Monday, March 30, 2015


Would you like to be a comedy reviewer? Are you hoping to get paid for watching funny folk, and then telling the punters what their hard-earned cash should be spent on? Do you dream of your byline appearing in the Age, or Herald Sun, or one of those stupid websites or something, above some well-considered views on the art of performance and the nature of humour?

Luckily, as someone whose diverse activities involve both the art of comedy AND the art of criticism, and as someone who is generally very clever, I am uniquely well-placed to provide you with the essential tips that will help turn you into a skilled comedy-reviewing machine. Sit down and take notes, kids, it's my


1. Remember to include as much detail as possible. Audiences don't like to be surprised, and comedians don't like to surprise them. Your job is to be absolutely explicit in telling potential ticket-buyers what they're in for. Most importantly, make sure that if you remember any good punchlines, you quote them verbatim - comedians love it when you do this, as it helps create a "buzz".

2. Make helpful suggestions whenever possible. If you're sitting in the audience of a show, and you think of a really good joke the comedian COULD have made, or a subject you'd like them to talk about, slip that into the review. It will be good constructive criticism for the performer, and act as a good warning for the reader that this is a comic who has a tendency to not make the same jokes that the audience came up with while watching them. Knock off a star or two for any comedian who fails to make a joke that you thought of - they're clearly not quick thinkers. Plus it lets the reader know you're a pretty funny peep yourself!

3. Describe the venue. This is crucial: nothing kills a comedy show like a comedian who refuses to perform in a big enough room, or provide comfortable chairs. The audience will want to know exactly what the venue will be like, and will hold you responsible if you recommend a comedian with a bad room. Don't let them get away with this.

4. Use lots of clever comedy-related phrases. For example, saying something "is no laughing matter" is a great way of indicating: a) that you know that comedy and laughter are connected, and b) that the thing you're talking about is no laughing matter". You could also use "tears of a clown" when a comedian talks about sad things, or "tickle the funny bone", if you want to indicated that something is funny, but need a more interesting, skeletal way of conveying it. Also, try to work in the term "belly laughs" as often as possible: it will tip the reader off that you know what you're doing to a very strong degree.

5. If a comedian is making jokes about things that, if they weren't making jokes about them, would normally be pretty serious, you should not only mention the fact, but really try to express, in the strongest possible terms, how surprising it is that this should happen. This will responsibly inform potential audience members that hey, here is a show where serious things in life will be discussed and don't be alarmed if this happens.

6. Make careful note of how often the comedian says swearwords. Many people decide which comic to see based on how many times swearing happens, and a strict accounting will help them make wise decisions.

7. Tell us what the comedian looks like. Clothes, hair, smile, everything. Nobody enjoys going to a comedy show without knowing beforehand how attractive they'll find the comedian - it can lead to all sorts of awkward moments. This is especially important for nice-looking people who say things that aren't nice. If that kind of cognitive dissonance is likely to be triggered, people need fair warning. It should be noted that this is mainly for girls, although it can be applied to men sometimes, particularly if they're fat.

8. Remember that if you don't understand the jokes, it is never your fault. Make sure everyone reading your review knows how angry you are about this.

9. If you can think of any comedian who in any way resembles to the slightest extent the comedian you are seeing, mention the fact that they are extremely similar. If you can't think of anyone, pick one at random: it is almost impossible for a person to understand what a comedy show will be like without reference to something they've seen before.

Happy reviewing!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's not a bug, it's a feature

In a profession for which dishonesty is common currency, from a government to whom the big lie comes more naturally than the blue tie, there are few falsehoods more pernicious, malicious and grotesque than this: that what occurs to asylum seekers in detention is a cause for sorrow.

Assaults on detainees? Murders? Suicides? Children driven to madness and self-harm? Terribly unfortunate, they will tell you, a saddening byproduct of policies put in place for the greater good. The current government preens and boasts that there are fewer children in detention under them than under the previous regime - we are caring more for these youngsters, they proclaim, we are lessening their suffering through our efficiency, strength and compassion.

The idea is that what happens to these children - and moreover to their parents, their siblings, and anyone else caught up in the gears of the detention machine - is terrible but unavoidable as long as people insist on coming by boat, and the only way to stop it is to stop those boats. We do not abuse these children, the government gasps - heavens NO! In fact we work assiduously to prevent the abuse. By...stopping the boats, of course.

Except, of course, they do not. Oh yes, they try to stop the boats; they will strain every sinew and work from dawn to dusk in the interests of boat-stopping. And yes, if the boats don't come, the detention centres don't fill up, in the same way that a prison will be closed down if you shoot all the criminals.

But don't let yourself believe for one second that when people do come by boat, when they do end up in the centres, that what happens there is by chance and not by design. What you read about what happens in these hideous places is exactly what is supposed to happen: pain, fear and anguish amounting to mass torture. When you hear that people from far-off lands who tried to reach our shores are being beaten or raped, that those paid to protect them are brutalising them, that their sanity is slipping irretrievably away, that small children are giving up on life and wishing for death...

When you are made aware of all this, don't let yourself believe that any of it is, to the slightest degree, in opposition to the government's plans. In fact, nothing could be more convenient for them. If the Immigration Minister did not specifically plan for the facilities under his control to become playgrounds for child abusers, it certainly worked out beautifully for his stated aims.

This is the entire purpose of the detention centres: they are there to cause suffering. They are there to ruin lives. They are there to turn existence into a waking nightmare for all who are imprisoned. They are there, most of all, to inspire terror across the world. They are designed to make even the most desperate and miserable of our planet's inhabitants accept their lot. They are calculated to cause people who see their future as so bleak and hopeless, if they stay where they are, that they will risk their own and their families' lives in dreadful ocean journeys, to believe that bleak and hopeless future is still preferable to what will be done to them in an Australian detention centre.

The system was set up specifically to inform anyone thinking of hopping on a boat in an attempt to make a better life in Australia that what we will do to you and your children is so awful that giving up on a better life altogether is a preferable option.

That is the intention. That is what the government is doing. And assaults, abuse, suicide and murder fit the plan to perfection.

It's not a bug, it's a feature. And it seems to be working quite marvellously well.

Not working to save lives, of course. Not working to help people. Not working to increase the net happiness in the world, or reduce the net unhappiness, by even the most infinitesimal amount.

But working to stop the boats? Yes.

Working to ensure we don't have to worry about unruly foreigners scurrying around in our nice clean country without the proper paperwork? Absolutely.

Working to make sure that any refugees who die do so neatly and well out of sight, fading away in foreign lands without hope or relief or meeting their fate in perilous voyages to countries yet to inspire as much fear as Australia does, beyond the reach of photographers who can remind us of the uncomfortable facts of the world? Without a shadow of a doubt.

It works to keep people in their place. It works to save us the bother of caring for anyone different to ourselves. It works to cement the idea in the local populace that the government in well-fed, luxurious Australia has the right to tell people in less luxurious places - who want to try for a share of the riches that are ours by nothing more than dumb blind luck - that they are unfit to make any decisions about what risks might be worthwhile taking to improve their lot in life or build a future for their families.

Cruelty is government policy. Not secretly, but trumpeted from the rooftops as proof of our rulers' muscular competency. Not cruel to be kind, but cruel to be terrifying: so terrifying that eventually we won't have to actually inflict the cruelty; the knowledge of how cruel we are will be enough to keep everyone well away from us.

And the best part? There's nothing we can do about it. We can complain, we can protest, we can rage and we can harangue - and we should do all these things because they are the only things we can do. But we are outnumbered, and outgunned. Cruelty is popular and terror is beloved. At the next election one side might win, or the other might, but either way the ship of state will continue serenely on its current bearing, steadfast in the now-indisputable view that brutality is the only way to protect this country from whatever it is we were told we needed to be protected from, all those years ago.

Vicious, sadistic, unapologetic abuse of the innocent is now bipartisan, and for the foreseeable future, immovable and untouchable as the foundational principle of strong government. So ingrained is it that we'll be complimentary of the man or woman who wears a sad face while they torture. We'll appreciate the leader who we believe abuses out of a fear of polls rather than a native hatred. We'll be grateful for mercies so small they can't even be seen.

The world will move on, and the atrocities will continue, and the sadness of the world will grow. We must keep speaking and we must keep hoping that the tide will turn some day. We have to believe that a sliver of decency can find its way through.

Or maybe we won't. Maybe we'll grow to accept this all as so many of our countrymen and women have, and one day it'll seem normal, and we'll end up nodding wisely and saying, like good patriots, "Mm, strong borders. Has to be done."

But what we can't do, what we can't forget, ever, is that this is not happening by accident. This is not a side-effect of necessary measures. Always, always remember: what is happening in those godforsaken camps is exactly what our leaders want to happen.

Suffering is the heart of their plan, and they will go to their graves clutching it fondly to themselves, smiling at how well they handed it out.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Harris Wittels, 1984-2015

Last year one of the funniest men on the planet took his own life. He was 63 years old and had spent his whole life fighting his own pain until he was too exhausted to keep it up.

This week, again one of the funniest men on the planet left us. He was 30 years old, and I don't know why or how he came to leave. He'd had his problems, he'd told the world about them, and it had seemed that he'd come through them to somewhere better. I don't know what happened that made it all fall apart.

In fact I don't really know anything about him, and it's kidding myself to act like I did. As much as I wished I could have met him, I never did. I didn't know him, but we so easily come to feel that we do know people who can make us laugh, even when it's just through the sound of their voice, recorded on the other side of the world. I didn't know Harris Wittels at all, I just knew he was brilliant and funny and what he did made my life better. There are countless people who would say exactly the same.

If losing someone so young and so suddenly is inexplicable, it feels all the more so when it's someone so full of that supreme talent for creating laughter. But there never was a way to turn the ability to make jokes into the ability to make yourself happy. Comedy doesn't protect you from pain or diseases or addictions or stupid meaningless accidents or any of the monsters that come to steal away young lives. All it does is paint the tragedy with a kind of sick irony, make it look on the surface to be so perverse that it paradoxically becomes easier for us to process - the juxtaposition of laughter and tears so extreme that it's somehow fitting.

But no, that's not all comedy does in these times - it also leaves something behind. Harris Wittels could have, should have, would have done so much more, but he'd also done so much already, and he's left us all a lot of beauty to remember him with.

That's something, but it's hard to see right now. Right now my heart hurts and all I can see is that there is so much sadness in the world, and it might be insurmountable.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014: The Definitive List Of Retrospective Things

Wow, what a year! There were ups, there were downs, there were laughs, there were tears, there were days, there were months, there were low pressure systems, there were sandbanks. But most of all there were things. And though others may have impressed you with their looks back at the things of 2014, none of those OTHER lists are as comprehensive and definitive as this, my specially curated List Of The Things Of 2014, a retrospective of  the things that in 2014, we could say without fear of contradiction, were.

1. These sheep

Wow, remember these sheep? No? Well, someone does!

2. Oranges

If there's one thing you can say about 2014, it's "wow, this year people ate some oranges". Have truer words ever been written?

3. The guy from Blue's Clues

What did THIS guy get up to in 2014? Nobody knows! Apart from presumably his family and friends!

4. Exercise bikes

When we look back at 2014, will we remember it as the year of exercise bikes? We might!

5. Bricks

Some people might have thought we'd be "over" bricks by 2014, but no, bricks carried on as strong as ever!

6. An angry leopard

It's amazing how often this year our lives were impacted by the existence of an angry leopard. I sure didn't see that coming a year ago!

7. President Barack Obama

A lot of good judges think 2014 was the year that President Barack Obama was more president than he'd ever been. The thousands of people abducted by Mr Obama during the year would agree!

8. Trains

Whether you live in the city, the country, or the bottom of the ocean, one thing's for sure: 2014 had trains in it!

9. Hunting in bright clothing

It was almost like an epidemic in 2014, as millions of people suddenly put on bright clothing and hunted!

10. Machines

If you're like me, you were stunned by how many machines were in places in this past year!

11. Writing

Against all expectations, writing kept happening!

WOW! What a year!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Stella Young 1982-2014

How feeble words seem today. How impossible it is to find a way to describe what we've lost.

Stella was ferocious. She was hilarious. She was irresistible. She hated to be called an "inspiration", but she inspired me, because nobody I've ever met fought so hard, so uncompromisingly, for what she believed in. And she did it with a wicked smile and made you laugh your guts out the whole time.

Stella was a warrior who took on the injustice she saw in the world and refused to ever be defeated.

Stella was an artist who won your heart and changed your mind, forced you to think as easily as she forced you to laugh - or cry.

Stella was a teacher who opened my eyes to so much that I needed to know.

Stella was my friend. And I'm so incredibly proud, and so incredibly lucky, to be able to say that.

My words are so feeble today. If you don't know how extraordinary Stella was, read hers instead.

Stella Young: The assumption is that people like us die young.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014



Even the sound of the word excited him. Cheese. Cheeeeeese. Like the whirring of some marvellous contraption, a futuristic machine designed for pure human delight. He could see it in mind's eye: gears spinning, pistons pumping, steam bursting joyfully from the chimney atop the device, whistling to let all know that the cheese was ready; the Delight-O-Tron spitting forth divine hunks of yellow and white, and even blue and green, magical slabs of pungent paradise for all to consume and sate themselves with ecstasy.

This is what he saw. Reality was sadly different, and as the wrappers piled high in the corners of his flat, he knew he must be content with daydreams. In this harsh capitalistic world, nobody else saw cheese the way he did. The other invention he fantasised about was a new kind of nuclear-powered spectacles, attuned to a specific cheese-friendly frequency. When you put them on, your appreciation of cheese would intensify beyond belief. Looking at cheese with these glasses, one would experience such dizzy heights of joy...everyone would know what it was like for him. He had been born with Cheese Specs. He yearned to bring them to the world. Alas, he lacked the technology. The fact was that all the time he could have spent learning of physics and electronics and mechanical engineering had been entirely taken up with the consumption and appreciation of cheese. And so, his love of cheese had robbed him of the ability to fulfil it. This thought could at times reduce him to such despair that he would collapse in a puddle of paradox and lie weeping for hours, nibbling melancholically at a wedge of Jarlsberg.

He knew there must be, somewhere, the answer to that question that had burned inside him as long as he could remember, like a dairy-based blowtorch. It was hard to bear, and even harder to understand: cheese satisfied him, more than man has ever been satisfied by anything, at least as far as he knew. Casanova looking back on his legions of female conquests, Michaelangelo recalling his incomparable catalogue of artistic supernovas, Caesar himself surveying all the lands he had brought to heel before his standard, none could possibly have felt such surges of euphoric content, such electric bolts of all-consuming happiness, as were his at the end of a day getting to grips with a consignment of Gorgonzola. And yet... 

And yet it seemed that satisfaction, so far from being dissatisfaction's mortal foe, was in fact its meek and humble handmaiden. For no matter how satisfied he became, it was not satisfied enough. Always, the gnawing began again...

Cheese was his, and it was glorious. But the glory of his personal affair with the sublime curd was nothing, a speck of plankton in a wall of baleen, when compared to the glory he imagined, saw in the distance, felt tingling at his extremities, heard echoing within his skull, tasted, dancing, on the tip of his tongue...the glory of spreading cheese to all the world and bringing that indescribable joy to the masses, disseminating his love infinitely and watching the whole world rejoice in cheese's benevolent embrace. The glory imagined dwarfed the glory realised by so far that every day he woke up with a hollowness in the pit of his stomach, a metaphysical famine that a quickly scoffed Camembert wheel could dissipate only temporarily.

And so, finally, after years of enduring the burning ache, he made a decision. A decision that would change not only his own life, but the very world itself. A decision that in the pursuit of the ultimate goal, he would make the ultimate sacrifice.

He would give up cheese.

He could see, all too clearly, that cheese was standing in its own way. Eating cheese took up too much time; the buying, the unwrapping, the setting out, the savouring of aromas and tender prodding of textures. The long, lingered-over consumption, the reverent afterglow. The recording of details in his dark blue Cheese Log. The agonised composition of words to do justice to the delicacy, lest he someday forget a single bite. It devoured his time, and left not a second for planning and plotting, for devising of schemes to encircle the globe with cheese.

He must, therefore, set cheese aside, and bend every sinew towards his greater goal. Though it would be torture, his reunion with cheese at the completion of his task would be all the sweeter for the knowledge that it was earned.

Torture, in fact, was far too mild a word for what the coming weeks brought him. Every day, as he sketched blueprints, constructed scale models, sat in the library behind piles upon piles of weighty, sombre volumes, he felt the siren song of Lady Mold calling him. Every night, as he sat by the light of an inadequate lamp, scribbling madly in exercise book after exercise book, ruling lines, measuring angles, feverishly tearing pages out of phone books and pasting them in esoteric configurations on huge slabs of cardboard, he felt the knives of cheese-lust hacking away at his flesh.

Oh, he ate, but poor fare. Bread. Butter. Meat. Vegetables. He drank waters and juices, and even milk - O sweet tantalisation, so near yet so far - but cheese passed not his lips. Passed not even his doorway; he knew the limits of his willpower.

And so he worked. He became gaunt and ragged. His clothes grew filthy and began falling to pieces. His eyes assumed a staring, haunted look. His face was pale and pinched. The marks of obsession were stamped upon him like the imprint of Surchoix upon an Appenzeller. Soon, soon, he would waste away to nothing. Soon, the cheese would claim him, as it had his forebears.

Oh, nobody knew of them, of course. It was not widely reported when a lone lunatic fell victim to the ravages of cheese. Felled before their plans could reach fruition, they were anonymous, unloved and unmourned. But he, yes, he knew them. He had read, he had learnt, he had come to know just what a lethal endeavour he had embarked upon. The names floated like ghosts before his weary, bulging eyes. Lippinziger, Rothwell, Gerdell de la Bosconi. Noble men, men who had believed in cheese, who had looked cheese in the face and smiled as it took their lives.

He knew he was destined to join their ranks. Perhaps, then, he would know peace, he would know bliss. He would be transported to Cheese Heaven, where even Brocciu is endlessly available, and the only company would be those other brave men who understood his passion. But one way or another, he was heading down that road. The cheese was coming for him. Fate had drained the whey. The desire for just one wedge, just one slice, just one smear across a would overwhelm him. To go without cheese for a day was agony. This...this was the Inferno.

And that's when it happened.

This emaciated shell of a man, this ghoul, this half-crazed banshee, sitting one night, eight weeks past the start of his project, staring at his notes, his blueprints, his maps, his scrapbooks, his models, his painstaking graphs...found the answer.

And when it came it struck him with the force of an Emmental fired from a Howitzer. It had been there all along. He was a genius without knowing it. The Cheese Conundrum had been solved.

And suddenly, that cold night, flickering candle dimly lighting his laughing, dirty, whiskered, madman's face, he knew that the world was his for the taking.

The rest of the night, he sat happily in the doorway of the shop across the street, rocking, a contented smile upon his face, and when they opened, he bought every last scrap of Gruyere in the place, and ate it right there, grinning from ear to ear.

Not that it was that simple, of course. Yes, he had the answer, but the practical work had still to be done. Construction was undertaken. A score of strong men were hired and told of a hefty share of the profits if they bent their arms to the task with all possible vigour. Day and night they laboured in his new makeshift factory, hammering, riveting, bolting, welding, scraping and oiling, but still their hours were as nothing compared to the work he himself put in.

The word went out. Clever men in suits were employed to spread the message, to bring habringers of the coming of the new age. Rumours of the miracle of this fresh invention were carefully and scientifically placed and propagated in all corners of the green earth.

And after months of preparation, it was ready. He rented a suit. He stood nervously on the steps of the Town Hall, dignitaries surrounding him, press confronting him, a crowd hanging on his every word as he stammeringly, haltingly, did the best he could to put into words what he knew words could never describe. His vision, his dream, come to life. The device that would change all of their lives, and so much for the better.

He knew as he spoke that they were there, not to celebrate cheese, or to experience the possibility of altering their lives forever. They were there to capture failure in its first blush. They were there to see him fall. And he prayed, as he prepared to pull aside the drapery, that it was not all for naught. It had been would work now, wouldn't it? His was not a foolish fantasy? It really was real, yes?

It was time.

He unveiled.

And...the gasp.

The gasp that was heard around the world. Such a thing of beauty. Of impossible elegance and perfection, yet of such undeniable, irresistible substance and functionality. The first sight of it sent a shockwave of excitement through the crowd. When it was turned on...the thrill went to the core of every human present and struck outwards, like ripples on a stone-addled pond, like an exploding wheel of Brie.

Within a day the world was abuzz. Within a week seven hundred more devices were in production.

Within six months cheese consumption had multiplied tenfold. Within a year, a thousandfold.

Cheese had conquered the world. The plan had worked. Good had triumphed. Now, he could rest. And rest he did. Fabulously wealthy, wanting for nothing, he spent his days reclining in luxury, bringing forth from his vast refrigerated cheese vaults such a cornucopia of wonders as he would never have considered possible for such a poor, unremarkable specimen as himself. Now and then he spoke, he lectured on cheese, its significance, its history, its inimitable beauty and unparalleled mystique. He gained more honorary doctorates than he knew what to do with. He was in demand from social sets the world over. And always, the cheese. Whatever cheese he wanted. Soft, hard, pressed, unpressed, cow's milk, goat's milk. He discovered the exquisite taste of cheeses he had hitherto only dreamed about. Rare cheeses, exotic cheeses. Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Geitost, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Mascotta, Cheshire, Gloucester, Romano, Edam, Gouda, Colby, Pecorino, Munster, Stilton, Urda, Cas, Neufchatel, Paneer, Queso Fresco, Brousse, Chevre...these were a mere appetiser for the universe he was now wandering through. He had all he wanted, but far more importantly, to him, he had made a difference. He had opened the eyes of the world to cheese and all its possibilities. His goal was achieved, his purpose fulfilled. The world was a better, more fragrant, more joyous and lovely place because of him. People everywhere were happy, and cheese-filled. With this in mind, he could have remained a stick-thin pauper and been happy.

And then one day...not long after the unveiling...

He awoke and strode to the kitchen. Days of emaciation and filth long behind him, now sleek and filled with joie de vivre, he felt he would start another wonderful day with a hearty breakfast. His mood was mellow and old-fashioned. He decided on staunch traditionalism, withdrawing a mighty hunk of blazing yellow Swiss magic from its shelf. Seated at his broad breakfast table, he plunged in his knife, and took a weighy slice from the body, biting into it with the enthusiasm of the perfectly balanced. And as he bit, he felt something he had never before felt while eating cheese.


He blinked, confused. He bit again. Still nothing. No thrill, no tingling, no explosion of flavour, no electricity, not even the smallest frisson shooting through his body.

Perhaps, he thought, he had been overdoing the Swiss lately. Returning to the fridge, he withdrew a pungent slab of Limburger, and devoured the whole thing on the spot.


His tastebuds remained stoically indifferent. A sense of unease rising within him, he pulled out a ball of mozzarella, and gulped it down, with no more reaction from his physiology than if he had gorged himself on week-old rice cakes. No pleasure, no fizzing fireworks in the brain.

A wheel of Camembert, a scrap of Edam, a desperate scraping of Monterey Jack, all shovelled down, all with no result but a slightly heavier sensation in the stomach. Unease had turned to panic. Tears pricked his eyes and he fought them. This was cheese, he couldn't be feeling nothing. He simply had to find the right one to spark his old self to life again. Perhaps he had overslept and his system was not yet fully awake. He would perk himself up, and in the blink of an eye, his love affair with the curd and the mold would resume as passionately as ever.

And so, as he frantically boiled and downed a jug of coffee, he hurled as much cheese as he could into a saucepan and turned up the heat. Within minutes, he tipped the pan up and poured the cheese like boiling wine down his throat. The stream of boiling yellow fire scorched his oesophagus, but no more. Gasping, he fell to his knees and rummaged through his stocks some more.

Pulling cheese after cheese out, he tried each one. Yellow, white, blue, red, green...the most exotic cheeses from the most far-flung lands, the most unexpected animals, the most bizarre of homespun and high-tech techniques...and none of it changed a thing. Tears streamed down his face, his burning throat screamed at him, and his heart felt near to melting and running out his pores.

Finally he got to the back of the cabinet and brought forth the last. With wrappers and discarded pieces of cheese littering the floor around him, he sat miserably in the centre of his dairy graveyard and held the chunk of ordinary everyday cheddar in his lap. Cheddar was the beginning of his journey, and now...the end? Of late he had forgotten about good old cheddar, intoxicated by the enormity of his gift to humanity and the seemingly endless variety of impossible rarities hurled at him by the world's grateful cheesemakers. And yet...cheddar was the heart and soul of cheese, was it not? Cheddar. His old friend cheddar. He nursed it against his cheek, enjoying the coolness on his skin and whispering to it as to a secret lover. Cheddar would save him. he angled it wearily towards his aching, exhausted lips, and took a bite.

He chewed.

He swallowed.

And he knew, as the fragment travelled to its final destination, that he might just as well have bitten into the polystyrene packing the fridge arrived in. The truth fell on him like a ton of Parmesan.

He was dead. Dead to cheese.

He threw back his head and howled. All his work, all his striving and passion, returned in the shimmering air before his eyes, taunting and cackling at him.

And he fell face down on the kitchen floor, as the gutted Camembert mingled with his tears.

Monday, November 10, 2014


SAGITTARIUS: Happiness comes to few people in this life, and certainly not to you. Heavy drinking will numb the pain.

AQUARIUS: A secret you'd thought long-forgotten rears its ugly head at a most inopportune moment. Distracted, you stumble and are trampled by a runaway goat. Years of painful therapy later you learn to use your left hand again, but find this doesn't satisfy you because you lost the only woman you ever loved. You look her up on Facebook but at that moment the secret rears its ugly head again and you accidentally send her a photograph of your penis. You cry for hours.

ARIES: Weather plays a big part in your week. There'll be some, for sure.

LEO: Try not to overeat this week, unlike other weeks when you should definitely overeat. Family matters consume most of your attention, after you discover that your mother has for many years been a wanted bank robber.

CANCER: A routine trip to the doctor's ends in tragedy, but fortunately not for you, as you at no point will go to the doctor this week. However you will have some minor trouble attempting to poach an egg, triggering your Vietnam flashbacks.

SCORPIO: Your theories on racial superiority get you in hot water with the diocese, but you must remember to be true to your beliefs. At some point on the weekend a duck will bite you. You will never quite get over this.

TAURUS: An impulsive trip to Nigeria has far-reaching consequences which I can't divulge at this stage. That uncomfortable feeling in your pants, you will find, is indeed a tube of liquid cement.

GEMINI: The vague foreboding that has been plaguing you is explained this week when a letter arrives informing you that you have been dead for eight years. Don't let it get you down, as you will be getting much worse news on the following day. Your shoes will cause trouble for a schoolteacher. 'Nuff said.

LIBRA: Romance intrudes upon your peaceful life this week when a pair of young lovers falls out of a hot-air balloon and through your skylight. Your efforts to dispose of the bodies will be just the thing to reinvigorate your lust for life.

CAPRICORN: You will meet a small, pale Taurus who will tell you she is your birth mother, but she is lying. Early Friday morning a bear will severely maim you.

VIRGO: You will finally give in to the temptation to eat the loose skin you peel from your sunburnt legs. It's actually really tasty, isn't it? Don't be ashamed, it's totally natural, I promise.

PISCES: Don't let other people tell you what you can or can't do: find out for yourself what you can or can't do by trying and failing at many different things. This will be a good week for gardening, taking up a sport, or inserting something into yourself. While baking a pie you inadvertently discover the identity of your grandfather's murderer.