Dissolving magazines

A few years ago, my favourite author, Jonathan Carroll, was in Birmingham, doing his only UK book signing in the then wonderful Andromeda book shop. At the time, an issue of Playboy had just come out that contained one of his stories. I’d actually bought it, and had sat in the garden reading the story. Unfortunately, I hadn’t moved quickly enough with a sudden storm, and it got soaked. Because of which, it had fallen to bits.

Anyway, having requested that he signed the large pile of books that I’d brought up to the table – he asked if I had the Playboy edition.

“Yes,” I replied, “but I’d better get another copy because mine’s already fallen apart.”

Sometimes its true that you shouldn’t meet your heros, because you can end up saying something to them that makes you look like a wanker.

Curious writing

Naughty, bad, evil writing

Don’t touch that.



The Newspaper?

Its disgusting

Well I wouldn’t buy it.

But its only the Sun.

Picking it up. An old newspaper.

Its not old.

Its just been left on the seat.

On the bus. Horrible.

But we’re sat here. That’s okay.

No. It makes me feel dirty.

But why is it bad to read the paper?

Filthy. Look at it.

It looks okay to me.

Pages are turned.

Well, I suppose just here its

slightly marked. Perhaps it

was being read by someone with

particularly dirty eyes.

Now you’re just taking the piss.

No, seriously. I can just imagine them,

sat here, dust falling from their

retinas. I bet the bus was spotless

before they started to look at it.


I’m not.

Yes you are. You’ve turned me into a story.

That’s not mocking. That’s adoration.

It looks like mocking to me.

Maybe just a bit of mocking.

‘ocking, perhaps.

Or just m’ing


A bit of mocking

Don’t be silly. And get it away from me

You want me to m at you from across the bus?

I want you to move the newspaper.

Does it ming?

Its touching my legs.

Oh dear. Perhaps I’d better cut them off

when we get back.

If you’re not careful you won’t be coming back.

Not even if I wrap myself in newspapers

first? Look, there’s one here. It should

help to catch any dust from my eyes.


The bus carries on for a bit.

One time it had been raining. Was raining. Fairly hard, but it was Wales so it was what we expected. Each time we saw a storm cloud we blamed the cubs, or the scouts. They were bound to be camping, somewhere, and that was normally the problem.

We’d seen the scouts earlier in the day. They were looking miserable, in a field, for their field misery badge.

But this was our holiday. The red rover, when it worked, was big enough for us all to sit comfortably and have our packed lunch, all salad and sandwiches, probably some hard boiled eggs and roast beef, and maybe some marmite and jam.

We’d had that, on a road high in the hills, trapped between a million sets of gates that we were careful to open and close to stop the sheep or the farmers from escaping, which meant that one of us had to get out of the car act as gatekeeper. That day I had escaped, pretty much. We’d laughed as the car had gone over the cattle grids, and had ended up, in the early afternoon, by Harlich castle.

This was thee nearest castle to where we were staying. Coincidentally, or maybe because of its location, it was also our favourite. We wanted to look round. The rain was coming down, but this didn’t seem to matter. So we parked, paid up, and tramped up the wooden stairs from the front, where once there had been a moat. If the weather continued much as it was, it would soon be full again.

It must have been the early 1980s. Folding macs, that could then be attached to a belt, were all the rage. At least in our house. Always be prepared. Never know when Arkala will try to drown you. We all had green and blue macs, but Dad’s was red, and bright red at that.

The castle was fairly quiet that day, because most people didn’t want to battle the rain. “Follow the little red man” called out the leader, and we followed him around the grounds as he repeated his cry, pied piper style but without the necessity to kill us all at the end of the story.

It was maybe the quickest that we had ever looked around the place, but we did it, and we were pleased.

Later, when we were home, we sat in the big lounge and watched TV before bed, and wondered whether the scout tents could float.