Held his hands above his head to make his pulse race.
Became ill on the slightest pretext.
Loved his wife and hated his children.
Kissed his sister by putting his tongue in her mouth.
Curled his wife’s hair every night with warm curling-tongs.
Dreamt of travelling alone and meeting women who would love his
Hated window shopping.
Walked very fast when he was hungry.
Drank three pints of water a day.
Did not wash his hands after urinating.
Loved large dogs.
Thought of his bed very often.
Liked the dark.
Wrote many letters but seldom sent them. He objected to buying
stamps. He would rather have walked his letters to their destination than
pay the post-office.
Dreamt of summer, but the sort of summer you remember as a child:
blue skies, wide beaches, sandwiches full of sand, going naked without
Grew thin when he was miserable.
Admired Lot's wife.
Cleaned his shoes when he was downcast.
Fell in love and ruined his chances of happiness forever.
Stank when he ate pork.
Put his fingers in his mouth when he was amazed.
Always wanted to spit when she crossed a river bridge in the rain.
Frequently picked his nose with the forefinger of his right hand.
Was the sixth of fourteen children.
Bled at altitude.
Drank himself insensible every night.
Always kissed his wife between shoulder and ear when he was happy.
Fearfully stretched his legs after a bath for fear of sudden
Drew breasts on the backs of envelopes.
Genuflected in front of fat men.
Wore a soft hat in the rain.
Refused to use a fork.
Slept under his bed when there was a storm.
Sang Blue Moon softly to herself when he sat on the toilet.
Loved Luper in small doses.
Was sentimental with cats and other Spaniards.
Was violently sick when travelling over 50 mph.
Farted heavily after eating eggs.
Pretended he had read Homer in the original.
Swam like a frog
Danced like a pig.
Wore the same pair of black shoes until they dropped off his feet.
Suffered poor circulation in her feet in winter.
Was Italian by parentage, but Welsh by habit.
Listened to bees in clover with tears in his eyes.
Had bright eyes at bedtime.
Had good bowel movements when he drank white wine.
Kept a large and very clean, white cockerel.
Brushed his hair forward like King William IV of England.
Spoke Rumanian with a lisp.
Liked to get lost in Venice.
Had lumbago from his fortieth birthday onwards.
Resisted all advances made by older women.
Was a small man.
Was born a pauper.
Loved the study of insects but called it etymology.
Thought Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.
Carried a very small gun in his pocket when he went out at night.
Wore lipstick on her vagina.
Had measles regularly and always feared it would make him impotent
the next time around.
Was whipped on the backside by his mother until he was fourteen.
Cut his toe-nails very short indeed.
Had a wife and a mistress but slept with his married cousin.
Loved the circus.
Wanted to be a policeman.
Denied his Jewishness.
Spoke sloppily and hurriedly always believing himself to be
starring in a Robert Altman film.
Loved sailors who did not wash.
Liked pate de fois gras and was frightened of geese.
Always forgot to wash out his navel.
Loved funerals and hated parties.
Had no friends only acquaintances.
Wanted to be a tramdriver.
Wanted to be an archbishop.
Had a screw loose.
Went to look at the ocean every day.
Had a short-term memory of women.
Had to be reminded to take an interest in the world.
Hated the words psycho, frit, info, combe, scatter as in
scatter-brain, trek because it was a Boer word, and Michelangelo if it was
accompanied by Michelangelo’s surname Buonarotti.
Slept on his right side.
Shaved his testicles once a month in front of the bathroom mirror.
He stood on a chair.
Fell in love with the idea of Cathy Earnshaw.
Had a license to keep lizards.
Said flowers always helped in times of crisis.
Thought best with a pen in his hand.
Never cleaned his ears, thinking that earwax was a good protection
against dust, insects, foreign bodies and loud noise.
Did large mathematical calculations in his head with ease.
Was the same age as John Lennon.
Believed he would reach his ninetieth birthday.
Was convinced that sexual habits were entirely personal.
Was pleased to think that orchestra was an anagram of carthorse
but puzzled how he could connect the two since they seemed so far apart in
meaning and context. Eventually he came up with the idea that the carthorse
could be conceived as being the loadbearer of the world’s music.
Practiced hard to imitate the screech owl.
Was profoundly interested in ancient Roman history. He had read
Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire seven times, one time each
for the seven hills of Rome.
Always adjusted quickly to other people’s moods.
Played no musical instruments.
Felt pity for spavined dogs.
Watered his garden regularly.
Entertained badly. When his guests arrived he sat them down and
stared at them, wondering what he should do next.
Found the colour red offensive.
Was please to believe Roman Catholicism, in the deification of
Christ’s mother, was the only religion in the world that had found a
respected place for women. Nonetheless he was well aware that Catholicism
was essentially anti-female.
Understood theories of philosophy very rudimentarily.
Behaved very badly when he was sexually frustrated. This is
because, it was said, he had always been quickly gratified by his mother
when he was a youth. She, as part of a programme of support for her child,
believed it was necessary for her to fulfil all his desires until he became
a man and could make other arrangements.
Never lit his cigarette from a candle-flame.
Loved to visit zoos.
Feared the dark.
Coveted his neighbour’s wife.
Loaned money freely.
Promised to build himself a library before he died.
Wished he could swim, fly a plane, ride a horse and have a
reputation as a great lover.
Was determined to grow old with dignity. He was convinced that, if
all his facilities failed him, he would always have his imagination to keep
him sane and curious about the world.
Liked and enjoyed loud music.
Said Good God, Good Lord, Good Grief, For Heaven’s Sake and
Jesus Christ far too often.
Hoped to climb Everest before he died.
Never believed dreams signified much more than the uncontrolled
action of the brain reorganizing itself in preparation for the next day.
Was determined to marry for love, which seemed a small enough
ambition in the second half of the twentieth century.
Was determined to read all the English literary classics so he
could write one himself.
Wanted to go to Turkey to see Hagia Sophia.
Was convinced that we are all racists.
Fought against the notion that he sexually desired his sister.
Joined every political demonstration in expectation it would
celebrate personal liberty.
Reminded everyone that God was dog spelt backwards.
Walked his dog by night.
Wrote out repetitious alphabetical spelling lists to help him
spell, but still always had difficulty with the words that had silent
letters like lamb, combe and knife.
Knew how to plant potatoes and raise children, mend a fuse and fix
a puncture, and therefore considered himself capable of achieving anything
Was excessively polite to those older than him.
Enjoyed signing his name to any document for the sheer excitement
of seeing his own signature appear under his hand.
Ignored his wife.
Was determined to watch the sun go down every evening.
Constantly drew small demons on his headed notepaper.
Played a banjo very badly.
Was determined to exercise his legs in water.
Grew upset at the idea of seedless fruit.
Made love on the sofa but not on his bed.
Watched his neighbours avidly.
Jumped high to reach the moon.
Counted in twos to amuse his children and animals.
Said iGoodi every time he burped. He was congratulating his
Lit candles in church, though he was no believer. He just liked
candleshine in echoic spaces.
Dreamed of one day firing a gun in anger.
Wanted to be an architect if he came down to earth a second time.
Found every opportunity to smack his wife’s face.
Delayed and delayed until it was inevitably always too late.
Had a stupid desire to finish every Goddamn thing, though he fully
realised most things in the world were not finished but that activity on
them merely stopped.
Liked Jimi Hendrix.
Tiled his kitchen.
Decided that Vermeer only painted 26 paintings. The remainder of
the paintings attributed to Vermeer were fakes and copies; the Woman in the
Red Hat certainly belonging to the first category.
Fouled repeatedly at soccer believing you could handle the ball.
Had a garden he enjoyed more than his wife.
Anticipated the rigours of Hell by always carrying a clove of
garlic in his mouth.
Grew fatter when travelling east.
Put his fingers in his mouth when he was amazed.
Ate more ice cream than was good for the stomach.
Went to sleep with all the lights on.
Hated washing cups but enjoyed drying plates.
Would not eat a tomato that was not truly red.
Was convinced that coffee gave him stomach-ache.
Enjoyed the architecture of Etienne-Louis Boullee.
Had a young wife who divorced him.
Wanted to become a bartender in an American Night Club.
Enjoyed talking when sitting in the bath.
Tried to commit suicide by holding his breath.
Entertained gypsies, homosexuals and Jews as often as he could.
Wept at the sound of the cuckoo every Spring.
Cut his hair short to hide his growing baldness.
Brushed his teeth up and down but never side to side.
Developed a rash under his chin where he held his trousers by the
turn-ups to fold them. He lived in Kent where the soil was chalky. He was
allergic to chalk.
Gazed frequently at the clouds looking for signs.
Entertained himself by humming Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
Read novels in bed.
Distanced himself as much as possible from any talk of politics.
Literally jumped for joy when he received money.
Refused to wear gloves.
Organised parties whenever he could, under any pretext whatsoever.
Wore as much blue as fashion would permit.
Was a sycophant to any artist, especially painters.
Loved his wife more than he ever dare admit to his mistress.
Understood French well enough to discuss the Dreyfus Affair with
Bargained very hard when it came to other people’s money but was
curiously reticent when he bargained on his own behalf.
Remembered journeys he had made on foot in foreign capitals so
well, he could retake them in his dreams.
Played draughts as though he was playing chess and always lost.
Liked to run his hand through soft soil.
Swore loudly with words and phrases that were so obscure nobody
Had too many children.
Regularly painted his fence white every Spring.
Demonstrated against oppression of any description.
Liked to suck his toes.
Took his wife to all meetings of a religious nature, whatever her
changing beliefs and their permanent superstitions.
Watched himself take a shower in a full-length bathroom mirror
every Sunday morning.
Subscribed to Irish newspapers of both Protestant and Catholic
Pretended to be ill when he had to go to draw money out of the
Hated the concept of monarchy.
Was excited by mediaeval theories of sympathetic magic, like to
eat walnuts was to increase your intelligence because the kernel of a walnut
looked like a miniature human brain.
Liked to consider himself a Dutchman because Holland was so flat
and the Netherlanders were so tolerant. He was a free-thinker and he rode a
Organised groups to invent contemporary mythology.
Wanted to become taller.
Set himself to learn Arabic.
Wore a ginger woolen hat.
Liked to lay down in the dust and wail.
Counted his enemies on two hands and his enemies on five.
Lost faith in money.
Made babies and bibles.
Censored his children.
Brewed tea in his mother’s teapot.
Suffered fools gladly because wise men intimidated him.
Sang dirty songs.
Wrote ecological stories.
Made breakfast the most important meal of the day.
Thought Scotland was a land of mystery.
Collected photographs of motorbikes.
Blew his nose only into silk handkerchiefs.
Admired small and black-haired women.
Added a few pence to his small fortune everyday.
Found the best way to walk comfortably was to buy two left shoes.
Enjoyed the company of animals, especially birds.
Flew flags as an expression of nationalism.
Ate sweets of a bitter lemon flavour to punish his gums.
Disliked men who wore flowers in their hair.
Always sewed her own buttons on with white cotton.
Liked sugar in tea.
Expressed himself loudly in female company as though women were
hard of hearing.
Thought gunpowder was made of three parts sugar and one part
saltpetre though he never really understood what saltpetre was.
Was convinced that vaginal orgasm was possible.
Hated war films.
Was devoted to his servants, especially those who could not speak
Liked the films of Eisenstein, and always argued they were not
just Soviet propaganda for an emerging nation.
Decided to never use a keyboard of any nature to write his
correspondence, believing to break the essential bond between head, arm,
hand, pen and paper was disastrous.
Liked film stars that were not too pushy with their reputations
like James Steward and Greer Garson.
Thought Father Christmas was a myth invented in Norway.
Thought of the Victorians as the greatest inventors history had
Was handsome in a Walt Disney sort of way.
Silenced all opposition by insults of great perspicacity.
Said that most people learnt their sense of history from the
Owned small sums of money to practically every one he knew.
Smelt badly after rain.
Ran slowly like a man with one leg, and that leg frostbitten.
Knew Lloyd George.
Drank grappa like a Sicilian.
Made hay when the sun shone.
Established teashops in South Wales, based upon the merchandising
of Italian ice cream.
Washed his dustbins clean every Friday.
Missed out commas in his letter-writing, believing them
unnecessary, fussy and the wrong way up.
Switched off all his lights and closed own all his heating at the
Dried her hair by shaking her head.
Wanted to be cremated, not buried.
Kept up with the news as a social duty.
Knitted himself red socks.
Watched and waited for the coming of Spring so that he might leave
off wearing vests.
Accepted bribes easily, believing himself badly paid.
Clambered wearily into his single bed every evening before ten
Organised picnics for small children.
Saluted frequently as a reflex action. It identified him easily as
a soldier from the lower ranks.
Celebrated his birthday not once but three times a year - on the
day of his conception, his birth and his christening. The first was
difficult to confirm and he had to rely on his mother's memory, the second
was theoretically debatable because he was born exactly on the stroke of
midnight, and did midnight belong to this day or the next, and at his
Christening he was named James, though his father called him Samuel and
everyone knew him as Perry, though he called himself Nancy. Perhaps even his
sex was debatable. Certainly nobody ever called him James, so was his
Christening Day a valid ceremony?
Serviced her husband with as much professionalism as she could.
Climbed trees to have an overview.
Thought of Heaven as being somewhere between Mercury and Mars.
Made very sure that he had fastened his fly securely before
catching a train.
Savoured sharp tastes.
Grew tall on eating meat and tuna fish provided by his Samoan
Lit fires whenever he saw a broken light-bulb.
Drank only brandname drinks like Camp Coffee, Milo, Ribena, Fanta
Destroyed as much evidence of his existence as he could find.
Heated up yesterday's tea to save money.
Sung of his love, but never dared speak of it.
Always clouded his beer with brown sugar.
Chatted amicably to a man who he knew was a murderer.
Forbid his brother access to his shed.
Shut his mouth very tightly when he looked in the mirror.
Steamed open his wife's mail looking for signs of infidelity.
Flew as often as possible at other people's expense.
Apprehended criminals as all good policemen should.
Spluttered when angry.
Envied parrots their bright plumage and aggressive manners.
Built little, planned much and dreamt of being a celebrated
Played golf like a Scotsman.
Rained down his wrath like a biblical prophet.
Combed her pubic hair in public.
Wished he was black in expectation of living well in Tanganyika.
Beat his dog.
Opened a bank account to copy his brother.
Made it his business to listen to every emergency message on the
Behaved like an idiot when faced with a naked woman.
Cancelled his life.
Tied his pigs' legs together having seen paintings by Chagall.
Always lost his luggage on trains.
Created a small listening space in his living room to appreciate
Read excessively until he needed spectacles, and then read no
Drove like a horseman but only had a bicycle.
Propositioned a woman one night outside the opera house without
realising it was his sister.
Searched for a woman with one leg.
Rejected love all too frequently.
Ate like a snake - one huge meal every eight days.
Travelled beyond the Arctic Circle wearing summer clothes.
Closed his mind to adventure and curiosity.
Watered his Bonsai plants with a mixture of milk and urine.
Lightened his heart by imagining he was handsome.
Whistled like an oriole.
Accepted the fact that he was going to be lonely for the rest of
Put his house on the market expecting to sell it to a military
Positioned his boat in such a way as to intimidate his neighbours.
Serviced her car frequently.
Froze large quantities of ice-cream.
Lit up the world with her smile.
Scaled his architectural models to fit into his gas oven.
Found it was necessary to lie to make people happy.
Fixed teeth like a professional dentist.
Understood macrame, sanskrit, origami and Kant.
Flavoured her sausages with rosemary, the herb of remembrance.
Closed his ears to gossip.
Smoked heavily to surround himself in a blue haze.
Stole to please his mother who had spent most of her life in jail.
Painted nude women without ever having seen any.
Laughed like a cockatoo.
Behaved scandalously when frightened.
Painted his bed green and dyed his sheets yellow.
Read about persecution.
Understood very little about trigonometry.
Believed himself to be an apostate as soon as he had looked the
word up in a dictionary.
Sat up straight when he was eating to avoid indigestion and the
unkind remarks of physiotherapists.
Ate cucumber sandwiches with the cucumber sliced very finely in
honour of Oscar Wilde.
Felt happy when he was talking Italian.
Lived in a small summerhouse.
Lived in a caravan.
Lived in a tent.
Dated his letters to the nearest Saturday since he believed
letter-writing was a weekend occupation.
Swore he would not crash.
Crossed himself whenever anyone idly blasphemed.
Thought that pregnant women should stay indoors.
Understood traffic regulations like no-one else did, but
nonetheless refused to obey them.
Decided that life was not a bowl of cherries but a plate of beans.
Sucked his thumb.
Behaved deliberately like a bad actor - touched his head when he
had an idea, held his chin when he was thinking, opened his mouth wide in a
yawn when he imagined himself bored. He did all these things to discourage
his daughter from going on the stage.
Had a touching faith in a newspaper's ability to tell the truth.
Wanted races to be pure and women to be holy.
Had a gross prejudice against Muslims, Japanese, Belgians and
women who made mouth to mouth contact with dogs.
Was deaf like Beethoven, half blind like James Joyce and stupid
like Bottom, but he had a great capacity to love. He was very dangerous in
Took his wife to a brain specialist to make certain she wasn't
Understood domestic politics with a ferocity bordering on madness.
Hated the idea of flying over water.
Laughed like a drain in flood.
Loved horses so much he ate them.
Believed himself to be as small as Tom Thumb and kept
reproductions of Velasquez dwarfs above his bed.
Liked the idea of sleeping in the open air.
Refused to drink alcohol.
Abbreviated his name to Monty.
Questioned the Gregorian calendar every day of the week as being
inaccurate and biased towards Jesus.
Could not swim.
Lied about his height.
Hated the size of his feet.
Loved the curly hair of his children.
Switched on all the lights in his large house and went out into
the garden to look back to see how much money he was spending on
Wanted to rewrite history at several points, the most important
being to make Wolsey victorious over Henry VIII and Fouquet victorious over
Louis XVI. He hated kings, though his name was Rex, and he looked good
Called his children after the siblings in William Parson's Under
the Lake, a novel so difficult to locate it was not easy to verify the
accuracy of his choice.
Watched and waited for the millennium.
Enjoyed the people of Southern Siberia because they looked Asiatic
but spoke a language that sounded Arabic. They could boast enjoyable body
fat and they smelt of almonds.
Put imitation ice-cubes into his whisky.
Had a dog called whisky.
Said he had read all Sir Walter Scott's novels in the original
Despised William Faulkner for going to Hollywood.
Enjoyed Wuthering Heights so much he went to live in Yorkshire.
Lit up a cigar at every opportunity.
Changed the character of his handwriting to suit the character of
Hated to see palm trees growing indoors. He was determined to set
Thought that flying should be prohibited.
Ran a fleet of taxicabs.
Used a capital letter for every noun, much like the Germans used
Volunteered to collect names for the Post Office, an activity his
friends thought was a trifle superfluous.
Catalogued moneylenders by price.
Deliberated too long.
Liked his coffee cold.
Played the piano using one hand only.
Was incapable of telling a good joke badly.
Toyed with the idea of getting himself imprisoned to obtain some
peace and privacy.
Frequently dreamt of being on the back of a camel in Australia.
Hated seaside amusement parlours.
Had a stiff neck from pretending to be an ostrich.
Lived in the Mendips.
Sang the works of Handel with enthusiasm. Even the instrumental
Enjoyed using a 3B pencil on off-white cartridge paper.
Drove around and around roundabouts for the sure perversity of the
gesture. And of course to waste petrol.
Likened falling in love to becoming a Christian after living a
life as an atheist.
Carried a torch.
Mumbled his prayers.
Whispered her name.
Paid his milkman.
Ate old cheese.
Spent Christmas alone.
Liked the colour purple.
Expected heaven in every embrace.
Wanted to get his fiance on a slow boat to China.
Judged eroticism by his first sexual experience, which might have
been watching his grandmother sitting naked before her dressing table mirror
in the light of a candle to brush her long hair when he was a child and
peeping through his fingers at her as he lay in her bed. He was six years
old. It was winter-time. She saw him, smiled and blew out the candle. It
smoked. Smoking candles, long black hair, winter nights and long rambling
sentences always subsequently excited him erotically.
Gradually came to knew that his grandfather had been a celebrated
Wondered that if God had made the world, who had made God?
Was happy to know that his grandmother had reached her 102nd
birthday, and had received a telegram of congratulation from the Queen.
Knew that without a God, the Universe could be considered to be
even more amazing.
Had loved gardens all his life but had never truly owned one.
Knew that his grandfather had run off with a cook.
Entertained no hope of everlasting life.
Wondered whether a zebra was a white animal with black stripes or
a black animal with white stripes.
Idolised Darwin as the only sensible provider of an explanation of
how things are as they are.
Grew fat and refused to weigh herself anymore.
Behaved stoically in the face of grief, knowing that the clouds
above him, the stones under his feet and the air in his lungs were totally
disinterested in how he felt.
Grew tired of aphorisms very quickly and was determined not to
spoil his admiration for Wilde by inventing too many.
Constantly rejoiced in the level of literacy in everyone. Even his
dog had read Chaucer.
Struck matches in honour of the Fire of London in 1666.
Baked cakes in memory of Arthur.
Thought of the Flood every time it rained for more than an hour.
Imagined himself buried at sea in a sack.
Imagined himself in the Arctic sledging with dogs with blue eyes.
Thought of himself as a traveller without a destination.
Found the prospect of Hell more powerful than the likelihood of
Always enjoyed snow with the enthusiasm of a little child seeing
it for the first time.
Scandalised his neighbours by sitting naked on his verandah at
night. And then scandalised them some more by doing it by day.
Organised feasts for foreigners. They mostly ate his local cuisine
with polite distaste.
Wrote the word EXIT above all the doors in his house, in case he
had difficulty in finding his way out.
Wanted to grow big and fat like his brother.
Understood very little about the motives of others.
Slept as often as he could to avoid the boredom of reality,
wishing to escape into dreams.
Walked about a great deal, wondering what to do about himself.
Wept a great deal, dreaming of Madras.
Not knowing what else experiences were for, he turned all of them
into some form of literature. Even whilst having a heart attack, he was
wondering how to spell the word "cardiac".
Loved badly, but slept well.
Became accustomed to writing with a certain yellow propelling
pencil bought in a chain of stationery shops in Amsterdam.
Flooded the bathroom every time she took a shower.
Lived with a woman twice his age.
Pasted wallpaper on both sides.
Looked at his reflection in every possible reflecting surface.
Would rather worship a stone than any idea invented by man.
Bore grudges with a passion that surprised him.
Ripped each day off the paper calendar with great violence. He
wanted to get to the end of the week, the end of the month, the end of the
year, the end of the century. He wanted to get as quickly as possible to the
end of his life.
Trained himself to be humble.
Went to Salt Lake City in search of the truth.
Was aggrieved that Delacroix's father had a 35 pound tumour on his
left testicle that probably meant he was impotent and that Delacroix's real
father was the Napoleonic solder-diplomat Tallyrand.
Was delighted that Matisse's father-in-law had been imprisoned
because of a confidence trick when his twenty-year care of a strong box of
money was proven to be bogus when the box was opened and found to be
Was disappointed to find de Sade was every bit as wretched and
miserable a man as his writings suggest. Such findings are bound to want you
to give up sadism and take up something like golf.
Bore no resemblence to his mother who consequently disowned him.
Drew well, painted better. excelled at making love.
Was unfit to be king.
Loved men from their knees to their nipples.
Collected English rhyming words.
Hated Saint's days.
Wanted to have an Italian name.
Thought yellow was a detestable colour.
Had strange prejudices like an abhorrence of polished marble
Wore vulgar ties.
Never had time for kisses and endearments.
Washed her body with a very rough towel as though punishing
Opened every drawer on sight.
Lived alone through necessity.
Climbed tall towers in emulation of Rapunzel.
Disliked the ability of women to have a hold on him.
Believed that most built-up environments would always look better
with the aid of unlimited white paint and the unrestricted planting of
Smoked Havana cigars in support of Cuban Communism.
Was intrigued by all forms of mechanical magic.
Was intrigued by the statue of the Venus de Milo in the Louvre.
Made a marvellous recovery whenever his mother kissed him.
Hated his children but loved their mother.
Mothered himself even to the point of breast-feeding.
Cut her husband's toe-nails and kept the clippings.
Crawled on his hands and knees to remind himself of his early
Counted the hours until he should see her again.
Weighed himself after he ate, drank, urinated, defacated, cut his
hair, spat, and breathed on a foggy day.
Borrowed clothes to preserve his own.
Climbed Christmas trees.
Ate cheese in order to dream.
Wore mismatched socks.
Wore a ponytail that resembled that of a Westerner's idea of a
nineteenth century Chinese mandarin.
Always ran down the up escalator.
Liked to consider herself a non-intellectual.
Despised cosmetics but wore lipstick when she went to the cinema
because the darkness could hide her hypocrisy.
Looked at his watch every twenty minutes, and his face in the
mirror every ten.
Drove a car like a plane.
Wore gloves when he went for a bath.
Smelt potato chips everywhere. Even far out at sea.
Enjoyed uniforms with an excessive number of buttons.
Carried too much luggage even on small domestic journeys.
Anticipated air crashes some ten days in advance.
Laughed a great deal at the prospect of dying.
Had known Anais Nin carnally.
Waved at most old men thinking they might be her grandfather.
Deliberated whether or not she should wear glasses for reading.
Had a penchant for red fruit - raspberries, red currants,
cherries, ripe apples, some plums, some peaches and some diseased
Decided she was too good for him, and had a child by a stuntman
Crossed out capital letters when they seemed superfluous to him.
Thought Alice B Toklas was a Belgian cook.
Understood Estonian but refused to speak it.
Could not brush his teeth without using a yellow toothbrush.
Took sugar in his tea.
Undertook to cut down his consumption of animal fats.
Visited piggeries frequently to gratify a private erotic interest.
Was fascinated by the concept of unclean animals.
Dreamt of lying on a large cool bed at siesta time in a small
Dug for victory.
Tamed his cabbage-patch after his wife died.
Tortured his dogs by tieing their tails together.
Took his daughters swimming in the lake.
Bought shoes indiscriminately.
Could not understand great sexual passion.
Put his arms around every willing female.
Liked lions for their smell, camels for their hair and pygmy
hippopotami for their clammy nakedness when they came out of the water.
Met his niece infrequently in the underpass of Antwerp Grand
Grew gladioli as a patriotic duty.
Wore a white rose in his buttonhole.
Called out a greeting to magpies that flew alone.
Lifted his hat to elderly ladies and to passing corpses. The
former hated to be so acknowledged after seeing the latter so honoured.
Saved his small coins for beggars and his large coins for his
grandchildren. In his country of adoption the smallness of the coin did not
necessarily guarantee its lowly worth. Persistent beggars grew a little
richer and the grandchildren thought their grandfather was a little miserly.
Had an eye for ladies of a portly disposition.
Wasted paper as though it grew on trees.
Wanted to build Venice in his back garden.
Saw mirages in expectation of conjuring up hot weather.
Wrote about motherhood as though he had experienced it.
Thought the division of the world into continents smacked of
Was a fastidious finder of small facts. Some of the facts he
researched were so small you needed a magnifying-glass to appreciate them.
Was curious about the ability of television to ruin your eyesight.
Tested small babies for signs of senility.
Could easily distinguish between red, green and blue, but was hard
pressed to find a differentiation between scarlet, crimson and vermilion.
Like to pretend she was Australian when she was in England, and
English when she was in Australia.
Admired Haile Selassie.
Admired Flaubert's Dictionary of Cliches.
Liked to watch the rain fall in the road.
Never found space travel fascinating.
Read by lamplight. His father refused to use electricity.
Phoned around the world hoping to find a partner.
Spoke well at conferences to strangers but poorly at home to his
Could not convince anyone to love him.
Rolled eggs down the hill at the Easter weekend.
Found strength in God.
Read history for the stories.
Thought there was a snake in every patch of grass.
Enjoyed thumbing through dictionaries looking for obscure words.
Sought answers to unformulated questions.
Read a section of Holy Scripture every night.
Played patience on her own to help her through her menstruation.
Grew tired waiting.
Fingered his moustache.
Liked mashed potatoes.
Developed a bump and not a chip on his shoulder.
Hit her head on the metal windowframe.
Caught a cold and died.
Likened his sex life to a plate of cold mashed potatoes. Easy to
make, mild in taste, undifferentiated, heavy on the stomach, of no
particular cuisine except perhaps nineteenth century Irish, lumpy if
Was captivated by female saxophonists.
Opened her handbag to find her keys. But only found biscuits.
Broke away from his family out of loyalty to his dogs.
Was obsessed by cricket.
Made his cousin pregnant.
Slipped in the snow in Oslo.
Enjoyed receiving wrong numbers on the phone because he could
practice disinterested courtesy.
Thought horses were very erotic. He wrote a book about his erotic
Grew rich standing on street corners.
Fell off scaffolding into a bed of roses.
Scalded his belly drinking hot tea in bed.
Feared having an epileptic fit on public transport.
Climbed Mount Vesuvius accompanied by his wife, his children and a
Learnt to order a latte machiata.
Schemed to enter university as a woman.
Paid his bill in very small change.
Employed Mexicans because he enjoyed their accents.
Longed for the smell of brown sugar when it was heated.
Made friends with difficulty.
Winked at all women and eventually developed glaucoma.
Hated interior Japanese design.
Washed his hands in lime juice.
Was well aware that each individual could only depend on a limited
period of fame, love and glory.
Desired love like a man searching for water in the desert.
Ticked all items of his furniture with price, age, current value
and to whom he would eventually bequeath it.
Gave himself a great sense of ease by deciding that no one other
than himself should afterall conduct the outlines of his life.
Wore glasses to make himself look studious.
Kept a timid dog and a fierce tabby cat.
Met friends with great surprise, always thinking they would have
Enjoyed polite conversation and sought it out assiduously.
Clapped all extroverts.
Slept like a baby.
Rattled buttons in a box shaped like a coffin.
Paraded his body.
Felt ill at altitude.
Held his arms out like wings and buzzed about the kitchen.
Washed his Wellingtons in eau de Cologne.
Counted in sevens.
Insisted on living in houses and apartments where the numbers on
the doors had to be divisible by three.
Stepped gingerly into puddles thinking he might drown like
Frederick Barbarossa who choked to death in 10 inches of water.
Separated from his wife, he became a great cook.
Researched rare snakes.
Wrote about all endangered species that walked the world on three
Forced himself to enjoy his own company because nobody else did.
Fell in love with a large prick that did not belong to him.
Hunted out good new hotels, sniffing the fresh plasterwork for
Wore red in honour of bovine violence.
Decided to go to Europe and marry well.
Ruined her health and good looks by laughing too much.
Stepped up his workrate and employed a nanny.
Picked his nose to appear vulgar.
Ran circles around the world.
Was alarmed that the universe was expanding.
Thought that electricity leaked out of the wall socket plugs as
gas leaked out of pipes.
Discovered argon for himself.
Grew his hair long.
Spanked his son for small misdemeanours.
Paid his employees badly.
Burnt all his bridges.
Rewrote the Borges story of the re-writing of Don Quixote.
Mixed up chalk and cheese.
Cut down his forests as an act of defiance.
Had a heart attack on an airplane.
Lived in a caravan.
Felt East Anglia was too flat.
Rarely had his suits cleaned.
Sank without trace.
Learnt to ice-skate, swim and ride a polo pony.
Made eyes at ugly women.
Fixed his body temperature at 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whistled like a nightingale.
Took his bosses to the cleaners. They had a complaint about
Engineered a conspiracy.
Had vacancies for every conceivable job.
Took no notice of his doctor. And died.
Rained down misery on his flowers with ice-water, brand-name
fertilisers, Sahara grit, turkey guano, Irish peat-dust, and essence of
Became king. In his head. Outside the Escorial palace.
Conceived a boy by stealth. With a turkey baster. And a pinch of
salt. And making sure it was towards the end of her ovulation. He looked
away when he did it, not daring to spoil his gay reputation. She smiled. And
checked in the bathroom mirror to watch whether he could in fact see what he
Married a convict who was a train driver convicted of
Never opened his umbrella indoors.
Mistook his wife for a bank. Of a river.
Knew for certain which side of his bread was buttered.
Could never come to terms with living on his own, but hated
sharing a bed.
Filled her house with garden chairs.
Wanted to live in a half-timbered house somewhere in Somerset,
Knew that NORWICH meant Knickers Off Ready When I Come Home.
Combed her hair severely to make herself look masculine.
Asked the carpenter to put two knobs on every door to deliberately
Built himself a cenotaph in the woods.
Listened to the sound of the foghorn to emphasise his melancholy.
Hoped desperately that he could trust in a new life.
Pricked his finger and watched the blood flow.
Planted a tree for every child. A plum for a boy, a peach for a
Dreamt of living in Berenson's house outside Florence.
Enjoyed variations on the story of Noah's Ark.
Could not reconcile himself to perpetual unhappiness after he had
known happiness in plenty.
Swam upside down like an ailing frog.
Yearned to own a house in the English winter landscape.
Hoped to find a true way of reconciling Christianity to
Bought a bridge just to have a good vantage point to watch water.
Taught mathematics in a taxi to rich children whose parents could
afford the fare. Mornington Crescent to Liverpool Street Station cost
eighteen pounds and covered two pages of differential calculus.
Lived off her tips.
Consolidated his fortune by buying a newspaper.
Counted the hours till Christmas.
Was absolutely certain she would make him unhappy.
Lived in despair of bad adventures.
Bought himself a bottle of expensive wine, sat in the sun
overlooking the abbey and drank himself into good dreams.
Reversed the car into a tree.
Only took his white dogs out at night. His black dogs had to be
exercised by day.
Paid very heavily for his infidelities.
Bathed infrequently especially when he was miserable.
Poured hot tea on her cat.
Decided to tell everyone the whole truth.
Found comfort at travelling at speed. That way his mind could be
stimulated not to think of only one thing at a time.
Decided, when hard pressed, to live like a monk - celibate,
Knew that he had a heavy roll of flesh at the back of his neck.
Preferred towers to spires.
Gratified his sense of worth by rereading his own tall stories.
Appreciated cities built of brick rather than of stone.
Resembled the conventional portraits of Plato.
Welcomed his family home from abroad each year.
Swept her front porch every Sunday morning.
Wanted to arrange an international conference on his condition.
Arrived late on every possible occasion.
Felt the world looked so grim and dour in February, he went into a
slow decline and never really recovered.
Smoked like a chimney on fire - sparks, cinders, ashes.
Bore himself bravely when bravery was not required.
Smacked the water with a flat stick.
Aroused small passions that could easily be contained.
Hung shells from the trees to blow in the wind.
Made himself a palace from tree branches.
Dug himself a grave in the deep gravel of the beach above the high
Dragged a heavy weight upstairs.
Sneezed loudly every time he walked on grass.
Sang cheap songs about women lost in love.
Sucked air in through his teeth when he was about to fall asleep.
Smiled a great deal at children and small dogs.
Loved the yellow of mayonnaise, canaries and custard.
Hid her qualms about corpses and spiders.
Examined brush stokes assiduously for signs of a painter's
hesitation and lack of confidence.
Wore her hair brushed back behind her ears.
Counted sheep even when he had no intention of falling asleep.
Raised his eyes to the facades of buildings, knowing an architect
did not necessarily concentrate all his invention on the ground floor.
Attracted attention to herself by wearing men's clothes.
Had a thick Austrian accent like Marie Antoinette.
Rarely understood restaurant menus.
Needed glasses for reading.
Counted himself lucky to be born in the 1940s and in Europe.
Put his cows and wives out to grass in the summer months.
Filled in all her pencil sketches with blue paint.
Dunked brown sugar-lumps into his cold coffee.
Decided to move as soon as possible to New Zealand so as to be as
far away as possible from Belgium.
Buttoned up her crimson coat.
Watched the Canadian maple leaf symbol flap on the red and white
Knew himself to be damned.
Had red cheeks when he was interviewed about the death of his
Liberally squeezed lemon juice over everything he ate. It bleached
the colour out of his greens.
Knew for certain that he was going blind.
Copulated with large ducks, preferably Indian Runners.
Painted walls with complex murals.
Kept all his bills and invoices in a red box like the English
Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Gnawed his fingers in expectation of greater pain.
Flicked his eyes in imitation of cows.
Rang bells in his head at the prospect of lunch.
Laboured hard to ensure her popularity.
Realised that his reputation would be brokered by the women he had
Blamed his crimes on his broken home and his drunken father.
Tapped his knee when he was hungry.
Found it difficult to see any woman's point of view.
Protested his innocence vehemently at all times and in all places.
Counted his blessings weekly.
Flowered when told she was very beautiful.
Housed his children in a chicken-shed.
Lathered her hair with egg-white to preserve its shine.
Sheltered homeless dogs with a care worthy of St Francis.
Coloured his descriptions of her death differently every time he
spoke to someone new.
Supposed herself to be invincible.
Concealed the truth.
Burdened himself with other people's worries and anxieties.
Thought marmalade was a wasting English disease.
Went to sea in a pea-green boat.
Ate clams in remembrance of Alice.
Had his foot blown off in Manchuria
Took a great exception to George VI, and refused to carry any
coins bearing his portrait in her purse.
Tapped his nose thoughtfully before going to the toilet.
Loved to be reminded of the length of her legs and the slimness of
Visited Versailles every bank holiday to revitalise her sense of
Carried his medals in his pocket at all times in case he should
meet someone who might value his war-record.
Hated the arrogance of small countries like Luxembourg. Even
Belgium came under his disapproval.
Saw in the disposition of his enemies an occasional good
characteristic. He saw in their grouping and regrouping an opportunity for a
reconsideration of their approval of him.
Laughed a great deal. It was a camouflage.
Ate with the fork in his right hand and the knife in his left,
except when he was in Brazil. He also observed the clockwise and
anti-clockwise nature of life in the Northern and Southern hemisphere.
Flannelled his back with long vigorous strokes.
Bicycled along the Under den Linden every morning on his way to
Discovered that he could just about lick the tip of his prick if
he got up early.
Castigated all critics as being unimaginative. Trauffaut agreed
Reckoned he could have been a great swimmer if he had not been
born in Switzerland.
Spoiled herself with too great an ambition.
Lived in a ginger-bread house in expectation of eating children.
Took her holidays in the South of France like snobs and the posh.
Wrote a ploughman's text - which is to start every other line from
the right and work towards the left. It took some considerable practice to
read her handwriting.
Deceived his children by pretending he wasn't their father.
Counted the asteroid belt as a serious planet.
Moistened his pencil before writing his grocery-list.
Saw life as hostile.
Counted slates and bricks on the house opposite his bedroom window
in order to get to sleep.
Knew he was going to die miserably.
Admired the unfashionable painter, Sir Augustus John.
Quoted that line about violets in April to convince himself that
he wasn't the only unhappy person in Spring.
Saw Marcia every lunchtime.
Discovered he was too old to be an Old Age Pensioner.
Murmured her disapproval noisily.
Contacted Stalin's daughter to reproach her for her father's bad
Devoured all written material on gold mines.
Waved a flag as a good patriot should.
Disinfected his dustbins regularly.
Organised a party to visit the caves at the convent.
Had a curious fear of window-glass.
Wore indigo flowered dresses in remembrance of her mother, who had
been described as a blue-stocking by George Bernard Shaw.
Enjoyed X-rated films.
Lived above a Jewish diamond merchant in Lisle Street, Antwerp,
from where she could hear the hungry, angry lions roar in Antwerp Zoo, on
the days the Nazis chose to forget to feed them.
Never slept on her left side.
Was unnecessarily frightened of mosquitoes.
Polished her downstairs front living-room windows twice a week.
Went on holiday to Vienna because she liked the cakes and the way
the Viennese put their carpets on their tables.
Was three years older than her sister, but always pretended she
was three years younger.
Was curious if a general invasion by the enemy meant rape for her
Hoped that rats would intimidate her landlord.
Always regretted not seeing Mr Tulse Luper again after the
outbreak of war.
Celebrated Christmas wearing an Eskimo suit.
Artificially scented dull flowers with warm rosewater.
Undertook enormous tasks with a great deal of courage or was it
Frequently repeated the proverb "Fools rush in where angels
fear to tread", because he was sure it suited his behaviour only too
Thought he understood the language of the deaf.
Asked for help.
Learnt to drive that he might take his wife to the cinema in a
town some sixty miles away.
Valued green fields.
Hoped for a few small happinesses in her life.
Dyed her hair frequently.
Peeled and seeded grapes before eating them.
Altered his lifestyle to accommodate disaster and disappointment.
Believed herself a fugitive from justice and liked the idea.
Counted herself lucky she had survived to her fiftieth birthday.
Organised a swimming contest on the first of January.
Spent his holidays fishing.
Went home to see his father who was dying of obesity.
Despised most writers.
Was invited to more conferences than there were days in the year
on account of his ability to tell good, sane and healthy jokes.
Wandered the globe looking for significance.
Hoped to find everlasting love.
Wanted to meet an albino.
Went to Berlin as often as he could. He was fascinated by its
Knew that Lord Nelson had fallen in love with a deliciously plump
woman called Lady Hamilton.
Went to the country to recuperate and never returned.
Rejoiced in the successes of his children.
Stuck his tongue out at all foreigners.
Knew Darwin to be the greatest success story of the millennium.
Read slowly without feeling. Page after page in silence. Wetting
his finger to turn the page. Giving himself enough time, between pages, to
reach down to hold and stroke his prick.
Examined his wife for fleas. He had been obsessed with the
paintings of Georges de la Tour. He lit a candle and examined her body. She
demurred. If fleas turned him on why should she feel squeamish? Looking at
the candle-lit bodies in the reproductions of the paintings of de la Tour,
he pretended to find parasites under her arm and between her legs. He
brought the candle up close until she could feel the heat of the flame and
she could anticipate the fall of the hot candlewax on her knee.
Drank hot soup through a straw just to prove it had been
Told his neighbours that his wife was a scold.
Opened his mail with a butcher’s knife, if only to give drama to
his post. The correspondence he received was dull. But at least the knife
had slaughtered, had taken life, had killed.
Refrigerated his cat until he could find a good taxidermist.
Only read red books.
Knew that his unfaithfulness and disloyalty were destroying him.
By being unfaithful to his wife, he undermined his reason and trust in the
world. He had set himself disastrously free. It rained for weeks and weeks
and he knew that until he resumed an attempt at being loyal, giving up his
adultery, the sun would never shine on him again. He took to drinking
heavily. He had decided on death as the only way out. Of course he lived.
Took a chance on love.
Laboured to be loved.
Could never understand why he wasted so much time being
Tried so hard to put meaning into his life.
Read so that he could forget his broken arm.
Organised himself to be able to flee at any moment. He even kept
dogfood in his car in case he had to make a quick escape with his huskies.
Numbered Churchill among his heroes, and Stalin among his friends.
Convinced him that she loved him, but he was never settled and he
continued to be uncomfortable with her attentions.
Dreaded the suburbs and the cosy tedious life they contained.
Loved himself too much.
Paid all the bills she presented him without querying the cost.
Awarded sunsets points according to their colour.
Hoped for grandchildren to feel the excitements again of new life.
Was against the idea of importing foreign animals and plants being
convinced that evolution should not be tampered with.
Simply waited on events, since he knew his attempts to change his
life was persistently thwarted.
Slept a great deal, knowing that his dreams never failed to give
Was still in a state of amazement at Shakespeares' extraordinary
genius after he had studied him for sixty years.
Like most people, was endeared to the idea of dolphins. Why did
they present such a positive image?
Was convinced prison was a good place to think.
Kept his hands behind his back when he entered a jeweller's shop.
Anticipated that all deaths were either painful, baleful,
distressing or humiliating. His would not be an exception. Most of all, he
hated the idea of leaving a corpse behind him.
Filed his ideas in a large blue filing cabinet that he kept at the
top of the stairs. He could see it as soon as he opened the front door.
Wanted to become a poet.
Dreamed of the English countryside and wanted to wander in it.
Loved the idea of love itself.
Was in prison far too long.
Climbed Ben Nevis every Spring.
Donated one tenth of his earnings to charity.
Had hairs in his nose which he pulled to make his eyes water when
he felt he wanted to show compassion.
Could be bribed very easily.
Screwed up his nose at all good things.
Roofed his studio with asbestos. He was frightened of fire from
Decided upon becoming very rich.
Wanted to be able to sing.
Wore a red suit.
Travelled to Paris in emulation of his heroines, Charlotte Corday,
Marie Antoinette and Juliette Greco.
Put his worst face forward.
Knew that the best stimulation to success was often anger. Anger
that other people believed you could not do what you had set out to do.
Laughed at the idea of dates being accurate. Christ's birthday, by
which we make so many calculations, could have been 4 years before the
stated time because Herod died in 4 BC and we cannot have the mythology of
Christ's birth without Herod. Or it could be six years after, because if we
believe in "the star in the East", it did not arrive as a comet
until 6 AD. Which is all a little irrelevant anyway because Matthew, to make
Old Testament prophecies come true, invented Herod as the New Pharaoh, the
Massacre of the Innocents as the Tenth Plague of Egypt, and the Flight into
and out of Egypt as the Imprisonment and Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Even
the census and birth of Christ in Bethlehem is a fabrication to make the Old
Testament qualify as Christian prophecy.
Shrank from all talk of burial. His mother had been buried in a
grave on a meadow by a river that constantly flooded. Her body would be
swamped by water from the North Sea, coming up the river in a quick swell.
Her neat hair would rise up from her scalp and float until the muddy waters
Oiled squeaky hinges. He was one himself.
Did not know what to think of the Christmas period - when
everything stopped, reversed, hung in the balance. He stayed in bed for the
most part, drinking. And reading.
Saw through hypocrisy with an eagle eye.
Undertook great plans. Like rewriting the 1001 tales of
Scherherazade. Like rewriting his life from the beginning. He wanted a
revelation. Many years ago in Florence he had been taken on a dull foggy
evening to see a painting by Massacio. He knew of it as an exercise in
perspective, but this time, seeing its pale fresco colours, he saw it as a
last-resort sort of painting. God and his son, and the woman who mediated
between them. This central mystery. God carnally knowing a virgin. How
transparent. That religion could have stooped so low.
Collected empty tin cans. His prize was a rusty tin can that had
been shot through with bullets on a bare hot rock near Moab, Utah. Near
where they filmed the commercials for Marlborough cigarettes. Near where
they had first discovered uranium. Near where Thelma and Louise had driven
their car over a cliff.
Painted lilies gold, if only to run into conflict with the
celebrated, self-important homily we all know.
Excited others with the possibilities of metaphorical language.
Wanted to be a sorcerer's apprentice.
Smelt nice. Especially around the genitals.
Counted himself lucky. One, two, three, four, five. six... lucky.