Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Surplus Dragon

It was a Big Day for the dragons - they all had a meeting with the Dragon Keeper about their jobs for the next year.

All the Dragons waited for their turn in the Dragon Keepers office, passing the time by making toast and playing with fire.

Eventually, it was Drake’s turn, and he went into the office.
“Hello Dragon Keeper.” said Drake “You’re looking well.”
“Ehm...yes...hello Drake.” said the Dragon Keeper.
“So what’s my job this year? Guarding treasure up a mountain, helping out at the coal mine?”
The Dragon Keeper shook his head.
“Not this year Drake.” he said “There’s just not enough gold left to guard. Not enough work to go round.”
“Are you sure?” asked Drake, “Only I’ve got some friends who are Chinese Dragons and they seem quite busy.”
“Ah well, it’s all about economy of scales isn’t it.” said the Dragon Keeper, and showed him out of the office.
“Right.” said Drake, “Now what?”
He flew down to the Job Centre to speak to someone about getting a new job.

“What was your last job?” said the Job Centre Man.
“Dragon.” said Drake.
“And what did you do? What are your skills?”
“Well I was mostly guarding treasure.” said Drake.
“And what about the job before that?” asked the Job Centre Man.
“I’ve always been a Dragon.” said Drake.
“Really?” said the Job Centre Man, “We might need to look at some re-skilling then.”
“I’ve got skills. Dragon skills. I’m a Dragon.” said Drake.
“Yes...” said the Job Centre Man, “but there aren’t many jobs for Dragons.”
“What are there jobs for?” asked Drake.
The Job Centre Man shuffled some pages on his desk and coughed.
“We’ll get you booked on some training.” he said, “You’ll get a letter sent out to you in a few weeks.”
“Right.” said Drake, and he flew home feeling rather glum.
He had some toast to cheer himself up, then he went to bed.
And he woke up the next day with an idea...

Drake went to the town square and put out one of the folding tables he’d bought for his jubilee garden party. On the table he put a few loaves of bread and a butterchurn. Then...and this was the cleverest part of his plan...a sign which read “Hot buttered toast. Made fresh for YOU.”
A man stopped at Drake’s stall.
“Where’s your toaster?” he asked.
“Ah hah!” said Drake, and he blew gently on a slice of bread, “Dragon toast!”
Drake handed the man the toast.
“Fantastic.” crunched the man.
In no time at all, Drake had a big queue of people who had rushed off to work without breakfast. Everyone loves toast.

Later that day, a giant stopped for some toast.
“Marvellous toast.” he said.
“Thanks. It’s been going well.” said Drake, “But I’m running out of bread.”
“Oh....I could help make you some nice bread.” said the giant, “I’ve got a flour grinder.”
A witch had just stopped for some toast as well.
“Delicious toast.” she said. “I could help with the bread too. I’ve got an oven I’ve not used in awhile.”
“Really?” said Drake. “That would be great. Do you think you could bake me some for tomorrow?”
“Of course.” said the giant and the witch.
“You can get an equal share of whatever we sell.” said Drake.

Next day the giant ground the flour, the witch baked the bread, Drake made the toast and people came from all around.
A werewolf stopped for some toast.
“Brilliant toast.” he said.
“Thanks. I’m running out of butter though.”
“Oh...I could help you there. I make cheese.” said the Werewolf.
“Really?” said Drake, “That would be great. Do you think you could bring some along tomorrow? We could do cheese melts.”
“No problem.” said the Werewolf.
“You can get an equal share of whatever we sell.” said Drake.

The next day, the giant ground the flour, the witch baked the bread, the werewolf made the cheese and people came from all around.

Soon, more of Drake’s friends were helping out with the stall; the trolls made rock cakes, the Three Sisters made some lovely Golden Apple juice and the vampires made some blood orange marmalade. The stall was so busy, that the fairies started helping out with lunchtime deliveries and the ghouls started opening the stall at nights for people coming back from the disco.

One day, the Dragon Keeper came for some toast.
“Splendid toast.” said the Dragon Keeper. “Everyone really likes it.”
“Yes.” said Drake, “Everyone loves toast.”
“I suppose you must be getting a bit fed up with it though.” said the Dragon Keeper, “I was wondering if you would like me to help. I’ve some great ideas.”
“Oh?” said Drake “What sort of ideas?”
“We could go international! A toast bar on every corner of the Kingdom! Pre-packed toast for supermarkets! Toast teeshirts! With just a few changes, your stall could be world famous.”
“Hmmm.” said Drake, and he looked at the freshly baked bread, and the cheese, and the apple juice and rock cakes and the marmalade.
“It’s not my stall.” he said, “It’s our stall. No thanks.”

Drake and his stall stayed in the town square, and people kept buying his toast. People didn’t buy it all over the world, and there weren’t toast franchises or teeshirts, he just did what he did well and was happy.

 No one is quite sure what happened to the Dragon Keeper, but I’d bet he tasted very nice on toast.

Read more Community Fables...

Monday, 18 June 2012

Disney Haiku

Hidden, waiting in
Forests silent and unknown,
The sword sleeps in stone.

Copper, brass and steam
Hiss and gleam in the grey deep.
Secrets no one keeps.

Those cracked cups spin
As random as broken clocks.
Team time never stops.

Had a great wee holiday with the family in Disneyland Paris. For the record, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain and Star Tours were the top voted rides. No Tron ride though. Seriously, what are they thinking?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Continuing Churn

I'm actually off on a wee holiday and so am very pleased to introduce this guest post...

Earlier in the year, I posted a wee story called "Churn" which envisaged a bold new strategy for dealing with Youth Unemployment. I was genuinely sent this follow up story by someone who asked to be credited as "the outsider". I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest they may have some employment experience in this area...

If you ever want to get in contact, its

One year later...

Garry Hobble and Nigel Fanshawe stood in the company boardroom, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Head of Employment Divison in the Government and the Senior Performance Manager of the County Council.

The Human Waste Recycling project had been a revelation, earning plaudits and being nominated for the Regeneration Project of the Year.  The two men slapped each other heartily on the back, sipping champagne from crystal decanters.  Kerching! Gary reflected on a year at the top of his game, the finest food in the most expensive restaurants with holidays to both the sun and the slope.  He felt the smooth silk lapel of his Armani suit, of course all the luxurious living had resulted in a few extra inches around the waistline but now that he had taken out membership of the Premier Exclusive Gym that would not be a problem.

There was a knock at the door, in stepped two formal looking ladies with stiff, barely managed smiles.  Handshakes exchanged and brief introductions made, Ms Banks from the Government spoke first.
“Gentlemen, the outputs associated with your project have been astonishing, you have wiped out unemployment among young males, and this area has the lowest claimant count of any area in the country."
“Yes, I feel that’s because we try not to label young people” said Gary. 
“Indeed”, said Ms Banks, “and the added value of the programme is that you have also eliminated teen pregnancies and recorded crime is at its lowest level for decades.  However, my colleague from the County Council has some concerns about the impact of the programme and other factors we would wish to discuss”. 
Nigel Fanshawe looked slightly perturbed, bleeding bureaucrats in the municipality, he thought to himself, always have something to worry about, why don’t they just get on with what they are supposed to do – collecting rubbish and teaching children the things they don’t need to know that will never benefit them at any point in their life.

Ms Tumbleweed of the County Council shuffled some papers, “let me state for the minute, you appear to run an excellent scheme, however, in eliminating youth unemployment you also seem to have eliminated all the young men in the area.  Nobody is quite sure how, but depopulation has reached alarming levels and the impact on the local economy has been huge. Pubs have closed; the local football team is in liquidation and the only thriving retail outlet is the Ann Summers superstore, which incidentally is looking to expand."  Gary and Nigel guffawed loudly, exchanging back slaps and congratulations on the 'added value' of the programme.

Ms Tumbleweed slammed a tiny clenched fist on the boardroom table “Gentlemen, I do not believe you appreciate the gravity of this situation.  The local maternity unit is closing as are several departments in our FE College, indeed we have reached a point where basically no company is paying rates and no individuals are paying council tax.  The net effect is a reduced income for the County Council and let me just assure you that you have gone too far, our Human Resource Mis-management Department are looking to make staff redundant IN THE COUNCIL” – she screamed and slammed her fist into the desk again.  “Let me assure you, there are no circumstances in which I will allow you two dimwits to threaten my glittering career or my generous final salary pension scheme”.  A little light switched on in the boardroom, as Gary and Nigel began to comprehend that today was not panning out as expected; it didn’t look like they had been successful in securing that award after all.

Bolstered by the boldness of her municipal colleague, Ms Banks joined the fray and announced “As you know it is vital for national and local government to work in harmony, accordingly, Mr Fanshawe I am with immediate effect terminating your contract.  In addition, Mr Hobble, I am with immediate effect terminating your employment in the Civil Service – you're fired” 
Message delivered, both ladies slammed shut their briefcases and then slammed the door shut on their way out of the boardroom.

Gary and Nigel were rooted to their seats.  It was Hobble who broke the ice “To hell with them, we can start from scratch and take the recycling model to new areas, where we will be richly rewarded – as joint partners”
"What, are you serious you blustering buffoon? I would not enter into any half baked scheme with you.  It is your fault we are in this position, it was you who convinced me that we should double the outputs and make it a meatier programme”. 
"But please Mr Fanshawe," pleaded Gary, "I have so many ideas on how we can diversify the business with new programmes and snappy titles, We can have a programme for Graduates called Intern@ and a programme for people with addictions which we will call Habit@.  I also think we can introduce a new 'value range' programme for the lumpen proletari@.”
“Get out!”, screamed Mr Fanshawe, “you will never be a marketing officer and you will never partner me in business.  If you don’t mind I have to think about my next move and my next business venture”. 
He pinged the bell on the boardroom table and presently Tom arrived to remove Gary from the premises, which he duly did by carrying him upside down and throwing him down the stairs at the factory entrance.  Gary tumbled over and over, coming to an abrupt halt when his head slammed into the company sign, “Human Waste” – some wit had scribbled out the word Recycling.

One week later, Gary attended his first appointment at the job centre with his personal adviser.  Peering over her glasses she listened to his career to date details and his aspirations for the future.  Removing her glasses she smiled enthusiastically and said “great news Mr Hobble, people like you with a mental illness are now able to obtain immediate help from your first day of unemployment.  Indeed, a new project has started and offers support to redundant Executives – it’s called FatC@.  Here is your appointment, ask for a Mr Fanshawe.”

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Vogon Poetry

I'm off to see The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy Live! tomorrow. Very excited.

Vogon Poetry is of course the third worst in the universe, so I really had to up my game to compose this piece, actually just a 'highlight' from a much larger epic, concerning a doomed love affair between a Vogon commander and a planet devouring jellyfish with self esteem issues.

from ‘The Mhighoblyghan’

Oh! How vile you float,
Unrinsed as frungweed,
Glabbish and slaverly
Farped in unkish swillfeed.

Bound in swarfen marshropes
You glosp and reek in the twosh.
Fusked as a querping hagglepin,
I brump the wimpled vash.

That warten hide
Slurfs wantonly.
My prongk denied,
Blurps emptily.

In a slightly different vein, I was really fortunate this week to get the opportunity to write a story tweet for the 3hundredand65 project...which is creating a graphic novel via twitter in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It's a wonderful exercise in creativity and collaboration with tweets from regular folk alongside contributions from Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey, Neil Gaiman and many more. It's a great project with a really orginal vision...and the story needs you. Catch up on the story so far and find out how you can help.