Here are 10,000 words written by me, Dziek, to celebrate being 10,000 days old.
I’d love to tell you I wrote one word a day but that would be untrue, and as such I - a permanently truthful person - cannot say it.
With that in mind, and my credentials as a non-liar established and vigorously tested, please accept that everything hereafter actually happened, exactly as written, and all at the same time.
With special thanks to Laura Dunning, Aidan O’Brien, Martin Macleod and Matthew Cormack. They know what they did, and if they don’t, I hope they ask me.
If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love to make paper planes. I make them any chance I get. Old receipts, the odd bit of paper from the printer at work. I love it. It's like recycling see? Or at least that's what I tell myself as I root around the bins on the fourth floor. It’s harmless fun, though I do spend an above average amount of money on plasters.
I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, but I am always on the lookout for a spare bit of paper. The highlight of my birthday isn’t the presents, it’s everything that comes with them. And let me tell you, I always take a flyer when there’s one going.
But it isn't even just paper anymore, I'm that good at them. Old sweet wrappers, bits of tin foil. Anything I can fold really. Sure, some material is better than others - I struggled to make something out of a credit card I found for example - but it all flies in the end.
And I don’t want to brag, but it's not just any material either, I can make any plane. Seaplanes, fighter jets, you name it, I can make it. They’re a bit abstract mind, but you can usually tell what I’m going for.
Most recently I’ve been perfecting biplanes, little propellers and everything. I can even get the angles of my stealth bombers right so my mate's paper radar doesn't pick up on them. At Christmas I used a whole roll of wrapping paper to make a rather festive - if inauthentic - Airbus A380, and then another roll on a refuelling plane to keep it in the air.
I’ve started taking up whole rooms making paper airports to house the things, and then I make sure everyone is very careful with their drinks.
Like I said I don’t mean to brag, but I can pretty much do it all. I once even made a helicopter.
So it’s not an exaggeration when I say I love to make paper planes. I'm the best around. And it’s useful too!
Last week these two guys tried to mug me, and before I handed over my money, I turned a £5 note into a plane and flew it right at them. It gave one of them a proper nasty paper cut on the cheek and went straight into the second guy's eye. Then I made one out of my t-shirt and flew away.
I love to make paper planes me. I really do. Nothing makes me happier. I guess you could say it was “my thing”.
Well, that and credit fraud.
A Really Big Stick
Imagine there was a really big stick. Like, well big. You just look out your kitchen window one day and there it is. A really big stick.
It's not a tree mind. It's a stick. A really big one. I'm not sure how you can tell the difference, but you definitely can. You can tell it's fallen off of something. "Cor, imagine the size of the tree that came from" you think to yourself, as you start the washing up. That tree would have to be even more massive.
But there’s no massive tree, there’s just a really big stick. Out your window, in the car park, showing off.
As you make your way over to the sofa you wonder what you could do with it. Maybe you could try to whittle something out of it. That'd be impressive. But then it wouldn't look like a stick anymore. It'd just look like something whittled out of normal wood. Who would care?
As you sit down you imagine there's a really big dog to play fetch with the really big stick. And then there'd have to be a really big person to throw it. There'd have to be loads of really big things. Really big food to feed them. Really big clothes. And houses. God it all starts to get a bit scary. To them you’d be really little people, like bugs, and you’ve seen what Gav at work does to bugs. And even if they didn’t do that, what if there really was a really big tree, and it fell on you. That'd be you done. Just like that.
You’d begin to hate the really big stick. You’d be reminded of your own mortality each time you saw it. You wouldn’t be able to get to sleep. Constantly worrying each moment might be your last.
You’d try and tear it down. Take an axe to it. Maybe set it on fire. People would try to stop you and you’d get into a fight. The police would be called and you’d be taken away. Sent to prison, all because of this really big stick. This really big stick you still can’t stop fretting about.
That’d be awful that would. No way to live.
So put it out of your mind. Stop thinking about it. It was silly anyway.
I have the last jar of marmalade. That's right. The last jar, in the whole world! For some reason, and I can’t be sure why, everyone just decided not to make anymore. None of the companies make it. No one at home. Even people who really love marmalade don’t make it anymore. They’d all had enough.
One day someone said "should we just stop making marmalade now" and everyone just kind of went "yeah". So all the factories shut down. All the machines. And one by one the others got eaten. So this is it. The very last one.
I know it's the last one because I checked. I went round everyone's house. Knocked on everyone's door and asked "do you have any jars of marmalade?". And every single person opened their door and said "no".
Now, I'm aware I asked specifically about "jars" there. People might have other containers. A bottle maybe. A cup. And really, there's nothing stopping those people from putting the marmalade they do have into a jar. Wait for me to start making all this fuss and then show off the jar they have, making me look a fool. Worse than a fool. A liar.
But I don't think that's likely.
I don't even like marmalade by the way. Hate the stuff. That's why I've still got a jar I suppose. There's not much I can do with it. It's gone past the best before date, but I think it's still alright. If you really liked marmalade, and this was the only jar left, you'd still try it wouldn’t you? Still have a go. It might not be the best marmalade, but for a lot of people I'm sure it'd be better than no marmalade ever again.
So I put it up for sale. “Last Jar of Marmalade For Sale. Serious offers only.” That's what the ad said. And soon enough my phone was buzzing. It was easy to separate the jokers, the . Serious offers only I'd said, and I intended to stick by it.
I left it for awhile. Make sure it'd get around you know? Give marmalade fans from all over a chance to make an offer. I had to update the ads, because a few collectors wanted it. To put on display with the other cancelled foods. I wasn't having that, I wanted someone who'd enjoy the marmalade. The way it was meant for. On toast or… whatever it is people put marmalade on. As I've said, I hate the stuff. Can't stand it. So I don’t really know what people have it on.
Eventually I found a buyer I was happy with. It wasn't the highest offer, but it seemed the most genuine. This person seemed to enjoy marmalade a reasonable amount. He wasn't a weirdo about it. He just seemed to like it. Didn't say he craved it or anything. No jokes about having "the shakes". Just a decent guy who fancied some marmalade.
So we set a date, and eventually he comes over. I asked if he was looking forward to it and he said "yeah". I asked what he was going to put it on and he said "a crumpet". Apparently he loved the stuff. Hearing him talk excitedly about having marmalade on crumpets made me feel a little left out. Made me realise, I'd not had marmalade on a crumpet before. What if I really liked it? And this was my last chance to try it. This was the last jar of marmalade, I'd have no other way of knowing. Maybe I'd die never having my favourite food. My favourite food of marmalade and crumpets. My favourite food I could have right now, but I was giving it away instead.
Then I put all that out of my mind. It'd be awful to find your favourite food and never be able to have it again.
The Boy Who Was Too Tall
"You're too tall!" the old woman shouted, in her all too unpleasant way. You got the impression she was used to shouting directly into people's faces, but here she had to compromise. Here she had to crane her neck back as far as it would go. As far as it had ever gone. Because the boy she was shouting at, was indeed very tall.
Too tall as a matter of fact. This boy was too tall to fit through doors. Too tall for his trousers. Theme parks had to install "you must be below this line to ride" signs when they saw this boy walking up - which was something you could do from quite a distance.
So he was too tall for the usual things then, but this boy was too tall for, well, everything. The boy was too tall to reach things on high shelves. Too tall to see over the crowd at concerts. This boy was too tall to do the things, you’d think tall people would usually excel at.
Even when he sat on a chair, or crouched down, he was still too tall. "Too tall to lie down" his mum would say. And she was right. Everything this boy went to do, he was just always too tall.
Just think of something. Anything. This boy was too tall to do it. Go down a slide. High five someone. Participate in a two person costume. Every single thing you can think of, this boy was too tall to do. And if you wanted to take a photo with the boy? No chance. No matter how far back you stood you could never fit him all in frame.
Incredible eh? Well not for the boy. For the boy it was, uncredible. He hated it. How he wished to be even just a little bit shorter.
But he wasn't. And it wouldn’t have helped if he was. Simply put, he was just always too tall. And this old woman? She made sure he knew it.
The Doors That Refused To Slam
The doors in my flat have a peculiar problem. They don’t make a sound when they close.
They make a sound when they’re closing though. When they’re closing they’re very audible. No matter how fast or slowly they shut, they make a sort of “door squeak”, like a wooden groan. At that bit they’re great. A+ noise making at that bit. But then nothing. Silence.
It’s very anticlimactic.
Usually you can tell if a door closes, because well, you hear it. That little "click" as it falls into place. I don’t think people appreciate how reassuring that sound can be. Even just the knowledge that a door is definitely shut. I miss it, because now I can never be sure.
It bothers me a bit. Being used to the noise and all, but I guess I'll get over it. Usually I try to jump up a certain number of steps, or cross a line in the ground before I hear a door shut, and that game's kind of ruined now. I mean it's not the worst thing. “A little disappointing”, that's how I'd classify it.
Or at least that’s how I’d classify it most the time. Most of the time it’s fine. But there’s one thing these doors have robbed me of. One thing I can’t live without.
I can no longer storm out of rooms.
It’s great isn’t it? Storming out of rooms. And what's the point if the door doesn't slam? I’m supposed to storm out to what? Silence? A door slamming is the punctuation to an argument. An exclamation mark on whatever excellent point I've presumably just made. But now? Now it's an ellipsis. The cowards full stop.
And don't let my otherwise calm demeanor in this text fool you, I'm often furious. Absolutely and utterly furious. Fist and jaw clenched near 24/7. Making that low level angry hum at all times, trying my best not to veer into full on seething.
Almost anything can set me off. And when it does? I storm out a room only to hear that whimper of a closing sound. I imagine everyone laughs at the juxtaposition. And I hate juxtapositions. It’s one of the things that often sets me off in the first place.
It's awful. That's what it is. Awful. Every time I try to slam a door it makes me so mad. It makes me so mad I want to slam more doors! It's a vicious cycle I can't escape from.
I haven't left the flat in days. I'm trapped, screaming at the top of my lungs whilst storming from room to room. I've figured out the most efficient loop, but I can't get out. I haven't eaten in days. My throat is so sore. I'm so tired.
But please, don't help me. I'm too proud.
I am not a bath person.
I HATE OUTSIDE. I’M ALWAYS BEING RAINED ON.
AND THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT.
UMBRELLAS ARE RUBBISH. THEY ONLY KEEP SOME OF YOU DRY. AND THEY DRIP.
THEY BLOW IN THE WIND AND INVERT. I BET UMBRELLAS HATE THEMSELVES.
AND RAINCOATS. THEY GET ALL WET AND POOL WATER STRAIGHT INTO MY POCKETS. THAT’S WHERE MY PHONE LIVES. AND THE ZIPS ON BOTH THE POCKETS ARE STUCK ON MY JACKET. OKAY I GUESS THAT’S MORE A PROBLEM WITH MY SPECIFIC JACKET BUT STILL.
I TAKE OFF THE RAINCOAT AND ALL THE WATER FALLS OFF. AND THE COAT IS WEIRD AND SLIPPERY. NOT A FAN.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE? PONCHOS I GUESS? I HAD A PONCHO ONCE AND IT RIPPED. GREAT WORK PONCHOS.
THE ONLY SOLUTION IS TO STAY INSIDE.
I like inside.
Lucy had a problem. Not a big problem mind, but a problem all the same. She’d just had lunch with her friend Greta, and the two were currently discussing which way to walk home. Lucy usually enjoyed their lunch spot, though today her coffee had come out cold.
But that wasn’t Lucy’s problem. No, Lucy’s problem, was that she’d noticed Greta had a bit of food on her face. Not a large bit - she hadn’t noticed it in the cafe - but it was definitely there now. Lucy worried it might be embarrassing for Greta if she pointed it out - she didn’t know how long it had been there after all - so she thought maybe she’d say nothing and hope it sort of, fell off by itself.
So when Greta suggested taking the long route home, Lucy leapt on it. The long route was rarely busy, so there’d be little chance of running into someone Greta would know. And because it was longer, there was a higher chance of Greta wiping her mouth or some such before they got back. It was a bit higher risk, because if Greta still had food on her face when she got home, and she saw it, she’d know Lucy hadn’t said anything for all that time. But Lucy was confident it was the way to go.
So they set off, talking about their week and the new girl at school. Lucy was only half present, the entire time keeping one eye on the crumbs on Greta’s face. The further along the path they got the more Lucy thought about telling Greta, but now it’d be weird she didn’t do it earlier.
They saw some boys on the path, and heard them laugh as they walked past. Greta asked Lucy what she thought that was about, but Lucy said she didn’t know. Lucy could see it bothered Greta a bit, but she thought it’d bother her more if she told her now.
Above them a bird called out, and as Greta looked up to see what it was, Lucy saw she had a big smear of chocolate on her neck. It was huge. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it before. She was so distracted by the crumbs she must have missed it. How’d it even get there? And was there anymore?
This was bad now. Lucy realised this was her chance. She could say “Oh by the way you have chocolate on your neck” and while she was at it she could mention the crumbs all casual like. But then Greta would know why those boys laughed, and Lucy would have to explain why she didn’t mention it before, outside the cafe. It’d only cause her more pain Lucy thought.
They were well over halfway home when Lucy spotted a familiar face coming the other way. It was someone from college she knew Greta liked. Lucy cursed their luck. They usually didn’t see anyone walking this path. She thought about turning to Greta, telling her quickly so she could deal with it. Maybe giving her a subtle signal. But what if Greta didn’t understand? Or worse, what if she did understand, and was really mad Lucy had waited until now to mention it. The risk seemed too high, and after weighing her options, Lucy decided it was best to just leave it.
So they stopped and talked to Greta’s crush for a little bit. Lucy could tell they could see the food. It was a smear of chocolate on her neck, and crumbs all over her mouth. There was no way you could miss it. She thought about mouthing “don’t you dare say anything”, but figured that’d only make it worse. Besides, you don’t stop liking someone because of something like this surely? If those crumbs were enough to sway the decision, then Greta wasn’t in great standing to begin with.
It wasn’t long before the three separated, and Lucy and Greta were alone walking the path once more. It was a nice day out, so Greta suggested they take a photo together. Lucy wasn’t prepared for this question, and in a panic told Greta to fuck off. It was a bit strong, but it got the job done. Lucy laughed if off like it was meant to be playful. No way was she letting Greta know what was on her face now. Not after who they just ran into. No, Lucy would have to think of something quick.
So she pushed Greta over. Lucy wasn’t really sure what the plan was. She sort of hoped the shock might dislodge the crumbs, or maybe when Greta stood back up she might dust herself off. “What the fuck you do that for?” Greta asked, getting back to her feet. “Just thought it’d be funny” Lucy shrugged, trying to hide her disappointment when she saw it’d made no difference.
Lucy was starting to get desperate. Lucy wished she had taken that coffee to go, to pour over Greta. Maybe she could spit at her instead. Or throw some dirt? If Lucy was able to create a new mess, one Greta would have to get rid of, then Greta might also clear off the crumbs. Lucy looked around for something to throw, but there were only rocks on the path. Lucy was weighing what would hurt their friendship more, when she realised Greta had stopped moving.
There were more birds in the sky now. They had started to circle. Greta looked more than a little nervous. She told Lucy she hadn’t seen birds act like that before. As they started to fly lower Greta asked Lucy what they wanted. Lucy said she didn’t know, but in her head she could guess. They wanted the crumbs on Greta’s face.
One of the birds swooped down and nearly caught Greta’s face. “I don’t like this” said Greta, as they both started to run. The birds started chasing them, getting bolder as they flew closer and closer. One of them caught Greta’s cheek, and it started to bleed, but Lucy could still see the crumbs. Greta was crying at this point, but the tears made no difference. Lucy thought about telling Greta why the birds were chasing her. But then she’d have to explain the boys who laughed. Greta’s crush. Maybe Greta would realise why Lucy pushed her.
Nah Lucy thought, as she ran through a hedge. It’d be too embarrassing.
My Mailman's From Outer Space
My Mailman is from outer space. I know because he told me. But even if he hadn't I'd have worked it out.
He's not like, obviously from outer space or anything. Like he’s not green. In fact he looks like a regular mailman. Average build, average height etc. But the clues are there. He looks so regular he almost stands out because of it. Like the dictionary definition of a mailman. I guarantee that if you imagine one, that's exactly what he looks like.
So that’s the first clue, but it’s certainly not the only one. There's the way his hands sometimes shimmer when he gives me a parcel. The way he doesn't quite breathe right. When I tipped him at Christmas he was incredibly suspicious. He seemed to think I was bribing him for more mail.
One day he came running up to my house, shouting at me to stay inside whilst gesturing frantically towards a rainbow. He thought we were under attack. When I said "that's just a rainbow mate" he replied "oh yeah ha ha" and went about his day, still visibly nervous.
I mean I get it. Rainbows are quite scary. But there was other stuff.
I saw him eat an orange once. Whole thing in one go. The whole thing! And this was a proper orange mind, not a satsuma. He ate the whole thing. Skin and all. It was very impressive. I clapped.
I don’t know much about him. Other than the space thing. I sometimes wonder how he got here. I’d ask but we’re not really that close. We make small talk sometimes, like if he can’t find a package quickly enough. One day I left for work at the same time he came to my door. That’s when he told me he was from outer space. I nodded along politely as he told me, but I was late for work so couldn’t really talk.
I think if you wanted to learn about us humans, being a mail carrier would be a good way to go. Get to walk around. See people’s routines. Can even see into a fair few houses too if you’re lucky . And that’s all before you consider opening the mail.
If I was from outer space I think I’d be a mail carrier. Limited interaction but with a lot of people. You’d learn a lot, but there wouldn’t be much risk of being caught out. No long social engagements you could trip up in. Besides, no one really knows their mail carrier, like I say we’ve chatted once or twice but I wouldn’t say I know him. It’d make it easier to maintain a cover.
Maybe they’re all from outer space. I don’t really remember the woman who delivered post before. I don’t think she was from outer space, but who knows?
I think about all this quite a lot. I think about how he ended up in this town. What he wants. I’d ask him, but like I said we’re not really that close.
Dear diary, today I found a frog.
It was bloody huge too. Twice the size of a normal frog. And it made such an awful noise. We found it under a car. We followed it for a bit, careful not to stress it out mind. Eventually we lost it in a hedge.
That's about everything diary. Cheers for listening.
Dear diary, today we saw that frog again! And this time it was wearing a hat! How mad is that eh? It was like a party hat, like a little prop. The weird thing is though, I think it put it on itself. There was no little string keeping it on, and it moved about too much to be glued. Not only that, but I swear, I swear when it left, it winked at me. We tried to follow it, but we lost it in a hedge.
Later I heard what sounded like a small party blower. Anyway that's about everything diary.
Cheers for listening.
Dear diary. I made up that story about the frog. I just wanted to write about something interesting. When people find this diary, I want them to think I lead an interesting life. I guess I've ruined that now.
Thanks for reading.
I've heard it said us Brits don't season stuff enough. That we're sparing with spice. A pinch of salt. Maybe some pepper. Job done innit? That's the reputation. We sailed the world (in an all too unpleasant fashion), and returned home to boil potatoes.
Thing is though, I season everything. And let me make that clear.
It started innocently enough. Trying to make my own sauces on the cheap. But once I got those containers out the cupboard, I could barely find the time to put them back.
And now? Well now I can't stop. Turns out everything can be made just a little bit better. I put paprika in my Pepsi. I salt up a Twix. I brush the flavouring off of crisps, just so I can add my own.
Everything tasted great, it was like I was operating at 110%. Now there are those that’ll tell you that number’s impossible, but that's what seasoning is. It's that extra 10% sprinkled on top.
Well I ain’t sprinkling anymore. I’m heaping the stuff on. My tastebuds can barely keep up, but let me tell you, they’re definitely enjoying the ride.
So why stop there? Now I shower with chilli flakes. Put pepper on a book I'm reading. I’m emptying shakers full of mixed herbs onto my bed before going to sleep. I smell amazing. And I'm sneezing constantly. It’s become a real problem, but I can't stop!
So now my fingers are sore from rubbing five spice into my trousers. My herb garden takes up half the house. My pockets are always lined with something or another, and nothing in the house is the same colour as it’s meant to be. I sit there, ladle in hand, just scooping turmeric straight onto the floor.
I'm typi g this on a laptop covered in cumin, and each time I power it up I add another pinch. I told you, I'm seasoning everything!
And it's costing an absolute fortune.
Something odd happened recently, and it's time I talked about it.
The other day I was getting ready to cook up a stir fry. I'm not a great cook per se, but I can cook well enough for myself. Stir fry is easy as well isn't it? Just get some veg you like, a big wok, and introduce the two. I'm still getting the timing right - I always seem to undercook the broccoli for example - but it's enjoyable enough.
I'm getting carried away, what I meant to say was: I found a little man inside a sugar snap pea.
That’s the story here.
I don't even normally open them up! Glad I did though, I'd have been a murderer if I hadn't. Or at least a manslaughterer. Is it manslaughter if it’s a crime of negligence? I guess it’d depend on whether I had a professional duty to-
I’m doing it again.
What I meant to say was, I don't even usually have peas in my stir fry. Usually I have baby sweet corn, broccoli, mushroom, pepper and maybe some beansprouts. I only got the peas this time because they didn't have just baby sweetcorn, they only had the combo bundle.
So there I was splitting open the peas, when I heard a little "help me" noise. I looked down, and there he was! A little man, fully clothed, right inside the pea. How mad is that?
You’re just meant to chop them aren’t you? The sugar snaps. I don’t think you’re meant to split them at all. But to be clear, I’m glad I did. I'd have eaten the tiny man otherwise! I'm not sure I could live with myself. I did ask how he got in there but he couldn't remember. I certainly have my own theories, and some are more plausible than the others.
He told me his name was Mike. I'm not sure if he's always been tiny. And to clarify, he's proper small. Like, he fit inside a sugar snap pea pod. They're the slim ones. This wasn't a full sized pod. And he didn't take up all the space either. Like it wasn’t a snug fit, he was small inside the pod. And he has to proper shout so I can hear him.
Anyway so I finished the stir fry. Wasn't my best but I enjoyed it. The trick is to cook and cool the noodles ahead of time. I was a bit distracted because of finding the tiny man, so I overcooked things a bit. I wouldn't say "burnt", but enough that I'd have apologised if I was cooking for a friend.
Okay so, I know this is going to sound odd right, but stay with me. I can’t say I’ve told many people this.
The tree in my back garden keeps moving.
I know right. Sounds mad doesn’t it. Utterly barmy. But I swear it’s true. Every time I look outside, it’s in a different place.
And I have no idea how it’s doing it.
Okay, so maybe not every time. Sometimes I try to catch it out. I’ll stare for ages. Hours. Then I’ll do a sort of fake-out walkaway. I’ll crouch behind the sink and jump back up, or walk out of the room for 20 seconds before jumping back in. I don’t shout “aha!” or anything. I’m not unhinged. But I do try to catch it out. And so far? Nothing.
There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to it’s movements. I stayed up all night one night. The whole night. I don’t think it could see me, but I could see it. And there it stayed. All night. Then when I woke up from a nap the bastard had done it. Shifted.
I go outside and there’s no evidence it’s moved. No disturbed earth. No marks in the ground. I keep a meticulous garden, so I’d know. It’d be very easy to see if something was amiss.
But it isn’t. Everything is exactly where it should be. Apart from that bloody tree.
I planted it in a good spot even! Somewhere it’d get lots of light. Room to grow. I don’t know why it wants to move. I only know it does. And it pisses me right off. Sometimes it looks like it goes to hang out with the other trees. Doing the rounds like. Sometimes it just sits right in the middle of the garden. Taunting me.
And let me tell you, my neighbour loves it. I see him check over the fence each morning and laugh. His garden was never as good as mine, and now it is. I thought it might be him, but if he isn’t smart enough to plant his dahlias in spring, he isn’t smart enough to do this.
I think about digging it up. Uprooting the bastard. But I’m not convinced that’ll give me the answers I want. What if it’s just normal roots. What if it’s normal roots and I never get to find out what’s been going on. I’ve been looking at home security systems online. I’m going to get it.
For a while I thought it was my mates. Sneaking round when they knew I was asleep. Digging it up and moving it. You know, for a laugh. It’s a daft idea, but not quite as daft as the alternative. But how do they do it so cleanly?
They all have rubbish gardens. All of them. Maybe that’s their cover. Maybe they’re all in on it. It wouldn’t work if it was just the one of them, so it’d have to be a few. I’ve started a spreadsheet to keep track of their whereabouts, so I can fairly confidently rule it out.
But see if it was them? It was them that was moving my tree? I’d kill them.
I’d kill them all.
I didn't believe it at first.
I didn’t even notice. I guess it wasn't until I had to start ducking my head to leave that it became clear, and even then I thought maybe I was growing again. But my clothes still fit, I didn’t appear to be overtaking Carol at work. I considered maybe we were all growing, at the same rate. Clothes and all.
But that's ridiculous right? Well it is. The problem is, so is the other option. The one I've started to accept. My front door is shrinking.
Now, I guess that could be a misnomer. It could be sinking I guess. It doesn't seem to be getting any narrower. You’d expect if it was shrinking it’d do it from both sides right? Maybe it is. I'm not bumping into it yet so I guess I wouldn’t have noticed.
But the top of the door is definitely lower. I used to walk outside tall. Standing proudly. Ready to face whatever the day might throw at me. Now I do a sort of hunched shuffle. And what sort of message is that sending out to the world?
No one has said anything. I guess it isn't that noticeable from the outside. And to be clear, my whole house isn’t sinking. The back door is fine. I can still see out the windows. I guess there’s a chance I’m getting slightly taller the closer to the door I get. And then I go to work and I’m the same height. That certainly seems the least plausible theory.
Honestly, I should probably just measure it shouldn’t I.
OH AND ANOTHER THING. WATERPROOF TROUSERS. THEY SEEM LIKE A LOT OF HASSLE. I IMAGINE THEY’D HAVE THE SAME PROBLEMS AS A RAINCOAT, BUT ON YOUR LEGS. THEY’D JUST DRIP WATER INTO YOUR SHOES. THAT HAPPENS ANYWAY. BUT LIKE MORE WATER.
ALSO I IMAGINE THEY’RE VERY DIFFICULT TO TAKE OFF WITHOUT GETTING OTHER THINGS WET, BUT AGAIN I’VE NEVER WORN THEM SO I’M JUST SPECULATING.
WELLIES. I GUESS THEY’RE MORE FOR MUD BUT WHATEVER. I HAD SOME WATERPROOF SHOES ONCE AND THEY WERE GREAT BUT NOW THERE’S A HOLE IN THEM. THEY ARE NOW VERY MUCH WATER-WHATEVER-THE-OPPOSITE-OF-PROOF IS. GOOGLE SAYS DISPROOF. WATER DISPROOF IT IS.
OH YEAH WELLINGTON BOOTS. THEY’RE FINE BUT THEN THEY GET WET AND I DON’T WANT TO PUT THEM BACK ON AGAIN. AND WHEN WATER INEVITABLY GETS IN IT’S GAME OVER. ALSO I USE MINE SO RARELY SPIDERS HAVE STARTED TO LIVE IN THEM. I DO NOT LIKE IT.
But I do like inside.
I've always pronounced it "bee troot".
I'm not sure what I thought a "troot" was, but I guess I always thought it had something to do with… well, bees I guess. Like it had something to do with pollination maybe. Like it was a science word. I'd even heard people say "beet root", but just thought that was something else.
I must have thought there were other types of troot. I dunno what though. I'm sure if you asked me before I'd have said something. Wasp troot?
I'm not even sure I thought it was the same thing. It's a vegetable right? Hmm. Guess if I’m being honest I always thought it was some kind of trap, but like, an off brand one. A troot.
I don't know what I was thinking. I guess I hadn't put it together. It's "beet root" right? Like the root of a beet? That makes sense.
I was so sure it was "bee troot" though.
I wonder what else I'm pronouncing wrong
My shower drips upwards. Strange that innit? I bet yours doesn't do that. But ours definitely does. I'm not sure if it always has, I only noticed it recently. When you're using the shower the water comes out as you’d expect, in the direction you point it. Obeying gravity and all that. But when you turn it off? It drips up.
We tested all the other taps in the flat. And they all work fine. We tried detaching the shower head from its hook, left it in the bath to see what happens, but it still goes up. We kept twisting it around to try and catch it out, but it doesn't seem to matter the angle, it just always drips up.
So that's been going on for at least a few weeks now, and it doesn't really bother me. I still shower fine, and if anything it makes less of a noise when it hits the ceiling, so it’s waking me up less too.
When we have guests round they tend to mention it. "Uh mate, your shower is dripping up" they'll say, and I'll just tell them "yeah it does that sometimes". It does it all the time, but the "sometimes" seems to make it easier to digest.
It's been doing it long enough that there's a wet patch on the ceiling. Now I'm not proud of this, but we've been blaming the flat upstairs. We told them their bathroom must be leaking, and to pay us to repair the damage. And the bastards fell for it! We knocked up some fake invoices and they paid us the money, then every few months we'd do it again.
It’s gotten a bit elaborate. We had to start Photoshopping the ceiling to prove the work had been carried out. There’s been a fair few costume changes, and there’s now more than one fake moustache in my closet, but we’re just about breaking even on it.
And they really have no idea. They keep telling us they've had people in to have a look, and I believe them. I see them in the stairwell in the week after we send each bill.
I can hardly believe it. They fall for it every time. I feel a bit bad about it, but what can I say we need the money. Rosie said we'd probably make a decent amount showing off the upward drip, but I can’t be bothered with the hassle.
I told you about the man in the pea earlier. His name was Mike? You remember. Anyway I kept calling the peas sugar snap peas. I didn’t mean that, I meant snow peas. Don’t worry if you didn’t notice.
I think we call them mangetout in the UK, but Wikipedia says that can refer to either snow or sugar peas. Anyway, I was referring to the smaller ones - the snow peas - if that helps you understand any better.
Maybe you were imagining the larger snap pea thinking “these are quite big, I can imagine a man inside one of those”. Well I meant snow. They’re smaller, and so you’ll have to imagine the man smaller as well. I’m sorry for the confusion.
Me and the man are getting along fine by the way. I’d say we’re best friends. I still don’t know where he came from - I can’t really hear him most of the time. I try to make him write out his answers but it takes him ages.
Last month we moved into a new flat. I really like it! It's a bit smaller than the last one, but it's closer to town and work. Plus it's a little cheaper. Nothing's perfect like, but we’re still very happy with it.
There's one thing that's a bit off though, and that's the neighbours. I've never seen the same person twice. We've only been here a few weeks, but it's odd right? And I’m definitely seeing a fair few people like. It’s not like my last flat. There I hardly saw anyone. No, here I'm seeing people all the time. Certainly more people than there are doors.
They're all really friendly by the way. Always saying hello and welcoming me to the building. They never introduce themselves, or say what flat they're from though. It’s all just small talk stuff. We’ll pass each other in the hallways, exchange a few pleasantries, that sort of thing. Before they go they all give me a different tip. Every single person does. Like telling me when the recycling is collected, or not to leave my shoes outside because they "had a problem with stuff like that once".
Thing is, some of the tips are contradictory. They can't collect the recycling every day can they? Because I've been told all the days. Last night someone told me the trick to open the door to the laundry room, but we don't have a laundry room. Not one I’ve found anyway.
I guess it could be behind The Door. Gosh I’d completely forgotten about The Door. You see there’s this door on the ground level that I can’t work out what it leads to. I don't think there's a flat behind there. It doesn’t have a number on it, or a letterbox. Or a handle for the matter. Everyone’s pretty adamant I don’t look either. “Don’t open The Door” they’ll say. “Never open The Door”. That’s the one thing they all seem to agree on.
But other than that they’re all lovely. Bit intense about the door thing, but I can get past that.
Like I say it’s nearer to work, so we’ll make do.
I tell you what, I don't remember how it got there.
I'm talking about the pineapple. The pineapple in my wall. I don't think it was there when we moved in, and yet, somehow I can't remember a time before it. I'm certain I would have asked the estate agent about it. I'd remember that right?
I mean, it's ridiculous. There's a pineapple in my wall. But I don't remember ever going "oh that's new". Waking up and thinking to myself "huh, how strange". It just sort of makes... sense?
It never seems to go off either. It doesn't smell or anything. I mean, I'm no pineapple expert, but it certainly looks fine. I haven't had any though. I don't think I've ever had pineapple, not that I remember anyway. Maybe I've had it in something, some small chunk in something else, but if I have I can’t remember.
I've certainly never had it on pizza, and whilst I've been given it in a sweet and sour dish I sort of ate around it. I once drank a Lilt, but I'm not sure that counts. Do they put pineapple in trifles? I don't think so.
Anyway, that's not the important thing here. The important thing is there's a pineapple in my wall. I sometimes think about removing it, but I worry it's load bearing.
Where the hell are all these damn ants going? They always seem to be going somewhere, and I for one am sick of it.
I stand there, next to a wall, screaming at these ants. Screaming at them to tell me where they're going. And you know what they do? They say nothing. They don’t even react. Which is more than I can say of the people nearby. They look at me like I’m unhinged! Well I’m sorry buddy, if you aren’t already as incensed as I am about this, then I can’t help you.
I'll watch the ants for hours. I have nothing else going on. And by the looks of it neither do they. Wandering around. All day to nowhere. It makes me absolutely furious.
And in a line no less! They go about in a line! They’re ants goddamnit.
Occasionally, very occasionally do I see them reach a destination. An almost empty packet of crisps. Some bit of a tree or whatever. It never seems very important to me, and I’m an adult human, so you’d think I’d know better than a damn ant. I can’t imagine it’s all they’re going for.
I’d understand if they were going towards a picnic. That’s the only situation that makes sense to me. But they aren’t. They’re going all this way for what looks like leaves? WHAT.
Do they think they’re better than me? Is that what it is? Because they’re not. I eat at a table.
Is it an intimidation thing? Are they trying to make me scared? Because if it is it’s not working. I could definitely take them. Or are they just trying to stay in shape? Is that a thing? Do ants need cardio. I keep hearing about how strong they are compared to their size, is this how they do it? If it is then their legs should be bigger, so I’m not buying it pal.
Look. All I'm saying is. I recently got laid off at work. And I simply refuse to believe that these ants have more going on than I do.
JUST TO BE FAIR.
YOU CAN STILL GET WET INSIDE BUT IT’S NOT AS BAD. FOR EXAMPLE WASHING YOUR HANDS IS GOOD. I AT LEAST TAKE OWNERSHIP OVER SPILLING THINGS. YOU DON’T TEND TO GET VERY WET IN THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES. UNLESS IT’S A LEAK, THOSE CAN GO TO HELL.
THIS ONE TIME I TROD IN A PUDDLE INSIDE. THAT’S NOT ON IS IT? IT’S MEANT TO BE ONE OF THE BENEFITS TO BEING INSIDE THAT, THE LACK OF PUDDLES. AND YET.
I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE IT CAME FROM. I ASSUME SOMEONE SPILLED SOMETHING BECAUSE IT CERTAINLY WASN’T ME. BASTARD PEOPLE.
AND I WAS WEARING SOCKS. THEY’RE LIKE, THE NUMBER ONE PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU DON’T WANT TO GET WET. ONCE YOUR SOCKS ARE WET YOU MAY AS WELL GO BACK TO BED. START OVER.
I GUESS THERE ARE SOMETIMES WHEN GETTING WET ISN’T SO BAD. RAIN IS BAD. TREADING IN A PUDDLE IS BAD. GETTING SPLASHED BY A CAR IS BAD. I THINK WATER PARKS ARE BAD, BUT I GUESS PEOPLE LIKE THEM. OTHERWISE IT’D BE AN UNSUSTAINABLE BUSINESS.
SHOWERING IS FINE.
Alright mate? Yeah I’m doing well cheers. I’ve got this new phone, and you have to check out the fast charge. Honestly it’s amazing, it’s so quick! Much better than my last phone. The battery doesn’t last as long, but it charges like that mate, like that. Look, it’s at 2% now - I never let it run out completely - and I’ll stick it on charge whilst we’re talking so you can see. You’re not going to believe it mate, honest.
How are you anyway? Yeah? Oh that’s cool. I did something like that when I was in California. Yeah they had… Oh yeah it was a couple years ago now. We visited a few different states. Few nights in each sort of thing. Yeah honestly it was mad. Have you been? Oh well you really should if you get the chance. We… Oh that’s cool, I’ve never been to Norway, but did I tell you I went to Italy last year? Yeah we stayed up by the Dolomites, then went down to Venice, Florence etc. It was such a good trip. I’m sure I have some photos, let me show you. Oh wait, I can’t because my phone is charging. How long’s it been now? A few minutes? We’ll give it a few more, it’s going to blow your mind.
Okay so it’s been, what, 5 minutes? 15 you say? I didn’t realise we were talking so long. Okay so how much do you think it’s charged by? No wait, how much would yo- no, a normal phone charge by? In 15 minutes. I’ve had this for so long I’ve forgotten now. I’m so used to it. I don’t have to charge it overnight anymore, I just plug it in whilst I shower and that’s me for the day. But yeah, what do you guess? You’d expect a phone to do what, 10% in that time? Maybe less? So go on.
100%? Ha yeah, wouldn’t that be nice! But seriously guess. No mate that’s unrealistic, nothing can charge that fast. You honestly think this will have charged to full battery in that time? From 2%, to 100% in about 15 minutes? That’s your honest guess? I mean I know I bigged it up but be realistic. What would your phone do? Like 5% or something right? So what do you think this wou- no it can’t. No phone can do that. It takes like half an hour to get to 100%. It struggles after it hits 90% or so. So that’s your last guess? 100%? Well it’s charged to 57%. Whatever. No I don’t want to show you those photos anymore. Let’s just go get something to eat.
I watched him eat half the jar then and there. He wasn’t being greedy with it, but you could tell he’d missed it. Kept saying he didn’t want to eat it all in one go before going “oh go on, just one more”.
I was starting to crack. The man looked happier now, eating marmalade and crumpets, than I’d ever been in my entire life. I thought back to the major events. None of them came close to what I was witnessing right now.
The jar was nearly empty now. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I wrestled the man to the ground. I’d waited until he’d put more crumpets in the toaster. He was so full of marmalade he’d become slow, and didn’t put up much of a fight. I refused to engage when he asked what I was doing, just staring at the toaster. Waiting.
I was still holding him down as I heard the pop of the toaster. I gave the man a stare to say “don’t you dare get up”, before standing up and walking to the counter. The man sat up and watched. I think in a way he was excited. Excited to share his favourite food with me.
He watched as I picked up the crumpets, and spread the marmalade all over them. I took a bite.
And I loved it. Marmalade made sense to me. It was the best thing I’d ever tasted. And I could never have it again.
The Number In My Fridge
There’s a phone number in my fridge. I think about it all the time.
It was put there by the manufacturer by the way. It’s not etched into the sides prison style.
I can’t remember what it says alongside it. I imagine it’s a helpline? My microwave doesn’t have one. I don’t think any of the appliances do. I’m not even sure our current boiler does, and we need help with that all the time. But our fridge does.
Most nights I fall asleep thinking about calling it. Who would pick up? I always imagine it’d be my new best friend. They’re just waiting by the phone. Waiting for me to ring.
But what would I say? Would we play coy? I’d make up some problem with the fridge, they’d walk me through it. It’d have to be believable. The light not turning on? Too easy. I’d need something that’d require us to swap model numbers. Or maybe they’d know? Maybe the helpline is so specific, it’s just for that make of fridge.
Maybe it’s just for that fridge.
Maybe, that phone number is just for me.
Imagine that. A number just for me. That I could ring whenever I felt lonely or sad, as long as it was within usual business hours.
Whoever was at the other end would answer using my name, and then we’d just chat. It’d be effortless. They wouldn’t ask why I had taken so long to ring, or make me feel guilty. We’d chat for an hour or so, but then we’d both be busy. There’d be no plans to call again. I’d just know they were out there.
My friend from the fridge. That’d be nice wouldn’t it?
But I never phone. I’ve never come close. But I don’t need to.
It’s just nice to know they’re there.
It’s my girlfriend’s fridge. Maybe the person on the other end is for her. I cannot let this happen.
The Time I Fell Through The World
Did I ever tell you about the time I fell through the world?
It happened last Tuesday, and it was at the very least: “odd”. Has it ever happened to you? Something similar happened to me a few years back. I went to lie down, but instead of stopping at the floor, I sort of just, kept going?
The more I think about it, it was very strange right? You know when you go swimming, and you can see above the water level fine, but occasionally you dip down and your vision goes a bit blurry? It was like that, but I could see both at the same time. I couldn't really focus on what was below, it just looked like fuzzy colours. It looked like... an absence. An absence of, well, anything.
The above half looked fine, just slightly lower than it should be. It was like I was in a hole I guess, but I wasn't. I was lying on my front, and my legs were still where they were meant to be. Just instead of lying straight, I dipped a little. My eyes must have been right on the level, because I could see the seams.
Eventually I stood up and everything was fine again. I think I went to get some crisps. When I got back I tried to do it again but couldn't. I guess I was relieved, but if I'd have known it was a one time thing I'd have taken a photo.
I say a one time thing, but it happened again last Tuesday. I’d dropped my phone under the couch. I tried to crouch down to get it but I guess I went too far, and my entire body just went straight through the ground.
I looked up and everything was sort of inside out. I wasn’t standing on anything, but it didn’t feel like I was falling. I was stood perfectly straight, and the only way I could tell I was sinking was seeing the world get further away.
It was sort of like being in an elevator. I guess that’s the closest thing. And I’ve never really had a problem with elevators so I wasn’t scared. I took a look around and saw the bits the universe didn’t want me to see.
I didn't have my watch on, but it felt like I was falling for a while.
Eventually I just kind of reset. And I was standing in my room again. Figured I’d leave my phone where it was.
It was well bizarre.
Tony And The Mountain That Made Music
Tony grabbed his lunch box and left the car.
He was in good spirits. It was 1 o’clock, and that meant it was lunchtime. But not just any lunchtime, today was a special lunchtime. Today Tony got to have lunch with the mountain.
Tony enjoyed having lunch with the mountain. He’d done so for years. They’d sit and chat about life. The emails that went unanswered. Something funny the birds had said. That sort of thing.
It wasn’t a long drive to the mountain. Long enough that it remained an occasion, but not so long as to be a chore. Not many people came up this way, a fact Tony often lamented. It was a special place, and more people should make the journey he thought. Although as he thought this, a smaller part was glad it was so secluded. It was just him, and his friend, the mountain. Occasionally a jogger would go past, but nothing disturbing per se. It was a nice place to eat a nice sandwich, and a nice place to catch up.
But today something seemed off. The mountain seemed sad Tony thought. No, pensive, in the way only mountains can be. Tony had told a funny story about work - Julia couldn’t remember the word for “paper clips” and had instead called them “swirly staples”. It was hilarious as far as Tony was concerned. Highlight of the week stuff. And the mountain usually loved hearing Julia's latest antics.
This wasn’t the first time this happened, and Tony got mad. “You just sit there mountain. You don’t do anything. You could be great, you just don’t know it. All this potential. If only the people knew you like I did. Snowdon? Pah, they’ve got nothing on you. If only you tried mountain. If only you believed”. Tony sat down. His throat was getting all wobbly and he couldn’t get the words out anymore.
“You’re wasting your life” Tony thought of shouting at the mountain. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. You just don’t do that to your friends.
Tony sighed. He wasn’t being fair. And who was he to judge? He just hated seeing his friend not believe in themself. Tony knew the mountain could be so much more. Something special. He felt the mountain was holding back, but he knew they could be a star.
People should flock from around the world to see the mountain. That’s how special Tony knew the mountain was. That’s the life they deserved. Tony would be sad to lose their one on one lunches, but you want the best for your friends don’t you? Tony could stand among the adoring crowds, smiling. Maybe he’d even wink. He knew he couldn’t always be there for the mountain, and as much as he cared for them, he looked forward to the day when he wouldn’t be needed at all.
Tony didn’t want the rest of his sandwich. He didn’t feel he deserved it. Tony apologised to the mountain and put the half sandwich back in its box. Maybe he’d deserve it later.
Tony still had a few minutes left before he had to leave, but it felt uneasy now. Tony stood up, mumbled something about plans for next week, and walked back down the path.
He unlocked the car, put his lunchbox on the back seat and climbed in. As he drove away he turned on the radio. It was a song he didn’t know the words to.
As he drove away he looked back in the mirror and smiled.
“Fa la la”.