Monthly Archives: August 2011

Helmand on Earth

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Helmand on Earth

A modern day retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier’ dedicated to the people of the armed forces and their families

There was once a regiment of five-and-twenty soldiers.  They were like brothers for they had been serving together so long.  Their uniforms, shades of beige and chocolate, were ever so lovely.  The very first thing they heard ever day was “Soldier!”.  It was shouted by their Commanding Officer whose shrill tone cut through the heat in Helmand like an alarm clock through a hungover head.  After waking up and coming to the realisation of where they were, each of them dressed, made their beds and lined up in the makeshift barracks for inspection.  It had been so long now that each solider looked exactly like the other.  The never-ending sun had resulted in each having a deep, muddy tan and heads had long since been shaved to give relief from the constant stifling heat.  Only one was slightly different: he had but one leg, for he had lost the other two years earlier after the explosion of a roadside bomb.  And yet he stood just as firmly on his one leg as the others did on their two, and he is the very one who turns out to be unique.

The Army had been reluctant to let Tom Stevens return to Helmand but he had insisted.  He didn’t want a civvy job.  His old friends back home no longer understood him.  He loved his family but he had no girlfriend, no wife, no children.  So he vowed that as long as his heart beat in his chest he would serve his country.  He did the physio, experimented with prosthetics, didn’t like prosthetics, learnt to walk with crutches.  Then he went back.  And he stood out.  Not because he had one leg left.  Because he was a wonderful soldier, and a loyal friend.

In the camp where they were stationed there were many other soldiers, but the one that stood out the most was Paula Bennett.  Through a tiny window in the makeshift barracks Tom Stevens watched her.  Outside was nothing but beige landscape shrouded in inky darkness.  A group of lads were stood smoking, their white mist bleaching the dark skies.  It was all lovely, and yet the loveliest of all was Paula Bennett who was standing in the open air of Helmand.  She too was dressed in beige and chocolate, but her hair was the brightest blonde and a narrow ribbon of it hung over her shoulder just like a drapery; the full moon shone in the sky and lit up her whole face.  Paula Bennett was stretching out both her arms, for before she went on tour she had taken ballet lessons, and then she had raised one leg so high in the air that Tom Stevens could barely see it, and she looked like she had but one leg, just like himself.

“What a beautiful girl!”  he thought.  “But she’s too good for me.  I have nothing to give her.  She’s like a mirage – beauty appearing in this oppressive heat.  I would talk to her but I would disturb her lovely dance!”  And then he stood on lifting himself up on one crutch behind the window.  From here he could look right at the lady, who continued to stand on one leg without losing her balance.

Later in the evening when Tom Stevens went to bed an image of Paula Bennett on the tip of her toes and with both arms outstretched was imprinted on the back of his eyelids.

Now the clock struck twelve and bang!  A bomb had gone off in the distance.

Tom Stevens felt pain where his lost leg had been and wished he couldn’t hear explosions ever again.  Then he felt guilty for not hoping no-one had been hurt first.  No-one else hurt like he had been.

Now, when it was morning and the soldiers got up Tom Stevens and another lad in his regiment, Tony Spencer, went out to investigate the explosion.  The Commanding Officer’s shrill tone of “Soldier!” came cracking over Tony Spencer’s radio.  “We need you back at base.”  Tom Stevens told Tony Spencer he would go investigate the explosion site without him.  He would be fine.  Nothing else could happen to him now.  So Tony Spencer turned back and Tom Stevens and his crutches carried on.  Whether it was fate or bad luck, suddenly Tom Stevens went headlong with terrible speed.  His leg turned up in the air and he landed on his head losing consciousness.

Tom Stevens’ regiment became a search party, trailing the beige landscape but they couldn’t see him.  Eventually they gave up and returned to base.  Tom Stevens was presumed dead and the next day the Commanding Officer would have to translate his shrill tones to paper to inform Tom Stevens’ family of the tragedy.

When Tom Stevens woke up the oppressive heat of day in Helmand had gone and it was a very cold dark night.

Tom Stevens looked around and the inky Helmand darkness was illuminated by an orange glow in the darkness.  He found his crutches, hauled himself up and went towards it.

Tom Stevens found himself on the very same camp he had been on before!  But the ladies’ makeshift barracks was on fire and all the soldiers were stood outside, some screaming, some crying, some shocked into silence.  All the soldiers were stood outside.  All the soldiers except Paula Bennett.  Before anyone quite realised he was there, Tom Stevens had forced himself into the flames.

Tom Stevens stood in the glow and felt the terrible heat – but whether it was from the real fire or from love, he didn’t know.  He found Paula Bennett and she looked at him.  Then a door opened, Tom Stevens wrapped his arm around Paula Bennett’s waist and they were pulled from the flames by Tony Spencer.

The next day one of Tom Stevens’ crutches was found in the ashes melted in the shape of a little metal heart.  And on the day that Paula Bennett became Paula Stevens, the hair that had shone brightest blonde in the Helmand sun, was still burned black as coal.

Copyright D M Day, 2011

Hey I wanna be a robot

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After finding out very recently that biscuits could cause cancer the shock nearly floored me.  After recovering from the horror with a nice cigarette and cup of coffee I began to consider life and mortality.  Very philosophical!

Anyway during my consideration I mentioned the evilness of biscuits to my Grandad who is a) a fatalist, b) someone who doesn’t care about what he eats and c) apparently a great science fiction fan.  His theory is that eventually (not sure if next year, ten years’ time or when that digestive has finally terminated me) all human brains will be inserted into androids thereby giving individuals eternal life.

Now there’s lots of good things about this.  You wouldn’t die.  Ever.  Like the current series of Torchwood but without the burning frail but living bodies alive.  So you would live long enough to become a millionaire.

Also you wouldn’t hurt yourself.  How many people break their bones in British winter?  Lots.  Made of metal, won’t break.  Lovely jubbly.

No more painful childbirth, no more expensive food bills, no more bullying in schools of children who are different.  The possibilities are endless right?

Except you wouldn’t live long enough to become a millionaire, because what job could you possibly do.  Doctors, nurses, midwives, chefs, life coaches, all gone.  If everyone was a robot would anyone need to do anything?

You wouldn’t break your bones in winter but if you did slip in the snow would you rust?  Would you need to oil your joints like a creaky door.  At least there would be a job left.  Manufacturing WD40.

As for childbirth there would be no more children.  There would just be the same bunch of people living forever.  Imagine.  Eventually you would know everybody in the world.  Or would you?  After all would the new robotic civilisation only apply to developed countries?  Would our robotic fingers be texting our donations to countries filled with starving children from our inbuilt telephonic devices.  Probably.

As for food, imagine never being able to go to your favourite restaurant again because you couldn’t eat.  Surely we don’t just eat because we have to.  If that was the case so many places would go out of business.

The bullying in schools is sorted though.  No more children, no more schools, no more bullying.  And we would all be the same.  After all no-one is going to ask to be an average looking robot really are they?  Hey, when you build me can I have a big nose and buck teeth?  I think not.

And finally the best reason I can think of for keeping our perishable bodies going: sex.

It may eradicate disease, pain and suffering but without pain there can be no pleasure.

So, scientists of the world present and future, if you ever come up with a way to create immortality through android technology, I for one would like to keep my brain exactly where it is.  In my fragile, breakable human skull.

And if everyone else one day does become a robot and I die and everyone outlives me at least me dying proves one thing.  That I lived.

Pass the biscuit tin.

The King is dead!

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No not, Elvis; that’s old news.  But right now in the 21st century Burger King has decided to stop using that weird looking plastic king guy to sell their fast food.  Which is probably a good idea because the thought of being permanently stalked by a plastic bloke with a perma-grin and non-blinking eyes definitely didn’t have me reaching for a whopper and fries.

Here, in tribute to everyone’s favourite stalker, the top ten creepiest advert characters:-

Number 10 – Colonel Sanders (KFC)

Photographs of the owner of the secret blend of spices fine.  The drawings aren’t too bad either.  The perma-tanned cartoonish plastic statues that stand in outlets are not finger-lickin good.  There finger-coverin eyes scary!

Number 9 – Cake car (Skoda Fabia)

A car made of lovely stuff.  A very sweet Sound of Music soundtrack.  A bunch of pastry chefs who could compete the in the Olympics if patience was an event.  Not creepy at all right?  Wrong.  The car took so long to make all the lovely stuff was destroyed.  They destroyed it!  And there was chocolate in there!

Number 8 – The eyebrow kids (Cadbury)

Two kids waiting to have their picture taken.  Phone rings, photographer leaves, they do the eyebrow dance resulting in the nation attempting to move their eyebrows in a similar way for months.  It was good.  It was memorable.  But without the funky forehead hair moves they were Stepford Children.

Number 7 – Adult heads, baby bodies (Evian)

A number of adults wear white t-shirts featuring the bodies of babies in various poses.  The effect is surprisingly realistic and very weird.  Everyone seems really happy though.  Must be the water they’re drinking.  Or is it?  After all Evian is naive, backwards.  Yeah, water is just water.  It’s good for you but so is any other water.

Number 6 – The Honey Monster (Sugar Puffs)

Big, yellow, permanently happy and in possession of destructive tendencies, the Honey Monster will do anything for honey, or honey-flavoured cereal anyway.  “Don’t tell em about the honey mummy” could be seen as encouraging kids to keep secrets but they’ll do that anyway and if it gets them to eat breakfast so be it.  A big fan of music and talented musician the Honey Monster has experimented with many types of music including a collaboration with Boyzone, a sugar puff daddy rap and a dance routine to The Archies’ Sugar Sugar while eating breakfast.

Number 5 – Grandad with false teeth (Irn Bru)

Very funny.  A young lad gives his grandad his can of Irn Bru for “a sip”.  Grandad takes his teeth out and slurps at the can, lad says he can drink it all, Grandad replaces teeth and drinks normally.  But it’s a bit cringeworthy all the same.

Number 4 – Dancing cats (Crusha)

Cartoon cats dance and sing about milkshake.  Cows get squished with bottles of said milkshake as do, on occasion, the cats themselves.  The voice is very gangster from a Guy Ritchie film and the effect is that you’re being threatened to drink the milkshake or you’ll be sleepin’ with the fishes.

Number 3 – Ronald McDonald (McDonalds)

He’s a clown.  Enough said.  I’m not lovin’ it.

Number 2 – Wenlock and Mandeville (London 2012 Olympics)

Oh my God!  One giant eye each.  These were dreamt up in someone’s nightmare.  Makes me glad I was always rubbish at PE and won’t have them cheering me on.  Someone’s nightmare aside, they were reputedly designed after comments were made by a focus group entirely made up of children.  Note for next time – don’t take every single comment a bunch of kids make into account.  You end up with a disaster.  The names are good – Wenlock is a village in Shropshire which held an early version of the Olympics in the 19th century and Mandeville is the hospital which came up with the Paralympics.  I’m thinking the names were not thought up by the children.  There’s also a video which shows how they came to be.  A fellow insomniac retires and creates them out of metal in the middle of the night for his grandchildren.  When playing with them the metal statues get hit by the rays of a rainbow and come to life.  They then start playing with various Olympic memorabilia in the children’s room, then leave to spread the word.  And no, no-one is disturbed by the metal statues coming to life.  I’m all for getting kids involved with the Olympic games but this looks like a scam to sell as much merchandise as possible to me.  I’m waiting for the niece and nephew to start begging for copies of the figures with baited breath.

Number 1 – The King (Burger King)

Who else?

A Moment

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A Moment
 
I wonder if he ever thinks of me
Ever regrets
Just for a second
 
He is no longer the man he was
So they say
Well and truly lost
 
I think of him
How he was when he was mine
Not often
Just for a second
From time to time
And then he’s gone

We Meet Again

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She couldn’t remember how she’d wound up here again.  She closed her eyes trying to think.  She vaguely remembered kissing Spencer.  She’d lost her bra at some point.

Looking round it looked like any regular doctors’ waiting room.  Except of course no-one LOOKED ill.  No coughing.  No sniffing.  The only sound the steady tick tock tick tock counting every second of the 736 seconds and counting that had already gone past her “appointment”.

A man at in the corner was staring at her.  Weirdo.  Or was she the weirdo?  She’s the one who was looking round at everyone.  If she’d kept her eyes on the floor she wouldn’t have noticed him staring.  Maybe he was staring because she was looking round?  Maybe he was staring because she was beautiful?  No that couldn’t be it.

Sheila, the receptionist, was looking at her now.  Her red lipsticked mouth fixed in that fake sympathetic sickly smile.  Or was it Sylvia?  She wondered if she practiced it in the mirror.  No Selene.  That colour is the reason people are scared of clowns.  No Sheila.  Definitely Sheila.

Tick tock tick tock.  978 seconds.  979.  980.  981.

“Sheila Spencer?”

She looked up.  Dr Michaels stood there with the same sickly sympathetic smile as Selene.  Holding a file.  Thick as War and Peace.  That must be a bad one.

There’s no shame in asking for help but did he have to look so fucking smug about it?

Sylva was staring at her now.  Not blinking.  Dr Matthews looked like he was struggling to hold that file.  She’ll make her eyes sore.  What do they want her to do a dance?  What is he in the corner staring at?  He’ll do his back in.

“Sheila, are you coming?”

Dr Martin was calling her again.  Oh well better get it over with.  She stood.  Six eyes following her.  Dammit!  Lost count.  Where was she?  1,232.  1,233.  1,234.

“Just in here Sheila.  Didn’t think we’d see you back here again so soon.”

1,275.  1,276.  1,277.

This was probably going to take a while.  She should have gone outside for a cigarette while she was waiting.

Friday Night Millionaire

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Friday Night Millionaire
 
Your round
Mine’s a vodka
He’ll have a pint
 
He’s found
Perfect girl by the bar
Could be love at first sight
 
It’s bound
To end in tears
Local lads are wanting a fight
 
Head pounds
Waking up at home
In the morning light
 
Not a pound
Left in wallet
Signs of a good night

Enough

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Enough

A smirk
She looks onto the world
Escaped
Joy is alive in her eyes
 
The house is silent
The only light is from the lamps outside
If she runs now they’ll never find her
 
She looks at the pool of blood
No guilt comes
He had it coming
Nothing left to do but run