If Wishes Were Horses...

Friday, 19 August 2011

Customer Service Shenanigans

It used to be said that the customer is always right. These days I'm convinced it's being said that the customer is a chump. A bit of respect, please?

I used to try to be a bit considerate about them, having worked in customer service myself, but eventually I came to the conclusion that people who can't or won't do their job and make no effort to be helpful deserve what they get, and if they annoy me I give them Hell. And nothing annoys me more than dun dun dunnnn...

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The Teacher: outsourcing to India

Early one morning, Narisa Siddiq arrived at St. Tristan's to get a bit of admin and marking done in the peace of her classroom. Just as she sat down and began to pull sheets of paper out of her big rattan shopper, the caretaker, Mr. Wilkins, came in.

"Miss Siddiq," he said, his bushy grey eyebrows raised in a worried frown, "you shouldn't orta be 'ere."

"What do you mean, Mr. Wilkins?" asked Narisa. "I usually come in early on a Monday to get my marking done."

"Ah, but 'aven't you 'eard?" he asked, as if afraid that a bomb was about to go off. He looked for all the world like a rabbit caught in the headlights. "Your job's been outsourced to India, innit? You've been laid orf. Didn't you get the lettah?"

The Teacher: St Tristans School Trip

I've had a few ideas for the next episode of The Teacher, but it never seems to get beyond Narisa facing her old adversary, stairs The Tory, who is trying to do something dastardly to the kiddlies and she has to intervene. Then her brother Baltiman trumps to the rescue. The thing is, flatulence jokes can only go so far before they get old. I mean, really, once is enough. Unless you're writing a send-up of Astro Boy.

One of the scenarios I came up with was Narisa's class going on a school trip to the beach. The Tory shows up and decides to bomb the bus. Cue a Speed-like plot and resolution.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Pirhana Pedicure

RE: the change in my profile description, when friends came round for pizza and a chat last night, one of them, Tom, was amused when I told him about this blog after hearing about the fish pedicure treatment thingy you can get in the Arndale Center, Manchester. The conversation turned from a rather horrible-sounding beauty/pamper treatment option to what would happen if a Kingsian event* occurred while someone's foot was in the bowl.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Webcomics and whatnot

Nadia liked it. She says she'll comment when she gets a chance.

Meanwhile I've been looking for inspiration online and discovered a plethora of strange and scary webcomics that have convinced me I can do just as well if not better if I go nuts with my latest GIMP plugin for five minutes. Heck, you need to take a shedload of narcotics to appreciate some of them, they're that crazy. I've been reading a lot of cracked.com lately, can you tell?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Nadia's Superhero ideas

My friend Nadia has some funny ideas. I thought I was the wacky one! She reckons there aren't enough Asian superheroes around and that something should be done to redress the balance. 

The Teacher

Nadia believes that running about in dance tights with your underwear on the outside is undignified and looks a bit "Holy sartorial shenanigans, Batman, that outfit is camper than a Boy Scout Jamboree!" As a teacher, she reckons that what we need is a heroic role model that is not lame.

Blogger bother

I was annoyed about the recent outages, but they seem to have resolved. After two Blogger-less days, it occurred to me that the powers that be might well have resolved the situation by now, and I should clear the cache and cookies, then try logging in again, which I did. 

It's alive! It's alive, I tell you! *Maniacal laugh*

Friday, 20 May 2011

Seven gloaty Songs For Nadia

My friend Nadia is a teacher in a London school. Since she started there, she has been tormented by this bullying fiend of a woman who seems more like a German football player at an international match than a teacher. She dives like Tom Daley, is what I'm saying, and she does this to get sympathy. That, and her PHD in BS and her gold medal in Olympic-standard delusions of grandeur have wound her colleagues up no end... to her utter surprise.

Anyway, when Nadia phoned me today for our regular gossip-fest, it was to tell me she felt bad that this ridiculous figure of fun had gone the extra mile in Advanced Douchebaggery and actually did herself out of her job. Let's call this sad sack Elaine.

Elaine, also a teacher, wanted a more highly paid position in the school and had convinced herself that they simply couldn't do without her, so she hatched the maddest plan ever to get herself a promotion: she went up to the head and handed in her notice. Yep, she honestly believed that the head would offer to give her anything she wanted and beg her to stay on, the idea being that Elaine would then graciously accept the new, better position. Can you see how this ends?

Yes, dear readers, to everyone's amusement (apart from Elaine's), she handed in her notice and the head just accepted it. No begging, no pleading, no suicide threats or emotional blackmail. Elaine was aghast. To make things worse, it seems she hasn't even lined up a new job. She was counting on the headmistress begging her to stay and offering her the job she wanted as a bribe. Well, she didn't. At this point, it gets ridiculous because Elaine then staggers out all shellshocked and everything, and falls over conveniently in front of the staffroom, which she then enters in a bid to get some sympathy. Which doesn't happen. Elaine then slinks away with her tail between her legs.

Nadia tells me she feels a bit guilty for gloating, but after all Elaine has done to undermine her, I think she's entitled, and have compiled a list of songs to play on her ipod for a guilt-free gloat.

Counting down, Top of the Pops style, from number seven:

7. Leaving Me Now - Level 42

6. I'm Free - The Soup Dragons

5. Unbelievable - EMF

4. I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down - Paul Young

3. Stupid Girl - Garbage

2. This Is The Day - The The

1. Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead - Wizard of Oz (original)

Link to video.

Gloat away, love. Gloat away. Here oop north, I'm gloating, too.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


My friend Nadia is being driven nuts by what can best be described as a Frustratophone. It all started innocently enough when she was offered a new phone by the people running her mobile phone contract, and she accepted it, as you do. The trouble with Nadia is that she's fussy, especially where phones are concerned.

She hates slider phones because if you leave them open for too long, they get stuck in that position (not an experience I've had, to be honest) and button phones annoy her by calling people unexpectedly if she has one in her handbag and she jiggles it.

After exhausting the possibilities, and because she wanted the biggest screen she could get, she settled for a touch-screen like the one on the left. So it begins...

First of all, she tried to import all the information from her other phone and ended up losing all the numbers. This led to her sending me an email to get my number. Then when she called me, it got ridiculous. Every once in a while, as we were yakking away, I'd hear a beeping sound. "Nad?" 

"I'm here."

"What's the beeping?"

"The phone. I don't know why it does that."

After a while the sound of her voice faded out. "Nad?"


"Nad, are you there?"

Just at the point of switching off the phone, the volume comes back up. "Sorry, Wendy, I'd brushed it. This darn thing is much too sensitive."

Great. So there's a good chance that, one day while she's walking along with it jiggling about in her handbag, it could end up dialling the speaking clock in Hong Kong and she'd be unaware of this until she got the bill. I mean, this thing freaks if she as much as breathes on it. So much for the wonders of technology.

Well that raises the spectre of the new phone I'm due to get from my contract supplier. Last time they called me to offer me a free new phone, I told them I wanted one the size of a half brick with decent-sized buttons because I'm not a flippin' Hobbit. I want to be able to see and touch one button at a time without the aid of a magnifying glass, is what I'm saying.

They sent me a slide-phone. The buttons are tiny. I avoid sending texts because the effort to type them is a flippin' ordeal. The buttons are tiny and don't always work when you press them. Or they do something unexpected. It took ages to work out how to get rid of that awful predictive text. I absolutely loathe that feature. 

So now, thanks to Nadia, I know to avoid the touch-screen ones unless they've got an option for switching off the screen touchability unless I want to use it. Otherwise I may find I've accidentally hacked into NASA while out shopping with the thing in my bag.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Online time-wasters

Should there be a twelve-step group for internet addicts? I'm becoming concerned that I may be addicted. I mean, I'm beginning to look like this:

The best excuse I can come up with for faffing about on Facebook, tweeting twaddle on Twitter and creasing up on Cracked.com is that, well, it's fun. And, as a certain Lolcat would say, it is relevant to my interests - if you like to read sweary articles about five reasons a zombie apocalypse will never happen. Which I do. Relevant to my interests? I'm a horror fan. Yeah.

It's beginning to take its toll. I've been up late at night just to read how some scary creatures *gasp!* resemble us, and 7 terrifying things the internet has unleashed on the world, etc. Cracked, is, of course, the worst offender. But it's so damn entertaining!

It's actually pushing the lolcats out. There's no escape. Once you get caught in the gravity well of ROFL, it's pretty much over. Like a fly stuck in a spider's web, you can struggle all you like, but you can't break free. And that's when the funny comes to get you. You've really got into 5 classic movies you didn't know were remakes and just had to read 5 reasons the good witch was a bad one. Then there's... but it's nearly 2am!

I could argue that I'm doing research for a possible future article about five naive art producers and why their drawings alone are hilarious, or five lol sites and why they are funny. But I'm busy doing this, and smoothing graphics for anything, particularly for this blog, can take hours. The more detailed the image, the longer it takes. And where do the images go? T'internet. 


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Group names

I've been messing about with the dictionary widget on igoogle and came across some rather funny words. What exactly is a clowder of cats? I know it's a group, but where do these words come from? And what would you call a group of nerds?

Hmm... Now I'm thinking. This is a dangerous thing. Okay, how about "a niggle of nerds"? "A program of geeks"?  "A forum of gamers"?

Can anybody think of a better term?

Favicon fun

I like to play with graphics and will try anything at least once. When I noticed those tiny pictures that show up in the top left corner of tabs and web address bars, I began to wonder a) what they are and b) how I could make my own if I wanted to. 

The answer is here, if you're interested. They're called favicons. When making your favicon, choose the hosting option, then go back to your blog and choose design/edit HTML and add the code they give you just before the closing </head> tag. Then voilĂ , you have a favicon of your very own.

Do you see what I mean about needing to get out more? That said, I do think it looks cool. I'm all pleased with myself now!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The dangers of rain

My friend Pamela came over today and we went to the shops, as you do. 

"What's the weather doing?" she asked. "Is it raining?"

Rain. Fear it.
An innocuous enough conversation, right? Yes, but it got a bit silly when we got outside, it was raining and the umbrella stayed up long after the soakable part was over. I mean, personally, I don't mind a bit of rain. Drizzle away, I can live with it, but must we cower in terror at the mere thought of one drop falling on our helpless, quivering forms? To quote local comic Peter Kay, "It's spitting! It's spitting! Run for your lives!"

I don't get it. Obviously when I'm actually at risk of getting wet, i.e. dripping all over the floor when I get home, that's the time I'd reach for an umbrella, but the way Pamela sees it, you'd think she was the Wicked Witch of the West and would melt if she was touched by but a drop!

While it was still pouring, I huddled with her beneath her umbrella. We walked along as if we were in a three-legged race. The umbrella is quite small so I had to stick close beside her to keep dry. We were practically tripping each other up. When it slowed to a drizzle, I got out from underneath to get my space back, but she still clung to it like grim death. It wasn't until we were safely in the shopping centre that she finally took it down. It's not as if she has a fancy hairdo that might be ruined or anything. There really is no explanation for it. I just think it's hilarious.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

My psycho washing machine

Am I the only one here who's afraid of her washing machine? I know it sounds weird but mine scares the crap out of me sometimes. Allow me to explain.

The Washing Machine of Doom

Here's a picture of the culprit. Doesn't it look innocent and harmless? It is until I put some clothes in. Then the fun (for the machine) begins.

Food for thought

It lives on a diet of Persil Automatic, chenille jumpers and black socks. Why chenille jumpers? It's destroyed several of my favourites already. You can almost hear it going "Om nom nom" while it's chewing up yet another item. I have to wash them by hand. And why black socks? I've learned to use those indispensable laundry bags. Really, I can't live without them.


It's fine when it's just humming to itself as my clothes revolve inside it, but when it spins I'm convinced that the world is coming to an end.
I try to avoid spinning it any more than I can get away with. I don't mind waiting for another day for my clothes to dry. But the other half doesn't get this. He finds it unsightly to have clothes hanging on the drying racks in the hall and likes to get them out of there as quickly as he can, even if it means paying for a dryer. To save on drying costs, he sets the machine to  super-spin, and that's when all Hell breaks loose. A racket like a malfunctioning jackhammer erupts from the kitchen (where the beast has its lair), drowning out all other sounds and giving me one mother of a headache. The banging, like a thousand Hellbeasts bashing armour-plated enemies with warhammers, threatens to shake my home to its foundations and topple the tower in which I live.

There's a very real risk that the neighbours will complain -- and who could blame them? Apart from the racket there's a reasonable possibility that the vibrations could do damage to something... or the damn thing could explode. I wouldn't be surprised if it did. I am surprised that I haven't had a visit from Plod, an outraged neighbour or someone from the council to complain about the unholy cacophony.

So there you go: I'm probably the only person you know who is afraid of her washing machine.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Darkplace: Mogrophobia

I just had to do it. I'll probably be sued, but if that happens, the judge might well just throw the case out for being too ridiculous. To cover myself as best I can, I'd better start out by announcing that I don't own Darkplace and am making no money from imagining what would happen if Garth Marenghi persuaded MI8, the powers that be, Dean Learner, Todd Rivers, and at least three demons to approve the production of

Darkplace: Mogrophobia*

Photo from garthmarenghi.com gallery
with alterations by me.
In 1976, shortly after I'd invented the internet with my novel, Mindgrid, I met with my publisher and best friend Dean Learner to discuss the ground-breaking new horror idea that had come to me shortly after drinking a cup of Ovaltine prior to retiring for the night. Which I need because my mind is such a fetid quagmire of terrifying visions that I need a milky drink to settle myself before I go to bed. And yes, there are nights when I sleep with the light on just in case some demon from another dimension puts in an appearance, like the one in my novel Creeptor: Hidden From The Light, the story of a demon that's afraid of bedside lamps and terrorizes West Ham until footballer and psychic warrior Max Pele defeats it with... well, that would be telling, then you wouldn't buy the book, and I'd be doing myself out of royalties.

Anyway, Dean and I agreed that this idea was so  brain-bendingly insane that Channel 4 would crap their pants at the mere thought of committing such a dark vision of Hell-spawned horror to television. Nonetheless, Dean insisted that something be done to  bring my story to the screen, so I borrowed my sister's video camera, made this myself and posted it on YouTube.

In the middle of the night shift, something stirs in the dark basement of Darkplace hospital, where Barry Renwick, who looks exactly like his brother Larry (because they are identical twins -- well, they were. Long story.) is furtively going through some records by torchlight.

"There's got to be some record here of what happened to my twin brother Larry," says Barry to himself. He is startled by the loud bang of a shotgun from behind him. A pile of records disintegrates near his head, but he is unharmed. He turns around to see hospital administrator Thornton Reed, who is pointing the shotgun at him in a threatening manner.

Reed: "What are you doing here in the secret records room? These records are top secret, which means that you can't just walk in here willy-nilly in the middle of the night and go rifling through them."

Barry picks up the torch he has dropped and steps towards Reed, who then aims directly at him. "Don't shoot!"

"Why not? You're Larry Renwick, aren't you? You're supposed to be dead, but not even shooting and flamethrowers can end your existence."

"No, I'm his twin brother Barry. I was told he had exploded. Then you and your colleagues shot him at the funeral and Dagless doused him in napalm, but I never got a satisfactory explanation for it."

"How do I know you're not a conduit to the deepest pits of Hell?"

"I can wear a cross without being burnt by it."

"Prove it," says Dagless, popping out from behind Reed, brandishing a crucifix. "This one has been triple-blessed by the Pope for extra added holiness."

"Not one of the Borgias, I hope," says Renwick. "They were responsible for a lot of murders and wars."

"You know your Popes," says Dagless, impressed.

"I should hope so, I'm a priest," says Barry. He takes the crucifix in his hand.

"You're not burned," says Dagless.

"I'm not Larry," says Barry. "Why are you so convinced that I was him?"

"It's a long story," says Reed. "Come to my office and I'll tell you all about it."

In Reed's office, the three men are seated and Rick Dagless explains what happened. "Your brother was intent on opening the gates of Hell, Barry. I pleaded with him not to, but he did it anyway, right in the canteen. I was just getting back from the kitchen with a coke float when I saw that he'd gone utterly insane and there was evil all over the floor and on one of the walls. A few weeks later, I was just going to check on him when he suddenly exploded. All that remained of my buddy was his head. Everything else was spattered all over the room. At that point he begged me to take his life. So I got a shovel and bashed his head in. Later on, at the funeral, he came back to life and we shot him. Even with all that lead in him, he kept on coming. That's when I went for the flamethrower and finished him off."

"You shot my mother," accuses Barry.

"She tried to stop me, to save her son," says Dagless, "so I capped her in the shoulder. I told her I was sorry. Why weren't you at the funeral?"

"I was in Papua New Guinea as a missionary. I'm one of six who have never been eaten by cannibals."

"That's impressive," says Reed. "Why aren't you wearing your vestments?"

"I'm off-duty."

The following day, Sanchez and Liz are called to the top secret records room. On the floor are the remains of a worker.

"What did you call us down here for?" asks Sanchez. "This man is dead. Look, there's only an ear and one of his arms."

Liz bends down to take a closer look and touches the arm. Then she looks up and screams.

"What is it, Liz?"

"I've had a vision," she explains. "There was something here. Something evil. It ate this poor man."

"This can only mean one thing: trouble," says Sanchez.

"Did someone call me?" asks Dagless.

They turn around and see Dagless, who surveys the scene, then draws their attention to some marks on the floor.

"Look," says Dagless, "there are marks on the floor. They look like the pawprints of a giant animal."

"The Hellbeast was here," says Liz, then faints into Sanchez's arms.

Later on, Barry Renwick returns with Reed to look at the room. Liz looks at him askance, but says nothing. "I'll bless the room," he offers, "to make it safe for the cleaners to return."

"I'll fill up a bottle of water for you to bless," says Reed. "Is a Coke bottle all right?"

"It'll do," says Barry. "I'll need some candles, some chalk, and a bit of privacy. I can't do it when everyone is watching."

Confused, the others get him the things he has asked for and leave him to get on with it.

"I'm suspicious of his motives," says Liz. "I'm convinced he's up to no good."

"Yeah," says Sanchez. "What kind of priest doesn't want an audience?"

"He says he's a missionary," says Reed. "They're attention-seekers."

Dean Learner: That scene meant a lot to Garth. He spent weeks with what's-his-name...

Off-screen: "Lawrence Michelowski."

Dean: Some Polish bloke, working on the nuances of his performance. Garth is a perfectionsist, if nothing else. Well, he's an actor, writer and a lot of other things, but you know what I mean. He had a nervous breakdown afterwards. Not Garth, the Polish bloke.

"Let's confront him," says Dagless. "Bring your shotgun, boss, this could get ugly, and I don't mean me first thing in the morning."

"That would be funny if this wasn't so serious," replies Reed. "Which it is because evil is involved."

Suddenly there's a loud scream. The four of them return to the secret records room to find the remains of another dead body lying on the floor.

"Renwick," says Sanchez, hunkering down beside what's left of the body. "He was a bit shy about performing in front of us, after all."

"Then why is there a Pentagram drawn on the floor, along with other occult symbols?" asks Dagless.

"I can feel evil closing in around us," says Liz.

Suddenly, a doctor races in. "Come quick," he says, "there's something in the canteen."

They run to the canteen and find more bodies there.

"These people have died in horrific circumstances," says Reed. "Won Ton will have my hide for this. The press will be all over it."

"And there's nothing the press like better than an occult scandal in a hospital," says Sanchez. 

"Unless there's a kiddy-fiddler in the mix," says Reed.

"The children's ward!" wails Liz.

They all run to the children's ward where some vile Hellbeast has evidently gone amok. Liz puts a hand to her temple and says, "There's something in that cupboard."

"Cover me, Sanchez," says Dagless, and bravely approaches the cupboard with his gun drawn. He opens it, and there he finds a cowering child. 

"I told them there was a monster under the bed," says the child, who is crying.

"Don't be afraid, son," says Dagless. "We'll get it for you."

"'Cause we've got guns," adds Sanchez. "And bullets."

"And lots of them," finishes Reed. "Come on."

"Where to?" asks Dagless.

"The secret records room," says Reed. "I've got a hunch."

Garth Marenghi: Even though the others had no idea where I was going with the plot, they trusted me completely. They knew that, whatever foul pestilence my tortured mind dredged up from its depths, I would protect them. They would be safe. 

Except for Madeleine Wool, but that's another story. I still don't know what happened to her. It wasn't during this episode, though.

The team return to the secret records room where they behold the terrifying sight of a huge Hellbeast feasting on the remains of a cleaner. A broken mop lies on the floor nearby.

"Look!" shouts Sanchez. "It's a Hellbeast that looks like a giant zombie cat!"

"Attack!" shouts Barry.

The team open fire with an assortment of weapons but the Hellbeast keeps coming. Dagless, out of bullets, pulls out a sword and hacks at the beast. Finally, he reaches into his shirt and pulls out the crucifix, which he throws right into the Hellbeast's gaping maw. It explodes.

"I should have killed you while I had the chance," snarls Reed.

"Why didn't you?" asks Barry, who is pinned against the back wall with Reed's shotgun against his throat.

"Because this is a hospital and the authorities frown upon that kind of thing," replies Reed. "Won Ton takes a particularly dim view of anything that might reflect badly on the hospital, particularly gun battles."

"Why did you do it?" asks Sanchez. "Those poor kids."

"That's why he did it," says Liz. "To discredit the hospital. To avenge his twin brother. Isn't it, Barry?"

"He was my buddy," says Dagless, in tears. "You've desecrated his memory."

"You shot him and set him on fire at his own funeral," retorts Barry.

"Yeah, but he was demon-possessed at the time," argues Reed.

"You shot my mother," shouts Barry.

"She was trying to stop me shooting your brother," says Dagless. "I had no choice."

"There's always a choice," says Barry.

"Yes, there is," says Dagless. "Like the choice you made to lie to us about being a priest so you could reopen the gates of Hell, and the choice you made to bring that Hellbeast here to eat doctors, patients and cleaning operatives."

"I thought they were called sanitation technicians," says Barry.

"Whatever," says Dagless.

"What was that thing?" asks Sanchez, picking through the remains of the Hellbeast. "It looked like a mutant zombie cat."

"It was," says Barry. "I ran over one on the way here and brought it back to life with a series of occult rituals, then let it loose to wreak havoc."

"Which it did," says Reed. "I'll never be able to keep this out of the press." There's a desperate gleam in his eye, and just when it looks as though he's going to shoot Barry, the police arrive.

"Stop!" shouts a policeman. "Put that gun down right now. Slowly."

Reluctantly, Reed complies.

"Hah!" says Barry. "Now I've got you. The reputation of Darkplace is ruined forever."

"Officer," says Liz in her sweetest voice, "this is an incident with occult overtones and the possibility of government involvement. Can you order a media blackout and have this classified as top secret?" She bats her eyelashes. "Please?"

"Oh, all right, then," says the policeman, "but just this once."

"No!" shouts Barry. 

The policemen drag him away.

Later on, Dagless stands on the roof of the hospital, a place he often goes to get away from the stresses of life as a doctor.

'I don't know what it was that drove Barry Renwick to madness, but it was clear to me then that whatever I did to keep a lid on the evil that infested the hospital, it would never be enough. There would always be a demon here or a zombie there, popping up to remind me of what a dick I'd been to go messing with the forces of evil that fateful night,' he muses in voiceover. 'I should have insisted on watching Match of the Day instead. It would have been safer. Much safer. But there was no point in crying over spilt milk, or in my case, a coke float.'

The End







* I mean, it's not like I'm selling Darkplace: Mogrophobia tshirts and mugs or anything.

May Day and Mogrophobia

I had a look back over Mogrophobia and concluded that, to get Daniel Craig on board, we'll need to find something juicy to blackmail him with or find a lookalike to threaten in some way. No sane person would take this on. Wait a minute...  

Yes, readers, if you can sit through two minutes (that feels like two months) of ads, then watch at least one minute of this without shaking your head till it falls off from sheer disbelief that anything so loopy could have been allowed to enter the airwaves, complete with bad acting, naff plots, naff dialogue and ridiculously cheap special effects.

Needless to say, I was a huge fan of the show and watched it religiously, to the consternation of my other half.

Still, I doubt that Mogrophobia has a chance of being made, except, perhaps, as an episode of Darkplace, and that just doesn't bear thinking about.

Saturday, 30 April 2011


I did say someone would have to make a movie about this, and it looks like it'll have to be me, except that I haven't got the requisite equipment and Hollywood is unlikely to be interested. Undeterred, I shall blog to bring you the masterpiece that is...

On a sunny day, a young woman drives through a leafy suburban street. A cat darts out in front of her but she is unable to stop. Sobbing, she approaches the twitching remains of the cat and calls the police to report the incident. Then she leaves.

A month or so later, an older woman is washing her car late in the afternoon. Startled by a sound and sickened by a noxious stench, she looks beneath her car to seek the source. She screams as she is dragged under, but by the time her neighbours arrive, she is nowhere to be seen. It doesn't occur to anyone to look down.

Plagued by nightmares about the cat she ran over, Cecilia Breakheart wakes up in a cold sweat just as the dawn chorus begins. She looks wildly around, then gets up to wash her face. A sense of foreboding hangs over her.

At breakfast, news of the mutilated body under the car is splashed all over the newspaper her husband is reading at the table. Baffled, he peers around it to tell Cecilia, "Apparently, it was an animal."

A few days after that, the news on television is full of tales of missing people who have turned up partially eaten. A special squad has been called in to investigate.

At a secret government headquarters, a team of top scientists, army personnel and government officials have convened to discuss the matter, convinced that a rogue virus-infected animal is loose. They're busily blaming each other. After a while, Lieutenant Steve Gamble (played by Daniel Craig) slams his manly hands on a table to get attention. "Gentlemen," he says, "whatever it is, it has to be stopped, and all we're doing is blaming each other. I've hunted man-eaters all over the world from the Serengeti to the Gobi desert. I'll sort it out."

Somehow the others agree to this and allow him to take charge of the matter. He is given everything he needs and sets up an incident room, working with the police to make a map of the killings to work out how to find the beast.

The activity appears to be centred in the area around Acacia Avenue, Blingchester. 

Cecilia is increasingly frightened and sees that other people are locking their doors and afraid to go out by themselves. She sees a neighbour pointing at her car, and overhears her saying, "The Beast of Blingchester has struck again. Look at the state of my car!"

On Newsnight later on, Jeremy Paxman is discussing the matter with some MPs and one of the scientists we saw earlier on. "You know what this is," he insists. "This is a government experiment gone wrong."

"No," argues the scientist. 

"The genetically modified animals you were working on have escaped and are attacking British people. How do you explain this?"

"But I wasn't working on cats!" the professor protests. 

"Aha!" crows Paxman. "So it's a cat!"

"We're not quite sure," stutters the scientist, apparently shaken. 

"You were just now," says Paxman. 

Discomfited, Cecilia raises the remote control and changes the channels.

"Hey!" shouts her husband Clive. "I was watching that!"

Cecilia gets up and leaves the room.

Outside, a police incident van and other vehicles approach Cecilia's house. Armed with an assortment of weapons, Steve and his men, dressed in black, exit the vans and begin to set up surveillance equipment. They split up into twos and start searching for signs of the beast. Occasionally, they radio base to report in.

 Busy with his work, Steve acknowledges the reports and checks his Blackberry, which has an App connecting it to the Operation Ailur database. All sensors are working well, and the infra-red video cameras that have been put up are already returning images. Nothing out of the ordinary can be seen. Bats fly about catching moths on one and a local cat stalks a mouse on another. As Steve begins to move back to the incident van, his nose wrinkles when the stench of rotting meat wafts towards him. He says to his partner, "Can you smell something? Like rotten meat?"

Suddenly, there's a bang, a hiss, and one of the squad cars begins to sink. Steve shouts for reinforcements and he and his partner split and go to take a closer look at the car from either side. There's nothing to see. Distracted by an incoming call reporting the finding of another body, Steve heads back to the incident van while his partner lingers. A scream makes him turn around just in time to see his partner being dragged under the car.

Steve calls for reinforcements and runs over to the car. He sees the top of his friend's head and bends down to take a closer look, shining his torch under the car. Twin reflections of pure evil greet him just beyond his friend's twitching body, which is dripping blood. Horrified, Steve backs away and is pursued by the beast. Just in time, reinforcements arrive and the beast flees.

In her bedroom, unaware of the events taking place nearby, Cecilia prepares for bed. Faint sounds of men shouting make her turn around, her mouth full of toothpaste. She spits it out, then is startled by the sight of a pair of glowing eyes just outside her window. Fascinated, she pauses and stares back.

The beast crashes in, now swollen and huge, the size of a bear.

Cecilia screams and her husband comes running.

Startled by the screams and the shouts of approaching men, the beast flees back into the night.

"Darling, are you all right?" asks her husband.

"I've... seen that thing before," she says, "but I don't know where. I just know I have."

"What is it?"

"I don't know."

Cecilia collapses crying into her husband's arms.

Outside, the team is chasing the beast. Steve raises his weapon to fire on it, and although he hits it, the beast shows no sign of being injured. They shoot it repeatedly, but it keeps on going and breaks through the line of men surrounding it. They chase the beast, which runs down the street to an abandoned old building. Inside are the bones of some of its victims. They follow the beast to its lair and it turns on them, hissing, spitting and lashing out. Shooting repeatedly doesn't deter it and it kills three of his men, forcing Steve to withdraw and consider his options.

A call from HQ results in a plan to send a tank in, and helicopters have already begun to hover overhead.  From the chamber where the beast lies, Steve can hear the sounds of it moving.

Suddenly, the beast breaks out, surging past the cordon to the source of the sound. The approaching helicopter shines a light down to pick out the shape of the beast in the dark. Unexpectedly, the beast begins to paw at the dot cast by the light, trying to catch it.

"It's chasing the light like a cat," calls one of Steve's men.

"Follow it," shouts Steve, then pushes the button on his walkie-talkie. "It's acting like a cat, chasing the light," he tells the chopper pilot. "Lead it to the industrial park. I've got an idea."

The beast chases the light, frolicking and trying to catch it, followed by the men who have stopped trying to shoot it.

"Is it ready?" asks Steve.

"Roger that," confirms the voice of a colleague.

The helicopter leads the beast on a merry chase through the streets of Blingchester, watched by bemused residents from the windows of their houses. Some of them point cameras at the scene and speak of putting it on YouTube.

Finally, they arrive at the destination and the beast follows the light inside. It halts for a moment, confused, when the light is no longer there. It looks up, and for a moment it resembles the house cat it once was.

Outside, Steve shouts an order and the men withdraw. The building explodes. Flames leap high into the sky and everyone is bathed in an orangey glow for a while.

The following day, scientists pick through the debris and begin to examine the beast's body.

"As I suspected," says the scientist who was on Newsnight, "it's a common house cat, but grown to an emormous size."

"What caused it to mutate like that?" asks Steve.

"I don't know," says the scientist, an eager expression on his face, "but I can't wait to find out."

Cue ominous music.

The End.

Or is it?


This is one of those things that are off the telly and shouldn't actually work in real life because it's that flippin' weird. I mean, seriously, it's controversial and has apparently been proved to be utter nonsense on many occasions. On that basis, it can't be actually real, right? Uh, no. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...


What cats look like to Caroline.
This friend of mine -- let's call her Caroline, came to my house one day, and to be polite, I offered her a cup of tea. My favourite mug, the one with the kitten, I kept for myself, but when she saw me approach with it, she said, "That's not for me, is it?"

"No," I replied, and gave her the one with the comedy dinosaur. "Why?"

"Try not to laugh," said Caroline, "but I'm terrified of cats."

"That's not quite as weird as the woman who is terrified of Daleks," I reassured her. "Do you know why?"

She couldn't tell me. The first significant memory she has of freaking out at the sight of a cat was when she was on holiday and felt. Something. Strange. She looked beneath her deck chair. A cat! She screamed and ran back to her hotel room. Seriously. The weirdest thing for her was that she had always liked kitties before. It's just that something she could not explain had made her fear them so much she couldn't bear to be in the same room as one.

The theory

Naturally I thought there was probably a rational explanation such as weather balloons or counter-currents to explain this but gentle probing revealed nothing. Caroline had no idea why she was absolutely crap-your-knickers terrified of cats. Apparently it's better these days: she can bear to sit three feet away from a mug with a picture of a sleeping kitten printed on it. That's when I suggested that a repressed memory might be the cause of a fear that she couldn't explain.

We discussed it a few times with no light being shed on the subject and the more she told me, the more I was convinced that she was repressing something -- based on stuff I half-remembered from television shows. One episode of Law and Order or CSI Something-or-other (one without that prat who takes his shades off dramatically. I think it was the one with Jerry Orbach. You know, the dad from Dirty Dancing. Him.) came to mind, to wit, the one where some girlie shot and killed her own father because some deranged counselor told her he'd abused her and other members of her family (although he had done no such thing) and she had repressed the memories because it was all so vile and puke-worthy. It reminded me to not put ideas into Caroline's head and insist I was right, but to let her find out by herself by looking over the past few years and coming to her own conclusions.

The twist in the tail tale

I thought nothing of it for a while, and a few times when she came to my house again I hardly mentioned it. Then one day she came to see me and was excited to tell me that she'd worked out why she was so scared of cats that if you gave her a mug with a cat printed on it, she'd get all queasy and refuse to drink from it. Naturally, I was curious and eager to hear her story.

Caroline told me she had told her family and friends that I'd said she was probably suppressing a memory and one of them sat her down to tell her why I was right.

It seems that, a few years ago when Caroline was driving along a street near where she lived, a cat ran out in front of her and she couldn't brake in time. A considerate and law-abiding person, she stopped and went to check on the animal. It was twitching in its death throes and there was nothing she could do. She called the police to report the incident and went on her way. Then she blocked it so completely that she never even thought of it again. When her nephew confirmed this, memories of that day floated back and now she has full technicolour recall of the incident.

Confounded, I could think of nothing to say for a while, then I confessed that I was guessing about the whole suppressed memory thing and didn't actually take it seriously.

"But why am I afraid of them?" she asked, evidently seeing me as a fountain of knowledge.

"Guilt, I suppose," I replied, as the fountain of lucky guesses and half-remembered snippets of television programmes. "I suppose you're half expecting the Vengeful Cat From Beyond The Grave to appear one night and claim your soul or something."

She didn't think that was funny but conceded that I had a point.

Deep down, I think it would be rather cool if a Giant Zombie Cat came back from the grave to avenge its bretheren. Someone has got to make a film about that. But don't tell Caroline.

* Aw come on, it sounds better than Ailurophobia, doesn't it? No? But it's easier to say!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Whole Nother

What the heck does that mean? It's not in any dictionary I've seen and many people I know say it. Stop that right now! You're confusing the foreigners. And me. I keep thinking I'm a foreigner and have been only imagining that I live in a predominantly English-speaking country. End rant.

Designing the blog

I just had to go clicking on links to see what would happen if I did. I've discovered that there is a bewildering array of fonts to use on our blogs. I toyed with the idea of using one of the squiggly fonts for the page text, then thought better of it. Trying to read a whole post in cursive gave me a headache. I've changed the colours of the links. One thing at a time. Okay, two. Who's counting?

First post

Here it is: numero uno.

Dang! What am I going to write, and how the hell am I going to explain the Anglo-American slang? 

(Don't) mind my slanguage

It's a result of watching TV and looking at stuff on the internet. I love the icanhascheeseburger site and all that stuff, and like to post on forums under a variety of pennames.

A bit about me

What else? I like all kinds of horror, sci-fi and fantasy books and movies, and am a bit fickle with celebrity crushes. More on that later. 

Oh, and I draw pictures like this: 

Which, I must admit, make me look like a Frankenstein zombie that really hopes you like her (before she eats your brains). Yes, that's a self-portrait and yes, it is eerily accurate, particularly when I first get up in the mornings and before I've had my coffee.

I've downloaded GIMP, and am working to provide you all with better pictures. Paint doesn't have the convolve button. That's how I make them look smooth.

I've noticed that there are different kinds of picture  files. .PNG pics come out better than .JPG pics. This one would look terrible even if I did make it smoother. Should I bother?


I'm having fun with tutorials, learning all about animation. Let's see what I can do with Zombie-Franken-me.

Dear me, that is disturbing. I've discovered all kinds of crazy features on GIMP, including Render/Line Nova, which I've used here. And fonts. Mad, crazy fonts in different shapes and sizes. I'll have more fun with them later. The Nom! font is Liquidism. I love it!

Now I need to get better at drawing online. I think I'll stick with GIMP. I can do much more with that than with Paint.

Here endeth the first post.

On blogging and the creation thereof

So I decided to start a new blog, the idea being to chronicle my assorted ramblings, which some people have told me are funny.


Okay, so I went trawling through the internet (read Google; I'm too lazy to use other search engines) to find some pictures to use, inspiration for my pen name and stuff to write about. Do you know that Google does the weirdest things when you're looking for images that are labeled for commercial reuse with modification? That's what you do to get pictures you can use on blogs and whatnot without getting into trouble for copyright violations. We'll get to how I discovered that later. The point is... well, there are several, actually:

1. You are less likely to find what you are looking for if you take the noble, honest (and free) route, i.e. search by "licensed for commercial reuse with modification"

2. You will find all sorts of weird stuff... well, stuff that's not necessarily weird but simply doesn't belong in those search results. Try working your way through Images/women/labeled for commercial reuse with modification and you'll get pictures of a city street, an old black and white picture of men playing soccer, pictures of women, Uncle Sam, a picture of an old building (it's a hospital), pictures of women, Daniel Craig as James Bond, some dude preaching or giving a lecture, pictures of women, Aussie former PM John Howard, a balding dude with a mic, a temple of some kind, two naked fairies that appear to be about to do a green dragon (see for yourselves!), a bowl of noodles...

3. You will think, 'Bugger that, I'll do something else.' So I did.

The Blog Begins

Then I went trawling through dictionaries and thesauruses to find a good name for my blog. It was going to be "Cal's Chronicles" (based on my old C.B. handle from back in the day. Guess how old I am!) but that's lame, so I had a bit of a chunter to myself and the title just came to me.  Then, because I couldn't find a suitable picture on t'internet I made my own.

Okay, I cheated, but only a bit. I mean, you can hardly tell, can you? It's late, so I'll write the first post tomorrow.

Monday, 21 February 2011


The following policies and terms of service apply to this blog, and indeed all my online spaces:

1. Privacy

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The Website

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Some of my activities as a blogger on If Wishes Were Horses may use any information you have submitted to provide you with further information about the products or services I or my associates offer or to assist you in answering any questions or queries you may have submitted, but ONLY if you specifically ask for it. I would never sign you up to anything or pass your details on to a third party for marketing purposes without your express written consent.

External Links

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Resources & Further Information

*Many thanks to Jamie King for providing the text of this Privacy Policy.

2. Copyright

I claim authorship of my work, not ownership. This means you can share, copy, and otherwise use my work as you see fit. I ask only that you credit me, that's all. If you like it so much you want to support me, buy me a coffee. This link will take you to my PayPal account where you can make a donation in the amount of your choice. The choice to do so or not is your own, it's just nice to be appreciated.

Each of my cartoon images is hand-made using a mouse on GIMP and believe me, they take hours. Upload them to your own sites and use them if you want to, but please don't pretend they are your work. Blog posts take time and effort to write. If you like one of my posts and want to use it, why not copy a snippet and link to the post you like? Quoting is fine. Linking is fine, just don't take the whole thing and pretend you wrote it. That's not fair. It's good netiquette to cite and link; in fact, it's doing me a favour, drawing attention to my work without detracting from your own.

Where pictures are concerned, right-click and save them to your own PC, then host them elsewhere before using them. Hotlinking takes up bandwidth so it's very much a no-no. Simply linking the picture to this blog will suffice, to be honest. I just want people to know who made it, that's all.

3. Ads

I may elect to display ads on this blog at some point. The privacy policy is prepared for such eventualities. If you're interested in having your business advertised here let me know by posting a comment below.

4. Opinions

I'm a thinker, a problem-solver, and am very opinionated. I may elect to post political opinions here but this blog is mainly for humorous purposes and my posts should be interpreted as such. Sometimes I write fanfiction here; no infringement or offence to anyone is intended.


I'm opinionated, it sometimes gets me into trouble. My other blog, On t'Internet, occasionally acts as a honeypot for idiots with weird agendas. If you see anything horrible about me on the internet, please bear in mind that you can't pay people by taking money off them, etc. I'd love to be able to do that with my bills! If you're not sure, ask. The answer is most likely to be a patient sigh and a reminder that I don't suffer fools gladly — which really annoys them.


I don't really bother to moderate comments, as a rule. However, I will delete spam, flames, and troll posts that fail to amuse me. I'm not interested in your diet pills, etc., I don't care if you don't like me, and I'm not interested in your complaints against other people. If you wish to comment about a post I've made in my other blogs, respond to me there; irrelevant comments will be deleted.

6. Writing

I am VERY interested in guest blogging opportunities. Post a comment below or tweet @wendycockcroft if you want to discuss this further. If you want to guest post here, please let me know. I'll certainly consider it.

My writing credits:

I love creative writing (can you tell?!) and have two other blogs, On t'Internet and FM Customer Care Today. I also make online Comics - an ever-expanding collection of mobile-friendly internet comic strips. See my other writing credits.