I’ve been travelling a fair bit this week, by road and by rail.

A few things stand out.

1. Deer and people throw themselves in front of moving vehicles.

2. Both forms of transport are bad for your diet.

3. Telegraph poles and sleepers are omnipresent. All that wood. All the wasted wood cut away and left to turn to dust to make that wood good. What good could, would and should that good wood be, make and do?

Here’s a sweet wrapper calculation: 225,000 miles of road in Britain, of which at least a third holds poles at 30 yards apart = 58 x 75,000 = 4,350,000 poles standing and a few thousand hanging around in creasote begging for another life.

Plus, 10,072 miles of rail In Britain, with sleepers set at a yard apart = 10,072 x 1760 = 17,726,720 sleepers doing a critical job and some of its sisters on the dole in some lumberjack shirted yard destined for raised beds and lettuces.

Ignoring the creasote and usefulness issues for a second, imagine we repurposed that wood to make a town, a new town made from old stock. We call it Salvageton or something equally descriptive so it is what it says on the sign. We build a school from scrap and even a hospital from filthy waste using some natural form of sterilisation such the aseptic steam method pioneered in Germany. Children are born here with an inherent appreciation of using what they find rather than nipping out to B & Q, who pay extortionate amounts to sponsor the town in return for no logo. It grows, messily, grubbily, dare I say it, organically. Kevin McCloud moves in. Frank Gehry pitches an idea which the town rejects for being too wasteful, Frank tries again. This time they pass his design for a forest. And they all sleep hummingly every after.


She assumed motherhood had run its course since the day her only child failed to live out his 2nd birthday. How wrong she was. Deep into her 40’s, she gave birth to a replacement son on the proviso that she, and later he, would know the exact length of his life as soon as he was born. Pre-elective C-section, she signed on the dotted line just hours before the incision. As he grew into his teens and subsequent manhood, she procrastinated over the announcement assuming that if she kept the deathdate to herself, he might outlive it. As d-day loomed, she attempted to control proceedings by inviting a family friend and his surgeon wife round for supper. Fatefully, she was summoned to an emergency with no notice. Mother & son faced the countdown together although unlike her, he was not expecting the bullet.

It all came out in court and led to the first amendment of human rights whereby every child born will be told when he or she will die, down to the last tragic second. It tore the economy out of life cover and pensions, and brought companies to their knees who’d gambled on the random nature of longevity. Funerals became life-leaving-do’s. Mass loss of life to plane crashes and homicidal incidents were cut by two thirds thanks to people knowing when and enabling others to avoid that given moment. Population fell initially, but mankind adjusted. Our species was twinned with lemmings.

DO NOT READ (# 74,898)

There comes a time, a point in your life, probably in the second half, when devoting time to reading a novel is time that is stolen from the very act of living. It is a prelude to dying, an accelerated journey to death, a pointlessness even though it should be life-enhancing, life-affirming.

Books have a lot to answer for.


I can’t recall the film, but it went something like this.

Moth 1: Stay away from the light.

Moth 2: I can’t help it, it’s so beaudiful.

Moth 2 is electrocuted.

Moth 1 leaves the world of movies and ends up here tonight, at midnight exactly, in an oak barn deep in the backwaters of Devon. My screen isn’t the florescent death-wish that accounted for his friend, but it’s the same instinct – the one light in a dark room. Now he’s gone, off to sleep and he’s taking this screen with him, a comfort blanket that gives a new feeling to the word ‘comfort’.

O’BAMA (# 74,900)

The search for the lost apostrophe.


What a line.

If he achieves nothing else with his presidency of (possibly) the most powerful nation on earth, in my book Barack will have achieved greatness with this one-liner after a pint of Guinness in Ireland today, at the almost untraceable birthplace of his great, very-great, uber-great grandfather.

Tell me people of Germany, is Angela this funny?

And Sarkosy fans and Putinites, do your leaders make you laugh with them, not at them.

If so, please send your stand-up scriptwriters to 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA.


And this will be the only real time witness on record. They will scour the entry for meaning and hope to find threads to Al Qaeda, or Sectarianism, or some suppressed psychosis that can provide an answer for the families of those mourning the loss of my fellow passengers.

Don’t tempt fate, I hear the non-conspiracy theorists among you cry. What kind of a story would it be without an irreversible moment that would render you helpless? Not a very interesting one I’d guess. So go with the downhill, kamikaze, out-of-control flow and accept the imminent catastrophe. Accept, like the second plane going into the last standing twin tower, that you’ll read this and later see/read/hear the headline news of the 10:06 from Paddington derailing and wiping out a ninth of its passengers. Enquiries will prove fruitless and seek blame to no avail. New safety measures will be demanded but not acted upon as network rail reneges on the interest payments of its £34bn debt.

Hope will come via Hollywood, who’ll construct a screenplay around the tragedy with Sean Penn playing the role of the messenger who the rest of the world want to assassinate. With little time left, all that needs to be said is for you all to seize the moment before it’s snatched away from you.


She loved shoes. It started young. Age 6, she knocked out her milk teeth in successive nights to earn enough money to get her first heels. She loved shoes to such an extent that on a big night out she’d walk on all fours just to wear two pairs at once. Sad then, that her days would end this way.


My neighbour’s chickens aren’t well. In fact, they’re dead. Last night, all blood-curdling-hell broke loose. Evidence points to a fox with a streak as mean as Frederick West, but without the giveaway hair and abattoir eyes. Ordinarily, like your friendly neighbourhood psycho, a fox will not stop until he has killed all before him. But some for some strange reason, this Travis Bickle-with-a-tail felt a streak of humanitarian soul race through him after mauling the eighth bird to gougons. The ninth hen is a wreck, but she is alive.

Now the accepted wisdom is poultry has no feelings, or at least that’s what the late Bernard Matthews would’ve liked us to believe. But what if this brave egg-laying hero could tell us what had happened?  What if she could gather her thoughts and stand up in an animal farm court and pick out the fox in a line-up against the cat, the falcon, the hyena, and the other usual and unusual suspects?  Imagine her compassion if she could learn to forgive the banged-up fox and visit him, fighting his case as he awaits Death Row, maybe even falling for him as Susan Sarandon once did in a movie. In fact, imagine Susan Sarandon playing the chicken. What would she wear? Which then begs the question, who would play the fox?

Suggestions, in a wholemeal wrap, to: The Coen Brothers


60 seconds is quicker than a minute. It just is. This is not a trick of the counting mind. Stare at a clock with seconds counting down and time will pass by in less time than it takes to stare at a minute hand swing round to its next increment.

But there’s more to it. Time counted down goes faster than time totting up. It fools our mind into thinking about the end, a dramatic end, a death if you like. This fatality causes mild panic in our hearts and causes them to beat like mad and hence distort the rhythm of our breathing. If you feel I’m lying and not time itself then bid on ebay and watch the time left clock eat away at your nerves, slowly accelerating until the last few seconds are mild hyperventilation. As I write I am 4m 51s away from deciding the fate of a vintage puzzle for my 2 year old’s birthday. If I fail to read the signals of time and stall, it will be because I was not in the moment.

So, this phrase – in the moment. Is this true time or suspended time? We can only say when we’re there, in there, inside that bubble of time feeling giddy with happiness.

Guess what. I slipped out of the moment and missed my bid. I didn’t win my ebay item. Time ate me up. I am now in search of lost time.

Marcel…Marcel…where and when are you Marcel?


Politicians and correspondents are hardly lovers. They relish ripping each other’s integrity to pieces. For decades now, the world (and its dysfunctional human machinations) has been run by journalists via the media and more latterly via the freedom of speech through social networking.

So, in light of the hypocrisy surrounding Andrew Marr’s infidelity, the time has come for a job swap experiment.

If Sky = Tories, the Beeb = Labour, ITV = Lib Dems and C4 = others, then we can announce a refreshing reshuffle in the cabinet and opposition for the summer of 2011, knowing that Britain will be better off with the following people in positions of power.

Prime Minister: James Murdoch

Deputy Prime Minister: Adam Crozier

Leader of the Opposition: Mark Thompson

Leader of the Lib Dems: Adam Crozier

Chancellor: Michael Wilson

Shadow Chancellor: Stephanie Flanders

Foreign Secretary: Jeremy Paxman (he’ll defect soon, just wait)

BBC CEO: Ed Milliband

ITV CEO: Nick Clegg

C4 Joint CEO’s: Alex Salmond & Caroline Lucas

SKY CEO: David Cameron

And so on…

Now, imagine they form a media-political coalition across all media owners and political parties. Yes, really. It could, with a hurricane of goodwill, put an end to our national self-destructive civil war of words and opinions on how to run the country and motivate its citizens to drag us back into the black.

Let’s have an online referendum on it.

All those in favour of a job swap, say ‘AYE’.

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