Friday, 28 October 2011


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sent: 28.10.11 at 1:10 pm
subject: Hi There!



You may be wondering who this is, what with the prison email address and what not. It's me, Martin! Or as I am currently known, prisoner CH8299 (I'm also known as 'Punchbag' but I'm not overly keen on this moniker to be honest). That's right, you've guessed it (apologies if you haven't, SPOILER AHEAD as they say on the superinternet)I'm in prison!

How long has it been Rich, eh? It's been 16 months, 16 months since I was last in touch. Sorry about that. Really. Sorry. I have been in here for a year now and someone only mentioned there were computers here yesterday. Not sure how long they'll let us have access to these actually, the guy beside me is becoming very agitated whilst watching the introduction to Super Ted over and over on YouTube. He's just thrown the mouse at a guard and called him "a stupid spotted banana".

Soooooo, yes, prison. How did that happen. I guess last time I wrote to you I was just beginning my time as a man of the sea, joining the scurvy (No really, actual scurvy. Three of them told me they were afraid of orange juice) crew of 'The Flimsy Floozy' and their fearsome Captain, Charles Bearspit. I wrote to you then from what I believed at the time to be somewhere near Spain. Turns out we were in fact going round in circles just outside Southampton which is apparently on the south coast of England! I had misjudged these salty seadogs, and quite badly. What I had originally seen in Captain Bearspit as charming eccentricity was actually plain old bog-standard insanity. I began to realise things weren't exactly 'ship shape' when one week he insisted on calling us all 'SHIRLEY VALENTINE, M'LADY LOVE' and the following week he kept us all up every night singing to his knees. "OHHH KNEES", he would wail, "OH NAUGHTY, HAUGHTY KNEES. OH PLEASE. OH WONT YOU FINISH YOUR PEEEEEEEEEEEEEAS". This would go on for hours. Sometimes he would accompany himself with the punctured accordion we had found floating beside the boat a few days before. It was incapable of holding a note and yet the Captain would gamely struggle on. The wheezing sounds that emanated from the stricken instrument brought to mind my uncle Patrick when he went through his phase of smoking charcoal. Do you remember that, Rich? How we'd laugh as time after time, he set his beard alight. Good times.

Anyway, yes, the rest of the crew weren't much better. One particular man, Gentleman George Dandry, (or "Gentle George" as he was sometimes referred to) attempted to stab me in the ear with a wooden spoon on no less than 15 different occasions. I've no idea why he took such a dislike to me, Rich, I can only surmise that he was NOT a fan of the game I-Spy. A game which had become very dear to me on the long dark sleepless nights in our quarters.

Things came to a head when we attempted to attack a boat full of tourists that we'd come across on our circular travels. Bearspit informed us that not only had we run out of food, but we had run out of stuff that vaguely resembled food and so the time had come for some piracy. He made it sound so casual. The crew armed themselves with the swords that Moonfaced Austin had made from discarded rope while I desperately racked my brains for a means of escape. We caught up with our prey as they headed in to port and, as the tourists happily snapped away with their cameras, Captain Bearspit and the crew of the Flimsy Floozy attempted to board the targeted vessel. One by one they jumped, missed the deck, and plunged into the sea. As the people on the sight-seeing cruise clapped and cheered, the captain of that boat made a call to shore and informed the coast guard. Within an hour, we were all picked up and taken to the nearest police station. When our day in court came, a series of thunderous outbursts from our brave leader (including "SEND US TO PRISON IF YOU MUST, BUT WE ARE ALL PIRATES AND WE WILL NEVER STOP PIRATING!") led to us being convicted of Attempted Piracy and we were each sentenced to 5 years detention in HMP Southampton.

As you can imagine, this was quite a bad development for me as I have always had a bit of a fear of prisons and everything that goes on within them. You may remember the evening we rented 'Ernest Goes To Jail' and you had to talk me down from the roof after the scene in which Ernest is shouted at by a guard. I can still see you pleading with me to see sense and come down, as I pelted you with unpopped microwave popcorn kernels. So the thought of spending more than 5 minutes in this concrete hellhole initially filled me with a terror so intense that when I curled up into a ball to console myself I became so completely rigid, my fellow convicts were able to play a 20 minute game of football with me before the guards intervened and rescued me. They were already ahead by four goals anyway and so saw no point in allowing the game to continue.

As it turns out, I'm actually quite good at prison. A year has passed, and despite a few run ins with some of the more impatient prisoners (you know how strongly I feel about people queue jumping) and a fairly major incident with several rival gangs (I am sadly now responsible for the card game Snap and specifically organised tournaments of said game being banned in all British prisons)I have had quite a peaceful time. My court appointed lawyer informs me that with good behaviour I shouldn't be in here for much longer, and I should be home for Christmas. I'm very excited. Christmas is great.

Anyway, I feel like I've waffled on enough. How are things with you? I do hope that you're alive and well, and that you are still using this email. I have been in here for a year after all, you might all be floating around in hover-cars out there for all I know! If you are please send me a photo of yours.

Your friend,


Sunday, 20 June 2010


To see the previous email click here.

sent: 20.06.10 at 20.24 pmsubject: RE: Hello!


Good to hear from you. I was starting to get worried. I thought French Tony might have found out you’d used the internet and kicked you out of his place. You know how he is. I had visions of you being forced to take the spare room in Nightrape Glenn’s spare room. Which would, of course, have been unspeakably terrible (it‘s a tiny room).

So you’ve turned to the sea, eh? I must say, I was most surprised to hear that, Marty. I didn’t think you were a huge fan of the sea, to be honest. Do you remember when you, me and Hunry Kevin had that stag night in Blackpool? When we were skimming stones on the beach? You didn’t skim a single stone - you just stood there, glaring at the water through your enormous novelty spectacles with the miniature windscreen-wipers on them, muttering darkly from beneath your plastic Viking helmet with the fake hair-braids, and moodily fondling at your set of fake breasts. It was most unnerving. Although I guess when you tried to attack the lapping waves with a plastic cudgel, me and Hungry Kevin took that as a fairly strong hint that you probably didn’t want to get married to that stripper after all. I still maintain the fact that she had your car keys and refused to give them back wasn’t enough of a reason to get hitched. Still, that was a long time ago. People change. We move on. Like trains or viruses or meal times. I’m glad you’re having a good time wherever in the world’s oceans you currently are. Send me a postcard when you land somewhere.

Things have been pretty much the same at this end - Virgil is still living in my flat (I’ve had rats lately - Virgil is an excellent ratter) and I’m still seeing Agatha. In a sense, things with me and her are going well. Although, in another sense - a more realistic one- they’re going really really badly.

Shortly after I emailed you last, I took her on a date - nothing too outlandish, I thought, just a meal somewhere nice. As I think I’ve mentioned before, the city here is awash with ‘theme restaurants’. You name a theme, there’s a restaurant for it. Go ahead. Name a theme! Dinosaurs, bomb hoaxes, grief counselling, gynaecology, anti-Semitism, Dave Spikey, flat-pack furniture, crazy golf, left-handedness, epilepsy, Islamic jihad, lecterns - and that’s just the corner of Bold Street South!

Anyway, I decided to take Agatha to Twilight Sycamores, which takes ‘ageing’ as its general theme. Specifically, it’s made up to look like an old people’s home. We were sat at a Formica trellis table in a along with a band of deaf and senile fellow diners, to complement the ambiance. Instead of being presented with a menu we simply had moulded plastic platter-dish with separate compartments for stewed carrots, mashed prunes, and some large blue pills. The evening was going quite well (not brilliantly), but when I looked around and saw some of the fellow diners having their faces shoved into armchairs they’d inadvertently soaked with urine as punishment I suspected something was perhaps a tad awry. By the time a man who I’d assumed to be the maitre d’ was pronounced dead in a vibrating Lay-Z-Boy, it was clear this was no theme restaurant at all but, in fact, a very real old people’s home. I was mortified. I apologised to Agatha profusely all the way home. She seemed to forgive me. We laughed about it. She gave me an affectionate chuck under the chin and I responded with a light punch to her arm. Unfortunately, it wasn’t light enough and I sent her tumbling into a large nettle-bush and angered a number of secreted wasp-nests and a particularly bitey feral cat.

To make things up to her, I booked us into a restaurant where I knew nothing could go wrong: Pasolini’s. No theme, no pensioners defecating and expiring around us, just food and, hopefully, a romantic atmosphere. Things got off to a bad start on our arrival, however. They’d lost our booking and were now so busy they had no tables free. You’d have been proud of me though, Marty! I was forceful and manly - all ‘I demand you give us some food!’ and ‘Please!’ and ‘Don’t make me cause a scene - I can cry like a freshly orphaned toddler on demand!’ After this, the head waiter said he’d see what he could do about squeezing us into the outside area. They were out of tables and chairs, so we had to make do with a highchair for Agatha, a stack of discarded tyres for me and an old ironing board for the table. This would’ve been fine. We could’ve gotten used to it, probably. The real pain in the arse (other than the shards of rust-coated glass sticking out of my tyre-seat) was there was so little room in the outside area that our makeshift table was actually in a nearby school’s outdoor basketball court. When we were trying to enjoy our lobster bisque starter Agatha got slammed rudely in the face with a basketball, knocking her smashed glasses and loosened fillings into her bowl. I offered to let her eat mine but, by the time she’d staunched the bleeding in her nose, the course had gone a bit cold. Things went fine during the main course of grilled swordfish - I talked about my childhood, the old town, my poetry; she about how the lemon juice dressing was aggravating her exposed tooth-nerve endings and lacerated gums - but during dessert night fell and some young people in hoodies had appeared in the basketball court ‘hanging around’. Thankfully, they didn’t seem too bothered about us. They just stood there, smoking. I don’t think what they were smoking were normal cigarettes though, Marty. Clouds of smoke kept drifting across to our table. Agatha started to feel quite ill, whereas I began unwittingly giggling. I tried to explain to Agatha how we were ‘all one large being, like a pony or one of those large dogs, if you think about it’. Then I found myself slumped across the filthy plates, papping her bosoms, mesmerised by the undulations. On reflection, it wasn’t my best moment.

Most recently, was the park. Parks are safe, date-wise. Nothing can go wrong in a park. I mean, there’s murders and sex-attacks and suchlike that go on in parks, but they usually happen at night. So this afternoon I took Agatha to the Henry Miller Memorial Park. We made our way to the Tropic Of Cancer duck-pond and I cracked open a bag of bread I’d brought along. They all waddled up to us and started nibbling and pecking away at the proffered crusts, Agatha giggling and swooning in my arms as they quacked and shook their wet little tails. Suddenly, one of the ducks started to flap its wings, making a strange croaky sound and eventually keeling over. Another one did the same, sprawling out into the mud. A couple more followed suit. It was at this point that I realised that I’d brought out the bag of poisoned bread Virgil had prepared to catch some particularly resilient rats. Soon I was ankle-deep in a sea of dead waterfowl. What had I done? Agatha shrieked by my side. For a moment I thought about poisoning her - my only witness, I could jab a hunk of the deadly bread down her throat. Whoever found the ensuing scene - a poisoned woman amid a Normandy landing of dead ducks - might reason that the whole thing was a strange, unintelligible suicide pact. But no. I pushed these thoughts away. I didn’t want to murder anyone (maybe it’s parks themselves which have this homicide-inducing effect on people, I wonder if anyone’s ever done a comprehensive study). Anyway, panic stricken, I collapsed onto my hands and knees on the muddy pond-shore and began scooping up the dead ducks in my arms. I entreated Agatha to do the same. Almost instantly it became obvious that there were too many ducks. They oily little bodies kept slipping out of our grasp. More ducks, curious of the mayhem, kept waddling out of the water, pecking away at the toxic bread, having a brief seizure, then dropping down dead. Some people on the other side of the pond were starting to get a sense of something being up. I was losing it. I began screaming. I tried to bury them in the mud, but still there were too many. Eventually, I saw one of those bags-for-life caught in the branches of a tree in the nearby Rosy Crucifixion Sapling Cultivation Area. I ran across and I yanked it down. We stuffed it with as many ducks as would fit, kicking those that we couldn’t carry back into the water. They floated and bobbed where they landed, their beaks nudging up against the shore-decking. I thought about secreting some heavy stones in their wing-feathers to make them sink, but there wasn’t time. I hurried back to my flat, one arm around Agatha to console her, the other around this ironically named bag-for-life containing the evidence of my grisly crime. When we got back, Agatha went for a bath so long she’s still in there now.

No sooner had I returned, when Virgil burst through the front door. Instead of his characteristic rags and bindle, he was dressed in a vest and a pair of chaps. I started to explain to him why I was holding a bag-for-life filled with dead ducks and that he probably shouldn’t try to eat them, but that he could maybe try to use them as rat-bait. But he was too excited about something.

‘I think I’m gay!’ he said, gesturing at his chaps. He looked very pleased.

‘Oh, really? That’s great. Congratu- wait, what do you mean, you think?’

‘Well, I’m not certain. I mean, I don’t really find men attractive, sexually. But I just have this feeling. It’s like a dull, constant pain in the back of my head, just behind my ear. Know what I mean?’

‘Not really, Virgil.’

‘Exactly! That’s because you’re not gay!’

‘Virgil, there’s more to being gay than liking chaps... I mean trouser-chaps… I mean…’

But he giddily started telling me about this club in the East side of the city, a Not-Quite-Gay club, for people who think they might be gay but aren’t certain or are in denial but have some kind of low-level pathological understanding of who they truly are. He said he’s going there tomorrow night, just to see, and did me and Agatha want to come along? I said yes. Why not?

Virgil left. In all honesty, I was grateful to see the back of him (he’d had his chaps on backwards). As I stored the bag of ducks by my fridge, hoping some of the inside coldness would somehow radiate out and delay their decomposing, I ruminated on how badly each of my dates with Agatha have gone. This last one in particular had been, at best, a total disaster - the most one can hope for in a date which culminates in a massacre of the local wildlife is that the experience will bring the two people together, bonded in blood by the shared trauma of the horror they’d conceived. This might not quite be the case here, I thought as I made a pot of tea, listening to Agatha’s racked sobs in the room next door. In fact, my whole time with her seemed to be cursed. Not that she was at fault, you understand, Marty. I was the one who’d even contemplated murdering her with poisoned bread - not an ideal thought for one’s date to have in his head in any situation. I fear we may simply have been mismatched and although we now, due my fatal error in selecting what to feed some ducks, may now have been through far too much together, I’m beginning to feel we also have little in common. I’m not going to tell her, obviously, but in my mind I feel this last date - to a wilfully confused and confusing club - will be ‘sink or swim’ for me and Agatha, if you’ll pardon the expression.

That’s all pretty grim, right? Don’t worry, Marty. There’s a cheery footnote to this email! Just as I’d finished typing that last paragraph I heard some rustling coming from the kitchen. When I went through I saw there was movement inside the bag o’ ducks. A webbed foot thrust its way through the throng of mallard corpses and waggled into view. I hurried over and plucked him out. One of them is alive, Marty! I ran with the little fellow up the stairs to tell Agatha. I should have probably given a little tap on the door or explained what had happened or done something other than shove the door open and release the duck to splash about with her in the bath. After she’d calmed down and stopped screaming about it being ‘a spirit hungry for vengeance’ I picked him back up and carried him back downstairs. He’s a friendly little guy. He’s sitting with me now, quacking away happily and playfully trying to peck at my hands as I type, Marty. Just like you! I think I’ll name him Martin.

Anyway, I’d better do something with that bag.

Bye for now,



Tuesday, 8 June 2010


To see the previous email click here.

sent: 08.06.10 at 22.40 pm
subject: RE: Hello!


That means Good Evening in Sailor. Hello Richard. I know you probably thought I had stopped caring about you or died or something, but in fact I have been off out in the world 'finding myself'. I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous but it turned out I wasn't happy in our peaceful little home town and wanted more.

Basically, after my last email, I tried to make things work with Sally but failed. She insisted that I was actually the guy who played 'Paul', the geeky friend from 'The Wonder Years'. At first I thought it was funny and charming, but when she introduced me as 'Paul from The Wonder Years' to her friends and later her parents I felt enough was enough. "I'm not him!! I'm not Paul from The Wonder Years!!" I shouted at her as we sat in 'The Awful Prawn', the recently opened seafood restaurant I had brought her to that fateful night. She had told the bemused waiter I was Paul 5 times whilst we ordered starters. She threw her crab soup at my face and stormed off. It was on my journey home, as I tried to ignore the laughter of the teenagers sat behind me on the bus(my crabby fragrance apparently causing them much hilarity), that I decided that I needed to get away from the old town and see what else was out there.

I consulted with my uncle Patrick and he told me that a spell with the merchant navy hadn't done him "any harm". The fact that he was telling me this whilst attempting to fish from a paddling pool full of tea bags in his front room should have set off alarm bells, but it sounded good to me. The Navy. Men fighting the sea and winning. I went down to the docks that evening. After a rather close shave with some speed addled russian sailors I decided to come back the next morning instead.

And so, the following morning I walked down there again and spoke to the most trustworthy looking sea-faring gentleman I could find. It was there I met Captain Charles Bearsspit. He said he'd take me under his wing, of course I had no idea at that point that he meant that literally. He told me he would take me on as an apprentice sailor. I would work on his boat, 'The Flimsy Floozy', as a crew member and together we would see at least one of the seven seas. My god Richard, if you'd seen The Flimsy' in all her glory. The light glinted off her metal bits and the wooden bits were all worn and woody. The sail looked just like my bedclothes on my mother's washing line, flowing in the wind. I was hooked instantly, like a tea bag in my Uncle Patrick's paddling pool.

I have been a junior sailor now for 2 weeks. Everything is going very well, apart from my chronic sea sickness and the fact that I appear to be allergic to sea water. I spend most of my days throwing up in my cabin which I share with Old Bobby Womacknorelation and Little Terry Flopscotch. At night for some reason I can handle the sea sickness and so then I go out and help tie ropes and hoist sails. It's very exciting. We've dropped anchor somewhere in Spain and that's where I am writing to you from now! Did that make sense? The almost constant nausea is playing havoc with my mind. Anyway, we are here for the night getting supplies and some medical assistance for me and my bloody screaming/vomiting thing. Then we set off for.....who knows!! (Captain Bearsspit knows apparently, but he isn't talking to me because I threw up on his shoes this morning.)

I will contact you again when I can me old shipshape. Or is it mate? I've not got the hang of this yet, but by grog I will!

Your friend,


Saturday, 20 March 2010


To see the previous email click here.

sent: 20.03.10 at 14:56 pm
subject: RE: Hello!


Hey, Marty.

Good to hear you’re trying to get back into the swing of things, albeit with mixed results. Have you ever thought of signing yourself up for some evening classes? My cousin Alf was learning how to smoke mackerel when he found love. In fact, his teacher turned out to be his future wife. Obviously, she also turned out to be a cannibal, something cousin Alf probably learned when she killed, smoked and ate him. Still, don’t let that put you off. People always forget that cousin Alf and Maria had many, many, many happy hours of matrimony before she stoved his head in with that galvanised concrete birdbath.

Ugh, what a week this has been! And it started out nice as lice, as my granddad used to say: the sun was out, the birds were singing in the trees, all was right in the world. But no, it’s ended up crap as a tap, as my granddad also used to say: the birds have all gone mad and are pecking me all over then precision-shitting into the wounds whilst the sun laughs like a drunk and smears its hot balls all over my face and the trees that all the birds had previously been singing in use their branches to pinion me down and say ‘DO YOU LIKE THAT? DO YOU? DO YOU LIKE IT?’ into my shivering, blubbering face. Metaphorically speaking, of course. As the old saying goes, ‘you can’t become Pope if you’re just a pillowcase full of prawns’. Actually, I’m not sure exactly what that means. It’s something else granddad used to say when he was in the home, shortly before the end.

Everything was fine, Marty! Things were all going so well - I was looking forward to this coming weekend’s date with Agatha (I’d planned on taking her to the Steve Martin Memorial Museum Of Toasters And All Things Toast); and I was starting to enjoy going to work a lot more - getting to see her around here and there at Benjamenta Insurance. During coffee breaks where we’d sit together and do the Independent’s new ‘erotic sudoku’ (although I’m not entirely sure how it qualifies as ‘erotic’ rather than ‘mind-wiltingly simple’ - all the numbers have to be either a six or a nine - I guess that’s so you can finish quickly and get some quick-as-a-flash rumpy-pumpy in before the end of your break). We even started leaving amusing little post-it notes for one another. Only yesterday I stuck one to her desk-tidy saying ‘How about a swift snuggle round 3.30pm? In the under-the-stairs cupboard where the Henry the Hoover lives?’ She left me a reply-note saying ‘I’m not interested. Frankly, I’m alarmed. Also this is a waste of stationery. Thanks. Geoff.’ which I thought hilarious till I remembered Agatha had indeed switched office-cubicles with Geoff Langley from accounts earlier in the week. Now I think about it, as I was leaving the note, I did think it seemed a bit odd that she had a monster-truck calendar on her dividing-wall, a picture of Geoff’s family on her desk, and an envelope stuffed with pornographic playing cards at the bottom of her drawer.

Anyway, besides this minor blip of misunderstanding, everything was going swimmingly. Until, that is, I got back from work last night to find Virgil, my ex-lodger, sat on my sofa. He’s returned to my flat for the time being whilst his new place is being used as the set for ‘Paint Your Dragon’, a sitcom about a family who have a large, mischievous pet dragon they have to keep secret from their priggish neighbours by painting it so it blends in with whatever background it’s stood against. Apparently Nicholas Lyndhurst’s in it. I think it sounds amazing.

We chatted for a bit, then I showed Virgil a picture of I’d taken on my phone of me and Agatha in the staff room, holding up our successfully completed sudoku in celebration. Then do you know what he said? Do you? I’ll tell you, because you probably don’t.

He said: ‘I did her.’ Just like that. All nonchalant, like he’s Serge Gainsbourg or John Leslie or something, and not a toothless, eczema-faced drunk who should be grateful to get any action from a dead lamb. He continued: ‘I did her. Like, in a sex sense. I mean, I had sex with her. Me and her - sex. Just so we’re clear. I’d hate for a series of amusing, madcap antics to emerge from a relatively basic misunderstanding here. I had sex with her. This woman in this picture you’re showing me on your phone. Her. I had sex with her. With my erect penis. And her vagina. Sex.’

Obviously, I thought there must be some kind of mistake. But no. Virgil was unashamedly adamant. He even started launching into a lengthy appraisal of the foreplay that had been involved, leaning forwards in his armchair and chuckling like some kind of bad Ronnie Corbett. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Obviously, we got into our old argument about Stagecoach's franchise-ownership of Sheffield's tram system - Virgil holding that it was a perfectly legitimate business-move, whereas I, as you know, maintain that the lack of adequate regulation involved in this transaction was the starting-point for the company's disregard for localised competitive strategy.

Enraged, I opened the door, stormed out of the room and slammed it shut. Immediately I realised I’d picked the wrong door, was in the fridge, and had pulled the door shut so hard nothing could re-open it. Three and a quarter hours later, with a little help from Virgil, the building’s utilities manager, and some lovely chaps from the fire service (and after three dozen or so rounds of ‘Imaginary Battleships’, ‘Imaginary Risk’ and ‘Imaginary Hungry Hippos’ with Virgil), I uncoiled myself from round the leftover roast chicken and measuring jug of curdling custard and was able to re-stage my dramatic exit five hours later.

I stormed straight into a woman in the corridor outside my flat. She had a slipper of Babysham in one hand, a large flash of mulled-sherry in the other, and a yard of Malibu in the other. I’d seen her around the block of flats before and figured she was one of my neighbours. Right away I could tell she wanted me. I don’t know whether it was my dizzying good looks, the waves of sexual magnetism I can’t help but radiate, or the fact I smelled very strongly of roast chicken and she was drunk and peckish. But when she said ‘I couldn’t help overhearing you have an argument with your friend in there. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea. I’m having a little party - just a small gathering,’ I said yes without a second thought.

I should’ve realised this was a bad idea when I saw the inside of her flat. The woman went off to make me a cup of tea and I saw that her living-room was lined with what looked like unlit phallic-shaped candles. In the corner nearest to me there was a large bucking bronco machine, but I couldn’t see how anyone could ride on it, Marty, because in the middle of the saddle there was some sort of large handle moulded into the seat. Initially it looked like there was four or five very old, very wrinkly people sat round a coffee table in silence in the centre of the room, all in the nude, whilst ‘Candle In The Wind’ blared out of a stereo system in the corner. By the time I’d realised they were actually a group half-deflated blow-up dolls it was too late to leave. The woman had returned. I accepted a mug brimful with tea, which turned out to be a pint whiskey with a teabag floating in it.

‘My name’s Chloe,’ she said, pushing me onto the sofa in between the sex-dolls. Then she started lapdancing, whilst eating a sausage and egg sandwich. The brown sauce spilled down her chin, she spat stray pieces of eggshell and gristle into my lap, some of her long fringe got caught in the sandwich so had to keep dragging food-matted lengths of hair from her throat. It was erotic. I stood up, took the remainder of he sandwich off her, took a bite out of it and said ‘Shall we take this to the bedroom?’

She was annoyed at me for stealing a mouthful of her lunch but agreed nonetheless. Her bedroom was worse than her living room. Every single patch of wall was covered with pictures of celebrity chef Rick Stein: magazine photos, newspaper cuttings, crayon drawings of him cooking his enormous genitals in a huge pan which had been specially converted from a decommissioned naval ship, print-offs of crudely photoshopped images of him dressed in dungarees whilst having sex with a bear’s skeleton. Still, I thought ‘No. I will do this.’

Chloe put some music on - another cd of ‘Candle In The Wind’ which she left on repeat - then began to undress. One of the first things I noticed was that she had a large bushy tail like a hairy dog’s. It wagged happily.

She caught me staring at it: ‘Oh, don’t worry about the tail. It used to belong to my Biffy. I was devastated when he died. Luckily, all it took was a brief bit of experimental grafting in the veterinary surgery,’ she said, stroking the tail, ‘and presto - part of him will live forever! It’s wonderful. And I save a fortune on toilet paper.’

‘I see,’ I said. ‘And what are these on your back?’

‘Oh, they’re testicles. A side-effect of the treatment I had to undergo to counterbalance the effects of the dog-hormones that the graft introduced to my metabolism. Don’t worry though, I’m all woman. Other than the backers, of course. I call them that. It’s a mix of the words “knackers” and “back”, y’know?’

‘HOW SWEET!’ I shrieked, touching my hand against the nightmarish spice-rack of flesh, the whole thing two degrees cooler than the rest of her body. I felt like crying. Still, I thought ‘No. I will do this.’

Then I saw that there was an eyeball in her knee, studded into the bagged cap-flesh like a glacé cherry on a cake. ‘Oh, you don’t want to be bothered by Chaz,’ Chloe said.


‘My unborn twin. My mother had a traumatic mishap in an out-of-control teacups ride when she was pregnant with us. As a result there’s pieces of him all over my body - an eye in the knee, a hand in the brain, and I think a couple of these backers might be his,’ she said, hopping into bed. ‘Don’t worry though, he can’t see you.’ The eyeball moved around, seeming to focus on me, winking and frowning in disapproval of what was about to occur as it disappeared beneath the sheets. Again I thought: ‘No. I will do this.’

‘CAN I TURN THE LIGHTS OUT?’ I asked, using my discarded clothes to block any light coming in under the door and draping a duvet over the curtain-rails to mask some exterior streetlight which was coming through the window. As I approached the bed though, I could just about see Chloe’s outline, and stopped in my tracks. Her profile looked exactly like that of former home secretary David Blunkett, Marty. As you know, there’s nothing which terrifies me more than former home secretary David Blunkett. Well, other than clouds, muffins, buttons, pigeons, fingernails, death, lawns, bumper-cars, mimes, bookmarks, coat-hangers, paté, balloons, guinea pigs, broccoli, question marks, hammers, old people, bongos, skimmed milk, and The Wurzels. Nothing.

She said: ‘Since the 11th of September, 2001, we've faced a heightened threat level. And we've been enhancing both the exchange of intelligence and security information and the assessment of that information, because that's the crucial element.’

‘What did you say?’

‘I said are you okay?’

I’d had all I could stand. Before I knew what was going on I’d bolted out of the flat and was stood inside mine, leaning against the door and panting. Virgil, who’d been lying weeping on the sofa whilst watching Gramsci and the Mutt on that new Marxist Cartoon Channel. He stood up when I came in. He asked why I’d stormed out. When I told him he laughed and asked me get the picture back up on my phone-screen. After a brief return to Chloe’s to gather my clothes I pulled the phone out of my pocket and showed him.

‘No, not her,’ he said, pointing at Agatha. ‘I meant her’ And he pointed at the picture of Judith Chalmers in the newspaper we were holding up. ‘I had sex with Judith Chalmers. Up against a lamppost in a town in Estonia whilst a tv crew filmed the whole thing. Some locals paid to watch. It must have made quite a controversial Wish You Were Here…? At least, I’m pretty sure it was her. She didn’t speak a word of English.’

My mind's all over the place. After spending the best part of an evening directing my hatred towards Agatha for whoring it up with a confused homeless man who, it would seem, was actually being whored out himself by an Estonian pensioner who had the good luck to look a little bit like Judith Chalmers, and coming close to going through a sexual Hellraiser, I’m not sure what to think. I feel awful. I’m supposed to have my second date with Agatha tonight, but I think I might cancel. What should I do? Should I tell her? Keep it secret? Help me out here!


Tuesday, 9 March 2010


To see the previous email click here.

sent: 09.03.10 at 21.10 pm
subject: RE: Hello!


I apologise for my lack of correspondence. It has been quite a month. I have moved out of Tony's place and am now staying at the B & B just outside town. It's run by Mrs. Throttle, a former circus freak and current holder of the North West Women's Wrestling Federation's championship belt. After I last wrote to you, I decided that it was time to get back on the saddle (not the one that Tony had installed in his kitchen but the metaphorical saddle) and get myself back in the game. The best way to do this, I thought, was by throwing myself at the mercy of our town's bustling nightlife. Tony and I started by celebrating my new found freedom at 'BEWBS', the only strip bar within 200 miles. I don't know if you remember 'BEWBS' Rich, I think we tried to get in there once on your 16th birthday but failed due to both of us being dropped off outside the venue by my parents, in clear view of the bouncers. My mother's insistence on getting out of the car, running after us, and presenting us both with packed lunches did our attempt at decieving the doormen no favours. Anyway, this time Tony and I entered with ease and I must admit I felt a little shudder of electricity flow through me as we pushed through the curtain of beads that separated us from the ilicit thrills within. Sadly this turned out to be quite a strong reaction to the static electricity contained in the curtain and I went into convultions for around 7 minutes. Tony managed to convince the staff that I was "only mucking around" and somehow got me seated at the bar. When I regained consciousness I was rewarded with the sight of Tony whooping and clapping as a middle aged leather sofa disguised as a woman gyrated wildly in front of us to the sounds of Chris Rea's 'Lady In Red'. She wasn't even wearing red Rich, she was wearing a purple and green tracksuit with the legs and sleeves cut off. I ordered us a round of drinks which ended up costing £57.86 (two pints of Sultry Mist which I am SURE is just Sailor's Breath rebranded for the erotic dancing market) and prepared to face the next 'performer'. This turned out to be 'Lambrini' who was a shaven headed midget woman wearing a fishnet kagool. Her tune of choice for her seductive manouveres was 'Snooker Loopy' by Chaz'n'Dave. It was at this point I dragged Tony away and we walked back to town. If this was what the single life entailed here then I wanted none of it. I must meet another lady.

The next day at work, I was talking to Mildred the receptionist at Betterbins about my issues with meeting women and she suggested a dating agency. I found a place on Main Street called 'Blind Date Mate' and after a long discussion with a member of staff about my likes and dislikes, my allergies, and my most irrational fears, I was told that this agency would be able to set me up with at least three different blind dates over the next few days. I went home, excited at the prospect of new love awaiting me. The next day I recieved an email with details of the venue for my first date and the time I should be there. I arrived at The Golden Badger promptly at 8 pm and was shown to my table. Five minutes later my date arrived. It was quite clearly Mr. Bradley Nichols, the man who'd interviewed me for an hour at the agency the day before, only now he was wearing a green wig covered in glitter and an orange catsuit. He looked like a transexual carrot. He introduced himself as 'Brandine' and I made awkward small talk with him for ten minutes before finally excusing myself and walking out. I simply told him that I was not in any way interested and wished him good luck. The next day I recieved another email with a new date location and time. With some trepidation I arrived at Mario and Luigi's (Authentic Thai Cuisine) and was once again faced with Mr. Nichols this time masquerading as 'Ladybelle' and sporting a 3 ft beehive wig and a faux leather mini-skirt. I turned on my heel and left. The third email I simply ignored.

After that I tried internet dating. A site called ''. After 29 pages of questions and a rather uneccessary eye test, the site produced one match. Lambrini, the miniscule stripper with a thing for sexy rainy day clothing. Finally Tony and I went along to a speed dating night at The Posh Whelk. After an initial problem with the process which saw myself and Tony sat in front of each other for three 'changes' in a row, and a few awkward sittings with women who actually drifted off during my minute of chat, I found myself blathering at speed to a young lady called Sally. She actually seemed interested as I described myself and my interests at rapid speed whilst dabbing at my brow every three seconds to absorb the Niagra Falls of sweat that was pouring from my, well, my pores. I stopped and dropped my head to indicate that I was finished and that she could now get up and leave. To my surprise she lifted my head, said "Let's go", and we went and had a drink elsewhere. She's very nice and I'm seeing her again this week. I'm not going to say more about her until I see her again, I don't want to jinx it. Unfortunately Tony met someone that night too and that is why I am living in a Bed and Breakfast. She is called Tinkerbell. She is 6 ft 4 and can open tins of soup with her teeth. She moved in THE NEXT DAY and I quickly found myself on the streets. No really, I mean she actually threw me out of the bedroom window.

Well anyway I have rambled enough. My dear Richard it seems we both have promising women on the go. Agatha sounds like a keeper, I've never known you to get to the Le Loi dynasty with any of the girls here. She must be a special lady. Good luck sir, keep me updated!


Thursday, 4 March 2010


To see the previous post click here.

sent: 05.03.10 at 00:52 am
subject: RE: Hello!

Hey Martin,

It’s been a while since I heard from you. I guess you’re still staying at French Tony’s and he’s still banning you from believing in the internet. Still, just thought I’d check to make sure everything’s okay.

Also, I had my date with Agatha the other night and thought I’d let you know how it went. It went well. I had a tiny bit of a panic over where to take her. First I thought about maybe taking her to the Golden Pudenda, a swanky-looking Chinese restaurant I’d seen a couple of times on the way to work. But then I remembered the fiasco that was the time you and me went for that Chinese New Year meal with those mental Chang sister (right after I’d said it I was aware that raising my glass and shouting ‘Chinky chink everyone!’ was a touch inappropriate. I said sorry. And all those ‘Chinesey impressions’ I kept doing were supposed to be examples of the callous, passive-aggressive racism I don’t indulge in as part of the apology). Anyway, I decided Chinese food was a potential minefield. Then someone at the office told me about a place called The Darwin. Here in the city, the rules is that any restaurant which is called ‘the’ something is usually a pretty high-class place, so I booked a table. However, just to make sure, I went to check it out. It isn’t a swanky, knob-packed joint, Martin - it’s a ludicrous evolution-themed eatery where monkeys on snakeboards raced about bringing and taking away plates. This may sound like a lot of fun but it wasn’t: the plates themselves have to be made of paper due to being constantly dropped by the stupid animals; the floor has a thick carpet of soiled sawdust due to the serving-chimps perpetually shitting their nappies to overflowing; and I was asked to sign a piece of paper on the way in which said that I accepted all liability, should I be attacked by one of the monkeys, a possibility made all the more real by the small squadron of men wearing disturbing-looking rubber Stephen Jay Gould masks who patrol the service-monkeys with taser-rifles. That said, for desert I had a large ice-cream sundae which was in the shape of a giant DNA strand complete with rum ‘n’ raisin guanines, tutti-frutti adenines and a sugar-frosting backbone. That was quite nice.

Anyway, I rejected these along with a few other more promising dining possibilities, deciding in the finish - there was quite a bit of blind panic judgement on my part - that there was only really one place I could feasibly take Agatha: the large multi-storey car-park, just off the ring-road round the corner from my block of flats, across the B.S. Johnson Memorial Flyover.

I know you’re probably reading this thinking it doesn’t sound very romantic. And you’d be right. After I’d frantic speed-history of how the Le Loi dynasty came to displace the Ming lineage and we’d had the picnic I’d prepared - some Laughing Cow and rollmop sandwiches, a tube of Pringles Rice Infusions, and a four-pack of Gunmetal Special - in an awkward silence, it started to dawn on me the nigh pitch-black environs, which I’d assumed would provide an atmosphere of dimmed intimacy, were perhaps a massively terrible mistake. My suspicions were confirmed when a gang of youths arrived and told us they’d ‘make our heads bleed like radiators. It’ll be well sontag. It’ll be drastic pigeon hose.’ Obviously, I’ve no idea what any of this actually meant but the fact they were brandishing golf-clubs and bike-chains whilst they spoke gave me cause to believe a threat of violence was being issued. I hastily moved me and Agatha on to the park. I’d heard there was some kind of public music event going on there. Sadly, this turned out to be a small band of nationalist Bavarians. We stayed for most of a surprisingly rousing oompah-rendition of the Horse Vessel song before I got us moving on again, this time for a walk along the river.

I tried to think of nice things to say to Agatha. My brain was trying to decide between ‘your hair smells like Cherry 7Up if you’d swilled a Boost about in it then drank through one nostril it whilst sniffing an éclair with the other’ or ‘Your eyes are nice and kind-looking like puppy suffering from myopia.’ By the time I’d reached a decision and was about to speak (I’d opted for the second) I saw there was a couple of policemen fishing something out of the river. I don’t know if you’ve heard the news-reports about Cannibal Stan, the flesh-hungry psychotic who’s somehow got accidentally released from the local Herisau maximum security hospital. His serial-killer’s ‘thing’ is that he murders his victim then eats their entire body, leaving only their chewed-off her hands and feet as a gruesome calling card. These, it turned, were what the policemen were fishing out using a plastic JJB Sport bag. Now, as I’m sure you‘re aware, JJB Sports provide their customers with plastic bags which have a ruched, string-drawn opening. This design was causing the two officers a few problems - the weight of the limb-ends they’d succeeded in collecting were causing the bag to weigh down heavily on the branch they’d chosen to use as a rod, pulling the bag-mouth closed. The remaining severed hand escaped their attempts and bobbed free, following us along the river as we walked, like the grisly guilt-vision of crime I’d not committed. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to generate a sense of pastoral romance whilst being slowly pursued by the amputated hand of a recently butchered prostitute. Probably not. It’s awful. The bright red nail varnish, the thumb and index finger curling slightly from a lifetime of providing strangers with relief, the suggestive bobbing motion - the whole thing seemed intent on mocking my undeclared sexual thoughts. We attempted conversation: she told me about how she wanted to train to become an avian cage-maker but couldn’t afford the fees right now and how her sister had recently injured her shoulder when a ferris-wheel she was on at a Tuscan Christmas fair had stalled; I told her it sounded like she was going through a really tough time and tried to touch her on the leg. But then I looked at the floating, gnawed-off extremity, all bloated from the river-water and pale from death. The whole date, which had started quite poorly, was going down like Sexually-Liberated Stacey in a knackered lift on New Year’s. Only with a lot less sex. We decided it was time to call it a day. If I ever meet that bloody Cannibal Stan I’ll give him such a slap.

So, we left things at that. I thought trying to go in for a kiss on the periphery of a crime scene might give the wrong impression. Still, I have the promise of a second date, so that’s something.

Still, enough about me. What’s going on with you? Are you moving out of French Tony’s soon? Any plans to move out of the old town completely? Any dark horse-ladies in the running?


Thursday, 11 February 2010


To see the previous post click here.

sent: 10.02.10 at 04:58 pm
subject: RE: Hello!

Hey Martin,

As you can see, I’m up early this morning. Not for any particular reason: my sleep was interrupted by yet more David Blunkett nightmares. This time I dreamt I’d managed to trap him inside a jar of mayonnaise but he was using a pair of genetically altered arms -a masonry drill-bit on the end of one, a mad basking shark on the other - to bore his way out whilst giggling like a tickled cretin.

Sorry to hear about you and Veronica breaking up. That’s terrible news. But, as you’d probably gathered, I was never a massive fan of hers and I do kind of think you’re going to be better off without her. But still. I don’t imagine sleeping in French Tony’s bath is exactly a whole load of fun. At least you can get some much-needed peace and quiet. Does Tony still live in that tiny flat above the pneumatic drill museum? And does he still breed those Croatian Shrieking Lizards in his toilet cistern? Is he still hosting those late-night primal-scream and shotgun-practice therapy sessions? Of course you can come down and visit me whenever you want. As long as you don’t mind sharing a sofa with a tramp - Virgil’s still hanging round my place till the bonus cheque from his gang comes through for him to put an deposit payment down on a luxury penthouse apartment in Pelmet Heights. Don’t worry though - Virgil won’t interfere with you! Ha ha lol ha! (Seriously though, he has done a stretch for violent sexual assault fairly recently, but I’ve had no problems with him. Not really.)

I didn’t really want to tell you this, but this seems like as apt a time as any to come clean: Veronica once made a pass at me. It was about eighteen months ago. Remembered when I was round at your place with Dog-Patter Geoff for our fortnightly Malibu And Guess Who ‘poker-evening’ and I borrowed your dvd of City Slickers 2: The Legend Of Curly’s Gold? Just as I was leaving I said I’d bring it back next time I was over to which Veronica replied: ‘No need for that. Just post it through the letterbox.’ Understand? See what I’m saying? Just post it through the letterbox. Get it? It’s pretty unambiguous, right? Clearly she meant ‘just post it through my letterbox.’ The ‘letterbox’ in question clearly being her groin-slot, the ‘it’ requiring postage being my throbbing chapwand, and the act of ‘posting’ being a few minutes of trouserless and semi-rhythmical jiggling mayhem. It might sound like I’m projecting a meaning onto this insignificant-sounding little statement she patently didn’t intend, but it was there - in her tone, in her coyly standoffish body language, in the way she glared at me when she said it. A palpable level of disgust registered on her face when she looked at me. Was she disgusted because I’d just triumphed after you and Dog-Patter Geoff had dared me to eat a tube of Pringles using a full family sized tub of Flora as a dip? Or was she so turned on by the thought of me making love to her right there, amongst the empty marge-tubs and Pringle-lids, that the prospect of it not happening there and then disgusted her? The answer seems pretty obvious: she was what I believe is medically termed ‘gagging for it.’ ‘It’ once again being my erect memberstick. But before you go mental Aunt Maggie’s and start smashing apart her fax machine with pork-chops and copies of Razzle like some kind of nihilism-age Othello, just let me just state emphatically that I didn’t take her up on the gymnastical sexual wizardry that was clearly on offer. I just left and, a couple of days later, literally and non-erotically popped the actual dvd through the non-euphemistic letterbox. I don’t want you to get the idea that I’ve got an inflated sense of my own sense of magnetism or anything, but the only reason I’m telling you all this is because I think it maybe has something to do with the problems you and Veronica were obviously going through of late. I literally can’t imagine what being turned down by me would do a woman’s mind: Christ only knows what witless fuck-donkeys she turned to in her squalid hunt for a sex-shag.

Anyway, never mind all that, right? You’re free! Free! Free! I gather men are normally encouraged to think of the abrupt conclusion to an intimate relationship in this way: free! Said repeatedly with an exclamation mark on the end. You can do all the things you’ve always wanted to do: setting up that roleplay society to enact the woodland battle scenes you always said should have been in Basic Instinct, teaching football at the local cattery, making tiny effigies of Joanna Lumley from dehydrated porridge so you can repeatedly live your dream of watching her dissolve when you put them in hot milk. You could even make your move on Marigold Globfash now. You always had a bit of a thing for her, right? I know the fact she had rather a large testicle growing out the side of her nose is a bit off-putting, but she’s got a great sense of humour. And all the doctors were in total agreement that any rogue man-hormones were almost definitely safely contained within the unsightly Sid James and she was, therefore, all woman, legally speaking.

Things here are more or less the same: work is now a routine, soul-withering experience, the initial novelty having pretty much totally worn off. I’m starting to think I might even look for some other employment. On the plus side, know that girl Agatha I mentioned? The one I kept trying to talk to but instead of normal, human words all that came out was medieval tactical military history of the Middle East? Somehow I’ve arranged a date with her. Don’t ask how - the whole thing was agreed whilst my mind was lost in a fug, listening to myself list the reasons behind Basil II’s initially successful attempt to conquer the Balkans. Before you say anything, I know! I’ve jumped both backwards in time from Kublai accepting Planocarpini’s papal visit to the eleventh century- I’d hoped that, by now, I’d at least got as far Chu Yüan-chang establishing the precedence of Ming dominance over the Mongol regions - and geographically: what the hell am I doing in the Balkans?! I'm out of my depth. Anyway, by some miracle a date was arranged for next week. Wish me luck!


PS: Funny about French Tony speaking French. Are you sure that’s where his name comes from? I could’ve sworn it came from the fact that he looks like French toast. You’ve got to admit he does look a lot like French toast.