A bit late to update on this one, but I had the good opportunity to write an article for the Independent on the probability of the same couple winning the Euromillions lottery twice. Which one couple did. David Hume famously wrote an argument against a belief in miracles, and I don’t want to ruin the ending but I basically follow suit. Still, you’re perfectly within your rights to think that I was just a bit bitter that I haven’t even won the Euromillions once…
About a year ago, my girlfriend, Emily, and I got into the habit of going to bed with TED talks playing from one of our phones. I can’t remember exactly why we started doing this – I think she’s always liked hearing voices at night, perhaps we thought it’d dispel some sleep-disturbing anxiety, and I guess it was a cosy way to get a lazy dose of edification.
We got a little bored of the typical TED patter, so we explored listening to different things like music or stand-up comedy. I’d been a long-time fan of Stewart Lee and Emily was just getting into him (100% pear cider; sardines; there’s a horse, Stew; etc.) so we gave that a go. You can find lots of Stewart Lee clips on YouTube, a fact which Stewart Lee detests, but since I’ve gone to see about 5 of his live shows and bought his autobiography, I didn’t feel too bad. Continue reading “The Stewart Lee Lullaby”
Very happy to see an article I wrote published on the website of The Independent. Have a read if you like. The bit at the bottom is genuine: I really am working on a play called ‘Two Together’, centred around the use, misuse and romantic implications of the ‘Two Together Railcard’. You would not believe the amount of railcard-related method-acting arguments I’ve had with my girlfriend recently…
Here’s a story which is 5 pages long, but took me 3 years to write. At this rate it would have taken me 2.5 millennia to write Proust’s ‘In Search of Lost Time’. But Proust, come on, has anybody really finished reading that book?
The Repairman’s Son
Puco had been a very regretful 5-year-old. Instead of rushing and roaring headfirst into adventures like the other children, Puco had always weighed up the potential pitfalls of the options open to him, and – no matter what course of action he had eventually taken – he’d wondered if he’d done it all wrong. Whereas his friends drifted gracefully on the ebb and flow of new experiences, Puco made a barren island for himself in his own skull. Here he would mull things over to himself and replay the mistakes that he might have made, wistful for what might have been… [Read PDF Version]
I haven’t updated this site for nearly a year now, which feels a bit like being a worshipper who has forgotten to sacrifice enough calves. So here’s my fresh offering: the first chapter of a novel I wrote a few years ago, of which nothing much yet has come. I hope you like it, and if not, don’t worry, I’m still pretty optimistic about my eventual posthumous phase. –> First Chapter.
The Erstwhile Lives of Alek Inch – Chapter 1
Needless to say it had come as a shock to Alek Inch to realise that he had been reincarnated as the entire human race, give or take. He certainly never asked to have existed as you, and as your mother, and as just under 104 billion homo sapiens.
In fact, Alek Inch’s only real hope – other than be left alone – had been that his body would go kaput before his mind.
Like his father’s body, which had been straightforwardly lacerated, punctured, torn and terminated in a car crash involving his yellow Nissan Sunny, on an unremarkable stretch of the M25, near Croydon, where it had been left in assorted warm lumps. As a 10-year-old Alek had seen his father’s body cremated, had declared honest love and gratitude through teary eyes, and was back to school on the Thursday.
Now, at 18, he appreciated the merciful abruptness of his father’s end. His mother – who he loved more than anything else in the world – was by contrast alive, but was operating with a brain that had been under siege for years. Episode after episode, Alek had witnessed her splendid mind being worn down to rubble by the incessant conflict of competing thoughts – the rational and the irrational, memories and dreams, a grotesque battle-royale. “I am broken,” she would say. To which she would often add a little joke, for levity, because she was all Alek had. –> First Chapter
(You will soon realise how much of a mare this is to format, so I apologise I haven’t attempted to blogify it.)
[If you prefer a PDF version of this story, click on the flashing monkey]
Rose Wilson did it soon after she had returned on the 227 from her shopping errands in Bromley. After she had triumphantly laid her completed Telegraph crossword down on the coffee table. After she had updated the photos of her grandchildren above the settee (one grandchild had just sent his recent holiday snaps; the other was no longer romantically affiliated with the person she was staring at so adoringly). She did it very shortly after she had set her dishwasher, which was barely full (but then it never was). Just seconds after she had proudly dusted the display of her PhD (Astrophysics). Mere moments after she had first noticed a gentle buzz in the air. It was then and there, in her neatly organised home, on her peaceful Shortlands cul-de-sac, that Rose Wilson swallowed a fly. Continue reading “We Don’t Know Why”
I am man enough to admit: writing the last few tweets of a dead historical figure has, twice now, almost brought me to tears. I wonder if there is anything peculiar about Ludwig Wittgenstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer in this respect, or if picking over the whole life of any person would have such an effect. Whatever the case: @OppieTweets (henceforth: ‘Oppie’) has died, and here are some final words. (I know of only one other eulogy of a twitter-fed historical reanimation.) Continue reading “Oppie is Become Death”
This happened on a train. The train was going from Streatham to London Bridge. I was reading Orwell’s ‘Homage to Catalonia’, while other passengers in the same carriage were browsing an assortment of media, fumbling with phones, toying with sleep etc. Right in front of me was a father and son, side-by-side. Let’s call them Bertrand and Junior, for want of their real names. Continue reading “Burger and Sweets”
“It is the year 2416. Politics has been solved. Nobody lives under a government they haven’t consented to, everybody is free to move across the surface of the globe, and war has long been out of fashion…”
Continue reading about this rock-solid utopia in my new short story, Émigré.
Estimated reading time: 14 minutes of the absorbed snug-under-duvet variety, or 32 minutes if you’re on a hectic tube journey and you’re jostling for a seat and you’re intermittently glancing up at that alluring brunette in a futile flirtatious manoeuvre.