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This is a question This book changed my life

The Goat writes, "Some books have made a huge impact on my life." It's true. It wasn't until the b3ta mods read the Flashman novels that we changed from mild-mannered computer operators into heavily-whiskered copulators, poltroons and all round bastards in a well-known cavalry regiment.

What books have changed the way you think, the way you live, or just gave you a rollicking good time?

Friendly hint: A bit of background rather than just a bunch of book titles would make your stories more readable

(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:11)
Pages: Latest, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, ... 1

This question is now closed.

The big book of mischief
The below happened when three or four months before my 16th Birthday.

It must of taken at least an hour to download the txt file from my incredibly crap dialup internet connection. It took about the same time for my dot-matrix printer to print out the 50 odd pages, but, I had it. I had the big book of mischief. This summer was going to be fantastic.

After a very careful study of each section I decided that the most valuable use of time would be to make some explosives. I found a section called “grey powder” which seemed easiest to make. I quick wander into my dads green house and I had found the oxidant fertilizers which made the core ingredients.

After following the recipe exactly I was left with a small dish of runny paste – the book said to leave the paste to dry to a powder somewhere warm over night – I choose on top of my radiator. By the morning the paste was powder. I was getting very excited.
Now making the fuse was even easier – just run some cotton in the paste and leave it out to dry too. I just needed to make the container for the “Bomb”.
I found a plastic case that you used to get camera film in. I poured in the powder, which half filled it, slit a small hole to run the fuse in and taped the lid down hard.

My very first Bomb was ready.

On walking to high school we past a small common and I decided this would be my ground Zero. With a crowd of sceptical friends surrounding me I placed the device in a squirrel hole and lit the fuse. I had barely run four foot when the fucker exploded. And my god it went off. It ripped the small squirrel hole to whole large enough to put a football in. I was covered in wood chips. The crowd cheered. I instantly became a hero – considered dangerous – I was a bomb maker.

Straight after school I ran home and had about 3 hours of bomb making before my parents got home. I had told the entire school that I was going to make enough to blow the tree up and was under a lot of self induced pressure.

“How much to make” I thought – well the last lot made a hole, but, this time I want to blow down a tree. I will multiply the amount of ingredients by 10. Just to be safe.
After empting the fertilizers into a large bowl and mixing well – plus making a far longer fuse – I poured the mixture onto some old newspaper.

Now it took all night to dry out the small batch. This mound was clearly going to take a long time. My parents would also be a little concerned to see a mound of white powder drying out in my room. I needed to speed up the process and decided that setting the oven to 100 degrees will not do it damage, but, will speed up the process something.

I watched it for a few minutes and went upstairs to watch TV






My left ear had the largest ringing - my right ear had stopped working. I could not see as the picture above my bed had smacked me in my eyes. I stumbled downstairs to see what damage had been done. The oven door had been blown clean off the oven, through the tile and plasterboard wall on the opposite side of the kitchen and straight through my dad’s fish tank.
There was not a single uncracked tile. The ceiling was black and burnt. The kitchen was completely fucked up

I was completely fucked.
I was COMPLETELY fucked.

My mum went apeshit when I spilled coke on the carpet. I have just blown a hole in their fucking house. Panic took over, I went to the cleaning cupboard and found a Mr Muscle can and a duster. Christ knows what I was thinking, but, I furiously scrubbed the walls and ceiling of the black smoke stains.
The doorbell went
It was the fire brigade
I was completely fucked

The fireman practically barged in and inspected the mess. As there was no fire they decided to use the half hour they stayed to rip the piss out of me. By the time they left I was just a broken shell of a 15 year old boy. The last comment they made before they left was “the police will be here in a minute”

Unfortunately for me though – my mum got home before the police. I could have done with the police protection really.

I am sure that most parents will, at some point, come home to a wrecked home. Maybe the child left the tap running and flooded the floor. Maybe they had a party and some wine got spilt. Perhaps they got mud on the carpet.

I had blown the oven up. Sent the grill about a foot through the cupboard above. Blackened the walls. Broke the Tiles. Burnt the work top. I had put a two foot hole in the kitchen wall. I had smashed a fish tank, killed two fish and ruined a carpet. I had wrecked the downstairs elecrics. I had really fucked up.

As you can imagine – my parents went stir-mental-apeshit-scary-daggers-lock-that-waste-of-our-DNA crazy on me.

The very next day I was marched to the local co-op and forced at mum-point to apply for the job opening. I was told that I had to account for every ten minutes during the summer holidays. If i was not working at the Co-op i was working for my dad.

It took me 6 months and about 500 hours to earn the money to pay for the repairs. I worked my arse off to make sure that I paid back every single penny.

The big book of mischief taught me to think things through first. It taught me the value of a pound. It taught me about hard work and it what it can achieve. It taught me that work is rewarding. It taught me that plasterboard walls are not too strong. It taught me that my dads right hand was fucking lethal.

It also gave my parents a story to tell - which they do - at every single occasion.

Beat that for life lessons learnt
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 12:08, 18 replies)
3) Mein Kampf
by Adolf Hitler

Right, let's not lynch me. I've read the Bible, and I'm not Christian. I've read the Koran, and I'm not Muslim. Having read Mein Kampf does not make me a Nazi. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I've always believed in having informed opinions. If I'm going to denounce Christianity as a load of bollocks, surely I need to understand just what it is I'm disagreeing with. It is for this reason that I frequently became disillusioned in history or politics lessons. Nazism = bad was frequently drummed into our heads, without any reason behind it. Sure, Hitler had millions killed; but so did Oliver Cromwell, that doesn't mean that Republics are necessarily bad.

So, armed with this information, we follow Thinker into a year 9 History lesson. The topic, of course, is the Second World War, and Nazism, and how evil the Nazis are, and how every German person was a mixture of stupid and evil.

Surely not, thought I. Surely the German people were just.. mis-informed? Misled? Perhaps there was some vote-rigging? Surely, no mass population would ever vote in a leader on the promise of genocide?

Then, using a combination of dial-up Internet and real paper-based, non-Wiki encyclopaediae, I learned of a book called Mein Kampf. Written by Adolf Hitler, it detailed his mad thoughts, his insane ramblings, his ideals and, most of all, the story of his life.

Intrigued, I tracked a copy down, and bought it. I've no idea where the proceeds went to, actually. Still, a fiver's hardly going to re-establish a Reich, my 14-year-old brain reasoned.

And so, I read it. It was a frightfully boring tome, poorly written, and with the occasional outrageous statement going completely without support or backup. He'd make ridiculous claims about the Jews in general, and their evil, sick tendencies. I noticed, throughout the book, that the Jews were always treated as a collective. As were Communists, Gays, Gypsies and so on. But there were never Jewish scientists. No Jewish doctors, no Gay policemen, no Communists in the army. No, the Jews acted as a collective. One Jew was the same as any other. This helped to dehumanise them.

Of course, I don't want to go into repeating the book, or summarising it, or whatever. If you want to find out what it says, go read it.

The most striking thing, though; the way in which reading this hate-filled literary record of one madman's bile change my life; is how I read, see and hear eerily similar sentiments expressed today.

Replace "Jews" with "Immigrants", and you could be reading the Daily Mail. You could be listening to your favourite yob at the pub, or chav on the street, complaining about "Immigrants". The usual "coming over here, stealing our jobs" stereotype directed at non-whites in general is sickening.

Having read Mein Kampf, and learning about the horrors committed during World War II, I make terrifying extrapolations.

The Germans of the 1930s were no stupider, nor more evil, than the majority of modern Britons. Mein Kampf was nothing more than an early version of the Daily Mail. It politicised the thick, alerted them to the "injustices" against them, and it earned Hitler votes. It got Hitler into power.

With the rise of far-right nationalist parties such as the BNP, I fear the same thing happening in Britain. Ordinary, working-class Britons have no interest in politics. But if the BNP or a worse party could politicise them, feed them bullshit about the injustices they face, alert them to the evils of "the Immigrant".. it's very scary.

I believe that, had I never read Mein Kampf, I wouldn't see this in the same way. I could possibly have just followed, accepted that the Germans were stupid and evil, and that the modern British were above that.

I shudder to imagine myself as a Daily Mail reader. I'd like to thank Adolf Hitler for opening my eyes to what it could possibly lead to. I just wish more people were able to see.

That said, I obviously see how it'd be a bad idea to make Mein Kampf compulsory reading in schools.

Apologies for length. I can only hope it's not as dull and boring as the book itself.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 1:16, 36 replies)
The Book Of Job
When I was quite young we used to live next door to a family whose daughter volunteered at a local Sunday school, so it was only natural that me and my brother would go along to give my parents an hour of peace every weekend. We all happily joined in the brainwashing because we got free orange juice and got to draw pictures, mostly of Jesus obviously. In exchange all we had to do was listen to bible stories and be gently conditioned with the occasional "good boy!" when we said we agreed with it all. Everything proceeded happily until one day the leader made the mistake of reading us The Book Of Job.

For those of you not familiar with this particular book of the old testament I'll quickly and roughly paraphrase. Job is one of God's most loyal and pure believers. One day Satan wanders up to God and bets him that if he punishes Job unfairly he'll renounce God. God agrees to the bet but says the devil can't touch Job himself, just those around him. So God watches as the devil slaughters Job's cattle and takes away his wife and children and tells him they've all been killed. When Job doesn't renounce God Satan bets him that if he can punish Job directly he definitely will. God agrees and watches as the devil smites him with boils leaving him grief stricken and in constant agony. Three people visit Job and they explain to him that he must be being punished for his sins. Unable to think of anything he can repent for Job can only wait, mourning the loss of his family and living in constant suffering until Satan admits to losing the bet. Having never renounced God, Job's sanctimonious visitors are punished, his boils are cured, his wife, children and cattle are returned (in some interpretations he's given the cattle of his sanctimonious friends and, bizzarely, his children are doubled in number and made wealthy) and he get's to "live and die in happiness".

The Sunday school leader handed out the orange juice and the crayons as he talked about how God will sometimes test people but if we keep our faith in Him we'll be rewarded. Everyone nodded and agreed and got on with drawing pictures of Job's suffering and I just sat there dumbfounded. This God, this 'man of love' sat back and watched one of his most faithful tortured, mocked, humiliated and nearly destroyed to prove a fucking point? He listened to Job being told his family had all been killed to win a bet? Forget dumbfounded, I was furious. It didn't take long for the leader to notice that one six year old boy wasn't happily colouring like the rest but was, instead, fighting back the tears. He sat down with me and tried to reason with me or, as actually happens a lot with the religous, repeated his views in exactly the same way hoping that this time I'd agree with them. When he realised that this wasn't going to work he told me to go home and think about it and see how I felt next week.

I did. I went home and thought about it. Thought about it in ways that six year olds probably very rarely do; I started questioning it. All of it. He got his answer the next week when I didn't turn up. Tantrums, tears, begging and pleading with my parents let them know there was no way I'd go back there. I remember crying with relief when my parents said I didn't have to go, didn't have to listen to any more of that horror and pain somehow dressed up in a fake message of love and hope. Skip forward ten years and I became friends with a kid called Peter. He was a friend of a friend in a different year at school so I knew little about him until we started hanging out together. It was then that I learnt two things; Peter was very religious and his Dad was a local vicar.

Inevitably the question of religious beliefs eventually came up and sparked an amazing two years of conversation and debate. His father turned out to be one of the most outstandingly opened minded religious people in existence. He never tried to preach to those that didn't want to hear it and actually openly admitted to not believing in everything The Bible had to say. His raison d'etre seemed to be that the message of love and hope that Christianity in it's entirety desperately tried but failed to encapsulate was such a beautiful ideal that it was worth compromising to preach it. It wasn't something to live by it was something to always aspire to. And he was right.

So right I really wish I'd met him.

See, our views were so diametrically opposed, or so I believed to begin with, I never trusted myself to talk to him directly for fear of violent arguements. Instead, with Peter telling his father what I was saying and then telling me what his father had said in return we, unbelievably, conducted a two year theology debate through his son. It was a testament to his open-mindedness that not once did he try and stop me despite knowing that I was slowly eroding his son's faith. He was happy to know that someone was challenging his beliefs knowing that more than one opinion would help his son find his own way. By the end of the two years I held this man I'd never met in such high estimation it was unbelievable. My opinion on the inherent evil nature of God never wavered but I think given more time and more debate it may have done. Severely. I couldn't stop thinking that maybe if he had been my Sunday school leader things could have turned out very differently. Not in a blind belief way but in a well thought out, rational longing for an ideal rather than a fairy tale hero way. His willingness to not believe oddly made his belief all the stronger.

After a while, maybe for a bet, maybe to prove a point and stroke his ego some more, God decided to intervene. Peter's father developed terminal stomach and bowel cancer. That was his reward for being loving, caring, understanding and downright inspirational to family, friends and strangers alike. In one of those weird coincidences it was around the time BBC Three was promo'ing that Vic and Bob Catterick series which they did using a song that got stuck in my head so much I downloaded it. It was called The Sire of Sorrow by Joni Mitchell and, despite being pretty overblown, it really moved me. It wasn't until I heard the full version that I realised it was a musical interpretation of The Book Of Job. For the next few months I saw Peter pretty regularly. We talked about religion (or Peter's lack of it these days), his father, listened to the song a few times and had debates like we used to. Sometimes it became too much for him and I just held him while he cried, knowing that his father was enduring untold suffering, dying in pain and, due to the type of cancer, being robbed of his dignity as he did so. I kept thinking 'God is love' and the fury of that six year old me would return, intensified.

When Peter's father finally succumbed to the cancer his family sorted through his stuff and Peter brought me a book they'd found. It's from the early 1800's and is sitting in the drawer next to me. I've never touched it and never will except maybe one day to hand it back if I think he needs it. All I have to do is look at that book and I'm filled with such righteous anger that there's nothing I can't or won't do to step into the lives of the people I love to help them in any way I can. The way that, up until the age of six, I believed God would always do.

It's The Book Of Job.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 9:55, 17 replies)
Ok, I've been loathe to post this for obvious reasons
but there is one book that really did change my life.

Girl, Interrupted.

I was sexually abused by my stepfather for years, and it culminated in a gang rape when I was 18. By this point, it was known that he had been abusing me and I was trying to get my head sorted and get my life sorted.
I was 22 when I read Girl, Interrupted and I spent hours reading it and re-reading it. I totally related to Daisy......
After re-reading it for probably the 5th time in 24 hours, I finally realised that I could possibly end up like that unless I made concious decisions not to allow the abuse to shape my thoughts, my actions and ultimately my life.

I took positive steps towards becoming an active, healthy member of society and now....well I'm doing alright. Actually, I'm doing great. I have a great job, wonderful friends who have seen me through some of my darkest times recently and things are looking good for my new relationship.

Life throws shit at you, but it is possible not to let it get you down.

Edit:
Wow. Thank you all for the wonderful responses. Believe me, I thought long and hard before posting this - I'm not ashamed of it and my closest friends and my family know of it. It's just kinda hard to write on a messageboard, you know? I hope that by posting this story, some young 'un out there will be inspired to speak out, too.
(, Sun 18 May 2008, 16:47, 14 replies)
Not just mine, but I hope a few others too.
Like workboresme, I’ve spent awhile (about two years to be honest – so many QOTW have made it pop into my head) wondering about posting this. And then thought,‘Ah fuck it, I’ll keep wondering until I do’.

So here we go. The book that really changed my life was a little pamphlet that I read in a waiting room years ago. It was one of those cheaply produced booklets that are full of adverts and there’s one article on support stockings or walking frames or volunteer knitting groups. At the back there was one little black and white understated advert for the local Rape Crisis Centre. You know those film sequences where the camera sort of centres in and the background just drops away – I felt like that. Everything else disappeared. That was one day I was glad of the long wait behind the coughers and bawling babies as I just read the advert over and over, those few lines, willing myself to memorise the phone number. I’d no idea before then that such places existed, which I can’t comprehend now. When I was eventually called, I had to force myself to stand up and move – my brain had taken me to a different place and it was a place I’d been tricked into, trapped, held against my will for twenty four hours*, and where I couldn’t move, or talk, or feel.

Not long after, I rang the number, and (to cut a very very long story very short) I have my last counselling session this Wednesday. I’ve been going for two and a half years and have seen the most wonderful, patient, kind woman who has helped me understand myself and learn to like myself and trust myself and my body. I didn’t believe her when she told me back then that one day I’d be excited to leave but I am, I can’t wait. I don’t need to go any more, so I’d rather spend the time having fun.

I’ve changed from someone who careered from disaster to disaster, thinking I would always be unhappy, always have to do what other people wanted, always have to wait for people to make decisions for me, to someone who has quit her job with nothing to go to, with fingers crossed and a burning desire to make a difference. I’m starting a social business to empower other women – this will be women leaving the sex trade as well as refugees. I’ve gone from being someone who couldn’t leave the house, was terrified of being noticed, who couldn’t buy food unless my amazing friend (you know who you are) let me cling to his arm, to someone who just loves being alive, who walks down the road pretending to walk the tight rope on the kerb stones, who plays, runs, jumps in puddles, skips, and will also soon be addressing 150 people about the business I’m starting. I believe in myself. I’ve also changed from someone who couldn’t say the word ‘rape’ and who actually thought she was properly batshit insane and would need medication forever, to understanding that I was going through a healthy reaction to bad shit – if bad stuff happens, it’s healthy to feel bad. Not nice, but healthy. Normal. Real. Human.

So that one little pamphlet affected me, it affected my family (I’d never told my Dad until about two years ago even though to happened when I was legally a child, and so now he understands why things went a bit la la with me for a while), it will affect the lives of the women I work with, and their children and partners, as without that pamphlet the business would never have come into being. A friend said to me once, at a Bad Time, that there was a kernel inside me (I heard it as colonel and gave myself a laugh), and I think that was true – there was just a huge fat overly protective layer around that which I am so very glad to shed.

Perhaps most importantly to me today, I’ve got to know a woman and her son over the last while, both of whom really need someone to talk to about similar bad, bad shit. And while I’d be lying if I said I’m glad what happened to me happened, the fact that it did, and that I read that pamphlet, means I have been able to tell them, and show them, that there are amazing people who can help, and that people can get better – and they are both getting help too.

Rape Crisis have told me that they like word of mouth recommendations as it means they are doing their job well if people like them – let me recommend them hard - www.rapecrisis.org.uk.

*I can’t remember very much of what happened in that time and am quite happy with the explanation that suggests brains block out bad stuff. Works for me.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 11:48, 23 replies)
This book rocks,

bit strong for kids though.

Sorry...ish
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 18:06, 3 replies)
one book nearly changed my life in a bad way
Dyes, Explosives and Foodstuffs.

A school textbook- yes, really. Myself and a couple of school friends thought we might be able to use our chemistry knowledge for the nefarious purposes of making flash-bang pyrotechnics and latterly, rockets. All worked well for a little while- film canisters made excellent pots for holding quantities of powder, mixed up from chemicals that we bought from various sources- magnesium and zinc powder and sodium nitrate from an academic laboratory supplier (posing as 'office junior' for a special effects company with the aid of a faked ID card (letraset back in those days!) and of course you can buy sulphur over the counter at boots (for some reason!). That just left the carbon- one bag of barbecue briquettes and a burned out coffee grinder later we had carbon powder a plenty.

Some of the 'flares' looked pretty impressive, even in daytime but they had a habit of going 'out' rather than 'up' so I later adapted a short length of towel rail (sturdy metal pipe with chrome plating) so that the burn could be longer and more directed. Hammer down one end in a sort of crimp and the result was great.

At that point one of my friends thought that we could make our own rockets by- well, just turning the thing the other way up before igniting the propellant. His plan was to use a length of aluminium tent pole and mix the basic black powder with zinc, and by heck his rockets would fly well.

I used magnesium powder instead (liked the bright sparks it created) but tried to go 'lightweight composite' and sawed a length of giant bamboo to make the body of my rocket. Unfortunately the propellant was too vigorous for this plant-derived casing and it promptly exploded.

Aw shit. But, hey, that was kinda cool.

I went back to the metal pipe idea and wondered if the 'fuel' would shoot a projectile out of the end? I had some aluminium capacitors at home that fitted the 'barrel' more or less so fixed the tube to a wooden handle to aim with, and drilled a small hole in the crimped end so I could ignite the mix with match heads.

First test firing worked well, a sooty 'phoom' and the capacitor flew good and true. I took it home, pleased, and reloaded. the next one went better than expected, in that instead of a sooty 'phoom' there was a very loud bang and a bright flash that temporarily dazzled me, so much so that it was difficult to run away shitting my pants in fright. But as soon as I realised I was OK the next stage of the plan came on.

I wasn't a fan of blowing myself up so back to the rockets idea. In an effort to increase the flame velocity I crimped down both ends and just left the small hole drilled in the end for ignition AND exhaust.

Let's just say I was glad not to be standing closeby when 'launch time' came along. Ignition? Set. Countdown (running away) 5-4-3- BLAM!!!!!

Me and my friends legged it as it was obvious the sound would be audible for 1/2 a mile away... unfortunately (perhaps fortunately?) someone called the police with a description of a gaggle of 16-year olds WITH A DOG (the clincher) had been seen running away from the explosion. We were rumbled, I had to 'fess up and was marched back to the scene by my dad to pick up the remains of the tube which had been blown apart like a comedy peeled banana.

The funny thing was, the police let me off with a caution because I admitted that I'd made the device from chemicals and engineering tools rather than just chucking fireworks about and they didn't want to put a blotch on my young life with a criminal record.

So stay in school kids, but don't blow things up.
(, Mon 19 May 2008, 19:05, 7 replies)
This book explained my life
Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind.

Only once have I been in a state of mania extreme enough to frighten me. By this I mean psychosis. I'm discounting the occasions spent crouching in a corner communicating with god having eaten hash cookies that left everyone else merely chilled out. It took me years to realise that full-blown hallucinations on cannabis were not the norm amongst my group of friends.

Altered perceptions without the use of drugs were fun at first. I couldn't stop moving: running, jumping, fidgeting, twitching. I saw brighter, clearer and more saturated colours than anyone else; I heard and felt so many intricate layers of music that it was too painful to listen to it anymore; I could make huge mental connections - leaps and bounds - and see patterns that no one else could see; I could take on the world - and god knows I tried.

My work began to suffer. I couldn't sit still for longer than five minutes at a time. I spent my whole day at work pacing my office, surfing the web, writing page after page of elaborate schemes then abandoning them in favour of a new idea. I knew something wasn't quite right and let myself be persuaded to revisit a counsellor I had been seeing during a previous bout of depression. She questioned me about how things were, and I felt I was mentally running rings around her. I spent much of the session counting snowflakes falling past the window.

It came to a head when I found myself hiding in a dark room because I couldn't understand what my colleagues were saying. I swore they were speaking some other language. It wasn't English - it couldn't have been. It sounded nothing like it. It didn't sound like anything I recognised. The carpet, a vile industrial mixture of reds and purples, was freaking me out - I was at the peril of someone else's very bad decorating tastes. Every purple and red object in the room was linked to that carpet. They were all jumping out at me, lines between them, until all I could see was red, red, red, purple, and it was sensory overload. I sat under a table in the dark room until two friends with an understanding of what was happening found me and hauled me to the doctor. He calmly told me that I was high and wrote a prescription for tranquillisers and a referral to a psychiatrist. I can't thank him enough.

It was one of those friends - also bipolar - who recognised the symptoms in me. He told me about Kay Redfield Jamison's book. It's her memoir of her life with manic depression and how she, an academic psychologist, both researched and suffered from this illness. I identified with every single page and I cried my way through it. It gave me answers and it gave me hope. It presented knowledgeable discussions tempered with personal experience. It''s beautifully written and it's moving and compelling.

I have an uneasy co-existence with my manic depression. Lithium works for me and I've been pretty stable for a couple of years now. I've been so low that I've tried to die. I've been so high that I can't function. Being bipolar is not about an inconvenient oscillating mood. It can be a crippling and life-threating illness. One of the hardest things is knowing where the illness starts and where my own personality ends.

There are degrees of mania, and when I was hypomanic - high, but functioning - I was so very happy. Mood stabilisers might not have made me a different person in the eyes of my friends, but to me I am a poor, pale and boring copy of what I used to be. I would like the highs again, just the gentle ones, but I'd never make it through another low. I'm damn pleased that someone else out there understands it.
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:40, 9 replies)
I don't care if it's been done before
In fact I see it was done a few answers down, but not expanded on at all.

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

This book changed my life.
After reading it I changed my lifestyle quite a bit...

I lived on the first floor of a house, and kept a sledgehammer by my door. This was so I could destroy the stairs if I had to, to stop them getting up to me.

I had several hundred pounds worth of tinned food and bottled water in my wardrobe.

I slept with a katana next to my bed, a commando knife under my pillow, and a hefty blunt object in every room.

I learnt to use a bow and arrow, as the noise of a gunshot would bring more of them to me.

I'd lost my wife and children, the judge said that I'm "dangerously and illogically paranoid".

I had to quit my job, as the office wasn't secure enough to provide protection in the event of an outbreak.

I'm writing this from Broadmoor Secure Hospital.
I'll be out when I'm 87, if I behave well.

Going to Lakeside shopping center after watching Dawn Of The Dead, and not sleeping for a week was a mistake.
I now know that they were morons out shopping for tracksuits and tacky gold jewellery, not zombies.

I'm happy here though, no way they could get me in my cell.
(, Mon 19 May 2008, 10:13, 30 replies)
"A tune a day" for the guitar!!
Hard work, but well worth it when I finally managed to finger a minor.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 16:10, 6 replies)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar...
... is basically my bible.

It taught me about butterflies, which are kick ass. It taught me about the days of the week. It taught me how to count. It taught me that gross weird looking bastards turn out to be amazingly pretty.

But most importantly it taught me that binge-eating is fucking awesome. Particularly combining salami and cherry pie.

For this glorious education in hideous amounts of food and eating until you feel sick, I salute you, you hungry little caterpillar.

(In other news, it's been 21 years and I've been eating as much as possible and I'm still not a butterfly. I'm beginning to think it was all a clever lie.)
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 17:31, 5 replies)
At school I used to love DT
For those of you not au fait with the english school system circa 1991-1996, that stands for Design Technology, basically woodwork and metal work etc.

Now I didn't love it because of the creepy borderline sex offender that ran the class (true story for another time maybe) but it was his pet birds that he used to keep in the classroom with him. Huge birds these were, black as night, with a devilish glint in their eyes. They looked like they would be more at home at the Tower of London than a small woodwork shop.

They were incredibly intelligent birds too. Many a time out teacher would say "I just need a small screw" (I did mention he was a borderline sex offender) when one of his pets would flap over to the rack of small plastic trays and drop a 5/8" No.6 into his outstretched palm.

But the point of this story is that one day, during the practical of my final GCSE exam, I was turning a small bar of metal to build my own threaded bar which would hold whatever contraption I was creating together. The machine was all set up to go, but I was momentarily distracted by a pound coin I spotted on the floor. I picked it up, put it in my pocket and then flicked the on switch.

The machine spun into action, emitted a high pitched whining noise and the chuck whizzed the length of the guide bar and smashed into the end. Bits flew off at random and at that point I knew my chances of passing were hurtling toiletwards.

The teacher came running over. "What the hell happened!?" He yelled "You've set this up a million times, why did you set the gears like that? You know that's what happens if you set the gears like that!"

It was at that point I realised what had happened. Those bloody birds had distracted me with a pound coin before flicking the gear lever when my back was turned.

"Sir!" I yelled "It wasn't my fault, it was your bloody pets! Those Rooks changed my Lathe!"

i'm so very very sorry
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 12:14, 10 replies)
The God of Small Things
Not least because it's beautiful, but last year I loaned my copy to my best friend. I'd been silently and deeply in love with this man for years but somehow managed to convince myself that the soulmate-y connections between us were all platonic - it was the only thing to do as he was both in a relationship and an extremely close friend of not only me but my fiance. Anyway, I gave him my book and he read it, loved it, and gave it back to me. I re-read it straight afterwards as him falling in love with it so much had made me want to revisit it. All fine until I got to the passage 'if he touched her, he couldn't talk to her, if he loved her, he couldn't leave, if he spoke he couldn't listen, if he fought he couldn't win'. This was underlined. My heart stopped for what felt like a minute when i realised that he had done it, and he felt exactly the same way about me.

So - it's almost a year later, life has been turned upside down, our ex-es loathe us both (and are well within their rights) but the facts are that I am now with the man of my dreams and despite the hurt I've caused other people, I could not be happier. I truly believe I've found The One, if you think that the one exists. And if it hadn't been for me re-reading the book I would never have confessed how I felt.

My favourite book for many many reasons, and I'm never loaning my copy to anyone ever again. It's incredibly precious to me.
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 18:52, 1 reply)
"Prezza" By John Prescott
It's a rollercoaster ride of fun, frolics, politics, self-induced vomiting, barely coherent sentences, cuckoldry, all steeped in pseudo-believable quasi-socialist politics.

There are many snippets of this tome which caused me to seriously rethink my life, here are a selection of the best.

1. When talking about his eating disorder, Prescott observes.
"I was in the Golden Buddah in Whitechapel. Having eaten my way through 36 courses, I was tempted with the deep fried apple fritters in lard, but settled for a wafer thin mint. Then I was overcome with the urge to purge myself of all this avarace to which I had partaken. I remember stumbling semi-coherently to the toilets, and choosing a cubicle near the window. Once safely ensconced within, I inserted my burly digits into my cavernous mouth and pressed them to their target.
It would be an understatement to suggest that the ensuing tsunami of semi-digested Eastern Fayre was of gargantuan proportions. Lets just say that once I filled the pan to the brim, I hastily moved onto the next cubicle and filled that one too."

A lesson there for everyone, I feel.

2. On his affair with Tracey Temple..
"She was lying prostrate on my desk, legs akimbo, skirt hitched up around her waist, her hairy haven glistening in the half light like a badly packed kebab.
I resisted the urge to pop out for a greek sandwich and after 15 minutes of searching for my manhood under half a ton of blubber, grasped the old chap firmly betwixt thumb and forefinger and pressed him to his goal. She moaned and writhed under me, so I transferred my not inconsiderable bulk off of her and onto the desk and she was able to breathe again.
'Is it in yet?' She enquired.
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 18:36, 2 replies)
Allergies
In these days when almost everyone is whining about allergies to nuts or wheat, I was fascinated to read a book about a woman called Harriet Bzdura, the world's most allergic woman. Here is the first page of her book "Life - my Hideous Existence."

"You may have heard of me: I appeared on Swaffham Lunchtime News last month and there was a feature on me in "Toby Jug Collector" magazine in June 1999. I am the woman who is allergic to many different things. Some people cannot eat wheat, or meat, or nuts - but I am allergic to all foods. I survive by sucking a specially prepared solution made of amino acids and rainwater. If one atom of regular food passes my lips, I drop dead immediately. People ask me how I discovered this, and why I'm not dead from the first time I suckled my mother. I tell them that the condition came about as the result of a nasty shock I had back in 1984. I was at a Kajagoogoo concert and I almost choked on a Fab lollipop. My life flashed before my eyes and I wasn't able to eat from that point on - or I would die.

"But that's not all. I am also allergic to all manmade or natural fibres and therefore cannot wear clothes. I have to wear a suit of medieval armour made of titanium and at night I am suspended in a magnetic forcefield so that I don't touch anything. If this wasn't bad enough, I cannot bear the merest sound. If I hear so much as a piece of A4 paper fall to the ground, my eardrums will burst and gush blood until I die (I am also haemophiliac, by the way). As a result, I have to live on the inside of a 3-metre-thick stainless steel sphere buried one mile down in the earth's crust. I communicate with the surface by carrier pigeon, for I am not allergic to birds (although I cannot touch the paper with my bare hands or I will burst out in bubonic plague and surely die).

"Many people would be disheartened by such hardships, but I bear them with patience and humility. People ask me if I am a Christian and I have to answer "No, I am allergic to all the world's religions." It is quite true, for if I were to believe - even for a second - in Allah or God or the Dalai Lama, my uterus would explode. Naturally, I have no direct experience of this, but I think you'll agree that it's better to
be safe than sorry. So I am a nihilist. There was once a nasty close shave when I thought about Jesus and a huge spot appeared on my chin!

"For years I have wanted to reveal my plight on TV. Unfortunately I am allergic to all forms of light, so I find that TV audiences have
to use their imagination to some extent when the cameras silently enter my sphere and film me in complete blackness. I should also point out for the purposes of further publicity that I cannot expose
myself to any electrical devices. I have laboriously written this letter using potato prints on sheets of inert zinc. Then I strapped these sheets to my pigeon so my secretary could transcribe them. The first few times, the pigeon clattered fatally against the sides of the sphere and caused me intense agony, but finally I managed to release my letter.

"I'm exhausted now. You might think I can sleep, but, alas, if I should pass into the realms of Morpheus for even one moment, my limbs would shrivel and fall off. I have not slept since that fateful concert.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 15:46, 11 replies)
Endless, I tells ye!
I started to read The Myth of Sisyphus; in fact, I got most of the way through it. Then my bookmark fell out, and I lost my place and had to start reading it again.

This keeps happening.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 9:35, 13 replies)
Lost in a Good Book
Lots of people claim that books have shaped their life, and it's true. They shape the way we think, the way we react, the way we prefer our Martinis. One book, however, has done far more than that for me - and it's because of one thing the author wrote:

His name.

The book was The Eyre Affair, and the author Jasper Fforde. I had already read the sequel - Lost in a Good Book - and had been drawn into an inventive, hypnotic crime thriller set in the dirty backstories of the English canon. Miss Haversham was a girl racer, Poe's Raven a poetry prison, Wales a communist state where it sometimes doesn't rain.

I could tell you the whole story of how I discovered Fforde - the nervous breakdown at university; the summer spent avoiding the world by staying under a duvet with Mallory, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Melville; the moment of serendipity where I suffered a panic attack in WH Smith and grabbed a book at random just so that I could get out and hide from the world again without anyone thinking I was odd. Instead, I won't. All I will tell you is that I ended up with a sequel that made no sense as all the explanation was in the first book, that I read the whole thing in one overnight session, and that I laughed for the first time in months.

Then I bought The Eyre Affair, and my life was changed forever.

When I got home, I wasn't sure if I could cope with the excitement. I hadn't felt anticipation for anything since the breakdown, and I felt giddy with the emotion. Like Charlie with the chocolate bar, the only way to cope was to nibble the very corner and ease myself in gently. I opened the title page and saw a biro mark. Someone had written in MY book, that I had only just bought.

The penny dropped.

It was signed. At least, there was a biro scribble in the book, on the right page and with approximately the same letters as the author's name. But surely authors weren't coming to Evesham (pop. two asparagus fields) to sign books, were they? Terrified that I had been fooled by a biro-wielding ned, I settled down to read.

The book was everything I hoped for. Honestly, if you like literature than read The Eyre Affair - the central gag is that Jane Eyre is kidnapped and the book ceases to exist because it's written in the first person, but there's plenty more lunacy where that came from. The signature nagged at me though, and the only course of action was to turn to the interweb.

Again, I'll skip the story - the hunting for the website, the discovery that the author regularly signs books at random as they're packed for distribution, that my signature was real. All that matters is I started posting on the forums on his website. Stupid things - literary parodies, Eminem's Stan as written by Shakespeare, the Curious Case of Getrude Jekyl and Mr Hyde... The author even borrowed a couple of my jokes and slipped me into another book as an extremely minor character.

BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT CHANGED MY LIFE.

What changed my life was a girl who I met on the forums. She was German and liked Shakespeare. She was funny and taught me how to read critically. She could beat me in an argument, could spend all night typing rubbish and could spot the rare moments I was being sensible. I invited her over to England to see the RSC and she never left.

We're now expecting our first child and get married next year. That book changed the whole direction of my life. It started by giving me a good laugh when I was at my lowest ebb, and it's left me - through an enormous slice of luck and fortune - happier than I've ever known.

Not bad for an inch thickness of dead tree.

Actual length depends on soft- or hardback edition...
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 22:37, 5 replies)
OK, I admit it
I have a few 'self-help' books. Everyone needs a little support sometimes. and if you're too much of a hardman to talk to friends, it helps to turn to such titles as:

Heal Your Life with Balance - I bought this one a few years ago. It teaches how most of life's problems can be solved by standing on one leg or leaning forward at a precipitous angle. The idea is that the position takes your mind off your troubles. I used it when I was fired from my last job for taking covert pictures of my female boss defecating. As the police arrived, I simply opened my arms and leaned forward on one leg to embrace the calmness.

Smell Your Way to Joy - This cult classic teaches that we should learn to open our senses by smelling as much as possible. Nothing really smells bad when you have trained your senses to find the joy. When all of my immediate family was burned alive by a band of marauding motorcycle convicts, I took solace in the delicate aroma of jasmine. When my pet cat was eaten by conger eel, I was comforted by a phial of frankincense. And when I was set upon by a pack of pitt bulls, I turned my mind from the pain by sniffing at the pheromone secretors around their anuses - an act that seemed to infuritate them all the more.

Find Your Inner Jew - I'm a firm believer that we can choose whatever religion we like. Everyone knows that the Jews have one of the best religions and that they they always throw a lot of money around, so this book helped me to fit in at my local synagogue. By plaiting my sideburns, wearing a fedora and carrying a pocket Torah, I soon discovered that the Jews were not as welcoming as I'd imagined. and instead bought a copy of Happiness Through Allah.

Soothe Your Rage with Fruit - this masterwork really changed my life. Before I read it, I would often attack people on the street and beat them into a coma with repeated screams of "Why! Why! Why!" But I soon learned to eat a piece of fruit whenever I felt the rage coming. In no time I was walking around with pockets stashed with kiwis, cherries and passion fruit. Unfortunately, it backfired when I was accosted by a bouncer when all I had was a carrot. He now breathes through a straw.

Find Your Passion in Muesli - Dr Fanny Bumalott's book on the chemistry of muesli changed my sex life. Before, I was listless and willing to whack off all day to porn on the Net. But after I learned to combine oats and wheatbran in a balanced muesli, I was humping pets, colleagues and even strangers non-stop. By adding some pumpkin seeds, I could go all night with a boner like a baton.

The Pleasure of Poverty - selling my house and all my possessions to send a cheque to author Brian der Hoore was the best thing I ever did. Suddenly I had complete clarity and was able to seem my life as it truly was - over.
(, Tue 20 May 2008, 12:56, 3 replies)
The Bible - but not what you think
I went to a very strict catholic middle school. Out teacher was a nun and mass was said once a week. We learnt valuable life skills like the withdrawal method and that evolution was completely wrong. Sex was off the agenda from the very start. This was all fine for the majority of pupils who had religious parents and feared God, but, I was there for a completely different reason. The school was directly behind my house. It took less than a minute to go from front door to playground.

One week we were told to write about our favorite passage from the bible. This caused a problem for me as
A: I had never read the bible
B: I didn’t own a bible
C: I certainly was not going to waste any time bothering to read enough that I could have a favorite passage.

That day I went to the library and at the very back, to the left of the “children’s illustrated story of mosses” was a row of large leather bound Bibles. I grabbed one, got my ticket stamped, chucked it in my rucksack and raced outside to play football.

As with all homework, I completely forgot about the task until the night before it was due. I remember that night as if it was yesterday. My parents had gone out that and left me alone (my Nan lived next door and would keep an eye on me). I took my bag up to my room and took my work book and bible out. I decided that I would flick though and whatever page I stopped on I would write about.

As I pulled back the hardback cover to start my holy hour, something fell from the Bible. It was a glossy thin book. It was “Posh Norks”.

It was a type of illustrated sex manual with pictures, stories and advice. I sat stunned and confused – I was always told by the Nuns and Priest that the Bible will bring every man happiness, but, I never expected it to deliver this!!! I sat in silence and turned over the first page. I was greeted by a blond girl, wearing a crown, and sitting naked with a leg behind her head. It was my first ever sight of the mysterious “Vag”.

That night I wanked my cock red raw. Every five minutes I was at it. The turn of every page required the spilling of more seed (Oh I do remember something fro the Bible). I only stopped when I practically collapsed from a mixture of tennis elbow and penis strain. The homework was late…I got in trouble but I didn’t care. That weekend I was not going out. That weekend I learnt about what Mandy liked to do in the bath, what Tara’s favorite position was and how many fingers Kara could have inserted up her starfish.

Since then I have read books that have changed my views, opinions and political views. I have a love affair with books on war – they show the greatest humanity in people and the most depraved acts almost side-by-side.

Sadly the one book that I read more times than any over, the one that kept me locked away in my room and the one that had a huge impact on my life was that small porno/sex manual called “Posh Norks”. In a strange way the erotic fiction and facts taught me more about sex than the 6 years of catholic education would ever do.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 10:22, 2 replies)
Diary of Anne Frank
Some interesting quotations:

"Monday, 1st November 1941: Hid"

"Tuesday, 2nd November 1941: Hid"

"Wednesday, 3rd November 1941: Looked out of window and watched marching Nazis. Hid"

What?
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 17:37, 11 replies)
Life changing experience
This is the story of how two books changed my life: Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang both by Edward Abbey.

I'd managed to swing a few months working in the USA, courtesy of my university course. I was working in Tennessee but with the money I was earning I decided to spend a few weeks sightseeing once work had finished. I had booked onto a rafting trip in Utah so I got hold of some books about the place, once of them being Desert Solitaire.

Well this book just blew my mind with its descriptions of solitude, beauty, danger and death in the canyon country, also with its scathing attacks on tourism and how national parks are managed. While I was on the rafting trip I talked about this book to anyone who would listen, and one guy recommended The Monkey Wrench Gang. I bought it as soon as I got off the raft and into a town big enough to have a book shop.

If Desert Solitaire blew my mind, Monkey Wrench fired me up for action. It's about a gang of people fighting to retain the unspoilt beauty of the desert states, including acts of what we would now call eco-terrorism such as burning down advertising hoardings, spiking trees to prevent logging, etc. I wanted to be one of those people: I'd seen the beauty of the place and I wanted to keep it that way.

So I phoned my parents and my university tutor, telling them that I would stay in the US as long as my money and student visa would let me, then I dumped all my smart clothes, bought some basic camping stuff and set off to find the right people. After some days of hanging round increasingly dodgy bars I met up with people who looked (and smelt) right and sure enough once I mentioned the magical Monkey Wrench words they suggested they were up for some radical action and would I care to join them?

They were living in a camp in the desert: a few trailers parked around huge red rocks. Finally I felt like I was in the right place! For a few weeks they showed me the secret places in the desert, ancient Indian dwellings and rock art, narrow sinewy canyons, hidden plunge pools... In return I seemed to buy them a lot of beer as they'd worked out that I had money.

After I while I realised that what I was missing was the action - striking a blow for the environment and against the National Parks management, against stupid fat tourists in their cars, and against industry. I was mentioning this more and more, asking when we'd do something, prodding the others into action, rather than just recounting their past exploits.

Eventually I decided I'd just go ahead myself, and I proposed chainsawing a few advertising poles. To my surprise Chad (the closest thing to a leader in the group) suggested going for a bigger target: the pumps sucking water out of the river to provide irrigation for the water melon farms in the region. Sounded good to me so I put the plan together, roping in my new friends and setting a date.

On the appointed night we chugged a load of beers then crept out into the dark. The others were surprisingly cheery: I was shit scared and feeling hyper. We all headed off to our various planned locations. I was on my own with just a giant wrench for company. With trembling hands I bypassed the filter system on the pump then opened up an inspection cover and dropped in some rocks. The pump ground to a halt with a satisfying crunch.

With my heart pumping I started back towards the trailers, but was shocked to see blue and red lights flashing. The cops! How had they found out so soon? I panicked, turned tail and headed towards the canyon. In the dark I stumbled across the desert until I found the side canyon which allowed me in. I slithered down the steep slick rock, splashing into pools and scrambling back out. Eventually I reached an old ranch in knew on the broad canyon floor and threw myself down, breathing hard. I stayed there until dawn, expecting to hear my friends arriving any minute, but no one came.

As the sun came up I took stock of the situation: I was alone, in a canyon with no food, and only the clothes I stood up in. I stayed there a couple of days, starving, trying unsuccessfully to catch fish, and not at all feeling the beauty of being alone in this environment which Abbey had described so engagingly. Then I decided I had to move - I walked to the edge of the canyon, and after dark started to walk back to the trailers. It all seemed quiet: I approached carefully, listening out for any noise. There were voices coming from one trailer and a flickering candle light. I pushed open the door - there was most of the rest of the group, sat drinking beer. I walked in, relieved, then saw a policeman sitting drinking beer with them. I was stunned and didn't move as he stood up, looking grim, and moved towards me. Then he burst into a big grin, saying to the others 'But he's just a kid!', and told me I was under arrest for criminal damage.

I was taken to the police station, given a good ticking off and then soon enough put on a plane back to England with my tail between my legs - the massive pumps used for drawing water were not seriously damaged by the small rocks I'd dropped in. The guys in the trailers were just looking for a good time: they'd seen me as a source of beer and amusement for a while and were happy to get rid of me. My plan to sabotage something had been a good excuse. Bastards.

While I'm still keen on protecting and defending the environment I'm a lot more wary of extremist groups and their aims, given what my own slightly extreme views got me into. I'm also a lot more careful about who I call my friends and who I fall in with. I guess some of this comes with increasing age and maturity. I still read those 2 books occasionally, although the memories they bring back are more embarassing than anything else.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 17:19, 3 replies)
A Blank Notebook
Isn't this the most potentially life changing book for anyone?

*Deep Breath*

Write down your ideas. Develop your business plan. Handwrite your "great american novel" whilst in Cardiff. Copy down recipes. Keep a diary. Compose that love poem which you can't quite get right in your head, and will certainly never come out of your mouth. Make paper planes. Take someone's number. Give someone YOUR number. Stop a bullet (allegedly). Sketch a landscape. Press flowers. Keep photos. Tape in the pubic hair of the man/woman you're stalking. Make snow-blindness goggles. Play music on a comb and paper. Take brass or bark rubbings. Make a "Kick Me" sign and stick it to a football. Draw award winning political cartoons. Recycle it. Write a strongly worded letter of protest.
Filter nitroglycerine (slowly). Roach material. Emergency loo paper (Ugh, scratchy). Perform magic tricks. Last minute confetti. Burn it to keep warm. Make papier mache models of dinosaurs.

*breathes in*

*EDIT*

Forgot one.

Use the torn off corner of a page as the basis of a 30 minute stand-up comedy routine to cheer someone up.

In my case this more or less directly led to the start of my relationship with my girlfriend, now the lovely Mrs Fireflier, around 18 years ago...
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 14:04, 15 replies)
Dostoevsky's 'The Brothers Karamazov'
First, a bit of back story.

The only reason I read this book in the first place was because my brother decided it would be good to purchase some obscure Russian literature from t'internet. I'm not 100% sure about why he did it, but buy them he did.

Along with 'The Brothers Karamazov', he bought 'Crime and Punishment' and 'War and Peace'. I think he just got them to see what all the fuss was about. Anyway, I digress.

A few days after he had bought them I found myself looking for something to read and I decided to give them a go. He had already started Crime and Punishment, and War and Peace looked slightly too epic, so I opted for the only one left.

I thought it was quite slow moving at first, but I persevered and I'm glad I did. You see, something about the character of Alyosha really spoke out to me. Maybe it was because he seemed so certain of himself, but was really very unsure, maybe it was because I'm never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie, and hurt you.





Oh yes. You just got text rick roll'd.

You would think I have something better to do with my time, but, alas, I don't.
(, Sat 17 May 2008, 19:50, 4 replies)
Haynes Book of Lies
The Haynes VW POLO 1982 - OCT 1990 Manual. If it wasn't for this book I'd be stuck in the slowly shifting sands of the Mongolian desert. Instead, we simply slid this book under the footpump and used it as a flat surface for reinflating the tyre. It's feck all use for anything else, especially actual car repairs.
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 15:58, 7 replies)
Back in high school....
We had to do that "prepare a lecture and deliver it to the rest of the class" shenaigans. Not really having any real interests except the search for virgins and smashing windows, I needed some influence.

I trots down the library, and after a bit of rummaging I finds "How to build a formicarium" (home for Ants).

So, I goes home and read just enough to blag my way through the steps of building a Formicarium, and lets face it, I have some scope for bulshitting my way thru if I need to.

The event comes and goes with ease. I am elevated to a new *weird* status in the class, and only one question, which was "how long have you been keeping Ants?", to which I replied "I don't, I just read a book on it".

Roll forward a few years, and I find that the Army like to put potential NCO's and Officers thru such oratory drills as I did in school. We had a Major who dished out usually military topics, but one day, he made the mistake of giving us a choice on what to talk about.

Without the use of notes, I prepared a 10 minute lecture that taught some of the best British Professional Killers how to build a home for Ants out of Glass, Plasticine and Plaster of Paris.

A huge hit... and only one question, which was "how long have you been keeping Ants?", to which I replied "I don't, I just read a book on it".

Incidently, I passed Officer selection but gave it up as I was too working class for the Officer's mess.

But the book "Making a Formicarium" did change my life in oh-so-many ways.

Length: About 12x12 inches, with tunnels in the set plaster, with a removable lid for removing dead ants and detritus. At least that's how the plans described it.
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 15:42, 1 reply)
What Would Jesus Do?
This is more of a guide than a story book. it presents a series of difficult real life situations and ponders on how Jesus would handle them, thus allowing the ardent Christian to follow in the footsteps of the Risen Lord. It has helped me greatly. Here are just a few of the situations:

- You have picked up a hitchhiker who turns out to be an escaped psychopath intent on killing you and raping your dead body now that you have run out of petrol on a deserted country road. SOLUTION - Turn the other cheek. Mankind is sinful and the psycho will repent his crime when he sees how placidly you are coshed into oblivion. Your death will be his Life Everlasting.

- You have been kidnapped by Peruvian freedom fighters who plan to cut off parts of your body in a ransom bid. SOLUTION - cut off your own body parts and present them to the kidnappers with all humility. They will be struck with the depth of their sinfulness and repent, letting you go and apologising unreservedly to the government after turning themselves in. Their eventual execution will be their path to Everlasting Life.

- Your car won't start and it's full of petrol so it can't be an empty tank. SOLUTION - open the bonnet and check for loose wires or dodgy spark plugs. Check the battery. If these things don't work, call the AA.

- You have fallen in with a bad crowd who have been feeding you milkshakes laced with opium. Now you're off your tits every day and simply lie in a pool of your own drool as your new friends loot your house and run up bills on your credit card. SOLUTION - At times of despair, call to your Father Almighty and he will will rain down Justice on the heads of the sinful. This might take some time, probably until Judgement Day, so you'll have to be patient.

- Your new puppy has shat all over your £200 a-square-yard Axminster carpet and then fallen asleep in the washing machine just before you put on a 60 degree wash. SOLUTION - Let it drown and good riddance. There's nothing in the Bible about animals having souls.

- You have failed all your GCSEs because you were sky high on solvents and did no revision. Now your dad says he's signed you up for the military academy and you're about to spend the next 14 weeks being screamed at by a guy with a crew cut. SOLUTION - Stigmata. The Second Coming is due any time soon and it might as well be now. Avoid that harsh military regime and go to the Catholics - they'll believe any old miracle and you'll be cosying up to the local cardinal before you can say "2000-year-old-fantasy".
(, Wed 21 May 2008, 9:46, Reply)
as a teenager I read a French existential novel
which was later made into an American film (although the film lost some of the nuances of the original). It's called "Dude, Why's My Car?".
(, Sun 18 May 2008, 23:27, 1 reply)
The Magic Faraway Tree series by Enid Blyton
I can't remember how young I was when I read these three books but I know that they fired my imagination and made me want to read ever single fairytale out there.

Yes Blyton was racist, sexist, and twee but for a child growing up in rural Kent this was a world I understood.

I so desperately wanted there to be fairies and pixies in the woods at the bottom of my garden.

I wanted there to be a giant tree in which people lived, where you could climb to the top and find other fantastic lands.

I wanted magic to be real.

I wanted Moonface and Silky to be my friends. I wanted to eat Pop Biscuits and go down the Slippery-Slip.


Who am I kidding....I still do!
(, Thu 15 May 2008, 16:17, 17 replies)
Currently
Reading QOTW has changed my life - I used to have one before signing up. Now, I find myself unable to resist having a quick look to see if anything has been posted recently, then the next thing I know two hours have passed me by and my coffee's gone cold. This can be a problem, especially at work.

However, on saying that I do find that QOTW has the capacity to be extremely well written, laugh-out-loud-spitting-coffee-at-the-screen funny, poignant, thought provoking, outrageous, occasionally offensive, heart warming, stimulating, nonsensical and arousing - sometimes in the same post.

So for everyone out there that has made me laugh, cry, think, send cyber hugs to, scratch my head in puzzlement, rant or spluff, have a big clicky from me.

Thanks QOTW.

:-)


God, I'm not even drunk. How smushy was that?
(, Sun 18 May 2008, 13:06, 16 replies)
My Magic Testes
by Horatio Geraghty. This little-known nineteenth-century novella was published privately by a London barrister who went partially insane after inhaling toxic fumes.

The book tells the tale of a man, Gerald Orchidius, who discovers one day that his testicles are magic. That is, he believes they can talk to him and that they exude a telekinetic power. The rest of the book features some of his adventures with the magic testes. Here's a sample:

Chapter three - Gerald spends a day at the races and uses his magic testes' otherworldly knowledge to bet only on winners. Unfortunately, he is ejected from the racecourse when police discover him pushing a baked potato into his underpants "because my balls are hungry".

Chapter seven - Gerald's testes tell him that his landlady Mrs Scroggins is gagging for some hot porking action, so Gerald breaks into her rooms and greets her with his testes sitting on a tray surrounded by a fresh green salad. She faints, and awakes to find the testes resting on her forehead, whereupon she faints again. When she awakes once more, it is to see Gerald feeding an ice bun to his hungry balls. She faints once more and is admitted to Bedlam.

Chapter 11 - At risk of losing his job, Gerald is told by his magic testes to surprise the judge with a gesture of his amazing abilities. So it is that Judge Twackleton reaches for his bedside glass of water one evening to instead find his hand settling on two hairy eggs. Gerald is standing there in his bedroom with his trousers down and proceeds to translate in a high-pitched ventriloquists' voice what his testes are telling him: "Let Gerald keep his job and all will be well...." Gerald is arrested and thrown into an asylum.

Chapter 22 - having become the most popular resident of the asylum, Gerald arranges to put on a one-man show starring his testes. He organises an afro wig and some gaudy make-up for his package and then drops his pants on stage to perform a song and dance routine. All of the ladies present faint, and a few other inmates are moved to cannibalism. Gerald is locked in a windowless cell.

Chapter 31 - Hovering on the edge of true madness, Gerald is told by his testes to tunnel his way to freedom. He is found dead three days later with a worn-down match and evidence that he'd been scratching at the stone flagging.

The book was a commercial failure, selling only 14 copies. Horatio was ridiculed and ended up selling onions on a street corner. It changed my life because it shows how one man's creativity isn't worth shit-all in the harsh world of reality.
(, Fri 16 May 2008, 9:41, 6 replies)

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