There are THREE Dogs On The Isle Of Man

My head is a bit like an indoor jumble sale. One of those village hall ones where old ladies in hats gather, officiously, to make sure that the younger generation learn the value of thrift. (The fact that the younger generation aren’t even there in attendance is beside the point. They should be there, so the old ladies have to go too. It’s their duty, and they’re big on duty. And thrift).

It’s not the old ladies that make my head like a jumble sale, though. And it’s not the peeling paint on the walls or the faint smell of wee either. Rest assured, my head doesn’t smell of wee. No, what makes my head like those jumble sales is the camouflaged chaos. The tables are lined in tidy rows, the goods are organised neatly – almost lovingly – on top and the stallholders look competent and friendly. On the surface, at least, everything is organised and predictable. But underneath? Underneath it’s chaos. The tables are mismatched and most of them have wobbly legs. The stallholders are winging it, uncertain of their pricing and praying to God that no one tries to haggle. And the goods on the table, so carefully arranged, are the weirdest collection of object d’art that you’ll ever see. Pigs heads and luminous brooches. Steel dentures. Lambswool nosewarmers, toy monacles and broken spoon-rests. All these things hidden, waiting, in plain sight to be discovered and goggled at. That’s my head.

The random chaos of my head manifests itself in various ways. Strange notions, weird superstitions, OCDs. And, strangest of all, random sentences that spring into my head fully formed, apropos of nothing. Perhaps the oddest of these sentences – and certainly the one that returns most frequently – has always been this:

“There are no dogs on the Isle Of Man”

Told you it was odd. It’s been popping into my head for years. When I wake up in the middle of the night, when I’m walking home from work or when I’m staring into a cupboard trying to decide what to eat. It falls from a clear blue sky then zooms off again, squawking, to bother someone else. Like that distant cousin that pops in for biscuits every time they let him out of the asylum.

“There are no dogs on the Isle Of Man”

Same crazy eyes, same worn-out tank-top. Never staying. Never explained. Never changing. Until now.

Because on Wednesday last it did change. I was lying in bed as normal, watching the daylight creep across the sheets, and suddenly it was there. In a different tank top.

“There are THREE dogs on the Isle Of Man”

Three dogs! Not no dogs! Three dogs! It was like being hit by a brick. Three dogs. Three dogs, by God, three dogs after all this time. All these years. Where had they come from? What were they doing there now? What had changed? Why had it changed? Questions. Questions.

It was gone again as quickly as it arrived, but I was in no doubt that it had changed. It wasn’t just wishful thinking. Three dogs, not none. New tank-tops. New improved crazy eyes. Three dogs on the Isle Of Man.

I haven’t heard anymore about the dogs since last Wednesday, but I will. Soon, probably. And when I do there will still be three of them. Not none. Those days are gone. I don’t know how I know that, but I do. We’re in the Age Of Three Canines now, for good or ill, and I will have to adapt to a new strangeness, a new set of dentures on the rickety table. There are three dogs on the Isle Of Man, and things will never be the same again.

Three Dogs On The Isle Of Man

At last! Three dogs upon the isle
Where none have been before
I don’t know where they’ve come from
I’ve no clue if there’ll be more.
Three dogs on the Isle Of Man
The canine drought is done
Three dogs on the Isle Of Man
Where there was always none.
Three dogs on the Isle of Man
Those words from clear blue sky
There are three dogs on the Isle Of Man
And one day I’ll know why.


Doubting Tommy

Wrote this today while I walked home from work.

Doubting Tommy

“Oh ye of little faith!” they said

And thought that I was silly,

But still I couldn’t couldn’t countenance

That God could have no willy.


“But what about his son?” I said

“That Jesus bloke that died –

How’d his mum get pregnant?

How’d God’s semen get inside?”


“Immaculate Conception, dolt!”

Said Sister with a sneer,

“Mary was a virgin!”

Then she cuffed me round the ear.


“Balderdash! What rot!” said I

“You nuns are full of cack!”

So they took me to the basement

And they put me on the rack.


“A stretch will do you good,” they said

“And stop you being so silly.”

But it didn’t. I’m now 9ft 10

But God’s still got a willy.

Burning The Wife

I hate Time. Not in an abstract, oh doesn’t time go too fast type of way but in a real, tangible sense. He’s my arch nemesis.Think Churchill and Hitler. Holmes and Moriarty. He-Man and Skeletor. I hate him, loathe him, despise him and I would cross burning coals to get the better of him. I would sellotape my nipples to a train-door and tell the guard to blow his whistle if it meant that I could, just once, look Time in the eye and stick my fingers up his nose. He’s a bastard, and someone needs to take him down.

The thing about Time, you see, is that he’s relentless. Like the Terminator. A massive steam-roller, flattening the 3D ‘Now’ into unreachable 2D ‘Then’. Just rolling on and on and on forever, turning real life into memories, mistakes into regrets. There’s no arguing with him. No pleading with him. No way to avoid him. All you can do is keeping on running ahead of the roller, trying not to get flattened. And, in the end, you’ll run out of steam and you will get flattened. Because Time always wins. Like I said, he’s a bastard.

Almost everything bad in life can be blamed on Time. Sour milk. Rotten apples and brown bananas. Body odour, dandruff and halitosis. Hunger. Degenerative illness. Regret, unfulfilled ambition, tiredness, boredom. Long days at work, short days not at work, monthly bills, interest rates, inflation, out of control debt and the ever present, nagging sensation that doors are closing all around you and that you’re being funnelled into a test tube in an experiment that you never signed up for. None of these would be possible without Time.And that’s just life itself. What about death? There would be no death without Time. And when it comes to death and Time, the most annoying thing –  the most annoying, unforgivable, inhuman thing – isn’t that he kills you, but that he refuses to leave you alone once you are dead. He worries away at you like a dog with a bone. Erasing your existence, wearing away people’s memories of you until you’re nothing but a footnote in history. Gnawing at your earthly remains, bringing decay and degeneration and a return to the dust from whence you came. Give me Hitler over Time any day – at least he had nice legs.

I was thinking about all this today, and I realised that there IS a way to get one over on Time. A way to win a small victory, even if it is a pyrrhic one. There’s no way to do it whilst you’re alive, of course. Not without going all Doc Brown and messing with the space-time continuum, anyway. That war is unwinnable, lost before we start. But you can win a battle once you’re dead. All you have to do is be cremated. Just have yourself burned, it’s as easy as that. Burn your remains so that Time can’t get his hands on them. Turn yourself into ash so that he can’t turn you into dust. Deny him your body. Leave him with nothing to play with and to ruin. It’s a small victory, as I said, but it’s a victory none the less. Something to savour. One in the eye for Time, and a finger up the nose to boot.

I urge you. I implore you. Join me in this rebellion. Have yourself burnt, not buried. Deny Time his small pleasures, and regain control over your own inevitable demise. “Ash, Not Dust” shall be our slogan, and we shall march through the streets with placards and banners, baring our naked buttocks at the steam-roller behind and refusing to be cowed. He may take our present and turn it into past, he may take our youth and turn it into infirmity and he may even take our life itself – but he will not have our dust.

I can only ask this of you, of course. I cannot demand or expect it. Everyone’s corpse is their own to do with as they please. But, having said that, I am a modern man and my wife is a modern woman – so I’ve made an executive decision and decided that she will be burnt too. I’m sure she won’t mind. I love her, and Time isn’t having her dust, it’s as simple as that. This was quite a momentous decision, so I wrote a poem about it. It’s called Time Shall Not Win, and it’s below.

Time Shall Not Win

Your hands shall not decay, my love
Beneath the mud and dirt
Those hands that oft caressed me,
Smoothed the creases in my shirt.
Those hands that held our children
Shall not rot, exposing bone
They will not lie unclasped, my love
Beneath the earth, alone.

Your hands shall not decay, my love
Dread Time will never win,
I shall snatch your hands from his, my love
And kiss the soul within.
Your hands will burn with fire, my love
The flames will set them free
To rise into the sky above
And wave goodbye to me.

Figuring out weather

I’ve been trying to figure out weather. I haven’t got very far. It’s just too full of contradictions. Take sunshine, for example. The sun is very hot, and sometimes when the sun is out the weather is very hot too. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s freezing when the sun is out. That’s understandable when it’s windy as well as sunny, but sometimes the sun is out and the air is calm but it’s still cold. So, logically, that must mean that sun and wind have no relation to ambient temperature. Except that’s bollocks. Because sun and wind do affect the temperature.

If logic is bollocks, and sun and wind do have an effect on temperature, then that effect must be unlogical, random, unpredictable. In which case all those weathermen on the telly are talking out of their arse. They must have no more idea about incoming weather than we do. So they should be fired. We should close down the Met Office and use the savings to fund research into something more useful. Like chocolate kettles or left handed rakes, perhaps. Or – whisper it gently – a robot that can figure out the weather.

The sun is bright, the sky is clear
But more than that I’ve no idea
Freezing? Boiling? Don’t ask me –
I hate you, Meteorology.

M1 Southbound

Southwards, ever southwards
Far beneath a Simpsons sky
Grinding past the landmarks
As the settlements fly by.
Doncaster and Maltby
Sheffield, Worksop, lots of sheep.
Power stations, Mansfield
Tibshelf coffee, fighting sleep.
50 zones and traffic cones
No workers can be seen
Windmills spinning slowly
Webs of power, clean and green.
Donnington and Shepshed
Down to Leicester Forest East
A footbridge crosses overhead
The traffic has increased –
Lorries, coaches four-by-fours
And hatchbacks by the score
Timid mice and roadhogs
Wives and girlfriends looking bored.
Watford Gap, where football fans
Are always hanging round
Then off at 16a at last
M40, homeward bound.
No crowds to meet and greet us
Simply Oxfordshire at peace
Hills and fields and hues of green
A sense of sweet release
From the weight of being absent
And the heavy Northern air,
The motorway was trying
But I’m home, that’s all I care.

Scavengers Of Horus

I start work at stupid o’clock every day, which means that I get to see 6am in all its myriad forms. At present I walk through town just as the buildings on the horizon are turning grey, and as the first hints of purple hit the sky.

There are a fair few people about, despite the early hour, but they’re quiet – almost silent – as they go about their business. No-one ever shouts before the dawn. But seagulls, on the other hand? Noisy bastards to a man.  There was a flock of them overhead this morning, divebombing pigeons and stealing their chips whilst screaming blue murder. Then, all at once, they rose into the sky and buggered off back to sea. Which was my cue to write a poem…

What noise! The seagulls circle
Up above at 6 am
Round and round they hurtle
Round and round and round again.

Drawn by chicken drumstick bones
And chips left on the street
They’ve left their natural seaside homes
To forage, and to eat
In Reading, umpteen miles inland
Before the sun’s arrived –
They woke at 4am, as planned
Were here by ten past five.

How they scream in harmony
Above the Metro Bank
Before they head back out to sea
Without a word of thanks,
Godspeed then, noisy scavengers
May Horus guard your fate.
Farewell then, noisy scavengers
Be gone. The dawn awaits.

The Prophetic Bottom

I’ve always loved Bottom. The comedy program that is, not the wobbly hairy things above a man’s legs. I love all the episodes (although the 3rd series went a bit downhill) but one of my favourites is ‘Apocalypse’.

In this episode, Eddie and Richie visit a fairground and, in a bid to escape a man they’ve shot in the eye with an air-rifle, they end up in the tent of a crooked fortune teller. The fortune teller (Liz Smith – brilliant) tells Richie that “Before the moon rises three times.. you’re gonna die!” And here’s where I get to the point of this essay….

Richie, the most gullible man in the world, falls for this rubbish hook line and sinker. He is completely terrified by his impending death, and decides to take preventative measures: he turns the sofa upside down, covers it in blankets and proceeds to spend the next three days hiding underneath. He won’t come out for any reason, and he wont even eat any food unless Eddie has safety-tested it first.

A bit of an extreme reaction, perhaps, but nonetheless that is exactly what I would be doing now if I was a celebrity over the age of fifty. Every time I see such a celeb on the telly I’m thinking “What are you doing you idiot?! Don’t you know this is 2016? Haven’t you heard! Hide, you fool! Hide, hide! Take cover under your sofa and cower ’til we get to 2017!”

I’m not exactly sure just what 2016 has against celebrities, but whatever it is it has to be pretty big. You don’t kill this many stars on a whim. This isn’t just a case of “Celebrity X didn’t return my lawnmower and I don’t like his eyes – they’re too close together”. This is serious. This is major. Someone has fucked 2016 over in a hardcore way, and now it wants revenge. And somewhere, somewhere there’s a celebrity who knows why. A celeb who knows exactly what’s got 2016 all annoyed, and who is, right at this very  moment, hiding under his sofa.

So here’s a message for this celeb. This parasitic, cowardly star who won’t come out and face the music. The message is simply this: “Show yourself! Own up! Show a tiny bit of honour and sacrifice yourself for the sake of your celebrity colleagues! You owe it to mankind!”

I don’t see why this poor excuse for a celebrity should be allowed to live whilst other, nobler souls are lost. I don’t want to lose any more Victoria Woods, or David Bowies. Or even Ronnie Corbetts, although he did scared the shit out of me as a kid. It’s time for the scumbag concerned  to show himself, and to face the music (assuming there’s anybody left to play the music by then, of course).

So if you’re the guilty party then reveal your identity now, I beg you! And if you’re one of his friends then grass on him, dob him in, throw him to the wolves! And if you’re just a common or garden celeb aged over fifty… get yourself under that sofa! Now! Before it’s too late!