Guys, here’s my 2015 stats

Age: 31 years
Weight: 0.45 kg/lbs

Rivers crossed: 47
…by foot: 38
…by swimming: 8
…by reneging on a verbal contract: 1

Distance ran (in kilometers): 90
Distance ran (in pentameters): Four score and ten kilos lie underfoot

Excessive “punctuation”: 308

Panics: 82
…of which were blind: 17
Rages: 105
… of which were blind: 9
Alleys/taste tests/spots: 8
…of which were blind: 3

Scissors purchased: 7
…of which were secateurs: 2
…of which were non sequiturs: 105

Jousts: 22
…of which…no, seriously, actual jousts?: oh, sorry, I meant 4.
…of which…but, I mean, like an actual joust with horses and weapons and things?: Ah, right. 82 jousts.
…of which…um, do you know what a joust is?: Right, that’s it – to the Joust Dome.

First dates: 19
Second dates: 11
Third dates: 5
Rest of the pack of dates: 3
…of which were blind: 2

Nightmares dressed as daydreams: 6
Hella good hair: 3
Indie records much cooler than mine: 46

Hives queued for: 19
…of which were bee-lined: 7

Lee Dixon: 3 (2 swaps, need Paul McGrath and anyone else who played in the 1990s)

Years later, football is “still essentially a tie”

Despite a history going back over one hundred years, with vast expenditures racked up across that time, the latest data reveals that football is basically still where it started with no evidence that it is either winning or losing over that time period. This may come as a surprise to many, with the recent strong performances of Germany, La Galaxy and The Reds, but closer inspection reveals this has been at least offset by poor results for many others. It is particularly striking to see that patterns of success and dissapointment are often found amongst teams in close proximity to each other, suggesting the under-achievers learn very little from their more-lauded neighbours.

This finding also emerges if the data is analysed within smaller geographic areas or in particular time periods. What is noticeable is that at various points in time, those teams that are attempting to improve the outcomes of the sport as a whole become demotivated by the failures of others to follow suit and eventually fall back towards the pack. It is only when they have entirely given up that this endeavour is taken up by some alternative grouping of humans and resources. This lack of co-ordination has been the sport’s main obstacle to progress.

It is too early to say at this stage whether football is unusual amongst sports in essentially being a draw for decade after decade, but there are indications that the same is true for rugby, cricket and the main types of tennis (including lawn, table, lounge and badminton). Only golf seems to be bucking the trend, clearly being a loss for everyone involved in it at all points in time always.

Tiny stories: number three

Stephen realised immediately he had said ‘goodbye’ too early as they both turned to walk in the same direction. After five minutes of silence, the awkwardness was almost unbearable. By the time the waiter came to take their order, the date was basically a complete write-off.


Peering out of the aeroplane window, you say: “Those people down there look like ants.” The girl in the seat next to you says: “They are ants.” At this point, the plane is already 30,000 feet in the air. “How can you see that from this height?,” you say, “Wait, more importantly, how could I see that?” She smiles and says: “You think that’s amazing? Wait until you realise that this conversation isn’t out loud. Now, shall we get out of here?”


Martin left the dentist’s surgery with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the appointment had quickly descended into a comprehensive rumdown of his sub-standard oral hygiene and the moral and ethical failings this implied about his character. On the other hand, the dentist had finished by saying, “and we’ll see you again in six months”, so the situation couldn’t be quite as bad as he’d earlier suggested.


It just didn’t make any sense. How did the trolley get there? The closest supermarket was five miles away, in the next town. Why would someone steal a trolley, let alone take it this far? The constable looked up and down the row of houses, and sighed. He’d have to go door-to-door and see if anyone had seen anything resembling a trolley theft in the past twenty four hours. He didn’t hold much hope – everyone was too wrapped up in their own trivial problems these days to focus on things that really matter. Of course, the ideal person to ask would have been that man bundled up inside the trolley, but, obviously, he’d been strangled. Which was another thing to worry about. Another round of futile door-to-door enquiries. One thing at a time, Lawrence, old boy. Just you figure out this trolley mess first.

When pushy comes to shovey

Hello? Yes, hello, is that Starz Agency? Yes, I’d like to speak to someone about representation. No, it’s not for me. I’m calling on behalf of my son. How old is he? He’ll be one in a little over a year’s time. Yes, that’s correct, he has not been born as of yet. But we’ve been given some pretty definite assurances that he will be. Yes, I did check that before I called, I’m not in the business of wasting people’s time, you know. Yes, I’ll hold.

Hello? Hi. That’s correct, I am looking to get an agent for my unborn, and yes I did note your heavy emphasis on the word there, my unborn son. No, I do not think it is a bit early for that. Let me tell you, I’ve seen a lot of friends have children in recent years and none of them ever seem to get around to it. Of course, no-one ever raises the issue outright. It’s not polite to draw attention to anyone’s failings as a parent, is it. But they do talk to each other about having sleepless nights, and I always think, I bet you do, what with all the guilt of not getting your child an agent yet. And they try to make themselves feel better by saying things like “Johnny pointed at a car today and said ‘car'”, when what they really mean is “Johnny wasn’t in a car commercial today”. Well, let me tell you something, when our son points at a car and says ‘car’ it’ll be because that’s what was in his script. Yes, I’ll hold.

Hello? And you are one of the agents? Good, finally. Some details? Fire away. His name? Well, we hadn’t actually decided yet. We were thinking, and you can tell me if this isn’t quite right, but we were thinking Klint. No, not Clint, Klint. With a K. No, I meant with a K at that the beginning. Yes, that’s it. What do you think? Yes, we got it out of a baby naming book. It was one of those which showed you what regular names would look like if they were spelt with a K instead. It was actually one of the most helpful books we’ve found so far. A lot of these new parent books don’t really cover the things we’re really concerned about. I mean, yes, sure, we need to know if he’s crying because he’s hungry or because he’s tired so that we know whether to feed him because he’s hungry or feed him because he’s low on energy. But what about if he’s crying because he never got a second audition? Do we feed him then? What about if he didn’t get the callback because we’re feeding him too much? The baby books say nothing and the dieting books seem to be for people with full sets of teeth.

Sorry, where were we? Headshots? Yes, certainly. We had some taken specially by ultrasound. I can send you the best ones we’ve got here. Actually, now I look at them, it’s more a head-plus-toe-in-ear shot. He’s got his father’s jaw. Yes, well I, yes, I suppose that does mean my jaw. I don’t even know why I said that then. The doctor just said “he’s got his father’s jaw” when they showed us the images and I’ve just been repeating that information to everyone. I’d never really thought about what it meant. He’s got my jaw. How about that? Yes, I’ll hold.

Oh, you didn’t ask me to hold? Sorry. Was there anything else you needed? His skills? I don’t know. The doctor didn’t say anything in particular. He’s got a strong kick, I know that. So put down everything to do with strong kicking. Like martial arts. Or drawing. No, I don’t know how a strong kick means he can draw. I just think that maybe he’ll be able to draw. Yes, I take your point, but equally, there’s not a single thing he’s shown that he can’t do yet. Well, precisely.

Look, if that’s everything I guess we’ll be in touch in a couple of months. I don’t suppose much is likely to come up before then, is there? No, OK, I’ll just tell him to take it easy for a while longer when we have a catch-up this evening. I’ll send you this photo as soon as possible. Actually, would you mind if I sent you this other one. It’s basically also a headshot, it’s just from the top looking downwards. Also you can see a bit of a knee, if that helps at all. I’d like to keep this one has his jaw, if you don’t mind. And no rush, but perhaps next time we can discuss you representing his little sister.

Train of thought

This train is completely full. Well, not completely full, of course. For instance, there’s a space between my coat and the increasingly surly-looking teenager in the storage space next to my head, although that might be taken up if the pregnant woman perched on the fold-down table behind me actually goes into labour. She’s certainly threatened to do so but the consensus is that she’ll probably hold on until tomorrow like she’s supposed to.

The lack of space is less of a problem for me. As a younger boy, I spent a lot of time in the corner of my room standing with one foot resting completely on top of the other, an admittedly awkward pose that at least made me the winner of that old game where your parents tell you the entire floor is electrified except for one small patch in the corner. Like most children, I only learned it was a game some years later, and while I was furious at the time and would likely have confronted my parents about it had they not accidentally gotten themselves trapped on the other side of that laser force field, I’m glad those old skills have come back to me. That said, I’m not used to having to do it with bags on my shoulder, but that’s my own fault for offering to help an old lady with her luggage when it was obvious that there was nowhere to put it (the teenager not even replying when I asked if he’d budge over a bit). Also, I shouldn’t have made the same offer to all of her tour group.

What’s more of a problem is being unable to ignore all of the people-noise. There’s a man in a suit on the phone in front of me. He’s currently asking serious questions about The Korean Deal and whether or not it can be saved. For what it’s worth, I don’t think it can. It sounds like the Koreans have pulled out and if I know one thing about business it’s that you can’t have a Korean Deal without the involvement of at least some Koreans. Maybe he’ll find some more Koreans but they’re up against a deadline dammit and there doesn’t seem to be any volunteers on this carriage. I’ve half a mind to tell him it’s over and ask for my phone back, but I don’t have the heart right now.

I’m also a bit distracted by the man standing at right angles to what I’ll probably be referring to from now on as my good shoulder. Based on a quick glance, he appears to be wearing headphones, in that they are large plastic discs covering the entirety of the man’s collective ears. Without additional information, it would be reasonable to assume that this was for the purpose of directing sounds inward, towards the ears. However, in this case, these sounds (the rousing goth metal of a band whose name is probably something like Weeps Beneath The Thorns of Lies) are instead being projected outwards, and at such volumes that I’m half sure that the man is only wearing the headphones purely to protect his ears from the sounds they are making. It’s quite uncomfortable, and it’s likely to become ever more so now he’s finished reading all of this over my shoulder.

There’s obviously a temptation to claim I’m not writing about him but even as I say exactly that I realise I probably should have waited to see if he reached that conclusion of his own accord. Now it looks deeply suspicious, as does the fact that I’ve typed out this thought process for him to see. I suspect that continuing to write rather than talk directly to the man about my quote unquote unacceptable behaviour quote unquote is making the situation worse. It also didn’t help when I asked how many C’s there were in ‘unacceptable’. He says three, but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie.

To try and get out of the situation, I offer my standing space to one of the old women but none of them want it because they’ve already got seats and that’s better (for them). Thankfully, the man runs out of ways to engage me in an argument and everything settles down again. The businessman finally gives up and hands me back my phone. I notice that the battery is dead and then I remember it had been dead since earlier in the day and I go to say something to the businessman but then I notice that his tie is a child’s clip-on and that he’s missing a shoe so I decide to let it pass. You get used to stuff like that when you spend as much time on trains as I do. Sometimes I think it would be nice to stop using them entirely, but that’s almost impossible when you’re the train driver. I’m not, of course, so that’s not really an obstacle I should worry about so much.

Tiny stories: number two

“Are they for you?”, asked the pharmacist as she put the tablets in a bag. “No, they’re for my wife”, said Michael, “but don’t mention them when she comes back over.”


Most nights recently, Tom struggled to get to sleep because he was worried about being attacked by wolves if he dropped off. As he lay there, his mind would wander to thinking about how, when he was younger, his mother would always tell him that if he misbehaved he’d be attacked by wolves in his sleep. Of course, he never misbehaved, but that didn’t stop her. Every day, she’s say the same things. “Misbehave today, Tom,” she would call from her bed as he made her lunch, “and wolves will attack you in your sleep”. “I never misbehave, Mother”, he would shout back as he rummaged in the drawer for her leg ointment. This was completely true until last week when, in a moment of weakness, he’d pushed her down the stairs. Tom kept his eyes on the door and didn’t sleep.


Steven died during the seance. Although this offered him the perfect opportunity to let everyone know what had happened, he decided not to mention it. They all seemed to be having such a good time, and he didn’t want to ruin the mood just yet.

The pyramid scheme

Dear sirs and/or madams,

I am writing to you today regarding the proposed building work for which we recently engaged your services (invoice reference no: 004278). We are starting to have some concerns about the project. Some of these concerns relate to the cost and the expected duration of construction. We’re also wondering whether it was ever actually a good idea to ask for you build us a pyramid.

In theory, we are still very much committed to the idea. As you know I have spent the majority of my adult life teaching primary school children to play the piano. By all accounts, I am very ineffective in this role. During my latest progress review the headmaster revealed that a number of parents have recently complained to the school that their children: (a) were unable to play even the basic notes – C and F –  and (b) had experienced a significant regression in their reading age as a direct result of the confusion and mental anguish my lessons typically cause. I understand that many of the staff at the school are attempting to marginalize my involvement in the education of our students, and in that aim I wish them well. I have been persuaded, on the basis of a moderately intensive pamphlet and poster campaign that should they be successful the school will likely return to its former respectability and high-standing in the community. My wife, having given up an opportunity to pursue a career as an auditor when we first married in order to support my attempts to become (in chronological order of failure) a concert pianist, a cocktail bar pianist, a elevator music pianist and a primary school piano teacher, has found this incredibly stressful. She finds solace in two things: drinking our gin, and keeping detailed records of how much gin we have left.

My intention here is not to ask for your pity, but more so that you can understand the position we were in when we received your promotional documents. With few prospects of being remembered for making a meaningful impact on the world, the opportunity to have a lasting monument erected in our honour was a hard one to pass up. However, we are increasingly worried that we may not be getting what we were promised.

Our concerns first started when, one day after signing the contract, we received the letter informing us that a condition of the deal was that we passed on information about your company to six friends. At the time, we fretted that having up to six other families also ordering their own pyramids would make ours less noteworthy. Thankfully, living a long way away from my wife and myself was something all our closest friends had in common, so we duly sent out six of your information packs to them and thought little else of it. It had not occurred to us that we might ourselves had received your information as the result of such a condition of someone else’s order, much less that we might be somewhere in the middle of an ever-growing and increasingly unsustainable chain of pyramids which your company has promised to build.

However, that is the situation we are now confronted with. We can’t fail to notice, for example, the sheer number of triangular areas marked out for foundation digging in nearby towns, which can not be coincidental. By my estimation, there are five such sites on our cul-de-sac alone, not including our own.

Of course, we were obviously delighted when building started in earnest on our pyramid before those of our neighbours. We were  particularly impressed that your team managed to complete the wooden poles and tarpaulin phase so quickly. However, it’s now been three weeks since that morning, and we were beginning to wonder when you would be returning to add the stone block exterior to what is currently, by most standards, a sandy coloured tent. We appreciate that delays are inevitable in these sorts of projects. However, in our early enthusiasm we had moved a significant number of our most valuable possessions to the area where you’d scribbled the word ‘antechamber’  in marker pen, and this has started to attract the attention of thieves. The situation will be much improved when your full range of traps and pitfalls have been installed, but until then we are relying all too heavily on the “Warning: Cursed!” labels you previously supplied us with.

In sum, we’re looking for some reassurance. This is probably the only time we’ll ever build a gigantic mausoleum, and we just want to do it right. It would be great to know that we haven’t been forgotten about and that you’re not committing to building pyramids like ours at an exponential rate. Please get in touch. I am contactable at home most days while I’m working on applications for various potential jobs in piano security.


Mr and Mrs. V.  W. Dunn