Tuesday, August 23, 2016


"Extremism comes in many forms."
Prime Minister May, July 20 AD2016

It was during one of his many peregrinations through the market squares and parades that adjoin the railway termini of the capital's pericentric locomotive stations that the secretive persona of Lorvec took it into his corpulent head to involve his poor unfortunate nephew in the execution against public sensibilities of an outrage whose expeditious realisation the Man from the Imperial Ministry had so insisted upon that, were it not to be attempted, Lorvec feared, with adequate reason, that he should be obliged, even before the end of the opening sentence, to relinquish his enviable sinecure as disreputable purveyor of political pamphlets and the finest calibre of smut to foreign nationals of an insurrectionist bent who, aside from the noteworthy exception of the fiery insurgent known simply as The Doctor, appeared a great deal more intent upon the incitement of incendiary contrarian argument in the dingy back-parlour of Lorvec's shop than upon the accomplishment of any authentic act of extreme but mindful retribution of the kind that, on occasion, topples monarchs, unseats despots, despoils pseudo-democrats, unhinges dictators and destroys the unjust patrimony of the powerful.

"More's the pity," muttered the pamphlet seller.

It would indeed extricate him from his present pickle, were the capital's most entrepreneurial merchant of weapons of massive instruction to avail himself of the moment via the agent of his sister's poorly afflicted progeny.

Lorvec recalled, with distaste, the self-composed creed of the nihilistic bomb-throwing medical man; the perverse Hippocratic oath that The Doctor had Maria, a mariner from Minsk, ink on his forearm in intricate cursive hand:

"Love of anarchy springs eternal from despair of chaos that elites unleash in the name of order under laws of rent that legitimate theft from the many held in bondage by the few. Nothing short of destruction of all rulers will do!"

In the grim, austerity-stricken twilight of empire, the reek of crisp modernist prose pervaded; its sardonic, adjectivally-ridden undertow a naturalist breeding ground for reactionary opinion, construed as considered indignation by those whose self-righteous condemnation of the patently misguided idealism of the fool and the anarchist is taken to be the only pragmatic response to the politics of power and the machinations of the criminal state, rogue or otherwise, if one is eager not to surrender to common inhumanity in the neo-liberal defence of wholesale slaughter of innocents and keen to retain lucrative column inches in the divided nation's revered broadsheets of mythmaking and illusion.

"Now you see it. Now you don't," mused Lorvec, automaton-like.

Barely eight sentences in, and the secretive pamphleteer and agent of doom, having already discounted such qualms as so much red trouser-wearing tosh, sought refreshment in a pot of jasmine-scented tea gifted him by an erstwhile client and comrade from the Manchurian revolutionary diaspora, who had broken with convention and abandoned his party of 5,327 co-workers on forced collective vacation at the reputed expense of a charmed psychopath that headed up Marxist-Leninism's most prolifically successful pyramid scheme since Chiang Kai-Shek was ejaculated from the Shanghai branch of Avon Cosmetics Incorporated and compelled to eke out a co-existence scrapping faecal matter from out of the anal cavities of the wayward sons of the syphilitic chiefs of staff of the former KMT, who, much in Lorvec's manner, had claimed asylum from the slimy milieu of turn-of-the-millennium post-modernism in favour of the concrete certitudes of the polyglot bourgeois moralist who abhorred the seedy cabal of scum-sucking deviant pig-sodomisers on an island off the south east coast of the Independent People's Republic of Kent, many leagues from the Gulf of Tonkin.

The weight. Of the lengthy sentences. Pressed against his chest. Lorvec took. Short breaths. And an unexpected but welcome paragraph break.

Seated in the dilapidated chaise longue in the half-penumbra of the back-shop, he sipped on an oriental infusion concocted from a blend of vibrantly red teas, and became dimly conscious of dull thuds that accompanied a familiar rumpus in the room above his head: an indicator of his sister's struggle to temper her charge's intermittent explosive disorder whereby any perceived sleight, however trivial, provoked in the young unfortunate chap an outburst of intemperate tantrum so indiscriminate in its target and so immense in its disproportionality that one might reasonably compare it to the extreme violence of the logic-chopping of the thoroughly indoctrinated sycophants of the Fourth Estate, an occupation where honour and soul is routinely eschewed in favour of expediency, as yet another risibly absurd case is made in assured support of extortionately-priced asymmetric atomic weaponry whose detonation must be publicly contemplated yet never actualised, if it is to be effective as a deterrent against the strangely foreign rage of the religiously intolerant zealots who left to their own improvised explosive devices might succeed in blowing themselves to kingdom come.

Lorvec had the physiognomy of a man with a great many ponderables on his noggin. His chubby squat fingers sweated around the china mug cupped in his hands. He clasped it to his breast, rested it against his cleavage and respired melodramatically. It was decided. Lorvec, on some pretext or other, would coax the boy to effect the deed. That much was certain. As for the requisite combustible chemistry, he would enlist the lethal services of his associate, The Doctor, who was to visit the back-parlour this self-same evening along with several other revolutionary caricatures, thus reducing the requirement for any further plot exposition in return for peace of mind and a resumption of a mid-life filled with sneering contempt at the shortcomings of his fellow worker, whose lack of aspiration concerning all things progressive, though redolent of his own failings, incensed him so thoroughly that he slumped back in his chaise longue - an act of indolence that sign-posted a refusal to contemplate the wider structural and political realities of 1880's London, pre-Brexit, which the Man from the Imperial Ministry had driven home to the secretive Lorvec that very morning.

Notwithstanding his customary ill humour, the web of conceit was almost spun. The Doctor's dyed-in-the-wool fanaticism and unsurpassed expertise in the destructive potentialities of fertiliser would undoubtedly assist Lorvec in the commission of the atrocious act of barbarism that would strike at the very heart of darkness itself: Notting Hill.

"It would do you well to recall, Lorvec," said the Man from the Imperial Ministry, as the secretive pamphleteer shifted from one foot to the other in the antechamber of his Excellency's stately room.

"It would do you well to recall, Lorvec, that a single act of vengeance can resonate through the annals of the historical record like a Zokor mole rat gnawing away at the underground fibre-optic cables of the London offices of the Reuters press agency on a quiet news day in August."

The tortuous analogy reminded Lorvec that this was far from the chocolate-box drama of the class that his sister, Wendy, devoured on slow shop days, which in actuality was fairly most of them. It further prompted Lorvec to emit a self-congratulatory Aha!, perhaps with less force than Archimedes, a man of principle who most certainly let rip with legendary gusto as the water rose in his bathing tub, yet with sufficient strength to rouse Lorvec from his chaise longue and notify the other occupants of the flat that their disturbances should be curbed on account of the return of the man of the household. Thus, by a curious concatenation of associations, Lorvec had ventured not only upon the doughty Doctor's explosive knowledge, and of course his nephew's intermittent incendiary temperament matched with a malleable docility that was fit for purpose, but moreover upon the precise nature of the receptacle in which the lethal agent of terror, commandeered at the behest of secret state intervention, was to be conveyed to a particular Notting Hill address: namely, a box of premium quality confection of the sort that no self-respecting gentleman would deny access to, if delivered in the apposite manner. His nephew, Davey, would need livery.

The general synopsis having been established, and a sense of locale specified, there only remained its fictive exposition. Additionally, as is the way of matters modernist, publications demand a modicum of interactive dialogue, if only to relieve the tedium, ironically, of the thoroughly impenetrable textuality. However, Lorvec despised small talk and conversation with his sister and the boy were completely out of his frame of reference.

"Capital," thought Lorvec, "Omnibus to Joseph William Thornton's Emporium of Confection, and then Metropolitan Light Underground Railway to Holland Park. Entice the docile beggar to don the uniform, devise a stratagem to give the peelers the slip, knock at number 17 and hey presto!... Spare the reader from a further 348 pages of naturalist guff, back in time for tea and Prime Minister's questions on the Marconi wireless set."

Thus, as his sister and Davey entered the back-shop parlour, it was evident that the boy's terrors had been assuaged and his temperament had been normalised.

End of.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Good evening, he said

He used to say: Good evening, sir
Good evening, madam

Have you got 
Any spare change 
To help the homeless, please?

Now, he just says: Good evening!

Still gets as much money
But says much less 

Fuck 'em, he says

when they aren't listening

Good evening!



Tuesday, August 16, 2016


An Indulgent Work of Fiction

The painfully slow and torturous death of the Secretary of State for Health occurred on a Saturday. Much less certain, however, was the manner of his agonising demise. 
In this best of all possible worlds, it was of course merely a matter of time before the Angels of the Nation sought fit to mete out justice. And naturally, it was equally fitting that he should perish at the hands of all those he had wronged in his miserably inadequate and wretched life. It was indeed only fair that the ex-president of Oxford University Conservative Association, the former Head Boy of Charterhouse, the elder son of Lady and Admiral Sir Nick Hunt, the great grandson of Walter Baldwyn Yates, the fourth great grandson of John Scott, first Earl of Eldon, the 29th great grandson of King Henry I, the fourth cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II, and the fifth cousin once removed of Britain’s most celebrated fascist should be brutally battered into oblivion by a lynch mob of avenging Angels baying its fury on this pathetic apology of a man.
What remained unclear to the great and the good was the motivation behind this grievous event, whose egregiousness was the subject of several thousand column inches in the better class of newspapers in this most liberal of Western democracies where it is widely believed that the interests of the many outweigh the vicissitudes of the few, should one happen to have spent one's entire life with one's unthinking conk firmly ensconced up one's alimentary canal. 
Beyond any scintilla of doubt, however, was the true character of the Health Minister's extensive and staggeringly prodigious injuries, bearing in mind that, at the time of his vicious but righteous slaughter, he was visiting the cardiology department at the world famous Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.
Indeed, the Coroner’s inquest concluded that the major trauma and multiple lesions were the consequence of a sustained assault by an unrestrained but co-operative group of people who had inflicted the injuries extremely slowly and methodically - much in the manner of the aggrieved assailants in Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Each and every single one of The Angels of Mercy at Addenbrooke's were complicit in the morally motivated assassination of the Health Minister, seeking the justice that the son of Nick Hunt had thus far averted in his sickeningly pampered existence. Needless to say, Countess Andrenyi of Finchley did not form part of the self-appointed jury and execution squad.
As an instance of industrial union solidarity, it was without parallel in recent British Labour Relations. As an act of mindful violence, it was even more aesthetically blissful than the summary execution, on 29th April 1945, of Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, Claretta Petacci and their entourage of proud Italian nationalists. As a feat of human bio-engineering, it even surpassed the astounding achievements of proto-feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Dr Heinrich von Frankenstein's monstrous re-arrangement of the physical form. 
According to several scurrilous reports in the more salacious tabloids, there were pieces of plasma and fragments of protoplasm plastered all over the walls of Cambridge's dedicated cardiology centre, which is proud to provide high quality care to the privately rich, many of whom were traumatised by this collective deed of astonishing brutality from the nation's most-loved and least-remunerated Angels. 
Apparently, all norms of professional conduct were thrown out of the window, as pinned-down private patients had matchsticks inserted between their opened eyelids, forcing them to bear witness to the rabid slaying of the Health Minister, as kind-hearted Angels ran amok, chanting: "The Hunt is Dead! The Hunt is Dead! All hail the Hunt is Dead!"
A 23-year-old Ecuadorean staff nurse took great relish in ripping off Hunt's left ear with her bare teeth while inserting into his rima oris her treasured copy of Granny Made Me An Anarchist: General Franco, The Angry Brigade and Me.
Such reports, however, subsequently, proved false. 
At no point did the assailants run amok, rather the febrile Angels of Mercy queued politely, waited patiently and took turns to inflict monstrous acts of inhumane pain upon the esteemed Right Honourable personage who had seen fit to patronise them that very afternoon. This is, after all, England. Keep Calm & Carry On, as HM Government instructs. There is no earthly reason to jump the queue, lose one's temper or to be rude in the execution of one's duty. 
As the privately-educated Minister's twitching bag of bones lay on the recently fogged floor, becoming a festering cadaver of frothy puss, sticky sputum, throbbing gristle, blood-streaked semen and purulent discharge, the dedicated Angels of the NHS stepped over it and went about their day.
Relieved. Content. At peace.


from where we get the word SLOGAN
is Scots Gaelic for BATTLE CRY!

Poetry sucks
Cry SLOGAN*! instead
Negotiate freedom with the Gods
Mine realms of disorder
Uncover the anarchy of reality
As you wait to be seated
Next to the man who watches
The same 30-second segment of Natalie Imbruglia
With the sound turned down
In the public library
Over and over again
His pants around his ankles
Bill Grundy's undertaken
His last journey to the stars!
The lonely man's sex life is contingent
It has to infer its own state
From its virtual existence
Hypertext transfer protocol
Ain’t what it used to be
Colon: forward slash/forward slash/
The street dentist from Goa
Brings you round from your trance-induced stupor
With a sniff of turpentine
A pair of pliers and a monkey
Trained in Reiki and basic anatomy
Who plucks out the offensive molar
When you least expect for one $US dollar
The Bonobo is eight times stronger than you
AND gets laid!
Scooby Dooby Doo
Well, we all know what happens in the end
Truth and justice
Pesky kids
He gives three grand to the man in the hat
And gets sent down
Dr Seuss is dead
The cat in the attack
Can't come back
Whacked out on Scooby snacks
Due to austerity cutbacks
Don't dwell comrades, live!
Become what you think
Not what you re-tweet
People put profit before provenance
The Pirate Party protests
Question the schema
Provide overwhelming evidence to the contrary
The powerful care not
Speak the truth anyway
Like a cancer
There's been an outbreak of philosophical enquiry
Among the oncology community
Somewhere on the Hangar Lane gyratory
The migratory flow of the trafficking
In the other direction
Weapons of cash production
This is not Borcester. This is Syria
The Halal chickens have come to roost
It isn't goodies versus baddies
Tommies versus Jerries
It's baddies versus baddies
They killed all the goodies!
Aleppo can't change its plots
Dreams aren't subtitled
Children's screams are droned out
By death cults and phosphate. WAIT!
Till the hate in the sky turns into pie. Too late.
The obese have eaten all the time
As the 18,000th episode of The Archers starts
Vegetables are slain over the airwaves
In the name of God and statehood
Cabbages are stabbed
England's only Golden Eagle drops dead
And the star cross'd ask why?
Wherefore art thou? Alfa Romeo
Guiletta shouts
Swigging at a bottle of Asti Spumante
Covered in attitude and tattoos
She's pathologically romantic
...and pissed
The dominant lethal gene's been released into the mainstream
And the deceased couple
Despite an inordinate fear of Shakespeare
Top Gear and genetic modification
Remain leg end in Verona and beyond

Freedom or death!
Delivering the full product range for the fast food industry.
Pick a slogan to die for

Friday, August 12, 2016


The bad news, or the good news, depending on how you look at it, is that Angela Camilo Duarte Birchill has finished fourth again.  Behind Greene, Atwood, Tolstoy, and just ahead of Hilary Mantel.  But 23 points behind Leicester City, obviously.

"You're not that indispensable," she thinks. "The world will keep spinning at well over a 1,000 miles an hour whether you are upon it or not."

It is definitely a thought best not had at 4 o'clock in the early hours, when it might have carried the momentum that moves planets and plunged her into the agonies of despair, at least until 5.oo a.m. when the sun rises and lifts her mood. It is now five minutes after twelve in the afternoon, after Latte and Twix, and her depression has levitated above the twin towers of caffeine and sugar, the joint highs of the most outrageously promoted substances of mass self-abuse this side of the Seattle coffee mountain.

The news is that an outbreak of magical realism has taken several Whitehall departments on a carpet ride to a conference in Milton Keynes, according to a spokes wizard for the government who amazed the crowd with a tent and a block of ice.

The italics back off and there is a pause for reflection in respect of her improvised breakfast, when she slopped fried vegetable hash onto a Ryvita and contemplated the hereafter.

Character is easily mismanaged and, after the last time, never to be repeated. Temperamentally stable, but personality-wise she is all over the shop. Couldn't keep any of her acting jobs, let alone deliver  dialogue convincingly.

It is the difference between free jazz and online shopping. Once you've chosen the jam and the socks, there is no going back. The cart is loaded and ready to stick around till you decide whether to leg it or not. The tension (past, historic) and the gender issues (extra chromosome, no big deal) are intangible but addressable.

A contemporary tale in the cautionary mode, but very much story, her story. It starts with dialogue when she was a barista and still had a point of view.

the full dialogue is available on cloudcast.com but snippets are also available on amazon.com without much punctuation and without the internal monologue filter it is much cheaper but inappropriate for minors and middle managers who do go on

- Can I get a name, please?

- [Oh God, "get" is so bloody Americanized. What's wrong with "take your name"? And why do you need my bloody name? It's coffee, not sex!] No.

- [Oh God no, it's Dr Jerkoff.] I'm sorry?

- Don't be.

- [I'm sorry you came in smart ass. If you don't want to give me your name, go to Costa. I don't give a shit how you spell it. It's just something I have to write on the freakin' cup]

- Gnow. That' s my name. Dr Gnow.

- Ok. Dr No.

- That's not how you spell it?

- I haven't written it yet. [you annoying fuck]

- But I bet I know what you're thinking. [you think?] You're thinking en oh, NO, aren't you? As in the James Bond villain. Which is what many folk think. And it isn't spelt en oh aitch, NOH, as in the Chinese spelling...

- [Stop saying how it isn't spelled and just tell me what to write.We couldn't give a shit, there's a line of six pissed customers behind you, jerk.]

- Gee En Oh Double U

- GNOW? Really? That's [real incidental you sad loser] interesting.

- Black Americano. Dr Gnow.

- Ah! at last. Now kindly tell me your name Miss?

- I'm sorry sir. This isn't cloudcast.com... Go read the fucking badge and let me serve coffee.

There was another pause. For decorum. Too much coffee didn't help.

The news is that an outbreak of socialist surrealism has blown up several Whitehall departments with incendiary and subversive wordplay, according to an anti-austerity spokes fish for the opposition who despite the bicycle.

Only by the skin of their briefs do the occupants of the RAF helicopter make it out alive after it is forced to take evasive action and crash land, due to extreme far-left Trotskyist infiltration in the ventilation system. Huge fire. Billowing black smoke. All the usual suspects. Walking up the steep path of the laboured analogy towards the summit of Snowdon, the six survivors, one civilian, five MOD, crosses the path of another walker on the way down.  In the penumbra of the clearing mist, the walker sees as clearly as if on the front page of The Times, the secret subliminal message: JEREMY CORBYN MUST STAND DOWN!

In the event, the walker is told in no uncertain terms that on no account has the RAF helicopter caught fire. Neither is there any cautionary tale about top-heavy bureaucracies laying down the law in the name of democracy and selling the workers down the swanee up the garden path and into the house of shame for one stinky little measly go on the Big Dipper of political favours. All plausibility in the RAF helicopter has neither been denied nor confirmed by the MOD, whose officials have had  nothing to do with the baseless conspiracy theories of Trotskyite entryism, but have welcomed the distraction nonetheless, and do, after all, have a big fuck-off compendium on Jeremy's innocuous activities from time, dude.

Anyway, once Angela Camilo Duarte Birchill learns that Johnny Vegas isn't really the unpriestly alter ego of an overweight, ironically neurotic comedy potter from St. Helen's, but is an actual professional golfer from Venezuela she becomes inordinately piss scared of surfing the net, as it is formerly and quaintly called, as if a health & safety sanctioned marvel of wondrous discoveries rather than the depository of the sordid activities of international business criminals, sexual transgressives, government spooks and the bilious rants of the quarter-life critical and the hopelessly middle-aged.

It appears that commuters are being used as cannon fodder, and there is no imminent sign of it ending soon.

The first to be shot is 32-year-old care worker and priest, Kevin McNally from a temporary address in Hitchin, who is stuffed, legs first, into the medium-sized cannon near the Photo Me booth that doesn't work, by the toilets that are always locked shut, and shot across the platform into the window of the waiting room on Platform 3b.

It is hoped by the RMT trades union officials that by a bizarre co-incidence government ministers and chief execs responsible for servicing the greed of their reluctant paymasters would be struck round the back of their heads and have some sense knocked into them, as least that is the official line, for now, and they’re sticking to it.

The second and third commuters to be flung out of a cannon are good friends, who have been driven out of Greece by austerity in the back of an uninsured Mondeo borrowed by an enterprising Albanian who loaned them a dinghy for an extortionate price, over by the ticket office.

She stops short of any further lexical masturbation and picks up her copy of the news report:

A RAF helicopter, which has been forced to land due to far-left infiltration in the British Labour Party, has caught fire, killing five of its six occupants. The sole survivor, one Ms Duarte Birchill, a known opponent of the OPEN Banking programme, an APP run by a third party operation actually controlled by a clandestine cabal of masonic reptilian psychopaths who from their secret base in the middle of the Moon...

Whoa. Too much random information.  Too much coffee. Not enough input.

The latest is that she has halted all proceedings until she’s had a decent meal and a proper drink.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


"In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."
Hebrews 12:4

"Solitary brother, is there still a part of you that wants to live?"

Adamski, Killer

Simply because you have the technological capacity to send a communication to a lady does not necessarily mean you should.  In a meme gone mad with rage, pain and paranoia, the perils of perception are such that no end of contusions may result.

At 11.28am, Ahmed Abdullah is destined to ignore the fabricated advice of international best-selling writer, Elizabeth Taylor, as he ambles along the humanitarian corridor that his fellow boarders have opened up, in the hope that he may use it - so that they might ridicule his diction, mock his grammar and ape his non-native pronunciation: a normal morning among the competing male egos of the elites and their lackeys.

If another suicide crisis is to be averted before the end of the trope, Ahmed needs to re-order his randomized anxiety into an Elizabethan tale of finite misery - or at the very least an email, going forward. Please find enclosed: An account inspired by President Assad's acid dislike of naturalism in Western literature. Or somewhere along the lines.

Under the watch of government troops loyal to Damascus, Ahmed Abdullah walks to the computer room that is soon to be dismantled to make way for an old-school common room replete with board games, ping pong and table football in a doomed attempt to wean addicts of technology off their hand-held contrivances that contravene their human rights and reduce their peripheral compassion.

As if they care.

The immediacy of power is a great deal more irresistible than verses from the New Testament that the Chaplain bothers them with each assembly. That, and the humiliation of the other; to which those boys with even a scintilla of distinction to the normative schemata of mind control are subject.

Notwithstanding all that nonsense, Ahmed is much more afraid of himself than either the other caricatures of classroom contempt that are his fellow students, or even the persistent martial gaze of Assad-friendly soldiery lining the humanitarian passage. His homeland insecurity has left such an indelible mark upon his psyche that only suicide will obliterate it.  Ahmed has already answered Albert Camus' existential poser to his own satisfaction. It is indeed the only philosophical enquiry worth its salty candle this side of The Queiq River Massacre, in which the remnants of his extended family were snuffed out.

For Ahmed, it is not a question of whether to, but how to. That's why he is headed to the computer room: to commune with cyber-space. Since there is nobody left in the fiction that passes for real life for him to email, he merely wants to organize his thoughts, to put them on paper, as it were, to direct a missive to a higher order, before committing his sinful deed. Then at least, for once in his short, insufferable existence, he might be able to understand himself, if not to forgive himself before his singular act of self-actualization: that is to say, his upcoming suicide.

Ever since circa 1978, when the US intelligence community had the audacity to recommend its virtues to the Afghan muhjadeen, the coward's way out, as it is so misnamed, has become fashionable amongst the disturbed and put-upon youth of his generation, most of whom have never even heard of Sri Lanka, still less the Tamil Tigers.

Other thoughts pop into his head. Along with the how to, there is the question of the who else? The conventional blaze of eternal glory route entails extra planning and the involvement of a network. He is not sure he has the will power. Besides, is this an act of revenge or despair? Though no lone wolf, he thinks it best to go it alone. Is it his compassion or his intuition of the super ego that gets the better of him?

In any event, more pressing matter presses itself against the crotch of Ahmed's underwear. Morals have taken a back seat. Faecal matter has poked its tortoise's nose against cloth and been squeezed back too many times for Ahmed not to recognize the signs. Generalized fear and anxiety plays havoc on the movements of millions of his compatriots. Ahmed is no exception. It is not helped by the horrendous English boarding school cuisine that is so disgusting that foreigners are blamed to disguise its awfulness. Sauce Hollandaise. A la carte. Cordon Bleu. Gordon Fucking Ramsay. Pardon my French!

Ahmed takes a detour to the latrines, symbolically located next to the hastily-erected government shelter, and so only good for one thing: emptying the bowels. On the framed sheet on the wall, headed Toilet Inspection, privately-contracted operatives from the migrant diaspora have scrawled the exact time and their initials in the columns marked Filth and Clean. Under the under-used Comments section, Ahmed has written the first mini-draft of his suicide note: a one-word commentary on the quandary in which he finds himself: precarious. On the back of the temporary cubicle door, as he releases, potentially, his last ever long, beige snake into the community, he reads the more conventional and conservative missives of his academic colleagues. BENEDICT SUCKS COCK. AHMED IS A FILTHY FOREIGN BUM-BANDIT! And, in Ahmed's humble view, in careful lower case along the rim of the door, the most considered and eloquent graffito in the whole latrine: Helmut Lang's dormitory activities are legendary in Westphalia.

Ahmed takes advantage of the pause in the tone of generalized despair to carry out a SWOT analysis, as he has been instructed to do in Ms Ruth Lee's Business Studies for Hedge-Fund Ninjas class. The threats are obvious to Ahmed. They await him, inside and out. The software of his mind computes as much. As it competes with the hardware of his brain, in its on-going attempt to make sense of the dangerous opportunities that, as Ms Lee has pointed out, often present themselves in the form of a crisis, Ahmed's intellect is subject to the dissonance of conflicted cognition. In a word, he is confused; in two, fucking confused.

Suicide is a mortal sin, and a sign of weakness. Of this, there is no doubt. And yet, to realize it effectively takes such strength of resolve and imagination that, while it may not be the glorious endeavour that it is frequently cracked up to be, at the very least it is, provided it is carried out alone and hurts no other, an act of courage. And, whatever your perception of the whereabouts or the celestial contents of the hereafter, it is incontrovertibly true that it is a door through which there is no coming back: therein lies its bliss. Peace through cessation of hostilities. One way out of the pain. EXIT THIS WAY.

But there remains the question of the public gallery, not to mention dialogue. He is, after all, Ahmed Abdullah, not Albert Camus. This is the Home Counties, not France. Or even Belgium. So much Gallic internal rumination is not good for the soul. Ahmed decides to speak with somebody. His electronic correspondence with cyber heaven can wait.

Fortuitously, he spies his Form Master lyricizing along the corridor of humanitarian interventionism. The forces of might and right stand back and nod assent as Miles Lesser does his utmost to versify:

"Blaze out ye beacons 'til fire and brimstone burn,

Blaze out ye beacons 'til everybody learn.

By their works shall ye know them,

By our deeds shall we defeat them."

Ahmed coughs and waits for Lesser to notice him. Ordinarily, the master is garrulous, but unendurable. He trots out the platitudes of post-modernity that are compulsory at Fatherhouse School, and institutions like it. In an Elizabeth Taylor story, one might say that he is a preposterous old trollop and get away with it. Such a claim, however, would be strenuously denied by sources in Damascus.

"Mr Lesser?" chances Ahmed.

"Ah! The boy Abdullah. Why are ye not in the Rec building? Or perhaps it would be more germane to ask, why ye are not out in the grounds Pokemoning with the others?... I've heard it said that young Phillips-Redman Smythe is merely 23 virtual creatures away from victory."

"It is not allowed for me to have smart phone, Mr Lesser, in the case I... er... you know?"

"Quite. Quite. Anyway, what appears to be troubling the boy Abdullah? You have the palest of countenances. Are you ill? Not still dwelling on that pesky war in Mesopotamia are we? Eh?"

"Sir. Actually. Yes."

"Remember, Abdullah, to study the holy texts. Whether it be yours or mine, it is of little consequence. The power of anecdote. It is the antidote that overwhelms mere facts and figures. In dark times such as ours, theology trumps reason. Thank God. As the primal Dr Janov reminds us, the mind doesn't always behave rationally. But the brain couldn't care less. The brain is an organ. It doesn't think. It feels."

"I feel despair, Mr Lesser."

"Ah. The perils of perception. Mere bread and butterflies, young man. Bread and butterflies..."

"But I have fear that I may try to..."

"Despair is not an option for the desperate."

Abdullah bites his lip, gently twisting his mouth to the right and looks down at his black brogues.

" I need to talk with someone."

"Remember the power of narrative. Read scripture. Read stories. Dickens. Dahl, if you must. One profound anecdote. One image in your mind. A heightened emotional spike can shift perceptional reaction more than all the talk in California."

"I am, how to say, unused to be so very alone. It is like to cycle on the left. I feel out of my water. Like the fish without a river."

"This is England, Abdullah. Rivers we have aplenty. But this is an English boarding school. One does not reveal one another's nakedness. It's not the done thing. Perhaps you should see the padre. He does the under the shell stuff. I do poetry and generality. Pure abstractions of the mind. If you require the specificities of the soul, I recommend you visit the Chaplain's Office, or failing that, a soothing balm from the Matron may cut the English mustard."

Ahmed counts the cost of his emotional numeracy. He feels cold. Miles Lesser, the English master, leaves the boy to his devices, explosive or otherwise, and takes his shrugging pragmatism off for a revision session with the Upper 5th on the Romantic Poets, Coleridge and Shelley.

Meanwhile, in a Byron restaurant and bar across town, miles out of bounds to the younger boys, underpaid migrant workers are stalked by immigration officials. Amid the carnage of his mind, Ahmed feels the guilt of survival. For the purposes of satire, he has been well placed in the English minor public school system; a type of Christian Madras for the six per cent of the population whose extreme managerial tendencies are out of control.

"Outside of its obvious control function in established religions," Ahmed recalls Mr Lesser saying, "guilt, at the personal level, is not a useful emotion. Like myth-busting, guilt has a limited impact on the good. It makes you feel bad for a while, but the misconceptions of the mind remain. On sociopaths, it is clearly wasted."

Besides, there have been numerous airstrikes since breakfast. Ahmed's lack of appetite and inaction has intensified. Malevolent thoughts return and, as if in the Elizabeth Taylor best-seller he heard on his digital radio last night, a look of total loss betrays his inner turmoil. Western modernity is so sure of itself that it activates his gag reflex.  

"Show not tell... They have no idea," thinks Ahmed.

As he stems his repulsion, a make-shift maternity hospital south of Aleppo (Halab) is destroyed by the aerial assault of a civilizing foreign government, while in the politely hostile town closest to school, the forbidding arms of immigration and customs officers snatch recalcitrant migrant workers from the clutches of their criminal employers in the name of a mandate from the people.

Like the existential anti-hero of North African colonial expansion, Ahmed has been driven to a strange despair by the Arab malaise that dare not speak its name. He seeks an escape route from occidental captivity and the near orient's insidious influence. He wants to flush out dark notions of revenge. He resolves to take flight from his thoughts. He goes bicycling.

Purposelessly, he sets out into the pleasantly green Buckinghamshire countryside. It is not long, however, before the spectacles of memory re-direct his focus inwards. He sorely misses Samira's celebrated smile. His elder sister's strict adherence to the veil did not restrict her access to smiles. Many were the smiles she received in Florida where they holidayed, a long time ago now. Samira was beauty incarnate. The hijab only served to throw into sharper relief the spectacular splendour of her symmetrical perfection. So, as Samira smiled at the world, the world smiled back. She tended to place her faith in the benevolence of humanity.

Now she is dead.

And now Ahmed, the war child, believes in nothing. He has borne witness to nothing but rapacious violence. His inner voice sings to the magnificent tune of the One World Orchestra that he once heard on an MP3, when such trifles still amused him, before he realised how unpleasant it is simply being Arab. These days magnificence is not as prevalent as Samira had surmised. Ahmed's nagging credo is the cynicism of the eight spoken words of the KLF:

"Humans against killing. Sounds like junkies against dope."

All the rest is just so much Western sentiment. This extreme tendency tends to tail his every mood swing. The jolly public school boy bicycling jaunt is not helping. He dismounts and turns his hybrid cycle around towards the direction of Fatherhouse, where no father dictates, where no mother berates, where no sister awaits. How he would love to get nagged at, or told off or even hugged.

He sits down at the wide screen, addresses an email to himself at ahmedullah1559@gmail.com and begins to type:

Dear Elizabeth Taylor,

You never know, it might help