Tag Archives: book blog

Nuts Allergy / Allegory…

The starting point is a pug-dog with two broken back legs. The legs are strapped up behind him like he’s a superhero in flight and his butt languishes in a leather harness that sports two mini-bicycle wheels. Never the less he seems happy enough as I walk by every morning, and well he should, for dangling between his wheels, just shy of the ground, are a set of disproportionately huge, pendulous testicles. I don’t mean to make it weird for his owner (a sweet looking, short woman), but the logistical questions alone are worthy of pondering. How did he keep them off the ground before the wheels? And is this why he broke his legs?

The park in which his owner walks him is by the River Thames. Ducks cross our path ferrying their young into the water. The pug chases and frolics, but never bites or savages them.

Then, one day (yesterday), the dog is there, and the wheels, but the cojones are gone.

It’s not like I make a habit of staring between his legs, but the change is so obvious that if you were presented with a spot-the-difference picture you’d shout ‘FOUND IT,’ within a nanosecond.

Man it caused me consternation, watching him wheeling around in a circle, all  sad and confused. How much womanising (or bitching – he is a dog after all) could he have been doing? (Unless his wheels jack up and down like a low-rider).

Later that day I’m listening to a motivational speaker and thinking about murder when it occurs to me – If someone had the courage (or permission) to lop off this guys balls (or break both his legs and convert him into a wheelbarrow (or both)), I wouldn’t have to think about solutionizing the future. Sure he’d be a little wistful and forever after infused with melancholy, but I wouldn’t have made-up nonsensical words floating around my head. He would have been de-douchified. There would also be fewer kids (Douchina and Douchopher) roaming the earth, spreading their douche ways and gravitating inevitably towards hedge fund management.

I saw the pug again this morning on the way in – Hey little buddy! Nothing – His joy intrinsically linked to his nuts. His owner seemed chipper enough (which is pretty insensitive) prompting images of pet revenge…so now we’re pumping her full of testosterone (that sounds way ruder than was intended) and she wakes up on a gurney with a beard and a receding hairline and wheels for hands, and she’s (or he’s) like ‘WHHHHHHYYYYY?’ and I’m like, ‘Holy shit this got away from me,’ and the dog’s just staring at me like he wasn’t the catalyst for everything, and the man-woman starts with the bargaining: ‘If you let me go I’m never tell,’ and I know she can never keep that promise so I’m forced to abscond into the forest and we all end up in a cave for years and years until we turn feral and I lose my grip on the English language and start talking like a motivational speaker…

Wow, I’m surprisingly angry about the whole thing…

Maybe someone should sneak up behi…

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Life is Hyperbole

Many years ago when I first moved to Reading I lived in a shared house with three other twenty-something males. Three of us had relocated for work purposes. The fourth who, for reasons of anonymity we’ll call Dan (although coincidentally that also happens to be his real name) told us that he didn’t need to work on account of his parents’ acrimonious divorce and their subsequent attempts to out-spoil him. He sat at home most days drinking Stella, eating bucket loads of chicken wings that he bought from ‘Mr. Cod’ (virtually next door) and howling obscenities at the television.

One day we returned home to find him in a state of mortification. The gig was up. His parents were onto him. No further funds would be forthcoming. He was to do the unspeakable and find a job. After several failed attempts he got himself paid work as a security guard at the local shopping centre.

Less than a week after he started the job I discovered my two other housemates in the lounge laughing uncontrollably. Unable to speak one of them handed me a piece of paper. It appeared that Dan had not enjoyed his time as a security guard, but too ashamed to admit he couldn’t hack the work, had decided that his departure would be more palatable if the reason was a little more elaborate. As such he’d written a letter to the head of security posing as his sister and stated that he could no longer come to work as he’d been involved in a car crash and had, had one of his arms amputated.

My housemates’ mirth was not caused by the excuse, but rather the reply he’d received from the head of security – one of the finest works of literature I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Amongst it’s many well-crafted stanzas two sentences stand out: “We were even more concerned when he contacted your next of kin and discovered they were unaware of your accident. If you could get someone else to hold the phone against your ears perhaps you could call them (presuming you skill have ears)?” And “As your uniform was found in the locker we can only presume you were planning to leave anyway before this most tragic of events.”

I remember he was very angry that they hadn’t paid him, but could think of no legitimate way to complain.

Engaged in the black art of self-promotion as I am, I am constantly bewildered by the sheer volume of exaggeration and out an out lying that takes place in everyday life. I’m not talking about the adulterous / of-course-I-didn’t-burry-her-in-the-woods type exaggeration (i.e. things worth lying about). I’m talking about the little things, like describing a cappuccino as ‘awesome’ or any use of the term ‘LOL’ (surely a killable offence (if that’s not hypocrisy?)).

The latest bee in my bonnet (hyperbole: I don’t own a bonnet) is the emergence of companies that charge to generate fake comments / likes / views / re-tweets etc online. I’ll admit, when I first started promoting my music (Martin’s music) I did try one of them – paid the princely sum of £8, and 48-hours later one of my songs had been listened to 5000 times, but no one had liked it (I hadn’t paid for that) and none of the people were real. Their avatars had been lifted from other users and they had not really listened to my work. They were simply bots clicking on a link. Having decided that it wasn’t a virtuous thing to have done I deleted the song, re-uploaded it and by the end of that day it had been listed to 30 times and liked 8. I felt satisfied. This was an honest picture of the world. I had connected with 30 individuals and properly connected with 8 – Hardly setting the music industry alight, but a true reflection of reality.

I read an online article about a rapper who had over 100K Twitter / Sound cloud followers, all of whom were fake. It posed the question: How does he feel when he reads computer-generated comments that declare ‘You are a rock God’ and ‘Dope’? Or beholds the giant list of fans, none of whom have ever listened to a single note of the tunes he has so lovingly sampled from proper musicians (!) but who have cost him an arm and a leg to acquire?

It’s as if he has taken the Turing artificial intelligence test and the computer has failed him! And he isn’t even an isolated example. The practice is becoming widespread. Now, whenever I see a Facebook link with 20K likes I think: There’s a good chance that’s not real.

I went for lunch last week at a bar I hadn’t frequented in over a year. The place had been renovated. I struck up a conversation with the owner about the changes. Turns out that the previous owner woke up one morning ten months ago, rang the brewery and said ‘So, it’s like this – I’ve had enough – the keys are on the bar’ (click), and off he went, owing in access of fifty grand. No one had seen him since. That’s excited and not made-up.

Another thing that really happened was that I was sitting at a beachside café with an old school friend last weekend. I mentioned that one of my greatest regrets in life was my failure to corral a bunch of co-workers into getting drunk, attending a matinee show by Britain’s premium children’s entertainers ‘The Chuckle Brothers’ and heckling them. My friend replied:

‘Oh I met them once. Tried to get them to go drinking with me, but they declined – gave me a signed photo of the two of them sitting in a cockpit. I did however get annihilated (hyperbole) with a Tommy Cooper impersonator – Guy was phenomenal – Never broke character once!’

Rant over. Mother Teresa put it better than me: ‘Life’s a dream, realise it.’

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A look beyond the veil…

…Somewhere within these few lines and verses is the meaning of life. Of this I am certain, although at present I am at a loss to extract the distilled nectar…

I was heading into town on foot with a list of largely mundane things to do. My mind had wandered…I need to hire an accountant to do my tax returns

I passed under a railway bridge and did an awkward shimmy to avoid a woman approaching in the opposite direction.

…Really? This is what you’re going to spend your Sunday thinking about? I harnessed a phrase so often used on other men in their late thirties whenever the subject of rising house prices rears its inevitable head: We used to talk about girls.

My rumination was disturbed by a loud screeching noise. I looked up and saw that a flat bed lorry containing a large (and full) skip was skidding and jack-knifing all over the road. In a flash I saw that its next arc would bring it round to bear on the woman and myself, crashing through the flimsy fence that separated us. My mind took in other snapshots – the curved wall of the tunnel – no escape – the expression on the driver’s face – a rictus of panic.

I am going to die – the thought as clear as day – A weight like that would pulverise me. I probably wouldn’t even feel it. No time for…Cars on either side of the road shrieking to a halt – petrol fumes – adrenaline coursing – the woman’s arm shooting out, almost grasping mine…

…And then, somehow, the driver regained control of the vehicle. He glanced down at me from the cab and shouted something. I only caught the last word ‘….reprieve!’ His face was a swirl of nervous energy – the relief and mania of not having turned his lorry into a murderous juggernaut, and then he was gone.

In the dim light of the tunnel the woman and I exchanged exhalations. I momentarily entertained the idea of speaking (we almost…we should go for a drink – maybe get married). The moment passed. I offered a smile, which was reciprocated, and then we went in our separate directions.

What now? I couldn’t just go and buy bin liners and washing up liquid as had been the plan – Oh no – I had been spared for higher office (or something). Something profound had just happened, and yet at the same time, nothing at all had happened.

The first thing I saw when I got into town was a coffeehouse I’d been boycotting on account of their exorbitant prices. Well stuff that now, I thought, I’m on bonus time. Bring me the baddest brew you’ve got and here’s all my money. Several glorious infusions later I found my calling – I was to pamper myself rotten. I bought the ingredients for an epic meal, a good bottle of plonk and a hillock of cake (to use the collective term).

Back at home I visited the bathroom and regarded its porcelain namesake (Who the hell has time to draw a bath in this day and age?) Me, that’s who! – piping hot, bubble bath – I only wish I’d had rose petals on hand and a Celine Dion compilation.

Well that was mind-blowing, I self-congratulated as I emerged from a miasma of steam to discover that I had no clean underwear (the result of a recent road-trip). Commando it is then! A pair of trackie-bottoms were on hand – crisis averted!

With a meal of heroes in my belly I stepped out into the garden to enjoy the summer sunshine. The lawn was looking a little unkempt so I decided to mow it – Find an album you’ve not listened to in a while, stick on some headphones – mooch around in the warm rays – perfect.

I set to work, thinking all the while about what had happened earlier that day. Worshipping at the church of self was all well and good for an hour or so, but surely something worthier needed to emerge as a result of so spectacular a reminder that life is fragile and fleeting?

Maybe, but not right now. Right now I had great food, great tunes, I was out in the sunshine. It didn’t have to be profound. This is good, I thought, this is being alive.

Something moved in my peripheral vision. I looked up and there at the gate stood an old woman. By ‘old’ I mean ‘at least eighty.’ She was waving and mouthing something at me. I let go of the mower’s trigger and took off the headphones.

‘What was that?’

‘Nice cock,’ she said – brazen as you like with a wry little smile.

‘…pardon?’

‘…Nice cock.’

I looked down and saw that the mower was obscuring my pelvic region from view.

‘How would you know?’

‘Oh, I’ve been standing here for quite some time.’

And with a wink and what can only be described as an incredibly leisurely pace she went about her business…

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Damn you gentile upbringing…

I’ve been feeling pretty chipper of late, so thought it was high-time I balanced things out with a healthy dose of crushing literary rejection. With the trusty writers & artists year book in hand I suppressed my flat-vowelled midland vernacular with the received-pronunciation of a BBC newsreader and set about calling agents to enquire as to whether or not they were taking on any new protégés…
‘I’m sorry,’ came the (first) exceedingly plummy response, ‘not for 7 years now.’
Stifling a bemused chuckle I apologised to the woman in question for wasting her time, wished her a good day and rang off. Almost immediately she rang back.
‘I don’t normally do this, but you sounded so forlorn I thought I’d take a punt. What’s the book about?’ Cursory details were exchanged, at which point she added, ‘Don’t send me a synopsis or a covering letter. I’m 65 – Haven’t got time for any of that ole shit – the first 3 chapters should suffice. Don’t expect a response before the end of the week. I’m reviewing Rodriguez’s new book on imperialism. I’m sure you have some appreciation of how tetchy he can get…’ Evidently I was expected to know who she was talking about, so took a stab at empathising ‘…Having said that, his last few offerings have been more than a little slap-dash. If he thinks I won’t fire him he’s living in a dream world…anyway ta-ta.’
A little over a week later she phoned back to say that the first 3 chapters had aroused her interest and that the full manuscript would now be appreciated. I duly obliged. A further week passed whereupon I received another phone call. Without introduction she proceeded thus:
‘No, no, no. Your antagonist arrives far too late, your main character should be Jewish and…’ barking noises halt her assault ‘Roy…ROY! I’m sorry – I have 3 dogs and am married to the politician Roy Hatterley – ROY! Get the dogs out…and I’m going to have to pass I’m afraid…ROY! May I suggest Bogdanivich as a surname…as in the film director…keep up the good work. Thank you good bye.’
Though technically a knock-back I was strangely buoyed by the conversation as it marked the furthest I had yet reached in pursuing a literary career.
The agent’s cryptic comments reminded me of a long-ago work debacle where, in discussion with a Jewish 3rd party contingent, an overenthusiastic colleague had described his three-pronged business strategy as ‘Blitzkrieg.’ Whilst the Nazi’s no doubt considered simultaneous air, land and sea attack to be an impressive feat, the comparison was less than appreciated by the suppliers whom we were destined never to see again.
Later that evening I was still pondering the bizarrely one-sided exchange when there was a knock at the door. As I drew near I heard my elderly neighbour utter the immortal words, ‘I know that @!#$er’s in there. I saw him go in,’ to which her husband replied ‘This is the final straw. I may do something I’ll regret.’
The list of inane and petty matters this harmless but deeply annoying pair have complained about over the years includes rogue ivy, the length of my lawn and not liking the colour of the house (to which my subsequent attempt at humour (calling them racists) had bombed spectacularly). Without even the remotest interest in finding out what tedious crap they’d come to rant about I stood motionlessly until I was sure they’d buggered off…
…None of which explains why my lead character should be Jewish!
In an entirely different vein I’ve added a new page ‘Music’ with links to some of the songs I’ve recently released:
I thank you…

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Kim-Jong-il look-alike’s career in tatters…

The media rarely considers the plight of celebrity impersonators when reporting on the death of a communist dictator. As such the recently unemployed 61-year old Kim Young Shik has become just another of North Korea’s silent victims. He is said to be in mourning at the loss of his raison d’etre. On the other hand the BBC reports that he’s saving an absolute fortune on haircare products. Every cloud…

It’s stories like this that make Valentine’s Day bearable. That and standing in Paddington station watching the look of horror on a man’s face as his girlfriend gives him a teddybear the size of a washing machine. I did my best, but it’s impossible to convey ‘I feel your pain’ in looks alone. For a moment there we experienced the bond shared by all men when we realise that, despite our most earnest endeavours, we’ve stumbled into a trap.

Onto matter book-related, Tim Carter-Wale at systemfx has come through with the latest draft for the front cover of ‘Froth’ – a book of short stories. The colours, design and concept are all fantastic, and constitute a marvellous realisation of my frankly inept brief. The book itself is in the proof reading stage and I’m hoping to get it published online in April.

The other development is that I’m circling around the idea of re-submitting a couple of manuscripts to literary agents. It’s not something I’ve entertained for years as pitching work is a sobering experience at the best of times. Imagine a cocktail bar filled with devastating looking women (reverse sex as appropriate). You go up to the first, choke back your crushing doubt and murmur, ‘Can I buy you a drink?’ She looks at you as if you’re disgusting and spits a savage ‘No.’ You turned to the next, ‘Can I buy you a dr…’ ‘GOD NO!’ You turn to the next. ‘Can I b…’ ‘You must be joking. Avert your gaze wretch.’ The rest shun you without response.

I can only dream of soliciting so impassioned a response from an agent. Oh to be deigned worthy of a ‘sod off.’

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Writing about ‘Baddies’…

‘Rapscallion’ – surely a contender for best word ever (closely followed by ‘nefarious’ and ‘skullduggery’) – all synonymous with villainy.

The starting point for all this was a short story competition about bad guys. I’d decided to come at it from the tongue in cheek, pendulum-swinging, overly-convoluted-diabolical-world-domination-pencil-moustache-Mwhahaha-school of thought. The thing about meglomaniacs is they’re always so well organised. I can barely get out of bed in the morning and there they are building secret lairs in volcanoes and radar-jamming space stations. It strikes me therefore that a better arch nemesis than a super-spy would be a management consultant who, rather than killing henchmen and bedding women, clogs up the supply-chain with bureaucracy and makes it really difficult to order plutonium. In place of a climatic showdown my story ends with a sheepish looking technician shuffling into the command centre, mumbling ‘the software in your death ray isn’t backwards compatible,’ and that’s that – pfssss.

This bit of nonsense got me thinking: What makes someone really bad? I’m talking about attributes rather than catalysts. Is it in the traits they possess or in the ones they lack? If I had been born without empathy would that make me callous or merely emotionally efficient?

‘The banality of evil’ is a phrase often uses on history programs when referring to the Nazis. Many of the officers who ran Auschwitz argued fervently at their trials that they were only administrators, and that they couldn’t be held accountable for the genocide taking place under their noses. The inference is that evil is an absence rather than a substance. This is obviously an extreme example, but in our own little ways we’re all walking the earth mercilessly  projected our beliefs and expectations onto each other, leaving the gas on, the seat up, not remembering birthdays; little omissions and cut-corners. At what point do they tips the scales and spill over into malevolence?

The reason for all this naval gazing is a book idea I’m working on that centres around a protagonist called Methusaleh – a hebrew name meaning ‘when he dies, judgment.’ He comes to the conclusion that, because every action has a plethora of unseen repercussions, it is impossible to be truly good. As a consequence he decides to go full steam ahead in the opposite direction and have a ball. He does not wish people ill-will. He is simply morally ambivalent.

Speaking of malevolence and ambivalence I’ve just made my first foray onto Twitter – a God-forsaken place filled with the murmurings of the undead. The first tweet I encountered read: ‘OMG – Just stabbed myself in eye with pen LOL.’ Does my wanting them to disappear from the gene pool make me a bad person?

https://twitter.com/#!/Martin_Cororan

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Auroring success…

It’s a little known fact, but it wasn’t the extreme cold that caused vikings to venture south to Angle-land a-raping and a-pillaging, it was the high cost of living.  £19 for two pints! It’s no wonder they started hacking people to death!

Just got back from visiting the good people of Norway, the highlights of which were:

  • Seeing the northern lights (smug photo attached).
  • Marvelling as a nation-wide price-fixing scam flagrantly amasses all of Europe’s wealth.

The best way I can think of to describe the Aurora Borealis is that it’s like watching ‘The Wizard of Oz’ backwards. You start with the innocuous little guy turning some levers, but peeking behind the curtain and seeing the inner workings you realise that it’s actually a humongous supernatural being. The overriding sensation is of witnessing something that wasn’t meant for human eyes.

Of course it’s all well and good getting poetic and zen after the fact. First comes the imbecilic attempt to find this phenomenon. Having rucked up in Tromso, a town 400 kilometres within the arctic circle, and being thoroughly British, we sat astride our steed (hatchback) and drove off into the frozen tundra without any provisions; safe in the knowledge that, if we got into trouble, we could commandeer a local and point at things whilst shouting at them in English.

In an attempt to make conversation with some recently acquired hitch-hikers I carefully selected from an array of ice-breakers, turned to my friend and asked: ‘At what point do we revert to our native language and kill them?’

Passing a graveyard he compounded my gaf by uttering ‘Isn’t that where we buried those French tourists last night?’

We arrived at a secluded fjord; cameras clutched within trigger fingers, and ready to bludgeon each other into paralysis at the slightest provocation. We were in God’s country – silent, serene, magical, unique.

‘How long do you think it would take to get bored of a view like that?’ one of the hitchers asked.

‘I’m bored now,’ the other replied.

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