Commentary, Invention, Literature, Sci-fi, Writing

The four absolutes…

Yesterday I had a piece rejected for entry into a sci-fi writing competition because I hadn’t read the criteria properly and what I’d submitted didn’t conform.

‘Not a problem’ I thought. ‘I’ll just write something else’.

BIG problem. The well had run dry. The washing had fallen off the line. The toilet didn’t flush.

I had nothing and just stared at the screen like a gnome does the pond.

What to do? I know that I work well (sometimes best) under pressure so in the absence of any external demands I decided to set my own impositions. Here they are and also what resulted –

1) It must be sci-fi (obviously)

2) It must be less than 500 words (my own choice)

3) It must be completed within 20 minutes

4) It must make the reader laugh (or smile) at least once

Here’s what I wrote….

DIGIT by Carl Baumann

‘You were supposed to make me rich!’ shouted Twig at the head sitting on the table next to his laptop.

Twig was (shocker) very skinny. No amount of anabolic steroids or high-carb diets would change that. He knew. He’d tried them all.

Tormented throughout childhood because of his stature, he’d turned to ‘Digit’, (the new crack of the 2030’s) as a means of escape. It was called Digit because you had to use one finger to insert it into your anus where it was the most effective.

One unfortunate side-effect of Digit was almost terminal weight loss. The other was chronic hemorrhoids.

‘You can’t kill me, steal my head, then expect me to write a fucking best-seller for you!’ the head screamed.

The voice didn’t come from its mouth, due to the obvious lack of lungs, trachea and voicebox. Instead, it emanated from the invisible speakers dotted around the room. It sounded completely real, issued via Dolby 30.1 technology.

‘Well, you shouldn’t have been so careless. What were you thinking? Walking in front of my Hambulance without looking. You must have felt the vibro-siren…’

Twig drove the latest in hi-tech emergency medical assistance. A Hover Ambulance or ‘Hambulance’ in modern parlance. Fortunately for Twig, (not so fortunate for the head on his table and its missing body) his vehicle contained the latest tech to immediately freeze the head for attachment to a less fragile, robot body at a later time.

Twig had decided not to take the head to a ‘Rejuve’ clinic though. When he’d scooped it up and recognized it was Shatner Stuart, the world famous sci-fi author and TV script writer, he had a better idea.

‘Just get me to a clinic!’ said Shatner. ‘I can flip you all the creds you want once I’m robbed up!’ – Heads with ‘robot’ bodies were known as robbers. Robbers were now just referred to as ‘Bastards’.

‘Nah’ said Twig. ‘The Feds would spot that in Nano-seconds’.

‘Better this way. I’ll get you to a clinic once you give me a story I can sell.’

‘If you don’t’ he warned, ‘I’ll stick this up your nose.’

Twig waved his brown-stained ‘Digit’ finger in front of Stuart’s eyes.

‘Alright, alright, start typing.’ –  Resignedly, Shatner started the story…

“Open quotes – You were supposed to make me rich – exclamation mark – close quotes – shouted Twig…”

Commentary, Criticism, General Humor, Personality, Writing

I’m asking for it…

I’ve NEVER been good at accepting criticism.

Oh, yes, I may nod and agree (I suffer from VERY selective hearing!) but rest assured, criticise me and you’ve just earn’t a place on my ‘Mortal Enemy List’.

Amy: Now Sheldon, I know you’re a left handed monkey wrench but you seriously have a mortal enemy?
Sheldon: Yes, in fact I have 61. Would you like to see the list?

– Big Bang Theory – Season 5, Episode 5

But! It turns out there is an exception to the rule.

Since starting writing, publicly in these blogs and also in ‘secret’ with my novel, I’ve found that not only can I accept criticism/advice but even seek it out!

This is a huge step forward for me and, difficult though it may be, I think it’s making me a better person. – N.B. That’s not admittance that I wasn’t perfect already!

So, feel free to take advantage of this and point out those faults in me you’ve always wanted to!

But be warned…

There’s still room on the list…

Acknowledgement, Annoyances, Commentary, General Humour, Modern Life

My genes have let me down…

I’m not talking about the fact that I have Type 1 diabetes.

Or that I have a mental illness.

Or hypothyroidism.

Or short-sight.

And high blood-pressure.

Or that I’m allergic to cats.

No. None of these are the problem. I have medication for all the physical stuff. I get therapy for the mental problem. I wear glasses and I can take anti-histamines to counter the cats. (Or kick them out when it’s really bad.)

No. The real problem (and one that can’t be treated) is that I’m too tall.

Eh? Almost everyone would like to be taller!

Not if they had my kitchen sink cupboard…

My partner is a bit OCD and likes to tidy everything away. This results in everything I like to keep handy in case needed is ‘stuffed’ in the cupboard beneath the kitchen sink.


Every time I try to find the hammer, or the sellotape, or the bin-bags, or my Marmite… I cause an avalanche of ‘crap’ that takes hours to put back.

Now, if I were shorter, I would be able to see into the cupboard and find the required item much quicker and without creating a mess of monumental proportions. My blood pressure would also be lower preventing an early demise. (Especially considering all the health conditions mentioned earlier!)

The short of it is… I’m too tall.

Commentary, Conversation, Free Speech, General Humor, Philosophy

Why ‘why?’ is really ‘what?’

Where’s the tin-opener?

In the drawer. Why?

I need to open a tin!


Because I need the food inside!


To stay alive!

Why do you need to stay alive?

It’s a biological imperative!

Why is it a biological imperative?

Because I need to stay alive to procreate!

Why do you need to procreate?

It’s a biological imperative! It’s the purpose of life!

So the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is a tin-opener?



(Bloody stupid question…)

Commentary, Farting, General Humor, Language, Modern Life

Excuse me?

When you live and work in close physical proximity to others, the phrases – ‘Excuse me’, ‘Beg your pardon’, ‘Bless you’ will oft be heard and said.

Then there’s the apologetic (and dreaded)  – ‘I wouldn’t go in there for five minutes if I were you’

In certain situations no warning or apology is given. (Yes, I’m talking about the infamous SBD – Silent But Deadly)

Elevators and crowded train carriages in particular are places where the guilty culprit can only be identified by slight reddening or sudden fascination with a newspaper or the ceiling.

Here’s a tip. Look at everyone else. The person who won’t meet your eye will almost certainly be the culprit.

Between couples or families any vain attempt to hide the ‘guff’ or ‘trump’ is met with derision and defamation. ‘You dirty b****d!’ or ‘What’s wrong with you?’ will be cried. However, many people turn this around and take pride in their foul-smelling emanations or ability to burp the alphabet.

Are you a secret farter or would you enter an olympic event if it existed?

The cries for forgiveness  and the subsequent ‘letting off’ far outweigh the crime in my opinion.

‘Bless you’ when someone sneezes. Really? Is the expulsion of snot a divine gift?

‘I beg your pardon’ – Prisoners on death row receive a pardon. Of course, if you fart in the presence of the queen, it is the appropriate plea.

‘Excuse me’ – from the Latin excusare. Again, originally used to beg forgiveness for a dire transgression.

I like more modern phrasing. For example, if you didn’t enjoy this piece, I would say to you –

‘Get over it’…

Awkward Situations, Behaviour, Commentary, General Humor, Philosophy

Watching the paint dry…

Ever find yourself in an awkward waiting situation when you have to do anything you can to distract yourself and find ways to make time go faster?

The doctors waiting room?

The bus/flight/train when you’ve arrived too early?

The door for the toilet to unlock?

I’ve found myself in the latter situation.

My partner is redecorating the bathroom and has this morning painted the door. I’m under very strict instructions not to touch it until the gloss has dried. Under threat of death…

I desperately need to go to the loo.

But I can’t.

Misery loves company – John Ray (1627 – 1705)

So I’m writing this….

Commentary, General Humor, Pride, Sunday, Weather

Why African men get wet on Sundays…

The road we live on in Central London has a catholic church about one hundred meters from our flat.

Because we have free parking, it fills up very quickly on a Sunday. Worshippers take advantage and all the spaces get filled very quickly with the overspill having to find parking on neighbouring side streets. The spaces nearest the church are the most prized (and fought over) because they are obviously won by the most devout…

So what?

Well on a Sunday, all the West Indian and African women dress in impressive outfits (usually made from the colours of their national flags – Green, Gold and Black for Jamaicans, Green and White for Nigerians etc.)

Not only are these dresses and hats impressive. They are also very expensive.

On a dry day there is no concern about the walk to the church. We often spend a good half hour watching the parade and sometimes award informal prizes for the best.

On a wet day though, we only see the men in their suits.

The poor husbands and fathers are made to do a quick stop outside the venue and drop their spouses and children off to avoid their dresses and head-dresses getting wet. Some are even made to leap out themselves and hold an umbrella for the fifteen foot dash to the door…

These poor souls then have to struggle to find somewhere to leave the car and we see them trudging back alone glancing at their watches lest (Heaven forbid) they are late and get disapproving looks from the congregation plus the inevitable wrath from their wives. (Much worse than God’s?)

It’s torrential today. There are benefits to being an atheist…