{December 30, 2008}   At the office

“Dan, will you do my filing for me?” asked my colleague.

“No,” I replied.

“Oh go on,” she pleaded.

“No, I hate doing your filing,” I said. Besides, I was busy surfing the internet.

“How about you do half and I do half?”

“Look, the last time I did your filing, it was possibly the least pleasant experience I’ve had in my entire life. And I’ve been whipped in the testicles with a horse riding crop.”

“Oh it isn’t THAT bad!”

“Yes it is. Look,” I held up a bent paperclip I’d been using to clean the dirt out from under my fingernails. “I would rather jam this in my eye, right now, than do your filing.”

“Fine, I’ll do the filing myself.”

An agreeable conclusion.


{December 29, 2008}   Christmas

When I was a kid, like most other kids, I believed in Santa Claus. At such a young age you have this blindingly unquestioning faith that everything your parents tell you is the absolute truth – which is why religious parents are such dangerous animals – and some call it innocence. Others, naivety. Personally, though, if you’re going to tell me a big fat man in a red suit squidged down the chimney in the middle of the night to give me all the presents I asked for, as long as I get the goods I’m not gonna complain. A fat man, you say, mommy? Rides a magic sledge with a frickin’ reindeer’s nose to light the way? And he’s given me that brand new bike I asked for? It all makes perfect sense!

When you get older Christmas is a more dismal affair. There isn’t a magic jolly fat man to give me bicycles anymore; just a list of people I have to give presents to or I’ll look like a miser, or worse, poor.

I don’t remember the exact moment Santa Claus ceased to exist to me. It wasn’t a schoolyard incident where a big boy laughed at me for believing in him, and it wasn’t because I was a young Sherlock who unravelled the mystery with some good old fashioned detective work. It was around the time we moved house and went from having a coal fire to electric heaters, losing a chimney in the process. Come Christmas it occurred to me that Santa had no traditional point of access to our house – how was he to give me my present?

“Oh, that’s okay, he can use the front door,” said my Dad and it all sort of fell apart after that. If Santa could use doors like normal people then why the merry fig was he coming down the chimney all the time? It boggled the mind. I grew suspicious. Santa died.

{December 27, 2008}   Sunspots

There was a time when I thought I could really make it as a fiction writer, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I can string a sentence together, sure; sometimes even more than one. But eventually I run low on imagination juice and grind to a mind-shattering halt. Silly people call this “writer’s block”, like some nodes in your brain-box got all clogged up with thoughtgunk, the grey matter equivalent of mucus or ear wax. Nah. It’s the ritual that beats me down, something I suspect only professional writers can truly ever understand. That whole getting up and forcing it, page after page, chapter after chapter, day after day just isn’t in me. If muses are fickle then mine’s a fuckin’ china plate balanced precariously on the tip of a rhinocerous’ horn. I’ve got a few seconds at best before the idea’s smashed to pieces and discarded with all the other trashy thoughts that flicker through my mind.

I’m fine with that, though.

{December 27, 2008}   Glass houses

“These are tough times to be living in, my friend,” Jackson said, tossing me a cigarette. I lit up and looked at the sky, inhaling.

“I know,” I said. “We need to be prepared for anything.”

“I hear that, brother,” Jackson said. We were down at the quarry again, stocking up. I picked up a rock and studied it, turning it over in my hand.

“Do you think these will be enough?”

“Shit Dan, look around you. We got more rocks that we could ever ask for!” Jackson laughed, flicking some ash from his cigarette. “When those greenhouses come down, you and me are gonna be ready. We’re gonna be fine.”

They fell from the sky in droves, sparkling in the morning light, casting great emerald shadows and farting that noxious, lethal gas. Humanity stood unified in its bewilderment, but not Jackson, and not I. One by one we took them on; shattered their bodies with rock after rock until they were fine splinters of glass, crunching beneath our boots.

The world went on as it had before, and people quickly forgot the mistakes of our past. Within a few short months of The Greenhouse Effect, as it was known, people were rebuilding them. Tighter control measures, stricter security and endless red tape, sure. But I knew it wouldn’t be enough to contain them. Jackson and I went back to the quarry to stock up.

“See, we never learn,” Jackson had said, tossing rocks into a wheelbarrow while I got the van ready. “Gotta have our tomatoes all year round, can’t live without our precious tomatoes, they say. Fucking lunatics.”

“The developing world is our problem now,” I said. “It’s all the refrigerators. Freons, Jackson. More than you can count. Before long the greenhouses will be back at full strength.”

“I know, buddy, I know. But we’ll be ready, won’t we?”

I picked up a rock and smiled, sadly.

“Yes. We’ll be ready.”

et cetera