“The Internet of Things” novel coming soon!

Murder. Intrigue. Anthropomorphic construction vehicles and bloodthirsty elevators; The Internet of Things, a real British blockbuster of a book has it all. They said that curiosity killed the cat, but they left out the part about the blender…

In a world where everything is connected to the internet and even your toaster is smarter than you, things begin to go wrong and Bruce von Toose, private detective, is caught square in the middle. Will he be able to solve the case of the disappearing rapper before Bristol, or all of Great Britain is razed to the ground by rampant, rioting machines? Will anybody be left alive to care or, more importantly, to pay his fee?

FINAL The Internet of Things Cover  - Artist Jamila Walker 300 dpi

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You’d Need a License Anyway

 

Press keys to appease your employer,

tap tap tap like a rat for your tea,

maximising and minimising windows,

it’s important your colleagues don’t see.

Twitch-clicking becomes instinctive,

a spasm that covers your tracks

so that you can read the BBC website

or look at amusing pictures of cats.

 

Stand up, sit down,

it’s your own choice.

 

That’s right, I might surf incognito

with a polyester seat at my back,

smuggling time like a cyberspace pirate,

exchanging minutes of my life for cash,

but doing it in style, on my own terms…

Yeah right, how pathetic is that?

Writing rubbish like this for my sanity,

lamely rebelling for fear I might crack.

 

Stand up, sit down.

it’s your own choice,

but get your work done,

don’t eat a shotgun.

 

HA HA HA! Have you seen that meme?

HO HO HO! Look at my screen!

HA HA HA! See what I bought!

HO HO HO! Isn’t life short?

 

Tap tap tap, like a dancing bear,

don’t you know that nobody cares?

Don’t you know we’re all the same?

Don’t you know that this is no game?

Don’t you know you’re just a name?

Don’t you know we built this cage?

Don’t you know we made this maze?

Tap tap tap, suppress your rage.

 

Stand up, sit down,

it’s your own choice,

but get your work done,

don’t eat a shotgun.

 

Of course you’re bored,

it’s fucking boring!

Of course you’re bored,

at least you’re not dead.

 

Do It Again! Do It Again!

Do It Again! Do It Again!

by David R J Sealey

 

I’ve heard that some poets were so blessed with time

they could spend whole weeks reworking a single line.

I work in an office and, though I’ve seen printed mine,

I have seen not a penny, not a nickel, nor dime,

 

and I know that my words are not groundbreaking

or classically poetic like Thomas or Constantine,

but just imagine if Jagger or John Lennon did just sing

All Shook Up wearing the blue suede shoes of the King,

 

or Picasso just painted pictures of bowls of fruit,

or the Coen brothers staged a Casablanca reshoot,

or Hendrix played Greensleeves unplugged on the lute,

or the Fat Duck served up slabs of salmon en croute,

 

or we all lived in round houses raised from the mud,

or foreign armies invaded, borne on rivers of blood

and we all died of syphilis or the black plague;

don’t you just wish for those good old days?

 

I just wish that one day I’d get paid

for words that I have so carefully laid,

for all of the cards that I have played

without resorting to rhymes so staid,

 

and I am sorry if you find this derivative,

but I fear I have plagiarised the dictionary

and the internet in the course of its creation;

 

only poetry prays for the death of innovation.

 

Image

 

 

 

Sail Away – Chapter Thirteen – Unlucky for Some…

Chapter Thirteen – Unlucky for Some

 

I stood in a line with the other new recruits, back straight, chin up, staring without seeing ahead at the shiny steel bulkhead. We were fresh meat at the cattle call; I hoped they’d at least attempt to milk us dry before they sent us off to slaughter. The best we could hope for in the elite New Republican Guard was that we would live a few more days before the hammer finally fell. And hope we did.

The man with the red moustache walked past, twirling it between his thumb and forefinger as he inspected me from head to toe. He stopped.

“What’s your name, soldier?”

His voice rasped in the back of his throat before coming out barely louder than a whisper. He was the sort of man that was used to people listening when he talked. The stripes on his lapel confirmed what I already knew to be true; before me stood Major Ivor Bootkin, commander of the mission and the most senior ranking man on the planet, or on this planet at least.

“Private Wright, sir!”

I gave him my best salute and a cheeky grin. This did not go down well at all. He was a large man, as tall as he was broad and not short in either axis. The other lads called him Major Cubekin. He loomed over me like a giant moustachioed die and I’d just rolled a one. He let me have it.

“Wrong! Your name is whatever I tell you it is you smirking idiot! You’re in the Interplanetary Marine Corps now Private Wrong and you will drop and give me fifty!”

As I complied, Major Bootkin dressed down the rest of the platoon one at a time and soon we were all bobbing up and down at his feet like natives praising their enormous angry god. We popped up one at a time after our completing our allotted press-ups like a line of dominos on rewind. Bootkin stood, hands behind his back, waiting for the last of us to stand. I stood to attention, sweating in my full uniform. His nose glistened in a shaft of light, a bright rosy red. At last, he spoke again.

“Welcome to the Interplanetary Marine Corps men. You are honoured to serve the IMC and your brothers in arms are honoured to serve you. And everybody here is honoured to serve me. I am Major Bootkin and while you are stationed here on Headshot, you report to me.”

A slight man with wispy white hair and a crisp lab coat entered the hangar behind the Major. He handed him a piece of paper and bowed back out, trying not to catch anyone’s eye. As he left, something flicked out from beneath his coat for just a second and he was gone. I wanted to rub my eyes but I couldn’t. The scientist had a tail, I would swear to it. Major Bootkin continued.

“You scumbags lucked out. This is the best posting in the IMC. We are here to keep the peace. Headshot is an exploratory colony set up on this savage planet to guard the eggheads while they run tests for minerals, resources and terra-forming potential. Earth is overcrowded, Mars is full. This is humanity’s best shot at long term survival. There is no conflict here, just dumb animals scratching their asses in the jungle. This is a purely peace-keeping assignment.”

I breathed a little sigh of relief. Mars would have been far worse. There had been conflict between the Western Allies and the Eastern Empire settlers since the first day of terra-forming thirty years before. It was brutal. Bootkin wasn’t done yet.

“Now, you’ve probably heard a lot of half-baked rumours and scrambled information at the Academy about our intentions here on Headshot, but let me tell you now, none of what you have heard is true. There are no giant man-eating monsters shaped like giant eggs, there are no harems of naked blue nymph-women for your pleasure. There is no McDonalds. What Headshot boils down to is this. You stand where you’re told, you point your gun at whatever we tell you to and you keep your mouth shut. If you follow those three basic principles exactly, we will be excellent friends. If you fail to follow orders, I will smash you where you stand. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir!”

The platoon answered as one voice.

“Now, get out of my sight. Platoon, quick march!”

We turned on our heels and marched out of the gloomy hangar into the brilliant sunshine. The jungle, The Wilds as it was known, looked beautiful in the strong light of the alien star. Headshot sat atop a rocky bluff above a thousand shades of green as the canopy stretched on and on, as far as the eye could see. Here and there enormous purple trunks rose through the sea of green and gigantic towering trees, hundreds of feet tall with blue-tinged leaves loomed above, casting vast shadows on the rainforest beneath. In the sky above hung the ghostly outlines of the twin moons, Titania and Oberon.

As we marched back down to our barracks, I thought about what the Major had said. He was wrong; some of the information floating about the Academy had been true. There were two moons. There were giant trees and rainforests. There were natives. I shivered.

I hoped what I’d heard about them wasn’t true. Soldiers returning from their tours had told of evil, crazed creatures, half-animal half-man with razor sharp claws and strange abilities, a cross between Looney Tunes cartoon characters and superheroes.

Back at the bunk house, Bootkin had posted up a roster of our names and where we were to report at 0700 hours the following morning. Somebody had scribbled out Private Wright and written in “Private Wrong” in what I can only describe as a maniac’s scrawl. This showed a terrifying amount of foresight on Major Bootkin’s part, or perhaps just that the joke was so predictable, so inevitable, that perhaps I had been picked to serve on Headshot solely because of my name and the humorous opportunity that this would present. Bootkin was, therefore, either a genius or completely off his rocker. We would soon find out.

Next to my name, the sheet of paper told me that I was to report to “Area 17 – Restraint Solutions and Probing” first thing in the morning. I hoped that it would not be as kinky as it sounded; I was in no mood for games. I tucked my boots beneath my bed and, as soon as my head hit the pillow which it seemed was made of bricks; I fell fast asleep, listening to the other men talk about clowns and pussy.

Sail Away – Chapter Twelve – All the World is Mad

Chapter Twelve – All the World is Mad

So, today it came. A man in a van with a plan came and hooked us up, drilled a hole in the wall and fitted our cables (and probably at least one spy camera/bug), plugged in the router and left us flashing madly in the hallway. Uncle Archie spent most of the time sitting beneath the old oak tree in the garden, meticulously loading, smoking and cleaning his pipe, muttering to himself in the breeze like Popeye in a retirement home. Technology does not sit well with him.

Since that moment I’ve been catching up with world events. The last six weeks in Polpollo have left me isolated and ignorant of the wider world. Being fifteen years old, watching the news or buying a paper were clearly out of the question, and so I had been wrapped up in the gossip of Polpollo Academy, cocooned in rumours of James Gordon’s gayness and who exactly fingered who in Religious Education. These events, no matter how interesting on a basic human level, are no real match for the glossy apocalypse and rampant sensationalism of rolling news.

Being online again also means that I can look up the meaning of phrases like “rampant sensationalism” and “constitutional rights” at the touch of a button. I am not loyal. I flit between search engines like a magpie in the treetops, eyes peeled for shiny diamonds. A Google here, a Yahoo there, sometimes a little Ask Jeeves if I feel like going mad, yet the outcome is always the same. Wikipedia, the temple of lies, the fabricator of half-truths, the masters of obscure knowledge is always rewarded with my first click. I know that is open source, that anyone can contribute and amend and this, contrary to what my teachers might say, is what I like about the site. Anything which will teach me about any area of science, politics, popular culture and more on demand but will also allow me to record, for posterity’s sake, that Tony Blair was an evil shit-head definitely has my vote.

It seems that the world has started spinning faster or something. It has definitely gone a little mad. The American’s are in the middle of one of their favourite trips; it is election season. It is as though the whole country is gripped by a prolonged fever of patriotism, a Super Bowl Sunday guaranteed to last at least six months. The frontrunner at this point seems to be a young Democrat named Barack Obama, a cross between Martin Luther King and JFK with a name that turns into piss in the mouths of the Republicans and Bible-Belt America. Wikipedia defines this as:

“The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the south-eastern and south-central United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation’s average.”

Like you, I had to follow the links provided and spent at least ten minutes of my life that I will never get back reading about Social Conservatism. I feel that I have learnt more in the last four hours than the preceding six weeks. My brain hurts, my eyes ache, but I must persevere.

Obama is up against John McCain, a Republican candidate who is too rich, too pampered and too white to win the election. He is also hampered by his running mate, a wild-eyed woman from Alaska named Sarah Palin that would glefully nuke the world’s polar bears just to shut environmentalists up for good. There is something strange about the pair of them, otherworldly, like the Clintons seen backwards through a telescope, Bizarro Bill and Hil, made in a laboratory in the nineties from DNA found on the carpet in the oval office by an evil shadowy corporation.

More importantly, it seems that there are some risqué pictures of Disney’s darling Hannah Montana, the actress Miley Cyrus floating about somewhere on the internet, though I haven’t found them yet. This is not for want of trying. The problem is that, although she is fifteen and so am I, if I try to Google certain phrases I fear that Special Branch will swoop in through my bedroom window and whisk me away to Guantanamo Bay on charges of “being a nonce”. I am too young and paranoid for this. I will try and order a back issue of “Vanity Fair” instead. There is plenty of free and legally available porn on the internet to tide me over in the meantime.

Also, the new Batman film will be released in a couple months. This is the best news I’ve read in a long time. “Batman Begins” is probably the only decent superhero movie ever made and “The Dark Knight” is the same cast and director, only this time they have the Joker too, played by Heath Ledger. I watched the trailer eight times in a row. This, combined with my Miley Cyrus “research”, has taken me almost half of my time on the internet so far today. I told you about the Obama stuff first so that you would not think less of me. It is strange to see Heath Ledger play the Joker so well knowing that he died alone in a hotel room shortly after filming. It is a shame that Batman will never face him again, but at least it has given Goths something new to dress up as.

The Joker is probably my favourite villain ever. I love Darth Vader, I love all the mad James Bond villains with their cat obsessions and gold-paint perversions and I love Bowser the fat dinosaur/dragon/turtle in the Mario games, but the Joker is the one. Unlike most other characters, he has many different conflicting back stories to explain his existence and all of them are lies. There is one simple truth to the Joker. If Batman exists as a terrifying and insane force fighting for good, then nature or comics requires that there is an equal and opposing force fighting the bad fight. It is Ying and Yang, night and day, Batman and the Joker. Without one, you have neither. And it is, by implication, therefore Batman’s fault every time the Joker decides to gas half the population of Gotham or paralyse Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. It is personal.

I wonder if this reasoning explains Jodie Craddock’s existence. Every time I see her at school I feel as though the whole place empties in an instant, leaving just me and her locked in an endless stare out across the classroom. She is my Joker, and I am her Batman. If I had a utility belt, perhaps things would be different. But instead she kicked my ass and now I am doomed to fantasise about putting her eye out with a Batarang in the middle of French. If I was Batman, Gotham City would be burnt to the ground by now.

There is a lot of rubbish music in the charts right now, Chris Brown and Flo Rida and lots of other songs that sound like the theme tunes to films about high school break-dancing competitions. The new Kings of Leon (which I have a leaked copy of), however is immense. If Polpollo Academy had a break-dancing competition, I would wait until it was Jodie Craddock’s turn before cutting the lights and swooping down on her from above, dragging her up into the lighting rig and stealing her top before leaving her tied upside down so that when they get the lights back on it will look as though she is drowning in her own fat.

That may be too much; I fear I have gone too far. It is because I am immensely bitter. I spent the last hour stalking my former “friends” from St Catherine’s on Facebook. When I logged in, I had one message, one single solitary message, from Matt Davies, my best friend since Primary school and ex next-door neighbour for five years. I have included here for you in its entirety. All spelling is correct:

“Greg u big gay twat, whers my copy of Headshot I lent u? Have you nicked it and took it down to Bendersville with you? If I ever c u again, you are dead mate. Every1 here hats you now. U cant just leave without sayin goodbye. It is like tellin us 2 fuk off.

Mat

PS I fukked Lins last night. She calld you a bender.”

I checked Matt’s profile for proof of his boasting. It says that he is “In a Relationship” with Lindsay Mancini. MY Lindsay Mancini! He knew how much I fancied her. She has written several comments on his wall. In one of them she calls him “big Boi”. I sit now, staring out of the window at the harbour, lit up against the night sky. I want to tear his little round head off and drop kick it into the sea. I want to drive the Batmobile up his fat ass and open the doors. I want blood.

I settle instead for a cup of milky tea with three sugars and an early night. Before I fall asleep, I plot the downfall of my enemies but I can’t muster the energy to hate them as much as I should. I feel a tear pricking the corner of my eye. I will not cry. I will not let them win. What would Bruce Wayne do? I remember that my mother is still alive and wonder how she is, sleeping the deepest sleep. I try to clear my mind and pretend that I too am in a coma, but all I see is Matt Davies made up as a clown, laughing like a madman.

Sail Away – Chapter Eleven – Take a Glance at the Fancy Ants

Chapter Eleven – Take a Glance at the Fancy Ants

 

When I was ten years old, I went on a Cub Scout trip to South Wales for a week. It was probably the most miserable week of my life apart from the dinosaurs. One of my fellow Cubs decided to get his penis out on the mini-bus.

It was as if he had decided to make a special effort to set the tone for the visit, that he was somehow destined to be our king. I’m afraid that he was mistaken.

I remember watching the trees and hills roll past as we sat in our green sweatshirts and our grey and purple neckerchiefs, telling each other stupid jokes and singing dirty songs about Hitler’s testicles. Akela tried to put us off by putting the radio on at quite a volume. We saw it as a challenge and were just getting in to a particularly rousing few choruses of “Beautiful Gay” by U2 when it happened.

Our female leader, a middle-aged woman named “Kaa”, real name Angela Swain was happily singing along, oblivious to our word-changing anarchy when she pulled the mother of all double-takes. One moment she’s all smiles and “Touch me, take me to that other place”. Then she glances down and bang, her neck whips back so fast that I hear it snap. The fire in her eyes shows her suspicions are confirmed. Steam begins to pour from her ears.

As one, we look down. We see it. Justin’s just sat there with it out. We look up. He’s grinning, staring straight at Kaa. She is ticking. There is a second where it seems that all the sound in the van is sucked down into a single point as we all inhale sharply. What does he hope to achieve? She explodes.

“JUSTIN! WHAT IN GOD’S NAME ARE YOU DOING?”

As she shouts, her chubby face red raw with rage, she goes to stand up and strikes her head on the roof of the minibus, knocking her back down in to her seat. It is on. Justin just sits there perfectly still for a moment. It seems strangely as though he is in complete control of the situation, as though he is the Lex Luthor of getting your cock out on a Cub Scout minibus.

Akela has turned the radio down. We are pulling over. Kaa has already undone her seat belt. She does not give a crap about the Highway Code at this point. Justin puts it away in the blink of an eye. She is upon him.

In the nick of time Bagheera is up on his feet between the snake and her prey, watching her hand sail through the air towards Justin’s weird fixed grin. If ever there was an entry in our Yearbook for “Cub Scout Most Likely to Become the Joker”, it would have a picture of Justin, grinning like a serial killer, aged ten.

Baloo is up and catches Kaa’s hand in his great paw. It is like a post-modern version of Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book” staged in the blink of an eye. Mowgli, I mean Justin, dodges out from behind Bagheera and leaps for his life over the edge of the waterfall, I mean on to our laps. As one we push him/punch him in the back and he rolls off onto the floor, wedged in the gap between our legs. Somebody kicks out. I think that we may end up stamping him to death. It’s gone from the “Jungle Book” to “Lord of the Flies” in a split second. Then Akela pulls open the side door and it’s all over.

Nobody spoke to Justin for the whole week after that. He would sometimes sing or attempt to rap at times of group rowdiness, but we would all immediately fall silent until he got the hint. It was definitely psychological bullying. But he did deserve it.

The rest of the week was a soggy blur, with two aborted hike attempts, and a freezing walk in the dark where we got lost and after four hours we stumbled upon a pub called the “Hangman’s Arms” where we called taxis to take us all back to the hall. We did manage to get to the beach one day and, sporting anoraks and sweatshirts it was so unexpectedly hot that we all got sunburnt to a crisp instead. I did get to eat a Magnum but that was a drop in the ocean. It was a washout.

On the day before last we visited a series of caves that had been dressed up with animatronic dinosaurs and mannequins in loin clothes. I have always been “into” dinosaurs, the film “Jurassic Park” is one of my earliest memories, and combined with the network of caverns, it reminded me of the Batcave. We spent a happy afternoon wandering about deep beneath the ground. I only mention this because I don’t want the Welsh tourist board on my back. And this story is not over yet.

On the final day we loaded up the mini bus with all of our bags and set out for home, on the way back to our mothers and beds, away from the land of sleeping bags on polished wooden floors and beans freshly burnt in a mess tin. Justin had been made to sit up front, between Akela and Baloo. I think this was more to protect him from Kaa than to keep an eye on him. The radio remained off. Nobody said a word. We were too tired.

As we drove down the dual carriageway towards the outskirts of town, the back door suddenly opened inexplicably and our bags were sucked out onto the tarmac at thirty miles an hour. We pulled over to the side of the road and watched as Akela and the other leaders ran about collecting our luggage like a live action version of “Frogger”. Somebody punched Justin in the arm and he began to wail hysterically.

Eventually, and with no casualties, our luggage was repacked into the mini bus but into the gap between us this time, burying us beneath an avalanche of canvas and Nike logos. Akela silenced Justin with a stare. We moved off again, the back door tied together with a bungee cord just in case.

We made it to the Severn Bridge, a relatively impressive and scary prospect for a ten year old away from home for the first time. We even made it halfway across. Then the tyre blew up.

We sat there, pulled over onto what passed for the hard shoulder in the middle of the Severn Bridge for over an hour as cars beeped at us and drove past revving their engines. Akela and Bagheera managed to change the tyre for a spare. This spare was the second of two, the first had massive slits in the rubber. The minibus had been hired from a local school and it was clear; they wanted us dead. We were all desperate for the toilet, hungry and feeling a little bit sick by the time we hit the road again.

After a stop for emergency relief and sandwiches, four hours late with light diminishing we were making good time on the motorway when it happened again.

This time, two tyres, both on the left side blew out simultaneously. It was getting old. We pulled over onto the side of the road and all got out of the minibus, scurried down a bank at the side of a ditch and made it over a fence to sit in a field. Akela walked down the road a way and used the orange emergency phone box to phone for a mechanic. Daniel passed out his wrestling magazines to a select view and we made up bouts to pass the time. Stone Cold Steve Austin won every time.

When we made it home, seven hours late, nobody had a bad word to say. Anger had given way to worry hours before and we were just relieved to see our mothers, and they us. Anger would resurface days and weeks later in the form of angry letters written to the council, the local school and the newspaper, but at that moment we were just the saviours and the saved. I fell asleep in the car on the way home while Mum sang along to Abba Gold.

Sail Away – Chapter Eight – The Unsullied

Chapter Eight – The Unsullied

 

Polpollo Academy wasn’t all that bad. Aside from Jodie Craddock’s little gang of psycho-bitches and the fact that Barry, James and Phil could pretty much go and fuck themselves, it was quite chilled. There weren’t really any gangs like there had been at St Catherines, no Kebabbys or Merc-yas, and, although there were fights, at least nobody had been stabbed or set on fire yet. It was pretty relaxed to tell the truth and I soon got into the groove, taking notes and enjoying my own company.

I got weird looks from some of the other kids, but I didn’t want to be accepted, I didn’t need their approval or respect. I was enjoying the space and lack of social pressure. In Bristol there’d be a party every weekend at someone’s house while their parents were out, or in the park near the school, basically just an excuse for everyone to steal booze off their parents, get wasted and try to finger each other. If that happened in Polpollo, I wasn’t invited and I didn’t care; I had more time to rinse Kart-toons. I had just completed the game on the hardest difficulty setting without a single race loss. In short, in my own head at least, I was the man. Now I just needed the internet connection to prove it.

Art class was probably the best. We usually listened to the teacher Miss Howe for the first ten minutes as she outlined a particular artist like Paul Klee or Kandinsky before sticking on some music on the iPod dock and screwing around with paint and clay or whatever and basically doing whatever the hell we wanted to for the next hour and a bit. Miss Howe was easy to listen to with her breathy voice like Jessica Rabbit made flesh. She always wore the shortest dresses and the most inappropriate low-cut tops and heels, tottering around the class-room, bending over desks to help with anything you might need.

As you can imagine, a lot of the guys seemed to need assistance with the strangest things in Miss Howe’s class. Somebody (Aaron Cardigan) had even made a website, a sort of shrine, to Miss Howe’s behind, Howedyalikethat.com, complete with pictures taken on their smart phone. Whoever it was that made it (Aaron Cardigan) had taken to setting “traps” for Miss Howe like a trainee paparazzi, gloating over the latest “up-skirts” or “nip-slips” in the comments. Despite regular and in-depth viewings of the site (especially downloaded to my USB stick at lunch-time in the library), I couldn’t bring myself to condone their (Aaron Cardigan’s) actions, but I somehow felt that I couldn’t entirely condemn them either.

Sully had suggested I download the site so that I could judge it “critically”. Sully, or John Sullivan as his parents had christened him, sat next to me in class. He was pretty cool to be honest; he was into gaming as much as I was, although he preferred the blood-soaked battlefields and HD gore porn games over the Italian plumbers and super-fast hedgehogs of the world. His favourite game was “Headshot”, set in a never-ending modern conflict between the evil Red army and the friendly Blues. I had the game myself, but hadn’t played it much and now with Uncle Archie’s backward self-imposed internet drought, I couldn’t play it at all. However, Sully liked “Kart-toons” and had even got a gold ranking for the second hardest difficulty setting which made him alright in my book.

Sully had the unfortunate honour of being the only non-white kid at Polpollo Academy, and as I had the distinction of being the only non-local pupil, we got on immediately. While Sully was revered as something of a celebrity by some of the kids for being black, he was teased mercilessly by the more racist, sorry I mean “retarded” kids, to the point of bullying. I, on the other hand, barely existed. I had failed to make a blip on most people’s radar and that was the way I liked it. I’d rather not exist than get the crap kicked out of me again by Craddock’s coven or the rugby boys.

He was into decent music too, everything from AC/DC to Public Enemy, and actually played me a few new things I hadn’t heard before like Ghostface Killah and Fat Freddy’s Drop to name just two. He lent me his hard drive to copy his music and TV shows too, so soon I was immersed in “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad” in the evenings alone at Uncle Archie’s, glued to my laptop screen as I followed the fate of Stringer Bell et al. Yeah, John Sullivan, Sully, with his prematurely receding hairline and wispy moustache was alright. I’d done the unthinkable; I’d made a friend.

The weather had been too bad to go out in the boat with Uncle Archie last weekend, so in Miss Howe’s class I asked Sully if he wanted to tag along on Saturday. I figured if he was there I wouldn’t be so tempted to drown Uncle Archie in the briny depths, or at least if I was I’d have an accomplice.

“So what do you think Sully? Are you up for some hot fishing action?”

I peeled dried PVA glue from my fingers and looked at the mess I’d made. It was supposed to be an Easter Island style head of Sully, but it looked more like a deformed skittle made of cereal boxes. He looked at my efforts before shaking his head slowly and flicking it off the desk.

“That ain’t me G, what the hell have you been smoking?”

I was a little offended. His take on me looked like a Mr Men character with Down’s syndrome made of a Weetabix box. I bent down to pick it up and caught a glimpse of Miss Howe’s shapely legs for my troubles.

“Yours isn’t much better asshole.”

“Nah man, I meant the fishing, not that piece of crap. Floating about in boats and shit, gutting guppies, that’s not me.”

I didn’t want to tell him that he’d managed to glue glitter on to his fledgling moustache, especially not now he’d insulted my cardboard tribute to his face. No, I’d leave that as a nice surprise for after class.

“Fair enough Sully. I didn’t know you were scared of water.”

I knew I’d hit home as he looked momentarily taken aback before taking his usual cocky high-road defence mechanism out on me.

“I ain’t scared of water G, what do you think I am; some kind of pussy? It’s just boring man.”

He looked like a disco-loving cat with his glittery bum-fluff and half-popped collar, but I knew better than to take the piss too much. He was my only friend, sometimes I just had to let things slide.

“I’ve never been on a boat before. Uncle Archie wants us to “bond”, it’s his idea of fun. It’s his idea of life actually; he’s out at sea more than he’s on land.”

“Sounds like it mate, that no-internet Captain Birdseye-looking crackpot. Nah, I’m playing football Saturday anyway. You’ll have to come down the park sometime when you’re not getting all wet with your crazy uncle.”

Miss Howe called the class to attention, something that only she could do so painlessly, and set us our homework for the week (which she knew we wouldn’t do) to the sound of rustling bags. Lunchtime meant queues in the canteen and that meant first come, first served. The bell rang and, before it had stopped, we were gone.