Friday, 28 April 2017

Planning Ahead

In a couple of days, there will be a coach trip and friends in Manchester will be visited. Maybe the Quirky Muffin will go on sabbatical, or maybe there will be cover posts. At this point, the former seems more likely, given the current writer's block. Words are not working out well in any way except for the blatant blathering of streams of consciousness. I could go on like this indefinitely, but the post would meander all over the place and eventually end up in a tirade about rice pudding. `How is it possible to rant about rice pudding?', you might ask, but it's better that you not know.

Ah, coach journeys, the last bastion of even vaguely civilized travel. The baggage is safely locked away, there is no overbooking so seats are guaranteed, you get rest breaks every few hours in which to wander around, and there's no significant air conditioning except in extreme circumstances. Also, the stations are on a level so there's no messing about with lifts or stairs. Air conditioning... People with sinus conditions hate air conditioning as if it were some diabolical artefact, an evil device sent to torture and abuse. With some thought, they're right. Horrible things. Let's remove them except in arctic and jungle environments. Hee hee.

Coach journeys seem romantic, in part because of their presence in old movies. Who will ever forget the singing sequence on the bus in 'It Happened One Night', after all? Oh, that's a good film, a romantic odyssey. I never would have given Clark Gable a chance if not for 'It Happened One Night', so poisoned is he by association with 'Gone With The Wind'. I've never seen 'Gone With The Wind', to be honest, but it has been so lauded and was so successful that it must almost certainly be a terrible melodrama. Almost certainly! 'Casablanca' might perhaps be good, but 'Gone With The Wind'? Never! If this isn't prejudice on display, then I know not what is going on!

Ahem. Decorum is restored.

Yes, two long long coach journeys are not to be feared, especially as they will allow lots of time to get caught up on the French backlog. This first year of the OU degree has to end nicely or reflect badly on the courses to follow. Courage, imaginary readers of the Quirky Muffin, it can only improve from here.

Let the probably sabbatical commence, with resumption in the middle of next week.


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Story: 'Diary of a Laundry Robot', Week XI

( Week X , Week XII )


We have just returned from our audience with the Grand High Querg. It was very interesting. He was very curious about Celia's robo-bear especially, which she tried to give to him as a present. He wisely knew better than to take the thing. It is now throwing hats at me when I practice juggling. Could the robo-bear not like me? It's just a toy! In any case, we were summoned because the Grand High Querg had information about the Blots, from one of the most exclusive Books of Querg. Sadly, I didn't explain a word of it, but Egbert said he would explain it to us all tomorrow.


Egg. This is Egbert. I'm recording into the microphone on this egg-celent robot. He seems to be very level headed, even when not performing his duties. I'm supposed to explain the Grand High Querg's information in a way that people will understand. Obviously, they have confused me with another elephant! The GHQ told us that we were part of some massive temporal correction, which will eventually come to a peaceful conclusion, and that I am some kind of catalyst! Me, Egbert Elephant, MD! Who would have thought it? The only tricky part is that the relevant Great Book is refusing to reveal the pertinent details. For now, the mystery of why Blots disappear when I go near remains a mystery! By the Great Egg! What could it mean??? I wonder how long it will be before I get to see my patients again? They are probably missing my jokes!


We have been summoned to the Grand High Querg's presence again. What can it be?


A mission? They have a mission for laundry robots? The GHQ says we may have to leave the Continuum for a while. I shall reveal more as it becomes clear.

To be continued...

Monday, 24 April 2017

To Be Romantic

To be romantic isn't just about making googly eyes (technical term) at someone over some candles, or buying flowers. Actually, it's far more than that. That notion of romantic love is just an artifact of people's attempts to sell chocolates, flowers and candles. No, to be romantic is a far different thing. The classical novelists knew it, this blog knows it in theory, and so does anyone who gets carried away on a flight of fancy instead of being bogged down in unending pragmatism. Romance is being caught up in a beautiful moment, wondering 'what if' on a lazy morning stroll, or wandering whether you will on a gentle stroll. It's a beautiful thing. It's an imaginative experience.

If we look for a clinical definition of being romantic, then we end up in a wormhole orbiting the romance languages derived from latin, stories that are remote from the everyday realities of life, and love affairs. Maybe we could come up with a different definition, though. Isn't one unifying characteristic of the greater romance an ability to indulge in believing the unbelievable in some positive way? Couldn't that work?

The reason why this springs to mind is that romance seems to be in awfully short supply right now. One of the reasons why 'The Mentalist' worked so well for me was that it did indulge in romance of the fanciful sort, especially in the behaviour of Jane, while remaining modern. It was a bit of a freak. Most of the television shows and movies close to my heart are very romantic, as are the notable works of Rachmaninov. That classical music really can lift you off into a more romantic world, filled with imagination and a harmony with the universe. Ah, Rachmaninov...

Being romantic isn't an inherent ability, but something we should nurture. Even now, as a teacher, I see children being trained out of being romantic, and it's painful. It's probably scorned because it's not corporate and encapsulates everything non-businesslike about human nature. Pongy pineapples to 'businesslike', we need to live! Yes, that's hard to believe and positive. It must be romantic!

And now we return you to the regularly scheduled nonsense. Writer's block continues. Ugh. Curse you, googly eyes of sainted memory!


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Television: 'The West Wing: Two Cathedrals' (2001) (Episode 2x22)

And then we all waited. For months. With 'Brothers In Arms' running on a loop in our minds. This was one of the best season finales in television, and we all had to wait. The 11th of September incident would intervene between seasons, and the beginning of the third season would be distinctly underwhelming, but for now we all revelled in having watched one of the best television episodes ever.

Great things defy description, while terrible things can be nitpicked into oblivion. Love is irrational, but hate has a reason for everything. That which lingers is what defines what we've experienced. In 'Two Cathedrals', we saw a cleaner picking up a flattened cathedral in a cathedral, a storm raging within and without, a ghostly visitation, and both a renunciation and an acceptance. We saw people worrying deeply about their futures, but then falling into line to bravely go forth and face them, and we saw faith on multiple levels. There were brothers In arms on many levels.

Sometimes, you just have to wonder at how people can make these things on a television schedule. How can it possibly happen? Where does the ability come from, and where does it go when it's done? Think of the dozens and dozens of people, all doing their parts of the work, and all to a common goal? They all made 'Two Cathedrals'. It's not just great writing, the super direction, or the titanically still central performance of Martin Sheen. It's everything. Thinking back to Sheen for a moment, how is it possible that one person being utterly still can be so magnetic? What is this strange ability that one or two screen actors have? It's perplexing.

Storms have been used metaphorically in fiction for what seems like eons, for example in 'The Tempest', as have ghosts. Reluctant heroes who betrayed themselves in their own past before turning back to the light are commonplace. The archetypes are potent, but it's the mixing that counts. Here, the mixing is perfect, and the lesson endeth here. It's a shame about season three, but what can we do. It will pick up again.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Electoral Theory, II

Let's have one more go, and then put this surprising election and spate of politics to one side. It was a massive surprise for an election to be declared, and so the self-imposed embargo on politics was broken. Then, for twenty-four hours, all anyone in the hysterical media could say was that ghoulish made up term for leaving the European Union, which grotesque word will never be written in this weblog, which was almost unbearable even all these months after those backbreaking referendum campaigns of supreme negativity. It was monotonous, like a clanging bell on a distant dreary lighthouse. The prospect of more weeks of that tedium was, to say the least, unedifying. To say the most, it was the beginning of a possible assault on the group sanity of the whole country!

Now, after the initial clamour has died down, it seems like we could have a very interesting election. It's not as cut and dried as you might think with a twenty point lead in the polls for the rich people's party, and odd forebodings are swirling around in the atmosphere. It could actually be... interesting. An interesting election would be quite the novelty! Don't expect much more than that general idea here, though, as this will never be a political weblog. How interesting it is to have two main parties with significantly different ideas, though, which might actually lead to differences in policy. How unusual it is to have a major political party not deeply in thrall to corporate interests. How interesting to have an obvious contrast!

The blunt pencil tied to the wall awaits, but in the coming weeks there are bound to be all kinds of implications and answers to fascinating questions. Will Scotland's future still be a question after the election / birthday? Who exactly is going to be picking up the pickled pieces of defeat? Why will the Palace of Westminster be replaced by a giant candied replica? Who exactly is Edmund Blackadder? Will Teresa May still be jabbering on about grammar schools? It could well be a pipe dream to imagine that we will get a substantial set of campaigns, with some points being raised for the first time in generations, but it's a well meaning dream. In a way, it doesn't entirely matter who wins, as long as a pattern is set for a future wherein we can actually talk about the things which concern us all, and not be sneered at or ignored by people who take the status quo for granted. If we can't even talk about the evils of the past, for example, how can we hope to avoid repeating them?

Maybe nothing will change, but the suspicion here at Quirky Muffin Base is that things won't ever be quite the same again. This can only be good, because it has been pretty awful for a long, long time. Normal service is now resumed until election results day.

<resets mode>

Good grief, Steve Austin has been captured by crooks using remote control sharks to hijack a nuclear submarine? 'The Six Million Dollar Man' can be very, very hokey at times...


Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Electoral Theory

Wouldn't you know it? In one moment, you're a happily deranged doodler or playing a good game of 'Paperback', and then the next moment some person goes and parks a great big general election on your birthday. That's what we call bad timing. Obviously, the government has noted my implied disapproval of their collective choice in neckties and targeted me for theoretical party sabotage. Oh, the horror, the passion, the sheer annoyance at having to vote again!

It has been ten months, but the voting fatigue from the referendum persists. The idea of having to make another important decision is frustrating, to say the least, but that's sure to pass. In our mixed up system, which would be far better if we could vote for our representative and our leader separately, all we really have to do is look at our candidates, choose the best one for us, and stick a cross next to their name with the dull pencil tied to the wall. It's pretty simple. Ah, the good old blunt pencil. I did campaign for a method of voting which involved specifically labelled lettuce leaves, but it never did take root.

Our elections only become complicated and broken if we try to consider all the indirect consequences of our vote. Yes, we vote for a person, and the winner goes on to form part of a bloc in parliament. If that bloc makes up the majority then we indirectly influence the formation of a government, which has a leader selected from within its own bloc. That government then nominates all kinds of others things, all three or four times removed from our cross made with the dull pencil. It's just too much. All we have to do is look at the evidence for own little contest, look at the leaflets, read the profiles, consider the issues, and finally choose who we think is best to represent us.

Sigh. Another election. More negative campaigning, more needless and malicious slapping down of the Corbyn, more lies and more disguised truths. It's all too much. One person, one vote, one box. Best candidate for you. Let's hope the agglomerated


Sunday, 16 April 2017


Ah, after a day of roughing out an outline for an extremely futile essay, and playing 'Paperback' for the first time, the Quirky Muffin will get its due. Many words, all in a rush, right now!

It's Easter, one of the two indisputably religious holidays of the year, and thus one of the two that makes you feel a bit icky for taking advantage of it as a principled agnostic. Yes, it's still a few days off, but it would be nice if it were slightly more neutral. Maybe too much thought it being put into this, though. Maybe no-one really pays attention to why the national holidays happen in the real world?

'Paperback' is a great word game, by the way. It's now one of the two great all time word games, along with Scrabble, as far as this blog writer is concerned. Ah, the joys of experimenting with new games. It's also nice to be reading once again, and this time the long neglected 'Father Brown' stories of GK Chesterton are being mixed in with the 'Brigadier Gerard' tales of Arthur Conan Doyle and the Chinese classic 'Journey to the West' to make a very interesting cocktail of literature. It's alarming that I almost never got to the Gerard stories. They are certainly some of Doyle's very best work. Amazing.

The Easter holiday is always a tricky needle to thread, with its expanse of theoretically free days, which should really be used to study, prepare, or write extensive and silly blog posts. Enforced free time is very much oxymoronic. It's obvious at this point that humans have been indoctrinated too much to actually take time off of their own accord, but this is a tricky concept to understand. Enforced relaxation?

And now, back to the e-mail backlog. Sometimes, a little is more than enough.


Friday, 14 April 2017

Television: 'The Bionic Woman: The Bionic Dog, Part One' (1977) (Episode 3x01)

At some point in time, it no longer became palatable for people to make television like this. We diverged from one of the nicer timelines, where heartfeltness could function without schmaltz, and lost the opportunity to make 'The Bionic Woman'. It's quite the shame. 'The Bionic Woman' and 'The Six Million Dollar Man' have escaped any serious mentions to date here at the Quirky Muffin, but they are actually pretty important and very fun, especially the former.

'The Bionic Woman' was the spin-off with the evident heart, partly because Lindsay Wagner was a far far more emotive performer than Lee Majors, and also because it was developed by Kenneth Johnson, who deliberately intended to give the show a softer touch. Now, Lee Majors could do softer if he wanted, but he was only rarely given the chance. He was mostly wasted on 'The Six Million Dollar Man', but we'll get back to that at a later date.

In 'The Bionic Dog' (Part One!), Jaime discovers that the first bionic guinea pig was actually a dog called Max, who is being secretly kept locked up for reasons which can only be called dumb. Rudy, the genius inventor of bionics, is idiotically convinced that Max's upgrades are failing and that the dog will have to be put down and examined post-mortem. Jaime takes umbrage, and works with Max to lift him out of his depression, which is OBVIOUSLY because he has been penned up for four years. Obviously! It's amazing how dumb genius scientists can be. Sheesh. Finally, Rudy is so pigheaded he doesn't believe in any progress, so the new Bionic Duo escape and run away to live another day. They will win out in part two, we hope.

It was a different time, and one to which it would be nice to return in the future. If ever there were good reason to build up a television archive, this is it. You can go back and watch the comparatively naive shows from past times, shows which can be shared pretty much universally, and enjoy not being offended or whacked about the head with cynicism and despair. This is a near classical example, of which I should probably be ashamed, but being an admitted sentimental simpleton has its advantages. By all the modern rules, it should be impossible to have an episode of television where a woman befriends a dog, and spends lots of time running with him or worriedly sleeping next to his cage. The modern rules are plainly wrong.

Go, Max, go! This may be the final season, but you've given it a good start!


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Monkocracy Is Nigh

'The Ninja Of Health' is wrapped up, even if ended up being a little unsatisfactory. A single post-script might be necessary, but the natures of these serial stories are very experimental and I think each segment really only functions as a snapshot of a larger narrative. That is why most of the problems get ironed out in the joined up, edited down, cleaned up and polished up versions. What would happen if all the segments in which I was casting around for the next direction for the story were removed? Wouldn't it get reduced down to five lines, every one of which involved the much ballyhooed 'Pattern'. I may never use the word 'Pattern' again, and even now it feels like I may have borrowed it from somewhere. There was a lot of talk about Order and Chaos in the LE Modesit 'Recluce' saga. Maybe it's connected to that? Was there a Pattern in the Roger Zelazny 'Amber' chronicles...? Yes! Yes, there was! It only took several years to remember! Oh, all those hopes of originality, lost to the winds. Go read those instead, at least the first cycle.

With 'The Ninja Of Health' finished, and put into the queue for a 'stitch-up' into one piece, that leaves a few other stories that have been on hold for a remarkably long time. 'The Glove' is out there, waiting, as are 'Diary Of A Laundry Robot' and the second phase of 'Wordspace'. That's quite a lot to be getting on with, in the usual halting style. The oldest story there is 'The Glove', so that seems to be the most reasonable choice to either finish or reinvent in some way. That has been one troubled experiment. Sometimes, it is tempting to just write it off, but there's a kernel of something in that effort. It feels like something that would be more cynical than its writer, though, so perhaps it needs to be re-bashed into a hat of a different shape. Or a fez. Maybe it should be rewritten and retitled 'The Purple Fez'? That, of course, was a joke. (But are you sure it was a joke?)

Yes, no more health ninjas for now. That will take some getting used to. Actually, they seemed to lose a lot of their ninja-iness pretty quickly, didn't they? They ended up being 'Monks of Health'. Now, monks don't get nearly enough time in the spotlight any more. Perhaps that can be the new fad of the twenty-first century: a monk renaissance? It's got a touch of style to it. Yes, '2017: Dawn Of The New Monk Republic'. We could have a monkocracy! Even now, it seems entirely practical. Westminster is practically a monastery already. Let's just shift a load more people in, with much quieter styles of discourse.

It all makes sense.


Monday, 10 April 2017

Story: The Ninja of Health, XXXIV

( Part XXXIII )

"It is over, Ghost. You just don't know it yet." The Woman was firm in voice, no matter what trembles may have been stirring within.

The voice sounded as if it was lost in some other time, a hollow era on some other world. "I never asked for this, but there will be repercussions if you mess with me." The Oracle's eyes were getting wider and wider, before going blank as he collapsed backwards in a faint. It was almost comical to see him slumped against someone who wasn't there.

The Woman didn't dare look upward, to see how her companions were progressing.


In the balloon basket, Ken and the Man were finishing preliminary relaxation. One toggled switch saw some pouches around the edge of the basket open. Little bundles began to unroll, and unroll, and unroll...

Then, without a word, the atmosphere changed. A great wave of peace spread out, and the surrounding clouds began to coalesce into a new configuration. The stubborn patch of cloud to the East began to toss off screamers, but the new patch right next to the basket tried to hold its shape. It was a struggle.


The Oracle was lowered gently to the ground, a courtesy that wouldn't have been expected. Two footprints could be clearly seen in the gravel of the rock garden, shimmering slightly. "What are they doing up there?" Screamed the voice of the Ghost, and suddenly the Woman felt an iron grip at her neck, not quite right for stopping the flow of air but close.

"They're damping down your power. That's what they're doing. It's also what I'm doing." She was utterly calm now. "Do you know what it is we do exactly?"


The ribbons unfurled from the pouches completely, and stretched out in the air, following the odd patterns formed by the clouds. For almost fifty metres in all directions the colours wove and rewove, forming subtleties that had never been seen before in any of the previous Patterns. There had been ball pools previously, mosaic floors, the sand curtains at the clifftop crater and even the tablecloth of prophecy. Now, a massive circle of ribbons tangled deliberately across the sky above the chapel, spiralling and coalescing around the nodes of their Pattern, and a clarity spread pervasively. It was majestic, pretty and just a little frightening. Every injured animal in a mile's radius suddenly recovered and went home for a nap.

Ken and the Man were smiling as they almost-slept.


"You see, Mr Ghost, we're healers. We heal people. Welcome to clinic."

The phantom was becoming visible as the great calming power swept over them. His patch of vortex in the atmosphere was almost completely subsumed into the ribboned swirls.

"No. Please. Don't do this. Don't help me. Please help me." Sobs were being pushed out between the words.

"You will be helped. It's what we do." The Woman looked him in the eye, and removed his hand from about her throat. Then, with all the skill at her command, she healed the Phantom.

The ribbons in the sky flared.


The Two looked down at the pale and wan figure lying in the centre of the healing Pattern in the chapel. Ken was taking observations and organising transport back to their base in Scandinavia, where final recovery would commence. The Oracle was packing, his memory still gone, but relief was evident in his face. All his prophecies seemed positive, apart from the one about the baked potatoes which was probably an anomaly.

"How on Earth are we going to explain to people that it's safe to move back here again?" Mused the Man.

"I wouldn't worry about it. The government will send in inspectors, none of whom will get sick, and make up some stupid and credible story. That's what they always do. That's what happened with the Iron Horse." The Woman smiled a cynical smile. "Until then, we might have to get away for a while."

"Will they ever let him go? What do you think?"

"Maybe. It depends on what really happened. The omens are good. Maybe, one day, we will be one more in number."

"Children, children." Ken wandered over. "You might want to help escort the patient back to base camp. And then, well, perhaps you'd be interested in taking on a small side job while you're on holiday. Have you ever been to Montevideo?"

"Oh, for crying out loud, Ken!" The Two exclaimed in unison.

"Definitely grouchy. You definitely need to sleep more. Off you go. He shooed them off mischievously."

"You heard the man, milady." One roguish smile emerged.

"I sigh at you, good sir." Hand in hand, they went for a nap.

Yes, it's an end, but it's also a beginning. At least we finally got the ribbons into it.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Splish Splash

Splish splash. Splish splash. It's pretty difficult to learn to swim when you have little water confidence. As a child, it would have been easier, but that ship sailed long ago after a not very nice incident with a pool-based bully. As a result, after starting very late, six or seven years of practice has resulted in a slightly shoddy front crawl that lacks the confidence to go into the very deep diving end of the pool and spells of terror when contemplating back stroke. It would probably be okay, especially after all the practice in not sinking like a stone, but you never know. One day, there will a whole linear length. Maybe it will be tomorrow, or in three weeks time, or sometime in the 2030s, but it will certainly happen.

Water confidence is difficult. You almost need to stop trying to swim and just melt into the ambience, move along to whatever hopefully compatible music might be playing on the leisure centre system, and centre in on yourself just like in meditation. Be part of the world in which you live, and so on, new age people. Then you stop thinking about the water, slowly lose your nerves, and gain confidence in the calmness. This all goes to nothing if you are surrounding by thrashing other swimmers in a too-busy pool packed with chaos, but it happens sometimes. Sometimes, if you're lucky, and the world is not too mean.

Building up many types of confidence can be similar in procedure: You just need to immerse yourself in the activity in question in favourable circumstances. However, all this from someone who paddles up to the halfway line and peeks into the diving end may be a little too much to take! Some people can be pushed in to the water and pop up paddling quite happily, but others can be pushed in and take trauma for ages to come. It's a bit like tutoring in many respects. With some students you can just jump in and feel happy that it won't leave any scars if it goes wrong, and with others you have to invoke the baby steps principle. Slowly, slowly, slowly.

Yes, some people like to splish splash instead of stroke stroke, and there's nothing wrong with that. To the pool!


Thursday, 6 April 2017

Story: The Ninja of Health, XXXIII

( Part XXXII , XXXIV )

Right. This is what I've been aiming for since the brainwave. We're good to go.


The sky was half full of white clouds, on an otherwise blue and sunny day. The clouds were still congregating chaotically over their antagonist's supposed lair, but that was to be expected. They hadn't actually begun yet.

Their balloon slowly rose into the sky, tethered by cable to a sturdy link in the chapel grounds. From time to time, the burner triggered, on a repeating timer. They wouldn't have to come down until they chose to or they ran out of fuel.

"It's a nice day", the Man observed, looking out over the town.

"It looks a lot like home," agreed Ken, the Guru.

"Do you think this is going to work?"

"There's only one way to find out." Ken looked out at the surrounding air, then up at the cloud. "We still need to go a little higher."

"I know. We're getting there, though."

"Be ready to adjust the tether once we break the cloud layer."

"Of course."


Below, the amnesiac Oracle and the Lady were watching, and keeping an eye on the clock and weather readings from their tiny weather station.

"They look as if they're almost there." Observed the Oracle, briefed on the events since his memory had been erased.

"Yes. Keep your eyes open."

"I'm not sure quite what to expect."

"Pink elephants and green hyenas, I hope..." The Lady was looking tensely at the wind measurements. "It's perfect."


Ken throw down the signal. A red ribbon on a ring, that ran down the tether cable. Then, in the cloud bank, he and the Man began their relaxation routine, and the Pattern began to form around them.


"Well, who would have thought it!" The Oracle was stunned at the skyscape forming above them. "That ball pool was already bizarre enough!"

"The ball pool was only the beginning. However, we may need to back them up." The Woman turned to lead her friend into the chapel. However, the look on his face was not reassuring. "What's wrong?"

The great Pattern was unfolding above them, and beginning to clash with the chaos to the East. The Oracle was shaking and trembling violently. Invisible fingers were clutching at his arms. An interference pattern began to form in the clouds directly above them, with all it's implications...

A voice was heard. "It's not over yet."

To be concluded.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Red Herring

The term 'red herring' is wonderfully evocative without really meaning anything. It's much nicer than 'maguffin', as used by the infamous Hitchcock. Supposedly, the term 'red herring' originated in one way or another as part of the trick of using a kipper to divert hounds while hunting, although I have no idea how a fox or hare would have found the kipper to begin with. That seems to be the hole in the logic for that explanation!

What is a red herring? Well, it's normally not a kipper, which is the literal definition. A red herring is a clue or piece of information which leads someone down the wrong track, if you can stand the mixing of metaphors. In its most usual context, it is the piece of information in a mystery which points the audience and sometimes the detective at entirely the wrong suspect or theory, only for the truth to be revealed much later in the narrative. However, we do have red herrings in real life. Every time we choose one path in life, only to change to another more appropriate one, we have been pursuing the red herring. Again, it doesn't seem possible to actually pursue a kipper, but who am I to really know. Maybe it's tied to a skateboard?

In reality, a lot of our aims in life end up being red herrings. There are no magical reasons for our individual existences, although I do envy those who have vocations and callings to their professions which seem to fill that void. All those quests for money, prestige and fame don't really mean anything, after all. They're just the maguffins. Sometimes you're better off going for a smaller job and being happy with it.

Getting away from maguffins of the smoked fish variety - although it would be very easy to go on, and on, and then further on again, before invoking 'The Butler Did It' in a final push to the end - it's an odd time of year. The whole of last week was spent in adjustment to the dreaded Daylight Savings Time, my calendrical nemesis. Is there any historical red herring more egregious than Daylight Savings Time, especially one which is yet to be discovered? How can this still go on? It's madness! "I say, Jenks, shall we adjust everyone's clocks so that they can get more sunlight, instead of just letting them get on with their lives any way that they like?" "Yes, Joan, and let's chortle at all the body clock distress and confusion that ensues."

Mutter mutter mutter red herrings grumble grumble.


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Story: The Ninja of Health, XXXII

( Part XXXI , XXXIII )

It was definitely an idea, and a bravura one at that. As the Two put it into action, the Man couldn't help but marvel at it.

"What put this in your head? Was it the clouds?" He asked.

"No, it was earlier than that. It was the sandy curtains, and then remembering the ball pool. The clouds just tipped it over the edge."

"Shush. I'm finally coming off hold." He moved the phone closer to his ear, and listened. "Yes. Yes. We need to hire the largest blue one that you have. Thank you. You have my details there still? Thank you. Bye."


"Yes. Shall we, milady?"

"Yes, milord." The Two walked hand in hand back to the old hall, where the Oracle was trying to jog his own memory via some prophetic breakfast cereal exercises.. He looked up, and his look told them all they needed to know.

Apparently, while they had been away the town had been evacuated by the authorities, unknowingly leaving only Ken and the Oracle behind. Then, according to their guru, 'the Oracle slowly responded to my efforts, as if the removal of the population weakened our opponent in some way.' He had made a time chart, based on the chaotic content of their Patterned floor. Sadly, the Oracle couldn't remember anything from the last three months, so it was more of a technical victory. However, he was trying, which was great.

A horn honked outside. The three ninjas of health looked out the window, to see Ken at the wheel of a large tanker. The Man grinned. "This plan is definitely now happening..."

More will follow...