It’s only a word.
But…it’s everywhere.
It’s verbally malignant and it’s killing us.
It’s the most overused, under-thought word of our times.

That word is ‘outcome’.

‘Outcome’ is a vile word. The dumbest word alive. The world’s worst word, possibly only superseded by ‘outcomes’.
Yes, you heard that right.


How can you trust anyone who uses the word ‘outcomes’ without hesitation or acknowledgement that it’s 100% blue-blooded bollocks? This falsely pluralised word signals an all time lingual low. It has no meaning, no propose, no soul. It’s emptier than a void. It is everything an orgasm isn’t. At its best, it’s an emasculation of the word ‘result’, forced through a mangle of new legal language just in case we get sued.

This word strangulates our health service, removing every ounce of compassion from the humans that hold it together.

‘Outcome’ is the nemesis of care. It severs the soul from those who use it freely.

This word pollutes every thread of education from womb to tomb. The system uses it (teachers don’t, children don’t, parents don’t). It’s the staple diet of every regulatory body, a public sector addiction under the same deluded spell as the economy, and football. It’s all-out destination, bypassing the love of what happens if you decide to wander off and go somewhere else. Deviation, the long lost outlaw sister of devolution.

Outcome has to go. It’s beyond room 101 – the abandoned items there are too pure to share the same atmosphere. Even hell might struggle with its presence.

The only way to eradicate it is to run with it and die with it.

Let’s fast forward our time on earth and leave it to species who can’t write, say, think or feel this word.
Let’s start a political party called ‘Outcome’.
Let’s name our children ‘Outcome’.

Let’s just stop there.
Let’s finish with a last line that oozes outcome.
Let’s stop playing because we lost to ourselves.

Which brings us to…

The end game.




When I step into the writing ring, I face 2 opponents.

Firstly, you. The Reader. You demand and deserve a rich diet of reading matter. Moral fibre, nutritious wit and raw effervescence as reward for your time and energy. You’re busy, tired, distracted. Why should you bother devoting the tiniest fraction of your life to what I, or any other writer writes?

This umbilically creates my second hurdle – words. Here is where the real fight exists. When I write, the words attack me. Dictate the pace and rhythm, Angelo Dundee whispers. Pick a lazy word and it’ll thump you, he warns. Try too hard and I’ll feel the full blooded force of a size 13 in the bollocks. Resort to cliche and the onslaught of upper cuts erupts. Any lapse in thought or conviction and the referee will step in and stop the bout.

Readers need writers need fighters, says the judge at the end of round 1.


The Pencil Pugilist


You maybe have wandered into this feeling tired, disillusioned, angered, lost or just indifferent. Whatever your emotion, I doubt it was top of the upbeat scale. We rarely start to read on a high. We read to change our mood, to lift us into a different state.

The job of the writer is to harpoon the reader without killing him/er. Then to tease, tantalise and trawl that person across an ocean of emotion, avoiding rhyme at all time.

Double sorry there.

This relationship relies on the reader succumbing, submitting to the words as they unveil themselves in an order the reader has never encountered before. They won’t know this. It’s not a cognitive process. They will either read on if it’s new, and stop it it’s not.

Staid stories seize. Fluid fiction flows, so says the poet with a face full of glue. But you, reader, need no stimulant other than the unexpected words themselves. If they are up to their potent best, they will shame any drug on earth or in hell.

There, there, sober-skulled reader, that didn’t hurt now did it?



  1. Sit by the window. If the seat is taken, ask to swap. Explain that it is a matter of life and death. Theirs. If they won’t budge, sit on their lap. If they resist, stroke them gently behind the ear, purring as you do so.
  2. Stare out of the window every 3rd word – this will kill any lazy words and turn ideas into flying stoats.
  3. Be nosy. The person opposite can’t see that you’re writing about their hair, their habits, the dark thoughts about you brewing in their head. Beware writing about the person beside you – they may lean and press chewed gum into your delete button.
  4. Feel the rhythm of the train. Write at its speed. Stop when it stops. Should it crash, don’t hang around to save your novel/screenplay/blog/tweet as you may be on fire.
  5. Drink rough red wine. They’ll sell it on board, next to the insulation-accredited muffins. If you’re driving at the other end, don’t tell the officer you were simply obeying these rules.
  6. When your words are complete, read them aloud to your fellow passengers. Should love ensue, invite us to the wedding.

ZAQIK JOX #74,857

Zaqik Jox was born lucky.

His mother knew the moment he came into the world.

He wasn’t meant to live but did.

The surgeons had written him off days before, but Mrs Jox insisted.

She knew as only a mother does. She refused to concede to no heartbeat.

She felt a different sign of life within.

Not a thump but a purr.

Her inner voice told her to ignore their scans and so called expertise.

At 23:20 on Wedsnesday 16th December 2015, she gave birth to a screaming child that had been pronounced dead up until that moment.

And so began the Pre-Euthenasia Act, or the right of PEA as it became known.

The boy was given the name Zaqik Jox, after his improbable first few seconds of life.

A name of just 8 letters that would win him the world Scrabble title by the age of 15 and a special reality guest star role in the live action Dr Seuss biopic.

I NAME THIS BABY “………” #74,858

It’s a privilege and a curse. To name something you love might seem a cinch until you get down to it and commit. Yes, a thousand names might sail through your head/heart/other organ in a matter of seconds but which one will stick?

It depends on what needs a name. Is it a baby or a boat or a bird or a band? Surely you can’t give the same name to a dog as you can to a child, or vice verse. ‘Down Christopher, pawww!”

I once knew a cat called Michael and a boy called Skippy. See, some people don’t care.

Naming a band brings untold pressure to be cool. A million journos have told this tale but here’s the best:

Last week, I saw a band with no name. They’re a bunch of 12yr olds just starting out and still thinking about it, so they said. A year old and none the wiser are their predecessors who go by the name of 6-0. Yes, named after the day Chelsea won 6-0 (so last season).

For what it’s worth (and a name can be worth as much as a million bucks if you’ve got the domain) I’ve written a few steers to help you christen the living or inanimate thing you love.


  1. READ IT, WRITE IT, SAY IT, HEAR IT – Get used to all the different modes of how you, your friends, your kin, your neighbours, your foes and your fans will come across the name. Live the name you intend to raise.
  2. FREEDOM TO GROW – Naming a child ‘Flopsy’ might not be the best idea. Names give off signals and attract stigmatism. Good names need to adapt to new trends, words, superstars, etc. Stay one step ahead. Or step sideways.
  3. POINT OF TRUTH – If there is a story behind the name, it creates meaning that gets better with age, as he or she grows into that persona and adds to the tale with every telling.
  4. VOICE – A loud name can be softened with a light voice. Or a gentle name can be hardened with a weighty voice. Sound really matters. From the first word they’ll say and learn to write, to the way you embroider their first school cardy, it’s all voice.
  5. ORIGINALITY – Rarity is priceless. Take a risk. Better to be too bold than too timid. You can always lean on a sensible middle name or suffix that aligns you to, or distances you from, the family.
  6. SIMPLICITY – A good name knows which way up it is. It can’t be mispronounced or misspelt, yet can adapt to any room in life it has to appear in. Just make sure it ain’t your own.
  7. NAMES HAVE THEIR OWN RULES – Mates may nickname you. Enemies may graffiti you. A lover may even tattoo you into their ankle. Remember, society can call you what it wants.

RUMP LIT (# 74,859)

Not quite what you’re thinking. As much as this article wants to rank the finest arses in history, it has another duty: to describe the role of the backside when it comes to writing. All but a micro-fraction of the world’s greatest novels were written in the seated position, yet we know nothing of the chairs they sat in, the slacks they wore, the cramp they fought off.

Comfort and clothing can define the rhythm of words (he says with his leaden butt sunk into a Moshi Monster beanbag, contorting the spine and distorting the story as every single polystyrene bead shifts to add its clout to the output).

Is a backrest essential or can a writer write on/from a stool? The standing novelist needs a wall to lean against. The naked writer needs a draught-free room in which to write.

My wife once got spots on her bottom from too many hours on a beaten up chair designing complex designs. Did Joyce develop piles? Does Mantel wear anti-embolism tights? Will Will Self self-harm for the good of a book? Nothing meaty worth reading was written without some kind of sacrifice.

So, short of hammering 6 inch panel pins up through your seat to feel like a fakir and not a faker, decide on what to wear and where to sit before you start on your own War and Peace.

JOYENCHOLY (# 74,861)

Dear OED,

Put down your DIY dictionary for a second, would you? There’s a knock at your door. Open it and invite the applicant in. Offer up a seat, don’t be rude now.

Allow me to present JOYENCHOLY – the state of being happy through one’s own personal sadness.

Yes, like schadenfreude, but without the sadistic buzz of someone else’s misfortune.

And a little like Anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure.

Before you find fault with its validity and ask if it’s been corroborated by qualified shrinks the world over, remember 2013’s entry into the OED…’selfie’. Now, was that rubber stamped by eminent photographers? Precisely. So, ignore the author and just feel the feeling. Yes, that gentle numbness radiating through your nerve ends, telling your sensory endings to sulk. Give in to sadness and the world looks up. Really. Pessimists are the happiest people alive. Nothing exceeds their expectations, so life turns out for the better, every time you think it won’t.

In the years to come, we shall be prescribed joyencholia by doctors and sold joyencholia by politicians. Indirectly, it could crack world peace if we only wake up and smell the stale milk within the coffee.

So, unite with me, my fellow joyencholics, and spill your glass down your front. For the in and out tray, of real emotion, shall balance inside us all.

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