All original content © Simon McArthur
Once upon a time there lived a horse called Pierre, who lived on an island in the middle of the ocean. The island upon which Pierre lived was small, but surpisingly spacious, and it had a small area of decking with a palm tree for shade, and a modest stretch of beach with golden-white sand.
Pierre was a normal horse: he had three legs, and, amongst other things, a head, a tail, and another leg. He liked to take long, leisurely strolls along the beach. He was never happier than when he could feel the cool waves lapping against his fetlocks.
Of an evening he liked to sit on the decking and bask in the warm glow of the setting sun. He’d pour himself a highball of his favourite cocktail, a blend of Morgan’s Spiced and cranberry juice served over crushed ice with a sprig of mint, which he called a ‘Red Rum’. The taste reminded him of bygone days, when being a horse really meant something in the world.
One day, Pierre was taking his customary walk on the beach when, distracted by a barnacle which bore a striking resemblence to Lionel Blair, he stubbed his hoof on a rock. He cursed, not because he had hurt himself, but because of the embarrassment of what he had done.
Those who knew him well say he carried the shame of what had happened to him for the rest of his life, and that he died with a tear in his eye, knowing that his infamous tale would endure in horse-lore until the end of days.
Once upon a time there was a sunflower called Norman. He wasn’t a real sunflower though – he was made of plastic – but being only a flower, whether plastic or otherwise, he didn’t have the mental capacity to realise the difference, and so it didn’t bother him as it might a creature of greater consciousness, such as a badger or a honey bee.
Norman spent most of his time just sitting around looking shiny (a bit like Cliff Richard), for that is what plastic sunflowers are wont to do. But Norman had higher hopes.
Since the day he was a little plastic seedling in his mum’s belly (for that was where he’d been told he came from) he’d dreamt about seeing the world, travelling far and wide and meeting exciting new people from lands distant and far away, and feeling the warm sun on his face.
But that was not to be Norman’s destiny, for he was after all but a meagre sunflower, and a plastic one at that: all show and no substance. And so he remained, endured, lingering around, watching a handful of people here and there come and go, smile at each other, say hello, wave goodbye.
But soon everything faded into the same, and he gave up hoping that his dream might come true. He stopped watching people, and kept himself to himself, until the days turned to years and he wilted and left the waking world, where he knew he’d never see the sun.
Several weeks ago, I ordered in a great big shipment of fresh prose from Djibouti, but it was late in arriving. On conducting a thorough and concientious investigation, I discovered that the vessel on which the prose was being transported – The Rambuctious Otter – had been delayed in port at Bilbao.
It turns our that a small spider named Clive who I’d commissioned the shipping company to hire as moth-control officer on board the vessel (for fresh prose is very susceptible to moth damage) had abandoned ship shortly after docking to pay a visit to the Guggeheim Museum. Unbenowst to me, Clive was (and remains) an ardent fan of the work of architect Frank Gehry.
Anyway, the wandering spider returned a few days later, after further drunken detours to several tapas bars. “If would have been back sooner,” he told the ship’s captain, “but I found walking very difficult. If you think being drunk with two legs is hard work, try it with eight!”
In any case, the prose finally got underway again, arriving in Edinburgh a few days ago. It’s been a stressful few weeks, and I’m not happy about the whole situation. That’s the last time I hire a spider to do a starling’s job.
Once upon a time, there was an End. He was of such repute in his village that he was known simply as The End. Everyone knew who he was. He was successful and liked, but he wasn’t happy.
One day he was strolling in the fields near his house when he saw another literary device approaching. His heart leapt. Never before had he seen a thing of such beauty. But he recognised in her something which he recognised in himself: a sense of something missing.
They approached each other hesitantly and said hello. He introduced himself. “I am The End”. His companion smiled, and for a moment, The End thought he saw the glisten of a tear in her eye.
“I have been looking for you my whole life,” she said. “You see, I am an Incomplete Story, and I know, I really know, that you would complete me”.
And so they walked together hand in hand back to the village, to live happily ever after, and they did, with the streets ever filled with the laughs of their little booklets.