– Ey, were that the “Friday is the lord’s fish day” bloke?  Seriously, that were him outside.

– What you on about, he’s been dead donkey’s years.

– No way, that were defo him.  He had the hat on, the weird stick thing, the lot.  Honestly mate, that were him just walked past and round there.  Serious man.

– Nah mate, me dad did his funeral.  His real name were Boghill or summat.  Francis Boghurst or summat.  His dad were a mad Jesus bloke and him and his sister both ended up nutters or summat.


No, Jacob, you can’t get out of the car.  The reason is that the giraffes are very big and they could kill you.  Yes, I know they’re herbivores.  I didn’t say they would eat you, I said they could kill you.  Yes they could, Jacob.  They could stomp on your head and squish your brains out of your nostrils.  Or they could kick you so hard your spine shatters like china, and you fly thirty feet through the air before landing in a grotesquely motionless heap on a poorly maintained patch of bark chippings.  In front of everybody, Jacob.  Now come on, act your age, not your shoe size.

Kids were going wacko for the Bablake Jazz.  We’d never heard anything quite like it, and me, Jippy and the rest of the gang would while away countless hours after school and at weekends, riffling through sides by groups like the Jabbers, the Figbags, the Martineau Planks, and the Boosters, down at Rageh’s Records, behind the old telephone exchange.  The shell’s still standing, but it’s a fake tan place now, I think.

Most Friday nights we’d catch some of the hot new acts, and usually a favourite or two, down at Smedley’s Cakes, a ramshackle old family bakery with a converted cellar.  I say ‘converted’, the damn place was as shoddy as the cake shop itself.  But ah, the wine flowed, the smoke wisped, the walls whispered.

Big Jackie Flagons used to take care of the MCing duties.  He had a minor stroke one memorable night, right after introducing the Goosedrifters, right there under the cake shop.  Jippy and a few of the other lads stepped in after that, taking it in turns to talk the groups up to the hungry audience, among which I preferred to remain, front and centre, swigging wine from the bottle, frantically waving my tricorn hat, yelling primally with demented joy, drowning in Bablake.

Me sister got me and the wife Carol Shadrahan tickets for Christmas, so I was duty bound to go.  We got to the arena just shy of four hours early, what with the parking and the wife hankering all week for one of them gourmet burgers they’ve got down the canalside.  We went in round about half past seven, still a good hour before the support act was supposed to come on.

The wife sat and had a big Pepsi in one of them bucket cups.  I sat there on me phone, checking the scores.  Eventually, after us both having to stand up half-a-dozen times for people who couldn’t be bothered showing up early enough to be the ones doing the standing, on comes the support act.

What a bloody racket.  Load of crap these are, I says to the wife.  Shut up, she says, one of them girls on the left, her auntie’s one of the afternoon girls at the shed.  If you’ve got nothing nice to say, keep your mouth shut.  By ‘the shed’ she meant the mutton abattoir down the Dangs where she does four mornings a week.  They sometimes overlap in the canteen with the afternoon shift, so I suppose it’s only proper she felt invested in this girl.  Fair enough, I says, maybe they’re not all that bad.  They were, though.  Right load of rubbish.  In the end I was glad when Carol Shadrahan come on.

Washing machine hole.  Bean can lid.  Candle leavings.  Hob knob.  Mug mouth.  Fibrous hot mat.

Cupboard door.  External window.  Reinforced glass board.  Electricity outlet housing.  Fish label.  Goat magnet.

Iron foot.

Long and thick
Grinder.  Cucumber.  Spray oil canister.  Banana.

Long and thin
Mop.  Chopstick.  Bean.

Fibrous mop head.  Plant.  Potato.  Peel pile.  Puddle.  Suds.

Dextrous flag bins germane sand octagon merman jasmine burnish divots paunch soliloquy Gurkha blasting special morning telethon springs rector hatch backwards mercantile trolley gaps parson buffoon terminus actorly pertain gladhand trench chest penchant ravioli splendour matricide slaw jive waxen carrot sender coolly boxcar lassitude van gloss trammel leakage gong basin easterly jig hag starch banquet paucity box element perish guesswork bodkins awful magenta crackling Gershwin lustre maximal pie.

Astrid zapped Bill; Yasmin clobbered Xavi; Diarmuid walloped Erin; Vern flattened Ulric; Gladys twatted Howard; Serge iced Regina; Jasper quartered Kelvin; Petronella lamped Olive.  Me?  Non-violence.

Lamaal looked down, noticing gratefully yesterday’s sausages still looking good.  Dang good.  Damned darn nice.  Except!  Two others, slipped down next to Oscar’s slop, prompted disgust.  “To Oscar!” retched dismal Lamaal.

A corpse wearing a fez.  Bondsmen quaffing bubbly.  Cardinals bickering over syntax.  Dodgy uncles consoling the widow.  Every vehicle robbed of its satnav.  Filthy Jasper dribbling over the gateau.  Grandma absolutely out of it.  Half-siblings chatting up half-siblings.  In the best tradition, a dire singer.  Jasper, that filthy sod, making a filthy mess of Naaqtuuq’s umiaq.  Kids hurtling around going ‘beep’.  Lax parents allowing a toddler to misuse a bongo.  My god; it put, in funeral, the fun.