Furious Fiction – 6th September, 20202

A Buoy’s Life


Should I have saved her?

I have gone around in circles (so to speak) trying to answer this question as I have lain here. But I have always come to the same conclusion: It was her own bloody fault, and not just for standing there on the stern’s balustrade on one leg, the other cast upwards, stiletto balancing precariously on the ball of her left foot.

‘Stepan,’ she half turned around to her much younger admirer. ‘Do I look like Rose in Titanic?’

Gawd! Of all the things I’ve heard couples say – their promises, their breakups, jealousies, affairs, or as for one poor fellow, his suicide speech – this one had been done to death. Or maybe that was the point.

‘Yes, you do,’ said Stepan, holding his phone up. ‘But turn back so I can capture your beautiful smile.’

She went to move but stopped. ‘But I’ll be facing the wrong way. Don’t you want me to switch aro – ’

And over she went. I can still remember the feeling of her sequinned blue dress skating briefly across me as she toppled forward, her elegant legs (even at her grand age) momentarily winking outthe golden light as she was inevitably consumed by the vast choppy froth from the propellor blades. She bobbed right back up, yelling and screaming, gasping for air, her grey hair a mop of angry seaweed.

‘Why, Stepan, why?!’

He pulled back the sleeve of his tuxedo and held it up. Under his wrist was some kind of tattoo, a  barcode stampof sorts.

‘To even the score!’ He screamed at her. ‘Don’t you remember me? In Belarus?’

She sunk for a moment as if a shark had taken a bite of her.

‘How many, Rotchfinger? How many in the orphanage did you let…?’ He broke down into the most wretched sobs I’d ever heard. But in the next moment, I felt his fingers on me, tight, hard and drumming in broken beats: will I or won’t I?

‘Stepan! Please!’

Pity, in the end, got the better of him, I think.

He flung me far and wide and I sliced through the air with a faint whistle and then landed with a hard splash. But I wasn’t close enough. And no matter how hard she swam after me, I made sure I never was.

How many, Rotchfinger, how many…

Perhaps I should’ve saved her for I have been here for far too long on this island. My skin, once gloriously bright orange and smooth, was now blistered and peeling, thanks to not only the baking sun but the coarse sprinkles of sand constantly whipping my soul. The waves never leave me alone either, bashing me nightly when the greedy tide comes in. As for the crabs…don’t get me started.

Oh, I wish someone would save me for a change. Put me back on my perch, away from all of this, high and dry and watching a sunset in perfect lonely peace.

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FURIOUS FICTION – August, 2020

  • Your story must contain HUMOUR/COMEDY (see below).
  • Your story must include the following five words: DIZZY, EXOTIC, LUMPY, TINY, TWISTED.
  • Your story must include a sandwich.

SPOONED

by Russell McGilton

Harold Wiennerman woke one morning to find himself with his hands stiffly behind his head and feeling somewhat dizzy.

‘You’ve probably got some kind of exotic flu,’ said his wife, Estelle, who then bolted out the door for work, fearful of catching it. When she returned Harold was still locked in the same position.

‘What’s wrong with you? You’ve been like that for hours.’

‘Isn’t it obvious,’ he sighed. ‘I’m a spoon.’

‘I see.’ And with that, Estelle whisked him away to Dr Willard, the psychiatrist.

‘Lick him on the back of the head from time to time,’ he advised.

‘What will that do?’ she asked.

‘Not much.’

Estelle had a much better idea. When they got home, she rammed her husband’s head in the kitchen drawer for several hours to see if he got the point. Unfortunately, it had a counter effect.

‘I’ve been talking to the other spoons,’ moaned Harold. ‘Says the dishwasher makes them nervous. From now on, you’ll have to wash us by hand.’

The next day, when Harold told her that he was going to go to work, Estelle baulked, ‘Are you mad? Who’s gonna take financial advice from a spoon!’

Unperturbed, Harold hopped to work, briefcase balanced precariously on his head and followed by a curious crowd of heroin addicts.

‘Are you going to serve me or what?’ croaked Mrs Glatsby in her white lawn bowls outfit.

‘How can I possibly do that?’ Harold said, staring at a lumpy sandwich on the floor, the sad result of him trying to scoop it into his face. ‘I’m a spoon.’

He proudly resumed his stiff composure and didn’t say a word for the rest of the day. Not surprisingly, Harold was fired from his employ, wheeled out on a trolley, and left outside the bank.

‘I’ll take this to the Office of Fair Trading!’

He took it to the Office of Fair Trading, who instructed him to try the Equal Opportunity Board two floors down. Again, he found himself being wheeled out of a building.

Not having been home for several days, Harold finally arrived with two policemen in tow.

‘What happened!’ Estelle cried.

The officers explained that Harold had burst into Riviere’s Restaurant, flung his head into a bowl of French onion soup, and then proceeded to ram his head down a stockbroker’s mouth.

Three months later, Estelle had had enough and left Harold.

‘Off to greener pastures, are we?’ Harold yelled bitterly after her as he lay in the sink with the rest of the dirty cutlery. ‘Hope he’s got it together!’

A letter soon followed filing for a divorce. Outraged, Harold hopped to Estelle’s new apartment. He rang the doorbell with his stiff spoony hands. The door creaked slowly open and there stood another man. He was tiny, quite thin and twisted over. A large piece of paper was shoved tightly under his arm.

‘Who are you?’ Harold demanded.

‘Well, isn’t it obvious,’ the man sighed. ‘I’m a paper clip.’

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FURIOUS FICTION – July, 2020

At the beginning of every month, the Australian Writers’ Centre has competition to write 500 words using prompts. This month, the prompts were:

  • Your story must take place at either WEDDING or a FUNERAL.
  • Your story must include something being cut.
  • Your story must include the words “UNDER”, “OVER” and “BETWEEN”.

Below is my story.

A Right Pickle

Sir Harry Randolf was an extraordinary man. Explorer, adventurer, mountain climber… and my, dear, dear friend. As has been reported in the papers, I was there on Harry’s last climb of the Peruvian Andes, and I was there when ‘it’ happened.

After summitting the glorious Siula Grande, we made our descent, and it was during this that  Harry tripped over his boot laces and promptly broke his leg. Always the stiff upper lip type, (or perhaps because it was twenty below) Harry said, without a hint of irony, ‘Got myself in a bit of pickle here, Malory.’

Now, in the mountain community it is acceptable to leave your fellow injured climber behind. I knew that. Harry knew that. The mountain knew that. Still… I’d known Harry since childhood and we always dared each other to do things: who could climb the highest tree, the highest building, the highest…girl in Cambridge ( Lady Bethany was a remarkable six foot four!).

In any case, we shared friends, wine and to my surprise, my wife, Jacqueline.

So there we were hanging off a mountain ice sheet at 4,000 metres, Harry, his left leg at odds with itself, and a night snowstorm tearing through us. As fast as I could, I let him down by the rope. All was going fine when suddenly I could no longer see Harry. Gone! Nowhere to be seen. It was like he’d gone right over the cliff.

Well…he had!

He was flailing about, screaming and swearing at me to get him back up. A lot of belly aching, to be frank.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had to hold somebody’s body weight other than your own and (let’s be honest, Harry had packed it on in middle-age), but it’s not easy. Your hands get sore. Your arms give out. Worse. The snow that you’re sitting on starts to shift up between the cheeks of your…Let’s just say that you end up with one of the worst ice-cream headaches known to man.

Alas, after a very hard and long ten seconds (and thinking about Jacqueline mostly), I did the only thing possible – I cut the rope. Poor Harry dropped like a stone.

Well, more like a snowball. He bounced off an ice cliff just a few metres below, then over a nice piece of life-saving relief before disappearing into a rather nasty looking crevasse. And that’s where poor Harry would have stayed, over there in Peru, under a shifting glacier between a rock and a hard place.

You see I managed to get Harry out, get him back to the UK, only for the clumsy oaf to trip over his laces again and fall in front of a cheese truck. An ignominious end, yes, but ‘tis perhaps fitting to be hit by a speeding block of cheese when, to quote Harry again, ‘You’re in a bit of pickle!’ Hah hah!…erhum.

Go in peace, dear Harry. I will miss you…(just not as much as Jacqueline).

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FURIOUS FICTION – May, 2020

At the beginning of every month, the Australian Writers’ Centre has a competition to write 500 words using prompts. This month, the prompts were:

Your story’s first word must be FIVE.
Your story must include something being replaced.
Your story must include the phrase A SILVER LINING (‘a’ or ‘the’ is fine). 500-word limit.

Below is my story…

Trumped

Five survivors. Five straws. Soon they’d just be four.

Crammed into the lifeboat were Cherry T, a model; Ms Archana Singh, a naturopath; Peter Smith, a CEO; Francois Carre, a Jesuit priest; and Rhonda Rawhide, a Fox News journalist. They (oh, and how they’d laughed) had been the lucky ones. They’d escaped the virus rampaging on the Ruby Princess. But that was then, four long months ago.

Things had quickly gone from bad to worse: a violent collision with a right whale (‘a wrong whale more like it!’ they’d joked) had replaced the confines of their dry lifeboat with a briny pond that was growing dangerously bigger by the day.

There had been more people to start with, fifteen in all, but once they had started to show the faintest of viral symptoms – a cough here and sniffle there – they had conveniently fallen overboard during the night (no one had ever said ‘pushed’ – rather, as Rhonda called it, ‘socially distanced once and for all’).

But another crisis had raised its hungry head: the lifeboat’s rations were out and now only one rational thing remained: who to eat first.

Cocktail straws, their flexible and expandable bends cut off to stop cheating, were drawn from Peter Smith’s hand, who had insisted that, as a CEO of a now collapsed bank, he was most suited to the task, having overseen many staff cuts.

One by one they revealed their straws. Rhonda, to her surprise, had drawn the shortest.

‘I choose Cherry,’ she said without hesitating.

Cherry protested, claiming that there was nothing really left of her, just skin and bone and that her enormous chest was a mere distraction, a lie. ‘There’s no flesh there. They’re just implants!’

Cherry’s skinny carcass would sustain them for a while, Rhonda explained, but her implants would serve a much greater purpose.

‘We won’t last long with the bow ripped up like that, honey. But those big babies will keep us all afloat for weeks!’ Rhonda spat at the foul water lapping at their waists. ‘Trump says Mexicans been usin’ implants for years to cross The Rio Grande. It’s such a problem he’s thinkin’ about building a giant brassiere to catch ‘em all!’

They all applauded. Cherry gave them an angry pout (though it was hard to tell with all the fillers in her lips).

‘Don’t be like that, ma cherie, Cherry’ said Francois Carre. ‘It is…how you say in Eengleesh? A silver lining to your unfortunate death. Your breasts will set us free.’

Cherry wailed and begged for her life as the priest read her last rites (even though she insisted she was a staunch Aquarius) and was dispatched soon enough by Ms Singh with a pestle. Cherry’s breasts were immediately stuffed into the leaking bow.

‘We’re saved!’ they declared.

Alas, weighed down by laws of science (or rather, Cherry’s negatively buoyant breasts), the boat erupted with a furious burp and promptly sank, proving, at last, that fake boobs can trump fake news.

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GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!

At the Clifton Hill train station, I put $20 in the Myki machine, the slot drive slurping up the note. I wait and wait, my tension rising as I can hear the train arriving. Finally, the screen says, ‘Sorry, this machine is unable to process.’
Then…then…then….nothing happens! I can’t believe it. The machine has eaten my money! I dash over to the ticket booth that actually has a human in there.
‘You’re ticket machine is not working!’ I say as I hand over my Myki card and another $20.
‘That machine has got nothing to do with me,’ says the stern-faced blue-uniformed station master, and then credits my card with the thing that has nothing to do with him.
‘So if that’s got nothing to do with you,’ I say, feeling belligerent now. ‘Then why are you using it?’
He sighs heavily at me, handing the card back. ‘Look. I just work here.’
And gives me a look everything has nothing to do with him as if somehow he lives in some kind of universe where cause and consequence do not exist. I almost say to him ‘Then what do you do all day? Mime?’
I take the card and get on the train but in my imagination keep going, inventing conversations with ticket inspectors demanding to see my card.
‘No, no. You can’t have that,’ I say.
‘Sir, we have the authority to request to see your card.’
‘Well, excuse me! I was told by your man that this ticket system has nothing to do him and as he works for the train company that would mean, by logical deduction, that this travel card has nothing to do with public transport, ergo, this very train that I am in sitting in.’
‘Eh?’
‘Dear gentle people who seemed to be employed because of their generous body girth and clipped consonants. Let me explain. The Myki ticket system is an anathema. It swings in its own orbit, a money pit for something not connected to anything, a black hole if you will. For all I know your ticket man could’ve sold me a coupon for Gloria Jeans Coffee. We will not be taken for fools. Good day, sir!’
And that’s when the other passengers stand up and applaud and we all throw our Myki cards up in the air with joy, dancers sashay down the aisle, pouring us shots of vodka and the inspectors agree with us and swing their jackets off and yell, ‘YOU ARE SO RIGHT! TO HELL WITH THAT SHIT!’
But then it’s time to get off at Flinders and with everyone else I trudge up the escalators, marching to the same beat of resignation, as we ping our cards through the ticket scanners.

(p.s. I also thought what the ticket master would be like as a pilot. A passenger would come screaming up and say ‘Captain! The propeller just flew off!’ ‘Sorry, that’s got nothing to do with me. I’m just flying the plane.’

 

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INTERVIEW WITH THE CREATORS OF THE WEBSERIES ‘BRUCE’

Recently, I had the good fortune of having a bit of chat for my RMIT podcast, ‘A Bit of Chat’ with the creators of the Australian web series, Bruce – Warwick Holt, Mat Blackwell and Tony Rogers. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk with such great comic minds and they gave a real insight into the challenges (and joy) of trying to tell Australian stories in an increasingly US-dominated market.

Set in 1788, Bruce is a comedy web series about Bruce Williamson, a hapless young man who deliberately becomes a convict so that he can follow his lady love, Daisy, to the new penal colony in Australia. Alas, she has fallen for a soldier and thus Bruce if forced to share a small tent with Garry, an incompetent hangman; and Mick, an erudite serial killer. Avoiding the avenging codes of chivalry from enraged British soldiers, Bruce also tries to get along with the original inhabitants who want nothing to do with him nor any of his kind. It’s a wry and dark look at our humble beginnings while engendering Australian sense of humour.

Ten years in the making and made on a minuscule budget (yet looks impressively big budget), the series has been shown on youtube only and has already had a huge following.

Here, I speak with Warwick Holt. Warwick is one of Australia’s top comedy writers. As head writer on The Project, Warwick is not only the Winner of 5 AWGIE Awards, he also has a Masters degree in Applied Maths. He has written for Good News Week, The Glass House, The Great Comedy Debate, Good News World, The Sideshow, The Ministry of Truth as well as a documentary, The Phandom Menace. These are just some of the many projects that Warwick is involved in.

 

Next up, is the multi-award winning writer, Mat Blackwell, has been writing stories since he was a wee boy. It wasn’t until he met Warwick Holt that he got drawn into the television world, writing for The Glasshouse, Good News Week, Sideshow, Wednesday Night Fever, to name but a few. Co-writing with Warwick on Bruce, Mat has also written a speculative novel, ‘Beef”, a love story roasting in the future of a vat meat world.

 

Lastly, Tony Rogers. The acclaimed director, apart from directing many award-winning television commercials, has had a very successful run of comedies such as How to Speak AustraliansRats and Casts, Fourth of July (Won’t Last), FUNT and of course, Wilfred, which has gone on to be made as an HBO version starring Elijah Wood.

Credits for the above video:

Camera: Natalie Stojanovski, Armin Bilcevic and Jennifer Argitis
Editing: Natalie Stojanovski and Jennifer Argitis
Script/presenter/locations: Russell McGilton
Principal Direction (though we all had go!): Russell McGilton
Equipment: RMIT Media Department.

Thanks again to Warwick, Mat and Tony for their generous time.

 

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ADELAIDE FRINGE REVIEW

RUSSELL - PERFORMINGBombay To Beijing By Bicycle
Bakehouse Theatre – Main Stage, Wed Mar 6
Rambunctious and physical comedy is the support spoke in this, a true story of one man’s adventures from Bombay to Beijing by bicycle. Intrepid traveller Russell McGilton didn’t want to listen to his father, settle down or invest in a house. He was curious, and needed material for his book to rival author Bill Bryson’s, and so he sets off…
The minimalist set favoured our performer’s animated impersonations, allowing McGilton to show off his dynamism in the form of fast-paced characterisations. It’s possible that anyone with particularly tender sensibilities may be offended by renditions of enthusiastic monkeys or human gastroenteritis, but McGilton is just telling it as it is.
This is an exciting and captivating journey to engage in and lives up to its promise to take you into a world of searing heat, overwhelming dust, sore butts, sacred cows and sweaty balls. A vivid hour to tantalise wannabe travellers.

Jenny Smith

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BOMBAY TO BEIJING BY BICYCLE ADELAIDE FRINGE AND MICF 2013

2 POSTER OF SHOW smaller

**Winner of the George Fairfax Playwright Award**

**SOLD OUT – Melbourne Fringe 2005**  

   **SOLD OUT – Melbourne Comedy Festival 2006**

‘Congratulations. You are having the malaria.’

And so begins Russell’s chaotic adventure as he attempts to cycle from Bombay to Beijing in the quest of writing his travel opus.

‘…a superb ride through the self’ Helen Razer, The Age’

‘…amusing one man show that baffles as much as it delights.’ Edinburgh Festival, HAIRLINE REVIEW, Gareth Braddick 

For further information click here: Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle OR  CLICK HERE TO SEE EXCERPTS FROM THE SHOW

Tickets are already selling fast for the Adelaide Fringe!

4th March to 16th March (No Sundays)

9pm 

Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide

Don’t miss out! Click here:

AF-+-Ftix-white

For Melbourne Festival, click on the image below to take you to the booking page.

Minimal - col

Shows are from 27th March to 9th April at 7.30pm
(No Wednesdays)

Venue TBA

 

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ebook of Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle released

The latest revised version of Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle is available at Momentum Books.

Bonuses include over forty photographs of the trip, maps and script of the award winning one man show (see Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle).

 

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DARK KNIGHT RAISES…SOME QUESTIONS

In the new batman movie Dark Night Rises there are a number of flaws with the villain, Bane . First of all, the mouth-mask. If he takes it off he’ll die. This of course throws up a fist of questions: How did Bane become such a hulking mass of muscle if couldn’t get anything passed his mask except mumbled vowels? Through a straw? Super Protein Enema Shakes? Fat words’

My second point, is that Bane has this rich plummy, Richard Burton voice but so shrouded with mumbles he sounds like he’s wearing Kenny from South Park’s anorak. You can’t understand a word. Not only is his voice incomprehensible, it’s not geographically correct.

You see, Bane grew up in a prison at the bottom of a pit. When Bruce Wayne ascends from the same pit we see that it’s just outside the blue city of Jodhpur, India.

So really, Bane shouldn’t have a rich English accent but an Indian one. Now, I’m sure there are some kick-arse villains in Bollywood films but so far what is running through my limited library of references (okay, unfair stereotypes) would be Bane, henchmen in tow, standing up to the Gotham Police force, shaking his fist in the air as he declares in his sweet Indian lilt: ‘VEE ARE ‘AVING THE ATOM BOMB AND VEE ARE BE GOING TO BE BLOWING YOU UP, RIGHTLY!’

Somehow, I just don’t think Gotham would buckle.

Oh, and another thing, why does Bruce Wayne keep his ‘I’m voicing a porno movie’ voice when he meets Cat Woman as Batman even though they both know he’s really Bruce Wayne? Wouldn’t she just go, ‘Dude, is your utility belt too tight or what?’

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