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from Laugh or be laughed at



The Fat Boy


Jan was the fat boy of Monteney Junior School. Jan was fat and he cared not a shit what people thought or said.

It is difficult to understand how Jan and I ended up being the best of friends for we were as different as chalk and cheese.
Jan, John M and I were in the same class at Monteney and when we went to Ecclesfield Grammar School, we found ourselves in the same class there too, as the first letter of our surnames are close together in the Alphabet which is how they sorted out the first form kids.
Jan and I remained in the same class as each other throughout our (less than illustrious school careers).
Jan’s parents were Polish Immigrants, the only ‘non-British’ family I can recall living on the whole of the estate. Whilst I was a quietish introvert kid (apart from brief bursts of teacher-kicking), Jan was very extrovert, always spoke his mind usually with a big smile on his fat face, no matter who he was speaking to. Even physically we were opposites, I was one of the smallest kids in the class (I waited until I was fifteen to start growing) whilst Jan was undoubtedly the biggest. While I was teaching myself to play chess from a library book, Jan was immersed in Superman comics.
He showed me the first pornographic photograph that I had ever seen (God only knows where he got it from) and he was with me, no, I was with him, the first time I got my hand up a girl’s skirt.
I always remember Jan’s mum being somewhat prudish (in a nice way) insisting the name of the TV Programme ‘The Naked City ‘must have been a mistake as they would surely never allow the word ‘naked’ to be spoken on television! She would have been mortified if she had known some of the things Jan had in his possession
We moved on from Junior School to Grammar School together coincidentally landing in the same first form class. We remained in the same class as each other throughout our-less-than illustrious school careers.
We got into all sorts of trouble together, nothing bad you understand, mostly staying out too late, being in areas we were told not to go in and generally being a nuisance.
Jan and I drifted apart after leaving school and my last, sad memory of him is bumping into him in the Penthouse Night Club around 1976, where he told me ‘they let us out sometimes you know’ (they’ being the people who ran Middlewood Mental Hospital which by then had become Jan’s home).
As I listened to his voice I noticed it had acquired a strange submissive quality, totally out of character with the Jan of old. As we stood together in the gloomy atmosphere of The Penthouse, I studied his eyes; the same eyes that had once sparkled with mischief in his fat face as he planned our next escapade.
I could see…. nothing.
Jan’s spirit had been broken, perhaps by something that had happened to him or perhaps by self-induced demons inside his head, maybe just by life itself, who knows?
I continued to ask after him whenever I met one of the few mutual acquaintances we had, but nobody seemed to know or seemed to care where he was.
When somebody finally informed me that my closest childhood friend had chosen to take his own life, I hardly reacted at all.

Somehow, I already knew.

The Wooded Place

Picture courtesy of Mantic Ritual

The wooded place

The sky of slate

The gleaming sacred blade

The hooded face

The cry of hate

The screaming naked maid

The heathen spell

The kiss of death

The weathered graven stone

The scene from hell

The hiss of breath

The tethered maiden’s groan

The ranted curse

The proffered knife

The mud-filled stinking hole

The chanted verse

 The offered life

The blood-filled drinking bowl

The church bell tolls

The time is near

The pagan’s knife is plunged

The tortured souls

The primal fear

The maiden’s life expunged



Natural History Museum: An exhibition

Androids are programmed for admission

Impervious to effects of nuclear emission

Attention please: Exhibit Number Four

This was Tyrannosaurus Rex Dinosaur

Extinct for sixty five million years or more

Attention please: Exhibit Number Three

This was once called a Weeping Willow Tree

The last piece of greenery that would ever be

Attention please: Exhibit Number Two

This thing is a Human, a live one is on view

Take Telepod Number 7 to the National Zoo

Attention please: Exhibit Number One

This was called Love, sounds like a lot of fun

Extinction date unclear, forever it has gone

The Tears of Marie Anne

Death kissed a gypsy caravan

to claim one of the Romni clan

and as her life ebbed with the day

her last act was to wipe away

the tears of Marie Anne

The father grieved so for his wife

in deep despair he took his life

no goodbye note for his son Thad

nor daughter Marie Anne so sad

who suffered in their strife

Marie Anne was just three years old

she went to speak with Nadyagold

a soothsayer of great renown

‘Come my child, sit thyself down

and thy fortune shall be told’

The old dabrani shook her head

‘I see a dull brown room, she said

bare and gloomy, smells of rot

dark and dreary, fearsome hot

with a greatcoat for a bed

‘Thy must beware my little one

for evil to thee will be done

here is a hex that thy can use

if thou should suffer from abuse

then thy vengeance will be won’

‘Death will follow who are cursed

be warned this cannot be reversed’

and as the old soothsayer spoke

ancient words of the Romni folk

loud claps of thunder burst

 ‘Thad he will go’ advised the man

‘to an orphanage in East Ham

Marie to one in Bishopsgate’

his words did naught to mitigate

the tears of Marie Anne

The matron of the orphan’s home

saw Marie Anne stand all alone

clutching tight her battered case

she saw her sad, bewildered face

and she took her as her own

The principal was Jude Baptiste

for kids he cared not in the least

thick leather belt used as a strap

an arrogant and odious chap

and his nickname was ‘The Beast’


Thirteen years passed by too fast

Marie Anne lived for the past

she missed her brother’s smiling face

she yearned to feel his firm embrace

that had never been  surpassed

Baptiste came to the girl so fair

stroked her face and stroked her hair

‘Come with me my little one’

took her hand and they were gone

to climb the winding stair

Behind the wooden panelled door

a small room of dull brown decor

bare and gloomy, smelled of rot

dark and dreary, fearsome hot

with a greatcoat on the floor

Baptiste took his prey so pretty

and showing not a trace of pity

nor any sign of tenderness

tore off her yellow orphan dress

and took away her chastity

‘Now that thy has done thy worst

with this amria thou art cursed

and guaranteed a place in Hell’

Marie Anne cast the gypsy spell

as the clouds of thunder burst

The matron damned the evil man

when Marie told her of his plan

and as she tried to comfort her

dampening her shoulder were

the tears of Marie Anne

Pleas for mercy would not be heard

whenever his desire was stirred

using her for carnal pleasure

abusing her at his leisure

he could not be deterred

One day Marie heard matron call

‘A man is waiting in the hall’

‘She said “Please bring him here to me’

she had no doubt who it would be

she had no doubt at all

Baptiste opened the panelled door

and closing it behind him saw

beneath the coat a huddled form

he spoke above the brewing storm

‘Come hither my gipsy whore’

But when the coat was flung aside

Marie did not beneath it hide

instead a man who now stood tall

and pushed Baptiste against the wall

and The Beast was terrified

Thad drew up his gleaming sword

‘Harm me not’ Baptiste implored

‘No wrong I’ve ever done to thee

so who art thou to threaten me?’

Outside the thunder roared


Thad hissed ‘The kith and kin am I

of someone thy did mortify

now for my dear young sister’s sake

vengeance I have come to take

‘tis time for thee to die’

‘Please slow thy haste sir I appeal

There’s something that I must reveal

gold pieces I have very many

to thee I will give every penny

Sir can we strike a deal?’

‘If thy galbi were a hundred fold

justice can’t be bought and sold

money cannot sheath this blade

my sister’s honour I’ll not trade

for a bag of tainted gold

And now I must fulfill my quest

and send thee to be Satan’s guest’

and as the mighty thunder roared

Thad thrust hard upon his sword

deep into Baptiste’s chest

Baptiste screamed in fiery Hell

inside his dingy, stinking cell

bare and gloomy, smelled of rot

dark and dreary, fearsome hot

and recalled the gypsy spell

Thus Marie Anne’s new life began

she leaned down from the caravan

to kiss one that she loved so well

and on the matron’s face there fell

the tears of Marie Anne

Romni – Romany,

Amria – Curse,

Dabrani – Fortune Teller,

Galbi – Gold