Spotlight on Mr McGovern

spotlight on mr mcgovern

Worse than the cane, out came the dreaded phrase: “Illuminate me, please do,” along with the trademark condescending smile; Mr McGovern towered over the twelve-year-old me. Caught in the shadow of this self-proclaimed genius, I’d drawn attention to myself. I should’ve kept quiet like everyone else, not expressed my ‘radical’ political theories in class. The teacher known as ‘The Master’ liked nothing more than to crush young ideals. It worked. I crumbled. I withdrew. I am an idiot.

But I don’t forget.

Years later the Civil War began. Physical conflict favours the young. Out with the old.

The elderly McGovern awoke in darkness. Cold. Cheek pressed against glass. Gagged and unable to move, his limbs were bound, not together but spaced apart like a starfish. And he was face down.

In the night sky enemy aircraft rumbled. I switched the giant searchlight on.

Upon impending death we are told to look into the light. McGovern had no option; brilliant white, his sight lasted barely a second. Skin crisping and crackling. Acrid fumes billowed in the beam. He vaporised, no trace of genius, merely a burnt shadow.

As bombs dropped, I snickered, ‘ “Illuminate me”, who was the stupid one now?’


This piece won a competition to write a 200 word story prompted by one. That word was Illumination. For such a bright word my story is a tad dark.

I wrote several other different stories first but these attempts weren’t really happening. I was off-course, fumbling about in the dark. Eventually I had a lightbulb moment. Now I realise why the idea had taken so long to mature: it was an energy-efficient bulb and therefore took longer to achieve full brightness.


If this post messed with your mind in a way you liked, you’ll enjoy Mind Clearance

Getting To Grips With Social Media

*tweet tweet* *tweet tweet*


“Ah, listen to the birds…”

“Don’t be daft, that’s not birds, this is the digital age and that’s the sound of Twitter”



“What was that?”


The Joke That Bombed

1945 punchline

Moonlight cast a blue glow over the desolate quarry. The chain-link fence had been cut, dusty footprints formed a path leading into the disused mine, now a forgotten storage facility.

‘There it is!’ Jed and Sam’s phone lights rested on the unexploded bomb rumoured to be stored here.

Sam’s beam picked out the stencil writing on its side: “1945 Punchline.”

‘Punchline,’ said Jed, ‘also known as the “Joke Bomb”, developed by the Peaceniks to end WW2 in a nonviolent manner; through laughter. Made of rubber, the bomb was designed to burst on impact releasing a failsafe joke targeting both sides equally. Boom, war over: no one can fight when laughing that hard. And the clever bit is the addition of a memory-suppressant causing everyone to forget a Joke Bomb had even been dropped.’

‘Did it work?’

‘They never tried it… (??) What are you doing?’

Sam pushed the bomb over the edge of the mineshaft. After several seconds silence there came a distant fart noise.

Both boys sniggered. Then jumped as a whoosh of blue air erupted from the deep hole.

Sam guffawed, struggling to say: ‘What just happened?’

Jed rolled on the ground weeping with laughter, ‘Dunno, I can’t remember.’


This story appeared in Mind Clearance

If it messed with your mind in a way you liked then why not buy a copy?

A Diluted Idea

bathroom scales dial

It couldn’t get any better, or worse: maverick scientist, Ron Archimedes, had won the World Esoteric Science Fair’s Innovation Award, the Indie equivalent to a Nobel Prize, except without the cash. He therefore couldn’t afford to fly halfway round the world to accept the honour. Unless, he found an alternative to regular travel.



Eureka! Yes, that was it: concentrate. Fruit juices were commercially viable exports only if the water was extracted first and shipped as concentrate to be rehydrated at the sales destination. Smart. He’d also read somewhere the human body was 90% water… Exactly. It might just work.

With the appliance of science and reference to Yogic texts, Ron followed a programme of meditation, urination, sweat and tears, safely eliminating water, and mass, from his body. When his dried raison-like form dipped below the affordable 10kg freight tariff, Ron Archimedes packaged himself on his doorstep and called the couriers. However, the box marked ‘Just Add Water’ was never sent. The van was delayed by a sudden torrential downpour, only a cardboard mush found at the pick-up point.

Ron successfully rehydrated but never acknowledged his award. There’s no money in esoteric science, but weight-loss… that’s a different story.


I wrote this for a monthly competition: write 200 words on a single word prompt. The word was ‘Water’.

Such a Lovely Place

The last time they’d tried to escape they’d got as far as the lobby. Glen Eagle, his wife and young daughter had made the mistake of taking their suitcases. They looked like a family about to leave, and with good reason. This hotel was the worst: the dirty rooms smelled, the beds were lumpy and the general noise intolerable.

This time they walked out in just the clothes they were wearing; a normal family on holiday, going for a midnight stroll, out of the hotel grounds and onto the sandy plains beyond.

‘Where are we going?’ asked his daughter.

‘To a different hotel,’ answered Glen, heading towards the shimmering lights in the distance.

The family continued walking in silence. Hopeful.

As they reached the next hotel on the dark desert highway, a cool wind began to blow in Glen’s hair, telling him not all was right. They were back where they’d left, the same manager waiting.

‘Ah! The Eagles. Welcome to the Hotel California. Please sign in. We have only one rule…’

‘Yeah, we know, “we can check out any time we like but we can never leave”,’ said Glen, thinking: Damn! We should’ve left during the overlong guitar solo.


This was my entry for a competition to write a 200-word piece on the theme of ‘Desert’. I spent 40 days and forty nights working on it.

The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ is one of those cultural fossils – I mean it will still be there when mankind has collapsed and disappeared. You can check out the 2-minute+ guitar solo any time you like…

We do not advocate the use of the Eagles for enjoyment purposes.

Bread rage

I was unprepared for what to write today as my intended piece on a rogue writing group turned into a 2000+ word story at the last minute and there was no way I could polish it up in time. So, I needed to find new inspiration, and quickly. Best way? Go for a walk to find ideas. Something will always crop up, and you know what? It did.

sliced breadSo, on the way back home from a walk to a beach café and spotting seagulls, I noticed a loaf of bread appear at my feet. Odd, I didn’t remember seeing it in the middle of the pavement as I was walking up to that point. The bread seemed to appear at the same time as the white van that had pulled up at the traffic lights.
The driver leaned out.

“You’ve dropped your loaf,” gruffed the big bulldog bloke with a grin.

I looked down at the bread. I was after ideas, not bread and besides, it was one of those sliced white loaves in a plastic bag, the type where all the slices are so stupidly thin that there was zero chance of actually spreading butter without tearing the bread to leave just a rubbery crust loop that could double as a fan belt (in an emergency). It was the sort of bread that had no sell-by date, was not allowed to use the word ‘best’ in best before… and was manufactured by the same process as the sealed plastic bag that housed it.

I looked at the van driver.

“It’s not my bread,” I said. Or thought I had said but really I had only thought ‘It’s not my bread’ and had not uttered a word. So basically I had ignored the driver and was just staring at him with a disbelieving look.

“Oi, stupid! You just dropped your bread,” he shouted in such a convincing manner that I now believed him. But I still didn’t want the loaf and was happy to just leave it where I had dropped it. I would simply wait for the traffic lights to change, let the van man drive off and then walk away, leaving the problem loaf for someone else to deal with. It was hardly front page news.

“The lights are green,” I said but once again had forgotten to say the words. I may have just raised my eyebrows in response.

“Are you a nutter?” assessed van man and “SHUT IT!!!” he shouted back to the car behind who was irritatingly tooting their horn continuously.

The tooting horn driver leaned out his car. “THE LIGHTS ARE GREEN!!” he screamed as if this were his last chance ever to get across the junction.

“I said that,” I thought and then realised that I had actually said the words, which made van man really angry. His thick banana fingers that were more comfortable in their natural resting position as balled fists flustered about with his seat belt that would not come undone.

“You’re brown bread mate,” he spat, ripping his seat belt in half and getting out of the van.

“It’s really not my loaf,” I insisted with real words and then realised that he wasn’t using the grammatically incorrect version of your / you’re and that he meant ‘brown bread=dead’ as in popular rhyming slang. I was in trouble here.

Luckily the car man tooted his horn again. Van man was easily distracted and liked dragging people out of their cars through half open windows. As an horrific fight started, the traffic lights changed to red again, the pedestrian crossing to green – so I walked away.

Did I yet have a story? I remember thinking:

“Maybe sliced bread wasn’t the best idea after all.”


Better cover

Have you ever had groceries that weren’t yours forced upon you?

No, probably not…

This story appears in Better, a collection of 19 absurd & funny short stories.

If laughter is the best medicine: you should get Better.