The Erstwhile Lives of Alek Inch

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.)

We Don’t Know Why

[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”

Oppie is Become Death

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”

Burger and Sweets

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.

Lights out at the Borgesian Orgy

Here is a new short story, inspired not so much by the works of Jorge Luis Borges (who is alluded to in the title in a completely unpretentious way) as by a session chain-watching episodes of the original season of ‘The Twilight Zone’.  This is a short story about twists.  It is not a short story about sexual orgies…

Or is it?...  

Hope you enjoy reading: ‘Lights out at the Borgesian Orgy’.


I Am Become Oppie

People requested Einstein, Jesus, Hume, Feyerabend, Feynman, Hitler – the list goes on (the list of people who other people want to see live out their lives on Twitter).   I’ve finally chosen somebody to follow Wittgenstein: the so-called “father of the atomic bomb”, J. Robert Oppenheimer.  I formally introduce you to: OppieTweets.  Oppie will commence tweeting at 22:00 GMT tomorrow.

>> More information

>> Follow OppieTweets

Babies at Dawn

I’m very happy to be wheeling out a new short story: ‘Dawn’

At 4 pages, this is a perfect length for the app-addled minds of the Tweet Generation, and my choice to publish it as a PDF, which is so Web 1.0, as opposed to on a Kindle, which is probably somewhere around Web 1.4, makes it positively retro.  The first lines are:

‘At around 9 pm GMT on a Wednesday, everybody on the planet started to feel a little woozy. The wooziness turned into drowsiness and the drowsiness became overwhelming…’

If this doesn’t send you to sleep, then have a read.

Pizza Express Review #137

Edit 10/6/21: In 2020 this Pizza Express sadly closed its doors. It was a difficult year. In its place is a Firezza. 

Following the critical acclaim of my first book, ‘Tesco’s Finest: A Comprehensive Review of 2, 715 Tesco Stores’, I’m very pleased to announce I’ve been working on a secret project, ‘423 Pizzas: A Review of Every Pizza Express in the UK’. The first draft is with my editor, but I thought I’d be naughty and give you a quick freebie:

Pizza Express #137: The Former Bank at Streatham Hill Continue reading “Pizza Express Review #137”

Waste Not, Want Not

Let me tell you about fine dining in the 22nd Century.  I was taken on a pastry chef at XL-Eat-Elite in Purley Way back in 2078 (when, as few now remember, it was called Cosmo-XL).  Tomorrow I turn 85 and so am legally permitted to retire.  I am going to kill myself.  I harbour an odd nostalgia for this restaurant.   It is now considered the finest All-You-Quadruple-Can restaurant in Croydon.  It is certainly the hugest.  I’m not sure whether I can say I feel ‘proud’; ‘responsible’ would be claiming far too much; maybe just ‘involved’.  Is there a better word, for describing how a decent – yet replaceable – cog should feel about their role in a mammoth machine?   I have been, at least, involved. Continue reading “Waste Not, Want Not”