Friday, 28 February 2014

Her - A Steve Rant

‘Have you seen the advert for that new film called Her?’ Steve asked. 
‘I can't say I have,’ said Johnny, who was not much of a cinema goer. 
‘Well’ said Steve. Otoh thought Johnny, there was no mistaking that that well signalled the start of a thought that had been fermenting in Steve's mind for a few days and was ready to be released to the world. 
‘Her is all about a guy who falls in love with his computer. With the operating system’s artificial intelligence voice, you know like Siri on the iPhone, it helps him organise his life.’ explained Steve. 
‘Sounds lame,’ said Johnny.
‘Looks lame,’ said Steve but even worse, it’s a complete rip off. Do you remember Mannequin? 
‘Mannequin?’ repeated Johnny searching his database but coming up blank.
‘Well the guy in that falls in love with a mannequin, a showroom dummy. The films are exactly the same - showing how love blossoms between a lonely man and an inanimate object while the world looks on thinking theyre cuckoo. ‘
Johnny smiled at the use of the word cuckoo. ‘And your point is?’
‘Well theyre insulting our intelligence arent they? Just regurgitating the same old shit hoping people won't notice. It wouldn
t be so bad if they were saying it was a remake but to pass it off as something new is just an affront.’
‘The thing I don't understand about you Steve, is that you always seem to expect so much from things! You know the film industry is dross! Why do you expect any different?  Werent you the one ranting about false expectations just a while back?'
‘I can't help it if I am naturally optimistic can I?’ Steve said without a hint of irony. 
Johnny nearly spat his beer out, ‘Yeah that's the one word I associate with you Steve.’
Steve looked mildly hurt at his friend's sarcastic tone. 
‘Mind you, what can you expect from the director of Being John Malkovich.’ Steve said regardless of his mates teasing. 
‘Not a fan?’ Johnny asked instantly regretting it. 
‘No!’ said Steve, he was just about to launch into his views on that film when Johnny interrupted him. 
‘One more?’ he said holding out his empty glass. Steve nodded and Johnny made his move. 
‘Kim Cattrall’ he said as he stood up. 
‘What?’ said Steve.
‘That's the woman who played the mannequin. Kim Cattrall’

If you enjoyed that why not buy my new novel

Maggie’s Milkman is now available on Kindle at
and on other ebook readers at -

and if you don’t know what they are talking about check out these two trailers.


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Ghost in the Fog

It’s been a while since I’ve  done one of my song lyric stories where I intertwine lyrics from a song into a story. So here goes… the song is at the end. 

I must have seen the same face a thousand times, round here, over there, drinking coffee, shopping, waiting for the tram. It was a face that said don’t mess with me, my walls are crumbling and I just want to go about my business quietly. I want to be left well and truly alone. The happy look was grumpy, the neutral look was angry, the angry looked livid. I suppose if I had to come up with one adjective to describe that face it would be tired, tired of life or tired of something. The grey hair and grey beard gave an impression of being a ghost in the fog, dissolving into the background. 

But today I saw something I’ve never seen before, a smile. Not even a hint of a smile, but a real smile; exposing dimples and a sparkle in the eye that looked like it was designed to ignite smiles in others. A smile that made the clouds move, so the angels get a better view. No longer a face that says I’m thinking of jumping now a face that says I’m walking along the edge were the ocean meets that land, sunshine on my back. feet in the warm sea. 
There was nothing I could see that was causing the smile just a myriad of happy thoughts only in the head. Like good news delivered on wire in an circus. 

But I’d been staring for too long, I stepped away from the mirror, still smiling. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Fireworks - A Steve Rant

‘I don't like this song,’ Steve said in a no nonsense tone that told Johnny there was more to this than just a simple statement of taste. 
               ‘Me neither’ said Johnny hoping his agreement would stymie any impending rant, it didn't. The pub's music system was playing Katie Perry and despite their disapproval, both men were singing along to the chorus.
               ‘It just doesn't make sense,’ Steve stated, ‘I think firework is meant to be a compliment, but who wants to be compared to a firework?’ His question was rhetorical but for once Johnny managed to get a word in edge ways. 
               ‘Well, I can think of worse things?’  
               ‘Really?’ Steve looked genuinely surprised.  ‘Really! Think about a firework, it goes off with a bang, creates a few oos and aahs, and then burns out leaving a sense of anti-climax. Also how many fireworks turn out to be duds, damp squibs, never get to go off at all? If my girlfriend compared me to a rocket or a Catherine wheel, I'd think she was sending me a message about my performance.’ Steve took a swig of beer but didn’t stay silent for long enough to allow Johnny to form a response. ‘Then of course if you think about it, fireworks are only really effective if there is more than one. So again,  what kind of message is that?’ 

               ‘I don't think she means it like that though,’ said Johnny.

               ‘You have to read between the lines, my friend, read between the lines. I’d been genuinely hurt if I was called a firework.’ 

Johnny shook his head, sometimes there were no lines to read between, no hidden messages, just pointless lyrics to meaningless songs. He decided to let it go taking one last swig of his beer and heading to the bar for a refill without another word.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Messiah for an hour

I don’t always notice new Twitter followers but something stood out about the name @seventy8. I clicked on their link and was amused to find that they said they were ‘effectively equipping and empowering others with technology within the body of Christ. I laughed and thought they must be following the bible literally and loving their enemy. Maybe a modern bible would say, ‘Love thy enemy, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and follow on twitter them which despitefully use you.’  I smiled wondering how they found me and what they thought they’d gain from following me and then clicked back to my timeline hoping whoever @seventy8 was, they were not expecting a 'follow back'.

Because I’d checked out my new follower, I’d also noticed I now had 199 followers. I wondered who would be my 200th.  I didn’t have to wonder for very long when I went back to Twitter later that evening I found that I had 499 followers. I’d been on that damn site for 3 years, slowly collecting those 199  and then in just under 3 hours I had added 300 more. I clicked to look at the names and saw that all of them were religious groups or individuals. @faithhc @denverchurch @jesuslives etc etc. What the hell was going on? Just while I was checking the names, 30 new followers were added to my list. My follower counter was clicking round like an electricity meter on a cold day in an old people’s home. 529, 530, 531.  This was crazy. I was amazed to see that all these new followers were also messaging me. ‘@garethcz we’re so glad we found you’. ‘@garethcz we are ready to serve, are you ready to lead?’ ‘@garethcz lead us lord and we shall follow.’
What the hell was going on?
Then I noticed in the trending column was the hashtag #thenewmessiah. I clicked on it and there were all my new followers sharing my name and my photo along with this damn title the new messiah. This was crazy, I wasn’t a very naughty boy but in no way was I the new messiah! 
I was more than a little scared, this was freaky, what if these people somehow found out where I lived and all turned up to worship me. I turned Twitter off and tried to watch some TV.

It was impossible of course. How on earth could I concentrate when at least 350 people thought I was the new Christ and was about to save the world? I had to force myself not to go back to the website. I gave it an hour before I finally caved in and had another look. The first thing that struck me was that I now only had 234 followers. I lost them as quickly as I’d put them on. #thenewmessiah was still trending, so I looked at that. Now it said @harethcz was the new messiah.  My initial reaction was relief, I was no longer the new saviour of Christianity, but then I felt a little tinge of sadness -  maybe being the messiah could have been fun.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Reading the signs

I lingered at the door waiting for Mark to show up, he wasn’t late, I was early. My eyes swept the crowded bar looking for somewhere to sit. It was times like these that I wished Czech bars were like British ones - if there wasn’t a place to sit, then you could stand. But no in this country if there was nowhere to sit, you went somewhere else; but it was cold outside and the beer and fried cheese here was the best in the area - so I wanted to stay.  Mark came in bang on time, his cheery smile soon disappeared as he saw the heaving room.
            ‘Nowhere?’ He asked.
            ‘Nowhere’ I confirmed.
            ‘How about there?’ He nodded to the table at the back of the bar, slightly higher than the others, a bench one side for two people nothing on the other. I looked at Mark, the question ‘are you serious?’ etched into my face. It was a seat only suitable for loved up couples more interested in eating each others faces that eating fried cheese. 
            ‘What would you prefer, putting that scarf back on and traipsing off to another place or staying here?’ Mark asked.
It was all the encouragement I needed, we made our way to the back of the bar and hopped up onto the bench.
We felt a little like two of the three wise monkeys sitting there, purveying the bar from our slightly raised vantage point. Despite the awkwardness, it was the perfect people watching spot and the beer and friend cheese made up for the strange seating arrangements. Mark was half way through a story about his boss when I first noticed her; long straight hair that I believe is called strawberry blond, small, black rimmed, rectangular glasses sitting on a pretty nose and a tiny, toothy smile that seemed to be only for me. I examined her face and searched my database, so intently was she staring at me that I presumed I must have known her, was she a friend of my ex? Had we worked together somewhere? She didn’t look familiar.
            ‘Are you listening to me or what?’ I was jolted out of my thoughts by Mark’s angry voice.
            ‘Sorry mate, it’s just, well, do you know that girl?’
            Which one?’

I described her as subtly as I could and shifted slightly on my seat so Mark could have a look.
            ‘No I don’t, but she seems to like you.’ he said with a smile, ‘you’re in there I reckon.’
            ‘So it’s not just my imagination then?’ I said as I watched her some more, her eyes sparkling as she smiled. Her friend opposite her also looked round time to time and I felt my face go hot as they then discussed the view; me!
            ‘You should go and talk to her,’ Mark said. ‘Ask her out.’
            ‘I can’t,’ I said, ‘what if she says no. I’d look a fool.’
            ‘Mate she’s not going to say no, no way. Look at her  she’s into you.’ It was easy for him, he had a natural way with the ladies, flirtatious banter was his speciality.
I looked at her again, that pretty face, those cute glasses and her absolute fascination with me. It did seem like I should make a move.
            ‘You only regret the things you don’t do, and if you don’t talk to her I will.’
That was it, Mark had thrown down the challenge I took the bait. I slide off the bench and went across to the girl’s table.
            Hi,’ I said, pleased with how cool my voice sounded. ‘Do you speak English?’
Both girls looked at me like I was sometime alien from outer space.
            ‘A little,’ said the girl in glasses.
            ‘Um,’ I was beginning to feel uneasy, like there had been some kind of mistake. But surely not, she’d been staring at me for the best part of 20 minutes. They looked at me while I chose my words carefully.
            ‘I um, couldn’t help notice you’ve been watching me,’ I said, regretting the words as soon as they came out of my mouth. ‘and I just wondered if you’d maybe like to go for a drink with me some time?’ There I’d done it, I’d asked her out.
            ‘Watching you?’ she said, a puzzled look on her face.

            ‘Yeah I am sitting up there with my friend …’ As I pointed to my seat I saw it. Above Mark’s head was a huge, muted TV screen showing men with sticks skating around a rink. I simultaneously blushed and went pale as I realised that she hadn’t been staring at me, she’d been watching the Olympic ice hockey.