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Storyteller

I don’t have much to offer, said the man. But if you give me some bread, I will tell you a story.

The baker looked at the man sceptically. His clothes were torn and he had no shoes on his feet. His hair was long and ragged and every inch of exposed skin was covered with dirt and mud.

A story? The baker questioned. What good is a story to me? I have been up since before the cock crowed making this bread, why should I give it to you for nothing more than a story?

The man smiled. I understand your reluctance, he said. Before you stands nothing more than a beggar man, broken, dirty and alone. Without home nor hope. Yet I have a gift that I can share with you. I am a weaver of words, a teller of tales and a maker of dreams. In exchange for some bread, I will tell you a story that will set your heart on fire with love and excitement and fill your soul with warmth and joy. I will craft for you a narrative so magnificent you will be moved to close your shop, go home and make love to your wife.

The baker laughed. His apron straining against the ripple of his stomach. Hah, he scoffed. I hardly believe that.

It’s true, said the man. His eyes gleaming within the grime of his face.
The baker paused for a moment. Looked at the man before him and shrugged his shoulders. Prove it, said the baker.

The man took the bread, beckoned the baker to sit and began to speak.
The baker listened as the words escaped from the man’s mouth and flew around, lifting the baker atop a flying carpet of prose, out of the window and out into a world of enchantments, peril, courage and love. The world of imagination and magic grew around the baker, his blood raced and his skin pricked with fear, his eyes widened in amazement and finally, as the tears dried on his cheek, his heart began to swell with pride and love.

The man took a bite from the bread as the story ended and reality was
returned.

Without a word, the baker stood and walked out of the shop. The door swung ajar as the man watched. The baker grew smaller in the distance as his pace quickened before soon he was no longer in sight.

The man smiled as he closed the door as he too walked out into the street, pulling his tattered clothes tight against the rain that was now falling. At that moment the baker reached his house. His wife was washing clothes in a great wooden basin behind their small kitchen. She was surprised and worried to see her husband standing in the doorway, his chest heaving with a shortness of breath and his eyes moist. She stood up to speak but before she could he had taken her hand and lead her away to bed.

The man smiled as he walked, the faint sounds of ecstasy caressing his ears amongst the rain and the taste of bread dancing in his mouth.

A Poor Man’s Bukowski

I got myself a beer, my sixth or seventh.  Took the glass and drank down a third of it.  The confidence giving, inhibition taking liquid was flowing through my skull, infecting my mind.  I needed a woman.  Always did.  I looked across at the legs next to me at the bar, then up to the owner, blinked, then back down to the legs.  Something was wrong.  I looked again at this woman, this old woman, this old chubby woman.  Not fat you understand but there was no way you could call her slim, dumpy was the word.  But these legs, they just didn’t belong, they should’ve been on a girl about twenty years younger and about three stone lighter.  Fantastic legs that kept on going, all the way up towards her slightly bloated stomach and back down to the floor.  But she wasn’t the only one.  Over at the table near the window was another one.  I was surrounded by dumpy, middle-aged women with tremendous legs.  “Hank” said my friend whose name by now I had completely forgotten, a decent sort, apprentice locksmith, claimed he could get you into any building in Britain.  “Do you see them Hank?” he asked.  He always called me Hank, I never knew why.

“What’s that then?” I replied, still gazing at my neighbour’s calves.

“The legs Hank, do you see the legs?”

“I see them”

“I’m hooked Hank” he continued, “I need them.  They have me Hank, I’m their prisoner.”

“Calm yourself buddy” I started “Get yourself another beer or I’ll have to tell you there’s an identical set over by the window.”  He looked across.

“Good grief Hank you’re right.  Where do they get them from?”

“Excuse me?” I said leaning towards the old woman next to me, still concentrating on her legs.  “My friend would like to know where you got your legs from.”

“Why?  Doesn’t your friend like them?” She asked, somewhat taken aback.

“It’s not that.” I said,  “It’s just that he thinks maybe they belong to someone else.”  She seemed a little put out by my latest remark and looked straight at me and said, “I can assure both you and your friend that they belong to no-one other than myself and that I have had them all my life.” With that she took her drink and went to talk to a man at the other end of the bar.  “They’re incredible,” continued my friend.  I got him another beer to try and shut him up but on he went, eulogising to the nth degree.  “Imagine them wrapped around your hips Hank.  Can you just imagine it?”

“Nah” I replied “What good is having great legs if the rest of it isn’t that nice?  I want the bits that I have to look at to be the really nice bits.”  I meant it too.  I need more than just a pair of legs, no matter how nice.  You have to look at the face and the breasts when fucking, not the legs.  “Well I don’t care” he declared, “I have to have them.”  And with that he took his beer and walked to the end of the bar and started to talk to this woman.  I gave him five minutes, ten at the most.  I got myself another beer and glanced around the room, still on the look out for myself.  It was during this cursory glance that I saw her.  Sitting away to the left, on her own.  She had the look of a woman who had just lost a fair amount of weight.  Her skin hadn’t quite kept up with her dramatic change of size and now appeared to sag in places.  It was captivating.  She was blonde, mid-thirties and had made no small effort to look the part for the evening.  I took my beer and walked over to her table.  “I’d like to fuck you” I said, the music from the bar doing it’s best to drown out my every word.  She looked at me, puzzled.  “Excuse me?” she said.

“I said are you waiting for someone?”

“My husband” was the reply.

“Do you mind if I sit and wait with you?”

“Not at all.”  I put my beer down and sat across from her at the table, looking at all the tiny creases and wrinkles on her face.  Her eyes seemed to shine in the half-light of the bar, which added to her alluring nature.  “Aren’t you Charles Bukowski?” she asked.

“No” I replied, “I’m just a poor man’s Bukowski.”  We talked for what seemed like forever, all the while the beer and my growing libido making me increasingly giddy.  Eventually I could bare it no longer, I had to have her at that moment.  I told her “I need to fuck you.  I know you’re waiting for your husband but I’ve got a full six inches for you right now.  What do you say?”  She looked me dead in the eye and said, “Ok” I took her into the toilets, entered the cubicle and locked the door.  I pulled out my prick and sat down on the toilet lid, pulling her close to me.  I quickly lifted her skirt to her waist as she pulled her panties to one side and slid down onto me.  She took me straight in, one attempt, no warm up, no need to be aroused first.  She must do this kind of thing quite regularly I thought, but soon enough all thoughts of anything left my mind as she pushed herself down onto me further, riding me like a jockey on a horse.  I bucked with her, the both of us rocking in time with one another as silently as possible.  There was a click of a door outside the cubicle as someone came into the urinal area, then another click shortly after it as someone else entered.  Then voices.  Vera froze mid-thrust.  “That’s him” she whispered, “that’s his voice.”

“Huh?  Don’t stop now baby, come on keep it going,” I pleaded.

“No” she said, “that’s him, that’s my husband.”

“Huh?  Well you can’t go out there now or he’ll see you.  You might as well stay here and finish off before you leave.”

“No” she said pulling herself off me “I have to leave.”  She stood and looked right through me as she straightened her skirt.  “Ok, ok” I said, reluctant to let her go when I was so close.  “At least let me check and make sure the coast is clear first.  I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble because of me.”  I pulled up my trousers and unlocked the door to the cubicle.  I peered out as I pulled the door slightly open.  There was no one there so I quickly ushered Vera away before returning to the cubicle I had, until now, been sharing with her.  I contemplated a hand job but decided it was too much like eating plain rice after having had black forest gateaux, nice but just not as good.  I decided sufficient time had passed by and left the toilet.  I washed my hands and went out to the bar to get myself another beer, mulling over whether it was worth trying to get those lovely legs wrapped around my waist or not.

I took my beer at went and sat at the table of the legs that I hadn’t already been rude to.  She was now with a group of friends, none of whom I recognised, discussing what sounded like a woman named Vera and the gents’ toilets.  I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about.  I introduced myself to a guy and a girl sitting next to me.  They looked at me as if they’d caught me fucking their grandparents in a wild orgy of blue-rinse coated sex.  It was possible but they didn’t look familiar.  “We don’t know who you are.”  He said.  I pointed out that this was why I’d introduced myself, the girl giggled, the guy turned away.  I couldn’t be bothered with it any longer and got up to leave.  The heady mix of alcohol and recent sexual activity causing me to stumble as I did so.  I was at that stage of drinking where I’d already drunk too much and therefore thought that more was a good idea.  I got myself another beer and stood at the bar looking around.  I couldn’t see a damn thing.  I closed one eye and looked again.  Couples everywhere, couples and groups of people.  No more lonely old broads waiting for a good seeing to from a drunken young thing like me.  I drained my beer and decided that maybe it was time to leave.

I got on the tube at Holborn, which was confusing as it wasn’t anywhere near where I work.  I got off again at Tottenham Court Road, which was even more confusing as it meant I was going the wrong way.  I finally boarded a train that was going in the right direction and sat down.  As the train pulled back into Holborn station the driver began to sing.  “And now, your stop is near.  It’s time to face, your destination.  Get off my traaaaaaaaaaain.”  I laughed, as did the other people who had got on with me and therefore not heard it before, the other passengers looked upwards disapprovingly.  I continued to laugh as I began to ponder the possibility that the driver was more drunk than I was.  ‘Fuck it’ I thought, ‘If I can get home safely I’m sure he can manage it too’.  And with that, I promptly fell asleep.

42

It began merely as a stream of consciousness flowing down, leaving me. My thoughts directly translated; they entered my mind, they left.  No analysis, no scrutiny or examination. Synapses tingling, brainwaves surging, direct from the cerebral cortex to the technopage before my eyes. Delving more deeply, probing; conscious to subconscious. Ideas and thoughts I never knew I had. A thesaurus of emotions streaming out and on; pushing me closer to nothingness. Time running out.

Pin pricks in my mind as all memories, considerations, and associations left me. Replaced by nothing, space, emptiness, a void. I could feel the cold steel as it entered my cranium. Small, thin, stabbing, gentle yet forceful into the gaps. Like water finding space where there appears to be none. Nothing escaped its reach. The past flowing before me like the present. I could feel myself regressing, travelling back. My kids birth, my wedding, my first pet, my first time, my first kiss, my first, my first, my first. More quickly now, a blur. Beyond my comprehension, my understanding reduced. Shapes, colours, sounds and smells. Everything leaving me, emptiness filling me. Until; until; clarity, beauty, meaning. The in-built knowledge and understanding we bury deep inside, forgotten for eternity, everything and nothing. I was filled with joy and warmth but felt empty and cold. And then, oh and then, I saw it. The glory and the horror and suddenly I knew everything th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blind Date

I had no idea what to expect and it was with no small amount of trepidation that I walked to the door of the pub.  I’d never been here before; indeed I’d never even set foot in this part of town until now.  It wasn’t exactly known as the most appealing or inviting area but this was where Shelley wanted to meet so here I was.

Shelley, I’d met her on the Internet, metaphorically of course, or should I say digitally?  I certainly couldn’t say physically.  That was why I was here, for that first meeting.  I’d been a little uncertain but she and I had discussed it, online, and it seemed silly that we lived in the same city but had never met.  We’d been hanging out for a few months now in various chat rooms, getting to know each other.  We’d met over a mutual love of bad American sitcoms and spent hours discussing what it was that made Married with Children so appalling yet so very entertaining.  Soon our conversations had turned more personal, more intimate.  It was after only a few short weeks that Shelley and I became as close as two people can be over the information-super-highway.  At her suggestion we had made use of the chat rooms ‘private talk’ facilities and indulged in cyber-sex.  I’d been reluctant and nervous, unsure about how to go about it.  What should I say?  What would she say?  My real-life experiences had been limited, would this show?  Shelley was very understanding, she guided me through, led me by the hand so to speak and we went on to enjoy many ‘sessions’ of intimacy over the coming weeks.  She was very visual; surprisingly descriptive and emotive.  I’d expected something a little more, I don’t know, cold perhaps, more detached but with Shelley it was almost as if she was actually with me.  I could feel her touch; I could see her in the room with me.  We’d described ourselves quite early on so I had a reasonable idea of what she looked like; her shoulder length blonde hair, green eyes looking up at me as she caressed my body with her lips.  It went beyond the realms of imagination only; it was like the most vivid dream, as close to real as it could be without her actually being there.

Perversely, it was this closeness that brought about the majority of my butterflies as I made my way to the pub.  We’d already been so intimate, we already knew so much about one another, surely it would be awkward, and what if the reality didn’t match the visuals we had already created in our mind?  Were we not setting ourselves up for disappointment?  All these thoughts had run through my mind many times already, I’d quietened them before and did so again.  Nothing ventured.

I paused just before I entered the pub and checked my reflection in the window, adjusting the single red rose Shelley had insisted I wore in my lapel button.  Looking at the outside of the pub I regretted my decision to wear a suit.  I’d been reluctant to meet in such a place but Shelley had been insistent, it was near to her home and a place she knew quite well she’d said.  She’d feel more at ease there to start and we could always move on somewhere else should we feel comfortable with one another.  That’s what I was counting on really, that we’d quickly slip into a sense of ease with one another and could leave and venture back into the centre of the city.  The suit may look out of place here but it would fit right in later on when I took her to the more ‘upmarket’ bars, anyway, there’s nothing wrong with looking good.

I checked myself one last time, swallowed hard and went inside.

Immediately I wished I hadn’t.  It was just like one of those old westerns, where the stranger walks into the saloon and everything stops.  I felt like every single pair of eyes was on me as I stepped through the door.  I could’ve sworn that the barmen had both stopped pulling their pints to look across, hell I even thought that the darts had paused mid-flight to check out the stranger in the doorway.  The suit was definitely the wrong choice.  The clientele of The Black Pig looked exclusively like the sort of people who’s only other experience of men in suits was when they were asked to plead guilty or not guilty.  This really was a rough looking pub.  There were only a handful of women visible and even they were touch and go.  Burly, butch women in denim jackets and with short cropped hair.  Lesbians, I thought, at least until I saw the half dozen or so shell-suited urchins, no more than 7 years old, running around screaming at them for more crisps and then responding in kind when they were told to fuck off and get a job.

The men were not that much better.  Stereotypical hard-nuts.  Tattoos, shaven heads, smoking, swearing, leather jackets, ripped jeans, stubble and eyes that said ‘keep staring at me and I’ll break your fucking neck’.  I looked away.  The fascination with me subsided so I decided to get myself a drink while I waited.  I sat myself down at a small table tucked away from the main horde and looked out through the dark to see if I could see Shelley.  No sign.  She must be running a little late, maybe she’d already left.  I looked at my watch, only a couple of minutes past, there was no way I could’ve missed her.  With any luck she would be here soon and we could leave.

The minutes ticked by as I sipped my beer.  I allowed my mind to wander slightly as I watched the door for any sign of a possible Shelley.  I thought back to the conversations we had shared late into the night, the laughs and the opinions and of course, the intimate, sexual exchanges.  A smile crept out over my face as I thought of the possibility that later tonight the fantasy could become reality.  I was snapped out of my reverie by the sound of the door but it was just another insanely large and intimidating man.  He wasn’t that tall but what he did have in height was at least matched in his width, scarily it didn’t look like it was totally fat either.  The top of his head was balding quite badly but what was missing at the front was more than made up for at the back with a vast peroxide mullet; straw-like strands straggled and sprawling over his shoulders.  I went back to my daydream of what might happen with Shelley this evening, imagining her touch on my skin, what our first kiss might be like, what she might smell like, her hair, her smile, her – “Alright?”  I looked up with a start as a gruff voice punctured my thoughts.  “He-hello” I stammered back.  It was the large guy I’d just watched enter the pub.  Without waiting for an invitation he plonked himself down next to me, spilling some of his pint across the table.  “Sorry” I spluttered, “Do you mind not sitting there, I’m waiting for someone.”  He didn’t appear to have heard me; at least he gave no indication that he had.  My God he was huge, and the smell.  I couldn’t place it, nor could I tell if it was his clothes, which were battered and torn and looked as though they’d been washed in mud, or him.  Whatever it was, it was putrid.  He looked at me and smiled, at least two of his teeth were missing and the rest were black.  He really was perhaps the most disgusting man I’d ever seen.  “Excuse me.” I ventured.  He looked at me still, his smile growing wider.  “Sorry mate” he growled, “didn’t mean to be so rude.  ‘Ere.” he reached into his inside pocket and pulled something out and dropped it on the table in front of me.  It was a single red rose. “The name’s Shelley” he said “pleased to finally meet you.”

Throughout my life I have often thought that certain phrases or sayings made no sense, that they were stupid, overblown and served little to no purpose whatsoever.  I mean seriously, what does ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ mean anyway?

One such phrase that always bugged me was ‘My jaw dropped’.  Jaws don’t drop.  They open, they hang loosely on the faces of the more intellectually challenged members of society but they certainly don’t drop.

My jaw dropped.

Now I don’t mean I looked a little surprised or was slightly taken aback.  My jaw dropped; to the floor, clunk, like a lead weight.

I’d heard of things like this happening of course but not to people like me.  It only ever happened to stupid people with no friends, or gullible fools with no social skills desperate for any kind of attention no matter how contrived or tenuous that they would seriously believe that true love and intimacy was possible with no actual physical contact necessary in any way shape or form.  Oh.  Crap.

I looked back up at this man-beast in front of me. My lower jaw was slowly returning back up past my shins as I tried to regain some semblance of composure.  It really wasn’t working.  Meatloaf’s ugly brother smiled his gap-toothed smile at me once more and I felt the nausea rising rapidly to my throat.  My brain refusing to concentrate on anything but the ‘private chats’ I had had with this troll; convinced it was the woman of my dreams.  A low rumble spread through the pub, deep, guttural and gathering momentum.  Satisfied that it wasn’t my stomach notifying me of impending doom and/or projectile vomit I realised it was emanating from my pseudo companion.  From what appeared to be the very depths of his soul up out via his diaphragm and out into the wide reaches of the pub came what can only be described as the loudest laugh the world has ever known.  Under normal circumstances I would’ve thought that this kind of noise could only have been made by about ten Barry Whites all laughing at once.  It was the quintessential fat-man-laugh only magnified to the power of a million.  Glasses were shaking.  I swear it measured about 5.7 on the Richter scale.  I was speechless.  I just looked at this laughing monster opposite me, dumbfounded.  What the fuck was so funny?  I mean apart from the fact that I had just been outed as the biggest laughing stock in the world.  How could I have ever thought that some girl I met on the Internet could be the ‘one’?  Jesus, I hadn’t even been able to get her gender right, what kind of starting point for a relationship was that?

He was crying now, huge fat tears streaming down his huge fat face as his gargantuan frame shook and wobbled like a human lava lamp.  I still hadn’t moved, I still hadn’t said a word.  Speech was beyond me, my jaw still flapping aimlessly around my chest.

“I have to say” he chortled, “your face right now is about ten times funnier than I had imagined it would be.”  I just looked on, agog, still not comprehending what the hell was going on.  I was certain that at any moment Jeremy Beadle or Noel Edmunds would announce their TV comebacks by revealing the hidden cameras that were surely secreted somewhere within the pub.  Hell, I’d even settle for Asthon Kutcher jumping out on me right now.

“I mean, I thought it’d be funny and all, but this is fantastic, I’ve never seen colour drain from someone’s face so quickly before,” continued Jabba.  I wanted to hit him.  I’ve never been a violent person and the desire to smack someone square in the kisser had not once permeated its way into my brain before.  Right now though, I swear, if there’d been a spade near by I would’ve caved his face in such was my ire.  “She said you’d be a little shocked.”

“A little shocked?” I was incredulous.  “A little fucking shocked?  I’ve just found out that the girl I spent the last few months talking to and falling for is in actual fact some sick bloke with a fucked up sense of humour and; wait; who said?”  My incredulity had shrunk away and was replaced once again with genuine bewilderment.

“Shelley said.”

“Shelly said?  But, but you’re Shelley. Will someone, please God, just tell me what the fuck is going on?”  This was all too much for me; I was starting to feel faint.  I took a long pull on my pint just for something to do that required no thought, no concentration.  My brain felt like it was about to explode.

“Oh boy” he laughed again, “You really are something.  I thought you were meant to be smart?  I’m Wayne, Shelley’s brother.”

“Brother? I don’t…”

“Ok look.  Shelley, my sister, has been talking to you on the Internet for a while now and arranged to meet you here right?”

“Yeah but…”

“So, we spoke before and we both thought it would be a laugh if I came in first and pretended to be her.  Good eh?”

“A laugh?”

“Yeah.  You’re not really dealing with this very well are you?”

“Huh?”  At that moment the door to the pub opened and it was like Déjà vu all over again.  Just as had happened when I walked in, the whole pub stopped and stared and for the second time that morning, my jaw dropped.  In the doorway stood an angel.

Hollywood Geldof

News from the United States today that Bob Geldof’s crusade to ‘make poverty history’ has pricked the interest of Hollywood.  Plans are afoot to make a biopic of the former Boomtown Rats attempt to educate the world of the plight of the African Continent and struggle to convince the world’s richest nations to eradicate third world debt and increase aid to developing nations.  Two Hollywood executives are discussing their latest project.  Provisionally titled ‘(Tell Me Why) I Don’t Like Poverty’.

The first executive hangs up the phone.  “Good news sir, we’ve secured the rights to Bob Geldofs life story.”

“Geldof?  He’s that scruffy guy?  Keeps swearing and trying to save Africa or something right?”

“Exactly boss, I’ve got all the details right here.”

“Lemme see that file.  Hmmmm, Irish rocker, Live Aid, Live8, fighting global poverty, bringing together some of the rock worlds most high profile stars in support of his campaign, lobbying politicians until they cave in and sign up to debt relief programs for the poorest nations, this is a really great story.  There’s just a couple of things that don’t sit right with me though.”

“Such as Sir?”

“Well, this Geldof dude for one.  I like that he’s a musician, a rock star but his band, The Boomtown Rats?  I mean, who the hell are they?  It’s not exactly current is it?  He should be in something more hip, more trendy, a band like N*Sync or something.  He could be Justin Timberlake!”

“How about Eminem Sir?  He’s hip, he’s current and he’s credible.”

“He’s also a foul mouthed yob so no way.”

“Yeah, but 8 Mile made some serious green.”

“He’s a definite possibility then.  Anyway, back to Geldof, I can’t see American audiences getting behind some scruffy guy who spends all his time swearing, drinking and yelling at people to give money to his cause.  It’s not really how an American would go about getting it done is it?  And too much swearing upsets the censors”

“You thinking less shouting and swearing, more guns and explosions?”

“Damn straight, the censors love action.  Get Arnie to shoot people and blow things up until they agree to donate cash or support to the eradication of global poverty.  None of this yelling and badgering crap”

“Arnie would be gold Sir.  I hear it’s how he got most of his campaign funding anyway ha ha ha.”

“Arnold Schwazzeneger is a great man and a wonderful politician, anymore cracks like that and you’re fired!”

“Yessir, sorry Sir.”

“Now, where were we?”

“Blowing up big business until they coughed up the readies Sir.”

“Ah yes, except blowing up big business is not a good idea of we want to get some sweet product placement deals in this picture.”

“How about blowing up churches Sir?  Those evangelicals are minted.”

“Indeed, although it’s as good as dropping our trousers and painting a huge target on our butt cheeks.  You’ve seen how the loony religious types react to anything that even looks like it might be derogatory to the church.  Saving the world is a very Christian thing to do, we don’t do it by blowing up Christians.“

“How can we do it then Sir?”

“We’ll do it by blowing up Africa, no-one gives a monkeys about them.  Eradicate global poverty by paying back all the cash you borrowed from us or we’ll nuke all the fresh water wells you used it to build!”

“Are you absolutely sure that’s wise Sir?”

“Hell yes.  Now, all we need to do is change his name.  No one is going to buy into Geldof as the name of such a great hero.  We need something more heroic, more American.  Something that’ll play well in the mid-west”

“How about Bud?”

“Bud’s great but not heroic enough, we need something that just screams heroism”

“Bud Idol?”

“No”

“Bud Champion?”

“Good but no.”

“Bud Skywalker?”

“NO, it needs to be simple, honest and heroic! Something like, I don’t know, Bud Hero!”

“Genius Sir.”

“Yes, it is isn’t it?  Right, we’ve got Bud Hero who’s going to bomb the crap out of Africa until they give us our bloody money back.  There’s no way I’m going to let an Irishman get that kind of glory, he’s a bloody yank from now on, and proud of it.”

“He could quote the pledge of allegiance before going into each battle.”

“Balls, he’s going to sing the Star freaking Spangled Banner before dropping each payload on that good for nothing country.  Then we’ll see what happens to poverty!  Answer that damn phone!”

“Well?  Who the hell was that?”

“That was the White House Sir.  They don’t really like poverty as an enemy.  Especially as the US actually gives less proportionally to fight global poverty than the other G8 nations.  They would like to see a more easily recognisable and tangible enemy.”

“We’ve got that, Africa.”

“I explained that Sir but they’re concerned about the reaction that would provoke amongst the African-American population right here in the States.  It might also be worth considering that many of that population would fall into our core demographic for this type of film.  While I agree with you Sir that Africa should give us back the money they owe us and that would help all the global poverty in America, we can’t risk losing the black audience, we wouldn’t even make $300 million without them.  Oh, and being censured by the White House wouldn’t be a good thing either.”

“Damn government, always putting down the little guys like us.  Fine.  We can’t bomb Africa because the Blacks won’t like it and we can’t bomb poverty because the White House doesn’t like it.  We need a villain and fast.  What normally happens when we get stuck like this?”

“We get an English actor, give him a stupid name and a funny twitch or facial hair and blow him up.”

“Gold.  Get me Branagh, give him a monocle and a wig and we’ll call him Dr. Poverty.  Best of both worlds.  We’ll see if we can get Mike Myers to make a cameo as Dr. Evil, they could be brothers.”

“It’s money Sir”

“Its cinematic perfection is what it is, let’s get on with the sequel.”