November 16th

It's a cold and wet morning here for us in Kent. We wish you better weather! And here's your Message for today:


It was as he was going to the loo for the second time in an hour just to avoid the silence between them that the strange man approached him.

‘What do you want?’ John stuttered, but the man put his hand up to stall him.

‘Couldn’t help but notice the conversation seems rather dry in your corner,’ he said.

John grimaced.

‘Have you tried the Jokeman?’ The man gave John a number, told him about this service - a joke for free, the cost of your telephone call, a joke appropriate for any situation, particularly one when you can’t think of anything to say to a girl you’re desperately trying to impress. And John was desperate.

Minutes later he went back to the table.

‘Two fish were in a tank,’ he said to the girl who was frantically trying to hide the fact she’d been making a call on her mobile. ‘One turned to the other and asked ‘do you know how to drive this thing?’”

To his surprise the girl started to laugh. It eased things so he could begin to tell her how he’d wanted to be a soldier once, and it turned out her dad was, and after that there was no turning back.

Of course, it wasn’t always so simple. John had to use the Jokeman several times after that, and he took pleasure in passing the number on to other guys he saw in similar situations. He’d look over minutes later and see it always worked.

Sometimes he’d wonder if girls used a service like the Jokeman but the girls he met hardly ever told jokes, and he’d see them talking to each other in a way that made him sure they’d never dried up.

No, the girls would have no need of the Jokeman.


  1. Even with a short-term memory which had become the by-word for brief, Geoffrey the goldfish was aware that she was getting bored with the longueurs in his stilted conversation.

    Earlier, his messager – without which he would be completely lost – had told him they were meeting for dinner at six in the top back corner of the tank, so he had a quick check in the glass for flaky bits around the gills, and headed off. Then his messager – without which he would be completely lost – had told him they were meeting for dinner at six in the top back corner of the tank, so he had a quick check in the glass for flaky bits around the gills, and headed off. Then his messager…

    When you’re a goldfish, appointments can be tricky, but they’d managed to meet on time, and the flakes had been delicious. When you can’t remember your last meal, each time is new and exciting. The downside, though, is that by the time you’ve finished eating, you can’t remember what you were doing before you started, which rather puts the mockers on smalltalk, and Geoffrey so wanted to impress his date.

    Just then, his messager – without which he would be completely lost – buzzed. A flash of genius! Anticipating awkwardness, he’d earlier sent himself a joke to break the ice in just this situation. Memory or no memory, he certainly wasn’t stupid.

    ‘Two men were in a tank,’ he said. ‘One turned to the other and asked, “do you know the way to the plastic diver?”’

    That did it. The silence was broken by her delightful, bubbly laughter, and he couldn’t help but join in. They laughed until they couldn’t remember what they were laughing about.

    Just then, his messager – without which he would be completely lost – buzzed.

  2. John went on to have a long and happy life. He married the girl who laughed at his jokes, gave up all thought of the army, became a famous stand-up comedian, had two children and four grandchildren, and died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 84. His widow had many things to do in the days after his death, and one of her tasks was to go to the newspaper office and arrange an obituary for her husband.

    ‘I was so sorry to hear about John’s death,’ said the newspaperman. ‘He was such a kind man.’

    ‘Thank you,’ said John's widow. ‘And how much do you charge for an obituary?’

    ‘One pound per word. You can have as many words as you like.’

    ‘It may be as many words as I like,' the widow said, 'but I don’t have many pounds. It’s not pension day until Monday, and I’ve only got two pounds with me.' She took a pen and a piece of paper from her handbag. ‘Let me think.’

    After several minutes of pen-chewing and head-scratching and scribbling and crossing-out, she gave the newspaperman two pounds and the piece of paper with the obituary written out. It said: “John died.”

    The newspaperman looked at it and his brow furrowed in concern. ‘You know,' he said, 'I think John deserves more than this. He was kind to me many times, and I’d like to do him a kindness in return. I’ll give you three more words at no extra charge.’

    ‘Thank you very much,’ said the widow. ‘That will be a great help.’

    She took the piece of paper again, thought for a moment, wrote three more words on it and handed it back to the newspaperman with a smile. Now it read:

    “John died. Car for sale.”

  3. I’m English. Actually, not completely; my mother is from Glasgow, my father was a quarter Irish. My first husband was an eighth Jewish so my first two sons are a sixteenth Jewish, a quarter Scottish, a sixteenth Irish only leaving three eighths left for their country of birth (I got some paper to work this out as maths was never my strong point, I prefer English). Maybe that’s why us English are hell bent on being so English, I don’t know. Of course, we make gestures towards not being so closed to other languages. If you go down to Newhaven, there is a sign (not in English) reminding people to drive on the left; what happens when they get as far north as Crawley? Is an hour’s drive sufficient to absorb not only a complete English vocabulary but an innate awareness of our traffic customs? I, however, have a special talisman affixed to my car when I drive abroad: the GB sticker (if I was one eighth more Scottish, an Ecosse version would send out completely different signals). If I do get lost, and I can convince my husband that this is the case, we can stop at some remote petrol station for directions and confidently converse with the locals by shouting slowly.

    Getting lost and finding foreign toilets have been major concerns which have dominated my travels. It’s not good when everyone can see your legs behind saloon doors (a French supermarket), when a coachful of people is waiting just for you (Mexico) and when you go into the gents instead (a Chinese in Hastings).

    In Sandvika (Norway), a girl of about eleven addressed me and I adopted a blank, gaping, quizzical look, the badge of my nationality: ‘Oh, you’re English, are you in the queue for the toilet?’

  4. Si puedes hablar y escribir bastante bien en dos lenguas (mejor tres) tienes una ventaja en la vida y tambien puedes disfrutar de mas libros, mas revistas, mas peliculas, etc,. No tienes que ser totalmente bilingue, pero mira, echa un vistazo rapido a los chistes aqui…

    A scrawny cat was hanging around waiting for a mouse to appear from his hole so he could snap him up. After several hours the mouse still had not poked his whiskers out. Then suddenly a rather chubby cat wandered past and asked what was wrong.
    “I have been here all day,” complained the scrawny cat, “and that stupid mouse just will not show his face.”
    The fat cat offered to help and started to bark. “Woof woof, woof woof.”
    The mouse, believing a dog had chased the scrawny cat away, sauntered out of his hole whereupon the chubby cat jumped on him.
    “There you are,” said the chubby cat. “It pays to be bilingual.”

    Y ahora…

    A famous Mexican outlaw frequently headed north to rob banks in Texas. After several successful robberies a large reward was offered for his capture, whether dead or alive, and an American sheriff finally tracked the bandit down to his local bar. The sheriff put his gun to the bandit's head, and said: “You are under arrest. Tell me where you have hidden the money or I will pull the trigger.”
    But the bank robber spoke no English and the sheriff no Spanish. Fortunately, the barman was bilingual and translated the sheriff’s threat. Immediately, the petrified bandit replied, in Spanish, that the money was in a sack under his bed at home.
    “What did he say?” asked the sheriff.
    The barman said: “He said ‘Get lost, you great stupid stinking Yankee idiot. You would not dare shoot me’.”

    alex johnson

  5. "Busy Girls ‘Google’ ! "

    “ …………………
    ………..A woman told her friend: “For eighteen years my husband and I were the happiest people in the world! Then we met.”

    A newly ordained priest, nervous about hearing confessions, asks an older priest to observe one of his sessions to give some tips. After listening, the old priest says... “I’ve got a few suggestions. Try folding your arms over your chest and rub your chin.” The new priest tries . “Very good,” says his senior. “Now say things like 'I see', 'I understand' and 'Yes, go on.'” The younger priest practises. “Well done,” says the older priest. “Don't you think that's better than slapping your knee and saying: “No way! Oh really! What happened next?”

    Two fish in a tank.
    One says to the other: “Do you know how to drive this?”

    Two hunters hunting, one of them collapses. The other guy phones for help. He gasps, "My friend’s dead! What can I do?" The operator says "Listen. First, I need you to make sure he's dead." She hears silence, then a shot! Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, he is now. What next?"

    I said to the Gym instructor: “Can you teach me to do the splits?” He said: “How flexible are you?” I said: “I can't make Tuesdays.”

    Two owls playing in the last frame of a Pool Championship. One is just about to play his shot, when his wing accidentally touches a ball. “That's two hits,” says the other owl. “Two hits to who?” says the first.

    Ice -cream man found dead in his van, covered in chocolate sauce and hundreds-and-thousands? The police said that he’d topped himself.

    Two aerials, on a roof, fell in love and got married.
    The ceremony was rubbish but the reception was brilliant……

  6. “It’s no joke,” she said, then laughed herself. Lottie was like that. She tried to take the serious view but she just wasn’t that sort of person really. Matthew nudged her in the arm.

    “That one got you didn’t it? Go on, just admit it. You thought it was funny.”

    Lottie pulled a face of her own in an attempt to appear cross. “It’s not funny at all.”

    “Why are you laughing then?”

    “I wasn’t.”

    “You were – you know you were.”

    “I wasn’t laughing at the joke – it was your face that was funny – all that face pulling. Anyway, it was in poor taste. Just like all jokes you tell. Why can’t you ever just tell an ordinary joke?”

    “Ah, that would be because they’re not worth telling. The tasteless ones are always the funniest,” he smiled.

    She smiled back

    “You think?” She leaned over towards him and planted a kiss on his nose.

    They weren’t alike at all, had little in common, had completely opposite views on life, and yet here they were, five years down the line, together and happy and about to get married.

    Their friends couldn’t understand how it worked between them. Their friends didn’t get on. They kept them separate – it avoided any friction.

    “Just don’t tell any jokes like that on our wedding day,” she said. “It won’t go down well.”

    “Not with your friends it wouldn’t.”

    “Not even with yours – not at a wedding. Anyway my mother would have a fit.”

    “Worth doing then,” he teased.

    There was a moment of silence between them broken by Lottie.

    “Are we doing the right thing?” she asked for the hundredth time.

    “Of course we are,” he put his arms around her. “We’re good together. We shouldn’t be though, should we? That’s a joke in itself.”

  7. Apparently I ignored you when we first met. In fact I did not even know we met. You told me about it 2 years later when we were out having dinner.
    "You ignored me the first time I saw you"
    "Did I?"
    "Yeah you did. You came into the room and completely blanked me. Went straight over to Jo and started talking to her. Didn't notice me. I noticed you though"
    "I have noticed you now though. I see you there. I see you everyday. I won’t ignore you again.”
    “You will.”
    “I won’t”
    “You will”
    “I bloody won’t! Does it really matter anyway? We are together now. Does it matter that it took a bit longer than it maybe should have? Maybe if I had noticed you when you first saw me, maybe I wouldn’t have liked you. Maybe I was not in the right place to want to spend time with you. Maybe, just maybe I would have seen you, disliked you and then made a point of avoiding you afterwards. What do you think about that then? Maybe we were not meant to be together then. Maybe we needed the time before to get into the right state of mind.”
    “Would you stop saying the word maybe.”
    “You started it. You were the one who brought it up. Seeing as I had no idea that it had happened in the first place how would it matter to me. As far I was concerned we met for the first time in December not October. Makes no difference to me. All I need to know about is how it is now. How we are now. Not how we met or when we actually met. Does it really bother you that much?”
    “No not really. Just like winding you up”

  8. All at once, the sky seemed to cave in at LaLaLand’s central HQ – particularly within the HR complaints department. Whether a glut of key characters had simply fallen out of the wrong side of bed this morning remained to be seen, but judging by the endless stream of phone calls battering the beleaguered team of special conflict advisors, a deep, penetrating funk had descended without warning.

    Every call thus far was logged onto a wall mounted master chart, similar to those used in hospital emergency departments. For curious passers by in the open plan office, its contents made bizarrely interesting reading. For example:

    Superman formally stated serious allegations against Spiderman regarding the unauthorised removal of a pair of red and blue tights from company premises. Spiderman counter alleged, stipulating Superman was working in collusion with the Green Goblin to “fit him up”.

    The Joker wished to raise a formal grievance against Batman, claiming that, despite his best efforts, he had been unable to resolve “professional differences relating to job holder enmity engagement regulations” through an informal channel.

    Batman was having a particularly bad day. Batgirl had already raised a constructive dismissal claim, citing she was forced to resign on the grounds of “deliberate exclusion from routine jobs due to her gender.” Robin was contemplating possible discrimination as a result of his youthful standing, and, to cap it all off, the Bat mobile had recently failed a standard DDA compliance inspection.

    The Incredible Hulk called in, confirming ongoing consultation with his lawyers, further considering an outstanding claim on the grounds of racial discrimination. His main argument was of unfair treatment due to the colour of his skin. His line manager, The Thing, was under investigation.

    Even by their usual, sensationalist standards, rapidly changing times had befallen the world of LaLaLand plc.

  9. I never expected her to laugh. Hadn`t quite entered into my thinking, her response. The Nellie that had accompanied me to Paris in my dream was witty, understanding, sensitive. Perhaps I am asking too much? Perhaps too soon? Yes. That`s it! In my eagerness I have forgotten the rules of courtship: Slowly, slowly slowly. Reading her a poem I`d written about her based on a dream? Seems ridiculous now. I don`t blame her for laughing. What I wasn`t prepared for, even more than being laughed at, was the way being laughed at felt. If you tell a joke and people laugh at it, that feels like you`ve given a gift, a gift that`s batted right back at you. Reciprocal..., that`s the word. But Nellie`s laughter? I swallowed Nellie`s laughter the way a baby tastes sour milk.

    The girl serving us dinner, (with the nose ring), has already taken away the soup bowls and replaced them with a chicken dinner. Although I don`t feel hungry, I am grateful to have something to distract me.
    "You didn`t eat your soup."
    "No, but thanks," I say. She flashes a surprisingly warm smile from behind her liquorice lips. She nods at my hands. "That was lovely. You write poetry?" I look down and realise I am still holding the frozen poem in my hands. I fold it away and push it into my coat pocket. "Erm, no, first try."
    "Well," she turns to Nellie,"aren`t you the lucky one, no man has ever written me a poem."
    Nellie is not listening. Her face is grey. She stares at something above my head and swallows hard. "Hello Mum." Nellie doesn`t answer. Doesn`t even smile. She bends to the floor, swings up her handbag and leaves the table, accidentally knocking her uneaten dinner to the floor.

  10. I’m not a beggar, although I’m often mistaken for one. It’s the places I frequent that do it. When I choose the right ones I come alive in them like a haunting. That evening it was Southgate Station: one of my favourites – the narrow platform, echoing walls, real claustrophobia. I choose my people carefully: always those who’ve avoided me before, though I know they’ve seen me. People who look scared to be out in the night: like the man with the red briefcase.
    He flinched as I approached, as if I might be going to touch his perfect skin with my dirty hands. But he stayed facing me, although his eyes sneaked down to check out his wallet and briefcase and whatever else it was he held most dear.
    These days I look like a shadow. I’ve always been thin but I’ve taken to shaving my head: it lends me a scrawny appearance, a bit like a trussed-up chicken. And I wear the same dirty outfit with the baggy collar and torn sleeves that I found under a snowdrift in Vauxhall last winter.
    ‘I’m sorry, mate, COMIN’ UP TO YOU, LIKE’ the words carried an intensity that made him look straight at me. I needed that. I wanted him to see my face.
    That’s when I got out the paper cup with the razors inside and held it up to him. Begging always does the trick – they think they know who and what they’re dealing with then. That’s when they dismiss you; turn away like you’re worse than nothing. I could see he didn’t usually give money to beggars; his fingers were stiff and fumbled with the coins.
    I never actually let them near the blades: it’s just the thought of their blood, drawing up inside me like a haunting.

  11. She sits alone at the bar. Her hair is falling down around her face, her earrings glitter through it. Her foot in pumps is nervously tapping against the bar stool. She turns and looks down the counter, her eyes seem lost, but warm. He knows that second she is the one.

    He waits for a minute so he wouldn’t be too obvious, then he moves closer. Their elbows touch on the polished surface of the bar.

    She looks at him and finally smiles. It is a tiny smile, but enough to encourage him on.

    “Excuse me,” he starts. “How much do you think a polar bear weighs?”

    She widens her eyes bewildered and he continues, “Yeah, I don’t know either. Let’s just say it’s enough to break the ice. I’m Mark. How’s it going?”

    Then something weird happens. At first she seems to be amused, but then she shrinks away from him. “Ew, you can’t even make up your own pick up line?”

    “What?” he asks and blushes.

    “I read People. Especially the Sexiest Men Alive issue. You just stole Dave Annable’s never used but brilliantly funny pick up line. I can’t believe the things you men would do to get a woman’s attention.”

    He turns crimson when he sees the bartender heard the whole exchange. “I didn’t mean to …”

    “I guess you should hit on less informed women,” she comments with a ghost of a smile. “But then again, a less informed woman probably wouldn’t get the joke anyway.”

    She is openly smiling now and he’s confused by her reaction. Is she insulted?

    “Well, I have to give you credit. You were willing to steal for me even before you knew my name. I wonder what else you’ll be willing to do once you get to know me.”


  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I was uncomfortable in that restaurant. Your jokes weren’t funny and why did you pick Cantonese if you don’t like Chinese food? Did you honestly think Canton was a different country? Still, I’m glad you payed.

    We were the only two people in the building for the first hour of the meal. I felt sorry for the staff. They hung around drinking green tea and watching us for any indication that we might relieve their boredom. I was embarrassed that you asked for a knife and fork to eat dim-sum but it was less of an embarrassment than you trying to eat the pork balls in garlic by spearing them with a chopstick and eating them like a lollipop. The waiter had to face the wall so that we couldn’t see his giggles.

    Did you have to refer to it as chinky? You may have believed yourself the fount of wit – compliments of the two pints of imported lager you decked with the pork balls – but you racist commentary of the antics of the two waiters and the manager was enough to make me relieved that the party of twenty-something darlings came in.

    No set meal for them but a random assortment of starters; enough to justify their used of the karaoke machine.

    We were serenaded over our liqueur coffees by the strains of “Bridge over Troubled Water” sung without heed to tone or lyrical arrangement in the steelyard tones of a Dudley shopgirl. You were in your element.

    You ordered another coffee and wanted to stay. I ordered the bill and wanted to go. This was karaoke night and I was a music lover. You were a folk singer. I’d intended to pay but you said you’d see me later and left me to walk home in the rain.

  14. It was a ticklish job but someone had to do it. And he liked the cape: a swirl of purple with a big, yellow curlicued ‘J’. The tights he could have done without, his legs were too knobbly for lycra, and he avoided reflections when wearing the mask.

    He told everyone he was an accountant. Secrecy was written into the contract, but it was for his own sake too. His sessions at the Fish and Bicycle would be tortuous if the other blokes found out.

    “What do you do?”

    “I’m Jokeman”

    Silence, and then an expectation of non-stop quotable hilarity; followed by a contest to prove that they could do it better.

    He wasn’t a naturally funny guy. He never told jokes at home. Not anymore. It was the look in Lucy’s eyes that did it. That “Here we go, Richard makes a dick of himself, again” and the kids blushing before he even starts “Dad, no, don’t, not in front of our friends.” He had needed a job, had to get out of the house; saw the advert and didn’t cringe at the wage. He took it seriously. He collected every joke book ever written, had stacks of DVDs of comedy shows - you had to watch them, not just read the scripts, to get the timing.

    Right, back to work. Friday evenings were the busiest, between 9 and 9.30, halfway through the main course when the cranberry gravy was cooling, the side-order of seasonal veg was wilting and the small-talk was drying up. The gaps between anything interesting at all were getting longer, the need to gulp wine, force another forkful, visit the loo, becoming farcically frequent.

    Ring, Ring

    “Hello, Jokeman.”

    “Two fish in a tank. One turns to the other and says...”
    “Damn, I’ve forgotten the punch-line.”

  15. Broken wings lay scattered just inside the door. Filoplume and semiplume, powder-down and bristle, tail and flight. She was quite precise. And quality was essential. Whatever didn’t make the grade must be discarded. Left to rot. There could be no deviation or mistake.
    Further discards littered the floor of the hovel. Little heaps of bones and fur, here and here, there and there. Small islands of death.
    His feet were wet from the salt marsh and his clothes were damp from the waterfall spray. The tiny bells around his hat tinkled softly as he moved closer and closer to the fire, closer and closer to the cauldron.
    The witch stirred, her movements wide and sweeping and slow.
    Three rabbit skins, three foxes’ scalps, three wolf claws and a jackdaw’s beak.
    Every time she added another ingredient, she glanced over to him. Noting there was no change in his demeanour, she was forced to continue.
    Five cat’s teeth, five smoked toads, five chopped hares, and a pint of black bear’s blood.
    She glanced again, but still nothing.
    He stopped watching her, for the briefest of moments, to look at the dial on the ancient clock. Too close, too close. Would this be the night that they failed? When his love would be lost for good? Agzetha was waiting for his return? What was the matter with him?
    They would have to act quickly.
    In an instance, the witch left and returned with a new-born boy. She slaughtered the baby in front of him.
    Success, as the jester sobbed. The witch gathered her final ingredient and added it to the brew. The tears of a clown.
    It was getting harder every year. As the jester drank, he thought of the time when Agzetha would be left in her immortal hall without him.

  16. When at a restaurant, museum, cafe, or theatre and in need of relieving myself, I sneak off to the little boy's room. It is always a familiar sight which greets me. A few lonely pubic hairs sitting on the edge of the urinal, a few drops around the edge of the toilet rim. It is usually not a pleasant experience.

    The unwritten rule of the men's toilets is never to take up position at a urinal next to another man. It is just not done. If another man has taken the middle of three cubicles, well tough luck. I couldn't understand why women want to suffer such a grim experience together.

    What was the appeal of the bathroom which made women so keen to join their friends, or even mere acquintances, in their acts? Even the most sexual of males would avoid such a situation with their female companions.

    What was it lying behind that door beside the one I was so familiar with which had such appeal? Were there fountains, free candy floss, muscle-bound men offering soaps and fragrances? Were there chocolates, comedians, celebrities waiting patiently for the honoured females. Had women, in their desire for overcoming masculine oppression been secretly lavishing in a sanitary paradise while their husbands, dates, or friends worried about the price of the bill?

    I had to find out. Drinking gallons of water while enjoying dinner the moment came, where my senses tingled, telling me I needed to go. I climbed the stairs to the toilets, looking from the familiar stickman to his unfamiliar twin in a skirt. She seemed to wink at me as I turned the door handle, slowly. I calmed myself, took a deep breath and stepped forward into an unknown world.

  17. I used to find him very funny. There were rarely any awkward silences between us, we almost seemed to be able to read each other’s minds.

    It helped, of course, that we had been friends for a while first. But dating is so different to hanging out in a group of mates. When we first met, we would all go out together, eight or ten of us, and have a real laugh. Then the group slowly started to fragment into couples and everything changed.

    I was amazed when he seemed interested in me, but our first date went surprisingly well. To be fair, he did seem a little nervous at the start. I decided that he must have had a few beers before we met up, because he kept disappearing to the loo. He reminded me of my last boyfriend, the one who had been too shy to ever make a move.

    Then suddenly, after his second loo trip, he returned to the table with a big smile on his face and cracked a joke. Something embarrassingly stupid about goldfish, I think, though I can’t remember it now. Anyway, it broke the ice completely. We laughed and talked, there was no going back.

    I’m always a chatterbox with my girlfriends. We never ever stop. Often with a man it’s different. Social chit-chat doesn’t come naturally to them, unless they are gay. Have you ever listened to a group of men in a pub? They go on and on without ever saying anything meaningful. They just talk about cars or football and crack crude jokes.

    That evening I saw him in a new light. We actually made a real connection over a silly goldfish joke.

    He still frequently makes embarrassing jokes, of course. But sadly they no longer make me laugh.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. Personally, I think jokes - per se - are a complete and utter waste of time. During that five minutes or so of stuttering (pathetic) I'd have completed another business deal. I simply do not like jokes, I do not get jokes, in short, I do not DO jokes, I believe is the modern terminology.

    I've gone out into the world and engineered a career for myself. Not AS as engineer, obviously, it leans too much on the 'technical' and not enough on the 'professional' for my liking. And I'm nothing if not professional.

    Take this morning, for example, when I overheard Simon and Hugo wittering on about some ridiculous joke involving two fish in a tank. Or should that be fishes, as in the biblical sense 'two loaves and five fishes?' Anyway, I couldn't help but interrupt to say that I hoped those poor fish were housed in an appropriate tank equivalent to their body mass - or should that be masses? I digress. They both looked at me with their mouths open. I shook my head in exasperation before dashing off to my meeting.

    And that's another thing that REALLY annoys my sense of the aesthetic. Hugo looks SO not like a Hugo. He doesn't have the nose to be a proper Hugo. At best, he's a pseudo-Hugo. Between you and me his face is more, how shall I put it, more Wirral than Winchester.

    My home life is busy and fulfilling. I have my two young daughters, Apple and Cinnamon. Both conceived by 'donors' as you'll have correctly guessed. I don't have time for all that faffing about with dating. They are precious gifts. Indeed, if I were to embark on a third, she'd be named Precious.

    No, I am not into jokes at all I'm afraid.

    Louise Laurie

  21. Funny things, birds.
    Sometimes you see one that looks dead scruffy, then it comes out with this wonderful song.

    A Capercaillie is the size of a festive Turkey but very hard to spot because of its camouflage. At the other end of the scale, a Wren weighs about the same as a £1. coin but sounds like a machine gun when he calls his mate - by mate I mean male and female, not buddy, chum, mucker, pal.
    These kinds of birds don't have those kinds of mates.

    Almost all avian blokes are more colourful, display-conscious and talkative than their female counterparts. Size matters too. With birds of prey, like Buzzards or Sparrowhawks, the female is invariably bigger and heavier. Maybe he has to be faster on the wing, doing most of the hunting while she sits at home, on the eggs. Maybe she just eats more.
    All have very big feet when they hatch. The rest of their bodies sort of grow to fit.
    Cocks and hens.

    Some, like Puffins, quickly leave the nest to find their own food. Tawny Owls' chicks - that's young ones, not dames, broads, dolls - they stick around for ages, getting fed before setting up home for themselves.
    Pity the poor Reed Warbler with a Cuckoo in the nest.

    With Britain's favourite bird, the Robin, male and female look exactly alike. You can only tell the difference by their behaviour. He busies himself nest building, then when he's done, she chases him until he catches her.

    Sometimes different species can resemble each other. The only way you can tell them apart is to listen to them singing. Few people can distinguish between two common species, Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler.

    But the birds themselves don't seem to find it too difficult.
    Funny that.

  22. Jokes are funny things, unpredictable; they come at a price. If they misfire they can ruin you. At best you just look a fool. It’s the telling that makes or breaks a good joke. Women should steer clear of this art form. Now take my wife. No, bring her back at once you fool, why would I want to give her away when she makes such brilliant apple pies? Let me rephrase my initial comment concerning my wife which you so crassly misconstrued.

    When my wife starts to relate a funny story, everyone turns off before she’s got the first sentence out, so I have to finish it for her, but by then the punch line’s completely spoilt. If you want to hear a really good joke, keep away from women.

    My grandmother’s idea of a good joke was one her father used to tell his children. As they worshipped him anyway, they always laughed each Christmas when this old chestnut turned up again. A chap’s wheeling a barrow past a Lunatic Asylum (I know - but they didn’t have political correctness in those days, just Loonies shut up in Loony Bins)) An inmate leans out of the window and asks what’s in the barrow and the answer is ‘Manure – it’s to go on the rhubarb.’ Now, here comes the punch line ‘Cor’, says the loony. ‘We’re luckier here, we get custard on ours.’ Well, yes, agreed; but the real reason we don’t think it’s funny is because it’s so dated.

    Mind you, my wife’s talents aren’t confined to her apple pies; she makes a damn good victoria sponge too, light as a feather. When I tried to make one, it turned out flat as a pricked balloon.

    I bet you thought I was going to say – pancake, didn’t you?

  23. She’d known him for ages, through work, as it was with all the men that she knew. They’d always got on, talked shop and joked, and ignored any frisson they might have felt. Then they lost touch, at least for a while.

    “I’m coming for work,” she said on the phone.
    “I’ll pick you up.”
    “Take me to my hotel?”

    She stood at the counter while he held her case. “Just one night,” she said to the man at reception.
    “A double room, Ma’am?” the clerk said with what she felt was the slightest of smirks.
    “Single,” she said.
    “Then twin beds,” the clerk answered in statement of fact.
    She shrugged.

    She poured him a drink as he sat on one bed. She reached him his glass and sat down on the other. He raised it and smiled. She hesitated. She thought she’d imagined the back of his hand fleet over her breast as she sat down. She shook her head slowly. “Cheers,” she said.
    “I can’t stay long,” he said. “My wife …”
    “You didn’t tell her?”
    He shook his head.
    “Never shop talk?”
    He nodded.
    She thought he looked sad, just for an instant. Or maybe she was imagining that, too.
    “How long are you staying?”
    “Just the night,” she said.
    “Will you ring me before you leave?”
    She nodded.
    “I’d better go now,” he said and drained his glass. “Have a good meeting. It was good seeing you.”
    Good seeing you, too, she thought.
    She watched him walk down the hall, saw him turn, give a wave. She raised her hand limply, and the door shut behind him.

    The next day at checkout she phoned as promised. “It was good,” she said.
    There was a silence at his end. She waited.
    “You didn’t imagine it,” he said.

  24. ‘No jokes tonight, please,’ I begged drips from my nose mingling with the onions I was chopping.

    ‘You’ll relax after a couple of drinks,’ he said. ‘You might even tell one yourself. How about the ants with no balls?’

    ‘No-way! ‘Let’s have a good chinwag, some gossip, we’re fed up with your old chestnuts.’

    ‘Remember the one about the man who went to the doctor?'

    ‘Yeeeeees! I’ve heard it enough times.’

    ‘They’ll love that.’

    ‘Not again, please. Promise!’

    ‘How about the …’

    ‘Belt up. Make yourself useful; can’t you see I’m stressed?’

    Their friends piled into the kitchen, helped themselves to a drink. I liked that. I was as tense as a tick and downed a few myself. ‘Come and eat,’ I said. ‘Pate to start.’
    They sat close together at the scrubbed table. It was cosy and I looked forward to some fun. Hell, I’d worked hard enough to feed them.

    ‘Heard the one about the man who went to the doctor? he asked. ‘Yes, yes,’ they groaned.
    ‘I’ve got a strawberry up my bum,’ he told the doctor. ‘Don’t worry the doctor replied. I’ve got cream for that.’
    Swine! Had he forgotten the pud? Strawberry mousse with Jersey cream.

    ‘How about Daniel in the lion’s den, then.’
    ‘Give us some news, please,’ Paula pleaded.

    ‘Daniel entered the lions’ den and said: ‘Well whoever does the after-dinner speech it won’t be me.’
    ‘That’s had its sell by date,’ Gareth said. ‘Light years ago.’

    I sensed his anger. He sliced his finger as he carved, blood dripped on to the lamb but he didn’t care.

    ‘Know the one about ….’

    ‘Yes, yes,’ they moaned.

    I carried in the pudding. ‘Any cream to go with it,’ Clive asked innocently.

    ‘Stupid buggers,’ he said as they left. ‘No friends of mine.’

  25. I was charmed by his jokes. It was a relief, after the earnestness of most of the men I mixed with then: the serious-minded, change-the-world types. When one of them was in mid-flow Charlie would catch my eye and wink, then next moment he’d say something deliciously irreverent and the whole atmosphere would feel different.

    Not that I wasn’t serious-minded, of course: I was. And I admired the activists and lobbiers enormously; it just wasn’t much fun going to bed with them. It was hard to feel the earth move when they were liable to whisper something about miners or refugees the moment it did. I know they thought I was shallow when I married Charlie. They never thought much of him, though he probably did more good than any of them in the long run. Charm is useful whatever you want to do with your life.

    They say everyone becomes more like themselves as they get older: like a parody of themselves, in some cases. That’s what seemed to happen to Charlie. At first there was the odd embarrassment, then more and more. When I mentioned it to him, he guffawed, said he’d always made people laugh. But it wasn’t like that any more: often no one laughed, and Charlie didn’t seem to notice.

    Eventually I consulted a doctor, an expert. I’d never heard of the condition he described, but it was chilling how well the symptoms fitted Charlie. It was all down to some addiction he’d developed as a young man, apparently. Not drugs, nor a cult, exactly, but some shady group who offered a service to shy young men which promised them a joke for every occasion. Of course they’d never been told about the longterm side-effects.

    I’m an activist again now: I’ve formed a support group.

  26. The Jokeman hung up, god she felt tired, twelve years now she had been saving men from themselves. It wasn't a joke any more and she felt like a traitor to her race. Still at least she had time off now, when she started there had been only her, now they had expanded to six people, it meant she had been able to start dating again.

    The problem was she had started hearing her own material, she lost respect for them when they couldn't hold down a conversation, and after a day as the Jokeman she needed real discussions about French poets or the vagaries of modern art. No one seemed to rate intellect any more, if she even mentioned Baudelaire they where of to the toilet and back with a suitably pertinent joke. Oh god, just one good date.

    Sitting at her dresser she looked at herself, she was frowning, she caught herself doing that more and more these days. Her partner tonight was Terry, she wasn't optimistic, he was the friend of a friend. “Please just get him out of the flat” Sylvia had begged her, she wanted an evening in with her own boyfriend, and they could never get him out of the flat they shared.

    She bucked herself up, put on her best smile and stepped out to meet him. He was waiting outside the car, and opened the door for her. Good start she thought. They arrived at the restaurant, small, intimate, just what she hadn't hoped for. Just hoping he had left his mobile at home. Onwards and upwards,

    “Sylvia tells me you're into Literature?”

    Nice opening she thought,

    “Did you here the one about the poet and the vicar?”

    She waited, it would of course be cruel at this point to say yes.

    Jim Barron

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Encyclopaedia of Speech.

    Words used when you’ve well and truly screwed up. Often necessary after Arguments and occurrences of Foot in Mouth.


    Automatic Responses
    a) Things you say to your kids when you’re busy burning dinner and they show you a picture they’ve drawn.
    b) Things you say to your lover when your mind is on other things e.g. ‘I love you too’.

    Foot in Mouth
    Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. Often combined with Verbal Diarrhoea.

    Bitchy words. Should be well aimed for maximum impact. Often occur in ARGUMENTS.

    Permissible Lies
    Lies you tell your kids; the carefully crafted constructions about Santa, the tooth-fairy, and the goldfish going to Heaven ‘yes, it will be with Nana and no, Nana’s cat won’t eat it.’

    Meaningless words for use at the right time, usually an attempt to gloss over a catastrophe. Stockpiled ready for any occasion.

    Polite Gratitude
    The correct response to the third pair of socks or the hand-knitted orange jumper you receive for Christmas. Also useful when someone brings you burnt toast for breakfast in bed.


    Dry mouth. Words clogging your throat. You try to force them forward. But your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth. Often a cause of Speechlessness.

    Verbal Diarrhoea
    Rubbish spews from your mouth before you can control it bad jokes corny pick-up lines and tales about when you were ten all fight to be first to dive- bomb into the conversation.

    Words that balance on the tip of your tongue, waiting for the right moment, only to slip away when you most need them.

  29. My mother-in-law had one of those tea towels, hung over the range in the kitchen: ‘A letter from an Irish son’. She read bits as she bustled around, chopping onions or sieving fat and flour between her fingers. Her favourite was the one about him doing his washing in the bowl where you pulled a chain, but his clothes kept flushing away. That made her chuckle. Why, I asked, did she not hang the one about how to make a Cornish pasty, or the one from Wales with a cartoon of sheep blocking the road, and the legend ‘Rush hour in Wales’? No, the letter from the Irish son was the one she liked, and isn’t a mark of good humour for the Irish to laugh at themselves? Didn’t Mike himself, her Irish brother-in-law, bring it back from a holiday in the Emerald Isle?
    I had dreams about what I’d do to that oblong of Irish linen. Flush it down the loo, then claim that I was only trying to wash it; set a match to the bottom corner and watch the singe travel up until there was nothing left but the tip of the leprechaun’s hat. As it was, I pulled a thread from the edge on each visit, and peeled it down, dropping it amongst the potato peelings, or lowering it, worm-like onto the flames of the fire in the lounge.
    ‘I swear that tea towel is getting thinner’ she said, two years later. The leprechaun had but one arm by then, and the beginnings and ends of the jokes were looking positively anorexic. She pulled off her spectacles and peered at the diminishing tea towel. ‘Sign of old age when you think that things are getting smaller,’ I said, ‘But, at least you can laugh about it.’

    Maria McCarthy,

  30. ‘What’s brown and sticky?’
    ‘A stick. Is that the best you can do?’
    ‘Knock, knock.’
    ‘I’m afraid we can’t accept knock knock jokes. They require too much … audience participation.’
    ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’
    ‘Again, that’s not really what we’re looking for. Now Mr … Robinson. What other qualities would you bring to this role, in addition to your, ahem, jokes?’
    ‘I have a good telephone manner.’
    ‘Good. Anything else?’
    ‘I’m punctual and reliable. I have good organisational skills and I’m a real team player.’
    ‘I see. So it’s just the jokes we’re having a bit of a problem with? Tell me, what was your last job?’
    ‘I provided jokes for speeches and sermons. You know, those little quips that vicars and politicians use to prove they’re human .’
    ‘Aah, yes, I’m beginning to see now. I don’t suppose you did after dinner speeches as well did you?’
    ‘How did you know that?’
    ‘Just a guess. OK. Would you like one more try? Just dig deep and see if you can come up with the funniest thing you’ve ever put in an after dinner speech.’
    ‘What’s black and white and red all over?’
    ‘Yes, thank you. That’ll do on the joke front now. Mr Robinson, it’s been great to meet you but I’m not sure you’re quite what we’re looking for in this role. There are a number of other openings in the organisation. Let me see. There’s Inappropriate Comment Man, and we’re also trying to fill Insensitive Remark Man. We’ve been trying to find someone for Sincere Compliment Man for ages now. Is there any chance you’d consider any of those?’
    ‘Well, I had my heart set on Jokeman really …’
    ‘The trouble is, for Jokeman, we’re really looking for someone who’s … well … funny!’

  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. I couldn’t see what Faye saw in him. He was tall and gangly with a nose that zigzagged down his pockmarked face. And he was no friend of fashion. Or work from what I could gather. He was from the East End. Fancied himself as ‘a bit of a gangster’. Prankster more like. Apparently he had a scar on his left rear cheek. ‘A bullet graze’, that’s what he’d told her. More likely a hamster bite. Of course, I didn’t say these things. Whenever Faye spoke about him I always feigned fascination, ‘oo’ed’ and ‘aah’d’ in all the right places. What else could I do? We’d been best friends since primary school. Her happiness was supposed to be mine. But when she announced their engagement the shock blew the fa├žade right off me, left it dangling around my ankles whilst I stood naked at the bar with only my contempt for modesty.
    “Well? Come on. SAY something.” An awkward silence hung in the air like a stale fart. I had to SAY something.
    “I…I can’t believe your marrying someone like Ian.” The assault of my words turned the air even more toxic. I could see Faye struggling to breathe.
    “Well, anyway… I was going to ask if you’d be my bridesmaid.” Had she heard me? Had I merely imagined saying those words? I knew I hadn’t, their poisoned echo was still reverberating inside me.
    “Of course I will. I’m your best friend aren’t I?”
    A week later I spotted them in a restaurant, spaghetti, seemingly forgotten, dangling from poised forks. Ian was talking. And there was Faye, head thrown backwards, open-mouthed, shoulders and chest heaving up and down. Faye, in the uncontrollable grip of unadulterated laughter. Immediately I saw. Understood the attraction. It was so simple. He made her laugh.

    Sarah C.

  33. joke
    “Life is not all aquarium, and you still behave like a child when you have got teething amount of
    Responsibilities ahead of you, you are still playing near the fish tank,” Vimala’s mother chided her
    twenty year old daughter for whom still the nuances of life’s responsibilities and intricacies are yet
    to instil a meaning and maturity. Vimala’s daily routine is to spend three hours near the water tank wherein beautiful colourful fish diving up and down, and she would feed the fish, change the water and merge with the colourful life of those creatures whose fins were a delectable source
    of happiness and observation. Every moment of fun and mirthful laughter, she would convert
    to her advantage. “All your life was in the kitchen, cleaning, cooking, and you were indoor plant,
    and you expect me to be dry and wry without being jolly, she replied with a look of bemuse, at the
    same time looking at the watch. “yes, my husband was a soldier, and you never knew how much of struggle I would have had in bringing you up, my living was always serious and full of
    struggle and toil,” her mother recollected about her husband who did in the war.

    Life also tends to be in proportion to the job, environment and type of living we do. IN conversation also humour and diversion, play a part in contributing our life span, some
    Jokes, humorous anecdotes and fun and frolicsome jollity contribute to our memory and
    down the line contribute to our blood circulation system, to keep our bodies fit, recent studies
    say. Gone are those days when under the banner of orthodoxy and rigour the male only was
    privileged to enjoy and jokes and freedom. Nowadays girls are prone to comics, jokes, else,
    they cannot balance.

    “Life is not all aquarium, and you still behave like a child when you have got teething amount of
    Responsibilities ahead of you, you are still playing near the fish tank,” Vimala’s mother chided her
    twenty year old daughter for whom still the nuances of life’s responsibilities and intricacies are yet
    to instil a meaning and maturity. Vimala’s daily routine is to spend three hours near the water tank wherein beautiful colourful fish diving up and down, and she would feed the fish, change the water and merge with the colourful life of those creatures whose fins were a delectable source
    of happiness and observation. Every moment of fun and mirthful laughter, she would convert
    to her advantage. “All your life was in the kitchen, cleaning, cooking, and you were indoor plant,
    and you expect me to be dry and wry without being jolly, she replied with a look of bemuse, at the
    same time looking at the watch. “yes, my husband was a soldier, and you never knew how much of struggle I would have had in bringing you up, my living was always serious and full of
    struggle and toil,” her mother recollected about her husband who did in the war.

    Life also tends to be in proportion to the job, environment and type of living we do. IN conversation also humour and diversion, play a part in contributing our life span, some
    Jokes, humorous anecdotes and fun and frolicsome jollity contribute to our memory and
    down the line contribute to our blood circulation system, to keep our bodies fit, recent studies
    say. Gone are those days when under the banner of orthodoxy and rigour the male only was
    privileged to enjoy and jokes and freedom. Nowadays girls are prone to comics, jokes, else,
    they cannot balance.

  34. The Eggman grimaced when the commercial came on television.

    He hated the cheery music, the happy yellow shining sun. It made him want to vomit. He didn’t being like portrayed as an edible object on television. It upset him.

    He remembered the years where he had been bad for people; he had heightened their cholesterol, had been bad for the bloodstream and the heart. And now he was good for your cholesterol again.

    He just didn’t get it.

    It distressed him to think that he, with his soft, pure white shell and his mellow yellow centre, could be considered bad for people and now he was good.

    The Eggman admitted that maybe it was because he didn’t play well with others.

    Through out school, he had been very careful that others did not break his fragile exterior. And the restraint, the reserved-ness, had been worth it hadn’t they?

    He often felt like he had sacrificed every pleasure in life to stay alive. He had never had sex, never done drugs. He had never sung or danced. He longed for all those things.

    He had certainly never gotten a job. His cousin Humpty Dumpty, silly fool that he was, had taken a job as a bouncer and had gotten involved in a drunken bar fight. He remembered the pictures: Covering the bars interior with yellow. Humpty’s shell broken to a million little pieces, littering the floor like snowflakes.

    He had lived a solitary life, shunned into silence by the media; and now he was good for everyone again. Well, the Eggman didn’t understand it. He didn’t get it. It made him upset. He had lived a boring life for nothing, for what?

    For a soft, white exterior, for a mellow yellow centre. Well, the Eggman dindn’t like it.

    Not one bit.

    Jamieson Wolf

  35. Brought me back to when I belonged to the Penguin book club at school. My first ever book was the Penguin Book of Jokes and Puzzles which I tried on girls in the bike shed, like ‘What do you get when you cross a pair of pants with a dictionary?’ I felt like smarty pants then, haha!

    Got known as the funny kid at the time. Later on, I went around the comedy circuit with my own show, ‘Keith and Sev’ which became quite popular and in demand.

    I remember after one show, a member of the audience came up to me and said, ‘My missus’ got a crush on you mate? You couldn’t just um, pick on someone’s missus next time could ya? It’s jus that she’s um gettin high and mighty like, you know. Think she’s Marilyn Monroe reincarnated and keeps wearing these mini skirts and pouts just like her.’


    Sev’s my mouthpiece you see. He says things I’d never have the courage to say myself to any girl, anywhere. If I see a girl I like in the audience I make Sev make eye contact, ask who he’s looking at and whether he realises she prefers me over him because I’m funnier, smarter and more polite. ‘At least,’ I’d say, ‘I tell her she has beautiful eyes’.

    It worked all the time especially when I knew all I had to do was get my hands up Sev’s back and move the mouthpiece up and down whilst I put the words in his mouth.


  36. ‘Oh, this has got to be a joke.’
    The policewoman didn’t appear to think so. Her face was passive enough to be a death mask, except that her eyes were open…just.
    By way of contrast, Michael was waving his arms about.
    ‘But I haven’t done anything wrong.’
    ‘It is a offence under Section 43 of the Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994 to drive on a public road with a vehicle’s registration mark obscured.’
    ‘Oh, for God’s sake. I might understand if you needed to read it, but I wasn’t even speeding.’
    The policewoman narrowed her eyes further, although this was barely possible without closing them altogether.
    ‘I could not read your registration. It has been obscured.’
    ‘Oh, don’t give me that. You can read it clearly enough to copy it down, can’t you? How obscured can it possibly be by three bicycle spokes, huh? If you can’t read that, then it’s you who shouldn’t be driving.’
    ‘Have you considered what would happen if your vehicle was stolen, sir, and we couldn’t read the plate?’
    ‘Isn’t “a large yellow van with a bike on the back” a good enough description for you people? I’m not surprised you can’t catch any criminals.’
    ‘I’m only trying to help you, sir.’
    ‘You are not trying to help. You’re trying to fine me thirty quid for having a microscopically-less-than-perfectly-clear number plate.’
    ‘It’s the law.’
    ‘It’s crap. It’s utter crap. You know, I’ve been driving for longer than you’ve been alive.’
    The policewoman tore the ticket from her pad. ‘You have twenty-eight days to pay.’
    ‘I’m not paying this. It’s ridiculous.’
    ‘If you fail to do so, then you will end up in court.’
    Michael threw his hands in the air. ‘Oh, this has got to be a joke.’


  37. Do you know what first attracted me to him?

    He didn’t try to avoid the silences between us. Our conversations were organic. They grew at their own place, not fertilized by the manure of unnecessary small talk.

    Oh sure, there were lulls. But we relished those empty, uncultivated spaces where ideas could germinate and take root. Staring into each other’s irises, savoring the conversational caesuras, the dramatic pauses. We took the time to stop and smell the roses as they opened, never rushing them, taking care to avoid the thorns.

    He wasn’t like the others, spewing forth their latest bit of useless information pulled off a trivial pursuit card, trying to break the ice with ridiculous store-bought riddles, planted into eon-old schoolboy repertoires. Or worse, plucking laughodils from some generic Internet comedy farm.

    Can you imagine … having to consult some kind of Cyrano de Blackberry for a comedic corsage?

    Do you know why we’ve stayed together so long?

    We never had to weed through any of the unnecessary chit chat that kept sprouting up with other people. If I wanted to hear someone blather on for the sake of hearing their own voice, I could call Chris Anne (the Mum).

    Every now and again, he would bring me blossoming bouquets of bon mots, well-chosen comments arranged ever so tastefully. They were perfectly trimmed, petal-like phrases lasting for weeks, standing firm and tall in a delicate crystal vase of commitment.

    Do you know why it is over?

    All those silences? They were secrets. Secrets I could have possibly lived with if I’d known about them when they were just seeds. Secrets we could have nipped in the bud. But now they’ve grown into a garden of lies.

    He’s made his flower bed, and now he’s going to sleep in it.

  38. “Do you know how to drive this thing?”
    “Don’t be ridiculous do you think I would have brought us all this way to be trapped? Hurry, they’ll be here any second!”
    We climbed into the cockpit and Kevin immediately begins flipping switches, checking gauges and all that sort of thing. In a moment the engine roars to life.
    “You better put your seatbelt on,” he shouted. I did as he instructed and we pulled out of the hangar and on to the single runaway. The flashing lights from the police cars could be seen just coming over the furthest hill. They were still about 8 miles away but there wasn’t a lot in between where we were and their location. With luck we would be long gone by the time they got to the little airstrip.
    We had reached the end of the runaway. Kevin turned the plane increased the throttle and then took off towards freedom. Except for the runway lights the night was black as pitch. Suddenly we were part of that blackness, except for the little lights on either side of aircraft. Those lights made me feel like we were sailing two stars through the night.
    “Where are we going?” I asked.
    “Just relax and enjoy the ride. It will be a couple of hours.” My heart was still racing. I didn’t believe we would get away with it but for now I wasn’t going to worry about it. He seemed to have things well in hand. If it all worked out as planned we were $500,000 richer. Could it really be this simple? Did I suddenly have money, the prince and happily ever after?
    Of course there was always the possibility that we just might get caught, but I wasn’t going to worry about that now.

  39. It was as he was going to the loo for the second time in an hour just to avoid the silence between them that the strange man approached him.

    ‘What do you want?’ John stuttered. The man thumped John in the face. John fell. Blows came in a flurry. John was vaguely aware of more than one assailant before he lost consciousness.

    The girl, Farihah, appeared bound and gagged in the back of the van too. Her eyes expressed her terror. One of the men spoke rapidly in a language John didn't understand, but the man's anger was clear. Now and then he kicked John, or spat at the girl. At one point he bent down and held a knife at John's throat, screaming unintelligibly at him. John's bladder emptied. He kept his eyes closed until they bundled him into the house.

    The girl was pushed into the room first and thrown onto a mattress on the otherwise bare floor. John was held up by two dark-skinned men and made to watch as others started to remove the girl's clothes until one, seemingly the leader, pointed a knife at John and shouted at his colleagues.

    John was taken into an adjacent room, watched over by one man. The girl's screams came through the open door. His mind filled in the image of her being raped and then killed.

    The men piled into John's room, the leader carrying a bloody knife. John was lifted to a standing position. The men began laughing, and clapped John on the back. The girl appeared in the doorway, smiling, unharmed. She released his gag and kissed him. Behind her stood a man with a TV camera, wearing a t-shirt with the logo Jokeman TV. "Got you!" said the girl, whose name John no longer remembered.

    Bob Jacobs


Add Your Own Message Here
If you want to take part - great. All you need to do is add your response to our message here as a comment, but remember it has to be exactly 30 or 300 words, and it needs to be posted before 8am GMT the morning after the original post for each day. Please also remember to add your Name and Email Address to the end of your message, so that we can get in touch if your work is selected.