Inspector Johnson stepped out of the car and entered the house. He was greeted by his partner, Tomkins, who showed him into the house. A team were already working methodically through each room, searching for anything that could give an insight into the case. ‘Have we found anything interesting yet?’ asked Johnson. Tomkins nodded. ‘You’re going to want to come upstairs.’ Tomkins showed his partner into one of the bedrooms. They walked over to the wardrobe, which Tomkins opened. Inside, there was a row of hangers. On each hanger, the same set of clothes was repeated: blue dungarees, a red sweatshirt, and a matching red cap. ‘Oh God,’ said Johnson. Tomkins beckoned his partner over to the dressing table, where he pulled out a drawer. Inside were a dozen fake moustaches, all brown and bushy. ‘This is bad,’ he said. Reporters were crammed into a small room for the press conference. The chief inspector sat at a table at the front of the room, an array of microphones laid out in front of him. There were bags under his eyes. He read out a hastily prepared statement, saying that around six hours ago, a young woman, who had yet to be identified, was the victim of a vicious assault. She later died in
plunging into the illicit macabre pool of death, if they were the kind of people who paid close attention to a cleaner’s eyes, they would have noticed Wilson’s focus never left the glass. They were the only ones high enough to see just how hard he avoided looking in as he blankly kept circling soapy water, paying attention only to the waft of sun warmth on his neck. His pupils refused to peer any further than a few inches in. The night cleaning team picked up the slack, emptying fuller poolside bins, unclogging filters stuffed for over an afternoon. Luckily there were no faecal closures, almost as if the swimmers behaved themselves for a whole month out of respect to the dead. Having said that, the family attendances were at an all time low, so neither the cause nor benefits were any complex mystery. At the end of his first full week back, the Friday morning just before main doors opened, Wilson took two extra large binbags and his skeleton locker key to start emptying the abandoned lockers. Many were bare when opened, kids who had rather keep a key than a pound. Others contained fermented gym socks, mouldy meat sandwiches from packed lunches, crunched swimsuits or towels neglected when impatient bathers realised they had no way of the keeping the rest of their bag dry. Wilson’s locker run always raked in more than a tenner of quids. This month’s haul was £17 and a pack of untouched Oreos. The coins would go in the Blind Billy’s slot. Wilson always dreamt of the day he’d twist the lock open to find a gym bag full of ransom cash. He never dreamt of trying to stuff each note into the collection box’s serene charity head. The 18th locker left closed was the dead boy’s. Flip flops, shower gel and an iPod. The size of the soles gave it away. Alone and frozen, at first he was surprised this had been overlooked, then realised it was the kind of thing that only he would have considered. Within his remit when he was away. He leant on the unlocked door, it swayed steadily as it took his weight. He scooped the flat plastic shoes and half green bottle into the bag. The iPod went into the coin pocket followed by the pound that had been trapped in the mechanism for 17 days. He noted down the lock serial number to order the replacement key. It was not until he tied the ears of the dark refuse sack into a knot to leave the hall of cracked safes that he decided to move the small MP3 player into the breast pocket of his new Stayways Leisure Centre Polo Shirt. It never
Last week, I dreamed that the new guy who teaches family law put his sweaty hand on my knee during the faculty meeting and wriggled his eyebrows knowingly. There’s nothing to know about me, I wanted to say. Is there something to know about you? But it was one of those dreams where nothing came out when I tried to speak, and I couldn’t get up and walk away because his hand was still on my knee and it weighed a thousand pounds. I woke sucking air, my wife snoring peacefully beside me. When I saw the new guy in the hall that morning, he gave me a half-smile. He always does, but this one seemed heavy with implication, though most likely it wasn’t, because what was there to imply? He couldn’t guess what I’d dreamed. It got to me, though. Like a splinter in the you-knowwhat. So at the faculty meeting that afternoon, I put my sweaty hand on his knee and wriggled my eyebrows knowingly. If you could have seen the look on his face.
It’s going to feel silly at first, but give it a go and you’ll see what I mean. Stick out your tongue. Go on. No one’s looking. You’re likely reading this alone and no one can see you, so just try it. Why? You’ll see later. What’s important for now is that you stick out your tongue. Think about it if you need to, but it would be great, just super, if you stuck out your tongue. If you aren’t on your own, you could put your elbow on the table or on your knee – whatever’s around to put an elbow on – and hold the front of your face with the middle of your hand pulled away, like you would when lighting a candle in the wind. People won’t know you’re poking your tongue out behind your hand – looks like you’re staring at something on your computer and having a think, see. It’s the same as when you’ve got an itch – you know the kind – but you’re in a public place. So you pretend to tie your shoelace, bend down on one knee and have a good old lean on the other foot. Oh you don’t do that? Well, I don’t mind if you store that trick away for future – it’s a goodie. Anyway, point is, no one would look twice at you tying your shoelace disguised as a much needed scratch at your bits. Same with sticking your tongue out behind your hand in the manner described. That person’s thinking about the stock market or an environmental solution to fracking, they’re guessing. You could even flip to a graph or an Excel spreadsheet
I wanted to take a picture of the graveyard by the sea but I let you drive past you said why a graveyard as if it were the most absurd thing anyone could photo and I thought of my family portrait from childhood our matching denim outfits posed neatly on some rock with the dog in my lap which seemed far stranger but the graveyard was truly handsome with its honest crosses over the Mediterranean it was a real thing it was and the picture I would have taken grew more beautiful as we cut our path away and soon I was sending an imaginary picture of the graveyard to my grandmother I’d had it framed for her you see and she was in love with this graveyard like I was because of its genial shapes that weren’t trying to fool anyone and we both sat beneath her newly framed picture with our coffee speaking of the smallest bricks that make up our makings the carpels and the capillaries and things like that which are things the graveyard makes you think of and soon I wanted to ask you to turn around go back I want a picture but I didn’t we just kept driving and by the next town I was sure I wanted to be buried there with my family around and their silent wet smiles their soft hands on each other’s shoulders on a day the weather doesn’t matter holding the very dirt that covers me saying well she sure picked a lovely graveyard
Hello and welcome to Q Aficionado, your guide to the world’s greatest places to stand in line. Regular readers will already have noticed that, since our hiatus, we’ve undergone a number of changes: yes, we’re now in an easy-to-pocket format; yes, we’ve returned to the classic tritone covers of our Silver Age; and yes, we’ve got a fine new typeface designed to enrich your visual experience of the printed word. But the changes aren’t just cosmetic. Take a look at the back of your handbook – go ahead and do it now, I’ll wait – and you’ll see we’ve completely restructured our indexing system. Now you can find queues by type, geography, length and – for the first time – mode. Need to find an hour-long museum queue in Metz, France that uses a linear structure? Easy. Want to wait in a zigzag at a UK theme park for no less than 90 minutes? No problem – was that a horizontal, ascending or descending zigzag? We’ll find you an undulating one too, if that’s what you want. Or have you only got half an hour to kill in Osaka, Japan, and want to jockey a multi-liner with periodic temporal distortion that will end in a food purchase? We’ve got it covered. Now read that paragraph back again. Notice anything? Osaka. Japan. Yes, Q Aficionado now covers Asia Pacific. We’ve put together a team of local experts who have spent the 36 months since the last edition diligently documenting queues across the APAC region, expanding our existing coverage to make Q Aficionado the most comprehensive queue guide in the known universe. You’re welcome. But why all the changes? Q Aficionado was okay before, wasn’t it? Well, it was okay. Not great. Each time we publish a new edition we’re handed a chance to fine-tune our formula and provide punchy new
they aren’t happy, they give me their critique. THEY critique ME! I mean, these girls wouldn’t know humour if it turned up at their Christmas dinner, drank all the Cointreau and did the Lambada with their senile grandmother while shouting constantly at the top of its voice, from the moment it arrived in its white limousine resplendent in neon lights, ‘LOOK AT ME! I AM FUCKING HUMOUR!’ Oh, for God’s sake. What the hell has happened to this country? What happened to our rich tradition of humour and the absurd? Now we are just churning out these morons, dullards, automatons. I’m so sick of wheeling myself out like a dancing bear for the entertainment of these nomarks, only for them to give me the brush off. They don’t deserve even to be sat at the same table as me. Anyway, when I got home I texted her to see if she wanted a second date. Man I’m desperate. Next date sees the first trial of the Burt Reynolds dating technique. Hold on tight!
I WANT TO TALK ABOUT ME Datee: Unnamed teaching broad Location: Baker St Date: 2.32pm, 20th December 2008 She was like a wall of sponge; she didn’t ask me a single question for the entire date, she just absorbed every question I asked her and nothing bounced back. By the end of it I just wanted to talk about me. Actually, right from the start I just wanted to talk about me.
I TALKED ABOUT ME Datee: Unnamed charity broad Location: Favourite pub – Bayswater Date: 7.04pm, 19th February 2009 The Burt Reynolds dating technique: To assume the characteristics of a Hollywood star. To take on their confidence, charisma and personal hygiene. To consider the impact of words and phrases likely to cause attraction. To test girls’ biceps for tone and consistency. To pretend you are Burt Reynolds. Before the date I went to the pub with my friend so that she could tell me the do’s and don’t’s of dating ... Well, the don’t’s: Don’t show her your scar. Don’t tell her about how many times you’ve been for a wee today.
to gurn and gradually my face started to screw up like a scrunched up ball of paper. I noticed this and managed to relax it but then it started to do it again. It was time to leave. She totted up the list of drinks I’d consumed either in awe or in disgust; I was too drunk to tell. It was an impressive list. I’d tried every single lager, bitter and stout they had (it’s important to keep your liver guessing). I felt complete. The date had been relatively successful. I even think there may be chance of a second date. A small chance admittedly, because of my irrepressible boozing, but a chance nonetheless. I won’t ask her yet though, I know the rules – wait a month and then text her in Morse code. I’m no amateur. You may be wondering why I didn’t tell her about eating ants, seeing as I told her everything else I wasn’t supposed to. The answer, of course, is that I didn’t need to; there were still bits stuck in my teeth.
A CHINK OF LIGHT Datee: Teacher broad Location: Lambs Conduit St. Date: 6.02pm, 8th March 2009 I sat in a pub on my own for an hour drinking Guinness, eating peanuts and talking reassuringly to myself, waiting for her to turn up. She didn’t. Then I left and got a hamburger. Easily the best date I’ve been on so far.
THE MUNSTERS Date: Media broad Location: A Belgian bar Date: 26th March 2009 – 6.34pm I’ve realised that in the past I’ve subconsciously sabotaged things if they are going too well. I’ve deliberately done things to make me fail. I was determined not to do this on my date. We met and I gave her a Whitesnake CD, showed her my bowling glove and apologised for my tardiness – it wasn’t my fault since I’d fallen asleep under my desk. She was showing off her knees. I liked her immediately. She was striking. Bright red hair, very pretty and with a nose like a boxer dog. We drank Belgian beer and chatted about this and that. She was from Gravesend; this made me think of the Munsters. She wanted to know why I was online dating. I told her it was because I’d exhausted all other avenues and this was my final throw of the dice before
Dole or no Dole - Newjobaphobia - Yeah, that Boomtown Rats song. I’m a don’t-know-shit-from-clay agency temp in a factory full of lifers. Most of the folks here have been on the shop floor for twenty odd years. Working the cushy numbers - old ponies put out to pasture, chewing on the company cud. The way some of them speak to me, you’d think I’d just walked into their house to dig a hole in the middle of their living room & asked if I could go upstairs for a piss in their sock drawer. Any minute now this old fella will hit me with the immortal line: IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. As a gypsy jobber I get it at least once a week. Ok fella, I see your IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE & raise you my: MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO. Every time I hear it I feel like saying; thanks for that, because as I was lugging these boxes/ separating these apples/packing these plastic cups/stood at the end of this conveyor belt