Sunday 14 August 2011


The town clerk stretched out his arm.

'Mr Piper,' he said. 'Hope you didn't have any trouble finding us.'

'No,' the other replied, raising one eyebrow. The Town Hall was by far the largest building for miles; it would be hard to miss.

'This way,' beckoned the clerk. 'The mayor is waiting.'

They hurried along a wood-panelled corridor until they arrived at a door at the end. A couple of rats ran in the other direction. The clerk tapped on the door, opened it, and ushered in the interviewee with a flourish.

'Mr Piper, your Worship,' he announced before joining the mayor behind the huge oak desk.

The mayor, a rotund man in his late fifties stood and reached out a hand of greeting to the stranger.

'I see you found us, then. Please have a seat.'

All three sat down; the mayor and the clerk on one side of the desk, the Pied Piper on the other. The piper could see the curly script of his CV on top of the mayor's pile. Beyond the mayor, he spotted two well-fed rats sleeping on the window-sill.

'So, Mr Piper.' the mayor began. 'How long have you been in pest control?'

'Sir, first and foremost I am a musician. Here - my union card.' replied the piper, waving a card in the air. 'My ability with undesirable creatures is a sideline, and a happy accident arising from my musicality.'

'Describe yourself in three words,' the mayor said, looking over his half-rimmed spectacles at the angular fellow opposite.

'The. Pied. Piper.' he replied.

'Where ..'

'Where do I see myself in five years?' the piper interrupted. 'Miles from your rats.'

'Rats?' said the mayor. 'Who said anything about rats?'

'But, they're everywhere.' said the piper incredulously.

The mayor laughed. 'A minor irritation.'

'What then?' asked the piper.

'Double-glazing salesmen. They always seem to be in OUR area.' said the mayor.

'I see.' said the piper, already trying to think of a suitable tune for this particular species of vermin.

'Well, we have other applicants to interview, so ...'

'No, you don't.' said the piper, immediately regaining control of the situation after this shock. 'I'll take the job.'

The clerk looked at the mayor. The mayor nodded.

'The salary will be paid directly into your bank account a month in arrears. Is that OK?' asked the clerk, concluding the administrative matters.

The piper scratched his pointy chin. 'I'd prefer a bag of gold.' he said.

The clerk looked at the mayor again. The mayor nodded again.

'Gold it is.' the clerk said. 'Now, holidays are ...'

The piper raised his hand, and stood up suddenly, surprising the clerk and the mayor.

'Enough.' he said. 'I'm keen to start.'

Without waiting for any further instructions he reached out his slender arm and shook the hands of the two officials vigorously, before executing a nimble pirouette and leaving the other two to stare at each other, wondering if they had just made the biggest mistake of their public careers.

Thursday 11 August 2011


The fox nosed through the rubbish drifting against the scrubby hedge, lifting its head occasionally to sniff cautiously at the airIdeally, he was after the remains of a Bargain Bucket or some other treat from the Colonel, but would make do with a morsel of burger or kebab if that's all that was on offer. Today, he was out of luck; it was mainly cigarette packets, empty cans and a few copies of the local free paper.
Oh well, it was still early and his rounds took in several other locations where the pickings might be greater, if one of his competitors hadn't beaten him to it.  Deregulation had hit him hard; in the old monopolistic days, he could saunter around for an hour and fill his belly.  Now, a group of young foxes had taken over the McDonald's concession and he'd heard that badgers had been seen in town cosying up to the proprietors of the ethnic restaurants. It was becoming harder and harder to gain the nutrients required to maintain a glossy coat and his once-magnificent brush was now a little threadbare. Worse than badgers and others of his own species, though, were the cats with their malevolent eyes staring out of their flat faces. Hissing, spitting, pissing, shitting – that was felines; every corner he turned, there they were, mocking him, taunting him, goading him, remarking on his overwhelming gingerness. Wherever he went, they’d always been there first and helped themselves to the choicest fare. The town stank of their presence.
Maybe it was time to leave the cat race and retire to the country.

Thursday 4 August 2011


I was satisfied with my lot in life, right up until that dreadful moment when he/she said (I was never sure about Gok Wan's internal plumbing) ........
'Satisified with your lot in life?'
'If you're not - hey - the next six programmes could totally transform your life,' Gok continued in the most serious voice in his/her limited armoury. 'Even if you think you are satisfied, don't settle for satisfied, girlfriend - life could be so much better.'
'Coming up, after the break - lesson one -"make friends with your colon!"'
I knew now that my hitherto happy life was lacking something, that I could never be truly happy until I had carried out the one task that had been nagging me for years, plaguing my subconscious, coming between me and my sleep every night. I had to kill Gok Wan.

Monday 1 August 2011


The Knights of the Round Table were bored. It was raining, and their jester was visiting a sick aunt in Godalming.

'How about some magic?' suggested Merlin, standing up, but seeing Gawain roll his eyes, and hearing Lancelot whisper something under his breath to Galahad, the old wizard sat down again red-faced.

'What we need is a another quest?' suggested King Arthur, but the other knights just shuffled uncomfortably in their chairs at this idea.

'Look,' said Percival, rising from his seat. 'How many Holy Grails do we need?'  He walked over to a cupboard and opened it, and was almost buried in an avalanche of golden goblets.

'I see what you mean.' replied Arthur. 'Charades, anyone?'

Reluctantly, the others agreed.

'I'll go first.' said Gawain, dragging his bulky frame from its chair. And so it started ...

'Five words.'
'First word.'
'The Once and Future King?'

'One word.'

'What do you mean you three or four words?'
'La Morte d'Arthur?'

'Six words.'
'Monty Python and the Holy Grail?'

'One word.'

'Five words.'
'First word.'
'The Sword in the Stone?'

'One word.'

'Two ...'
'First Knight?'

'MERLIN!' shouted Arthur. 'How about some bloody magic?'

They all nodded.