Jun 30th

About a boy I once knew

By The Clockwise Man
A boy I once knew died a while ago. He wasn't the brightest bulb or the prettiest but he was who he was. He had social problems and went for mental help. This boy never expected anything more than the shirt on his back, but he wasn't happy. This boy was diognosed with deperesssion and had no friends.
 This boy has come back to haunt me.

  He sat in the changing room watching all the other boys get ready. All the other sporty boys; for he was the only one who wasn't. He sat there hoping know one would notice the sad wreck of a human being, hinding in the corner. He sat there hoping, pleading with god that he didnt have to do PE. 
 But then in came the teacher.
"Why are you not changed?!"
"I was just going to..."
"Well hurry up!"
PE teachers were always the harshest.
 He started to undo his shirt and one boy started to laugh. He took of his shirt and another handfull started to laugh. Then the whole changing room started to laugh, at the poor excuse for a human being.
"Oh my god! Hes so fat!"
"Oink, oink!"
"Yall right Mrs.Piggy?"
And yet the boy sat there, not saying a word, crying.
 Now taking off his shorts. A few more laughs but not that many. He felt releaved. But then his pants were around his ankles and his privates exposed for all the boys to see. They all laughed pointing this time.  He quickly pulled his pants back up, cheeks red.
 He left the chaninging room, now fully changed. Walking towards the door that lead to the playground he felt fear. Alarm bells were ringing in his head. Its time for PE.
 He saw the PE teacher, standing,hands on hips, whistle dangling from his unshaven kneck. And thats when he did it.
The PE teacher looked doen at him
The boy gulped
"Can I please not do PE?"
The PE teachers face was changing, adopting a mask of anger.
"Mr.Walker none of the boys will pick me for their team"
The PE teacher laughed
"Dont be such a girls blouse. You ideot!"
He pushed the boy into the line of pupils waiting to be sorted into teams.
 "I want BillY"
"I want Georgina"
"I want Harry"
The only kids left were the boy and a pysically disbled kid called nigel.
"I'll pick Nigel"
And so the boy sulked over to the team, wiping tears from his face

 This is a true story; this happened to me many years ago. I obviously havn't got over it, but its made me a better person. This was one of the reasons I suffered and still sometimes suffer with depression. It has made me fear PE lessons; I am always the last kid to be chosen, even after disabled kids. This is what its like in schools these days. Horrible.
Jun 30th

Excerpts from a Cat's Diary

By Chanty
Found this article in an old magazine - figured that the cat lovers would appreciate this chuckle... I certainly did - hee he

DAY 752
Another day in captivity. My captors continue to torment me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat while the other inmates and I are fed dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.
DAY 761
In an attempt to disgust these vile oppressors I once again vomited on the carpet - must try this on the bed. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped the headless body at their feet. I'd hoped it would strike fear into their hearts as it clearly demonstrates what I'm capable of. However they merely made condescending remarks about what "a good little hunter" I am. Bastards!
DAY 763 
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However I could hear the noise and smell the foul stench of what they call "pizza". I overheard my confinement was due to the power of allergies. Must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.
DAY 769
Today I was almost successful in assassinating one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow - at the top of the stairs. I'm convinced the other captives here are flunkies and snitches. The dog received special privileges. He's regularly released - and seems more than willing to return. He's obviously retarded. The bird has to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I'm certain he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell so he's safe. For now.  
Jun 29th

A fortnight in another universe

By The Clockwise Man
we = Work Experience

The first day-

What a doddle. How easy was that?
  For my work experience Im going to my old primary school (Gledhow Primary).
  It was so easy and such a doddle. I had to help the kids with work about saftey. Some of the kids were so cute and cheeky; none were bad.
  I loved every miute of it! And now want to be a primary school teacher!
  I  know it will be harder to be a real teacher but seeing all thoughs cute little kids look up to me (In both ways) was such a good feeling!
  I will update this blog as the two weeks go on and I persue my 'career' in teaching ;) 
The Second Day-
I never realised how 'computer illiterate' / technophobic kids were. They barley knew what a comp is let alone type up a story! But it was fun today.  Now what isthis thing I keep tapping? And whats that square thing in front of me?

(Sorry its a bit short today- Im so tired from we. I can barley move :P) 
Jun 29th

What a pair of shoes it is!

By Tommy
I've always been a great  believer in that one of the best ways to write well is to make sure you write a lot, and so - no pun intended for those who've braved the likes of Can You Forgive Her - thought Anthony Trollope. I stumbled across this little note of his on his attitude to writing, and it's well worth reading and digesting:

I had long since convinced myself that in such work as mine the great secret consisted in acknowledging myself to be bound to rules of labour similar to those which an artisan or a mechanic is forced to obey. A shoemaker when he has finished one pair of shoes does not sit down and contemplate his work in idle satisfaction. “There is my pair of shoes finished at last! What a pair of shoes it is!” The shoemaker who so indulged himself would be without wages half his time. It is the same with a professional writer of books. An author may of course want time to study a new subject. He will at any rate assure himself that there is some such good reason why he should pause. He does pause, and will be idle for a month or two while he tells himself how beautiful is that last pair of shoes which he has finished! Having thought much of all this, and having made up my mind that I could be really happy only when I was at work, I had now quite accustomed myself to begin a second pair as soon as the first was out of my hands.
Jun 28th

Idea ready to go.

By Val
I have to admit that Wimbledon is not doing my work regime much good. It's the one time of the year (second if you count Christmas) when I indulge myself. However, second chapter is complete for the moment. I have my two young heroes in the same place, although they still haven't met. But they will at the beginning of chapter three.

I have written enough to know that I will run with this story and so it's time to submit the idea to my agent. She is brilliant and shoots from the hip when giving me her opinion.

Next week, it won't only be Andy Murry who will be keeping me on tenter hooks!

Jun 28th

On irrational fears

By Angrboda

Fear of travelling. I have it.

I could imagine that it can be linked in some way to a sort of agoraphobia, the broader definition of which isn't as many believe fear of open spaces but fear of unfamilliar environment and often triggered by open spaces or large crowds and such. Or so Google tells me.

For me, it's a combination, hodophobia being the primary source of worry.

Just think of the number of things that can go wrong when travelling! The plane could fall down. You could miss the flight. It could be delayed and make you miss a connecting flight leaving you stranded in an unfamiliar airport far from home. You could get on the wrong train or plane (and yes I know this is actually super unlikely to happen when travelling by air, but still). You could get lost on the way to the hotel. What if your luggage gets lost? What if you can't talk to people where you go. What if they don't speak any language that you speak? What if they do, only you can't understand their dialect? What if you find out you didn't bring enough money? What if you misread information and the hotel was more expensive than you thought? What if you get mugged and lose all your things, tickets and money and passport and everything? What if you get ill and need to contact a doctor? What if you end up in hospital? What if there was a problem with your hotel reservation and it was cancelled?

Just the thought of it is enough to make me never ever leave my bedroom ever.

Obviously most of this is in connection to travelling abroad, but staying within the Danish borders can trigger a reaction too.

I talked to the other women at work about this a few weeks ago, semi-accidentally admitting to having this fear. To my surprise they didn't brush it off as silly, but made me explain further. One of them, P., even offered me an explanation. It has to do with what you're used to. When I was a child and we went on holiday it was always with a caravan and in our own car. So I was simply being freighted to the place where we were going without having to worry about a thing. P's children are used to going on holiday with their mother or their father by plane. They know their way around an airport without fear or worry at all. They know exactly what is going to happen there, where to go next and how to find the right plane. Me, I had never even set foot in an airport until I was 15. Only three times in my life have I ever travelled anywhere and back by plane. The first time with my parents, second time with school and the third time with a friend. Never alone. I can't imagine travelling anywhere at all alone that way.

Trains, I can deal with. I'm used to taking the train every day to go to work, and trains don't involve all the checking in and security measures and stuff like that to go through first. Trains are easier.

"It's a shame," P said, "Because it limits you."

That made me think a lot. It's not that I don't want to go on holiday and see other places and interesting things. It's just that there are so many issues surrounding it that make me prefer staying at home where it's safe.

But after P had made me think about it and about it limiting me, I started wondering if maybe it wasn't possible to find a middle way.

I can travel by train.
I knew of a cheap hotel in Copenhagen where I had stayed before, so that wasn't completely unfamiliar
I've lived near Copenhagen for nearly four years a handful of years ago, so I'm familiar with how the public transportation there works.
It doesn't actually involve leaving the country.

So why shouldn't I be able to visit Copenhagen for a couple of days and play tourist?

I had a week's holiday coming up a month later, so before I could change my mind I had checked my bank account and booked the room. I knew that once the hotel was booked, I wouldn't be able to back out. They do allow cancellations, yes, and for free until the day before, but in my head I knew it wouldn't be a possibility. There was no way out.

The next few weeks were spent in a strange mix of excitement and dread. Mostly I tried not to think too much about it. Real panic didn't set in until a few days before leaving where I started wondering what on earth I was doing. Fear of travel is one thing, but I get homesick when I've spent one night at my parents' house. So three nights in Copenhagen? Madness!

I went to Copenhagen. For three nights.

On the morning of leaving home I just wanted it to be over with. So close to panic I could have cried. But I didn't, and I went, and once safely checked in at the hotel, I was feeling better. I had arrived in one piece and with no problems, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the holiday. I got to see a lot of things, have walked what feels like hundreds of kilometers and my legs and hips were so sore that in the morning untill I was sort of warmed up a bit, I walked like a little old lady. Small steps and slightly stiff legs.

Four days probably doesn't sound like much of a holiday, but it was definitely long enough for me even though I didn't have time enough to see all the things I had wanted to see.  I sent a postcard to my colleagues to prove that I had gone, and I bought me a new 1000 piece puzzle for a souvenier.

I'm feeling rather good about it now. Accomplished, but still with a little nervous tickle in my tummy when thinking back on it. Relieved, but glad that I did it.

Maybe next time I can stay a little longer. Or venture a little further away, like Sweden for example. We'll see how I feel about it next year, because right now I've had more than enough travel for a good long while. Baby steps.
Jun 27th

The Art of the Obit

By Vin

When is it appropriate to criticise the dead?  I ask this because I was surprised at some of the reaction to my blog about the death of Michael Jackson.  I was accused of ‘slating a dead man’ and the piece was labelled ‘tasteless.’

    Guilty as charged on the first count but not guilty on the second.  Why should someone become above criticism when they die?  Or is it a question of timing?  Should an appropriate amount of time pass before we start peering under the rocks of a life?

    My answer to those three questions is no, no and no.

    Michael Jackson’s alleged attraction to young boys and his financial problems were all in the public domain when he was alive, so why should we suddenly forget about them out of some misguided sentimentality when he dies?

    We do have a lachrymose attitude to death – especially celebrity death.  We all remember Princess Diana’s death and the great outpouring of public grief that provoked.  She was almost sanctified.  And yet she was a rich privileged woman, who died on a date with an Egyptian playboy, who manipulated the media to create her own public image and who was the representative of an outdated monarchical system.

    Yes her death was a tragedy but it didn’t erase all those other aspects of her life.

    And it’s just my opinion.  I thought it before she died, I thought it the day after she died and I still think it now.

    And this is where I create a problem for myself; this is where my theory has a gaping hole in it.  And it’s a flaw in my argument I can’t answer.

    Because it immediately brings to mind a piece written by the Daily Mirror political editor, Joe Haines, the day after Freddie Mercury died.  Here’s how he described the flamboyant singer; “sheer poison, a man bent – an apt word in the circumstances – on abnormal sexual pleasures, corrupt, corrupting and a drug taker. His private life is a revolting tale of depravity, lust and downright wickedness.”

    Offensive or what?  And what about the Daily Star?

    “Don’t cry for killer Freddie. He was a menace to society, a raging poofter who spread his killer virus with characteristic gay abandon. If he were a dog he’d have been put down years ago.”

    So you see my problem?   If I feel I have the right to say what I did about Michael Jackson then to be consistent I also have accept that Joe Haines, et al, should have the freedom to express their views about Freddie Mercury.  But somehow I just can’t. 

    I was a big Queen fan at the time Freddie died – I was even a member of the Queen Fan Club.  Joe Haines’ piece made me angry because it was published the day after he’d died and because it was just so poisoned.  It’s remained with me as an example of the worst of mean-spirited journalism.

    Abraham Lincoln once warned, ‘Never pick an argument with someone who buys their ink in barrels.’  The press can say far more about you than you can ever say back.  So where does that leave me?  My piece was only published on this website and even if every member read it that would still be little more than 850 people.  So it’s hardly going to intrude on the grieving of the Jackson family.

    Yet I can hate all the hype and the mythology around Michael Jackson and still like a lot of his music.  There is no inconsistency in hating what he represented but liking his music.  All the stories about Elvis’s excesses haven’t undermined peoples’ love of his back catalogue.  All those flaws which killed him where there the morning after he died and they were ripe for public dissection.

    So did I have the right to say what I did about Michael Jackson?  Yes I did.

    Did Joe Haines have the right to say what he did about Freddie Mercury?

    Much as it sticks in my throat to say it, but yes he did.

    Do people have the right to disagree with what I wrote?  Of course they do.

    Therefore people have the right to tell Joe Haines where to stick his evil-minded piece of journalism.

    And what I wrote was hardly in the same vein as Joe Haines. 

    So in conclusion, in a forum based on free speech we have to accept peoples’ right to say things we don’t agree with.  By the same token people have the right to criticise other peoples’ work.  But as long as it is done constructively and not influenced by the Joe Haines school of journalism then what harm is done.

    So, please, more constructive critique and less name calling.



Jun 27th

where does it come from?

By issur

Ok, seriously, how do you writers find your inspiration? From where does it come? A muse? The work of another? Does it just pop into your heads whilst channel hopping through the 3,000 sky channels and still can’t find anything decent on? Or does it lie discretely hidden at the bottom of a bottle?

Where, why, how?

I am – or at least try to be – a writer and I don’t have a goddamn clue!

Is it a combination of influences? I know I myself have had ideas pop into my head that I have no idea how to develop, only to wake up on the settee in front of the laptop the next morning, with a page of prose, an empty vodka bottle and no recollection of either.

Fairly regularly actually.

So what do you do – wait for the voice your muse, expand upon the works of others, plunder the histories?

Just interested is all.

Jun 26th

Jacko Obit

By Vin

I was saddened today to hear that Michael Jackson was splitting up due to musical differences.  I saw him three times; twice in concert and once in the street.  Oh and one of his friends is my wife’s chiropractor.  Other than that I never met him but I feel that qualifies me to comment on his life and his work.

    Of all the singers I ever heard, Michael Jackson was certainly one of them.  In fact he came close to helping me get into the knickers of a girl I fancied, even though he never knew it.  But I will be eternally grateful.

    It was on his British tour in 1988.  I desperately fancied Deb and Deb desperately fancied Jacko.  We were both on a hiding to nothing but I did at least get to see Deb naked which is more than she saw of Michael Jackson.  So one-nil to me on that one......I think.

    In an effort to win Deb’s heart I bought her two concert tickets that summer – one for Cardiff Arms Park and the other for Wembley Stadium.  They cost me a lot of money, money I could ill afford but I was determined to either get in Deb’s underwear or get her out of it.

    And I just want to say what an awesome experience it was seeing Jacko perform live.  I really want to, believe me, but I can’t.  It was ok and there were some songs I liked - Thriller, Blame it on the Boogie – but other than that it was a long two hours.  Four, if you count the other gig.

    Early in the Cardiff set he launched into a medley of Jackson Five songs with the words, ‘We’re gonna do the old songs in the old way.’

    Early in the Wembley set he launched into a medley of Jackson Five songs with the words, ‘We’re going to do the old songs in the old way.’

    Y’know, I kind of expected a bit more variety for my money.  It was all very slick and tightly choreographed and there were, I admit, some stunning special effects.  But I was all just a bit bloodless.  Still, I thought, it’s worth it for the Gratitude Shag I will surely get.

    Not a chance.

    I stood (stood, mind you) through four hours of Michael bloody Jackson and didn’t get to sleep with Deb.  Now, of course, 20 years on I realise it was quite shallow of me to expect Deb to jump into bed with me because I took her to two Jacko concerts; there was no way she should be expected to put out as some sort of thank you.

    But that’s not how I saw it at the time.

    Nevertheless I kind of blamed him for not putting on a show which would have thrown Deb into my bed.

    Anyway, that was more than 20 years ago and I haven’t seen Deb for 15 years and to quote Samuel Goldwyn, ‘We’ve all passed a lot of water since then.’

    The last time I saw Michael Jackson was about ten years ago.  He had been invited to speak at the Oxford Union about his Charter for Children.  I was a reporter for BBC Radio Oxford at the time so I was sent along to cover the visit.

    He was due to arrive at 7pm.  7pm came and went, unlike Michael Jackson.  There were hordes of press and thousands of fans all waiting to see the King of Pop. 




    He finally arrived at about 10.30pm.  By this time I was way over shift and I just wanted to go home.  But I had to stay and cover the story.  So when he did arrive I was suffering a little Jacko-fatigue.  I was pissed off, hungry and tired.  So my resulting report, which was sent out across the BBC radio network, has passed into a little minor legend of mean-spirited, mealy-mouthed journalism.

    At the time he was on crutches, claiming he had a poisoned foot after being bitten by a spider.  As he emerged from the limo my opening words were, ‘Oh my God, whatever does he look like?’  Not, I admit, the sycophantic hagiography which was expected.  Look, the guy was more than three hours late and I hadn’t had any tea.

    He was wearing some kind of blazer with an absolutely HUGE crest; it was almost a spoof crest with rampant lions and unicorns and what-not.  And he was wearing sunglasses.  It was 10.30 at night and he was wearing sunglasses.  Now I wear sunglasses when the sun is bright.  Any other time you look like a tosser.  Combined with the surgical mask the sunglasses put Jacko squarely in the tosser box.

    He was escorted by close friend Uri Geller, so I suppose I got to see two famous people in one evening.  But Jacko had already failed to secure me a shag and now he’d made me miss my tea. 

    As you can see, my apathy towards Michael Jackson’s death comes from entirely big, grown-up reasons.  (In fact when I heard on the news this morning that ‘the King of Pop is dead’, I momentarily got him mixed up with the Peter Pan of Pop and thought, ‘Oh no Cliff Richard’s dead’.)

    And so we enter a new era.  Inevitably there will be the conspiracy theorists who say Michael Jackson is not dead.  Others will insist he was murdered by any number of groups from the CIA to the Daughters of the American Revolution.  There will be re-releases, new Number Ones, litigation over his will, paternity claims, and molestation accusations.  Neverland will be re-opened as a Graceland-type shrine and journalists with the most tenuous connections will write articles about him.  (Did I mention that Mark Lester, the Oliver actor, is now my wife’s chiropractor in Cheltenham?  He is – or was – a close mate of Jacko.  He told me today he only spoke to him last week.  Ok, he didn’t tell me – he told someone else in the BBC.  Anyway, a mate of Michael Jackson is my wife’s chiropractor.  Just saying).

    But as he’s broken up and sold off, this is not the death of Michael Jackson.  This is the re-launch of his career.

Jun 24th

Now I understand the phrase ' to get your leg over' !!!!!

By mockingbird
Before you get too excited this is a story about animals. True story though. This evening I have been sharing my puppy pictures with the cloud. You might want to have a quick look at them first - as a visual aid - I will wait for you...

Ok, nice to see you back again. Are you sitting comfortably? - then I shall begin.  (Apologies to Daphne Oxfenford - are you old enough to remember the Radio Programme  'Listen with Mother?') This is the story of how the puppies came to be - you see we knew them from the very start of the process....

The story begins with Badger. The brown dog. She kept getting false pregnancies - serious ones - and accompanying uterine infections. Vet warned of increasing danger. 'Either spay her or mate her'. Badger is grown up daughter's dog - she was at college, dog with us. 'Dont spay her mum - can we have a litter?' Foolish but loving mother thinks ok we can cope. 'But you organise the sire'.  She did. He was a gorgeous black and white spaniel who lived in Harlow.  Harvey was to have a dirty long weekend with us - or rather five days - we would collect him and take him home when the job was done. Sounded so easy.

Getting Harvey was.  Round the M25, collect dog, drive home. Make sure everyone ready to help out if Badger rejected him. Drove up. Got Harvey out of car, and in to meet Badger. Badger frantic - suddenly energised with sexual need - body language saying 'He-he, I know why you are here, I am ready and waiting....' 

What does Harvey do? Walks straight past her and tried to hump the old spaniel, Cadburys,  - who is a neutered male by the way!!

Ok removed Cadburys, and let Badger and Harvey introduce themselves.  And while they do can I ask you how much you know about mating dogs? Yes, of course we knew about the humping that you see when dogs get together off the lead when you dont want them to, but do you know about  the turning back-to-back bit and locking together? I learned that bit from Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. Cant remember how that fits in with a car programme. Anyway apparently it doesnt count if they dont go back-to-back and lock. And if there is a mismatch in heights - which there was - all the good sex-manuals-for-your-dog books recommend human intervention at the crucial time of entry - sorry this is crude but its true. and funny. You should see it.

So within a few minutes Harvey showed he had fully read and understood his brief and Badger was willing - entry was complete, but he couldnt get his leg over and she squeaked. Hysterical human intervention.  Its priceless.  Job done - she was settled and locked and you have to wait until they are finished to make sure he gets his leg back over, so to speak.  It is very difficult to not laugh out loud when this is happening - you look at your position and theirs and think about it, and try not to upset their dignity or performance....

Game over.  Time for recovery and tea.  Later in the evening teenage son happened to be closest so he and husband had to get the leg over, soothe Badger and pretend they were just squashed against the coffee table leg as normal for watching evening television! And I wonder how he ever did explain that one to his cool dude friends.... I wonder if he ever did? Game two over.

Game three was about one o clock in the morning. I had gone to bed - sensible woman.  Husband had gone to bed but had come down to get a drink of water. Cadburys asleep. Badger and Harvey were supposed to be too...
Enter new characters - grown up daughter and long term boyfriend returning from party. Knew about planned activity for the weekend. But not their role in it.  They went into kitchen to see dogs and get tea. Harvey went to Badger to get her. You get the picture.  Husband helpfully wished daughter and boyfriend good luck and left them all to it....

Daughter and boyfriend had to help get the leg over  - and I forgot to mention how difficult that can be for humans as you cannot change your supporting positions when soothing dogs and helping them maintain theirs....... it helps to have a good imagination here. Daughter not engaged in passionate embrace with boyfriend - boyfriend too squashed up against french window, trying not to fall over while supporting dog......forty minutes later time to reverse process, boyfriend tries to remove cramp from own leg, daughter decided tea too cold and puts kettle on. Harvey and Badger retire to separate beds and restore their dignity.

Game four was about half past five in the morning. Husband heard dogs making too much noise.  We came downstairs.  Let dogs down garden - cadburys had a quick wee and retired discreetly to let the major players continue.  Few minutes later husband and I had another turn getting the leg over - took on our supporting roles and started to have silent hysterics as we reviewed our positions wedged under the stairs, between the wall and the filing cabinet. Think - cant we tell dogs about doing it in style and comfort, and about having greater consideration for their human support agencies......

Game five was short.  And by half past ten Badger had that look about her - 'If you come anywhere near me Harvey, I will kill you. I mean it. I  WILL KILL YOU. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. GO HOME. YOUR JOB IS DONE. .......... I WANT TO BE ALONE......'

We were told Harvey knew his business. He did. Our plan to borrow him for up to five days was not necessary. Less than 24 hours later he was a rejected male. And on his way home without knowing what he had done wrong.  But I dont think he was too upset really - I hear he has about 20 offspring now.....
and you have met five of them on my pics.