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Table of Contents

1 More trouble than its worth [sic]

The apostrophe will survive if it deserves to survive, but let it have all the strengths and weaknesses that we have. Let it do good things and evil. But we cannot let it become an unfeeling, heartless machine

Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language (1755).

Id always been interested in the correct use of punctuation. It was with some regret that I resigned my post as Treasurer to the Apostrophe Preservation Society last July.

I withdrew after sustained disagreement with the Chairman, Stuart Drummond. I had long since argued that the APS had become distracted from its original aim, which was to promote the correct use of the apostrophe. We, as a Society, judged the apostrophe to be falling into disuse. My concerns with Drummond were twofold.

Firstly, Drummond seemed less concerned with promoting the apostrophe than with identifying its misuse. I had joked that we should rename our Society the “Abused Apostrophe Destruction Society”, so obsessed was he with rogue punctuation.

Secondly, Drummonds behaviour at our bi-monthly meetings, held at his home on Harrow-on-the-Hill, was becoming worrisome. Our website, established by me ten years ago, had photographic images of misplaced and missing apostrophes from its inception. We invited humorous and informative submissions from the public. However, Drummond developed a fanatical interest in recording and cataloguing each and every instance of the apostrophes misuse that he could find.

For about three months before my resignation, Drummond patrolled the streets with his digital camera, filling its memory card with images that he would present for review at the APS meetings. He recorded the place, date and time of each offence on a MySQL database running on his home server. He would append a long tabulated report from his database to each meetings agenda. He expected us to discuss each entry on the report, in detail.

Drummond brooked no disagreement. His conduct was tiresome, then intolerable. Two members of the Committee resigned, leaving just four of us, me and Drummond included. I posted my own resignation letter to the Chairman.

Some days later, Drummond phoned me at home, after midnight, screaming in fury. According to him, I had included a misused apostrophe of my own, somewhere in the body of my resignation letter. Drummond received this as a deliberate insult.

I was no longer interested in Drummonds eccentric behaviour. I replaced the handset, brought it off the cradle, and left it off.

Two weeks later, a letter dropped under my letterbox. I recognised Drummonds handwriting. I guessed that it would be an apology. I opened the envelope with my letter knife.

The letter contained abuse and threats. It was signed “Yours, a FRIEND”. I noticed there was a large apostrophe between the “Your” and the “s” in the valediction. I was surprised to see this mistake.

Drummonds rogue apostrophe was an obvious, tadpole-like nine, and it looked like the author had drawn his pen over it many times. Its shape was impressed into the paper.

Then there was a blue flash, smoke, and a sulphurous smell. I shrieked and fell back. I got to my feet, still clutching the letter. There was a two-inch hole in the sheet. At centre of the hole was the former location of the punctuation mark, now blown to pieces.

Perhaps I should have called the police at this point, but this did in no small measure validate my decision to resign from the Apostrophe Preservation Society.

One week after this event, I received an email from an email address that I did not recognise. This contained further unrepeatable vulgarities. The text was littered with apostrophes. Before I could delete the email, each apostrophe shimmered on the screen. The monitor exploded. I was thrown backwards off my chair, and I knocked my head hard on the bookshelf behind me. My hair was singed and the room was a frightful mess.

I imagine he had detonated the apostrophes remotely using a Perl script, or perhaps an XML angle bracket bomb. Thereafter, I resolved not to open any more correspondence from Drummond of any kind.

The next Saturday, I walked to Harrow town centre. There was cake sale in St. Johns church hall, advertised by a pink neon poster on the open door of the church. The writing was in black magic marker. I saw a misplaced apostrophe between a “cake” and an “s”, and smelt burning.

The explosion took the door off its hinges. The shock front threw me to the ground, and the door spun harmlessly above my head. It sliced neatly into the bus shelter. I struggled to my feet and returned home quickly by a different route.

I have had a few near-misses since then. I was nearly caught out yesterday when an apostrophe detonated above a hairdressers. If I had been on the same side of the street, I might have been killed.

It is more of an inconvenience than anything else. I choose to vary my route home from work every day. I am unable to visit the greengrocers any longer, of course. But, in fact, much of the high street is now off limits.

In a way, I am probably now as sensitised to misused apostrophes as Drummond himself is. Having given this a great deal of thought, its now my view that we should abolish the apostrophe completely. Few people can use it correctly. Its more trouble than its worth.

2 The brave mole and the snake 2

The moles were terrorised by a huge snake that patrolled the molehills every day.

Come outside, called the snake when the sun blazed high. Come outside from your holes. Come into the light.

We will not, said the moles each time, and they cowered in the deep.

But one brave mole wasn’t afraid of a snake, or anything else.

Beware the snake, the other moles said.

The brave mole lived deep in the earth. He farmed thousands of worms. They writhed uneasily in his larder, at the bottom of his burrow.

One bright day, as the sun blazed high on the molehills, the snake called upon the moles again. It hadn’t eaten for weeks. It stopped above the brave mole’s burrow by a cone of fine soil.

Come outside, called the snake. Come outside from your hole and come into the sunlight.

Come inside, called the mole in reply, tiny eyes twinkling in the darkness, like brilliant black diamonds. Come inside and bite my juicy worms.

I will eat your worms, said the snake. I will eat your worms and I will eat you. You will be digested for a week, getting thinner and thinner, until there is nothing left of you at all, except your hair and your claws. Come outside in the sunlight or I will come down for you.

I’m not interested in your sun, replied the mole, matter-of-factly. I emerge in the evening. You are welcome to my worms.

I will come for your worms, spat the snake. And I will come for you.

The snake was hungry enough to eat worms as well as moles.

Come inside if you must, laughed the mole. Come inside in the dark.

I can see in the dark, replied the snake, curtly. I can see in the sun. I can smell your worms. I can smell your fear.

But the brave mole wasn’t afraid at all.

The snake was stricken with its hunger. Its eyes blazed red. I come, it said, and it pushed its head down into the molehill.

The loose soil parted and the snake ploughed down through the soft wet soil until it dropped, heavily, into the burrow.

I can smell your fear, called the snake, again. It undulated under the roots, writhing like its appetite.

Come into my larder, called the mole. His voice echoed round the burrow walls.

The snake peered through a hole into the larder. It scented the worms but saw nothing inside. It smelled the mole but saw nothing at all.

Spitting and screaming, the snake lurched into the larder, ruby eyes blazing. Coiling and winding, it searched for the worms and the mole.

Venom splashed wildly around the walls.

Delirious, the snake seemed to see a huge worm, winding and coiling. It pounced on the end of its tail in its madness.

The mole was too clever for the snake. It had dug a deep pit for the worms, underneath the larder.

The snake swallowed its tail and it couldn’t let go, its fangs facing back. It would have howled with rage.

The mole watched from the tiny window he had made.

The snake began to swallow its tail. It formed a circle as it ate, getting smaller and smaller.

Then it was just a head, then nothing much at all.

The mole laughed.

That night, the moles celebrated the demise of the snake in song. The songs echoed through the burrows.

Deeper underground, the worms slept uneasily.

3 Seven teeth

seven teeth

When I was a boy, the school dentist visited our class. He had a white caravan with a bottle green stripe. It was parked outside our school entrance. Gold letters spelled HIGHLAND REGION DENTAL SERVICE.

I had always taken care of my teeth, like I was told. I always brushed them carefully every morning before school and last thing before bedtime. All my other classmates seemed to have lots of fillings. I was proud to have had none.

We had been told to bring our toothbrushes into school. The other children all had brushes with colourful see-through handles. They compared them amongst themselves in the playground and wouldn’t let me see. Mine was a plain white one with a hole in the end.

The school dentist gave us a talk in the gym hall. He was a very tall man with glasses and a black beard. He wore a grey tunic.

We had to sit down cross-legged on the floor. I was in the first row because I was one of the smallest. The floor was dusty and painted with football and basketball marks. My teacher Mrs MacDonald sat on a chair near the doors.

The school dentist stood up at the front and we all had to clap. He made a joke about his teeth that I didn’t understand. The others all laughed behind me. He then told us all about PLAQUE and taught us how to brush our teeth properly.

Mrs MacDonald passed stickers along the rows. They were round and pictured a giant toothy grin with red lips. Balloon-like letters spelled BRUSH YOUR TEETH. Some children stuck their sticker to their shirts and blouses. I didn’t like the drawing. I put the sticker in my shirt pocket.

The school dentist told us we had to hand in our teeth for checking. We had to pull them out and put them in a plastic tray. The tray was passed from the back of the gym hall to the front by Mrs MacDonald.

When the tray was given to me, it was full of teeth. I carefully dropped my own teeth in a little pile so they wouldn’t get muddled up with the others.

The school dentist began rummaging around in it. He said that many of the teeth were already showing too many signs of DECAY for our age. We had to brush our teeth more often.

While he checked our teeth, Mrs MacDonald stood up and wheeled over a television on a trolley. She pushed PLAY on a VCR on the trolley shelf. The tape was of a BBC Schools programme. It showed crowds of men in white costumes falling over after being charged by men in black costumes. The men in black costumes were PLAQUE. I didn’t like them at all.

Eventually Mrs MacDonald told us to clap our hands and we did. We all said THANK-YOU VERY MUCH. We filed out in rows starting from the back. I thought my teacher would return my teeth on the way out but she didn’t.

All the other children were outside, playing and shouting. I really wanted my teeth before lunchtime. I noticed that the other children already had their own teeth back.

I wasn’t allowed to be inside the classroom during playtime but I went in anyway. Mrs MacDonald was at her desk doing marking.

"Can I have my teeth back now?" I asked. Mrs MacDonald was very angry and said that I was late. She pointed at the plastic tray on her desk and told me to collect my teeth quickly then go outside to play.

There were only seven teeth left in the tray. There was one lower incisor and all the rest were molars. All of the molars had dark silver fillings. I told the teacher that these weren’t my teeth. She told me to hurry up.

I went to the toilet and put the teeth in as best I could. I tried to position the teeth to hide the fillings.

When I went into the playground, some of the other children noticed that my mouth didn’t look right. They started laughing and running around me. I tried to spot some of my teeth in the other childrens’ mouths but it was too hard to tell.

At hometime, the dentist’s caravan was still there. I knocked hard on the door. He wasn’t inside so I went home.

My mum was very angry with me. I showed her my sticker. She stuck it on the plastic cup that held my toothbrush to remind me to be more careful with my teeth in future.

4 Nightmares

4.1 Unreliable dad

My wife had left me alone with the baby. She told me she deserved an evening off.

She said: Don’t forget to feed it before you put it down.

As a matter of fact I had forgotton to give it its milk, so I went back into the bedroom to get it up. It was 8 pm. I was quite drunk.

The baby wasn’t there. What I had actually done was hide the two bottle of red wine I had finished in the moses basket, and covered it all up. The white duvet and pillow were stained purple.

I was having trouble standing and I really wanted a sit down. However I searched the house. I didn’t find the baby.

I had to face the facts: I had lost it. Maybe I had put it out with the bins. I couldn’t see my car from the window – maybe it was in the car somewhere. My car keys were in my pocket, so maybe I had been driving.

My wife was really going to be upset. I really couldn’t handle another argument. I thought about going to bed, but I needed some kind of plan.

Then I remembered about urban foxes. They were always breaking into houses and making off with babies and pets. I thought that maybe I could blame it on a fox. That would get me off the hook.

To back up my story, I took the biggest knife from the kitchen drawer and started hacking at the skirting boards with it. That would make it look like a fox had gone berserk in the house.

I wasn’t too sure if foxes could actually open doors or windows by themselves whilst carrying a baby. I counted on them being pretty smart.

It was now 9 pm. I was dreading my wife coming home. I was starting to sober up a bit and I was feeling dehydrated. I decided to call 999 before my wife got home.

A police car pulled up at 9:30. I opened the door and I was surprised to see a police officer with a fox on a rope.

He said: Foxes are easier to train than dogs and they don’t eat nearly so much.

I explained the situation to the police officer and showed him around. The fox stared at the moses basket, drooling.

I said: I’d give that fox a chicken, if I had any chickens!

Yes, please, laughed the fox.

4.2 Assisted suicide

I was listening to the radio in my car on Sunday morning. I wasn’t going to church yet. I was going to the hospital.

There was someone on the radio talking about assisted suicide. She belonged to some advanced medical group that thought it was a good idea. She had written a scientific thesis that proved it.

I parked in the hospital car park. My mum was in a ward with three other old ladies. She had white hair and white skin. She couldn’t walk or talk.

They were all asleep in metal beds.

I had a TESCO carrier bag stuffed into my back pocket. I pulled it out and made it as flat as possible. I put the carrier bag over my mum’s face and stretched it right across. My mum’s mouth started opening and closing silently.

My mum had sent me an email or something and had told me to do it like this, I think.

When my mum’s mouth stopped moving, I noticed the other three old ladies were all sitting upright in their beds. They were all pointing at me.

I stuffed the carrier bag back into my back pocket. I started walking slowly towards the EXIT. All the doctors and nurses and other people in the hospital watched me at I left.

I drove off in my car. There was a man on the radio talking about science and faith. He said that they are both exactly right even though they don’t match up in the slightest. Then the news came on and it was all about me.

I was late for church so I had to park my car on the street.

I opened the heavy painted door. The church was full of worshippers. I found a place to sit on a bench at the back.

I had missed the readings. The priest was giving his homily. It was about euthanasia and about me.

He said that it is a mortal sin and I am going straight to hell. The congregation all turned around look at me.

Then they all started screaming and the priest started screaming and I started screaming too.

5 Storytots 3

5.1 The skeleton boy and the marshmallows

skeleton boy

There was a little skeleton boy. He was made of nothing but old bones.

He really loved marshmallows. One day, his skeleton dad gave him a coin and told him he could go to the shops.

But some people in the village were scared of the little skeleton boy.

Go away, skeleton boy, said an old lady, walking down the village road.

Go away, barked a dog on a lead.

Go away, shouted some other children, from the other side of the road.

Poor skeleton boy. He only wanted to buy some marshmallows. Soon, he arrived at the sweet shop.

May I have a bag of marshmallows, please? the skeleton boy asked the shopkeeper, politely. The pink and white ones, please.

You can have your marshmallows, said the showkeeper, rudely, but then you must leave my shop quickly.

And the skeleton boy, who was really very nice, felt sad that the shopkeeper didn’t like him. He had done nothing wrong. He cheered up a little when he received his huge bag of soft, squashy, squidgy marshmallows.

As he was about to leave the shop, he saw a little girl. A real girl, not a skeleton. She looked at his big bag of marshmallows.

Excuse me, said the skeleton boy to the little girl. Would you like one of my marshmallows?

The little girl looked surprised! Oh, she said quietly, yes please!

So the skeleton boy gave her a marshmallow, a nice pink one.

The little girl’s mother was watching in the shop.

What a nice skeleton boy, she said.

What a nice skeleton boy, agreed the shopkeeper, who regretted what he had said to the skeleton boy.

Why don’t you come to my house? said the skeleton boy to the little girl.

Oh, may I, mummy? said the little girl.

Of course, said her mother.

So they all went back to the skeleton boy’s house. The skeleton boy and the little girl played together. The girl’s mother and the skeleton mother chatted all day and drank tea. The skeleton dad went into the kitchen and prepared their dinner.

And what did they all eat for dinner?


5.2 The three colourful bears

Once upon a time, there were three colourful bears who lived in three colourful houses.

But the blue bear was tired of living in the blue house, the green bear was tired of living in the green house, and the pink bear was tired of living in the pink house.

They all decided to swap round.

The blue bear moved into the green house, the green bear moved into the pink house, and the pink bear moved into the blue house. They were all very happy for a little while.

But soon, the blue bear found the green house too fresh and bright, the green bear found the pink house too cute and cloying, and the pink bear found the blue house too cool. So they all went home.

Once they had all settled back in, the blue bear, the green bear and the pink bear had lunch together in the woods.

What we really need, they said, is a holiday.

So they all moved into a big red house by the ocean for a week, and they had a wonderful time.

5.3 The little girl with the new head

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wasn’t very careful.

One day, she bumped her head, and her head fell off and rolled away.

Oh dear, said her mum. How can she live without a head?

I know, said her dad. I shall fit her with a new one.

First they tried a balloon. It was at the right size and shape, but it got smaller every day, and one day went POP.

Then they tried a crab. It had two eyes, but it kept nipping her shoulders with its claws.

Then they tried a dinner plate. It was solid and smooth, but it soon smashed to pieces.

So they went to the doctor, who sent the girl to hospital straight way. The surgeons worked and worked, and eventually grew her head back. It was better than ever.

Will you be careful with your head please?, asked her mum and dad.

Yes, said the girl, and she was.

5.4 The king and the musical bird

the king and the musical bird

Once upon a time, there was a king who loved music.

The king looked out of his bedroom window every morning and looked out over the palace gardens. He would hear the beautiful music of the golden bird.

The king thought to himself, If only I had that beautiful bird in my bedroom, I would hear it every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to sleep.

So he asked the palace carpenter to build a cage and the palace gamekeeper to catch the bird and put it inside.

The bird won’t like to be in the cage, warned the carpenter.

The bird won’t like to be in the cage, warned the gamekeeper.

I’m the king, said the king, and I shall do as I please.

So the bird was caught and put in the little cage. At bedtime, the king sat up in his pyjamas.

Sing for me, little bird, said the king. But the bird was too sad to sing.

Please try to sing, said the king, or I shall be very angry.

But the bird could not sing, because a bird is not supposed to be in a cage. Then the king realised what he had done.

I’m sorry, little bird. I will let you go.

So the king opened the cage and the bird flew out.

Thank-you, sang the bird beautifully, and it flew out the window.

The next morning, the bird sing from the tallest tree in the garden. The king, the carpenter, the gamekeeper and everyone in the kingdom heard the beautiful music and were very happy.

5.5 The baby bees and the bear

One day, the baby bees were very hungry. BZZ BZZ BZZ, they called.

The mother bee heard their calls. I shall go into the kitchen, she thought, and make them some honey.

BZZ BZZ BZZ called the baby bees! The mother bee made some of most delicious honey she had ever made. The sweet smell drifted out of the hive windows and into the woods.

BZZ BZZ BZZ cried the baby bees.

Shh, now, baby bees, said the mother bee. You must wait till the honey cools down.

Deep in the woods, the brown bear was awoken by the smell of the honey. He had never smelled anything like it in his life. He followed the scent until he reached the hive.

He peered through the hive windows and saw the tiny pots of honey cooling in the kitchen.

I can never fight a bear, cried the mother bee, and hid in the kitchen cupboard.

BZZ BZZ BZZ cried the baby bees loudly, out of sight of the bear.

The big bees must be coming, thought the bear, because the baby bees were buzzing so loudly. The bear ran away, frightened by the noisy little baby bees.

Well done, my little baby bees, called the mother bee, and gave them all a hug. You frightened away the bear.

The baby bees ate their honey, and lived happily ever after.

5.6 The greedy wasp and the kind bee

One day, there was a hungry wasp. She loved to eat anything sweet. She flew around the wood, searching for some sweets to steal.

On the far side of the wood, a bee had finished making her honey. She left the honey outside her hive in huge glass jars, to cool in the breeze. There was plenty of honey for the winter, even some left over to take to the market.

The wasp could smell the sweet smell of honey from far away. She quickly found the hive and hovered around it, spying the jars of warm honey.

"I’ll take some of that honey for myself," she thought.

So the wasp flew straight into a jar, and was immediately completely coated in sticky honey. The honey covered her wings and legs, making them heavy.

"Help!" she cried! "I will drown!"

"What’s that?" cried the kind bee. Seeing the wasp in trouble, the bee pulled her out.

"Thank-you!" spluttered the honey-covered wasp.

The kind bee helped to wash the wasp clean, using her special beeswax soap.

"I’m sorry," said the wasp, and to prove it she cleaned the house from top to bottom.

The bee was so impressed she gave the wasp a special present – a jar of her best honey! And they were now best friends.

6 The mysterious dragon

One day, an alligator met a crocodile in a murky swamp. They looked almost exactly alike. They glided towards each other then glided slowly apart as they passed.

The alligators lived to the west of the swamp. The crododiles lived to the east of the swamp.

The alligator returned home with a tale to tell.

"I saw a mysterious creature," it said.

"A strange creature!" replied the alligators.

"Its snout was long and thin," said the alligator.

"It had a long, vicious mouth and fearsome sharp teeth!" cried the alligators in alarm.

"It was a pale grey colour, barely visible in the pool," said the alligator.

"It has mysterious powers of invisibility!" cried the alligators in a panic. "A magical dragon!"

The mothers scooped up their babies in their mouths and hid them under rocks.

"We must protect ourselves!" cried the alligators together. "We must protect ourselves from the dragon!" So the alligators assembled an army.

Meanwhile, the crocodile has returned home with a similar story to tell his fellows. He terrified them with his report of a mysterious dragon with massive crushing jaws. It was hiding in the swamp, he said. The crocodiles assembled an army too.

Far, far above the world, soaring and diving, a red dragon observed the two armies. Its scales shone like rubies.

The alligators to the west and the crocodiles to the east slowly marched towards each other.

The dragon was the most vicious creature in the world. As it watched the armies from the skies, it overhead the chanting below.

"SLAY THE DRAGON!" called the alligators in the west.

The dragon’s ears were keen. No creature with greater hearing had ever lived. It listen to the east too.

"SLAY THE DRAGON!" called the crocodiles in the east.

The dragon looped high in the sky then swept over the alligators, breathing jets of red lightning from its mouth. The crododiles were incinerated instantly. The dragon flew gracefully up and over the swamp, beating its two huge wings. The crocodiles were incinerated just the same.

All that was left of them all were small mounds of grey dust.

7 Fishsharing: a parable 4

"Look. This fishsharing craze is going to have to come to an end. It’s happened twice already.

It’s harming the fishing industry. Fishsharing is just plain wrong.

Basically, they’re my fish. No, I didn’t make the fish. Who are you saying I am? But I caught them, and now someone has to buy them. Well, I didn’t catch them – I’m a businessman!

The last thing I want really are overfed, satisfied peasants. Who is going to buy my fish now?

Fishshared fish is poor quality. Fish bought from me is guaranteed to be the tastiest and freshest - that’s a promise! Fishshared fish will make you sick.

I’m going to prosecute anyone receiving fishshared food. It’s not right. I’m going to arrange for the Romans to arrest fishsharers. I can give the Romans some of my fish – at a reduced fee!

That goes for loavesharing as well."

8 The spectator

I remember being born. The optician held me carefully by the legs and held me up to the lights. He had built me himself in his lab.

He took me into the showroom and put me on the nose on a pretty girl from Harrow. She looked about 20. All the others glared at me from the racks, a hundred pairs of display lenses.

She adjusted me with her small fingers around her ears and pushed me up her nose. She looked in the mirror and smiled.

She took me home. I like to amuse myself with the notion that I am in fact piloting her rather than merely riding aboard.

I don’t actually get to see her much except when she looks in the mirror. I hate it when she leaves me upside-down beside the alarm clock, but mostly I can watch her sleeping. Sometimes she even leaves me in the bathroom when she has a shower. I wish I could tell her how I feel about her.

I can sense the others’ jealousy as she is walking down the street, or taking the tube. I feel quite possessive of her, to be honest.

9 The Moon House 5

The Earth

I really regret buying a piece of the moon when the chance came along.

Property prices in London were so high that I had never seriously considered buying a place of my own. I had saved a small deposit and had no real debts, but I couldn’t afford even a studio flat.

I’d read about shared ownership, where ownership of a property is split between a buyer and a housing association. There were regular articles about it in the Evening Standard.

A housing association called A-First Housing Group had built a new shared ownership development on the moon. They were inviting applications.

I thought it would be a good first step on the housing ladder. I had always loved looking up at the moon. I decided I wanted a piece of it to call my own.

I sent off for an application form. It was pretty complicated. They provided a recommended list of solicitors that had shared owership experience.

When I phoned them, they told me I would only be accepted if I met certain criteria. They didn’t tell me what the criteria were. They posted me an acceptance letter three weeks after my application.

I nominated a solicitor from the list. I had to pay the housing association’s fees as well. The process took about six weeks. I said goodbye to my friends in Harrow and moved into my new place.

It was a one-bedroom flat. I could travel backwards and forwards to the earth using a special Oystercard. I landed at Euston Station. There was one train in the morning at 7:00 am, and one back at 7:00 pm. There was no train on Sundays.

It wasn’t too bad at first. I had my own space. However, I was only permitted one visitor from earth at a time, and nobody really wanted to come. It was too remote for most people.

I felt a bit lonely. There wasn’t any air on the moon, so I couldn’t go outside. I couldn’t really go out in London after work much because I’d miss the train home. The sunny summer nights in London seemed far away when I looked at earth from the moon.

I had to pay a mortgage, and also rent on the other half of the flat that I didn’t own. The service fees were very high. The air generator fees alone increased four times in three months. The noisy hum of the air pumps sometimes prevented me from sleeping.

I was told that I had to pay the service fees on time every month, or the air supply would be disconnected immediately. I really didn’t want to suffocate alone in my flat.

After about a year, I really wanted to move out. It was hard to talk to someone who could help from the housing association. They had changed names to "First-Group Plus", then to "MetroFirst". All the phone and contact numbers had also changed.

I’d actually found an article online that said that the Moon House units were taking a long time to fill. Some of the units were still empty.

I was only permitted ninety minutes of satellite phone per week, including internet. I usually tried to phone the housing associating at work. They didn’t pick up the phone very much.

MetroFirst sent a quarterly magazine called Your Home. They warned us to pay our rent and not be antisocial. There were lots of pictures of happy new owners. They had already begun inviting applications for a new development on Mars. They had also started building some units on the moons called Titan and Io. I’m glad I wasn’t living there.

I’m stuck here really. I’m not permitted to sub-let and I can’t afford to just walk away from it. I don’t think young professionals really want to live on the moon anyway. There is nothing here.

They worst thing is that it never really feels like mine. It feels to me like the worst of renting and also the worst of buying. I suppose it is my fault. The funny thing is that the earthrise from the moon looks even nicer than the moon from the earth. I watch it through the thick glass windows. Maybe I’ll be able to sell the flat one day.

10 NLP notes 6

Last year, I took over a project at work. The previous Project Owner had left the company. My line manager recommended that I undergo a course of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, because he wanted results.

I found a course of NLP being offered for £2500. The course was recommended on the Association of Professional Project Managers’ (APPM) website.

NLP is the science that produces irrevokable brain alterations. It was invented by Californian project managers in the 1970s.

The course lasted six hours. I was tied to a couch while a Master Practitioner interrogated me in a room full of flashing lights. He transferred his brain structures from his PC and grafted them onto my brain.

In order to pass the course, I had to complete a questionnaire saying my brain was now "Much Improved". He awarded me a certificate in a cardboard tube. I gave it to my line manager.

Unfortunately, the new brain structures weren’t particularly sympathetic to the brain structure I had in place before the treatment. Occasionally I lose control of legs. I slur my speech now. I suffer from blackouts and vivid hallucinations.

I went to the GP yesterday. He said the Master Practitioner had designed the brain structures using two incompatible versions of Microsoft Visio. The GP told me that my brain probably needs surgical correction. I am now on a waiting list to see a consultant.


1 Published in New Horizons. Issue 4. The British Fantasy Society. 2009. Join the BFS ( for the best in fantasy, science fiction and horror. See also for modern slipstream fiction.

2 Published in BFS Journal – New Horizons. Winter 2010. The British Fantasy Society. 2010.

3 For children.

4 Though based on a miracle: see Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 6:31-44, Mark 8:1-9, Luke 9:10-17 and John 6:5-15

5 This is fiction.

6 This is a work of fiction as well. NLP is possibly "…the study of human excellence. It is the science of how the brain codes learning and experience, and can be described as a user’s manual for the brain" –

Author: John <john@john-desktop>

Date: 2011-02-26 01:48:28 GMT

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