An irritating, and painful, habit of mine is the chewing away at the inside of my own mouth. Biting so hard that blood is regularly drawn. Chomping the flesh as if it were a legitimate snack.

Disappointingly, I have absolutely no rational explanation for this peculiar oral fixation. Even though I am aware of it, and try my best not to indulge it, I invariably find myself – while reading a good book, say, or surfing the internet – gnawing the interior cheek tissue with gay abandon. For what possible purpose did I begin this weird addiction?

God knows, it cannot be good for me. Hopefully it isn’t weakening my immune system or slowing my metabolism. I have no idea, though perhaps it might explain why my body is so thin. Just imagine, there is a possibility – however faint – that I’m some sort of repressed cannibal!

Kooky notions aside, there is one plausible basis for what’s happening. Life, in general, makes me pretty anxious, and unlike a lot of anxious folk I don’t tend to chew my fingernails, so… Might that account for my odd nibbling? Now that I think about it, I do occasionally chew at the area immediately around my nails… Oh sweet Moses, I am some hideous variant of flesh-reaper!

Pity’s sake, get a hold of yourself man. Quit the hysterical hand-wringing, for once. Really though, why do I find it so impossible to stop? Scarring my own mouth, that’s all I’m achieving.

There’s got to be somebody out there – a doctor, or psychologist perhaps – who can tell me what caused this bizarre habit. Until I find that perspicacious person however, all I can do it attempt to distract my teeth with other nibbly bits. Very tasty nibbly bits.

What do you think I ought to do, dear reader? X-ray myself, at a dentist or hospital? You would think, if that was any solution, that they would have spotted the root of the matter when I had my wisdom teeth removed… Zapping myself with radiation doesn’t hold any particular enthusiasm for me, I must admit.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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The Devil Reincarnate

I can’t remember my first death. It was at least a thousand years ago though – of that I can be sure; vague recollections of Hastings occasionally come to mind, as well as the knowledge that as I took to the field that day, it was not the first lifetime in which I had waged war. However, the memory of my passing at some point during that battle also escapes me. As do the memories of many of my subsequent fatalities… Perhaps, as the final flourish of our life story is signed, we fall prey to a kind of amnesia. Is it a version of the amnesia that causes almost all mortals to believe that their current existence is the only one they will have?

It was not until the 16th Century that I would suffer a termination I could later recall in detail. A mightily stupid wound it was too; chasing my childhood friend Jean through the bocage of Normandy, I became tangled up in a particularly dense hedgerow and, in my enthusiasm to break free, subsequently tripped, cracking my head open on the edge of an unfortunately-placed rock. By the time Jean had so much as turned around to see what had become of my pursuit, I was dead. That occurred on my eighth birthday. The year was 1527 C.E. Fifteen lifetimes ago.

When will my torment end?

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Sylvia Pankhurst on the 1916 Rising

the irish revolution

Sylvia Pankhurst was a leader of the struggle for women’s right to vote in Britain.  Primarily involved in organising working class women in the East End of London, she was increasingly attracted to Marxism.  Her support for workers’ struggles led to her being expelled from the bourgeois-feminist Women’s Social and Political Union, led by her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel.  While the feminist family members turned into warmongers in the First World War, Sylvia organised against the war on a working class and anti-imperialist basis.  She was one of the small handful of major figures on the British left who supported the national liberation struggle in Ireland, including the 1916 Rising.  This article was originally published in the Women’s Dreadnought of May 13, 1916, the day after the last of the executions of leaders of the Rising.  The paper soon after changed its name to Workers Dreadnought.   The…

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Three eyesore apartment blocks. One laundromat, ironically the filthiest establishment in town. A garage with an overworked mechanic. An underutilized library, with no books published after 1975.

Two greasy diners, on either edge of the dustbowl – rumour has it that the enmity between their respective proprietors dates back to Vietnam. The cop shop, with one grizzled, indolent sheriff and his over-eager, inquisitive black deputy.

Finally, the XtraStore, where the local kingpin launders his ill-gotten gains and keeps his ear to the ground.

Welcome to Exultation, South Dakota.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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Someone had to be first

How many days has it been since last I caught a fish? Long enough that I’m giving serious consideration to eating my own hair. Before I resort to that, there are a number of other…unsavoury options. Why has it come to such unappealing choices?

The rest of my tribe departed this coastline many days ago. They left me behind because, they say, I lacked the necessary hunting ability to pull my weight in the group. It certainly appears that they were right, if my subsequent lack of success in the angling department is anything to go by. On the other hand, the entire reason that the clan decided to relocate was down to the dwindling resources in this local environment, so perhaps I am being too harsh on myself.

Nonetheless, there are a number of shells in the shallows very close to the rock from which I struggle to hook marine life of the swimming variety. They are quite craggy, almost rock-like, and of a whitish, greyish, yellowish colour. On closer inspection, it seems that these shells contain a strange substance; a kind of slick, sticky membrane. Not exactly appetizing, I grant you. However, the starving man must take whatever nature provides. It could be a lifesaver.

Wish me luck, Dirawong.


Solidarity, brothers & sisters…☼


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His Mother’s Killer


“Let’s go through this one more time, just to make sure we’re clear”.

With closed eyes, a downcast expression, and a palm pressed against her forehead, Officer Winterburn was a picture of muted exasperation. The man to whom she made the request, on the other hand, was a jovial eccentric.

“Well, once I smelled the smoke I knew that it was no time to stand on ceremony, so a departure was in order… Assuming that my intimate comrade had already fled the conflagration-”

Dr. Chesterton R.D. Laingford Esq. was brought to a halt by Winterburn’s colleague, Officer McLintock, who raised a hand with a quizzical look.

“The what? You mean ‘fire’, right Mr…uh…Doctor…um…Esquire?”

Their esteemed interviewee gave a chuckle and refilled his glass from the jug of water at the table’s centre.

“It’s Laingford, dear boy, just Laingford – the Doctorate was only in Epistemology for goodness’ sake, wouldn’t want to give people the mistaken impression that I can help them with anything practical after all, best leave it out altogether, hmmm?”

At this he gave another high-pitched titter. Winterburn opened her eyes and let her hand fall to the desk with undisguised irritation. McLintock flinched, but Laingford carried on, oblivious.

“At any rate, you chaps can call me Chez. That’s what all my comrades call me after all. Possibly because I’m always lounging about? Chaise lounge? My, my name is Chesterton, you see, and-”

Winterburn made a sound uncannily similar to a growl, while McLintock simply looked baffled; the young Scot had never come across anyone like this in his entire life thus far.

“Anyhow. Where was I? Oh yes… I had assumed that my divine darling had wisely abandoned the property, and therefore required no assistance from yours truly. Thus, I was left with the twin alternatives of following her example with immediate effect, or opting to seize one item of optimum sentimental import before doing so. With incredible quick-wittedness, even if I do say so myself, I swiftly decided to grab a duberry prior to departure.”

Tired and frustrated by the events of the day, Officer Winterburn was having trouble keeping her eyes open. Her fellow copper had no such problems; he was wide-eyed at the loquaciousness of their guest, who had begun gesticulating enthusiastically at apparently random points.

“So it would have to be irreplaceable. That rules out all the electronic goods, the consumer durables, the clothing and numerous works of literature, doesn’t it? As much as yours truly is a hoarder, he can nevertheless be forced to leave the vast paraphernalia that is accrued over half a century’s existence! And when I say ‘vast’, I mean ‘VAST!'”

At this he jerked his arms wide, sending the glass of water crashing into the wall. Laingford was so engrossed in his verbose retelling that he scarcely noticed, while Winterburn proceeded to put both palms to her face. McLintock merely stared, mouth agape.

“Detritus accumulated over the decades, an immense treasure trove of unmatched value to me…however, I left it all behind. What else is there, I hear you ask?”

Tempted to deny that she had said any such thing, Winterburn instead sighed grouchily.

“I supposed that I would have to grab a photograph of my dad. My dear, departed father. The one of my mother, he and I at my PhD graduation. Didn’t have time to find any that was of just the two of us, so that one featuring the pater familias would have to do. It did make me somewhat sad, the only image I had left of him also having that bitch on it, but what else could I do?”

In unison, Winterburn and McLintock perked up. It was as if they were two hungry hounds who had just had a hunk of meat waved in front of their noses.

Solidarity, brothers & sisters…


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What must he look like to them?

Gazing around the table at those present was most informative. To Tsuchinoko, they were like a weird, jumbled-up family, or perhaps an unimpressive circus troupe. He smiled as he idly wondered what their performing roles would be. Commandant Nora…she’d be the the ‘Bearded Lady’, for sure. Granted, she had no facial hair, but nobody would dare question the tempestuous woman’s identity, and in any case her countenance was fearsome enough to overcome such an unimportant impediment. Compa Beppe…he’d be the ‘World’s Tallest Midget’. The sullen Sardinian somehow remaining studiously unimposing and diminutive despite his 6’5 frame. Dame Jason…the ‘Man With Three Breasts’. Was there anyone else in the revolutionary movement whose steps caused the ground to shake so vigorously?

Tsuchinoko was shaken from his amused reverie by a question. Stall for time – quick, look thoughtful. He removed his spectacles and began to polish them, clearing his throat and concocting a response so long-winded that nobody would be able to remember the initial enquiry. If he could be sufficiently vague and litter his discourse with enough words like ‘dialectical’, ‘interconnectivity’, ‘negation’ and ‘hermeneutics’, his supposed comrades would probably fail to spot his lack of attentiveness. After a second or two he realised that it was Marshal Cosh who had posed the question. The ‘Ringmaster’, no question. This was a typical curveball from the unpredictable but assured militant; Cosh loved to keep everyone on their toes.

While he burbled on, his eyes met the bemused gaze of Mama Didero. She knows, the bitch. Head cocked to one side, the mater familias seemed to challenge Tsuchinoko; ‘Keep digging that hole, son’. It was all he could do to retain his composure – he had long resented her manipulative ways and faux omniscience. She’d be the ‘Gypsy Fortune Teller’. Taking care not to trail off, but rather to end on a suitably pseudo-profound note – “Neither Habermas nor Foucault could have foreseen the volatile agency that the state itself has brought to bear in the hour of its most critical phase” – he took a deep swig from his hipflask. Bullfrog Petraeus noticed and made tutting noises, shaking his head mockingly. Screw you, Petr…Your perfectly hideous ogre would be a tailor-made ‘Elephant Man’.

Admirable in a way, this motley assortment of rogues, battleaxes, vandals and warriors. They had managed to unite in a manner that had heretofore eluded the vast majority of their predecessors, and could quite conceivably have succeeded in their goals were it not for Tsuchinoko’s deception. The dunderheaded security apparatus of such amateur groupings remained the great Achilles’ Heel of so many grand plans. Of mice and men, etc. These fools were set for one almighty failure – the big drop from the Big Top – and it was one of their most trusted comrades who would be responsible.


Solidarity, brothers & sisters…

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