Toilet cardboard vs. shitty sticks… which would you handle?

Tipped by the radiant and lovely Yvonne in Email…

As usual around this time of year they (greasy urchins’ playgroups) are asking for twigs, jam bottles, leaves and such. I was told that they are no longer able to use cardboard tubes from toilet rolls because of bacteria from bathrooms but they would like the tubes from kitchen foil, clingfilm and the like for crafts.
They’re okay with twigs and leaves which will inevitably be covered with all kinds of insect shit and might have been peed on by a fox or a weasel. They’d even be happy with the twigs we, as children, used to stand upright in cow pats to make little leafless forests on Stinky Hill.
We were allowed to wallow in filth as children. It’s why we have so few autoimmune diseases now, compared to Generation Feeble who are, quite literally, being mollycoddled to death. A bored immune system really is something to worry about.
They are not okay with cardboard tubes from toilet rolls because they might have ‘bathroom bacteria’ on them. There is no such thing. If they were honest they’d call them ‘arsebugs’ because that’s what they are really scared of. They aren’t scared of the multiple threats from twigs and leaves because that’s nature, and nature is allowed to be covered in shit. It’s natural so it’s safe shit.
There are very few bacteria in a properly maintained bathroom. You know it’s the highest risk room in the house so it gets hit with every chemical in your cleaning arsenal. You use chemicals in the toilet you’d never dream of using to clean cutlery. Deadly chemicals, things that can’t be left in the toilet bowl too long or they’ll etch the porcelain.
Most toilet seats these days are plastic or varnished wood. I haven’t seen bare wood ones since primary school and even we shabby filthy kids tried to avoid using those. It was a kind of instinct, I suspect. Bare wood is impossible to get bacteria-free unless you burn it or soak it in a bucket of creosote. Varnished wood or plastic just needs surface disinfecting.
Steel seats are a possibility, but not in Scotland because in winter you might find it hard to stand up afterwards.
Any impervious surface is easily rendered clean. You can use things that even Father Jack wouldn’t drink to wipe it down. Porous surfaces in bathrooms are high risk.
The little cardboard tube in the middle of the toilet roll is porous so the logic of the simple says it has to be high risk. However, you don’t wipe your arse with it unless you are
a) clinically insane,
b) have run out of paper and have nothing else within reach,
c) are exceptionally tight-fisted or
d) just like the feel of cardboard.
None of these would lead to you donating said cardboard tube to the horrors of youth unless you really, really don’t like them. Even then, I doubt even modern children would try to make anything out of a soggy, misshapen, stinky shit covered cardboard lump.
A normal cardboard arsepaper tube is low risk unless you ran out of paper and changed the roll without bothering to wash the brown sticky bits off your fingers first. Maybe that’s common among the young, I don’t know.
I remember, as a child, making Christmas decorations that looked a bit like a candle at school. We had to bring in our own toilet roll card tube and didn’t think it in any way creepy or odd. “This is the card tube. I wiped shit off my arse with the rest of it, and this is what’s left”. No, it never occurred to us to question it. It was just a cardboard tube.
Nobody ever died or got even slightly sick. We made shitty decorations out of the shitpaper tubes and nobody ever caught so much as an STD from it. I have wondered if maybe the parents are saying ‘Please, no more dreadful Christmas tat. We have enough.’
We did get occasional bouts of squirty bottom from playing with filthy leaves and shitty sticks, and perhaps it’s a slightly twisted good thing that those are still allowed for the horrible small ones of the modern world.
At least their immune systems are getting some exercise, despite the best efforts of modern education and progressive parents to turn them into flabby Nazi leucocytes…

Anthology costings

Nearly there. The book will weigh in at about 200 pages and there will be two print versions. There will be a basic version, good enough for reading purposes, and a posh version with a higher quality paper. The posh version will be high enough quality to go on sale in bookstores. That might never happen but it’ll be available just in case.

Current estimates are that the basic version will retail around £4.50 or so, the posh one at £5.50 – £6.00. There will of course be postage on top but if I buy a batch for distribution, it’ll mean one postage charge. Then of course I have to pay postage to send to you.

So, if you want payment in books rather than cash, I think it would be four basic books per story or three of the posh ones per story. That should come out reasonably fair, I think.

Everyone gets a copy anyway, that goes without saying. If you prefer to keep your address private in case I turn up one day and drink all your whisky, I can send you a PDF copy instead.

Back to work… I really want this one available for Halloween, and then get started on the Christmas one.


Cheering up Spewy Cameron

Lat week, in what can only have been a bout of insanity, I drove my tatty little car to Wales and back. The car made it okay. I was impressed, I really thought I’d have to buy a new one while in Wales and had even taken along all the documentation just in case.

The trip there was good, there was a break in the middle. The trip back was awful. At one point it was taking an hour to get 10 miles further on the M6, because it was Friday and everyone seemed to be heading to Blackpool for a dirty weekend. After the Blackpool junction, matters improved but then roadworks around Glasgow meant I missed the turnoff to Stirling and had to backtrack.

Finally heading for Stirling, there was a diversion (more roadworks) along roads that led through the pitchest blackest part of Scotland towards Perth. A trip that should have taken 12 hours ended up taking 16 and I had to work today. Not very hard, because I was knackered.

One of the shop staff, Cameron, is ill. He has imminent vomiting disease and I was sympathetic and helpful, as you would imagine. I advised him not to think about cold greasy tripe and raw eggs, offered to take his mind off it by describing some of the things I’d found in the toilets in the past (he declined, oddly enough) and distracted him from his potential emetic adventures by telling him about the blue stuff in blue cheeses.

None of it seemed to help so I thought I’d write him a cheery song because I actually quite like the scrawny wide-mouthed gobshite. He has curmudgeon potential.

Anyhow, set to the tune of Kasabian’s ‘Underdog’, here’s a song to distract him from his stomach’s determination to push that ‘return to sender’ button.

I call it  ‘Spewmaster

Poke me if you dare
Throw my guts up everywhere
Keeping food down is such a strain
I’m the Spewmaster
Left my lunch on the staffroom floor
When it comes back it’s not the same
When it comes back it’s not the same…

Lunch in technicolour sprayed on the floor
Well I’ve been retching up this mucus ’til there’s nothing at all
I got a dodgy curry and I ate it all
Left a taste inside my mouth like sweaty badger’s balls

Feels like I threw up a kidney
Or maybe that was my spleen
Pretty sure that was a kidney
Oh here comes breakfast again…

Poke me if you dare
Throw my guts up everywhere
Keeping food down is such a strain
I’m the Spewmaster
Left my lunch on the staffroom floor
When it comes back it’s not the same
When it comes back it’s not the same…

It don’t matter, I won’t spew where you say
You got a bucket, plastic sheeting, I won’t spew that way
I just aim for the people, I can splatter them all
And the rest is in the shadows so you’ll slip and you’ll fall

Still not sure if that’s a kidney
Looks pretty mangled and drab
Curry gods, won’t you forgive me?
Think it’s a pitta kebab…

Poke me if you dare
Throw my guts up everywhere
Keeping food down is such a strain
I’m the Spewmaster
Left my lunch on the staffroom floor
When it comes back it’s not the same
When it comes back it’s not the same…

Tell me if you’re down
Throw your breakfast to the ground
Try to eat things that won’t cause pain

Curry set your arse on fire
Join the queue for another one
Use an ice cube to quench the flames
When it comes back it’s not the same…



Well if that doesn’t cheer him up and take his mind off the twisting of his duodenum into a pretzel shape by the virus currently chewing its way through every organ in his body, I don’t know what will.

Go on, Cam. One last laugh before the grave. You’ll get a cheap funeral because they only have to dig a half-width hole. Maybe they’ll cremate you – they could coat you in wax and use you as a candle for that one. Look on the bright side, you might have days left to live yet.

These young people. They worry about every little thing, don’t they?

Why can’t they see it?

In discussion with a local shopkeeper, it came to light that there will be legislation soon demanding that every cigarette pack contains at least 20.

No more 10-packs. No cleverly cutting the price per box by selling 19 or 18 instead of 20. Every pack will contain at least 20.

The reason? The shopkeeper actually believes that it’s to stop children smoking because they won’t be able to afford a pack of 20. Really.

Doesn’t he think kids will pool their cash and buy a pack between them? You know, the way they do now?

Doesn’t he think older kids will buy a pack and sell them individually to other kids at a profit? You, know, the way they do now?

This legal dictatorship will achieve only one thing. The imposition of 20 cigarettes’ worth of duty on every smoker every time they buy a pack. No chance for the 10-a-day smoker to keep his habit low. He’ll have to buy 20 at a time. His daily intake will creep up because he’s no longer counting down from 10 throughout the day.

Government has set another precedent here. Not only can they dictate prices and packaging, they can now dictate what’s in the packaging.

If you think that stops with smoking, you haven’t been paying attention.

I should have known…

Having formatted all the stories to A5 (a UK paper size), I now discover that book size would only be available to US customers. For global availability I have to use US Trade (6 x 9 inches) which is not restricted to the US. No, I don’t understand it either.

It’s not a problem really, I just Ctrl-A, copy and paste and it’s done. It’s just a pain in the arse.

In the new format it’s 187 pages so far, eight authors and a total of 22 stories. I have some 100-word stories from a ninth author to fit in between these and I’m confident of hitting the 200 page mark.

I have approval of the sections from all but one author now, so I can start on the author contracts and formatting. I had hoped to have the contracts out last week but events didn’t let it happen. No matter, I have a few days away this week and can’t be spontaneously called in to cover a shift.

The formatting will take time but that’s my problem. Once the contracts are signed and the sections approved, you guys get paid and the rest is up to me. You can relax and work on the Christmas stories for the next one.

The next one will be easier. I’ll have fewer distractions soon.

The Underdog Anthology – it’s happening

I heard from Smashwords tonight that the format for eBook covers has changed so I had to revamp and resubmit all of them. Bit of a bugger but it’s done now. I know what’s expected of the anthology at least.

When I started out on this idea I said I needed 100 pages to make it worth doing. You guys have exceeded my expectations. I have now put all the stories in book format and sent them out for final approval and the book will exceed 200 pages. Pete – yours is still to do, I’ll try to fit one of your shorts to each section. The book of shorts and illustrations is still a go.

I’ll do the print version first. It’s easier than the eBook which has to be in as many formats as the Tower of Babel had languages. So I have to strip out all the Word coding and it’s not hard, it just takes time.

The cover is under way. Getting hold of a lamb’s heart is proving harder than expected but there are certain butchers yet to try.

It has to be out for Halloween, and now it’s all in book size it’s looking good for that. It should sell below £4 because this isn’t a profit maker. It’s an advert for Underdog Books. Next time it could make money but this is the first one. It’s PR.

The eBook will of course be dirt cheap because there are no underlying print costs.

So now all the bits are out and awaiting approval, and once that’s done it’s contract and payment time.

Then… infamy, most likely.



Local Shop has been systematically cutting cleaner hours while simultaneously increasing what they expect cleaners to do. They have been doing this for some time and as I predicted over a year ago, we are now at the point of Cleanergeddon.

The job simply cannot be done. It is impossible to do what is expected in the time available and I am not going to kill myself to try to do it. Some jobs will just not get done. The situation will be much worse as Christmas approaches and I won’t be here then. My replacements won’t have four years of experience and will work as I did at the start. Slowly. They will soon realise they cannot win this game and will quit within a week.

I don’t care. If I don’t have time to do a job properly I’d rather not do it at all. I don’t like leaving work every night feeling like I did a half-assed job, so I’m out.

It is not possible to pass the next cleaning audit. It cannot be done. We will not hear ‘oh the cleaners need more time’. We will hear ‘The cleaners need to improve their work’. Fuck off. I leave that place soaked in sweat and I haven’t had time to do anything properly.

I’m going to try to make my last day Halloween but seriously, I might not make it.

Tomorrow I have the dentist in the morning and work in the evening. I am not going to be feeling generous or affable because the numb-juice will have worn off by then. And we have Control Freak manager tomorrow who will try to prove how great she is by making everything late. Some things simply will not be touched by me. I will try to keep my inner Romulus in check but I don’t really know if I even want to.

And I don’t care. My job references are a doctor and a professor. I do not need a reference from a food shop or a cleaning company. I could walk off the job – nearly did tonight – but I signed a contract and that means something to me. I prefer to give proper notice.

But if pushed… I’ll get me coat.