The Tap

Day 1:

12:30pm

Needed a break from the monotony of unpacking. Decided to go for stroll around new neighbourhood; check out the sites. On way out, noticed strange fixture on hallway wall. Have no recollection of seeing this during initial inspection. Utterly perplexed.

 

1:30pm

Didn’t end up leaving the house at all. Still weirded out by this thing; need to get to the bottom of it.

 

1:43pm

It’s just a tap handle. But that’s the thing. It’s JUST a tap handle. Completely isolated upon the wall; the actual tap component nowhere to be seen.

Perhaps builder was making some type of postmodern statement. Or maybe it was functional at one point, but renovations since made, and somehow tap handle was overlooked somehow.

But why so high up?  Have to get on tippy toes just to reach it. Were original inhabitants really tall?

Tap handle confusing and annoying.

Tried looking around the house to see whether there’s a tap anywhere without a handle which may correspond to hall handle, but to no avail.

 

1:46pm

Just read over all that. Maybe I need a hobby.

Time to stop obsessing over irrelevant crap and go get something done.

 

8:17pm

Am probably being neurotic, but tap handle is freaking me out. Was almost quaint and quirky during the day, but now that it’s dark, it’s taken on a sinister vibe.

 

8:30pm

Just read over that. How can a tap handle be sinister? I need to get out more.

 

8:42pm

Phoned Liam. He says not to worry about it. Says I’m being silly and that random tap handle on wall is hilarious.

Will Liam forget me now that I’m here? He didn’t sound that sad over the phone about me moving away. I bet that annoying April skank is rubbing her skanky little hands together.

 

8:46pm

Just read over that. Sounds a little catty. I can’t honestly say I’ve ever seen April flirting with Liam.

She is a skank, though.

 

9:00pm

Wanted to watch a movie then go to bed, but can’t find the DVD’s. Wish I could remember which box they’re in.

Nothing but static on telly.

 

9:48pm

Static was apparently long, boring, experimental film about getting pins and needles.

Went on facebook, but no real friends online.

Posted status update anyway.  Wrote: “Am I the only one who finds this weird??” With pic of tap handle.

No responses yet.

April has new profile pic. Of course, she’s posing in a bikini. Pic looks photoshopped to me. Caption says: “My hair looks SO bad today! LOL”.

Oh FFS.

Typed “Yes, it does.”

Felt rude and deleted it. Logged off.

I hate facebook. Maybe I’ll just delete my account.

Tap Handle is still freaking me out and if Liam’s name is amongst the “like”s under April’s PP, then I’ll know he’s cheating on me with her.

 

 

2:00am

Just read over what I last wrote. Maybe tiredness makes me jump to conclusions.

Time for sleep.

Maybe just one more FB check first.

April has commented on my tap pic:  “Haha, your a riot, girl!  😀 ❤ “.

“*YOU’RE”, I reply.

Then feel rude; delete it. Write “haha, thx lovely; i do try 😉 Love you! ❤ ❤ <3” instead.

God, she’s such a fake tho.

 

 

2:21am

Can’t sleep. That bloody tap thing. Is there a secret camera in it or something? Because I had to walk past it on the way to the loo again, and…I know it sounds stupid to say, but……I really felt like it was watching me the whole time.

Got up on a chair to take a closer look. Doesn’t look like there’s a hidden camera there or anything. It just looks like a regular tap handle….. except up high on a wall all by itself for no apparent reason.

Feel an overwhelming desire to turn it to see what happens, but am afraid of the possible consequences. What if built-in-wardrobe suddenly becomes flooded or something?

What if it was put there by spies, and turning it is some sort of secret sign to go ahead with something untoward somewhere far away? Like, what if I turned it, and the next day there’s an evil, sundried Orangutan with a basic grasp of the alphabet in charge of a whole country or something?

Ok, that’s a bit unrealistic. But why is it so…spooky? Is it normal for a tap handle to be spooky?

Maybe I’m going mad.

Maybe it’s just the stress of moving; the unfamiliar environment; the nagging doubts about the boyfriend situation.

I really want a snack, but I forgot to go shopping before so all I have is cereal and some bay leaves I brought here from the old flat. And that awful cheap champagne Tilly gave me.

 

 

3:13am

Heyyyyy

Tilly’s chm,p[ange not too bAD actually.

Watched stupid infomercialses and ate cereals out of the packet. Thinking about buying a motorised swirling spaghetti fork. Takes the misery  out of eating basghetti. Protects  wrists from RSI, plus playS  amusing tune while you eat! ( You know- the one about a meatball that rolls away) . SO cool. I’d never get sick of that. Comes with  24 free  gold carrots on a necklace. And if you buy 2, you get a bath mat that looks like a face.

NEED.

That guy on the ad  was sorta hot too. Kinda like santa, but when he was young and sexy. He can empty his sack into my chimney any day if ya know what I mean, wink wink nudge nudge, eh? eh? ..I’m naughty AND nice, hahahaha. I liked the way he said  “Aaaaand, that’s not all!”. Saucy. I’d twirl his spaghetti any day if ya know what I mean.

Dunno wht i mean

Whatevers. If it doesn’t work out with Liam I’m gonna try for a beardy fella. Never had a beard.

Checked fakebook. Doesn’t look like Liam’s been on.

Took selfie of myself holding my Aries mug  full of champagne. I look actually pretty cute in my cowprint onesie pyjamas actually.

Posted selfie to Tilly’s wall with the caption: “Tillyyyyyyyyyy!!!!! Best moo-ving present EVVAAAA!!!!”

(Get it? ‘Moo-ving’- ’cause I’m moving, but also ’cause my PJ’s have a cow pattern! Hahaha!)

SEE, April? I can be sexy too! I’m sexy cos I’m confident, see? I don’t conform to ANY type of stereo- i’m above that- ijust don’t care. See?  I don’t care about being hot, therefore Im hot! My awesome personality is what makes ME sexyy. I am NICE and FUNNY and LOVELY person. So I hope you die in a shit lake you fuckin cow.

Liam dunna ‘preciate wot ‘e got ‘ere eh. Fuck ‘im! FUCK ‘IM eh!

Feelng a bit sick

 

3:20am

Why’s evthing so SHIT?

My head hurts an im thirsty andim just gonna bcome a NUN ffs  WHY r men so suprficioal and WHO putta TAP on my WALLs????!!! Focken STUPIF.

Nooooooooo chmpgn LEFT (or right hahahahahahaa)

I wnder if the ‘C’ on th tap handel stands fr “CRAP” instead of  “COLD”, and it’s turnd on FULLfull pressure and I don even know

Is not. Fwell off chair. Owchy elbow and head and hip

but no mattr – got back up turned it on to see if anthing happn.

didn’t.

Must go bed. Hungry, but. Wonder what happens if  eat a bay leav. Evrything ouch

 

 

Day 2.

11.00am.

SHIT.

 

12:08am

DOUBLE SHIT.

Not only do I have the MOST brutal hangover in history, ( and bruises everywhere-what the hell???)  I just realised Tilly has her FB wall comments set to public.

Drunk in cow-print PJ’s under a fluorescent light isn’t the most flattering look on me.

Tilly has commented “All class 😉 👌 “.

Liam has commented “Dork. Miss you <3”. Which I suppose is nice.

And of course, April has commented “10/10, WOULD BANG “.

Condescending slag. What is with all this fake nice crap???  All this: “how cute are you?”, and “such a gorgeous gal ❤ ” and “I’d go out with you” and “crushing hard…. </3 ” all over my damn FB wall and photos. And generally right after Liam writes something first…..Why doesn’t she just outright proposition my boyfriend right in front of me already?? FFS.

Heaps of peeps ‘liking’ this pic though. Reassuring to know there are people out there who actually appreciate a sense of humour, instead of just being shallow bastards obsessed with boobs.

What’s this?….Someone calling himself  “The Keithinator”  has sent me a friend request, and a message saying ” U R Qt. 😉  A/S/(hopefully 😉 ) L?”. In his profile pic he’s wearing dark sunglasses and a T-shirt that says ” SEX INSTRUCTOR- FIRST LESSON FREE”  on the front.

Ewww.

Another one. Calls himself ‘Big Donno’. Has PM’d: “If u need milking im yr farmer 😉 ”

Double ewwwwww. Wtf is with all the creepers??

Oh, crap. Just noticed that one of the pyjama buttons isn’t done up properly in the photo, and my nipple is showing.

So much for faith in the human race.

 

12:23pm

Pic deleted;  sleazy creeps blocked. Maybe I really will delete my account.

Sigh.

Oh well. One positive is that I couldn’t care less about the stupid wall tap anymore. It obviously doesn’t do anything.

Going back to bed for the rest of the day. Tomorrow is a new day, blah blah, etc. etc. The world will go on as ever before, and nothing really is ever of lasting consequence.

Laters.

 

 

the-daily-yakweb

***

 

Mysterious competition of mystery

As the title hints, I’m running a mysterious competition. If anybody guesses the nature of this mysterious competition, they win a mysterious prize, which is so mysterious that I can’t tell you about it. There is also no way of knowing whether you’ve entered the mysterious competition, or whether you’ve won the mysterious prize or not. But if you do win, then you will win. Or you won’t.

Good luck!

Anyway, jokes aside, that was no joke. I want to make something cool and give it away- hopefully to somebody whose name I will pull out of a hat. Or to somebody small enough to literally pull out of a hat. Or somebody of average or large size that I pull out of a very large hat…..and so on.

The “something cool” being given away will be a little mini package of miscellaneous curiosities of a mysterious, curious, and miscellaneous nature, which I have crafted in my above-ground lair ( ie. pool*) . Obviously, this is a VERY good prize.

How to enter:

  1. Comment with your best guess at how best to enter. The most imaginative comment will make me smile, and MIGHT make you win a thing. Who knows? I’m a mysterious, sexy woman.
  2.  Disregard the first step and choose to play tennis, or sniff pizza or books instead.
  3.  Await results.

Now. I do realise how ambitious I’m being here, what with my posts averaging at around 3 views apiece. But on the positive side, that greatly improves your chances of winning. Plus, it means I won’t have any trouble fitting all the names into my hat** ( unless you have a REALLY long name ) .

Just to tempt all one or two of you, here is a list of example things that you may already have won in the future after you entered my competition, when time became (becomes?) nonlinear and crocheted up into a mothball-scented time doily on the antique coffee-table of the cosmos .

A:  a type of game- invented by me ( possibly unplayable) to play with your friends and family. Maybe there will be cards? Maybe round dice?  Maybe it’ll just be a sudoku only one square across. Maybe something very different to that. But whatever it is, it’ll be non-stop FUN. And VERY mysterious.

B:  Something arty, like art. A drawing, for example. Or some stickers I made.  Or an imaginary product I invented, complete with beautiful packaging, to distract from the disappointment that the product doesn’t exist.

C:  Something crafty, like a woollen testicle.

D: A little story, all stapled together like a miniature book, with a little cover and everything. When you put it with all your bigger books, they coo and sigh over the cuteness of the little book, but unbeknownst to them, the little book is…. evil.

Oh, it starts off subtlely enough. You get home; you wonder: “Where’s the budgie?”. There’s no way of proving that a tiny book ate your bird, despite your understandable suspicions.

Next day it’s:  “I thought I had two cats..”. You don’t want to think that sweet wee booky is responsible…so you put it out of your mind.

But when Aunty Mim disappears and you find her semi-digested walking cane by the bookshelf, you know you can’t run from the truth any longer. You make plans to destroy the Little Book.

Unluckily for you, Little Book is able to read your mind, and thwarts your plan to throw it onto the fire, by eating a banana and strategically throwing the skin on the floor by the hearth…

Unluckily for Little Book, you are also rather talented in the psychic department, and thwart its attempts by failing to buy bananas in the first place.

Little Book decides to take matters into its own hands, and goes to the market to buy some narnies. But the moment it leaves, you lock the door behind it, knowing it can’t get back in, because it’s too short to reach the handle.

Unfortunately for you, Little Book plans to eat you the moment you next open the door. You must now stay inside your house FOREVER.

Unfortunately for  Little Book, you’re a recluse who doesn’t mind.

Little Book starves to death on your doorstep, and you live out the remainder of your days a happy recluse/ internet shopping addict.

The End.

E:  An egg…. in the shape of an egg.

F: Laundry detergent that makes your clothes smell like you could be my uncle. Everyone will comment on it, and in a weird way it will bring us closer together; almost as though you actually were my uncle, and I, your favourite niece or nephew, or aunty. You’ll end up adopting me, and teaching me how to smoke cigars and build a Harry Potter themed model train station. What dear memories we shall carve into the tree-trunk of the future, which we shall look back on warmly when it becomes the past. etc. etc.

 

So there you have it.  A very clear and concise set of instructions. You know what must be done.

Note: You have 2 weeks in which to enter. If nobody enters, I will enter the competition myself, and await my announcement that I have won. When I receive my prize, I will devote a blog post to gloating over my win, and you will all be very jealous.

* I cannot be held responsible for any water damage your prize may have sustained.

** A cat ran off with my hat. Suggest an alternative vessel. An extra prize will be awarded to the besty suggesty.


Insomnia sketch: Crow Knows

crowknowsWeb

*watercolour pencil on black paper*

Crows are fascinating creatures. They are intelligent, fearless, and hilarious. I rather adore them.

This wasn’t always the case, though. I used to find them… disconcerting. I remember one night, having a dream that a Crow was rushing towards me; trying to get into my house through my open door. I tried to close the door in time, but Crow got in, right at the last minute. I woke in terror.

My superstitious side worried about the implications of it getting in. It bothered me for weeks. What was it now doing- down in the dark recesses of my subconscious? What did it mean?

Over the years I’ve drawn my own conclusions  (and I won’t bore anybody with that here) , but the Crow dreams continued. Curiously, as the Crows became increasingly amusing and sweet in my dreams, I began warming to them In Real Life.  Now I’m at the point  where my Crow dreams put me at ease. I can’t help but smile when I see them in the waking world. They’re like old friends.

I’ll leave you with some footage of some crows playing in the snow. So bloody cute. Also, here’s a lovely little vid of a Crow snowboarding, just to illustrate one of the many reasons why I just can’t get enough of them.

P.s. For those of you interested in learning about how Crows think and behave, I highly recommend reading Gifts of the Crow by John Marzluff. I’m only about 1/3 of the way through it, but so far it gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me!

P.p.s. For anyone who clicks that link to the book description, notice how before you click on “more”, the line “They mate for life and associate with relatives and neighbours for years.” has been shortened, so it initially reads: ” They mate for life and ass” .  I wonder if that was intentional……. Anyway, sorry. Immature giggly times. Carry on..

Obscurity is three-masted*

When I was studying to become an Art School drop-out, I discovered , one fateful day in the University library, a Surrealist Games kit. Intrigued, and already determined to begin  procrastinating on the essay we’d just been set, I borrowed it immediately.

From that day, I was hooked. Over the coming months, I seized every opportunity to coerce my fellow student friends into sitting around a table with me to partake of surrealist writing games (and the obligatory cheap booze).

Eventually I succeeded in becoming an Art School drop-out, but my obsession with the role of chance as an aid to the creative process has endured. ( as has my love of procrastination, but that’s another post for another time; I’ll get around to it at some stage.. )

Whether it be imaginary definitions, cut-up poetry technique, or the joys of google translate’s epic sentence mangling capabilities, my  enthusiasm for literary lottery borders on creepy. My fridge is covered in magnetic prose. My “dining” table is cluttered with notebooks and  Surreal Sentence Generators- in the form of homemade card games, cardboard  word wheels with badly attached spinners, and little bags full of cut-out words. Mixed in are my daughter’s drawings, which aptly cover subjects such as bee vomit, Olympic cubes, and chickens selling hand cream.

So I thought it was about time to incorporate more of that sort of thing into my blawg. I’ve been self censoring too much; trying to be too linear  and relatable in my bloggage, and it’s just not working . For my own sanity, I need this place to be less of a “how do I  WordPress properly” affair , and more of the uninhibited outlet it was originally intended to be. In short: things are gonna have to get weirder.

And with that, I’ll leave you now with some freshly frankensteined  cut-up poetry I done didded the other day.

(For those of you unfamiliar with the cut-up technique, here’s the basic idea: Take a block of text, such as a magazine article, or page of a book. Cut out every word of said text, and place them in a small bag or container of some sort. Shake them up. Remove words one by one, writing each down- or gluing them onto the page, as I did- in the order they come out. This forms your “poem”.)

Disclaimer: Admittedly, I did cheat a little by eliminating/ ignoring the more aesthetically boring, grammatically confusing combinations, such as: ” he which and are they  a were then as with”. But other than that, the direction of this poem was entirely dictated by the element of Chance. The original Surrealist idea is that whatever comes out is a representation of things hidden in your subconscious mind. Whilst the main attraction for me is the non-linear, twisty word rainbow of it all, I dig this Deep Darque Secret Mind Exploration idea in a Jungian way. Given that- and the fact that the text I used came from a randomly chosen page of a book I was reading months ago- I was amused and  a bit spooked  by the results!

 

cutup3-forweb

 

NotlookingatpagePoetsWeb

 

Above: Bonus ‘Not-Looking-At-Page’ drawing. “Poets hand Love hints in the dark”. Inspired by the last line. I wanted to draw Shakespeare ( for some reason. Do I need a reason?) , but then changed my mind and did a picture of Rowan Atkinson  as Lord Blackadder in Blackadder 2 instead.   

Conclusions:

It seems to be about ugly revelations, or hipsters with sailor tatts voting with irony for a laugh. Or about Art and love being a guiding light in darque thymes. Or about how Art perhaps inspires Love just as much as Love inspires art.

It’s stupidly deep and deeply stupid.

Bonus bonus: If anybody can correctly guess which famous novel I photocopied a page of and dismembered for this exercise, you will be correct in your guess.

YOU HAVE NOW REACHED THE LACY HEM OF THIS FULL LENGTH POST.

(the next one will be more of a mini, I promise)

*like a sparkling potato

Top 10 Tips to Trigger a Textual Tornado- Writing Advice from Beautighe’s best bibliophillerupperers

WritePicAgain

What to write? And more importantly, how to write? Wouldn’t it be useful and realistic to have  practical, universally relevant advice on these very subjects presented in one unpretentious, no-nonsense article?  I posed these very ponderances  to a handful of Beautighe’s most successful and well regarded imaginary authors, who generously agreed to provide their own tried and true Top Ten Tips for all clueless, aspiring writers. I’ve shared these Top Ten Tips in the following section of this blog post. Read on to locate aforementioned following section, which I mentioned earlier in this current section.

♦◊♦

The first list is provided by the renowned and respected  Lord Horryd Twattington-Spiff, who brought us “The Truffle With Harry”; the brutal and unwavering biography of Harrison Porkleigh, a man-turned-pig-turned-man-again,  and his unfortunate brush with the Darque Arts, the resulting cognitive dissonance surrounding breakfast, and the frustration of pearl casting aspirations amidst increasingly prohibitive and ironic circumstances.

  1. Rise no later than the birds. Preferably before the little blighters. This way, one may enjoy the unadulterated silence- or, if one is less hard of hearing as myself, the cacophony of yawning spewing forth from the filthy mouths of lazy peasants as they toil idly in the fields. Walk the length of your estate- weather allowing or not! Walking ‘midst the hills and moors in inclement weather strengthens physical and mental fortitude, and stimulates the imagination. Indeed, the idea for my novel “My Balls” came to me amidst a blizzard, when I fell into an icy pond and struck my forehead against a frozen duck.
  2. Breakfast cereal is a ludicrous notion. Keep away from the stuff at all costs.
  3. My balls.
  4. Take on a mistress. Only between the hours of midnight and 3:00am, however, and watch her around the silverware. Actually, Chive- can you give the cabinet a quick once over? I forgot to check yesterday. The one in the hall, yes. There’s a good chap.
  5. Unmarried? Remain that way, lad!
  6. For God’s sake, limit transitive verbs to a minimum of 8 per chapter. Any more than that and you run the risk of sounding like Wonder Woman’s ‘to do’ list, *guffaw guffaw*.  In the first 80 years of my career, regrettably, I used them willy nilly. I shudder to look back at those days! * hortle chortle* But, one must shoulder one’s balls and trudge on. Pass that pork belly, will you, Floptington. There’s a lad. Mind my balls. Whizzo! *muffled noises*
  7. Any book under 900 pages isn’t worth writing. Leave your 300 page pamphlets to the wind and go back to Cafe Latte commentary on bloody instagram where you belong.
  8. Balls.
  9. Use a typewriter, not a computer. Keeps the fingers robust. No respectable writer I know of ever typed words on anything but a sturdy Olivetti. Never use the internet, either, unless you wish to reveal yourself as a technological sycophant. No internet! (Even pornhub. Get your jollyrockers off to antique erotica instead. If you’re going to deploy the troops to Towelsville, at least let the poor fellows die with some dignity, ie. at the hands of hands accustomed to handling dusty old postcards from 1920’s France)
  10. Become acquainted with my body of work, if you’re not already. Pick it to the bone. Take these bones and coat them in your own flesh and blood. Literally. Put your balls into it. This is the art of writing, my boy! Oh, and.. girl…thingy. *shrugs then coughs uncontrollably* Chive! A new handkerchief, if you will. See that Maid scrapes this one out before chucking it in the wash…now, dust my balls, there’s a good lad……yes, with the new feather duster…ooh- tickly! Oh my…*trails off*

 ♦♦

The next wheelbarrow of wisdom comes from award winning writer, Amelia M. E. Leah, Author of the spellbinding and poetically rich “Cascade of Crows”, in which we meet ornithologist, Clara,  who is on the cusp of proving her hypothesis that corvids are not only capable of graffiti, laughing, and swearing , but are the original masterminds behind them. Her experiments may lead her to amazing discoveries and fame in her field, but also threaten to destroy her relationship with her prudish, insufferably judgemental neighbour, George, whom she loathes.

  1. Remember meter. Manipulate meter. Meter, meter, pumpkin eater.
  2. Disallow alliteration; no matter how alluring, alleviate; circumnavigate! Stop strained sequences of esses strung in ceaseless succession. And try not to rhyme too much; you’re a novelist, not a rapper. Fool.
  3. I’m serious about meter.  4/4 timing; minimal rhyming. I’m reiterating on the alliterating, which you may find frustrating; addressing rhyme a second time, which may not seem of prim…ary importance to you, but it is, so take it on board, or forget fame; forget awards.
  4. Don’t write from a desire for fame or reward. Say what you need to say, unashamedly and unselfconsciously. Fuck the critics!
  5. Pick your target audience and cater to it. You are not an artist, you are a waiter in a literary restaurant. Remember this.
  6. Avoid contradiction. Decide what to say and say it with conviction. You’re not here as a waiter. You’re the head chef, in the kitchen. You could probably hock up into the soup before it’s served, and nobody would even notice. I don’t know what that means, but you must pretend to if you want to be taken seriously as a writer.
  7. Never name chapters. Number them neatly. And in order.
  8. Learn to let go of your work. Once you’ve completed your novel, delete the files; rip up the documents; burn the manuscripts. Destroy it completely. Even if it’s fantastic, and took 6 years to write. Time is nothing. Time is nonexistent. Time is infinite. Time is  what you make of it. Time is a Pink Floyd track . But time is also of the essence, so don’t waste it.
  9. Don’t just write. Labour over each sentence for at least 2 days in order to minimise rewriting and editing later. Forget “flow”. Make every word immaculate. Now by this, I don’t mean  to literally write the word “immaculate” over and over until you’ve written it enough times to fill a book. That would be plagiarism, as fans of my early conceptual work “Immaculate” would know. My point is, take the time to refine as you go. My books take about 15 years to write. And this is why they are the epitome of brilliance and perfection.
  10. Just write. Don’t think about it. Write and write until you’re done. THEN go back and edit and rewrite. Make it as good as you possibly can, but know that perfection is nonexistant. Be humble.

 ♦♦

Next, some hard-hitting advice from the hard-hitting  writer Max O’Ffence, who brought us the hard-hitting “Fuck off and leave me to my super hard drugs, you massive shits” ( now a major motion picture directed by Roger Federer, starring  John Revolting and Una Thermal).

  1. Fuck off
  2. And
  3. Leave
  4. Me
  5. To
  6. My
  7. Super
  8. Successful and glamorous
  9. Career and lifestyle
  10. You massive shits.

 ♦♦

And lastly, some sage words from Beautighe’s best loved Crime Fiction writer- and personal friend of mine- A. K. Drusillacado, whose latest offering of psychological suspense “Before the milk turns” will be out any time now; probably when you least expect it. Extra thanks to Ms. Drusillacado for taking the time to answer these during the middle of the birth of her second child, Ochroma Pyramidale Applecart Oberon Titanium Mig-Welder Drusillacado. Congratulations to you and your wonderful family!

  1. “Heroes and villains… Just see what you’ve done…do-do-do-do…” What do the Beach Boys mean by this? It doesn’t matter. It’s already stuck in your head. How? Finding – and closely guarding- the answer to this is your mission as a writer.
  2. Before starting your novel, write character outlines. Fill them in with texta. Interview these characters. Better still- interrogate them. If they don’t cough up the information, feed them to the fishes. Interrogate the fishes. If the fishes don’t cough up the information, fry them. Serve them with a home made tartare sauce and rustic potato wedges. Two, four, six, eight- dig in, don’t wait. Interrogate your family. If they don’t cough up the info, feed them to the fishes. Interrogate those fishes ( which I’m tempted to describe as “fish”, but won’t, for literary reasons beyond my grasp ) . If they don’t cough up, maybe leave it there; you’ve become trapped in a cycle. Seek salvation in the pain of having fed your entire family to fish, by using it to imbue your work with authenticity.
  3. Make the reader feel like a detective. Engage them by hiding key pages around your city, leaving a trail of subtle but tantalising clues ( lime and black pepper crisps, for example).
  4. Make it plausible. In my initial brainstorming for “Dribble, Fiddle, Fig” I’d envisioned Durian as a school girl! As you know, she ended up as an 82 year old grandmother. Sometimes it’s necessary to tweak certain details- or remove them completely-in order to make them more believable. And in this case, the story came together more cohesively with an elderly woman as the main character. Although I was still rather attached to my original idea, in the end, it was simply more plausible to have a blind elderly lady bumping off her granddaughter’s rival soccer team one by one with an antique Stradivarius and disposing of them in an orchard than have a 6 year old do it. Which brings me to my next piece of advice:
  5. Don’t get too attached to your characters. It’s terribly needy. Be a total bastard. Cheat on them. Dis their clothing choices. Leave the seat up, despite numerous polite requests not to. Treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen.
  6. Include at least ONE helicopter chase in each story. “Dribble, Fiddle, Fig” had five!
  7. If you’re writing about crime, make the crimes weird. Choose motives which are  plausible yet original. Jealous lovers, sociopathic-since-childhood serial killers, and demonic children, have been done a billion times. Cats which are fed up with the same damn dry food- day in, day out, finally cracking and going on a human-poisoning spree, only to be thwarted by a red headed cat shelter worker who’s secretly  “more of a dog person” ? Not so much.
  8. Consider how your writing will be affected if your book is translated into languages other than the one originally used. You’re likely going to have to renumber the pages.
  9. Lacking inspiration? Remember, Real Life is the ultimate muse, and every experience is a potential writing prompt. I’d been suffering the worst case of writer’s block in my life  after the launch of my debut novel, “To Slice a Watermelon”. I remember I was absentmindedly pairing socks when I dropped a pair which rolled under the couch.When I reached under to grab it, to my surprise, I found an old skull under there. When I questioned my  4 year old, Semolina Jane, she admitted to graverobbing. Although I was initially annoyed,  I couldn’t stay mad for long. Not just because she was such a cutie at that age ( still is! Little huggybear <3), but because without that very incident, the seeds of what would be “Dribble, Fiddle, Fig” would never have been planted. Semmy and I still laugh about it today.
  10. Finally, by all means seek advice, but when advice doesn’t resonate, do the exact opposite. Use semi colons in every sentence; after every word, if possible. Write sober, edit drunk. Compose entire paragraphs of the words, “suddenly”, “very” and “quite”. This is how you break new ground. Remember Samaia Ladyperson’s poem “Suddenly It Got Quite Quiet In A Very Very Sudden, Silent Way”?  Of course you do. It’s pure genius. And genius heeds no rules.

♦◊♦

So there you have it. Follow these simple guidelines without question, and you too will soon be on your way to being a brilliant and successful writer.

Stay tuned for next week’s exciting installment of ‘Top 10 Tips’: The Origami Edition, where I meet with esteemed A4 enthusiast, Johnson Bollock, to discuss rectangles, parallelograms, and the mythical Oblong, plus interview the nation’s leading  Origamists on how to fold the ultimate chatterbox . See you there, for all those things, plus more things!

The Disguise ( part 2) : Scarf of intrigue

Story by Rickie Roberto, Private Investigator/ mime artist.
(Part 1: HERE)

My coffee had gone cold. Twice. The real one and the mime one. Adjacent to these, upon the otherwise bare dining room table, sat the ex-marmalade jar containing the mystery moustache. Next to that, a bowl- empty now save for a single piece of popcorn, spared for the reason of it bearing an uncanny resemblance to a Meerkat in a beret.>

There was another reason for my distraction, however.

On my way into the flat this afternoon, I’d run into Cecil, my neighbour. Nothing too unusual about that, granted. But he’d been wearing a scarf.

A scarf? In weather like this?  I reasoned that perhaps I’d just forgotten to remove my own mime scarf from yesterday, and I was simply unaware of the placebo effect it was still having. I checked to make sure, but no; that wasn’t it.

The scarf was also uncharacteristically bright. Bulky. Sculptural.  A far cry from Cecil’s usual drab attire. Perhaps he’d been experimenting with his style. In all honesty, though, he wasn’t pulling it off too well. He looked like a pale sausage being constricted by some sort of bohemian anaconda on its way to a folk festival. All I could see of his face were his eyes. Nervous. Reticent. But why? I hadn’t asked, as I didn’t want to be nosey, but as we parted ways, I deftly snipped a tiny wool sample from his scarf whilst his back was turned so that I could run some tests later.

There’d been yet another strange incident later that evening. I’d popped outside to put the bins out, and on my way back inside, I noticed a striking redhead- female, mid thirties- leaving our block of flats. I’d never encountered her before. Perhaps she was new here, or had just been visiting someone. The detail that had really got my attention though, was the partially-face-obscuring scarf she’d been wearing. A brightly hued, distinctly serpent-like, chunky knit affair.

Cecil’s scarf.

Or at least it appeared to be. I wouldn’t know for sure until I’d run some tests on the sample of Cecil’s scarf I’d acquired earlier, and compared it to the tiny fibres of Mystery Redhead’s scarf that I’d also managed to obtain, thanks to the overgrown rosebush near the front gate.

Ah, my friend, the rosebush. Many a time it’d been suggested by fellow residents and visitors that one of us prune the thing. It was a hazard after all. Even for the initiated- who knew to lean to a 70° angle while passing- there was little chance of getting past unaccosted. We’d eventually arrived at the decision to leave it, however, due to its effectiveness as a deterrent to thieves and door-to-door evangelists. Not to mention the many times it’d come in handy for investigative purposes. Indeed, this plant had become almost like a friend and colleague to me. All sorts of crucial evidence had been snagged by “Constable Rosebush” over the years, leading to many a baffling case being solved. The longstanding and locally famous mystery of the missing postman, Leslie Paul Gibson, for example. Had I not noticed the unusually blonde foliage amongst the scarlet petals that spring morning, I doubt we’d ever have found him. Of course, had Mr Gibson never tripped and fallen into the rosebush initially, he’d never have become trapped in there for 5 years. Thus, for a while afterward, I’d been confused as to whether Constable Rosebush should be arrested or promoted, or whether I’d simply been anthropomorphising a plant to the point where I’d lost touch with reality.

A loud knock on the door abruptly snaps my attention back to the present.

I open the door the slightest crack, and peer out. It’s the pizza delivery guy. I’d forgotten that I’d mimed ordering pizza 30 minutes ago. I pay the man, then return to the table, with my invisible Capricciosa, and my thoughts.

Damnit. I should’ve shown Pizza Guy the popcorn Meerkat.

I remove the two tiny jars containing the scarf samples from my jacket pocket, and place them next to the jar containing the fake ‘stache. First thing tomorrow, I’d run some forensic tests on the scarf samples; see if they were from one and the same source. Of course, if they proved to be, it may just mean that Mystery Redhead was either a relative, friend, or weed dealer of Cecil’s, whose scarf he’d borrowed for personal reasons. But something in my gut was telling me that this scarf of secrets was somehow linked to the fake moustache. It seemed implausible on the surface of things, but mystery works in mysterious ways, and my detective’s intuition was rarely off the mark.

***

My mime alarm went off before my audible one. I was keen to get cracking on this case.

By 9:00am I’d already run rigorous forensic tests and got the results back. As I’d suspected, both fibre samples were from the very same scarf.

The moustache, however, was full of surprises.

For starters, this baby wasn’t made of real hair. Although it definitely looked real, it was, in fact, top quality, low sheen, high deception, synthetic kanakalon. A true master of disguise in its own right.

A tiny section, 8 fibres in diameter, had been slightly melted- indicating a cigarette ash burn (Marlboro Gold- Lights) . This facial costume had either been owned by a smoker, or gotten too close to one.

There were also traces of lipstick ( Facegash; ‘Pashables’ collection in ‘Skank 603’), chewing gum ( Excessively chewed Strawberry Hubba Bubba, from the mouth of an 83 year old lactose intolerant woman of Lithuanian descent), and dog shit ( Labrador; 3 years old; overly fond of frisbees, and possibly going by the name of Groucho Barx ) . These last 2 items were likely from the soles of passing pedestrians, but I wasn’t about to rule anything out. There’s a lot of kink out there.

The big news headline on the cover of the ‘Tache Times, however, was the hair. And I’m not talking about the synthetic hair that it was made of, but rather a single imposter hair attempting unsuccessfully to blend in with the locals. It should’ve worn a disguise. Long, fine, and the colour of a vintage Merlot in a wineglass held up to the sun, it stood out under the microscope like a heavy-handed rouge job on a pigeon. But its incongruity wasn’t what made it interesting. You see, this lone hair had a long lost twin.

And I was about to reunite them…

***

To be continued…..

And now for something completely different:

One misty morn i did find an alien egge upon mine doorsteppe. I did picke up ye olde ( yunge?) alien egge and declare ” O emme gee!” For i knew not what it were. For mine own jolly delites i did beat it harshly to see if ‘twould asplode into smithereenthsths. Alas, ‘tdid not. Instead this unhouly egge begun a songe in his own unhouly tongue. My very real and not imagined friende from yonder future was presente this morn, and captured images and sound on his devil’s device  ( Reely- t’was not just me filleming my own self).  Alas, ’tis a boringe compendium of movinge imagesth, but if ye behold simultaneously thine view on screen above of pastoral landscape, P’raps the alien crie could be interpreted by thine earsocketeth.

The Disguise (part 1)

(Story by Rickie Roberto, Private Investigator/ mime artist.  Once nominated for Employee of the month at Beautighe Police Department ( 2008),  twice voted Mime of the year by members of Slurry Junior Drama Club, Slurry High (1994) )

I’d spent an entire 3 days peeing.

Previous to that, I’d been holed up at work for the last month and a half.

Straight.

No weekends, no 6 o’clock knock off, no lunchbreaks, no toilet breaks. Just a solid month and a half of unpunctuated slog.

At 30 by 30 numbers square- every line having to contain the numbers from 1 through to 73- this certainly hadn’t been your ordinary garden variety sudoku. Upon finally completing it, I was mentally and physically depleted. My boss, Inspector Lieutenant Chief, ( or Dave, as I call him; we go way back.) came good on his side of the bet. I’d now enjoy a full week off. He even agreed to my demand of a full extra week off on top of that, as compensation for the kidney damage inflicted by 45 consecutive days of holding in my urine.

Fast forward to the day after I finally finish relieving myself, and I’m feeling the urgency to get out of the house and into the great outdoors for some fresh air and exercise. Despite there being a noticeable amount of difficulty involved in moving any part of my lower body, I decide to embark upon a long, mimed bicycle ride.

That’s right. Mime. My first passion. I don’t get as much time as I’d like to devote to it these days, of course, but every spare second I get, I’m miming. It’s constant. Every morning on the way to work; every coffee break; every evening on my way home. Even as I lay in bed asleep. Mime, mime, mime. Speech is something I don’t  do if I can help it. This applies to the written word, also.

You may be wondering: doesn’t that get in the way of my work? Or indeed, interfere with life in general?  But I have to answer: No. It doesn’t. Take this story, for example. You may think you are reading at the moment, but you’re not. I’ve simply tricked you into believing so. This is, in actual fact, all mime. There are absolutely no words here at all. Mark my words, sonny Jim, this is 100% pure mime magic.

Of course, my Detective’s head says it’s foolish; frivolous; pure whimsy. Stop it, he says. Get back to work. But my artist’s soul demands it. And who am I to argue? It’s a need. Where other detectives see a desk , a see a desk that doubles as a surprise escalator. Where they see nothing but empty space, I see an invisible glass cube that I could become convincingly trapped within. Sometimes I feel the pressure to conceal my passion for the arts, just to live up to the gritty, tough, no-nonsense, investigative hotshot image that I know everybody secretly holds of me. But, I have to remain true to myself. As my closest associates would agree, I just can’t pretend.

So there I was, mime cycling down the esplanade; the wind blowing through the little bits of my hair that were sticking out of my helmet. In my current state of hindered leg movement, I was grateful for the mostly downhill route.

As I continued upon my way, I felt the impulse to purchase lipstick. Why not, I say. I’ve earned it.

So I stop at the next lipstick shop- a local lipstick retail chain named Facegash. And while I’m in there, testing out colours, I suddenly remember that I’ve neglected to lock up my mime-bike. Indeed, I’ve forgotten to park it altogether, and it dawns on me that I’m actually still riding. Indoors.While testing lipsticks. Quite the faux pas. I remove my helmet, and severely reprimand myself. This is no way for a Private Investigator to behave. But I’m really in the mime zone, and don’t want to break character. My insolence infuriates me. Maybe it’s just all the stress of the last six weeks catching up with me, but I lose my cool, and punch myself. Pretty soon, it’s an all-in mime brawl, and I find myself challenging a teenage bystander to a duel with a retractable lipliner pencil.

I’m promptly kicked out of Facegash.

Not for the cycling, or the fighting, but for attempted shoplifting. Unbelievable. Obviously I’d never do such a thing, but the young lady working the counter insists that she saw me. I try to explain that I was simply miming shoving a tube of Vixen 006 up my sleeve, but she doesn’t buy it. Well then, neither will I. I’m not gonna give these amateurs my patronage after being falsely accused of the very crimes I work so hard every day to thwart.

Eventually, after a few choice words over the phone from Inspector Lieutenant Chief, the Facegash staff are convinced. They apologise profusely, and offer me a 3% discount on my next purchase of over $500.00.

Still, I’m so shaken up from the experience, that it takes me a full two blocks of walking to realise that I’ve left my bike back at the store.

Shit.

I trudge back to Facegash, and ask after my bike. They say, no, we haven’t seen it. I say, well yeah, that’s because it’s invisible. Lady behind me has overheard the conversation, and points to a cafe across the road. Is that it?, she asks. No, that’s a cafe, I reply. No, no, in front of it, she says. Oh, I see it now. Looks like it, I say. How did it get over there, I wonder. Maybe it rolled over there, the lady speculates. Hmmm, maybe, I agree. This street is on a bit of a slope. I thank the lady for all her help, and make my exit.

I hop onto my mime-bike, and pedal for about 20 metres before I land a flat tyre. Typical. I chain the bike up, and continue on foot. I’ll come back for it tomorrow.

About thirty minutes later, I’m nearing home. All of a sudden, I find myself distracted by the lack of bakeries in this particular neighbourhood. In my disquiet, my gaze drops to the ground.

That’s when I see it.

***

Grey- almost the exact shade of grey as the concrete it’s sprawled upon- it’s a wonder I notice it at all. At first glance it appears to be some sort of misshapen, yet oddly regal sparrow; grey wings outstretched defiantly, like Kate Winslet in that famous scene from Titanic. But upon closer inspection, its true form becomes apparent.

Despite the fact that it’s a little mangled (from what I automatically deduce to be about 5 hours, 32 minutes and 44.3 seconds of ceaseless pedestrian trampling ), the quality is immediately obvious. It looks as though it’s made out of actual hair. This aint no joke ‘stache from the $2 shop that comes complete with a crude plastic nose and conjoined glasses. It’s not even like one you’d find at a swanky costume shop. This is a high class faux mo’. The kind of false moustache a classy, cold blooded killer might wear. Or a dirty, lowly, beat poet, who steals moustaches because he lacks the life skills necessary to grow one.

I steady myself. My heart is pounding like a warehouse rave from half a block away. I know I’m on holiday, but detective work is in my blood. Mime may be my mistress, but investigation is my wife, and at the end of the day, she still bakes a bloody good lasagna. My instincts tell me to go with it. There’s a reason I’ve stumbled upon this majestic pseudo soupstrainer today. Yes, the Unsolved Mystery Gods are trying to tell me something, and have surely conspired to place this fraudulent facefuzz directly upon my path.

Kneeling down, I discreetly scream out in pain as my poor, not-quite-recovered bladder is squashed mercilessly by my other organs due to my hunched over position. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. C’mon Ricksta, I tell myself. This is no time to cave. I reach into my pocket for my emergency tweezers, and gently begin to lift one corner of the moustache . There’s a slight resistance, as the foot traffic has done an effective job of flattening it tight against the grimy pavement. Gently gently, centimetre by centimetre, I carefully peel the noble mo’ from the ground. When at last, I have it, I place it in an empty marmalade jar ( clean of course, with the label steamed off ) , then walk the remaining 598 steps home.

***

To be continued….pretty soon. Give it a few days, to be safe.