Saturday, 24 December 2011

A Whovian Christmas.

I'm back. Details of how I'm not dead to follow in the new year.

For now, it's christmas - or, more accurately, the night before. Seeing as the Doctor Who Christmas Special is a huge part of any Christmas, here's a tribute to it:

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The Ponds, fast asleep, were tucked up in their beds,
With dreams of centurions that raced through their heads.
Their daughter was... somewhere, in time and in space:
They weren't sure of the year. They weren't sure of the place.
Christmas is for family; and yet, all alone,
Amy and Rory slept in their new home.

But what's that at the window? That twinkle of light?
There's something that's out there, that's out in the night!
Surely not HIM? Well, it is Christmas Eve,
But Amy and Rory are too old to believe.
Something amazing was flying out there,
Something impossible streaked through the air,
As magical as the one holy night it flew through,
Something older than old, something bright, something... blue?

A TARDIS, (The Doctor's) was orbiting Earth,
Or, to be more precise, the small town of Leadworth.
At the helm stood a timelord, in a fake bushy beard,
"Merry Christmas, The Ponds, and a happy new year!
I've fought with Sontarans, crossed time and crossed space,
I've tangled with daleks, looked death in the face,
I've saved earth (and saved Christmas) at least five hundred times,
So, sing, all you choirs! Ring out all you chimes!"
His sonic screwdriver let out a loud buzz,
And snow fell from the air, as snow seldom does:
A thick blanketing carpet, the Time Lord's festive gift,
A white christmas for Leadworth, in flurries and drifts.
"Rory the Roman! Amelia Pond!"
He took up a red hat, and with apparrel donned,
Shouted to Leadworth, "It isn't a fez!
I'm banned now from that hat - or so River says!
But anyway, Ponds... Pond 1 and Pond 2,
I've just popped by to say 'Merry Christmas!' to you!
And a happy new year, and the rest of all that..."
He paused for a moment, adjusted his hat.
"Well, I'd better be off, I have planets to save,
Daleks to outwit, new adventures to brave!"
And then, with a whooshing like nothing they knew,
The TARDIS took flight, flying into the blue.

"There's something outside!" Amy rushed out of bed,
While her husband tried hard to clear sleep from his head.
Out of the window Amelia peeped,
"It's nothing," said Rory, "Come on, back to sleep."
"But - Rory - it's snowing!" She let in the light,
As the snow still came down on that dark, sacred night.
He smiled. "Happy Christmas. I'd say it's fairly clear
We're hoping we DON'T meet any aliens next year."

Blog to resume in the new year.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

By the time you read this, I'll already be dead

Well, I'm pretty sure I've got plague at the moment. My plague, incidentally, has rabies. And the rabies has typhoid. And the typhoid fever? It's got ebola. And this ebola's not sick with any old other illnesses, no sir - this ebola's healthy, live and kicking. What it's kicking, to be precise, is my immune system, hard and painfully. This ebola wears steel toecapped boots.

Perhaps I should go back to the beginning.

It was Wednesday when there I sat in my lesson, my stomach churning somewhat uneasily. I don't always have the most quiet of stomachs, but I know the warning signs, and I felt suddenly like there was a strong possibility I was going to be sick. I quickly excused my self from the lesson, and found the nearest toilets. They were staff only, but, hey, any port in a storm. I'm sure anyone would be understanding.

By this time, I was starting to feel slightly more normal, so I walked into the toilets thinking, well, maybe I won't be sick. Maybe I'll just stay here feeling slightly foolish for five minutes, I thought, heading into a cubicle, and everything will be...

I never finished that thought, because I projectile vomited literally everywhere. I was standing about six feet away from the toilet, and I managed to get some in the bowl. That's an achievement. In general, however, my aim was less good. The floor, the walls, the door of the stall I'd been about to walk into, were splattered with what, a few hours earlier, I'd called 'lunch'. 'Lunch' was more fun the first time round. I'm pretty sure I actually took out a small passing fly with my vomit, drowning it in mid air, in what is undoubtedly the least noble death suffered by any living creature ever.

You know how, when you throw up in someone elses' bathroom, good etiquette is to clean it up as well as you can?

I did not follow bathroom etiquette. I finished throwing up (unbelievably, there was still more to come) in the other, non biohazard, stall, and left quickly and very, very quietly, after cleaning my shoes,the only bit of me to be remotely affected. The cleaners are going to think one member of staff has satan in their stomach. The staff are going to be rounded up and shot. The room will, no doubt, be flooded with bleach.

Since then, my symptoms have been varied - feeling lightheaded and detatched from the universe, also known as "free drugs!", further (less artistic) vomiting, and that wonderful moment earlier where half my face decided the only reasonable course of action to take was to swell up cartoonishly so that one eye was held shut. This is obviously the way your immune system is supposed to respond to a stomach bug.

So if I never post again, don't be surprised. I might have died from my consortment of ailments. I might be in a hospital bed, tubes in every orifice, breath given by a machine that looks like the result of R2D2's torrid love affair with an accordion.

But probably, I'll be found, some weeks later, in a back alley, lying on my front. As I'm rolled over, the dog walker who finds my corpse (it's always dog walkers. I think they're up to something) will notice two things. Firstly, the mad, staring look in my eyes. And secondly? The cloth soaked in bleach hanging from inside my slack, dead, jaw.

I'm worried now. I'm worried about ninja cleaners.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Messages on the Telephone...

You know what they say: your life isn't complete until you have a stalker from Ireland accidentally calling you every now and again.

Do they say that? On second thoughts, maybe they don't. But if they do, I'm pretty sure my brother's life is complete.

Let me explain. About a year ago, my brother got a message on his voicemail. Dialling the number, he was greeted with this:

"Jeff? Jeff, it's Brian." And so it began. I can't remember, off the top of my head, what that first message was, but it set a precedent. It's not regular, but, every few months, Brian tries to call Jeff, and my brother hears his half of the conversation.

"Jeff? Jeff, it's Brian. We haven't met for a while, and I was wondering if you wanted to grab a drink?"

"Jeff? Jeff, it's Brian. Look, I still owe you a fiver for mowing the lawn last week..."

"Jeff? Jeff, it's Brian. Are you still looking for work? 'Cause if you are, the Ulster Farmer's union is hiring..."

I don't know who I'm more sorry for. On the one hand, there's Brian. Brian likes Jeff. They were good mates once, and, gradually, that's slipping away. Brian just wants to hang out, to help out with Jeff. Brian's sitting there, thinking to himself - why doesn't Jeff ever call back? The calls themselves give this sad little picture - Brian's hanging with Jeff occasionally, but never seems to initiate contact. He reluctantly does a favour for the guy, and all of a sudden, he's offering him money. He wants to hang out, he wants to help fix all his problems.

Brian's kinda creepy.

I mean, isn't it telling that he hasn't noticed he's got the wrong number? Maybe Jeff gave him the wrong number on purpose, but Jeff hasn't been returning Brian's calls for a while, whatever the situation. Brian doesn't comment on it because he's used to it.

Brian's a sad, lonely man, trying desperately to strike up a friendship with Jeff. Jeff's obviously got a job, if he's not claiming that five pounds. Jeff's moving on to bigger and better things, and Brian's just not a part of that. Brian's left behind.

One day, if I hear of a bloody murder near Ulster, I'll know exactly who did it.


Just a quick note, but Mozzy and I are having a lot of fun over at Grey Matter at the moment. Go take a look!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Quest For Science

So I've come to some interesting conclusions about Santa.

Now, we've all heard the rumours. The naysayers. Those who claim there's no such thing as Santa, that science has disproved him. But I'm not buying into those lies. Santa's real. Santa exists.

Of course it doesn't make sense to view Santa as one individual, though. That's ridiculous. How could one person possibly visit every house on earth in one night? No, no, it's obvious. Santa's not one man. Santa's a species. A species with a sacred duty: to deliver presents to those children who've been good. Between them, they spend the year creating presents in their huge underground workshop at the North Pole (although the younger Santlings, that we know as 'elves' do most of this duty). Come Christmas Eve, the Santas set off from their bases in shopping centres around the country, consulting the computer database for 'good children' kept by the government from their surveillance footage. I'm not quite sure about female Santas yet - either they look identical to the males, beards and all, or, more disturbingly, the females are the reindeer. Regardless of if the reindeer are the females or members of another species, the dominant reindeer in the grouping is marked by a red nose to help lead them through the fog.

But once I'd hashed out this brilliant idea on Christmas eve afternoon, there was only one action to take. A species undiscovered by science? I was going to have to catch a Santa. I was going to have to dissect the jolly man in red. And so it came to twenty past eleven that night...

I'd set up the traps hours before, and, as soon as I heard those sleigh bells ring, I knew it was time. There was a thud as Santa's little harem hit the tiles of the roof. No bear traps - I didn't want the adult male slipping away while his lovers were trapped. No, I had to wait for him to enter the house - and, as he started to descend the chimney (the species must be very flexible), I began to hope all my traps would hold. Was the bait in place, I asked for the millionth time? Could I rely on the urban legends and children's stories for the dietary habits of a species as yet unknown to science?

The answers, it turned out, were yes. From my vantage point on the stairs, I could see the Santa - or Santus Niculus, to use the psuedo latin name I had coined - tumble out the chimney and immediately spy the mince pie. The mince pie, so as not to hedge my bets, was laced with the horse tranquilizers I keep around "just in case" and for party tricks - but I was hoping not to have to use those, and, indeed, I didn't have to. As soon as the hapless creature touched the mince pie, blind animal lust in his eyes, it triggered the spring loaded net, trapping him helplessly below it. It was time for phase two of the plan.

I walked up to the creature, and, without compassion, regarded the terror in it's eyes. One cannot be sentimental when one is working for Science. The next step was vital: I looked it directly in the eyes, and enunciated slowly and clearly. "Do you understand English, Santa?"

He had a strange accent, and spoke slightly haltingly, but he was perfectly understandable. "Please let me go. I have children. A family. All I do is bring Christmas, is that so bad?"

His words were hugely important. He spoke and understood English. We could communicate. He was sentient. This meant I could only possibly follow one course of action.

"In that case, I judge you fully understanding of your actions. You are under citizen's arrest for one count of breaking and entering." I had never placed anyone under citizens arrest before, but felt there was more that needed to be said. "You have the right to remain silent, though anything you do not say and later rely on in court may harm your defence. You have the right not to be lowered into a piranha pit..." No, something still missing.

Shit, where were my sunglasses?

Ah, I know what I have to say now. My sunglasses at the ready to put on, I looked him solidly in the eyes. "Looks like Christmas... has been cancelled."

Now, press the button.

Of course, the arrest was merely to delay him. My plans for the evening involved an autopsy table, my bone saw, my set of scalpels, and really getting to the heart of (father) Christmas - but Santa had other plans. Seizing the oppurtunity while I was slightly blinded by wearing dark glasses in a darker room, he struggled free of the net with a hitherto unseen strength, grabbed the sack, and swung it with desperation at my head. Before I passed out, I just heard his voice, growing fuzzy, spit out "Yo ho ho, motherfucker." Due to my rapid loss of conciousness, I am unable to ascertain whether or not he put sunglasses on.

So that was how my family found me, on Christmas morning, unconcious under a large net and next to a partly eaten mince pie smelling of horse tranquilizers. (He'd even broken some of it away so it looked like I'd been eating it, craft devil.) But to his credit, Santa still delivered the presents. Well played, Santa, well played.

But there's always next year.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snow Joke

So once again in the lane, snow is glistening, and the whole of Britain is looking like God let the icing sugar fall down from the cupboard and send its sweet powdery goodness everywhere. For most people, the snow is an annoyance, something pretty, or that thing which falls down occasionally and is very exciting oh God run everywhere run everywhere. Okay, that last group of people are all dogs.

For me? Trauma. Flashbacks. Screaming.

Shut up man, you weren't there! You don't know!

So, errm, last time it snowed. There's a story in that. As has already been recorded in certain highly reputable news sources, I had time off school. And what I always, without fail, do on a snow day is this: go over to my friend Dominic's house, because he will organise a day of great show based shenannigans.

Now, regular readers of this blog may realise that my friends are somewhat lacking on the normality scale. So while Dominic is may excel at creating a day filled with winter wonderland capers and reindeer games, he has his peculiarities - most based around the fact that Dominic is an artist. With the medium of celluloid, he constructs epic cinematic masterpieces. Dominic is a director of the highest calibre. So was I really to be surprised at his greeting?

"Ben. We're making a movie."

Now, please bear in mind that this was the first I, or any of the others he would later rope into this scheme of his, had heard about it. "So, errm, Dominic..." I asked, a tremor in my voice as I anticipated what was ahead, "Do we have a script?"
"Do we have props?"
"Do we at least have some other actors?"
"Of course. Mark and Mark." I have two friends called Mark, one of whom regular readers will have met before. Things can get confusing.
"So, to recap, we have three actors, no plot, no script, no props, and no plan."
"Planning a shoot is part of the bourgeois repression of the lower classes. I intend to make an artistic statement with this film." As far as I'm aware, this is director speak for "I didn't think this through properly."

And so we went, to the wide open expanse of heathland that would be our set for today, seeing the undisturbed snow lying across it and checking for polar bears, and the shoot began. We seemed to manage, actually. I played a villain because of the particularly villainous hat I was wearing, and laughed menacingly in lieu of actual dialogue, and chased Mark and Mark a lot. Sure, they fell over a bit, and sure, I had a lot of snow pelted at me, but it all seemed to be going fine. But Dominic is making art, and there comes a point where sacrifices must be made.

Here, the sacrifice came in the form of Mark and Mark's knees. They were forced to crawl through snow, snow which filled their boots, snow which filled their trousers, snow which filled their very hearts and souls with its icey cold snowness.

I'm not a doctor, but I do occasionally pretend to be one on the internet. And even I can tell you that burying someone's legs in snow isn't a great idea. Yet here these two were, suffering for someone else's art, abused at the hands of a cruel, cruel director. Mark was badly affected, but Mark was worse. He was literally frozen into his clothes, in unbearable agony - and I have a nasty feeling he's going to turn into a Batman villain.

So watch the below film. Watch it, and understand the blood, sweat, tears and pain that have gone into its production. Watch it for those fallen to villainy and despair.

Also features amusingly shaped pieces of wood, silliness, bad puns, and a conclusion that makes no sense whatsoever.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A Seasonal Poem

Well, tis fast approaching time of year to be jolly, and, in recognition of that, I've written a festive poem to share seasonal goodwill.

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
When down from the chimney a figure came creeping,
While peacefully, upstairs, the children lay sleeping.
But this wasn't Santa! This shape was - oh dear-
The notorious Grinch, trying to halt festive cheer.
But what's that I'm hearing above on the roof?
There's a face at the window - the moment of truth...
He dives through the glass and he takes down the Grinch,
Who'd been eyeing the tree, wondering what he could pinch.
This man - is it Santa? This beggars belief!
Has Saint Nick left the Grinch bruised and spitting out teeth?

But Santa was once simply jolly and fat,
These days he'd rather dress up like a bat,
And talk about "JUSTICE" in a voice made of gravel:
But not the same type that you get with a gavel,
No, "JUSTICE" is delivered with Batsanta's fist,
You'd better hope you don't end up on his list,
And he's checking it twice, as he puts on his mask,
Flies around the North pole and takes villains to task.

It all started last year when Nick's two favourite elves
Got caught up in a robbery - Santa Claus blamed himself,
In a bid to make rights, Santa trained, over time,
To begin his notorious crusade against crime.
And now Rudolph's his sidekick in bright yellow tights,
The man and the reindeer bring law to the night.
Out went the red suit, Santa's now clad in black,
There's a mask on his face and a cape on his back,
The beard is all gone - in it's place, manly stubble,
There's a new name for Santa, that new name is Trouble.

So this winter season, if you're low on the cash,
And wondering just how you'll manage to splash
out on presents for family - just stick to the law,
Lest the Christmas Crusader with his lantern jaw
Should teach you that Christmas is all about caring:
To help with this point, he will kindly be sharing
His fist, in your face, quite a number of times:
'Til, curled up and weeping, you repent of your crimes.
He can see when you're sleeping, he knows you're awake,
With his new pimped out sleigh he can easily take
off and give back the whole of your ill gotten gains,
But you still learn the hard way - Bat Justice is pain,
While Batsanta's farewell's slightly lacking in cheer:

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

And So Winter Hits Us...

So, England's had this thing called snow. You may have heard of it.

It's a terrible demon. Everything in the country grinds to a halt at the mere whisper of it's name. The media speculate about it, the people lie awake at night in fear of it...
.. and then it comes, a dark, transforming magic that turns the sky grey and changes the whole world. And, like Bernard's watch, everything stops.

Everything. Businesses and public establishments alike just bolt up their doors, the proprietor hiding under a blanket weeping. Snow is serious business.

But there's one institution that, no matter what the weather, refuses to close. No matter how few lives it will manage to touch, this brave enterprise stays open.

That enterprise? My school.

Disregard that about half the school can't make it in. Disregard that further still can't make it back. No, despite the chaos around them, it decides to stand tall as a beacon of hope and inspiration to the community. The headmaster, and I say this entirely seriously given that this blog has been given to exaggerations in the past, actually attempted to make a rousing speech today. The snow could turn to blizzards and they would still attempt to drag us in. Polar bears could settle on the school field, and all that would change is that sports lessons would now consist of shooting. The gates of hell themselves could open, and Beelzebub and all his devilish companions could be dragging souls to eternal torment: we'd still be advised to get in if we can. The apocalpyse could take place, and the website would read "The school is still open despite the best efforts of War, Plague, Famine and Pestilence: please ensure you come in to maximise your learning potential (and mind the fire and brimstone)."

Not that I'm bitter about having to be in school, mind. No, what's concerning me is that tomorrow, the school is closed. We're taught not to back down to storms, Gods, demons or genetically mutated sharks (and boy, was that a fun lesson) - so why's it closed tomorrow?

My bets are on blackmail. Such an ancient organisation as the school (it's been going for at least a thousand years, and there are rumours that the funny looking cup in the trophy cabinet is actually the holy grail) surely has a few skeletons in the cupboard. Actually, we've got one in the science labs cupboard, and there are rumours that it's all that remains of the last headteacher - but that's not the point. My school is hiding a terrible secret, and if they do not bow to the pressure of the shadowy blackmail organistion, we're all going to find out...

Still, I talked to the head quite extensively with my voice changer over the phone, so no one needs to know what they'd find should they dig up the old quarry.