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Haiku: cat #1

Cats can’t do haikus
Cos they’ve got no thumbs to use
The tree is purple

Brand: Writer

anxiety_by_morrison3000-d8j3revThe dreaded workshop. Creativity on demand, under the scrutiny of other far more competent creatives. Yes, I attended a couple the other week. It took a lot of courage and many self pep talks to even get myself into the room! I spent the few days leading up to it gathering the neurotic thoughts I could find – you’re not as good as everyone else, they’ll all laugh at your ideas, you’re not clever enough, you can’t write, give up – which inevitably led to the usual anxiety attack just before leaving for the first workshop. The difference between the me now and the me I was this time last year being I ACTUALLY WENT! I didn’t cop out. I really MADE myself go. The few experiences of doing this previously had gone well, and so finally my brain has seemed to reach an equilibrium between the neurotic thoughts and the experiential evidence to show that it’s never as bad as I can very competently make out it’s going to be. I held onto that thought like a toddler with an ice-cream. Also, it’s about self-confidence *looks at self-confidence bucket, status: empty*. It’s about realising what could REALISTICALLY go wrong, and knowing that you do have the ability to get through it if it does. Unfortunately us humans must go through a few harrowing experiences to realise this fact fully, but hey, life’s a bitch on steroids sometimes.lightheaded_by_morrison3000-d9biw0q

Anyway, back to the workshops. So, I was nervous about attending this workshop full of literary geniuses. When I arrived there were 20 other people all sat round a table like the class of 1992, silent, ridged, and concentrating very hard on their pencils. After what seemed like a lifetime plus one, the teacher arrived. Sorry, ‘workshop leader’. As a plan was drawn of the names of the people in attendance and ‘just a little bit about what style of writing you do’ I could see that every single person was bricking it as much as me. Everyone feels the same in these situations. If they don’t look like it then they have years of practice behind them meaning they’re bloody good at covering it up!

Most writers I’ve come across are like this: full of self-doubt, unsure whether their audacity to fill pages of dead trees with their words is justifiable. Of course, some new writers are very confident, some rightly so, and for some it can be their downfall. A bit of humility can go a long way, and it is essential for learning and creating. As writers in the world of open communication we are expected to be brands in ourselves. We need to be personalities which our audience can buy into, like a character in a book. The thought of selling yourself as a package of writing brilliance is incomprehensible to writers, most of whom will openly admit they don’t know everything there is to know about themselves, never mind present it to the world neatly tag-lined and photo-perfect.


Writers are natural introverts, observers rather than participators. Writers are used to hiding behind their writing. Writers want their writing to be their brand that represents them. But to the hungry wolf that is social media being a writer is not enough. sane_and_insane_rivalry_by_morrison3000-d7fc3dmWe need to form relationships with our readers before they’ve even read anything we’ve written, and we need to do it in such a way that it represents our writing style so as to fulfil our readers’ expectations when they do finally skim through the opening lines of our stories. Brand Writer must deliver what it promises.

Again, we come back to that illusive rogue, time. Having time. If I was a social media guru I wouldn’t spend as much time writing. Simple. I’m currently working on how to do both. My brain is complaining about this distraction, but I will come to a mutually beneficial compromise at some point.


The workshops? Loved every second! I didn’t appear to cause offence to anyone, and I didn’t turn into a blubbering jellylike blob, and my head didn’t explode all over my fellow participants. Once I’d forgotten to worry about those things and became absorbed in the whole thing the time passed way too quickly and before I knew it I was leaving that once terrifying room feeling self-sanctimonious, telling myself that I told myself it would be all right, didn’t I, hmm?

It was great to hear what others were writing, and it was great to come up with ideas amongst such creative people, even if certain ideas wouldn’t pop forth on demand. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t a test. It was for us workshopees to learn something. The stuff I did come up with inspired a whole new story with a great character I can hardly believe I created, and I was able to grasp a sense of where my particular comfy cushion of ‘Me’ sits within the writer population. I know more than I think I do is really what these workshops taught me, and I should have confidence in this fact. I came away from my two days of learning feeling super confident about my writing and where I’m going with it. I decided, in comparison (as humans do) that I’ve actually got a head start on some, and that my slight apprehension about attending things like this is actually a good thing: I go there feeling I don’t know everything, and that’s exactly how it should be.


All artwork by Dolores A Morrison. Please check out this fab artist here…

What the Hell am I Doing?

Good question. I’ve been writing various things for ages, with no real focus or theme. Really just enjoying myself. But I’ve decided enough is enough, I have to take this thing-wot-I-do more seriously, even if it’s just to get my mother off my back asking me why I can’t write something like Jane Eyre. So, I’m kicking my insecurities and those who gift them to me up the proverbial back passage and exposing a full frontal bucket load of confidence by sorting my ‘stuff’ out. This starts with stopping something. Stopping giving away my writing for free. Yes, I’ll blog (much more often, I promise), and there may be the occasional bit of creative writing shoved in here and there, but the point is I need to get something published.

Now you know the situation, here’s the question. I’ve got a few dark/freaky fairy tales sitting patiently waiting for others to join them so that I can publish a full themed collection. I’d like to illustrate them too. I’ve also got a book sized story on the go. Not one for giving myself an easy time, this story has required a full world building exercise which has all been dumped in a wiki of its very own. I have some characters in mind, but they’re no way near developed to the point of clarity, neither is the plot line. I basically have a lot of narrative, most of which I don’t want to use as narrative. So there’s two projects, and deciding which one to dedicate time to is really annoying! The fairy tales is a bit more developed, well rounded, focused, easy to see the step by step process kind of project. The book isn’t. So my kind of logic tells me that I should focus on the fairy tales, get it finished, get something produced, and then start all the marketing malarkey, then I’ve got ‘something’ to show. Whadda you think?

Another part of sorting my ‘stuff’ out is sorting out this site, my ‘platform’ (I went to a ‘marketing your book’ workshop this weekend, so I know aaaallll the lingo now ;)). I’m spending this afternoon taking off the miserable ranty stuff, all the complete stories that I want to do something with, and generally giving it a good ol’ clean out. So it may seem a bit thinner than before, but…well…tough! I’m reassessing my social media presence too. I’ve spent some time away from it over the past few months and I’ve really, thoroughly enjoyed not getting caught up in the global distraction of narcissism and 2D ‘friendships’. It’s only with a massive reframing of the purpose of social media that I’m venturing back to it, now with my I’m-A-Writer face on. I was going to start completely afresh with a new Twitter and Facesplat account, but, thinking about it (I’m good at that y’know), I’ve decided it would be silly to neglect all you wonderful people who’ve already been so kind as to mark your interest with a ‘follow’. I hope to take you with me on my meander through this insane world of the business-of-writing from the point of view of a business-of-writing-phobe. I’ll probably need your unending support and proclamations of adoration in difficult times, but I won’t write about you if you don’t (maybe). Just a ‘like’ or maybe a ‘buy’ would be as good *smiling sweetly face*.

So, all change, but all good. Thanks for sticking around Thinking Chimps!


I make a lovely cat bed,
My thighs are soft and pliant. 
Tortured by the shredding claw, 
Until they are compliant. 
And if they think of moving,
Or are at all defiant,
The sharp hooks of autocracy,
Shall render due chastisement.  


So, we’re getting towards recording the final scenes, so I thought I’d share the only edited scene with you so far. This scene was written by me, it is not in the book, as a prologue. Hope you enjoy!

You can follow the progress of Radio Rivers on Twitter @RadioRivers.

Aunt Celia

Aunt Celia

The text message said, ‘Hi Molly, I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you at work. I know you’re busy. The thing is, I don’t know if it’s night or day at the moment. I can’t see either way. It’s awfully dark in here, and getting quite smelly if I’m honest. Dear, I think I’ve been buried in the ground, as if I’m dead. I woke up and found myself in what appears to be a silk lined box just big enough for my length, and no more. I can’t find an opening anywhere, and I can’t hear anything about, not even Ethel’s dog barking next door. My mobile phone is with me, of course, and what feels like a rose, I think. But nothing else. Is there any possibility you could shed some light on my predicament, literally?’
Molly, quite understandably, read this text more than a few times, possibly hoping the words would rearrange themselves, or disappear. But mostly she read it through again and again and again because she needed time to process the fact that her Aunt Celia had texted, apparently from her grave.

The funeral had been very dignified, but not too fussy. Aunt Celia didn’t like fussy. She didn’t like to feel a nuisance to anyone. Of course, she liked to keep up with her correspondence. A letter to her favourite chat show, at least once a week. Her fortnightly four page gossip to her Australian cousin. And she never missed a day without calling her friends or paying them a visit. And now there was text messaging. A marvellous way of keeping in touch with her favourite niece throughout the day. Molly had bought Aunt Celia the mobile phone to keep with her at all times since her husband, Frank, passed and she was living alone. Aunt Celia had no children of her own, and living only a street away Molly felt she needed to keep an eye on her. It turned out to be the other way round, however. Aunt Celia doted on Molly, whether from gratitude, validation, or boredom, she wasn’t sure. But, inconvenient as it sometimes was, Molly felt she was doing the right thing. It made her feel good that Aunt Celia felt good about making Molly feel good. Which was good.

But this, THIS…made her feel bad. Very bad. Was this a cruel trick, or had she actually buried her Aunt alive? She’d placed the phone in the casket, as she knew how attached Aunt Celia had become to it. Instant communication in writing! ‘A marvel,’ Aunt Celia had called it. With comprehensive support from Molly, she had filled it with the numbers of her friends who had also been given mobile phones by their loved ones (just in-case), and had also found it a most convenient way to communicate the smallest of observations to whoever they fancied, day and night. And now, it turned out, alive or dead!

Molly, managed to coerce her shaking hands into dialling her husband’s work number on her mobile phone, which connected and rang.
‘Hello? Molly? What’s wrong?’ Her husband’s tone conveyed the type of worrisome curiosity that an unexpected and unusual phone call does from a spouse on a week day when such communication during the grey and grinding not-to-be-disturbed working day can only mean disaster. A text message was for orders of milk or toilet roll, which can be picked up during the walk from office to car park; a part of the transition from hard-work-head to soft-relaxed-at-home-head. But a phone call meant serious business. As did the muffled silence at the other end of the line. ‘Molly?’ he repeated.
Molly found out very quickly just how incomprehensible a shock she found herself in. The words would not form. How could they? In what order could they be arranged to convey such….such….terrible and…bizarre news?
‘Er…’ she managed. Then, ‘Dave…’
‘What’s wrong, Molly, for god’s sake!’
‘I think,’ Molly quivered, ‘we’ve made a terrible mistake with Aunt Celia.’

Dave managed good time in the light and lazy afternoon traffic. Tea had been ceremoniously brewed, and the dining table took the weight of stoic elbows. A decision must be made. Firstly, was one of them losing it? Secondly, were both of them losing it? Thirdly, were both of them fine and this was actually happening? Fourthly, what the hell did they do now? Dave went through the various stages at which it should have been picked up that Aunt Celia was still alive. The paramedics when they examined her still in her bed on a Tuesday lunchtime, the pathologist when he opened her up to confirm she’d died of a cerebrovascular accident in her sleep. The funeral home when they made her up before placing her in her silk lined casket and drove her to the church. All logical places encompassing qualified people who had all, seemingly, concluded it was a corpse they were dealing with, not just someone having a nap for a week. The facts were: Aunt Celia had died seven days ago; Aunt Celia had been buried with her mobile phone; Unless the grave had been robbed, Aunt Celia was indeed texting them from her very own mobile phone, from within her grave.

Molly and Dave pulled up in the unusually busy car park near the church, having not uttered a word to each other since they’d made the decision to check Aunt Celia’s grave for themselves. To check the reality of the situation as well as the state of the grave. They wanted to find the coffin exposed to the air with crowbar marks on the rim. They wanted to find poor DECEASED Aunt Celia lying there, bereft of her beloved mobile phone. This sick, sadistic world was capable of such horrors, they hoped.

The first thing they noticed were the people hovering about the vast graveyard, gathering in clusters. They seemed upset, which of course is not unusual in such a place, but they also seemed a bit sort of worried? Paranoid? Freaked out? Aunt Celia’s grave lay undisturbed. Molly and Dave stared at it, trying to hide the monster of fear creeping inside their heads. Then, in the distance someone shouted, ‘We have to get them out! Now!’ A sticklike balding man with unruly side hair was running as fast as he could across the slippy grass. He lost the battle and fell just short of the gravel path, leaving a damp, greenish stain across the knee of his beige slacks. The clusters of people turned as one to the scene. He scrambled to the path and dashed into the church, yelling for some…any kind of assistance, divine or otherwise.

The media arrived within minutes of an army of diggers, ordered by, firstly, the rich, eager to prove having money is worth it in a crisis, and then the local council, who, bombarded by such horrific pleads, tears, insults and threats, felt it wise to help their voting citizens by enabling them to dig up their dead. Designated individuals within each cluster were frantically texting on their mobile phones, informing their interred loved ones of the latest of news from above, reassuring and smileyfaced. Molly had already sent hers. Aunt Celia was busy texting Margaret, who had died within a day of Celia and now found herself in a similar situation. Margaret, however, had a news app on her mobile phone and had become quite the hub of undead interaction within the subterranean network. She’d set up a Facebook page too, which was thriving! But her closest friends hadn’t entered that world yet and required the more intimate yet slightly formal text message. Burying loved ones with their mobile phones was a relatively new fad, but it seemed to be turning into quite popular tradition. The modern equivalent to the Victorian grave bell to some (who were now quite smugly correct in their thinking), but mostly for sentimental reasons, or so they could continue to grow their small holding on FarmVille in the afterlife.

That evening, Tesco One Stop shops reported a rise in tea bag sales. The clusters had moved to their respective dining tables, bringing in the occasional chair from the hallway to accommodate the extra ‘body’ at the table, just like at Christmas, and the healing process began. Aunt Celia was still a bit shaken by events. The pink wafer finger was helping though, and her second helping of tea in her familiar porcelain flowered cup was definitely hitting the spot.

‘Hundreds of loved ones presumed dead have risen from their graves in an unexplained phenomenon sweeping the globe,’ the Six O’clock News reported. ‘Thanks only to modern technology via mobile phones buried with them did these ‘undead’ manage to alert their family and friends.’
‘It was lucky I could get a signal,’ squawked Maureen from Telford, gaunt yet perky, ‘It’s usually terrible round my way. I mean, HEAVEN KNOWS what would have happened! You know. Mm.’ Cut to wide shot of Maureen surrounded by wide eyed, brave faced, stiff upper lipped family, the father of which staunchly declared it to be an awful shock all round. The twitch in his usually solid left eyelid confirmed this to be true. A contrived image filled the screen, the family, all together again, tea in hand, squashed into an inadequate cream leather settee, watching Pointless. Aunt Celia beeped in an early noughties Nokia way. ‘Ooh, a text message from Sylvia,’ she peeped, and got on to it straight away. Molly was in a self-sustaining cycle of tea making, drinking, and expelling. Dave was asleep, in his fantasies. He drank the tea, stared at the TV, and avoided thinking.

As the weeks trundled by Aunt Celia was living life to the full. Fuller than ever before, in fact. She’d bought herself a smartphone, on Maureen’s recommendation, and had downloaded the Facebook app. She had 24 friends, and was now an admin on the ‘Buried Alive and Survived!’ page. They began to meet on Thursday mornings at Clayton’s Cafe on Shriver Street for tea and iced buns. The younger ones met elsewhere, but cordially communicated online via the page. They were unequivocally connected now, young and old, rich and poor, male and female. A commonality between generations, genres, and gender. The undead dead consoled those who had been nearly dead. Those who wanted to be dead whinged about their inability to be dead to those who wished they were dead. Death was extinct. The earth mourned its ally.

Experiences were shared and recognised, stories were told and printed, books were written, gimmicky chat-shows made a comeback with double the amount of mailbags. Various officials were conveyed across the news broadcasts speaking in solemn tones regarding their inability to fathom this event. Politicians squirmed within their grim suits giving contrived statements, being probed by media trained journalists. Medical professionals postulated unsubstantiated theories and carried out tests, and tests on the tests. Philosophers wrote papers, then had breakdowns realising that they couldn’t even end the pointlessness of existence with suicide. Mental health services cried out for more funding to meet the demand. Social workers begged for more houses to be built and for hotels to open themselves up to accommodate the growing undead.

Then, on Thursday 27th of June, two months, three days, sixteen hours, and thirty three minutes after that first text message from the grave had been sent, 9,792,453 people died, all at once, across the globe. This, sadly, included Aunt Celia. Happily, she was at her Thursday morning gathering in Clayton’s when it happened, so she wasn’t alone. This, of course, meant a logistical nightmare for the funeral industry. Thankful for something vote-winningly heroic to do requiring ‘large scale coordination’ and ‘mobilisation of various government resources’, UK politicians charged to the nearest news bulletin to make clear their plans to aid the electorate at this difficult time, and that therefore there was no need for families to take matters into their own hands and fill that space between beloved Jake the Jack Russell and the buddleia bush. The diggers were deployed, funeral parlours were put on 24 hour duty, as were priests, registrars, and florists, and employers were subsidised for authorised absences as the whole world took bereavement days within the space of a fortnight. Mass mourning gripped those who lived, iced in sickly-sweet melancholy by the media. The Facebook page was closed, but preserved. The last chapter of the book was written. The uncanny incident was over.

Molly and Dave sat watching Pointless with a cup of tea and an iced bun. The funeral had been nice. Not too fussy. There was a queue after all. Aunt Celia would have approved. She looked peaceful as she lay there, smartphone next to her right hand. Molly picked up her phone and checked for any red bubbles loitering around her messages app. Dave put his arm round his wife and held her safe.

Funnily enough, everyone from then on requested they be buried with their mobile phone. Coffin makers were offering wind up phone chargers and signal boosters as added extras. And all those still living, especially those recently bereaved, checked their mobile phones a little more often.

Death brushed a biscuit crumb from his infinitely dark robe and stared at the empty in-trays, the shelves full of completed paperwork. He sipped his cup of tea with satisfaction. ‘Holidays,’ he thought, ‘are all very good, but the backlog it creates just isn’t worth it.’




The Snocker Elf

The Snocker is an elf that lives within the snooker table. He is especially active during major tournaments, and comes out at night to sweep the baize and collect dropped chalk. Although classed as an elf, The Snocker has a bit of the fairy mischief within him for he likes to play tricks on players, especially at crucial times in matches. He is responsible for kicks, which he does by prodding the baize from underneath with his broom handle. If you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of The Snocker in a pocket as he blows very hard so balls that should be certain just miss. When a ball seems to roll round the edge of a pocket or wipe its feet, you can be sure that is The Snocker Elf at work.

The Snocker Elf

If he’s hungry, The Snocker will guide balls into pockets with no warning. He considers the white one the tastiest. He likes nothing more than the sound of applause rippling through the crowd, but gets very angry when people shout out at inappropriate moments and will carry out his vengeance upon the flow of the table.

The Snocker Elf at work

An offering when a player has nearly worn down his chalk is much appreciated by The Snocker. Leave it under the table by one of the corner legs to ensure the tournament has a happy ending.

I Love Your Pi

I love your pi
You’re my third of a tenth
My love for you is fractal
Infinite in length

I less than 3 you
It must be a sine
You are my singularity
My optimal prime

You’re my X
I’m your Y
Like dividing by zero
Our love cannot be defined

You are my Big Bang
My gravitational law
My special relativity
You RAM my motherboard


All I want to do is buy some pants. This is the only time of year I even consider doing such things, buying pants for others. I have a limited amount of time to purchase said pants. The pants deadline. Who would have thought it would be such a difficult task to accomplish? I have spent half an hour looking for the correct pants, then finding they’re not in stock, so having to look for other similar pants, that will be posted within this country so that it doesn’t take till next year to arrive. I have even got to the point of checking out from this online pants hellhole, when a small note to the side of my chosen pants said ‘no longer in stock,’ such was the complex process that led to my pants filled virtual shopping basket. In short, buying pants online is pants.

And so the ridiculousness of December begins. I bet it wouldn’t be this hard to buy pants in January, or even February for that matter. In fact, I bet the person I’m buying the pants for would appreciate receiving such items ANY TIME OF YEAR, not just in December. In fact, I bet it would seem like a more sincere gesture if I bought the pants for no other reason than I wanted to, because I genuinely care about their pants situation and want to help, because I thought about them and their pants randomly, rather than the current situation where I HAVE TO buy pants because the dictates of an archaic system exploited by the capitalist rulers of the western world states I must buy pants in December, before the pants deadline.

I have pressed the X in the top right corner, and resign myself to the fact today is not the day to buy pants.

This is part one of my twelve hates of XMoose. More to follow.


Oh wouldnt it be neat,
If I could see my feet.
They were there long ago,
With my little toe,
But now we never meet.

Oh wouldn’t it be neat,
If I could see my feet.
It seems over the years,
They’ve just dissappeared.
Like all the things I eat.

Oh wouldn’t it be neat,
If I could see my feet.
But I’ve gained a lot,
In what and not,
Well rounded and replete.

So if my world’s so neat,
But I can’t see my feet,
It means I am wise,
Though I’ve grown in size,
And my feet I’ll never greet.


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