If you go down to the woods today……

(previously submitted to 200 word Tuesday. I found this when I was doing a bit of computer pruning. It’s a nice cheery little Thursday morning feel good piece)

It was just an indifferent hole in the ground.
Fringed with black tipped ferns, green with rosettes of moss, dripping with dampness.

One day.
It roared.


Children dared each other to go into the forest.
They’d peer into its darkness.
Tug at its leafy under belly.

They were terrified.
Because of stories heard.
Stories of a secret place within the forest.
A place where wandering children were gobbled up.
Never to be seen again.

One summer afternoon after weeks of rain, the forest sang with lushness.
It was inviting. Enticing.
Songbirds sang. The sky was blue.
It was far from frightening.

Peter, Paul and Mary went in.
Soon they were lost.
The forest hugged them.
Enveloped them.

After what seemed like hours, they stumbled into a clearing. It was eerily silent. Before them lay a flat, cosy, river of green.

In the middle, a round of old ferns.

They skipped to the fringe.


The hole roared and sucked them in and down and down like many nosey children before them.

Today children still play at the edge of the forest.
Looking in.

Unaware of the dangers that lurk within.

‘It’s only a story’

Or is it?

Belfast Snow and Deep Sea Blue Eyes

When I was nineteen
(and green)
I bought contact lenses
(a girlfriend told me
my eyes were deep sea blue
and I, a sucker for a
compliment didn’t see
through her cruel hullabaloo)

I ditched my glasses
and perservered with
hard silicon wafers
fused onto pupils like
pin dot lasers burning
craters into my eye balls.

She soon ditched me.

In later years
she confessed
that she liked
me in glasses best
and the lenses fiasco
was a ruse to massage
my ego so that I
would massage her libido.

We remain bestest friends.

One snowy Winter night
as the result of a
drunken snow fight
I lost a lens and
we scrambled with
buckets and several
fuck its and scooped up
most of Belfast’s
snow. Then painstakingly
melted and sifted,
expected, but never saw
my lens again.

It was a no show.

Now, in advancing years
with variable strength
variofocals in place,
I’m happily married to
a deliciously glasscentric
woman who balks at the sight
of my spectacle-less face
and loves me for who
I really am…

a spectacle wearing beardy man.

#FP Bubbles and the Crusade for the Golden Friday Phrases Unicorn. Her adventures in Trippy Dippy Serendipity Land

This was to be Bubble’s swansong. She couldn’t resist the promise of one more puce adventure so thrilling, so fraught with danger and thrills, a fitting legacy for her slidiness. But she couldn’t do it alone.  She needed the largest team of FP superheroes ever assembled. The crème de la crème de menthe. This was to be her fate and their collective destiny.

So Bubbles began to assemble a band of brothers: a band of Friday Phrases superheroes. All united in a common purpose, a spiritual crusade, to search for the holy grail of Friday Phrases….

The Quest for the Golden Friday Phrases Unicorn.

The Bandit sat by the pool sipping Shiraz through a hosepipe. The slidy phone rang. Hernandez answered it.

“Si? Senorita Bubbles! Senor Bandit! Eets Bubbles!”

“Hi Bubbles Darling! Enjoying retirement?”

“Don’t you darling me Bandit! And no I’m not actually and that’s why I need your help.”

“I’m listening”

“The Golden Friday Phrases Unicorn…”

“You mean…..”


“Ah. HERNANDEZ! Fetch the puce slidymobile. We’re back!!”

All over the known and unknown world, and below it too, slidy phones rang and the call went out to every member of TLOTFPC’s (The League of Tricksy FP Characters).

Mrs Hoititoit broke off her conversation with Henrietta, Kim and Tim gave Demetri the slip and Timmy left class.


“Yes Jeffrey?”

“What’s that infernal noise?”

“I haven’t heard that for a long, long time Jeffrey. I think that’s the secret slidy phone”

“That means that Bubbles needs us”

“Best answer it Jeffrey”

“Hello? Bubbles is that you? Bubbles! Yes of course we will.”

“Bubbles needs our help dear”

“That’s nice. Gin?”


Deep within the mysterious mists of Trippy Dippy Serendipity Land, safe from the prying eyes of mere mortals, is TLOTFPC’s galaxy headquarters. (It’s not made of velvet chocolate. Sorry to disappoint). It is indescribably beautiful. An ethereal presence. An imagination. And only reachable through a magic time portal. A portal so old that it predates time. A timeless time portal.

The first to arrive was The Bandit and Hernandez. They zipped out of the portal at 5 gazillion light years per hour. Hernandez activated the emergency brake, but it was too late and they crashed. The resulting crater was over two miles deep. Bubbles stood at the edge and peered in.

“BANDIT!” she called.

“I’m ok, I’m ok, I’m ok” echoed Bandit. “Have you got a rope?”

“I’ll give you rope!”

Just then Timmy arrived and joined Bubbles at the crater’s edge. Then Mrs Hoititoit, Kim and Tim and finally Cybil and Jeffrey.



“Perhaps a nice Gin for everyone?”

“YES PLEASE!” they cried.

“What about us?” asked Bandit.

“You got yourself into this mess…”


Much later. Then later still. Everyone gathered around the round table of fate and destiny and Bubbles unfurled a piece of a ragged parchment map. In turn everyone put their piece onto the table until the map was complete.

“It’s not a very good map, is it?” remarked Timmy.

“It’s almost as if it was drawn by a child”


“It was” said Bubbles.

“It was drawn by Tricksy when he was loaned out as a small child to the Escoplotitans of Eraticus Minor”

“You’ve just made that up!”



They huddled over the map. Then they had a group hug. Mrs Hoititoit made tea (which Cybil and Jeffrey laced with Gin) and Kim and Tim flitted about nervously as International water skiing spies do.

Meanwhile, The Bandit and Hernandez had unfolded the portable Shiraz pool and lay lounging under the serendipitous mists, wondering what the day ahead would bring.

‘The day ahead’ thought Bubbles. ‘The quest for the Golden Friday Phrases Unicorn’

Then her thoughts turned to home. And out of the mists, high in the sky above Trippy dippy Serendipity Land, a small group of stars twinkled. She was safe in this place. Her guardian stars would look after her. She would complete this final challenge and be back in time for Saturday tea.

As night chilled, the super dooper band of characters snuggled down to sleep. Full of excitement for the adventure ahead and full of Gin, Shiraz and tea. And, in Timmy’s case, full of youthful exuberance.

Tomorrow would bring challenges and excitement and thrills galore. They would meet strange creatures like the seven eyed slideruleisorus and the rumpy pumpy spiders of Lendmeyourspoon.

Will they succeed in their challenge?

Will Bubbles find her holy FP grail?

Will The Bandit be sober enough to make it through the day?

Find out this and much, much more in next week’s enthralling episode!

Mary Scullion’s Bar 1976

rounds of drink and coarse lipped chat
trite musings about nothing much in particular

But the sheer weight of observational shite!

many a fight would erupt as drink flowed
and minds emptied of any sense and sensibility.

minds emptied like drink pissed down the pisser.

the bar was full of big men with strong outdoor hands.
rough oafs with big booming market lungs bellowed and
threatened to “bate yer pan in”

we had our spot.
soft, orange vinyl seats
feet away from the big TV
perched on a shelf in the corner.
we sat in drainpipe jeans and bull red DM boots
glued to Match of the Day
and sinking pints of Harp and Smithwicks.

we avoided any bother.

hushed in dark corners, hunched over amber glasses of
John Powers whisky cut with Magherafelt spring water,
a few alcoholic thinkers whispered about politics and

(it was Northern Ireland after all)

and surrounded by politics and religion and loud
shouts and backslapping ‘punch your lights out’ nonsense
we watched 22 men boot an inflated ball of leather
around a piece of English grass.

that night, no doubt, a bomb went off somewhere.
someone was shot. a bus burnt. a woman disappeared
to be tortured, murdered and buried in some Irish bog.

we chose to be blissfully ignorant.
we were only teenagers after all,
juking into Mary’s Bar on a secret underage nod.
nothing to do and light years behind
the English punks and mods.

we were green behind the ears.
or orange, as the case might be.
green and orange teenagers
watching football in a bar.

Lunchtime Melancholia and Trevor

This old melancholia is starting to get the better of me. I say ‘old’ because this particular bout of melancholia started when I was about sixteen and has been a pervasive part of my life for a long time now.

Today has been a particularly  melancholicesque day.

I used to patronise a particular restaurant at lunchtime. Nice food, quiet, clean, quiet. Did I say quiet? Anyhoo. That is until one day an elderly gentleman and his wife decided to make it their lunchtime restaurant too. Nothing wrong with that, you might think, but there was something wrong. Something very, very wrong. Trevor and his wife (I don’t know his real name, but he strikes me as a Trevor) are serial complainers.

“The soup’s too liquidy! The crust on this bread is too bready! This water doesn’t taste like the water I usually have”

OH FUCK OFF! Sorry. that was rude.

So. With regret, as I loved that little restaurant, I found another lunchtime watering hole and for a time I was happy. As happy as a lunchtime melancholic man can be. Until about ten minutes ago that is. Yes, you’ve guessed it. The door opened and in walked not only Trevor and his wife but an entire entourage of Trevor spawn. All sizes and sexes and ages. His wife immediately set to work dusting imaginary dust and tutt tutting at a single chip on the floor. One chip in an otherwise entirely spotless restaurant! Throw the staff to the catering lions!

And Trevor? He looked through the menu, his little piggy nose wrinkling in disgust. You could tell he was spoiling for a food fight. Not with: about.

Until Trevor arrived I was happy. Almost cheerful. And thanks to him it’s HELLO MELANCHOLIA!

I am definitely destined to murder Trevor and quite possibly his entire family. And by the time you read this, the deed may already have been done and I will be smothered in chains and straightjacket and bashing my head off the wall of a padded cell.

I quite like my own company. It’ll make a pleasant change from the heady world of lunchtime socialising with the likes of Trevor and his kind. And once the word gets out, there’ll be a nationwide campaign to ‘Free the Trevor Killer’ ‘Justice for the Trevor One’ and I will be carried from the courtroom on giddy exhuberant shoulders and marched to my favourite little restaurant and my special seat by the window. And no Trevor.


That’s Trevor. I’ve got to go. Melancholic duty calls. The future of lunchtime dining is at stake. This table leg should do the trick.

See you when I get out.


Last night I spent hours, glass of wine in hand, exploring the causes of my aches and pains on WebMd.

My wife sat watching TV, glued to catch up episodes of Casualty, and tutted. She doesn’t approve of my hypochondria.

Anyhoo. According to WebMd, I’m dead. Stone cold dead. An ex Tricksy. But, as it’s me typing this morning meander, clearly I’m not.

My wife dismisses my aches and pains as figments of my flighty imagination. I wish they were. But they’re not. They’re very real. And achy.

They’re a combination of inner and outer pains. Some come and go. Others malinger. All are mysterious and don’t readily lend themselves to conventional diagnosis.

I don’t like medical doctors much. I have a friend who’s a doctor but he’s not a medical doctor. He’s a doctor of economics. Come to think of it, I don’t like him much either.

Once I had a slight swelling in my ankles and my doctor diagnosed gout and advised me to restrict my alcohol intake. Good grief! I hardly touch the stuff!nicholson-600

Back to my maladys. Pains which stop me going to sleep. Pains which stop me in my tracks. Pains which are, quite frankly, a pain.


  • Continue as I am and suffer.
  • Go and see a doctor. Pah!
  • See a faith healer.
  • Shoot myself.

There are, of course, more colourful and imaginative solutions to this painful dilemma. Aversion therapy for one. I could immerse myself in charitable work, sail around the world in a tin bath, list all the palindromes which start with ‘P’ or write the definitive guide to buttons of the world.

Presently, as I sit at my desk, in my office, drinking coffee and writing this inane drivel, my fingers are shooting pins and needles. My knees ache. My brain hurts (MISTER GUMBY!) and my tummy is rumbling. Wait! Perhaps it’s hunger!

Time for breakfast!

Mother Nature changes her dress

I cycled to work. A tired, sweaty MAMIL (beard in particular).

I’ll have a coffee before I shower. A sweaty MAMIL needs a morning coffee. It’s reward for the senseless pain and needless exercise.

I scribbled the following on twitter before I set off.

grey street is full of busy morning faces with sleepy eyes and traces of last night’s whisky on their breath and emptiness on their minds

I was remarkably sober last night. Sure, I had a few beers, honestly, only a few. And my mind is remarkably clear and lucid. Unusual for 9.30am.

Anyhoo. It was strangely chilly this morning. And the streets had no colour. It’s that ethereal time between the end of hot Summer colours and the magical rich hues of Autumn. The trees holding onto their leaves like doting mothers as the wind nips and tugs.

beneath the old brick bridge near King’s Lock, a polish tramp berates my passing, his sleepy head emerging from a crumpled sleeping bag to wish me a sharp (and not very cheery) ‘Fuck off’ in a heavy Polish accent, slurred with the morning after effects of Polish vodka

Even the birds are in a crabby mood this morning. Strangely muted as if they know that change is afoot. Chicks which were paraded with parental pride yesterday are hidden amongst the reeds out of harm’s way. Out of the grip of the sudden chill.

I ramble. My coffee’s all but finished. I yearn for another cup. But I have to get out of this Lycra, shower and suit and boot myself to face a corporate world which doesn’t give a shit about the vagaries of the British weather or my close encounter with the Polish tramp.

I have to get ready to rule my little world.

I have to pretend to be someone else.

I have to earn my crust.

Then I’ll cycle home alone and perhaps have a glass of Shiraz or two.

Or three. And watch Mother Nature change her dress.

Altruism? PAH! Not on a Monday.

I should understand motivation and reward. To an extent I do, but to a greater extent, I don’t.

“Would you like a long, cold beer in exchange for mowing the lawn?”

Perhaps I would.


“Would you like to mow the lawn?”

“What’s in it for me?”

“The satisfaction of a job well done”

“No beer?”


“In that case I’ll pass”

Motivation and reward at its simplest. A choice between a distinctive reward of cold beer and the vagueness of self motivation and self satisfaction. Give me the money honey!

Maslow was an utter bastard.  A hierarchy of needs indeed! The sacrifice of self for the good of others. Acts of unselfish giving. Where rewards are intangible and quite possibly stored in Heaven or at the bottom of a Hobbit’s garden. Take your pick.

My imagination is a selfish thing. It brings its own rewards. Its own buzz with a capital B. By its very sprite like nature, it flits and eludes and evaporates and scrabbles and annoys. It is both frustrating and bequiling in equal measure.  And the process of creating something out of an atom of an idea is reward enough for me. The creation of something unique. Something personal. The choice is to share or not. The reward is not so obvious.

Reward. The promise of release. A selfish tease. A self centred right of passage. It’s got nothing to do with you unless you happen to get in my way, or offer to help in the process of my self gratification. Become part of the process. A willing helper. A facilitator. Do as you will.

Perhaps I do understand motivation and reward or, at least, I understand self motivation and what it takes to float my own boat. But don’t ask for a ride. I’m much too selfish for that. Besides, what’s in it for me Mister Maslow? A cold beer? Sorry. I’d prefer a glass of chilled Chablis.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on looking for my altrusitic mojo. Perhaps it’s out there somewhere. In the depths of my selfish imagination.

“Why publish it then if not for the hope that someone will respond and this will feed your need for self gratification?”

Ah. My helpful inner self. Everyone should have one.

Happy Monday to you.

The late night train to Manchester with an Oompa-Loompa band.

I went to Germany once. It was totally by mistake. I’d meant to go to Manchester via Chesterfield but somehow I ended up in a beer tent outside Munich.

Any hoo. These things happen from time to time.

Back to the beer tent. I got stuck into giant flagons of German lager, heavy with tasty white froth and snacked on an assortment of flicknicks and Macklemore niggles. Then the band started. As I was in a beer tent I expected an Oompah  band but what I got was an Oompa-Loompa band. Hundreds of little Oompa-Loompas basting horns and saxophones and susiphones and all manner of brass horny things.

The sound was magnificent. Each note soared and everyone swayed in time to the music. Glasses clinked and backs were slapped. Then a man in a Virgin Railways uniform tapped me on the shoulder. He leant down and whispered “We’re holding the Manchester train for you Mr Tricksy. We’ll have to be quick.”

I had to rush from the beer hall and the Oompa-Loompa band. We slipped furiously into the night and when I woke up, the train was just pulling into Manchester Piccadilly.

It was the strangest train journey I’ve ever had.

How meteors almost saved the Welsh rural Post Office

I’m trying to stay awake so that I  can watch the Perseid meteor shower later tonight.

I’ve got my telescope, big camera with a HUGE  lens and I’ve read all the articles on time lapse photography, googled all the techniques and plotted the exact spot on the horizon where I can expect to see the first of the action.


There’s a programme on BBC Two about the future of country Post Offices in Wales! God bless them! It’s difficult being a postmaster in Wales. So many sheep and then there’s the t’internet taking away from the mystical art of letter writing and sending postcards. And people don’t send many Tam o’ shanters by Royal Mail any more.

“That’s a Scottish cap”

I’m sorry about that. A playful comment from my inner self!

“I’m right, you Div!”

Any hoo.

Where was I? Ah. Meteors. Perhaps the Rural postmasters in Wales could charge people to use their rooftops as ad hoc meteor gazing venues? And sell tea and coffee and bowls of Cawl. That could help save our local post offices. That could preserve a way of life that’s been alive in the Welsh valleys for centuries and introduce thousands of law abiding 1p stamp purchasers to the wonders of amateur astronomy.

“There’s going to be too much cloud cover to see the meteors tonight!”

I guess that’s the end for Welsh rural post offices then?

“I’m afraid it is.”