Three steps to heaven

Somewhere on the web today a young graphic designer ranted about how they hate their clients and the work they have to do for them, and wanted to know how to earn money by doing things they love and respect (they had a startlingly high opinion of their own skills). Someone responded with Hugh McLeod’s wise Sex and Cash theory. Today I give you a restatement of this in the form of…

Hat’s Three-Step Plan for Fulfilment
1. Do things you don’t like for money.
2. Do things you like for free.
3. On the occasions when you get money for doing something you like, count yourself lucky.

Anyway, I’m off to the pub for lunch now.


Inspired by this morning’s discussion on Today between Prof. John Sutherland and Will Self about the merits or demerits of Harry Potter, I’ve taken the liberty of imagining a new Harry Potter story written by Self. You can listen to it here.


By Will Self

Harry’s scar, like the brand of an adulterer, throbbed as he looked on with distaste at the shell-suited proles who fed him and longed for boarding school. As some weak, flapping archetype flew through the window and summoned him to Hogwarts, he cantered out onto Privet Drive in all its Ballardian glory with relief. He leapt onto the Knight Bus, only to see its ritually, colonially decapitated Jamaican helmsman steer it directly towards another coming in the opposite direction. “Wizard prang,” said Harry.

As luck would have it, in this Saturnalian world where children wield the wands heedless of Freud, the buses merely merged, and Harry found himself in the company of Ron and Hermione. Hermione’s grotesquely enlarged intellect pulsed as she summoned a spell to take them directly to Hogwarts in the blinking of a bat’s eye: Congestion chargium.

On the wuthering heights of the Hogwarts bridge of sighs, Voldemort dangled the flopping remains of Dumbledore over the edge of the abyss.

As the triumvirate arrived at Gryffindor, offered the password to the animated image on the wall and entered the warm incubator of their leatherine protectors that was the common room, they noticed an eerie silence in the place and sensed that darkness had come early this Christmas.

On the table was a baby cat, pinioned with a letter knife and accompanied by a note, which simply read: “Open me at the close. Sirius.” Ron’s face twisted into the rictus of a tractor-mangled squirrel in echo of the kitten’s plight. “It’s no good,” said Hermione as if suddenly blessed with the facility to ratiocinate, “we’ve got to do what must be done.”

Harry took the knife and weilded it from nose to tailtip, spilling the warm entrails in a single movement as swift as a Nimbus 2000. There upon the table, in the calligraphy of giblets, the augury was clear.

The trio flew at once to the bridge where Harry’s tritely externalised darker self held sway, and chanted together the incantation inspired by the kitten’s last sigh: Applicatum myxamatosis! The eyes of Tom Riddle, cypher, grew rheumy – but so did Harry’s as they merged into oblivion together.

The end.

Press release found from the future


Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a truly accurate figure for the numbers of people demonstrating outside your facility or threatening law and order – or even automated gathering of their identities?

Now you can, with CrowdCount™ and other products from the Freedom2Control™ range which have taken the US by storm and have just been launched in Great Britain.*

CrowdCount™ uses a patented combination of thermal imaging technology and specially developed software to provide the licensee with completely precise information about the number of people in a group. The technology has already been licensed to the British Police and is now available to businesses.

Rory Ferguson, CEO of Freedom2Control™ (UK) explained the advantages: “Studies have shown that protest groups overestimate the volume of their support by an average of 14%, but their figures nonetheless get promoted in the media. With CrowdCount™ your business can restore the balance of truth. Imagine misguided activists are targeting your chemical plant and attracting unwanted media interest – now you can disempower these people and prevent the spread of their misinformation.”

The technology has already benefited many businesses and private law enforcement organisations in the United States. Suzette Wilkins, COO of Biotic Reassignment Services in Wichita, KA offered this glowing testimonial: “We had a few disturbances from extremists who don’t understand the good our company is doing for both humans and animals, but with CrowdControl™ and the beta of CrowdRoll™, we were able to neutralize the threat to our operability.”

CrowdRoll™ – to be launched as CrowdLister® in the UK – is a partner package which uses the latest DNA fingerprinting technology to provide details of the individual participants in unwanted civil action. CrowdLister® is undergoing trials in Scotland and is expected to be available by this fall.

1. Rory Ferguson, CEO of Freedom2Control™ (UK), is available for interview by arrangement with Toni or Jak at Plangent Media on 020 30 4918 2320 or SkypeBayMS™ plangent01.
2. Freedom2Control™ ( provides security and asset positioning services to business and government agencies in the United States and is based in Bennington, MI. Freedom2Control™ (UK) is a wholly owned subsidiary operating from Milton Keynes II.

* Not available in the United Republic of Ireland due to legal restrictions.

Too many words for a story

So, as the web already knows, Wired has printed a loada six-word stories, and Slashdot has fostered loads more.

I give you:

Death became her. Resurrection angered her.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel stepped from the –

Birth. Death. Sold sandwiches in between.

Red-hooded girl defeats transvestite wolf.

I. Angry Achilles avenges Patroclus, killing Hector.
II. Odysseus has adventures getting home (uncuckolded).

a. Hamlet dithers after uncle murders Dad.

b. Never never trust your daughters (sometimes).

c. Magician trains monster. Avenges family. Retires.

d. Witches correctly predict Scottish royal bloodbath.

“Policeman” revelation spoils long-running play.

Plane crash. Mysterious island. Interminably unexplained.


So, c’mon people, let’s have yours.

The Da Vinci Code

I’m increasingly convinced it all fits together. Dr Macartney (sic) has an accident and slips into a coma. He ‘wakes’ and finds himself a police detective in 1970s Manchester by the name of Sam Tyler. It turns out he has a sister, Rose, who has been travelling with a mysterious man called the Doctor. Together they investigate the evil Cybus Corporation, which turns out to be a subsidiary of the Hanso Foundation, which of course is just a front for Opus Dei.

I say

Now, a number of you listening to this broadcast regularly will have come across some odd phrases in popular parlance, and you would rightly suspect these to be Americanisms. With his broad experience of world cultures and pluck in the face of linguistic adversity, your correspondent has elected to proffer a brief guide for the perplexed. Simply find the egregious word on the left, and a translation will duly present itself alongside:

Doh – Bother! (vulg, Blast!)
Duh – I say, you must be two pinches short of a snuffbox
Feh – What an absolute shower
Fnord – I think you’d better ask the Ministry about that
Hurr – Tick tock! Ding dong! I say!
LOL – I say, that is a hoot (compare ROTFL – Really, Simkins, you are the limit!)
Meh – If you say so, old chap
OMG – Good Lord!
Squee – I say!
Woot – Rather!

That bestseller formula at last

Budding authors take note. The sensible way to assess your chances of writing a bestseller is of course to look at the qualities of previous bestsellers. It is with public-spiritedness in mind therefore that I have run a frequency analysis on the titles and authors of every bestseller (from the Publishers’ Weekly lists) in the US from the whole of the 20th century. I can now announce the results:

Your best bet for a first name is JOHN, JAMES or MARY; and your second name should be STEEL, KING or IRVING (though other first names might work, such as ROBERT or DOUGLAS).

As for a title, as well as connecting words, you’re really going to need MAN, HOUSE, TIME or WOMAN in there somewhere. My optimal suggestions would be THE HOUSE OF MAN, perhaps, or A WOMAN OF MY TIME.

I look forward to receiving a small royalty share when you’ve put this into action.

Building project

It’s still very much a work in progress, but I’ve been gathering links to those invisible cities people were exploring recently and collected them at Blind Atlas. If you know of more, please do let me know. There’ll be ongoing content at the site from a collaboration of writers.