Back and bloggier than ever!!!

Back and bloggier than ever!

So, yet again, it has been a long time since I last updated this blog… I’m not even sure the B word is appropriate any more as it suggests some sort of continuity.

Why have I decided to try and breathe life into this corpse like corner of the web? Well, I’m working on a new book which I’m getting rather excited about. I’m currently world building, which is something I’ve never really done before having only dealt with short stories where the bubble of the tale was pretty small. With this new project I have grand visions of a multi book serial with spin offs to other ideas that I have rolling around somewhere in the back of my mind closet.

Last night, I went to a short story evening called Talking tales where a lovely chap called Mark read one of my short stories and did a fantastic job of it too. It was a really great feeling to hear the crowds reaction , laughter, gasps, unsettled murmurs as the tale came to a close. It was very much like playing music, which I do from time to time, and actually having that instantaneous feedback and the feeling that, yes, I’ve done it right, it’s working god damn it… It works!! It works!!!… Was a really great feeling, all yummy inside… Forgive the Dr Emmet Brown moment there.

I plan to be far more active in the self proclaimed capacity of an author and so shall end-ever to keep this blog up to date. Mainly I’ll be chatting about cool resources I’ve found in my hunt to refine my craft and, possibly, put up little stories from time to time.

Keep warm out there in the Oliverse… It’s a chilly place.






Oliver Kennett

“Hello darkness my old friend”

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, The Sound Of Silence.


The early sun is a pleasant warmth on my face as I make my shambling way down Picton Street. I swing my white cane from side to side, tapping the uneven pavement and occasionally clonking hollowly into empty bins that boom like fetid base drums.

Reaching the end of the road, I listen for the wheeze of the extractor fan, sniff for the permanent landmark that is discarded chips and dropped kebab meat, and then step through the slicing shadow and into the shop. It is cool, the scent of news paper and magazine print is fresh as morning coffee. From somewhere in the back I hear the tinny voice of a radio announcer calling in the hour, like a town crier in miniature.

“Good morning there sir.”

Like most people, it unnerves me to find someone already in a room which I expect to be empty. Of course this is a shop, it would be ridiculous for it to be empty, and yet not knowing the location of people still unnerves me. It takes time to scan a room for sounds, scents, the slight tickle of air displaced by a body.

I turn my head toward the speaker, he is behind the counter.

“Morning, can I just get a pint of milk please.” I pause, thinking about last night’s pizza. “Better make that fully skimmed.” “No problem my friend.”

I feel a little daft, as I hear him leave his counter and plunge into the shop’s depths, skimmed milk is hardly going to off set a thousand calorie pizza.

Another voice from deeper between the shelves stops him and I hear a rapid fire exchange of a language, that I’m ashamed to say, I can’t identify. It sounds like he might be a while (kindness is rarely punctual).

And so, pulling out the perpetual sidearm of this magnificent age, I check Facebook. Nothing. No messages, no notifications. I sigh and flip over to Twitter which, in many ways is the cousin of Facebook, though a more spite filled, cynical, middle aged and drunk cousin.

The voice of the screen reader gabbles away through my bluetooth headset. I slide my finger down the screen, the voice obediently reciting recycled jokes, political vitriol, thoughtless brain farts and…

“@Blind Technology: A new app for the blind, Look4Me, uses AI to identify objects using your phones camera.”

I’ve heard of these sorts of apps before. Some clever algorithm processes the image and compares it with a database of known objects. Hey, it’s worth a try. I tap the link and begin to download the app.

“Here you go my friend.” The man behind the counter has returned and, before I can stop him, there is the rustle and he has plunged the tiny bottle of milk into a large plastic bag. Apparently, there is no need to save the environment where a blind guy’s milk is concerned.

I pay and with a:

“See ya…” A little joke of mine, I leave.

The return journey down the street is hampered by pedestrians, utterly oblivious to the blind man approaching from their rear until there is a collision of bodies and stammered apologies.

“It’s fine.” I say as I disentangle my cane from between a woman’s legs, “Completely my fault.” Of course it isn’t but, hey, she sounds pretty and smells nice.

I reach the relative quiet of the alley that runs beside my building, I let myself in and trot up the stairs, my cane clack, clack, clacks on the steps behind me as I attempt to juggle milk and keys.

The flat smells of last night’s pizza, my shower gel, coffee, and an odor which is difficult to identify. Living just off Stokes Croft in Bristol, one of the most diverse areas in a diverse city, odd smells are common, and are usually overlaid by a pervading scent of weed.

My keys clatter as I toss them onto the kitchen counter and set about filling the coffee maker. The rush of water, the thump of the tap as I turn it off, the gurgle of the machine as it awakes and then the increasing scent of coffee.

As I wait, I slip out my phone, an act as autonomous as breathing, and open it to the last viewed page. Yes, Look4Me, another half formed thought in a world rife with distraction. Telling myself that this could be useful and worth a shot, I open the app.

“Welcome to Look4Me,” announces my screen reader. “Look4Me is your key to distinguishing objects around the house, out and about and can even read text for you. Just hit ‘next’ to get going and start taking pictures.”

I follow these instructions, point my phone down the work surface and tap the ‘take picture’ button. There is the simulated click of a camera shutter and a computerised voice says: “Working, please wait.”. I too go to work and fix myself a large coffee.

When I scoop up my phone Look4Me has processed the photograph.

“A kitchen counter with a white sink, a coffee maker and two plates.”

Hey, pretty cool. I point it at the kitchen table.

“A mug on a table on a brown mat.”

Cool. Each time it takes a good twenty seconds, not bad but not great either.

I snap a picture of the floor.

“Grass” it says. I snap another picture of the floor. “Grass” It seems pretty certain about this. Remaining seated, I point the camera at the window from which I can feel a spoke of sunlight stroking my face and snap another photograph.

“Window, plant, shoulder.”

I frown, the first two are right. There is a bonsai tree on the window ledge but I’m on the second floor, the ‘shoulder’ part is slightly odd… unless it picked up someone in an opposite window. I take the photograph again.

“Window, plant.”

I guess it must still be buggy. Giving it the benefit of the doubt I continue for the next twenty minutes in, what I tell myself is a test, but of course, I’m just procrastinating and avoiding starting the day’s work.

It recognises TV, chess set, dumb bell (fortunately it doesn’t add, ‘dusty’), guitar, it also identifies my computer correctly, ‘Apple Mac Air’. It even tells me that ‘a white car’ drives past my house as I hold my iPhone out of the window.

I sigh. The day is marching on and I have work to do. I close the app, make myself another cup of coffee and settle in for the morning.

Mid day

I stop for lunch, it’s early I know, but work has been gruelling, a blog post for a law firm entitled “What Post Brexit Britain Means For Your Investments”. I shut the lap top lid a little to hard, stretch and climb stiffly to my feet.

As I stroll through the flat I snap a few pictures here and there, a bookshelf, a pot plant, a picture of a ship. It’s still having some problems as it also announced, forearm, back of a man’s head and, for some bizarre reason, a peacock.

I’m reaching for a loaf of bread when my fingers encounter a cylindrical object, ridged and wrapped in paper. I take the tin can out of the cupboard. Tin cans, as a rule, are a problem area for the blind as they have no discernible features to say what they are. It is like the label has been ripped away. Mealtimes can become similar to games of Russian Roulette, though, instead of a bullet to the brain, you simply get a can of peaches on your toast.

“Heinz baked beans” My new and trusted app says, and then “Hand.”

I shake my head, odd, I didn’t think I had my hand in shot, ah well, these new lenses are wide angle, aren’t they. I set about making lunch, adding a little brown sauce to the beans; an old trick from my Dad who claims soul responsibility for the innovation. Now, where is that chef’s knife, I’m sure I left it here, on the draining board? It would be wrong to say that misplacing things is the worst part about being blind, there are many other things like being unable to drive, gaze into a lover’s eyes, draw pictures of pretty girls in cafes before presenting it to them and vanishing into the day never to be seen again, but it’s certainly up there. I give up and get a normal, far less deadly and more practical piece of cutlery out of the draw to slice the toast.

I sit at the kitchen table and eat lunch. The toast is crunchy and hot, not yet soggy with bean juice, just the way I like it. As I eat my lunch I listen to the familiar sounds about the building, the bang of a door here, the wrap of feet there, the creak of a floorboard there. Familiar, comforting in their own way. I recall first moving in, how noisy I found the place, the road outside awash with voices, shouts and cries. Coming from such a quiet village in Cornwall it seemed abnormally loud but now I find it hard to sleep in a quiet house.

I finish lunch, wash up the pan, the plate and crockery and leave them on the draining board to dry and put the kettle on.

As the water begins to boil, I think of the growing pile of post on the window ledge just inside the door. I usually wait for a friend to come over and read it too me, usually a humiliating process as most of them are bills, but maybe, with this new app I can avoid the blushes and famed joviality.

Look4Me struggles when I hold up the first letter until I realises that it is upside down. I try again and the app says:

“Christopher Cline, 2 Picton Street, Montpellier, Bristol, BS6 5QA… and a smiling man.”

Bemused, I hit the repeat button. Again, the app says:

“Christopher Cline, 2 Picton Street, Montpellier, Bristol, BS6 5QA… and a smiling man.”

‘And a smiling man?’ What does that mean? There’s a picture of a smiling man drawn next to my address? I think. Could there be a reflective surface in front of me? The number of times I’ve spooked myself late at night by wondering what a noise is, only to remember I put the dish washer on, or the radio has been left on at the very edge of hearing, makes me certain that this can be solved. Maybe this app still needs a little work. Yes, that’s it, all this technology is still in its infancy, it’s going to make mistakes. I send a quick email to the developer to ask about these oddities. He’ll probably thank me for my feedback. I notice that the developer lives in America, oh well, he might not get it until later.

I yawn. There is one thing to be said about being a freelance copywriter, and that is the optional afternoon nap. And I wonder why I don’t sleep well at night.

I crawl onto my bed, put the radio on low and drift off to Vaughan Williams, soft breathing and the everyday sounds of the street beyond my window.


I wake up fuzzy headed, confused as to where I am, what time it is and a dry mouth. I clatter about in the kitchen, unable to find a clean glass and drink straight from the tap.

It’s early evening, or so my braille watch tells me. Presumably it is dusky out there, but then again, I don’t know. I shower and get ready to go out. I’m meeting a friend round the corner to watch some music at the Left Bank, a diamond of a place. Just before I leave I check my email, a response from the Look4Me app developer.

‘Hi Chris,

Thanks so much for your email. Due to learning curve of the AI that Look4Me uses, and that it is very new, it will produce false positives. A common example of this is, rather than saying it doesn’t know what a carpet is, it will make an intelligent guess and say it is grass. But please, feel free to forward any images so I might see where the AI is going wrong.

All the best,

Look4Me Developer’

I check the time, I’ve got five minutes so I upload all 25 images and mark the ones with, what my new friend Bill calls, “False positives.” I notice that it is over half of them. He’s obviously got his work cut out.

I shrug into my jacket, run my fingers through my hair, hoping it looks okay, and grab my keys. It’s pub time.

The witching hour

I’m pissed. It takes me a while to find my graffiti covered door and let myself in. I clomp up the stairs and, after dropping the keys several times, let myself into the flat. The familiar scent of the flat hits me, coffee, burned toast, my aftershave, laundry and that new smell, the one I still can’t identify.

I toss my keys onto the work surface. As I find and fill a pint glass with water and a pinch of salt, sure hangover cure, I notice how quiet it is in the street. It’s odd but not unusual. For a moment, I stand at the open window sipping my briny water, feeling the cool night air on my warm face and listen to the city. Distant car alarms chirp like urban cicadas, closer too, mens voices are raised in a song that I don’t know and, by the sounds of it, neither do most of the men singing it.

I sigh, and go into my room, put my pint of water on my bedside table, laboriously pull off my shoes and fall backwards. I feel dizzy and a little sick.

I hotch up the bed until my back rests against the Jenga stack of pillows, grunt as I pull my phone from my tight jeans pocket and check my notifications. A few messages from clients, they can wait. I blow a raspberry into the darkened room, the spittle lands on my face. Oo, an email from Bill, my mate Billy Willy… I snigger and nearly skip reading it, surely it can wait until the morning. Ah, screw it, lets see what Billy Willy has to say about his silly app that doesn’t work.

‘Dear Chris,

Thanks for getting back to me with the photographs. As I say, Look4Me is very young and can make mistakes however, apart from a couple of errors, i.e the peacock, very odd, the AI was correct. In the future, to make sure you don’t have the same problem, when you are taking a photograph of an object, you need a clean line of sight, difficult I know when you can’t see, but perhaps, you could ask your friend to not interfere with the shot. Bill.’

I read the last line again. A crawling dread creeps over my body, my skin contracts. I slowly sit up and turn my head trying to see through my eternal, impenetrable darkness. I then think of a missing chef’s knife. My throat has suddenly become very dry, I swallow. What malevolent thing does this darkness hold, this darkness just before me, standing right in front of me?

With a trembling hand, I reach out.

The end

The Seagull Based on the gothic poem ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allan Poe

Warning, the following poem may contain language which some may find inappropriate… Whilst others find incomprehensible. You have been warned…

The Seagull

Once, upon a seaside dreary, after I scot a pasty cheery,
With many a grunt and furious volume of chomp and gnaw.
After I plodded, hands a clapping, suddenly there came a flapping
as if some bird want to crapping, crapping on my head galore.
“Tis some blue tit” I chuckled, “Flapping whence it came before,
this it is and nothing more”.

Ah, distinctly I remember all the pasties I dismember,
and each golden, crunchy timbre, that rolls echoing down the shore.
Eagerly I wished the morrow, when I could ask to borrow
from my mates purses till hollow, borrow from my mate Lenore.
That fat, and ugly donkey who the janners call Lenore,
Shameless here, the skutty whore.

And with each pastry clad diversion, and the runs that will be certain,
Thrilled me, filled me with contents I’ve probably scoffed before.
So that now, before this odd meeting, I sat stringing and squeezing, :
“”Tis Dominos Pizza entreating entry at my chalet door,
Some tasty pizza for eating at my chalet door,
visitors I tots adore."

Presently a smell grew stronger, causing my mind to wonder:
“Dude”, said I, “Or duddette, truly your business I adore,
But the fact is I was crapping, and so gently you came tapping,
whilst I was crapping, and you were tapping at my chalet door,
That I scares was sure I heard you,” Here I open my chalet door –
Twenty-eight empty bottle s of rattler
Twelve pizza boxes,
One broken surf board,
One badly assembled barbecue,
Two million fag butts,
One drunk midget,
One crashed UFO,
exactly half of the Spice Girls,
Fourteen angry space hoppers there… and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long wishing there was more beer in,
Thinking, funky dreams no surf pro had ever dreamed before.
But the rattler bottles were unbroken and the space hoppers went unspoken,
And, for some reason, Terry Wogan, whispered the name ‘Lenore’.
This I bellowed, and an echo mumbled back “Lenore”,
Only this and nothing more.

Back into the chalet stamping, giving the door a right good slamming,
, Soon again I heard a flapping some what louder than before.
“Fuck sake” said I, "Tis some tit head at my window lattice,
Let’s have a butchers and this pain in the ass explore,
And this pain in the ass explore,
Tis wild space hoppers and nothing more.

Open here I broke the shutter, whoops, and with many a shit and farty flutter,
in there stepped a dick head seagull of the northern Cornish shore.
Not a cup of tea made he, not a gold nor chocolate egg laid he,
But, with the continence of a new born baby, proceeded to shit all over my living room floor,
Shat upon my lovely red rug placed upon my living room floor,
Shat and laughed and nothing more.

Then this dumb ass bird defiling, with it’s poop ever higher piling,
By the stupid and rude expression and bandana that it wore,
“”Yo“You deserve a damn good shaven’ I,” I said, “Will smash you with some paving’”
Ghastly dim and dick head seagull rambling from the Cornish shore,
Tell me what your sodding name is from your dirty little maw?”
Yelled the seagull “Never more!”.

Much I bellowed at this un-brainy fowl to hear bollocks so clearly,
Though it’s answer fuck all meaning, “fuck off you utter bore”.
For we cannot help agreeing that no when a sea gull peeing
Ever I’m cursed for bird shit on my living room floor,
Poop or wee all over my living room floor,
From a dick head seagull called ‘Never more’.

And the seagull, a bobble hat a knitting, still is shitting, still is shitting,
All over my X box, my Jessica Rabbit poster and living room floor,
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the candle light, wax a streaming is joining the crap on the living room floor,
And the stain that lies spreading on the chalet floor,
Shall be washed out… Nevermore.

The end

Die internet… Die die die!!!

“My name is Oliver and I am a communications addict…”

The group gathered here today applaud with sallow skinned hands as they squint whilst struggling to focus on something more than two feet away from their face.

“Well done Oliver.” A rotund man in a Kasabian t-shirt which has seen many wears and, from the mosaic of stains, no recent washes.

And why am I hear you may ask… The short answer is, well, I’m not, it was just a punchy way of getting your attention. I very much doubt there is such a help group in existence and, if there were it would most likely be online where people have avatars of themselves in much better shape and looking far less like the cast of the hills have eyes.

Why do I not simply say, ‘internet addiction’ or something similar? Well it’s not though. For me the internet is bringing up a search bar, typing in something inane like “What size shoe is the pope” and seeing what comes up, soon I am clicking on random links and shooting off in another direction of, what I like to imagine is research. There is a deep seeded belief in me that anything learned, no matter how irrelevant at the time can be useful in the future. Some writers refer to a process called ‘composting’ where ideas are left somewhere out of sight in their mind to decompose, recompose and become something of value. In this example I feel I am simply adding to that pile of crap to create something monstrous yet, let us hope, benign… And yet, I think I may over do it… Reading an article about a fly that burrows into an ants head, lays an egg which then hatches into a maggot which controls the ant is all very disgusting and fascinating, but it’s not really going to help me in writing a story about a drug cartel made up of adored women from history gone bad.

And still, I digress… I say I am a communication addict because it is not just the internet, it is Facebook, twitter, text messages, I messages, phone calls, letters and possibly any other destruction to reaffirm that I am here and other people are aware of me. Do we all feel like this, that we need people to be aware that we are alive or is it only narcissists like myself? Hello? Anyone reading this?

Today I have taken the step of putting my iPhone on to airplane mode, a rather misleading and consequently disappointing title, switched to the hard drive on my laptop on which there is no internet browser, email application or twitter client and have become disconnected… No distractions… I am going to log my experiences throughout the day, my 24 hours of coms blackout… I like that, makes me sound like special forces… Anyway, I’m off to eat some cheerios.

88.00 hours

I have done it, I’ve flicked the switch, I am now in coms blackout. I wonder what is going on in the world beyond. What happens if there is a national emergency, an astroid tumbling toward Earth and we have but hours to live? I check myself, that’s stupid, I couldn’t do anything about that anyway… All the same I keep an ear out for any commotion in the street though, unfortunately, I am in a rather quiet village at the best of times. The ‘fear of missing out’ is already kicking in.

FOMO, as the internet geeks say, is what drives such things as twitter and Facebook. It’s the overwhelming belief that something truly amazing is going on and you’re going to miss it… Which is stupid really because when you do eventually log onto Facebook your timeline is bursting with pictures of babies that look like screaming pink potatoes, peoples poorly failed misery in status’s such as “I hate this…” with subsequent comments such as “Hope you’re okay babe, want to talk about it” and the enigmatic response “No, it’s just stuff.”… Obviously I have cleaned up the spelling there for you so you can read it comfortably. As for twitter, it’s even worse. It’s time dependent, a tweet comes and a tweet is gone, it’s like watching traffic on a motorway or, if you’re an active twitter user, it’s like throwing your little boat of bollocks into a river already fully jammed with other peoples little boats of bollocks. There are some gems in there, some things that make you ‘LOL’, but for the most part it’s people complaining about politics, family, friends, the bin men who seem to get a particular bad rap on there or other twitter users. Twitter is a bitter place. In fact, from now on I’m going to call it ‘bitter’… Actually I won’t, because that’s kinda stupid.

Anyway, I go to make a coffee and try to work out what I am going to do with these 24 hours… Work on a book? I peep into the recesses of my mind which hold the tools of that craft, they are obscured by webs and dust… I shiver to think what could have created such things, do I have mind spiders that lurk in even deeper and darker corners… Or is the ‘web’ just my sub-conscious clamouring to read about Jane:

“I’ve just had a smoothy and am going on a sixty five billion mile run, wish me luck. XXX”

Oh piss off Jane…

10.00 Hours

Feeling a bit jittery… Probably too much coffee… Six cups? Is that too much? I’ve done fifty press ups too, written about a thousand words on a short story which has lain dormant for many a moon, played a few rounds of poker on my iPhone, lost, and exchanged some vague insults with my dad. Note: I’m currently at my parents so maybe this isn’t a zero communication day as such.. No! I’m trying to justify discontinuing this horrific afar… Okay, focus Olz… You can do this. I’ve already tried to check Facebook about six times but obviously my iPhone was off line. Part of me wonders what is going on behind this insubstantial vail and I anticipate reconnecting tomorrow morning at 8.00 hours sharp, and yet another part of me knows that there will be little of consequence. Oh yes, a candy crush saga request, cheers Gordon…

My work flow seems piratic, has my attention span dwindled so…

13.00 Hours

Lunch has been consumed… Earlier than usual might I add and i have switched onto tea. Ideas keep floating into my head with the intention of either confirming or dispelling them online… For example I was wondering on the number of calories per slice of a medium Dominos pizza… I then went on to wonder if, when entangling two tales of an over all story whether it was preferable to do them separately and reintegrate them in the edit or to go back and forth in a linear way… And in neither case could I find even a partly satisfactory answer.

A distraction arrived in the form of some blocks of wax that I ordered. I decided, whilst web rambling and encountering a page about it, to start wax carving. The two blocks, each costing £10, are about the size of four packs of cards… Another great internet buy. This experiment is going to save me money I feel… And get me fit… And cause me a heart attack due to a caffeine overdose.

Also, on the subject of caffeine, my dad was accusing me of drinking all his coffee. I pointed out that if I was a barista working for £10 an hour, to make him coffee, as I do, it would take approximately three minutes, costing him 50 p… In turn the coffee capsules which he buys are 29 p each… In this way I am being veritably charitable by drinking his coffee… He disagrees.

I m questioning this experiment, what is it’s purpose, will I have an epiphany and cast away my laptop and, after another quick losing hand of poker, my iPhone? Of course not….

It’s only been five hours and I’m already striding through the house trying to find things to do… Are these withdrawal symptoms?

16.00 Hours

I’m hallucinating, when a woman from the red cross came to the door I had an overwhelming urge to retweet her, such a good cause… The conversation didn’t seem to last long enough to me, no doubt my coffee breath and crazed appearance dissuaded her from further conversation.

I imagine her out there, ‘LOL’ing online with all her red cross buddies, Bono, and Geldof about me. Oo look, she’s just been poked by the pope… pope poke.

I need to stop thinking like this. I’m currently holding the block of overpriced wax and trying to imagine what I might create with it… A phone? A miniature iPad? A mythical beast, with wifi?

Has it come to the point in the world that to be disconnected frustrates any spiritual, financial expansion? With out email could one carry on correspondence with people in business? Could one satisfy those intellectual itches? Could one socialise and keep up with their circle of friends? I’m not sure. The only people I know who aren’t on the internet are My gran, 88, and Yoda, though the latter probably doesn’t need the internet.

In which case, there is no choice, we are dragged kicking and screaming into this world just because everyone else is. It’s like some great maw in the earth which has opened gobbling up face to face communication, freedom of will while belching great plumes of adverting, images to aspire to, wishes that can never be fulfilled… The internet is the devil!..

I wonder if that cute chick has poked me back.. No Olz, just no.

16.52 Hours

Bollocks to it, I give up…. besides, how else am I going to post this on my blog for you to read?

Relief rushes through me as I reengage all of my communication streams. I anticipate an influx of messages, requests, tweets, emails and missed calls.

My phone buzzes, I snatch it up.

“Stop drinking all my coffee. Dad”

Maybe the other messages are bottle necked because there are so many of them? So, dear reader, leave me here, leave me in my room as twilight approaches, surrounded by empty cups, a phone clutched in one hand whilst the other, seemingly of its own volition, hits refresh on my computer keyboard… Refresh… Refresh… Refresh…

OTB and the hipsters of Bristol… 1st horror

He woke at the first blush of day, stretched and climbed from bed. He began his day with a sun salutation, his muscles loosening, his mind clearing before finishing last nights, sustainably sourced sushi. He sat with his coffee, fair trade, stroked his designer beard and smiled. He tilted his head, wondering where the sudden feeling of unease had come from. He resolved to talk about it at his next ‘Mindfulness’ group meeting.

Deep within the diabolical monster’s mind Ollie The Bastard thrashed. This wasn’t the plan. He knew his mission but somewhere along the way he had stopped pretending and started to become one of the fiends. He twisted in his bonds and screamed.

The monster only frowned, scratched its ear and resumed writing a blog entry on the dangers of big business and the terrors of a capitalist regime , the logo emblazoned on his computer glittering like due covered fruit in the soft morning light.

Mr Otter the dirty rotter


Mr Otter the dirty rotter

Mr Otter liked to be mean. It made him feel warm and fuzzy inside. He got the same enjoyment out of being mean as someone like you or I would get from doing something nice and good.

“I’m just born that way.” Mr Otter would declare and then go running off to upset someone.

The people of the riverbank said that Mr Otter the dirty rotter had a heart made of a blackened acorn and a soul as slimy and unpleasant as bacon fat. None of the other river side dwellers could be certain of this claim without performing some sort of surgery on Mr Otter which is, of course, a ridiculous thing to even contemplate.

“I’m going to do surgery on Mr Otter The Dirty Rotter to see if he has a heart made of a blackened acorn.” Said Timmy two brains; the local dinosaur and therefore doctor. “I will then attempt to prove that Mr Otter’s soul is as slimy and unpleasant as bacon fat.”

He coughed gently into his claw. No one in the old tree said anything. Most had fallen asleep as soon as the tree hall meeting began and were snoring very rudely and very loudly.

“Does anyone object?” Timmy Two Brains asked.

The riverside council shook their heads. They were sure that if Timmy Two Brains had an idea it was probably a good one, he did have two brains after all. Besides, they were bored and wanted to go and play outside in the sun rather than be inside this ancient tree.

“It is settled then.” Timmy Two Brains gave a wide smile which exposed his razor sharp teeth.

That night, as the moon rose into the night sky like a giant pingpong ball a claw was inserted in the lock of number 13 river bank cottages. The door swung slowly open to reveal a mat on the floor which read:

“Unwelcome” In big rude letters.

As you may have guessed, this was the home of Mr Otter The Dirty Rotter.

Timmy two Brains slipped silently into the house with his medical bag tucked under his stubby arm. The door was shut with a quiet snick of the lock.

Despite being mean Mr Otter The Dirty Rotter was very house proud. This was a strange thing as he never had any visitors. He would sneer as he dusted and say:

“I’m glad no one will be able to enjoy my spider web free house.” while the spiders themselves scuttled away to mutter and grumble in dark corners.

The house was full of shadows which, to Timmy Two Brains, seemed to harbour all sorts of horrors. A slipper there peeking out from under a chair. Timmy Two Brains shivered and what was that glinting wickedly in the kitchen. Timmy Two Brains swallowed, he turned his gaze away from the thing that looked horribly like a jar of peanut butter.

“I must be careful.” Timmy Two Brains whispered to himself.

“Probably shouldn’t have whispered that to my self.” The dinosaur whispered again.

“Or then.” His leathery brow furrowed.

It briefly crossed the clever dinosaurs mind that this was a rather silly situation. He was fairly certain that dinosaurs were rather unlikely to be around in the present age, let alone being a fully qualified medical practitioner but the thought soon passed and he crept deeper into the house.

Doors led off in every direction. Timmy Two Brains knew that behind one of them slumbered Mr Otter The Dirty Rotter but which one was it?

He listened carefully. Was that the sound of someone snoring like a jet engine on take off? Was that a sign that said:km>?
. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
“Mr Otter’s bedroom, shove off.” on the door.

Timmy Two Brains had a suspicion that he was getting close.

“I mustn’t make a noise.” The dinosaur whispered to himself.

“Probably shouldn’t have whispered to myself then.” He whispered again.

“I never learn.” and with that, he dashed into Mr Otter The Dirty Rotters room.

Now, you probably expect Mr Otter to be well, an otter. The funny thing is, he wasn’t. He was a small talking rose garden. He had simply taken the name to be awkward and confuse people.

There he lay with his flowers gently waving in the breeze from the window and glittering with water droplets that fell in a constant mist from a large shower head. He looked very beautiful.

With a roar Timmy Two Brains let atop the mean and unfortunate Mr Otter The Dirty Rotter. The spade came down and the dinosaur began to merrily dig.

“Oy.” Said Mr Otter. “Stop digging me up. That’s rather rude.”
I“I’m trying,” said Timmy Two Brains.“To do research on you without your consent, so please lie there and be quiet.”

But of course Mr Otter The Dirty Rotter was having none of it.

“I give you my consent.” He said cruelly. “You are very welcome to dig me up for medical research purposes.”

The dinosaur stopped and leant on his spade.

“But if you give me your consent that means I can’t dig you up without your consent.”

“I know.” Said the wicked little rose garden. “It’s deliciously horrible isn’t it?”

“You are so mean.” Said Timmy Two Brains as he wiped a tear from his black, reptilian eye.

“I was born that way. Don’t judge me man.” The horrible little rose garden said smugly. He rolled out of his flower bed, for this is where rose gardens sleep and slithered across the room to the large brass telephone that hung on the wall.

“Now I’m going to call the police and have you shot for being a stupid dinosaur.”

“Oh come on.” The dinosaur implored. “I’m a modern day marvel.”

Of course Mr Otter The Dirty Rotter, being mean, ignored the dinosaur’s protests and very soon Timmy Two Brains got shot.

You can find information about Timmy Two Brains and other such mad scientists at your local skip. Say that I sent you but please don’t use my real name.

© Oliver Kennett 2011

The sticky issue of charities and wages explained

Warning… This may be a controversial post so do not read if you suffer from high blood pressure, are expecting a child, own a cricket bat and know where I live.

You’ve run a marathon, you’ve done a bake sale, you’ve shaved your hair off and you’ve pestered people with donation pots. Now you send all that hard earned money into the charity of your choice and sit back knowing that your effort has gone directly to cleaning water, providing shelter, getting girls into education or, my own favourite, looking after donkeys.

As a professional writer I have a variety of clients, law firms, estate agents, surf websites, newspapers, myself… of course, and charities. Now, here is the interesting thing when you say:

“I volunteer for a charity.”

This suggests you do things out of the kindness of your heart, a sweet and generous person who puts themselves before others, a veritable hero and in some lights, that might just be a halo hovering over your head.


“I work for A charity and get paid.”

This suggests that you’re a cold hearted bastard who is trying to steal food out of children’s mouths, rip shirts from refugees backs and piddle in the only well in the village, just for shits and gigs and, in certain lights, are they not horns poking from under your fringe?

Well… I work for a charity and I get paid.

I can hear you gasping from here. What? Kind and sweet Olz, the timid adventurer? The jester from Leicester?
It’s true, all of it… Well, I don’t actually have a fringe. This blog article deals with the rather sticky issue of being paid to work for a charity and, I do have to point out, these are merely my views and I’m very open to yours so please comment after you’ve finished reading.

Take a shiny pound coin. ideally that little nugget would be pushed into a little hole and, somewhere in the world, a wonderful thing would happen. It would rain, the blind would see again, the ravages of war would vanish and donkeys would be one sterling pound happier.

And this is what, as charities, we have to make you believe. It’s a fairytale we sell. We want you to believe that every drop of sweat you shed, every relative you annoyed and every singed eyebrow from that bake sale has been £100 percent effective in solving the issue you care about.

Take our pound. It was put in a pot. It was cashed in and went into the charities bank account, where, please look away if you get upset easily, it seased to exist, it dissolved into the mass. All of it’s pennies sloshing together with all the other pennies.

Now what? well this is the thing, and you’re not going to like this… Charities are businesses. I know, it sounds horrible. Business is run by fat cats and charity is done by sweet giving people. As, with most things in this world, the truth is somewhere in between.

The difference between a ‘for profit’ business and a ‘not for profit’ is purpose. A ‘for profit’ might sell you a gadget, food, clothes or maybe a life sized model of a t-rex. A ’not for profit’ business will sell a solution. It will see a problem and it will generate revenue to solve that problem.

They are both still businesses and, as such, businesses have to run and therefore they need staff who, yes, we’ve come to the point of this blog, need to be paid. As lovely as the feeling of ‘doing good’ is, it doesn’t put a roof over your head, food on the table or any of the other things that you expect to be able to afford from working in any job.

Yes, people could work for free but, you know what? The charity would fail. Volunteering is escentail for any charity, don’t get me wrong, but a volunteer can screw up, they can sleep in, they can quit and they are not accountable to anyone apart from their own conscience. You pay a member of staff and they can do none of those things. It ensures the longevity of the charity, it means it can run like a business and continue to provide the solution and continue to help people in what ever way that charity’s mission statement says.

So please continue to volunteer, make a difference. Support causes close to your heart because they are important, they change the world.

Such industrious machines need managing and maintaining and that takes time, it takes a lot of time. Be comforted that when the limelight fades, the hordes of volunteers scurry away to the next fashionable cause, we’re still here, we’re still doing good work and fighting the fight because it’s our job..

What are your views? Is it okay for people to be given a wage when working in a charity? Under what conditions should this be allowed?

#AustraliaDay An extract from #InvisibleShores South America

By the time Australia day came around, Jack was back on his feet and if not an example of peak human health with his pale skin and loss of appetite; something unheard of for Jack, he was willing. A testament to his stubborn nature.
I had never heard of ‘Australia day’ before. Was there an England day? Of course if there had been I assumed we were not allowed to celebrate it as we may have offended people from different countries, quite rightly so. Why should we have had pride in a country that disallows pride in a country? They had just saved us the effort.
The day bloomed fresh and bright. By this time the hostel was only half full, Word of Mike’s culinary misdemeanours had spread, the little tyke. As a consequence there were only two Ozzies that I was aware of. One called Sophie: a diminutive girl who was very sweet with large breasts. Jack spent many diplomatic hours accusing her of them being fake, the little tyke. The other was a guy called Sebastian, who was cool in a sort of geeky way, Fernando our ever subtle Argentinean friend proclaimed that Seb was gay and proceeded to refer to him as simply “The gay”, the little tyke.
A game of cricket was organised between our hostel and Loki, which was heavily populated by our upside down cousins.
The two groups of men approached each other under the mid-day sun. The meeting spot was clearly marked half way down the beach. The sea was the only witness of this ancient feud, well, the sea and anyone that walked by.
Eyes were locked and stances were that of gunslingers.
One man wearing a hat stippled with corks in the brim stepped forward.
“You came then.” Every eyeball was on him, every ear cocked to hear.
“We did.” Rory, our intrepid leader and manager of The Point spat on the sand.
The two men bowed like marshal artists.
“I declare,” the man in the hat held up a sun-darkened hand, “This game of cricket begun!”
And so they played. It was fast, vicious and over all too quickly. I never knew that a game, conceived for recreational purposes could be perverted into such an impassioned display of terror and pain. Balls zipped through the air like missiles to meet with a thunderous clap on the face of the bat. On that barren beach where the sea met the land foes were slaughtered.
I was very proud of my travel companions. Jack had destroyed both the Australians defence and racked up a great number of runs before he was put out. All that was required was a mop up by Liam, who delivered a series of blistering throws. The Australians; looking for a fun day of sport, had been reduced to weeping men, beaten in just an hour.
Liam was suddenly the celebrity, having finished them off. The memory of Jack’s contribution soon faded in the face of Liam’s humble admissions of greatness and his graceful acceptance of worship.
Jack, in sheer morbid despair of his stolen glory, plodded into the sea in a half-hearted attempt to drown himself. Several minutes passed until with a cry Jack emerged from the water like a fabled monster from the depths…
“My fags! He held up a sad looking packet with smeared ink on the front, containing several bloated tumescent objects. “They’re ruined.” And Jack’s misery was complete.
Liam returned to the hostel smug and glorious. He wondered around wearing the stolen Australian flag like some super hero who had been deported from Victorian England. As far as I know The Point still possesses that flag which was won so brutally on that most savage of days from the salt-callused hands of Loki.

Buy the new book ‘Invisible Shores, South America’

A memory of a friend

“You’re such a tory.” He sneered and waved his bottle of beer at me like a boozy lightsaber flat on batteries.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

“Pedders, I…”

But he, like a monkey swinging through a communist forest had already reached for another branch.

“You think it’s okay for people to suffer while you fudging (He didn’t say ‘fudging’) tories live the high life? Huh?”

We were seated on the stern of a narrowboat, puttering through the english countryside on one of the most beautiful days of 2015. Pedders had removed his shirt, in his mind becoming a sexual flytrap to any of the middle aged women who were coming up the canal in the opposite direction.

“She defo wanted a piece.” Pedders said as he turned to watch the flustered elderly woman pass by.

“She can hear you mate.”

“Well,” Pedders, never to be unsettled by such annoyances as the sensibilities of narrow boat life, shrugged. “She did want a piece.” He smiled and winked at the escaping boat which I noticed had sped up.

His head snapped back round. “Anyway, you think it’s alright for people to go to food banks whilst bankers drink champagne in hot tubs in the alps?”

I briefly thought of the squat little woman who was the manager of my bank bobbing around like a plump wrinkled pea with white capped mountains in the background. I wished I hadn’t.

Not for the first time on this trip, I considered pushing Pedders into the canal for just a little peace. Instead, I turned my face to the sun, took a swig of beer and let his socialist rant break over me.

Most that read this will have been lucky enough to know the friend I depict here. Tragically this friend recently left our midsts. For those of you who knew him, my heart felt sympathy goes out to you and yet, even more sympathy goes out to those who didn’t know him. He was a rare and beautiful human, thoughtful, kind with a burning need for justice and, ultimately, a disappointment that justice wasn’t forthcoming in the world.

In itself, this snapshot memory I have shown you does not do him justice, it is a fragment of the person he was but, it is my fragment to remember, and when I do it makes me smile.

This didn’t say much, but it said a little. Sometimes that is enough.

But seriously, I was so close to pushing him in the water.

For Neil Pedly, my departed friend.

11 reasons why dating a blind guy is awesome

11 reasons why dating a blind guy is awesome

The bar was steamy and full of the scent of alcohol, perfume and sweat. I threw a smile her way and hoped to hell I wasn’t smiling at the wrong person.. Again.

I cleared my throat, it was time to escalate this situation, simply standing there, poised with a Scotch and looking dashing probably wasn’t going to close this deal. I touched her lightly on the forearm and leant in.

“You’re beautiful you know?”

She giggled and I heard the smile in her voice as she looked up at me and said:

“Oh Olz, that’s lovely. Thank you.…”

She paused. Angel Olz, my guardian in these situations and perpetually balanced on my left shoulder stirred. He’d smelled smoke, heard a bump in the night, felt the changing of the wind. In short, he new that something was amiss.

“Hang on a second, how do you know I’m beautiful? You can’t see me.”

I felt the conversational scree on which I was standing begin to shift. I took a swig of my drink, coughed as it went down the wrong way before plonking the glass back down on the slick bar.

“I can hear it in your voice?” I considered what I had just said and removed the question mark.

“I can hear it in your voice.” Yes, that sounded better. Far more self assured. Angel Olz punched the air and grinned. Two pompoms appeared in his hands as he went into a cheerleader routine.

“I don’t believe you.”

“You smell nice.” Angel Olz paused, pompoms spread and frowned.

“So you’re complimenting my perfume?”

I felt the rockslide still beneath my feet as I hit firmer ground.

“Yes, yes I am.” Angel Olz gave me a wide smile and a thumbs up.

“But then, you’re not complimenting me are you, just my perfume?”

I scrambled for something to say. It had been going so well, laughter, flirting, physical contact and with that thought, my big stupid mouth opened. Angel Olz leapt forward, pompoms extended to plug the widening hole… But, he was too late.

“I felt your side boob as you were guiding me?”

Angel Olz put his face in his hands and began to weep.

. There was a disturbance in the air, a waft of intoxicating perfume before the gin and tonic splashed into my face.

I sighed, sucked at my damp collar and thought, not for the first time:

“This dating lark is hard.”

Blind dating

It’s difficult for anyone to meet the right person, sighted or not. People will often avoid asking the questions which they should ask. In any relationship we look for common ground and sometimes, when it’s hard to find, we have to build the foundations ourselves. We need to get the big awkward questions out the way so we can move on, especially in the dating situations. Questions like:

  • “How much can you actually see?”

  • “Can you manage to use the toilet alone?”

  • “Do you need help with cutting up your food?”

  • “Would you like another scotch?”

I, self appointed ambassador for all Face Feelers. (Blind people), aim debunk these points of contention and, hopefully, in my own little way, make the world just that little bit better.

As an aside, a girl did actually make me feel her face at the weekend, she then felt mine even though she could see.

“Mummy, why are those two people rubbing each other’s faces?” Asks fictional child.

“Stop looking,” Replies the overweight and flustered mother. “They must be high.”

So, I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why dating a blind guy is actually pretty damn great.

In marketing they have a billion and sixty-three acronyms, that’s not an exaggeration, I counted them, one of which is USP, unique Selling Point. So, to all the girls out there that wonder what the benefits of dating a blind guy are, here goes:

1. Your looks

You’re just as beautiful first thing in the morning as you are when you are ready to go out: This is actually a chat-up line I’ve used a few times, all the better because it’s true. Sadly it can work both ways so some girlfriends will take advantage to go out looking like they’ve just woken up, bed breath and all… Gross.

2. Dinner dates

At dinner you can have half a jar of spaghetti on your face, parmesan in your hair and a courgette protruding from your bra and I really won’t care… That is, right up until you start attracting seagulls.

3. Other women

Not that I’m a polygamous man by nature, but I can’t have my head turned by another woman unless caught off guard by an errant handbag or any other similar violations of my personal space.

4. Power cuts

Think about it… In the dark I’m a demon in more ways than one ;)… Whilst your still fumbling around for a flashlight I’ve already opened a bottle of wine, whipped up a delicious midnight snack and popped on my Spongebob onesie before I return to take your hand and lead you through the dark. Hey, you do it for me.

5. I make you look good.

There is a certain cool factor to looking after others. In the past I have been treated like a fabulous accessory with women fighting over who gets to guide me. Plus, by helping out a blind guy you get some serious karmic credit which means you can totally push old people out the way at supermarket checkouts without feeling an ounce of guilt.

6. We can skip queues

It’s kinda funny that this happens as I’m pretty sure blind people can queue just as well as anyone else but, hey, I’ll take it and you should too though, with a warning. I have also been refused and consequently kicked out of nightclubs for arguing that I should only pay half price as I can’t see the shitty decor.

7. Your outfits

Don’t push this point. Eventually I will work out if you’re wearing, say, scuba gear or a clown costume.

8. Drunken stability

I can be used as a support if you are unsteady on your feet due to alcohol. The great thing is that it still looks like you’re helping me.

9. I’m entitled to a guide dog

Everyone loves dogs and, if you don’t, well, we’re probably not going to get on. Just remember, the date is with me, not the dog…

10. Your driving

Until you start swearing, swerving and slamming on the anchors, I will be none the wiser that you are a danger to hedges,, pedestrians and, more importantly, me.

11. Loving acts of kindness

Whilst sleeping, you can draw a penis on my forehead and I won’t know for days.

If you want to read further adventures of Olz, check out Invisible Shores – South America, a blind backpackers muddled memoirs.