Tales From The Ridge

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Only What Is

"Parcel for Mr...uh...Ri...Ridgehead? Did I read that right? Is that really your name?"
"Yes! How dare you, it is a perfectly reasonable name."
"Uh, yeah, buddy...sure. Anyway, here's your parcel."
"Thank you. Now kindly get off my driveway or I'll shoot you in the spine."

And that was more or less how Ecks received his copy of Only What Is by Richard Lawrence Cohen. And what a great little book it is. Though it will not be read from cover to cover in one sitting - Ludmila's Broken English and Melmoth The Wanderer will put paid to that - that doesn't matter; the beauty of it is that it can be picked up as and when the mood or situation allows, and a single anecdote, thought, poem or story can be read in just a few minutes. A few such entries have been read by your intrepid reviewer already, and the vagaries of his memory mean that although they have already appeared on Richard's blog, they still read fresh. Perhaps the action of reading them from a printed page lends them a different aspect? Who knows. Either way, buy yourself a copy - you won't be disappointed!

Then, when you're done with it - though it's the kind of book to keep, in the opinion of your humble ridge-headed correspondent - you can set if free via BookCrossing, if you like.

Hank Marvin

Dear Sir or Madam

It is a little-known fact that the cruellest thing for a shadow is the death of its owner, for though a shadow's life is not directly linked to its keeper, its fate is sealed once that final breath slips out past the lips. It lies trapped beneath the prostrate body, sliding around away from the sun but unable to free itself from the dead weight that pins it to the ground. And beyond the initial incidence of death, what awaits it? Burial or cremation of its host, both grisly fates - closure inside a wooden box, six feet of earth denying the life-giving light from sun or lightbulb, or cowering beneath the body as it, that which gives form to the shadow, is obliterated by fire.

But what can I do about this macabre state of affairs, you might say. What can I do to stop my shadow being denied the rights that I enjoy?

The good news is that it does not have to be this way - there is something you can do. The insertion of a simple paragraph into the last will and testament stipulating any of the following:

  • Open-air "burial" in a perspex casket
  • Inclusion of a skylight or internal lighting system in a conventional coffin
  • Cremation followed by reconsitution of ashes into an effigy

...will guarantee that your shadow continues to lead a vivid and fulfilling existence.

So ACT NOW! Change your last will and testament today - create a better tomorrow for your shadow.

Thank you for your time

Linda Aykanian
Liaison Officer
People For The Ethical Treatment of Shadows

Monday, March 27, 2006

One sided conversations #4

"It's not unusual to trademark a new species, especially not after the years of modifications that have gone into it. They do have a proper scientific name, but it's quite dry. Not snappy at all. Round here we call them Piggets - you know, like 'pork nuggets'. The fast food places are just lapping them up - they keep them in little pens out by their freezers, like hamster cages, so they're absolutely fresh when they hit the deep-fryer."

"At first we experimented with dunking them in the breadcrumbs whole, but our test consumers were a little squeamish about eating the little heads and limbs, so now those parts are just clipped off. The next stage will be to develop a variant with particularly thin, weak necks and legs - for easy detachment - and beyond that hopefully to go totally headless and limbless. The guys are looking into it as we speak, but it could be months or even years away."

"Initial attempts have been fairly unsuccessful thus far, so we currently recommend just feeding them a diet high in butter and oil - saturated fats - to keep their skins nice and tacky. Then you can roll them straight in the breadcrumbs without adding any binding agent and just drop them in the deep-fryer."

"Oh, you get used to it, and it's quite high-pitched anyway. It's the same with lobsters, you know."

"I know. But we're hoping to bring out equivalent lamb, beef and chicken variants over the next five years, and beyond that...who knows? Mark my words, though - one day all livestock will be bite-sized."

Monday, March 13, 2006



If you are reading this, then it means that I am dead. Let this letter be my epitaph, and my last chance to tell you that which I could not tell you whilst I was alive - had I done so they would have killed you. That you are still alive to read this letter is testament to my keeping my end of the bargain.

The Human Genome Project, my life's work, was supposed to be a beautiful achievement for mankind, but as you are more than aware it was anything but. No-one foresaw the riots, nor the reprisals, the genocide, the slavery...except for Them, the organisation whose name I never even found out. Our current state of affairs was exactly what they planned.

In hindsight, it was insultingly easy for them. They bought us off, all of us - what is more depressing, that everyone has their price, or that the price is always so low? The Project was funded by their money anyway, and it kept rolling in. We were each given bonuses when milestones were reached, and they showered us with expensive gifts - we didn't suspect anything, we just thought that perhaps, finally, scientists were being truly appreciated. Then, when we were nearly finished mapping the genome, we each received a visit from them. At night, at our homes. They told us what they wanted the Project to say - what conclusions it should draw - and they gave us a simple choice. Financial security for life in exchange for total silence, or...well, they made perfectly clear what would happen to us and our families if we decided to jump ship. So we were forced to publish what they told us to publish. That's where the data that went public came from.

That data was wrong, though. What was published wasn't what we found - there is no one single "master race"! No racial type's DNA is any closer to that of animals than any other! But we were too afraid to blow the lid off. These people are too powerful, too dangerous. Even when the riots started and we started to whisper amongst ourselves about exposing the lie, it always came back to "but what about our families"? So, to my shame, we stayed quiet. The lies became the accepted orthodoxy and we entered the age of modern slavery.

As my last wish, I would like to disassociate my memory from the lies, but I regret that I cannot make that decision as it will affect not me but you. With your mother and me gone, you are the only one that they can still hurt. What you do with this letter is up to you, but be aware that if you go public with it, you must be prepared to die. So you must ask yourself - is the truth more important than your life?


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Never work with children or animals, they'd said. I should update it, thought the producer. Never work with children, animals or the chronically depressed. He tapped his clipboard agitatedly; they'd been here for four hours already, and nothing. Yes, technically they'd got all night, but...well, he hadn't got all night.

"Come on, what's the hold up?" he said, to no-one in particular.

They looked out into the studio at the man. He was sat on a simple wooden chair in a clear plexiglass booth surrounded by an organised tangle of wires. A camera sat and stared straight at his face as others ogled him from every conceivable angle, for replay after endless replay. The production team watched him expectantly, as they had done for the last four hours. The man bent his head forward and spoke quietly into the microphone on his lapel, and a voice floated out into the editing booth.

"Uh, Mr Partney?" the voice said, "I...uh, I still don't know if I can go through with this."

"Oh for god's sake," said the producer, "Jerry, get on the mike and tell him...tell him he can take as long as he likes, and we're very proud of him, and we know he can do it, and we're sure he wouldn't want to let us down. Some crap like that."

Jerry bent forward and spoke soothingly into his desktop microphone. The producer rubbed his head. Three months of interviews to find the right candidate. Weeks of psychological profiling. Days to build the studio and the booth. Advertising, promotions, trailers. A prime-time Saturday night slot. And the money - all that money! And now this schmo was having second thoughts? Unbelievable!

"You've all been so nice to me," came the disembodied voice, "And, well, that's partly why I'm not sure about this any more. I don't...I've been thinking, perhaps we--"

"Screw that," said the producer as the voice continued to drift out above them, "I've had enough of this loser. I want to get home at some point this evening. Jerry, can you tell him to hold it up to his head anyway, just so we can use the footage for some publicity stills? OK?"

Jerry bent over his microphone and began to speak.

"OK, now we're talking. Camera 1, get tight in on that gun," said the producer, "And Bill, get ready with that remote trigger. People, it's time to make the magic happen."

Who did that loser think he was? If the networks had paid for a suicide, then a suicide was what they'd get. This was television.

This one's for Richard

For those of you - Richard Lawrence Cohen, that is - who think that I am some kind of Peter Pan-esque figure, check out my profile...and wish me happy birthday.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Genesis v8.29

1. In the beginning there was a big bang.
2. And the universe was without form, and void.
3. And then, though no-one actually said "let there be quarks", there were quarks.
4. And the quarks were good (well, as good as a fundamental particle can be). And the quarks combined to form baryons, and the baryons were divided into protons and neutrons and electrons.
5. As the universe cooled, matter gradually stopped moving relativistically and its rest mass energy density came to gravitationally dominate that of radiation, and protons and electrons came together and hydrogen was formed. And, yes, it was good.
6. Over time, the slightly denser regions of matter gravitationally attracted other nearby matter and thus grew even denser, eventually forming gas clouds, stars, galaxies and the planet that would later come to be known as Earth.
7. And the molten surface of the Earth cooled to form the solid outer crust, and volcanic activity produced the atmosphere.
8. And condensing water vapour, added to by ice from comets, formed the oceans.
9. And in these oceans, highly energetic chemistry gave rise to self-replicating molecules that were not created in anyone's image, that eventually gave rise to primordial life. Well, you've got to start somewhere.
10. And primitive cyanobacteria developed that photosynthesised the atmosphere, creating oxygen. One of them may have been called Adam.

11. And eventually these primitive organisms developed sexual reproduction, for lo, though they were primitive they knew a good thing when they saw it.
12. And it was good, though it was even better once they got to know each other and were less embarrassed.
13. And evolution brought forth more complex plant types. These could have been called "grass", and "herb yielding seed after his kind", and "the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind", but such a description would be simplistic at best.
14. Then there were sponges, and jellyfish, and flatworms, and if they were formed in someone's image then he was one ugly sucker.

15. Then, to cut slightly shorter a very long story involving backbones and gills, the land and the sea were colonised by animals (but not by whales; they came later). There were certainly creeping things, but probably no cattle.
16. Then there were dinosaurs, and they were good, until a meteorite struck the earth, which was not good. Not for the dinosaurs, anyway. The fish probably didn't mind so much.
17. And then there was a kind of ape thing who decided that perhaps it would be fun to balance on these two back legs of hers, and she was called Lucy. Sorry, I mean Eve.
18. And then there was Man, who had dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, except the bigger ones with sharper teeth and claws that had a disconcerting habit of eating Man.
19. And Man evolved bigger brains and opposable thumbs and developed tools that gave man the opportunity to learn that the creeping things that crepteth over the earth and ate him were actually rather delicious when caught and killed and cooked over an open fire.
20. And man was fruitful, and multiplied, and replenished the earth, and subdued it, though in hindsight there was probably more subduing than replenishing going on.
21. And then there was Ikea, and the French, and tennis, and the concept of celebrity, and New Kids On The Block and electric toasters and patterned toilet paper.
22. And the evening and the morning were the 5 trillionth day (give or take 73 billion days).
23. And the Earth was good.

24. But it could probably have been better when you consider how long it had had to practise.

Please keep this book up-to-date! ALWAYS up-issue and redistribute following all major scientific discoveries.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bad, baaad joke

So I walked into The Framing Centre last night. Somewhat overwhelmed by the bewildering array of frames, wooden, metallic, plastic, some empty, some caressing prints and paintings, I sought out the owner, a bespectacled septuagenarian, to consult him.
"Good morning," he said.
"Ah, hello, yes," I said, "I knocked off a bank last night and I need someone to take the rap. What can you do for me?"
"I'm sorry?"
"I need you to place someone at the Wickborough branch of Barcwest yesterday for me. Otherwise I'm looking at a ten-stretch."
"I'm not sure I understand..."
"This is The Framing Centre, isn't it?"

Sorry. Been very busy at work, no time to come up with anything good. This awful joke - based on what I am going to do in a shop of the same name near where I live - was all that came into my mind.