Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The end of humanity? A Steve Rant

‘Hey how was the rest of Christmas?’ Johnny smiled and took a mouthful of Guinness. It was the first time he’d seen Steve since Christmas morning.
‘Don’t ask!’
‘Oh dear, that good?’
‘Oh it was okay but I had two of the worst presents ever, and I mean ever, I would have preferred a fucking Hobot 168 than the shit I got this year.’
‘Well, it’s meant to be the thought that counts Steve. Johnny smiled, he had the feeling he was going to enjoy this.
‘Exactly and these presents show that the people involved, who will remain nameless, put absolutely no thought into it at all. If they thought about me even slightly, they would know I would rather get nothing than get that crap.’
‘Spit it out what did you get. I can’t stand the suspense.’
‘A fucking onesie and if that’s not bad enough a Christmas jumper.’
But it was Johnny who spat it out, his beer across the table, laughing at the thought of Steve wearing either of those items.
‘Can you imagine the look on my face? Holding those things up and having to say thank you; for fuck’s sake if one wasn’t bad enough, one of each.’ 
Johnny smiled at the thought hoping there’d be photos.
‘Both the onesie and the Christmas jumper are’ Steve continued  ‘the final confirmation that all hope is lost for western humanity. Three years ago they were joke items, things to be laughed at. How the bloody hell did they become the must have fashion accessory of 2013? It just shows how gullible people can be.’ 
‘Gullible? How do you mean?’ Johnny asked.
‘It’s bread and circuses mate, bread and circuses. Look at this country, house prices up, unemployment up, interest rates up, but I’ve got this cute little onesie and this fucking hilarious Christmas jumper so all is well in the world.’
‘So have you worn them? Please tell me there are photos?’ Johnny was grinning like a kid with a chocolate from the Christmas tree.
‘Fuck off I have! The world might have lost its sense of shame, but I haven’t. I’d rather wear Ugg boots than that crap and you will never find me in a pair of them.’
‘That’s a pity’
‘No they are already in bags to be taken to the charity shop.’
‘Ah the spirit of Christmas.’
‘There’s nowhere in the bible that says you have to dress like a prat is there? I don’t remember the three wise men slipping on onesies and jumping on their camels or the shepherds shearing their flocks by night so they could make a jumper with Rudolph the bloody red nose reindeer on it.’

Johnny smiled pointed to Steve’s empty glass, watched his friend nod and then went to get them both a fresh pint.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Hobot 168

The words of It’s Not Unusual echoed around the room while on a screen in the corner Tom Jones gyrated to the music as he lip-synced the song. It was a young Tom Jones, an old recording, a ghost of Christmas past. The floor was covered in wrapping paper and the kids were playing with their new toys.
I just wish for once they’d actually just clean up the mess before they created more, Jess  thought to herself, is that too much to ask? Dai smiled and picked up the last present still unwrapped,
‘and this one’s for you, Merry Christmas Jess.’
Jess held the box wondering what it could be, Dai had been quite secretive about it this year, giving nothing away.
She peeled the paper off it revealing a Hobot 168.
‘What’s this?’ she asked, genuinely confused.
‘It’s an automatic window cleaner.’ said Dai beaming from ear to ear. ‘You just fix it to the window and it just cleans it for you.’
Jess looked at Dai, looked at the box and felt a tear roll down her face. There was a time when Dai bought her lingerie or perfume or jewellery, there was even once he’d surprised her with tickets to see Michael Buble. Where had those times gone? Last year it had been a new set of saucepans that was bad enough, but this was really going too far; a fucking gadget for cleaning windows.

Her urge was to walk out there and then, but she thought about the kids, could she really leave them motherless and turkeyless on Christmas day. No! So she smiled and said thank you as best she could and went back into the kitchen to cry over a hot stove.

Friday, 27 December 2013


The plane filled with the smell of warm bread and old feet. It was only a short fight but it already felt like it was going to be a long haul. The baby at the back wailed incessantly as if trying to entertain its captive audience while the girl next to me played her MP3 player so loud I could tap my feet along to Rhianna. Without warning the plane lurched violently to the left, throwing bodies around like flowers in the wind. Now it wasn’t only the baby crying as sobs and prayers filled the air.
‘Please fasten your seatbelts’ the hostess said, panic and fear in her voice. The announcement was superfluous because as soon as the plane had begun to shake, belts had been fastened, tightened and clutched. Oof the plane lurched right now then again to the left buffeted by the gale blowing outside, tossed around like a discarded McDonald burger box. This was far worse than anything I’d experienced before. God
s phone must have been ringing off the hook as many of his long lost friends were suddenly desperate to talk to him, desperate to beg his forgiveness for various sins and wrongdoings.
I smiled, what else could I do, I couldnt fly the plane and didn't believe in god, so all I could do was sit back and enjoy the ride. Soon the roller coaster became more like a bumpy old bus ride and then it hardly felt like we were moving; fists were unclenched, tears dried and noses blown. Mild embarrassment replaced fear as the overriding emotion. I smiled and wondered to myself how many people would use our lucky escape of proof positive of there being a god or how many of the promises made to him would be forgotten within an hour of landing. Maybe god should have struck us out of the sky as a pre-emptive strike to get his punishment in first. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Station Master

Vysehrad railway station, a ghost station with a crumbling art nouveau facade and boarded up windows. Plagued with rats and pigeons, trains stopped stopping here years ago. But despite the empty, cobwebbed ticket hall and the deserted, oily station buffet, a light shines brightly from the platform as the trains whistle by. Wenceslas has been closely observing trains from the door of the station master’s office for nigh on twenty years. Every he day makes sure his uniform is pristine, then he comes to work, boils a kettle on the brassiere and salutes the trains as they make their way west towards Plzen or east back to the sanctuary of the main station. He cant remember why hes still there, he sometimes wonders if the railway company remembers he’s still there but he is still there, watching the trains. 

Station master Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen, it was warm for the time of year, no snow to be seen. He was waiting for the 10.42 to Beroun, it should have been through the station by now. He walked down the decaying  platform to see if he could see what the problem was. The commuter train had stopped just  behind the bend.  Wenceslas could immediately see the problem  as smoke  bellowed out of one of the carriages, white and thick and even. Passengers were jumping down off the train onto the track. Shit thought Wenceslas, they were jumping out of the frying pan into the fire, or more literally out of the fire into the path of the International Express coming from Munich. It was due in two minutes and, if one thing was for sure, the Deutsche Bahn train would not be late.  There was no time to lose, he ran down the track like a wailing banshee, waving his arms and crying at the top of his voice. He knew the express train appeared from nowhere and rattled through at a rate of knots. The passengers looked confused as the poor man came in sight but soon got the message clearing the tracks just in time for the German loco and its carriages to shriek by them leaving them shaken but not stirred.

The problem with being a hero is that you draw attention to yourself. Exactly 1 month after the incident Wenceslas was rewarded with a medal for bravery from the president himself. And one month after that ceremony, he received a letter stating that that the Station Master’s office in Vysehrad train station was being closed and thus his post was made redundant.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas Songs - A Steve Rant

‘You know what I’ve realised,’ Steve said to Johnny as they settled down for their traditional Christmas morning pint.
‘No,’ said Johnny, ‘but I’m sure you’re gonna tell me.’
‘I’ve realised that Christmas songs are all a bit nasty, there’s intolerance, bullying, bribery, adultery, everything.’
‘What are you talking about Steve?’ Johnny voice betrayed his lack of patience, are you going to give me that white Christmas is racist nonsense again?’
‘No, not that one all of them, take Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer for example, the other reindeer are bastards. They won’t play with Rudolf just because he looks different, what kind of message is that to be sending out to kids?’
‘But it all turns out well in the end?’
‘But that doesn’t excuse racist behaviour does it? You can’t exclude someone and then include them cos they suddenly do something good. And then Wish You a Merry Christmas, imagine those carol singers turning up at your door and demanding figgy pudding and saying you won’t leave until you have some. They’re bloody bullies.’
‘Yeah that is a weird song I take your point on that one.’
‘Then Santa Claus is Coming to Town, is just bribery, don’t pout, be good, or else Santa doesn't come and, I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus, suggests adultery doesn’t?’ Steve leaned back allowing Johnny to have his say.
‘Well, the Santa thing is just modern parenting isn’t it? That’s all about blackmail and as for Mummy and Santa, well I thought that kinda suggested Santa was just Daddy in costume.’
‘Ah ha ha,’ said Steve ’so it’s kinky then? Whichever way you look at it, it is not the message we want to be giving to kids is it?’
‘You’re incorrigible,’ Johnny shook his head, ‘it’s Christmas, Steve, let it go.’

Steve smiled and got up to get them one more beer before they went home to their turkeys.