Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A very British New Year - Hogmanay - Nos Galan

Today is New Year's Eve. Or if you're in Scotland, Hogmanay. Or, if you're in Wales, Nos Galan.

This is where tradition dictates you get totally and absolutely sloshed out of your mind, head-butt four random strangers in a game of No-I-Love-YOU-The-Most (this is where the Klingons got the ritual, in case you were wondering), urinate in a policeman's hat (but only if you're pregnant), and then forget where you live.

It's a tradition that dates back to the Norse over a thousand years ago, when Thor, the Asgard god of thunder and hair products, descended on Scotland during the dark days between Avengers films, to demonstrate the virtues of over-drinking and public displays of this-is-just-embarrassing-you-can't-get-married-to-a-lamppost.

There are some pretty strange and interesting local traditions around the United Kingdom.

For example, in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, in north-east Scotland, they have a rather dangerous way of celebrating the festivities. After the local blokes spend the entire day, evening and night consuming many gallons of cheap beer, lager and why-has-this-whiskey-not-killed-me-yet, they pretend they are Klingons, and then set their balls on fire.

Oh, I jest you not.

They really do.

The locals construct massive balls of chicken wire (two feet in diameter), stuff them with old newspapers, sticks, rags and other flammable materials, attach the balls to a chain, or non-flammable rope (because, yes, that's the type of rope you want in a situation like this), and then, when the bells strike midnight, they set fire to their balls.

Crowds of 12,000 people have gathered to watch the locals walking up and down the High Street, swinging their massive flaming balls around in circles above their heads. The Stonehaven Fireballs tradition has been going on for over 150 years. Check out the Stonehaven Fireballs website for details: 

In Allendale, Northumberland, England, their merriment is cut short for the Tar Barl Ceremony. A tradition dating back to 1858.

The local 'Guisers' gulp down an entire barrel of whiskey, usually in one gulp, and then fill them with tar. Now, I know what you're thinking: no one can drink an entire whiskey barrel in one gulp. Most normal people take between three gulps and nine hundred thousand sips and three hundred years for one barrel. But these Guisers are a hardy bunch. They aren't known as One-Gulp-Guisers for nothing.

And besides, they need all that whiskey to cope with the pain that follows.

After the obligatory belch and seven hiccoughs (that's one belch and seven hiccoughs, no more, no less), they set the tar on fire and put the barrel on their heads.

What the heck? Are you kidding?

Nope. Not kidding.

They carry the burning barrels, on their heads, through the streets of Allendale to the town centre. At which point no-one is complaining about the freezing temperatures, just how slow those in front are walking.

They then head-butt the barrels onto a bonfire, called the Baal Fire, and shout, "Be damned to he who throws last."

Usually, this is quite apt. As the guy who throws last is on fire.

Side note: Allendale has the highest concentration of bald men anywhere in England (No one is quite sure why). And the highest count of "Death-By-Headbutting-A-Burning-Barrel-Of-Tar" anywhere in Britain. Northampton was second. Mostly by accident. The guy was trying to recreate a scene from Lord of the Rings. It didn't go well.

In Wales, New Year's Eve is called "Nos Galan".

There is a tradition called Mari Lwyd in the land of the dragon, and, strangely, it doesn't actually involve fire. Or a dragon.

Very disappointing.

Instead, false ears and eyes are attached to a horse's skull, along with bells, reins and ribbons, and then it's covered with a white sheet, before inserting a pole right up its.... well, skull. They don't bother with the rest of the horse.

The Mari Lwyd, or, the thing you wouldn't want the Mafia to put on your pillow, is carried from house to house by a crowd of merry-makers, who are traditionally tipsy and singing Tom Jones songs.

At each house, they pause their tributes to Tom Jones, to recite Welsh poetry. Which, because the merry-makers are hammered, sounds a lot like Klingon poetry. Those in the house then recite poetry back at the them. This goes back and forth a bit until someone wins the fight. Yep, that's how the Welsh fight. Not with fists and feet, but with Klingon poetry.

If only the wars of the past were fought under Welsh rules.

No guns.

No bombs.

Just a few well written poems spoken with passion in the romantic language of the Klingons, whilst holding the bow-and-ribbon-decorated head of a dead horse.

To end the New Year's Eve, or Hogmanay, or Nos Galan celebrations is a tradition started by the Scottish and carried around the world. The folding of arms and holding of hands and the singing For Auld Lang Syne, a traditional poem by Robert Burns, a Scottish Poet, played by Mel Gibson in Braveheart.

So, wherever you are, whoever you be, have a Happy New Year, and Oche Aye Your Hogmanay.

N.B. It may surprise you to know, not all the facts in this article are actual facts, but, are in fact, not facts. Can you guess which facts were not fact-facts?

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Twas the night before Christmas

I wrote this for a special friend and Sharky-Toothed agent. Thought I'd share it here with you guys. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the reef,
a shark was heard crying, distraught with grief.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
but a thief had been, and now they were bare.

He had taken the toys, and even the cakes,
not just the real ones, but even the fakes.
Left there to distract him, for she knew he would come,
For those chocolate cakes, and a bottle of rum.

She would catch him, if it took her all night,
and then take out her frustrations, bite after bite.
But the thief was smart, he knew there’d be traps,
he’d come prepared, and avoided the zaps.

Oh, come on, what kind of shark rigs their fake cakes up to the mains electricity?
Someone should report that.

The Shark kept on crying, the thief had escaped,
with those cakes, she had lovingly baked.
The minion had gone, and she didn’t care,
away on her holiday, she’d escaped from the lair.

But unknown to the Shark, the minion was near,
(Outside in the bushes drinking alcoholic egg-nog to keep warm)
Let’s just say she was full of Christmas cheer.
The minion knew, the Shark’s plan would not work,
so stayed outside to catch the burke.

"Yes, you’re a burke," the minion yelled. "A horrible, stupid, burke."
Then fell to her knees and wretched up five hours of booze.
"You don’t steal from the Shark," the minion shouted, between wretches.
"She’s my fweind. I loves her. You a nasty man.
I loves you. I loves everyone. Oooh, a slug.
Can someone hold my hair to keep it out the vomit?
I’m never drinking again.
Bruaaaaaagh. Oh, I feel bad. Really bad.
I need to...."

The minion passed out, she couldn’t handle her drink,
and to make matters worse, her breath, it doth stink.
The Shark, she did smile, so proud of her friend,
although covered in sick, a bonus, she’d recommend.

She glared at the thief, he deserved some pain,
she backed up a few paces, and then took aim.
A short run-up, and then a large swing,
her foot to his nuts, she did bring.

He instantly crumpled, his hands clasped his balls,
"Oh, God," he cried, "You’ve killed my crown jewels."
The Shark grabbed her minion, and inside she did went,
satisfied the thief, was no longer a gent.

No more crying was heard, in the house that night,
for Santa had been, and things were just right.
There were toys and sweets, even some cakes,
all of them real, none of them fakes.

Merry Christmas to the Shark, I hope you have fun,
with all those cakes and plenty of rum.
Spare a thought for the minion, she works really hard,
she deserves a gift, or, come on, at least a card.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014


If you didn't already know, doodling is an acceptable writering (that's a real word. Yes, it is.) process. It can actually help your creative imaginings take off. Give you ideas. Help you concentrate. All of that rubbish. Blah Blah.

So, I thought I'd share some of my procrastination, I mean doodling, that I did on twitter today (just for a bit of fun as I knew I should put up a blog post, but had no idea what to write).

In a world void of hope and good storytelling, two teenagers are pitted against each other in a death fight - to the death: JACK VERSES JILL

They survived the death fight - to the death, and didn't get death'd. Can they do it again? JACK VERSES JILL: ON A DIFFERENT HILL

For fans of the HUNGER GAMES and MAZE RUNNER, my 2 new YA books (coming soon) JACK VERSES JILL and JACK VERSES JILL: ON A DIFFERENT HILL

From the bestselling author of JACK VERSES JILL and JACK VERSES JILL: ON A DIFFERENT HILL, comes the finale JACK VERSES JILL: ON A MOUNTAIN.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Two Litte Dinosaurs

Two little dinosaurs sitting on a wall.
One named Peter, one named ....
There's a stonking huge T-Rex behind you.
Save yourselves.
It's gonna eat us all.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Something different about these Two Little Birds

Two little birds sitting on a wall.
One named Peter. One named Paul.
Fly away Peter. Fly away Paul.
Hmm, guess chickens really can't fly.

It's Children in Need tonight. A very worthy cause. If you would like to donate, please follow this link for details:

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Two Little Birds - Fireworks Night Special Edition

Two little birds sitting on a wall.
One named Peter. One named Paul.
Fly away Peter. Fly away Paul.
Taken out by rogue fireworks.

Not coming back from that.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Enemy Within

His hand reaches for the handle. The backdoor is unlocked. He smiles and enters the house, gently easing the door shut behind. He tiptoes through the kitchen and then the dining room and into the hallway.

He stops and listens.

She's in the lounge.

He opens the door, just a fraction, enough to slip through. He sees her. She's sitting in a chair. Her eyes are closed, her breathing gentle.

He's almost upon her. She still hasn't heard him. He reaches out his hands and then ... she grabs him.

"Ah, Mom," he laughs, "How'd you know I was here?"

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Two more little birds

Two little birds sitting on a wall.
One named Peter. One named Paul.
Fly away Peter. Fly away Paul.

Both hit a wind turbine and decapitated.
They aren't coming back.

Saturday, 11 October 2014


Are cool. Can't wait for the Jurassic World film next year.

Monday, 6 October 2014

A New Jack Reacher Story

I entered a flash fiction writing contest on Janet Reid's blog at the weekend. It was in honour of Jeff Somer's new novel WE ARE NOT GOOD PEOPLE. The rules were simple: write a 100 word story including the words, BLOOD, SPIRITS, PANTS, MAGIC and CAT. The blog post is here:

I thought, in honour of The Shark, who loves Jack Reacher, that I'd write a short Jack Reacher story. And here it is:

Reacher approached Somers, silent as a dead cat floating on a cloud of fairy dust. He’d been on the spirits all day. Was he seeing things? Probably. Was he going to attempt this sober? Nope. Not a chance.

Reacher was a professional. He planned. He prepared. He killed fourteen gerbils and drank their blood. He needed the edge. And their magic.

Somers hadn’t heard him. Reacher was never heard. Just ask the gerbils.

It was time. He lunged, grabbed Somers’ pants and yanked them down. "The Shark sends her regards, Somers. Next time, hand in those revisions on time."

Monday, 29 September 2014

Little Miss Muffet

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her Tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider,
And sat down beside her...

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Wasp on a bus

For those who don't follow me on twitter, and for those who do follow me, but didn't read my tweets today (A very specific sparkle pony), here is what happened, in tweets, on my journey home today. The sequel to Snakes on a Plane.

Wasp on a Bus

Tweet1: Thirty people trapped on a bus with an angry wasp. Complete and utter panic and total chaos. Not This is actually happening!

Tweet2: Hang on. About to join the panic. It's coming straight for me!

Tweet3: Okay. Need to get off this bus. NOW!

Tweet4: Bus just pulled up at stop. Everyone just got off. I decided to stay on. Cos, I ain't afraid of no wasp.

Tweet5: Uh-oh. Now it's just me and the wasp. Should've gotten off.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Poetry in motion

I have an eye for poetry,
Continue reading and you will see.
I can rhyme with the best of them,
But not always.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Twinkle, Twinkle, what?

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so ...
Hang on, you're not a star!
Oh Cripes!

It's an asteroid!
It's hurtling towards us!
We're all gonna to die!

Must get in one more exclamation mark to make it more dramatic!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Very tasty

Mary had a little lamb,
her father shot it dead.
Now it goes to school with her,
between two slices of bread.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Instant Devastation

On this day in 1945, the Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

The bomber took off from North Field airbase on Tinian, accompanied by two other B-29s, and made the historic journey to Japan in a little over six hours.

Although Japanese early warning radar did detect the approaching bombers, no fighters were despatched to intercept them, and Hiroshima’s anti-aircraft guns, although on alert, were ordered not to fire.

At 08:15am local time, the bomb, known as ‘Little Boy’, was released from a height of 31,060 feet. 43 seconds later it detonated at a pre-determined height of 600 meters, causing instant devastation. It is estimated that 70,000 people were killed within one second of the blast, with the number of casualties doubling soon after.

Three days later, on the 9th of August, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

This is just wrong.

Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run, see how they run,
They've had their eyeballs gouged out,
Sucked dry,
Chewed on,
And spat into the gutter,
Did you ever see such a thing in your life,
As three blind mice, three blind mice?

Bad Poetry (part one)

This little piggy went to market.
This little piggy stayed at home.
This little piggy had roast beef.
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy was chopped and sliced and diced.
Mmm, tasty bacon.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

I really want a sweet

I should point out, well, it seems I need to point out, that the ending in my previous post was not entirely true.

No, I didn't actually jump into the buggy to get a sweet.
Yes, I did stop the little one from running into the road.
No, I didn't get a sweet.
Yes, the kid got a sweet.
Yes, I was pretty upset about not getting a sweet.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

I'm not a Hero

A few weeks back I was standing on the pavement near a local cafe waiting for a friend to turn up. He appears to have no sense of time. Says 30 minutes and gets there an hour later. But, I digress.

In the distance, I hear a shout, "Come here."

I turn and look. A small boy, maybe three years old, is running towards the road, his mother lagging behind. The child ignores his mother's shouts and continues towards the road.

It's a busy road. There are plenty of cars zooming past. At three years old, you don't think about such things as getting run over. But I could see the danger. To say I was concerned was an understatement. I'm not a hero, but it did occur to me that I'd have to save this kid from certain doom. And I was prepared. I was near enough to pluck him to safety if the need arose.

But, just as the child is about to reach the road, the mother shouts, "Get in this buggy and I'll give you some sweets."

The child didn't react.

He kept running.

What could I do? I had no choice.

I jumped in that buggy. I wanted the sweets.

As I said, I'm not a hero.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Owl and the Pussycat

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
in a beautiful pea-green boat.
They took some honey, and plenty of ....
Oh my god, there's a shark in the water,
get out of there! Row for your lives!

Oh, no, too late. It's a bloodbath!
I can't watch. It's horrific.
Kids, turn away. Don't look,
there's feathers and fur everywhere.
And a kitty tail bobbing on the waves.

The Owl and the Pussycat died at sea
eaten by a bright-blue Shark.
They'll be remembered,
despite being dismembered,
by that hungry bright-blue Shark.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Two little birds

Two little birds sitting on a wall
One named Peter, one named Paul.
Fly away Peter, fly away Paul.
Bang! Bang! Bang-Bang! Bang-Bang-Bang!

Uh-oh, I don't think they're coming back.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Facts about bees

It was a nice day today. Well, the sun was out and the gale force winds had subsided, which is all you can ask for around these parts. I was out in the back garden, let's say, erm, getting some fresh air, between the puffs of toxic fumes that seemed to appear in front of my face at random intervals.

So, just relaxing when ... a huge, ginormous, extremely large, massive mutant bumblebee attacked me. It lunged for my face. I backed away. It lunged again. I ducked to the side. It swiped my neck and circled for another pass. This bee was serious. It wanted me dead. I had to get away. Run! Run as fast as I could to the safety of the house. The bee soared into the sky. It was coming around for another pass. It passed in front of the sun. The entire garden went dark. That bumblebee was massive. Think Godzilla with wings and an annoying buzzing sound that gets worse the more you hear it. Kinda like Miley Cyrus.

The bee roared. The ground shook. It reached its apex, turned, and dived for the Earth. It was coming right for me. I had about four seconds, maybe five before I was a gonna. I had to make my move. Move! For crying out loud, legs. Move! I command you. Three seconds left. My legs twinged. The muscles tensed. Two seconds left. Run! You have to run. Run now, as fast as you can. One second left. I bolted for the door. Luckily I was only one step away. I closed it and gave the bumblebee the bird. Wow, that was close.

Bees are like velociraptors: angry, vicious, dangerous killing machines. They are smart, relentless and co-ordinated and are out in force today. They're coming to get you.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day

On this day: In 1477 Margery Brews sent the oldest know Valentine's message to her fiancé, John Paston

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Roses are red.
Violets are not.
That is all.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

One for the Shark

Thought it was about time I updated my blog. And today's post is about a writing contest I entered on Janet Reid's blog last week. Or the week before. Not really sure, as I seem to have lost track of days. Find Janet's blog here: and if you don't all ready follow her, then you should. She is an awesome agent and gives out brilliant advice.

Anyways, the contest was simple, write a 100 word story which included a lost phone. Yep, very simple. Below is the entry I submitted, and I even got a special mention from Sharky. The second time that's happened, so it made me very happy.

He was dead. Jack tensed every muscle in his body and waited for the impact. The black bonnet of the car hurtled towards him, a blur against the intense sun behind. Tyres screeched. People screamed from the pavement. A smell of burnt rubber filled the air.

"You’re mine, Jack." A voice cut through the chaos. Not from the onlookers watching in horror, but from the phone held against his ear. "All mine."

He shouldn’t have picked up the abandoned phone. A rookie mistake. She’d planted it there for him to find.

“This’ll teach you not to follow me on twitter.”