Category Archives: Humour

Mashups

As a safety valve to blow off pressure caused by designing a blog and website, using WordPress, I’ve been writing a couple of short stories.

Only visiting them once every few weeks has made the characters militant, and they’ve hijacked the plot, taking it in directions I hadn’t anticipated. One story is about a hedge witch intrigued by a newcomer to her village who appears to have arcane knowledge. I intended it to be an unusual love story with spells, curses, blessings and bindings mild enough to be printed by a women’s magazine, but it’s strayed into malevolent voodoo territory.

The other story is intended as a giveaway for subscribers to my Cornish Detective website. Featuring an early investigation by my protagonist, I planned for it to be an introduction to his characteristics and how crimes committed on the spur of the moment have consequences through the ages. Instead, a ghost of one of the victims hijacked the narrative adding spookiness.

At least these tales only wandered into a similar sub-genre, but it set me to thinking about how I could introduce bizarre elements into Detective Chief Inspector Neil Kettle’s investigations. He’s already tapped into lessons his farming ancestors taught him, so I could take things further. Crime writers James Oswald, James Lee Burke and John Connolly use supernatural forces to assist their main character.

I like the idea of writing a stand-alone novel based on a mashup of eras and genres:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_novels

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/5-mashup-novels-that-offer-worthy-twists-on-the-originals/

Image result for jane austen mashup

A mashup of cavemen meeting cyborgs could be fun.

What mashup do you fancy writing?

Personality Test for Writers

I stumbled upon a test to assess what sort of personality you have as a writer.

http://greatstorybook.com/writers-personality-test-lp/

The first question is what sort of writer do you think you are? I guessed Savvy Writer, but I was wrong, for apparently I’m an Eternal Writer:

Of all the writers, you have the strongest most comprehensive grasp of the writing craft. Consequently, others don’t appreciate how hard you work at it. You make it look easy!

I don’t know about that…most of the time I feel like this:

Endoscopy & Colonoscopy

It’s a good idea to use your family’s medical history as a guide to what problems may await you; there’s no escaping genetics.

At the age of 54, I realised that I’d outlived the age my father reached by one year, and that it might pay to check for signs of what killed him—bowel cancer. He knew he had problems for twenty years, but being of a generation embarrassed about anything to do with his bum, he did nothing about it. Had he gone to the doctor, he might well have lived for another twenty years. Bowel cancer is highly treatable, if caught in the early stages.

http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?level=4&id=25759

I had experience of what might be involved in a colonoscopy, as I’d had an endoscopy two years before. This was a precautionary procedure, recommended by my doctor after I visited her on returning from America. I’d shown symptoms of stomach ulcers, while still living stateside, like a hot iron had been pressed to my tummy. It was probably caused by stress from a toxic marriage.

Back in my beloved Cornwall, the attacks diminished, but for some reason, I felt compelled to eat porridge oats and muesli of an evening, lifting pinchfuls into my mouth. I mentioned this to a hedge witch friend, who said it was a folk medicine remedy for ulcers, so perhaps my gut knew something I didn’t.

The endoscopy procedure was simple, though I’d been anxious about having a gag reflex when the cable carrying the camera was inserted down my gullet. I’d obeyed instructions not to eat anything for twelve hours beforehand, and the surgeon numbed my throat with a spray anaesthetic (that tasted of pears!) which made threading the device into my throat easy. I was laying down, unable to see the monitor screen, listening to him say “You’ve had two large ulcers, but they healed themselves really well…I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Cable removed from my throat, I told him about eating oats, which made him look at me like I was a medieval yokel who’d gone to see the medicine woman, before muttering “I’ve heard of that, but didn’t think it would work.”

Relieved at the all-clear, I decided some probing in a northerly direction was in order. My GP was delighted at my sensible decision. I duly received instructions of how to prepare for a colonoscopy. For the surgeon to see the colon, it has to be cleared of what’s lingering there…This meant not eating for a couple of days beforehand and taking purgative salts in water to act as an enema. These worked alarmingly well—inducing shit through the eye of a needle wateriness—I was afraid to cough, taking time off work to stay near the toilet.

I understand that things are easier these days, but in 2008 I felt like I’d been scraped hollow.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/how-you-can-make-colonoscopy-prep-easier

Not eating for a couple of days made me giddy, eager to get the procedure completed, so I could have a meal. I turned up at the hospital, where I had to sign waiver forms in case something went wrong. I changed into a hospital gown, exposing my buttocks for access, and padded through to the operating theatre. Where a dozen medical students stood waiting for the show!

Introduced to the surgeon, a shy Indian doctor who asked my permission to be a teaching aid, I went horizontal laying on my side on the operating table. This time, I could see what was happening to my innards, as a large LED monitor screen was in front of me, which I shared with the trainee doctors. Topical anaesthetic cream numbed my anus, so I didn’t feel much as I was probed.

Seeing what I looked like inside was surprisingly beautiful, for the image showing was tinted emerald green as the light shone on the folds of my inner tubes. It reminded me of footage shot by spelunkers who swim through flooded caverns. Occasionally, the surgeon paused to examine a section of colon, but the whole procedure was over in ten minutes. He removed the endoscope, thanking me for my cooperation, whereupon the students gave me a round of applause!

Had he found irregularities, he’d have removed tissue to biopsy, but I was given the all-clear. The worst part of the whole thing was the purging. The procedure itself was a doddle.

https://www.healthline.com/health/colonoscopy#procedure

On returning to work the next day, I told colleagues what happened, including two middle-aged men who decided to have an endoscopy. They’d been nervous about doing so, but had similar experiences to mine.

If you’re over fifty, it makes sense to have a colonoscopy.

 

The Pleasures of Pooping!

After my previous recommendations about the healing qualities of urine, I’m in danger of receiving accusations that I’m obsessed with bathroom activities!

I’m not, but peeing and pooping are something we all do, and as it’s not often spoken of, we miss out on learning about some fascinating things.

Image result for outhouse door eyes look

I came across this information in a roundabout way, while researching the vagus nerve, which will feature in my next Cornish Detective novel as a target for a torturer.

The vagus nerve is hugely influential in how the brain, lungs, heart, digestive and excretory systems work.

This fascinating answer on Quora explains why taking a poop can feel euphoric or at least like “that’s a weight off”:

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-defecating-so-pleasing

(click on more to read the whole article)

It’s amazing how much the neurons lining our gut act as a second brain—surely the source of the expression ‘gut feeling’.

At the very least, stimulating the vagus nerve by having a poop might remove your writer’s block!

I might be gone for some time.

The Yellow Stuff

I’ve never been more of what the reaction will be, as I start this thread. Many readers will be disgusted—urrgghh!—but bear with me, as there’s food for thought to come.

I’ll break you in gently, with a story:

Back in 1999, I acquired a Jaguar XJS for a bargain price, considering it was a low mileage car with only two previous owners. The couple I bought it off had doted on the car, only driving a few hundred miles a year, and storing it in a heated garage with fitted carpet. Unfortunately, the lack of use and warmth harmed the braking and cooling system by perishing the rubber hoses. Not being able to rely on stopping a heavy V12-engined car, which had become incontinent, meant rebuilding the hydraulic braking system with new lines and replacing all the water hoses.

I’m a competent mechanic, so did the work myself. Access in the engine bay was tight, with some hoses impossible to see, so some unfastening of clamps was done by feel with bare hands. I then replaced the hydraulic hoses, bleeding the system of air. I’d normally wear disposable vinyl gloves for this work, but protected my skin with a barrier cream called Rozalex, cleaning them afterwards with Swarfega.

Antifreeze fluid and hydraulic fluid are dangerous if swallowed, potentially lethal, and they can cause skin irritation. I’d never been troubled before, but this time, a really aggravating postage stamp-sized rash developed on the back of my left hand above the wrist. It was difficult to resist scratching it during the day, as it felt like a dozen ants were biting me. I tried various medicated skin creams and tea tree oil, which provided temporary relief, but the itching soon came back. One morning, I woke with the back of my hand stuck to the sheet with blood from where I’d been digging my nails into the rash.

I’d just acquired my first home computer, so went online to look for remedies, checking the active ingredients of skin creams. Most of them contain urea:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urea-containing_cream

Urea is the main nitrogen-containing substance in mammal urine. Colourless, odourless, highly soluble in water, it’s practically non-toxic. Urea in skin creams is mostly synthetically made, but I had a ready source of fresh and natural urea—me! :D

I dabbed the rash a few times daily with pee on cotton wool, and in three days it was completely healed! I was flabbergasted.

Think about it: would you rather use your own pee or processed cow urine (used in some formulations) or artificial urea containing who knows what? :(Urine is sterile, containing fewer bacteria than tap water.

Urine therapy has a long and rather secretive history, as mention of it produces hilarity and revulsion. It’s one of the facts commonly trotted out about Gandhi and actress Sarah Miles, but rock musicians Keith Richards, John Lennon and Jim Morrison all said they used it.

Urine therapy – Wikipedia

Image result for SARAH MILES ACTRESS
Sarah Miles

As for drinking it, which some swear by, I tried twice, mixing it with orange juice for palatability, but it was still rather rich! At the time, I was in the throes of giving up booze, after 27 years of alcoholism, so my body may well have been releasing all sorts of toxins that affected the taste. I decided I could be doing more harm than good by drinking it. 

After 23 years clean and sober, If I had serious health issues, I’d try it again, for, after all, the Bible says ‘Physician, heal thyself.’

I was reminded of this episode of self-healing by several recent newspaper articles on the benefits of using urine to wash hair:

Mother washes hair in pee after being inspired by woman on Ben Fogle programme | Daily Mail Online

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a urine therapy fanatic, I don’t gargle the stuff, but I do like things that work for free and which are natural.

If you’ve got an annoying rash, it could be worth a try….

(I promise I won’t tell.) ;)

(Thinks: I’d better leave this bit out of my author bio…) 

Shakespeare Underwear!

There are various ways of declaring one’s writing allegiances, including messages on T-shirts, but what about having an illustrious playwright on your underwear?

The Bard appears, along with Henry VIII, Ann Boleyn, Queen Anne and Elizabeth I on underwear sold by Not On The High Street:

https://www.notonthehighstreet.com/twistedtwee/product/henry_v111

I had the puerile thought, that a man could make Henry’s nose twitch, if he thought hard about it….

It led me to wonder which writers would be ideal candidates for appearing on undergarments. Being confronted with some authors’ faces could be off-putting. How about Charles Bukowksi howling at you?!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bukowski

Perhaps, I’d be better off sticking to (no pun intended ) someone spiritually astute, like the Dalai Lama?

Who would you have on your knickers or underpants?

Adorably Large Animals!

I previously posted about how animals can be symbolic.

But, quite how these adorably large animals could be used, outside of Fantasy or Science Fiction, I’m not sure….

Monokubo: Fantasy Digital Paintings. (scroll to the second page)

Good fun, though, and if you love the artist’s inspiration—Studio Ghibli, who made My Neighbour, Totoro—then, you’ll be captivated by the idea of having a giant creature as a companion.

It may be good fun, but I wouldn’t want to clean out the cat’s litter tray!

How to tell if you’re a Famous Writer….

First of all, forget becoming a bestseller: who cares about your sales and vast wealth? Your novel was turned into an inferior film by Hollywood, and more people watched it than have ever read your books. The publicity surrounding the movie caused a brief blip in your sales figures, as a few discerning readers sought out your back catalogue, but it didn’t last.

You’re not a household name and those that are often write inferior fiction that briefly satisfies some squalid urge. How many authors could the average dunce-in-the-street name anyway? And, most of those would be dead—classical authors they were made to read at school—putting them off reading for life.

No, what you need to happen to be really famous is to have journalists write about your sex life love life...they’ll gussy it up by pretending it’s about how your romances affected your writing, but what they really want to do is puncture your reputation as an intellectual to show you up as a lascivious beast or a repressed misanthrope or even kinky beyond imagination!

Most of these saucy tales won’t come out until you’ve been dead for a while—after all, there are libel laws—and some editors might have enough conscience left to avoid destroying a marriage or literary reputation.

Still, years later (or even as soon as you’re dead), your horizontal jogging exploits will be revealed. Books such as The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People will include a few writers’ sexual shenanigans.

www.amazon.co.uk/Intimate-Sex-Lives-Famous-People/dp/1932595295

Readers will be amazed to learn that F. Scott Fitzgerald had a fetish for feet and that he agonised about the size of his penis, once whipping it out in a restroom to ask Ernest Hemingway what he thought. H.G. Wells was a satyr, rarely without a woman and many were young enough to be his daughter; he was shagging into his last year, dying at 80. James Boswell, famed as the chronicler of Dr Johnson, was always at it, often with prostitutes where he probably caught the gonorrhoea which killed him at 54. Before losing his virginity he used trees as sexual partners!

If thinking about this future exposure bothers you, remain chaste and preferably lead a reclusive lifestyle. That way, you could end up as a symbol for your country when they use your image on banknotes. Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare have all adorned British banknotes. Robert Louis Stevenson appeared on a Scottish £1 note, while James Joyce was on an Irish tenner. Denmark chose Hans Christian Anderson for its 10 Kroner note.

I wonder how long it will be before J.K. Rowling appears on a British banknote…perhaps in the next century. As for her sex life, for the moment, we can only ponder who slytherined into her gryffindor and expelliarmussed! 

Clothing & the Author

This article in the New York Times made me consider how much I use descriptions of clothing to denote character:

Your Literary Idols and Their Wardrobes

How the writer dresses can all be a part of their brand, which is tackled in the book. I dread to think how I’d present myself, though I guess I could ape how my protagonist detective dresses, which is practically for the sometimes rough landscape where he investigates crimes—hence, he favours supportive walking boots, wax proof coats and leather jackets.

The British actress Beryl Reid said that she found how to play a role through choosing the shoes that the character wore.

Image result for wearing weird shoes cartoons

This approach makes sense, and it’s an oft-given piece of advice on how to judge personality.

Have you ever used clothing to indicate characteristics in your fiction? Do you dress distinctly, hoping to establish an image?

Tom Wolfe (keeping his local dry cleaning shop in business!)