The beauty of this contest was its system of ranking stories - with as many as perhaps 80 entries at a time getting placings as finalists, before a handful were given honorable mentions, with an ultimate winner being declared, or whatever way it went. This was a fantastic inspiration: If you're placing in the top 80 or the top 40 in a contest with 500 entries, you know you're on the right track. So she inspired a lot of writers every few months. It is rare to find such longlists in any contest - and it's something I'd encourage competition organisers to do. You're lucky to get a longlist of 12 - and that's in competitions with entry fees. Elizabeth Guy has gone a lot quieter since her decision to retire some of her Internet presences. She is missed. But I'm sure she's doing good work, wherever she is.


Robert Gover's life is an inspiration worthy of several books. Born just as the Great Depression was starting, he's actually devoted some of his autumn years to monitoring possible correlations between the stars and the world economy. Astrology? Before you baulk, his open-mindedness about these things has given me pause. We ought to wonder at our own acceptance of things scientific and rational. If someone tells me to look into a telescope, at a red dot, telling me that "This is Mars", it is just as likely to be a tiny splodge of tomato ketchup on the device's upper lens. Too many of us haven't "done the math", and take things on faith because it's what the scientists say. Anyway, fifty years back Mr. Gover's work and his publishers were targeted in covert and nefarious ways by the American less-than-liberal elite, and in the early 60s he was forced into exile for a while. He's suffered for his art - the slim tome that caused most of the kerfuffle is hilarious, thought-provoking, alarming in its apparent dismissiveness, and plenty more, addressing certain societal concerns that can still be found in America and the world today.

To anyone who has sullied my scribblings with their beautiful eyes - and particularly those who have returned to me to express their views about same - I give my profuse thanks.

Joke Recycling

How to Recycle Your Old Jokes With Fresh New Material

Recycling your old jokes to make them more current? Here's a trick that might just work!
As an example, this is a joke from 2009 that will get them laughing:


After noticing a dip in the quality of the food at his restaurant, the manager asked his head chef for an explanation.


“We’ve had to make cuts,” the chef said. “We can’t buy the best of everything any more because the financial director has said that we can’t afford it.”


“He said that, did he?” said the manager.


“He told me that we have a budget for salaries, a budget for all the overheads, and a budget for the rent. After all that, there’s no accounting for taste.”
Photo courtesy of Blue moon in her eyes

Now, everyone would agree that that's a funny joke. But simply add the following line to the end of that old 2009 joke about the ongoing recession, to make it even more up-to-date:




“Why don’t we buy some of that cheap horsemeat?" piped up the manager. "People won’t even know the difference!”

Here is another old joke:

How do you spot a leopard on the African savannah?
You don't have to, because it's already spotted!

That clever joke plays on the ideas of a leopard's spots, and being spotted, as in being seen. But why not make the joke fresh and new, by introducing a witty line about the retirement of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI?

How do you spot a leopard on the African savannah?
 

You don't have to, because it's already spotted the pope, and it's gonna eat the pope. Anyway, it's about time the pope got off his big fat golden throne and retired, and stopped banging on about the gays and the Muslims like the fascist oik fathead that he is, and also as soon as he retires he should visit Africa so the leopard will chase him down and knock his pointy mitre off his stupid fat head and eat him, kind of like the horsemeat in the newspapers, and on the current affairs! What a stupid pope!
Photo courtesy of Blue moon in her eye. 


So bring your jokes right up to date today!

Look how easy it is: You take some old material...


 SEPARATED AT BIRTH?

And you replace it with new material!

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?
Do it! Do it today!!!