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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Moorhouse Mouse's Mouse House

This is the first part of an old piece of writing I produced back when I was considering trying to write a book for children. I can see a lot of problems with it, but I think it's worth posting just for the fun of the "Moorhouse Mouse's Mouse House" title. I imagine the sequel would probably involve Moorhouse finding a wife ("Moorhouse Mouse's Mouse Spouse").



Farmer Budd was a fat old man who lived with his wife on a little farm in the countryside. He was a friendly chap, but he didn't like mice. Mice ate his stores of grain and, as he often said to his wife, he really did not like the way they left their droppings all over his nice clean farmyard.

"Let's get a cat," said Mrs Budd. So they did.

Battered Tom arrived at the farm in a cardboard box. At first he was just called plain old "Tom" but after his first skirmish with Angry Gilbert, the farm's prize pig, the poor cat had earned himself a broken ear and a squinty eye. Good old Battered Tom; he was a lovely cat but he never did manage to catch any of those mice.

Perhaps I should explain who I am? I'm Jon, the farmhand. That's me over there – the young lad with the pitchfork. I've just finished cleaning the horses out for the day and, let me tell you, it's backbreaking work. It's a good life here on the farm though. Farmer Budd lets me sleep in the stable and Mrs Budd always makes sure I have more than enough to eat. Sleeping in the stable might sound a bit rough but I like it. If I didn't sleep in the stable I might never have met Moorhouse Mouse. And if I'd never met Moorhouse then life would have been a whole lot less interesting.

Moorhouse started life as just one of fifteen baby mice. That's a big family! They all lived in a tiny nest hidden behind the skirting board in the farmhouse kitchen. Just imagine growing up in the dark surrounded by fourteen brothers and sisters.

When I first met Moorhouse he was a very young mouse living in that very crowded mouse hole. Back then he wasn't called Moorhouse. In fact, he wasn't called anything at all. You see, mice do not get their names in the same way we get ours. You and I were given names by our parents long before we were even old enough to know about it. Not so with mice. When they are old enough to go out into the big wide world on their own, they choose names for themselves.

Now Moorhouse was a brave little mouse and so one day he crawled to the edge of the nest and peered out. Everything was dark except the half-circle of light that was the entrance to the mouse hole. Outside that hole, all manner of strange and exciting things seemed to be happening. He could hear strange noises and smell all manner of wonderful smells. His mouth watered at the thought of eating whatever it was that smelt so delicious.

Bravely he clambered out of the nest and towards the hole. He peered out into the light. It seemed very bright and busy out there. In the distance he could just about make out Angry Gilbert rooting for truffles in the farmyard.

(To be continued... maybe)



Sunday, 19 June 2011

On the friendliness of dragons

Here's the prologue of a fantasy novel I'm working on:

This is a book about dragons.

Contrary to popular belief, dragons are very friendly creatures. Behind the shimmering scales, the creepy claws and the terrible teeth is a kind, caring creature who likes nothing better than a chat about the weather over a nice cup of tea.

It should be noted, however, that dragons are only friendly to people who are POLITE to them. If, when you meet a dragon, the first thing you do is wave your sword around your head whilst shouting things like, “Huzzah, let’s kill the dragon!” then the dragon will, quite understandably, come to the conclusion that you’re probably not interested in becoming friends. People who greet a dragon in this way are invariably roasted in a fiery flame.

If, on the other hand, you greet the dragon with a wave, a nod and a smile then, you can be sure, all will be well.

This is also a book about demons.

Demons are EVIL. You can try to be friends with a demon if you like but the friendship will be very short and consist of no more than, “Hello, arrgh, please don’t eat me”. The problem is that demons like to smash things, and the things that they don’t smash, they eat.  Some demons are more peaceful than others – they just pop in, smash something and run off again – but most demons prefer to smash everything in sight, then smash it all again, then stamp on the broken bits while eating anyone unfortunate enough to be within grabbing distance.

The things demons like to smash include:
  • Rocks,
  • Trees,
  • Houses,
  • Pretty much anything really.

The things demons like to eat include:
  • People,
  • Animals,
  • Other demons,
  • Pretty much anything really.

If you learn only one thing from this book, let it be this:

DEMONS SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS.

Oh, and don’t forget the bit about being polite to dragons.


"Dragon Guardian" by Lisa Victoria

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Funky Chicken

Image from: Marsden Cartoons

I was once sent on a training course on how to give presentations.

As part of the course, my classmates and I were told that on the last day we would be given a random title – made up on the spot by the lecturer – and we would immediately have to give a five minute talk based on that title. 

No preparation time. No thinking time. We’d just have to stand at the front of the class, be given a title, and start talking straight away.

It didn't have to be a formal talk, but talking definitely would be involved. In front of the class.

I was terrified.

Public speaking scares me at the best of times, and the thought of being stuck in front of a crowd of strangers desperately trying to think of something to say for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES left me cold.

The night before, I came up with a plan: the talks did not have to be sensible - in fact they could be as daft as you like - so I would create a story that would work for whatever title I was given. At least then I would have something to say, which surely was better than staring at the class in panic while mouthing like a goldfish.

I needed to come up with something abstract, because I had no idea what title I would end up with. So, I thought, how about a song title? I could say the presentation title was the name of a song, and then make up a long, daft story about the band behind the song.

I've heard it said that the anticipation of a dreaded task is almost always worse than the task itself. That’s good to know, but it doesn’t stop said anticipation churning your stomach and making your heart flutter like a bird in a cat flap.

As it turned out, I never actually used this idea. I ended up waffling my way through the presentation, just like everybody else in the class. That was probably for the best as the story turned out quite bloodthirsty. Perhaps that reflected my enthusiasm for the task.

So here’s the story. It never got used but, for a while at least, it made me feel like I might be able to give a decent presentation... or at least manage to say something without collapsing into a little puddle of terror on the floor.

So let’s say I get given the title “X”...

#

Hello everyone. Thank you for attending my talk about: “X”.

“X”... is... er... the name of a song.

This song was released a very long time ago by a band called “The Funky Chicken”.

That’s a bit of weird name for a band, as I’m sure you’ll agree. And like all weird band names, there’s a good story behind it.

You see, there were these four blokes all sitting in some really naff restaurant, getting something to eat.

So imagine you’re there. There you are, sitting at your table, and the weird thing about this restaurant is you’re surrounded by the food.

Not cooked and on plates, but like there’s all these animals just roaming around the restaurant.

There’s a few cows just wandering round, chewing at the occasional pot plant, and at your feet there’s a whole load of chickens just pecking about, and on the wall there’s a great big tank full of fish.

So one guy, he’s the bass guitarist – his name’s Marty – he’s sitting there with the menu trying to work out what he wants to eat. He looks about ready to order and so the chef waddles on over to him.

The chef asks what the guy wants, and all the animals go quiet. Like the cows, and the chickens all gather round the guy’s table and look at him. And they’re worried, because they know one of them’s for the chop, but they don’t know who. And all the fish are crowded up to the glass trying to hear what’s going on; they’re sort of peeking through the glass.

Anyway, so this guy, Marty, he looks at the menu and he goes, “I’ll have the... chicken”.

And the chickens: they’re out of there! They just run for it as fast as there little scrawny feet can move them. And they’re hiding under tables and behind customers, just trying to get as far away as they can from the chef.

And all the cows and the fish are just watching this, you know, like the danger’s over for them so now it’s just kind of entertaining.

But there’s this one chicken that’s not quite as quick as the rest. She doesn’t move. She just stands there by the chef, and when Marty orders his chicken dinner, she takes a while to process it. Or maybe she can’t be bothered with life any more.

Whatever the case, before her tiny little brain can tell her feet to get the hell out of there, the chef whips out a massive machete-type-axe thing, wields it around his head like a crazed musketeer... swings the thing down in a great arc... and he lops this chicken’s head right off.

And so now there’s this chicken’s head lying on the floor, and she looks pretty surprised by what’s happened. Well, wouldn’t you?

Meanwhile the chicken’s body still standing there. And before the chef can catch hold of it, it’s off! It’s scarpering round the tables and around the customers and all over the place.

Now I don’t know why chicken’s bodies do this when you lop their heads off, but they do. Apparently it’s something to do with nerves and things; it sort of sets their legs going. Eventually they stop, but until then it’s chaos.

So this chicken’s body is now running off around this restaurant, and its neck is gouting blood everywhere, and making one hell of a mess. Eventually the chef manages to grab it and he takes it off to turn it into a pie, but not before it’s done this funky little dance on the floor right in front of Marty and the band. And after they’d finished their pie, Marty says, “Right, we’re going to form a band, and call it The Funky Chicken.”

So they did.

And they released this song called “X”.

The song was good, make no mistake about it. It was new stuff. No one had ever churned out anything like it before. And the public went mad for it. The shops were cleared out as soon as it was released; they just couldn’t sell enough of the things. So, of course, this song went straight to number one. And it stayed there for ages. Years in fact.

The lead singer of “The Funky Chicken” could never account for the song’s success, and he never ever worked again. His life was sadly, prematurely cut off only two weeks after X’s release, due to a nasty accident involving a loose wire and a vacuum cleaner. The entire pop world went into mourning after his death, as I’m sure we all did too.

Strangely enough, only one band member survived to see “X” finally leave the number one spot.

The drummer, Crazy-man Percival, was killed, along with Marty, in a horrific motorway accident, and to this day no one has ever found out why their car span off the road that fateful night. Although it is commonly believed that it’s because they were both totally and utterly rat-arsed at the time.

Randy Straddle, the band’s bass player, found himself to be the only member of the band left alive, just two short weeks after their success. Believing himself to be under threat from some supernatural force, he vanished from the public eye and went into hiding on some out-of-the-way island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. There are occasional sightings of him even now, although he hates publicity.

So that’s the story behind one-hit-wonder band “The Funky Chicken”. No other group has ever managed to challenge their success, and I suppose no one ever shall. Superstition carries a lot of weight in the pop music industry, and experts believe it is because of this that no one has ever dared to re-release “X”.

Thanks for listening!

Any questions?


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hungry Wilbur

Here's an unbelievably bad poem I wrote years ago. It was published in the school magazine but, strangely, fame and fortune did not follow!

Kentucky fried chicken
Fried eggs on toast
Sausages and bacon
And of course a Sunday roast

Cakes with lots of icing
Lots of bread and jam
Beef with Yorkshire pud
Or boiled eggs and ham

These are the foods that Wilbur likes
And this is only his lunch
For pudding he has rock cakes
Munch, munch, munch.

Image from firebox.com


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Melancholia

Depression is a weird thing. I've been fighting it for years. Sometimes it results in daft poetry, and sometimes that poetry ends up on this blog. This particular poem was written when I was 15. Don't be offended - this poem's not meant to trivialise suicidal thoughts - it was just my way of dealing with them at the time.

I want to commit suicide
I want to do it today
I want to do it quickly
I want it over straight away

I'd like to slit my wrists
But I haven't got a knife
I've got to do it somehow
I really hate my life

I could jump out the window
And land right on my head
I've never been quite so depressed
It's gonna be great to be dead

It'll be the end of all my problems
Life is so mundane
There's just too many hassles
Too much emotional pain

It's time for an act of self-destruction
Oblivion, here I come
I'm staring into blackness
It's the barrel of a loaded gun

My finger's on the trigger
I'm squeezing it real tight
It's time to meet my maker
It's time to say goodnight

Farewell to all my problems
Farewell to my sad past
My heart has beat its final beat
And I
have breathed
my last.

Teen Depression by Robert Carter