Not Good Enough For The BBC! Newsjack Series 11 – PART 6!

newsjack

So that’s it for another series of Newsjack. I’m happy to report that all in all I got my second ever sketch credit and I think my 10th one liner in this time. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in the last four series (my first attempts and credits came in series 8). Where does the time go? Nowhere. Because it is an abstract concept. (Or is it? I actually don’t know. Ask Brian Cox if you’re so interested).

What now? Well, I am writing my second fiction book, but that’s another matter. As far as comedy goes, especially radio comedy, I am going to start drafting a long festering sit-com idea and work it up into a treatment. I have done this in the past with a previous idea (I wrote a pilot episode) and was told by David Tyler of Pozzitive productions that it was ‘better than most’, but not quite there yet. So I did what any writer should do… nothing. Actually, I got distracted by other projects and never returned to writing a comedy script (apart from Newsjack submissions). But I’m going to have another go with a new concept and see what happens.

I guess it is good advice to work on something in your spare time, no matter if there is an open submission programme waiting for it or not. Being a writer simply means writing something down, so all of us can achieve that – being a successful writer is objective, and really depends on who you are and what you want out of life. Start with step 1 – write something, and go from there.

I think that this series of Newsjack has improved on the last (not that there was anything wrong with the last, but things can always get better). It seems like the new production team and host have settled in and got a good idea of the direction and personality of the show. I have no idea if they will be moving on for the next series, but if they do, I think they have all done themselves proud. It must be a hell of a challenge just to get anything out in such a short time scale, let alone something that more often than not makes you laugh. There have been some very good sketches this series, and it makes me feel a little better (and more determined) when my material is passed over for such clever little laughter nuggets.

I might do one more blog next week on some of my unused sketches, but for now, here are my final, unused, one liner submissions for episode six of Newsjack. Well done to everyone involved, even those who submitted with no luck. Having the confidence and discipline to send that email in is an achievement in itself I reckon.

Thanks for sticking with me throughout this blog. I blog every week, on a variety of subjects, so why not click the subscribe button and see what I get up to between series of Newsjack? Or even better, buy my book advertised in the top right corner of the screen? (Just a thought). Bye!

 

ONELINERS EP 6

BREAKING NEWS:

  1. Tree of the year competition accused of blatant exploitation as finalists appear naked in Autumn photo shoot. (I thought this was my best chance this week! I always order my  one liners in what I think is the best shot… but am usually proved wrong every time they actually use on).
  2. The UK’s chief scientist is surveying sea life after fears that man made emissions are turning the oceans to acid. “Don’t ask me, I’m a space unicorn” says fish. (Acid water? Get it? I did. No one ever uses my drug-reference jokes…)
  3. Google boss Alan Eustace sets new world record by going 25 miles above the Earth to file his tax returns. (okay, so you need to know the story about how he set the new skydive record for this one to work – and make the link between that and  tax havens… Maybe this needed more!)
  4. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is said to have healing powers, leading to fears that new James Blunt album could be the next Ebola. (Why not? I knew this story would be popular, and I think they did a joke in the end based around the Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics, which was, admittedly, better than this.)
  5. First ever transplant using a dead heart is completed. Patient regrets not going private. (I like the idea of the NHS sticking crap organs in people to get us all to go private… This might have been the seed of a sketch, but I didn’t think of that at the time.)
  6. Afghanistan complains about the mess left behind now the UK has pulled out at the last minute.  (My girlfriend complains that I always put at least one sex based joke in my submissions, but they always seem to come up. Ha. ‘Come up’. Anyway…)

 

TV/RADIO LISTINGS:

  1. Is it a spoon? Is it a fork? Sue Barker investigates this Friday at 8pm in ‘A question of Spork’. (I had it in mind that we could do a series of Question of Sport based jokes. I already tried ‘A question of Spores’ and there was another one used in one of the episodes by a different writer. It was a blind hope.)
  2. Mystery abounds as several victims are found choked to death on blue cheese in the Roquefort files, this Monday at 3pm. (As I said before, I struggle with these a little! The TV listings are a quickly exhausted supply of source material. After six weeks of going through them you realise everything is just repeated every day pretty much).
  3. Every evening at 7.30 on ITV, watch more hilarious home video footage of people accidentally setting fire to themselves in ‘You’ve been flamed’. (You see what I mean?!)

Good Enough / Not Good Enough For The BBC! Newsjack Series 11 – PART 5!

newsjack

Success! I got my second credit this series in episode 5 of Newsjack last week, hence the slight alteration in the title of this week’s blog instalment in this running feature, an introduction to which you can find here: https://garryabbott.com/2014/10/01/not-good-enough-for-the-bbc-newsjack-series-11/

I managed to land a one liner this time, which is nice, seeing as putting them together can take me almost as long as writing the three sketches I also submit each week (that’s two ‘full’ sketches and a 30 second advert, if you are wondering – check out the submission guidelines if that sounds weird to you, it’s a new feature they added this series).

But, as always, to get the two credits this series so far, I have submitted ten sketches, five 30 second adverts, thirty ‘breaking news’ one liners, and fifteen ‘TV listing’ jokes. That’s the full compliment allowed so far, with one episode left to go (which I have also submitted for and not included in the count above for some reason). So it is a lot of work, and not always as fun as you would think writing a load of jokes and sketches should be… For one thing I have sometimes had to resort to reading the Daily Mail website for ideas, which would be okay if it wasn’t for having to bathe my eyeballs in acid afterwards to wash away the residual filth.

Below then is last week’s submissions (one liners) that weren’t included, AND the one that was… with notes and thoughts. See if you can spot the joke that got broadcast. I’ll give you a clue, it’s the one where I’ve clearly stated that it got broadcast.

Good luck to everyone who submits for the final episode this week! I will post my final instalment in this series next week, and then a feature about the series in general and sketches in  the weeks following I think, but don’t hold me to that, because that would be weird and I do this for free.  Cheers!

ONELINERS EP 5

BREAKING NEWS:

  1. A sculpture of a sex toy in Paris has caused angry demonstrators to stage a sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down… protest. (There was a similar joke used in the episode, but not this one. Some news stories are just begging for it.)
  2. A fan dressed up as a cleaner to get close to Miley Cyrus backstage at a concert. All the security guards at the venue ignored him as they thought he was just another person who Twerked there. (Hoorah! Who would have thought it? A Miley Cyrus joke landed me this week’s success. It seems Twerking still has life in it yet, to the shame of the human race.)
  3. Internet trolls are to be banned from Twitter and face longer sentences as apparently 140 characters isn’t enough to tell someone they are fat and ugly. (thought there was a better way to word this but ran out of time to find it. The news headline itself was almost a one liner “Twitter trolls to face longer sentences”, almost said it all anyway. Silly BBC news.)
  4. Chinese state media has warned its citizens moving to England not to take on western names that could see them mocked, such as Dumbledore, Satan or Boris. (Bit of a stretch this one if you didn’t know the original news story. The first two names are genuine examples of names the Chinese media has warned its citizens against using, the third one is (meant to be) my funny addition.)  
  5. Radio 1 has been found to have breached licensing laws when children listening to a Lilly Allen concert broadcast in the early afternoon definitely heard a lot of shit. (Don’t really care for Lilly Allen’s music personally, and thought her antics swearing her way through a Radio 1 road show aimed at younger audiences was a bit sad and worth a jest. How I laughed, to myself, as no one else heard it anyway.)  
  6. Tony Blair says that all schools around the world should teach religious respect, apart from the ones with all them Muslim terrorists in them, which we should definitely bomb. (I think this would have worked better built into a sketch with someone doing a Blair impression. The very thought that the mass murdering war criminal wants to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, is joke enough I suppose.)

 

TV/RADIO LISTINGS:

  1. Every day at 12.45, it’s Fifteen to One.  (I suddenly worried after submitting this joke that it had already been used previously? These things can happen when we are all using the same source material to try and think up jokes. I hope it was used before because I think it’s a really neat little one liner and would have gone down well. If someone knows if this joke has been used before, let me know and put my mind to rest!)
  2. Tonight at nine, Anne Robinson looks at a Labrador in Watchdog. (Certain amount of barrel scraping going on with the TV listing jokes by now…)
  3. This afternoon on BBC2 Nigel Farage and David Cameron debate their plans for the NHS in Flog It! (and again… as I’ve said before, my personal approach is to get something in, even if you aren’t convinced it’s the best thing ever. You never know if the producers/cast will see something in it that you haven’t, and we’re working against the clock without immediate feedback, so there’s not always time to find the very best jokes.)

 

And that’s it! Once again, if you enjoyed this blog, and reading in general, then why not take a look at my ridiculously cheap eBook ‘The Dimension Scales and Other Stories’ that is available now for just 77p ($0.99) through the link at the top right of this page?

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Good Enough For The BBC! Newsjack Series 11 – PART 4!

newsjack

 

Here we go again! My weekly digest of the jokes I wrote that didn’t get used on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Newsjack’, the topical comedy, open-door writing policy show! (That’s a mouthful)

If you haven’t seen this before, perhaps reading the intro to part 1 will help: https://garryabbott.com/2014/10/01/not-good-enough-for-the-bbc-newsjack-series-11/

Unfortunately, still no more hits since episode 1, but an opportunity is an opportunity, is an opportunity, is an opportunity? Right? The word ‘opportunity’ doesn’t imply guaranteed, or indeed, any success, just the possibility. So, undeterred, I continue, as you should too if you are reading this and are feeling down heartened by it all.

Here are the failed one liner attempts from last week (Episode 4) with added notes  as per usual, and no sketches, I will do something with them at the end of the season I think.

 

BREAKING NEWS:

  1. Police have said that an attempt to steal a statue of comedy legend Eric Morecambe wasn’t wise.  (I thought this had a chance as it is neat and brief, and, dare I say it, a little clever? They ended up using a joke about it being taken apart piece by piece but not necessarily in the right order… which was a good take on it anyway)
  2. The Salvation Army reports that nearly 500 people are being trafficked a year for labour. “We need all the help we can get” says Ed Miliband. (just pounced on the double meaning of ‘Labour’ there…)
  3. After nude photographs of former Dr Who Matt Smith are leaked online, fans are disappointed to find that he is smaller on the outside. (wasn’t entirely sure that this made any sense! They used a joke about fans being disappointed that his nude photo turned into Peter Capaldi in the end… just goes to show that some of these stories are having lots of variations submitted, so it is hard to be the one that gets the take on it that they go for.)
  4. Nigel Farrage has been invited to join Cameron, Clegg and Miliband for a mass debate. Afterwards they may even talk about politics too.  (okay, okay, this was just childish filth. Sometimes I just think, let’s give it a go, who knows? Well I know now. Now I know. I know now. Do I? Yes. I know. Now. I do.)
  5. Microsoft Boss Satya Nadella has apologised for his choice of words when he said women should have faith in the system and not ask for pay rises, commenting that what he meant to say was that they shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about it. (like I mentioned last week, another attempt to make a bad comment sound even worse for comedy affect. Maybe it’s just me who thinks this is some kind of device!)
  6. Scientists have discovered that consuming capsules containing frozen faeces could help prevent potentially fatal gut problems, or in layman’s terms, we should all eat shit and live. (I felt there was a better way to word this, but couldn’t find it. Literally the news story is about eating shit. Eating shit. How could I not have a go at it?)

 

TV/RADIO LISTINGS:

  1. Join Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell as they struggle to answer questions about the reproductive cycle of fungi in ‘A Question of Spores’ tonight at nine. (Why not?)
  2. The walking dead are back! In this weekend’s double episode of Dad’s Army. (Trying to tap into the return of ‘The Walking Dead’, but I guess it’s not actually officially out yet in England. Not that I watch it by some other method over the internet or anything.)
  3. A new documentary follows the chancellor George Osborne as he trains to run the 400 meters in ‘Ready, Steady, Cock’ coming soon. (it just feels nice to call George Osbourne a cock. It would be a dream come true if I could do it officially on broadcast media. It would make my year. So it may not be the best joke, but at least I tried. He is a cock, by the way. But I’m sure you know that already.)

 And that’s it! As usual I will leave you with a plea to consider buying my book as advertised in the top right corner of this screen! Only 77p (or $0.99) – it is a ‘quirky’ collection of 14 speculative fiction short stories in the vein of Philip K. Dick / Isaac Asimov and even a bit of the dark and twisted as inspired by Roald Dahl’s AMAZING short stories for adults.

Good luck to everyone who is trying again this week for episode 5, and I guess, see you next week! Thanks for reading.  

 

 

Not Good Enough For The BBC! Newsjack Series 11 – PART 3!

newsjack

 

Okay… so you know the drill by now. Week three’s unused ‘Newsjack’ jokes are here. If you want an introduction to what this is all about, read this: (https://garryabbott.com/2014/10/01/not-good-enough-for-the-bbc-newsjack-series-11/)

I still haven’t got another credit this series since my early win with a sketch in episode 1, but still I continue to write and submit each week, and that means I am writing at least twelve more jokes and three more sketches than I generally would, which has to be a good thing.

For those of you out there who have never had a credit, or are a long time waiting for another one, I can only offer you the same advice as I keep telling myself each Thursday night when greeted with an empty inbox and no broadcast glory… just keep writing. After all, I’m guessing that getting a credit or two on Newsjack isn’t the be all and end all of your hopes and ambitions, so it must be contributing towards your wider goals? Hmm?

Even if you are not trying to become a comedy writer, putting words together in some particular order that may be understood by another human is always good practice, as barely demonstrated in this sentence.

So, without further ado (whatever that is), here are last week’s unused one liners, with notes, and apologies.

 

BREAKING NEWS:

  1. Radiographers are set to strike over NHS pay and working conditions, saying that they are fed up with the lack of transparency. (PUN ALERT)
  2. (ROMESH) There has been a marked increase in companies drug testing employees. I can believe that, the BBC drug tested me last week, I scored ten out of ten and was asked if I wanted to host QI. (thought that might be a nice little joke for the host, but then, maybe he doesn’t want give the impression he is taking illegal drugs – and I’m sure he isn’t, being a family man and all).
  3. According to an industry survey, young people lack the skills required for the workplace. A spokesman said, “Kids turn up fresh out of school, wide eyed, enthusiastic and ready to enjoy their working life. Something is going terribly wrong.” (ah, satire on the modern world).
  4. The European Space Agency has released data that allows people to 3D print their own model of the Rosetta comet. Space enthusiasts hope they will also soon release detailed plans of a girlfriend. (poking fun at geeks, even though I am one really. Picard out.)
  5. The Nobel prize for physiology has been awarded to three scientists who located the brain’s built in GPS system. When asked how they found this, they explained, “Turn left at the hippocampus, second exit.” (liked this one…)
  6. After accusations of racial stereotyping, the boss of John Lewis has whole-heartedly apologised for calling France “hopeless and downbeat”, saying that the comments were not meant to be taken seriously and that the frogs would have realised that if they had a sense of humour. (trying to ‘turn around’ an apology for an ill conceived comment by making the speaker sound worse than they were originally. Tried something similar this week with another high profile gaff, but we’ll see how it gets on…)

 

TV/RADIO LISTINGS:

  1. Watch as Jeremy and the boys embark on a white knuckle high speed chase out of Argentina followed by an angry mob intent on killing them in this week’s ‘Top Fear’. (Ever the critic of my fine comedy attempts, my girlfriend told me this was a bit rubbish. She was right).
  2. Get ready for a new reality TV show that pits the UK’s best pub brawlers against each other in ‘The Great British Back Off’ coming soon.  (…I liked this one. Nearly worded it ‘The Great British Back Off Mate’ but changed my mind. Probably wouldn’t have made the difference).
  3. This Sunday evening on BBC 1, Professor Brian Cox asks, are we just the filling in a trans-dimensional galactic sausage? In the ‘Big Banger Theory’ at 9pm.  (just being a bit random here. I notice the occasional whacky one liner gets on, and I thought I’d try and be a bit  more zany. I am a big fan of surreal humour, but can never quite bring myself to submit things like this to a topical news show… On this occasion though, I thought I’d give it a try. And failed. Back to jokes about Ed Pickles being fat then…)

And that’s it! I hope that the rather nice amount of you who seem to be reading this each week are at least  slightly amused by some of these here words. If not, I’m sorry you appear to have wasted irretrievable valuable moments of your life getting this far or even clicking on the link.

Goodbye!

(Ps – If you want to buy me ridiculously reasonably priced eBook ‘The Dimension Scales and Other Stories’ – a collection of 14 speculative fiction tales… please check out the link in the top right corner of this page. Thank you.)

 

 

 

Not Good Enough For The BBC! Newsjack Series 11 – PART 2!

newsjack

 

I had a great response from last week’s post about the jokes that didn’t make it into episode 1 of BBC Radio 4’s open-door submission topical comedy show ‘Newsjack’ (find it here –  https://garryabbott.com/2014/10/01/not-good-enough-for-the-bbc-newsjack-series-11). I was therefore delighted when I found out that none of last week’s entries made it into episode 2 of Newsjack at all!

Of course I wasn’t really. Part of the whole process is the weeks where you just don’t make the cut (and there are generally more of those). In the first episode I had already struck ‘credit’ gold with my second sketch ever to be broadcast on national radio, so I know from this point on anything else is a bonus. That doesn’t stop me slaving away over a hot BBC news website every weekend trying to fill my quota though, so inevitably, when nothing gets on I still feel a tinge of disappointment.

But then, being a self employed writer and musician, dealing with rejection is an almost daily, if not hourly, affair. The world of speculative creativity (sending out scripts, releasing books, bidding for work, etc…) is a harsh one, and not for the faint hearted who like to know where basic things like money and food are coming from, but that’s a whole different blog!

For now, while Newsjack is still running over the next few weeks and I have a store of unused topical jokes that are getting more outdated with every minute that passes since the news story that inspired them broke, shattered, and was swept away by the celestial caretaker of current affairs; I will continue to share a selection of them with you. And it really helps me find something to write each week. I’ve been doing this blog for over a year now. Can you imagine how hard it is to find something new to write about each week?!

So, without further ado, here are last week’s unused one liner entries for Newsjack Episode Two. This week with added notes!

BREAKING NEWS:

  1. Defecting to UKIP is ‘utterly nuts’ says Boris Johnson as he zip wires down Big Ben dressed as a chicken, wrapped in a union flag.
  2. The University of East London has announced they are to give first year students a free tablet, and some water to make sure they don’t get dehydrated. (note – ecstasy jokes anyone? Is that too sub/drugs culture?)
  3. The national institute for health and care have recommended that obese people limit their use of TV to help lose weight, saying  that they should eat their dinner off plates like normal people. (note – should have changed the last line to ‘everyone else’ to make it snappier and not repeat the word ‘people’)
  4. After criticising Ed Miliband for forgetting some of his speech last week, George Osborne appeared to make a similar gaff at the Conservative party conference when he forgot all shreds of human decency. (note – yeah, Osborne you monstrous evil dickhead. I wrote this one as much to vent than anything else.)
  5. Apple has said that bendy iPhones are a myth, like leprechauns or corporate taxes. (it was so hard to find a way in to the bendy iPhone stories… this was the best I could do!)
  6. Disgraced Tory MP Brooks Newmark has said he was a fool for sending an explicit picture of himself in paisley pyjamas to an undercover journalist, adding that he would have looked much better in a black silk robe. (note – low hanging fruit, I know. I had a hard time last week filling the quota, it just wasn’t flowing so well. This week felt easier to write. Sometimes you are not in the right mood or frame of mind, but deadlines don’t really care about that. I still recommend that you get something down at least, even if you aren’t feeling it. You never know, it may look better through someone else’s eyes.)

TV/RADIO LISTINGS:

  1. Find out what Spanish resort restaurants are passing off as chicken to tourists in Gordon Ramsay’s Kitten Nightmares. (Can’t believe they didn’t use this one. KITTEN NIGHTMARES? Come on!?)
  2. This Saturday on Sky Atlantic from 9pm to 9.55pm, The Game of Thrones title sequence. (This idea tickles me but perhaps doesn’t come over so well in a one liner. Those of you who watch GOT will know that each week the title sequence seems to get longer and longer and longer and longer and longer… until one day there will be no actual show, just the title sequence and end credits.)
  3. Join Ricky Gervais and Frankie Boyle as they hilariously poke fun at the disabled in the latest episode of Mock the Weak.  (not really got that much against Gervais and Boyle, but needed to find two controversial figures to try this gag on.)

 

So that’s it! Like I mentioned previously, I am not posting sketches for now, I will do something about them after the series has ended.

I still find the TV listings a bit strange. They aren’t really topical. It’s hard to be topical with them. These could have been submitted any week of the year really, although this week I have managed another one that does cross-over with a news story, so we will see.

Good luck to any other contributors out there who are still submitting every week! Thanks for reading.

Oh and, hey – why not buy my eBook? (sidebar – top right – speculative/science fiction collection – on offer at 77p / $0.99!). Advertising. Food. Money. Survival. Thanks.

Bye!

Not Good Enough For The BBC! Newsjack Series 11!

newsjack

For those of you who don’t know, ‘Newsjack’ is a topical radio comedy that is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra and has an ‘open door’ writing policy (anyone can submit material). It is the BBC’s flagship show for encouraging and recruiting new comedy writers by giving everyone a chance to get their material performed, recorded and broadcast.

Each week writers can submit up to two sketches, nine ‘one liner’ jokes, and now also a ’30 second advert’ sketch. I always try to send everything each week as it pushes me to get better at writing to deadline and under pressure.

So far I’ve had quite a bit of success and managed to get writing credits in the last four series. I think the current count is 10 one-liners and 2 sketches (having just got my second sketch broadcast in episode 1 of series 11 last Thursday – find it here at 17:07 the ‘Reverend Welby’ sketch and intro: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/newsjack).

But still there are always those jokes that didn’t make the cut, and it seems a shame to let them languish on my hard drive when I could be inflicting them on you good people. So here it is again, the return of ‘Not Good Enough For The BBC! Newsjack Series 11’.

I’m only going to post the one-liners. I might do something about unused sketches after the current series has finished. Just so you know, there are now only two categories of one liners that we can write for; we can submit 6 ‘Breaking News’ lines (comedy headlines basically) and 3 ‘TV Listings’ (continuity announcers type stuff… Tonight at 9pm on ITV etc…).

I find the TV listings much harder as they aren’t really ‘topical’, they are more ‘pun’ based usually, unless you can find a current news story and TV show that work well together. As you will see from my submissions below, I actually managed that last week with the Tesco losing £250 million pounds story set up as the ‘£250 million pound drop’ game show. A version of this joke was actually used last week with slightly different wording, but it wasn’t mine! Unfortunately for me, another writer had the same idea and must have been higher up in the reading pile. This also happened to me last series with a TV listing joke about ‘The Great British Sewing Wasp’, which another writer submitted as ‘The Great British Knitting Spider’ and got the credit for!  These things happen when over 700 submissions are boiled down to only about a dozen writers. That is why it is important to be as original as possible or just avoid the big news stories (and therefore possible duplication/competition).

So, here they are. Enjoy! (And make sure you read them with funny voices in your head… you know the ones, the funny voices in your head. Let them read them and don’t be scared).

BREAKING NEWS!

  1. As Strictly fever sweeps the nation, President Obama pledges 10,000 troops to help stem the threat.
  2. Australian man fends off crocodile with a stick when drunk. Where the crocodile got the alcohol from and why it used a stick leaves zoologists baffled.
  3. The first man to buy an iPhone six who was filmed dropping it on the floor has said it wasn’t an accident after all, he’d just found out that the entire U2 back catalogue had been pre installed.
  4. A controversial law in Florida to ban baggy trousers that expose the buttocks has been overturned. Police fear this will lead to more crack on the streets.
  5. As Alex Salmond declares his support for Nicola Sturgeon to become the next leader of the SNP, rival candidates complain that there’s something a bit fishy about all this.
  6. Ed Miliband disappointed to find out that the coalitions policy on house inflation doesn’t mean everyone gets to live in a bouncy castle.

TV LISTINGS:

  1. Coming soon to ITV, the stakes are set even higher with the new thrilling game show: 250 million pound drop! Sponsored by Tesco’s.
  2. This week on ITV, Davina McCall presents, everything.
  3. This Saturday on BBC1 at 6.30pm, any old rubbish with some celebrities jumping about for an hour to kill the time before Doctor Who starts.

Scottish Man Wakes from Coma to a Dystopian Placard Nightmare

body snatchers scot copy

 

A Scottish man awoke unattended from a five year coma yesterday and found himself wandering the streets of Edinburgh in only his patient gown, caught in the middle of a nightmare landscape of diametrically opposed placard waving humans.

With his hearing still yet to return, the 42 year old man, Alistair Craig, a delivery driver from Broxburn, became increasingly agitated and hysterical as on every street corner he found yet more mobs urging him to join them in their mysterious campaign. Scared and confused, Craig attempted to find shelter in a nearby building, only to find that the windows of each were also marked with the distinctive affirmative and negative logo’s of the bizarre gatherings.

Eventually, Craig found an unoccupied house, as yet unmarked. Presuming the house had once belonged to a poor soul that had now gone over to the sign-holders, he bathed, clothed and nourished himself from the little he could find in the abandoned dwelling.

Exhausted from his escape, Alistair fell asleep in a comfortable armchair, only to be woke by an ominous knocking coming from the front door. The joy of finding his hearing had returned was soon matched by the terror of what lay in wait.

He looked out sheepishly through the blinds to see a group of suited men and women gathered outside. As he could see, none of them were holding placards. His heart beat fast as he realised they may be other survivors, and hastily he opened the front door to the apparent leader of the group, a thin faced man with parted brown hair and a tired look of diminished ambition hidden behind the smile he just about managed to crack.

At first the guttural mumbles of the man seemed incoherent. Alistair feared his ears had not yet fully recovered. He shouted out in fear.

“What’s happening? Help me! I don’t know what’s going on! I don’t know what to do! Please, please help me!”

The man at the door gave a wry smile over his shoulder to his entourage. He spoke again, and this time Alistair could decipher some of the words.

“Then you’re exactly the kind of person we want to talk to! We can help you.” he said, his eyes flaring up like pilot lights in a rusty boiler.

“Thank God!” exclaimed Alistair, “I thought the whole world had gone mad. Nothing makes any sense anymore. I don’t, I don’t know what is real. Who are you?”

The brown haired man smiled and cleared his throat, “uh well, I’m Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats…”

For the first time in his life, Alistair was glad to see a politician. He must be leading the remnants of the population who hadn’t turned to the placards, he thought. All the other, proper, party leaders must have been converted by now.

“… and Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom” he continued, “can I ask, will you join with me and Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservatives, and leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, in sending a clear message?”

What is this madness? Thought Alistair. The Liberal Democrats, in coalition with the Conservatives? The world had been flipped turned upside down.

“Wh… what message?” Alistair asked nervously.

“Why… ‘NO’ of course!” said the one who called himself Clegg. Suddenly, all the people in suits pulled out banners and placards and leaflets, and held them aloft, waving and smiling and grinning, and gritting their teeth.

Alistair tried to close the door but a black shiny shoe jutted out and blocked it. Alistair backed off as the mob approached. He tried to run but stumbled over the footing of the stairwell.  He hit the ground with a dull thud and turned to see the leering face of the deputy leaning over him with a badge in hand, the pin catch open and advancing upon his chest. Reflected in the watery eyes of the brown haired man, Alistair could see the word ‘no’ printed on the badge.

“God no!” Alistair shouted, just before he fainted and all was black.

“That’s right!” said Clegg.

 

Today in Edinburgh, a broken man stands on a street corner shoulder to shoulder with others. He sees another crowd across the street on the opposite corner. They are not like him. They have different signs. How did he get here? What was his purpose? What was his name? A faint glimmer of remembrance sparks in his subconscious, but before it has the chance to burn brightly, a group of people wander into the road. They have no denomination. They look awkwardly from side to side at the two groups that flank them, and form a huddle. Suddenly, the one they once called Alistair knew what he had to do. He raised his placard high.

“No! No! No!” he shouted, and it all seemed so clear.