My writing life.

I started my writing career in 1981. I was seven. In a style which I have later adopted in my poetry, my first novel didn’t have a title, it just had a giant R on the cover, which stood for Robert. I can’t remember much about if except that the villain was an entity known only as the Blue Moo. The Blue Moo was what I used to call my sister, because she wore a blue coat. Which is kind of cruel, seeing as though she was only five at the time.

I would write at school during playtime, whenever it was raining. It rained a lot, I remember, when I was a kid. I’d always get excited about rainy days because it meant that I could write. I still get excited shout rainy days, even now.
By 1984 I was at middle school and I used to fill notebooks with stories. I was encouraged to do this by my teacher, Mr Shaw, who would then let me read my stories out in class. The first of these was called Bully Bulldog’s Ship, and for reasons which I’m still not sure, all of the characters were dogs. And secret agents. The cover for Billy Bulldog’s Ship shows explosions and a radar screen and has he tag line, ‘Featuring car chases, underwater bases, kings and prime ministers and that sort of thing’. It was rubbish.
By 1986 I was still at middle school, but now I’d progressed to writing about humans. I wrote a whole series of short novels about a skier, called William Board, and his friend Ed Butf, and how they would get into all kinds of adventures during and after skiing tournaments. I have no idea why I picked skiing tournaments, but I did watch an awful lot of Ski Sunday back in the day.
In 1988 my grandparents gave me a typewriter, which I still use now whenever I’m Poet In Residence anywhere. By now William had left the skiing circuit and was a policeman in a small Surrey village called Englemede. I’d type up these stories and inject as much humour as possible, because this would make my English teacher, Mr Smith, laugh as he read them. This was probably a big moment in my adoption of comedy. The stories were still rubbish, but my grammar and spelling had improved.
By the time I got to sixth form I was still plugging away, and remarkably, William Board was still the focus of the stories, his ineptitude as a policeman and his promotion to detective providing much mirth. My magnum opus of this time was Impending Headache, set at a sixth form college in Surrey much like the one I attended. And in between chapters I’d write over the top comedic poetry.
By 1992 I had my first job and, amazingly, William Board was still my main focus. By now his detective work would take him to a supermarket in Surrey, round about the time that I worked at a supermarket in Surrey, in a novel called Bar Code Blues.
In 1994 I got a job in a village shop in the suburb of Englefield Green, and I wrote a new novel with a new main character, the trainee guardian angel Genre Philips. The novel was called Englefield Green Blues, and like Impending Headache, it would be influential on my writing career in that I’d re-use chapters and stories to form the novel I’ve been working on this year.
At this stage, I’d started sending novels off to publishers and agents, and one or two were very supportive but would ultimately say no.
 By now I’d dabbled in comedy poetry, filling up notebooks with poems written with a pen I’d been using since sixth form. I’d stay at my grandmothers house in the hot summer, she lived on a hill overlooking the whole of London from the airport to Canary Wharf, and I’d listen to the jazz stations and just write whatever I felt like. This would form the basis of my one man show, Static, in 2016.
In 1995 my Grandfather passed away. I went to see the pathologist and watched as he signed the death certificate with a cartridge pen, and that afternoon I went out and bought one for myself. Amazingly, this is the same pen I use today for anything creative, and it has written every poem, short story, novel and play since 1995.
In 1996 I moved to Devon. By now I’d discovered Kafka, Camus, Beckett, and my writing became dense, impenetrable. I used my own system of punctuation which made even the reading of it impossible, and to further add to the misery, my novels had numbers instead of names. RD05, RD06, RD07, and so on. I’d send these off to publishers and I could never understand why they’d come right back.
I joined a band of local amateur actors and I would write short sketches and funny monologues for them, we’d rehearse and make cassettes, but never got anywhere near the stage. One of my monologues was about a rocket scientist who’d fallen in love with his rocket. Not phallic at all.
I came out in 2000. I didn’t write much at all for a while. I was busy with other things.
By now I had a job, and I’d studied a-levels, undergraduate and postgraduate at night school, so I didn’t have much time for writing. For a laugh, I got a part in a professional play, and while it meant I would never act again, (oh, it was so traumatic!), it led me to write a play called Fuselage. Amazingly, it won a playwriting competition at the Northcott Theatre. I remember getting off the train in Exeter thinking, wow, it’s my writing that has got me here. This all happened in 2008.
In 2009 I discovered performance poetry, accidentally, and kind of got in to that. Around the same time I wrote a short novel called Reception, based on an ill fated trip I took to Tokyo, but by now my main focus was performance poetry and spoken word, shows and comedy one liners. In 2010 I had my first paid gig, at an Apples and Snakes event in London, and amazingly, this was the first time I made any money from my writing since I was 8!
So that brings me up to date, more or less. I now write every day, still with the same pen, and I still use the same typewriter every now and then, though mostly for performance. And I’ve kept a diary, every day writing something about the previous day, which I’ve kept up since 1985 uninterrupted. It’s only taken 37 years to find the one thing I’m halfway decent at!

On memorising.

So lately I’ve been trying to memorise my new Edinburgh show, Juicy. This would be quite an undertaking for me, as I’ve never successfully memorised anything I’ve ever written, and to be jones I probably won’t manage it. I can memorise whole Bob Dylan songs, all fourteen minutes of Desire, but I’m quite hopeless at anything I myself have written.
I did a scratch performance of Juicy at the Bike ashes Theatre in May. It was a daunting experience because I was surrounded by theatrical types, and to be honest I think they were looking at what I was doing more in the context of a theatrical piece than a set of poems. The feedback afterwards unanimously suggested that I should learn the whole thing, because this is what theatre is. Some of the feedback suggested I move around more. Which was quite funny on two counts, firstly because some of the feedback also said how nice it was to see someone who doesn’t move sound all the time, and also because the director I used for my last show told me to stand dead straight for the whole hour. And he was a theatrical director.
So I’ve set to work trying to learn Juicy, and after two months I’ve managed to learn six pages of it. Out of thirty. Now this may not seem like much, but for me, this is a small triumph. I’ve never managed to learn anything before, so six pages of Juicy is the ultimate achievement.
Last week I went to a gig in Totnes and I spoke to a fellow performer who I have lots of respect for. I told her about learning my show and she replied, ‘Why?’
And that got me thinking, why indeed? Ok, so if you’ve learned your lines you can move around more and have a deeper connection with the audience. But on the other hand I’ve always performed with a book, and it is a part of my whole repertoire. I look up from the book, glare at the audience, look at them all in turn. Which should be quite easy at the Edinburgh Fringe. In fact, I know the words, I just can never remember in which order the verses fall.
Make no mistake, it’s good to learn poetry and adds to the performance. And the fact that I’ve memorised six pages of the show means that now I can apply this to the three minute poems, and hopefully grow my performance. But I think I shall just relax on the memorising at the moment and concentrate just on the performance. That’s the main thing. It’s performance poetry, after all! 

Ant – A solemn investigation 

It has been apparent for some time that a solemn investigation were needed into the effects, physical and psychological, of an ant crawling on someone’s hat. Seeing it as upon myself, (the theme, not the ant), I set out, in a somewhat grave manner, and yet bravely, into such an investigation. 
The manner this investigation took soon revealed itself to be poetical in nature, and within a couple of hours I had completed a poem based on the theme of having an ant crawl on someone’s hat. Yet this did not fully satisfy me, and a further poem was written.
At this time, I was bitten by the bug, (again, not the ant), and more poems began to arrive. The theme of an ant on a persons hat soon took over my life and all of my creative output, until such a time arrived that I could think of little else. Indeed, the poems began to resemble a Groundhog Day syndrome, the same repeated themes, the same story with different outcomes, different languages and tones, until within a month I had thirty such poems.
The good people at Mardy Shark publishing soon recognised their worth and a pamphlet was soon produced, titled, simply, Ant.
Ant stands as the zenith of my creativity, a full flow measure of poetic and literary sensibility, all inspired by the horror and the bizarre situation of having an ant crawl on ones hat.
You can download the Kindle version of Ant herehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Ant-Robert-Garnham-ebook/dp/B071JDZJ7X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497201234&sr=8-1&keywords=Robert+Garnham+Ant
Or you can send off for the physical version here http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-garnham/ant/paperback/product-23218401.html

Ant – A new pamphlet from Robert Garnham

What is ‘Ant’?
Ant is my new collection of poems. Or is it the same poem? That’s for you to decide. Maybe it’s a new art form, the repeated refrain and compulsory ingredients leading to a strict regulatory poetic style which anyone might then imitate, play with, subvert. Or maybe I’m just having a laugh.
The Ant poems retell the same situation thirty times, that of a man with his uncle, who’s eating a bonbon, the nephew realising that his uncle has an ant crawling on the brim of his flat cap. It really is that simple. Only there are subtle variations, subtexts, tangents and asides, because life is never really as simple as we think. So many different things can happen, and do, that it’s quite impossible to come up with a definitive recap of the story.
I had great fun writing the Ant poems and I’m sure that you will have great fun reading them. You can download your own copy of the pamphlet at this link.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ant-Robert-Garnham-ebook/dp/B071JDZJ7X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496822754&sr=8-1&keywords=Robert+Garnham+Ant

Errata 

Errata
The painting on page 26 has been wrongly described as a horse. It is, obviously, a candlestick.
The phrase ‘mad, sad, mistaken’ on page 32 should read, ‘made sandwiches, then partaken’.
The photograph on the frontispiece is not that of Lord Harpingdon-Smythe as described. It is, in fact, a 1958 Morris Minor Mark 2.
There are actually seven wonders of the world. Not fifty-eight, as continually stated in the text and in the commentary and on the front and back covers and in the index and during most of chapter three.
Professor Zazzo Thiim never actually met the Beatles, as described in chapter seven. It was actually the Inland Revenue Service.
Professor Zazzo Thiim did not serve as Minister of Justice under Ted Heath.
The capital city of the USA is, of course, Washington DC, not Reykjavik.
I believe I ordered sliced egg, not egg mayonnaise.
The publishers would like to make it clear that Nancy Reagan did not knee Professor Zazzo Thiim in the groin at a charity fundraiser in 1983.
We have been asked to point out that Pam Ayres is not a follower of satanic ritual, nor has she ever sacrificed fluffy puppies on an altar in her back garden, nor has she ever secretly conspired with terrorist groups to blow up the Teletubbie’s house.
Errata to the Errata
Indeed, Professor Zazzo Thiim did serve as Minister of Justice under Ted Heath.
Sorry, I got it wrong, I did order the egg mayonnaise, I just found the receipt.
The charity fundraiser at which Nancy Reagan is said not to have kneed Professor Zazzo Thiim in the groin took place in 1984, not 1983.
The phrase ‘made sandwiches, then partaken’, in paragraph two, revised from the phrase ‘mad, sad, mistaken’ on page 32, should actually read, ‘yoghurt, yoghurt, yoghurt, there’s bleeding yoghurt everywhere’.

Interesting Facts about Professor Zazzo Thiim

1. At the time of his death, Professor Zazzo Thiim was the oldest that he had ever been.
2. His last words were said to be, ‘Don’t throw it yet, I’m not ready’.
3. Professor Zazzo Thiim occupied the William F. Beaverstock Chair in Literary Studies at the University of Basingstoke. Until someone told him to get up and sit in his own seat.
4. There were riots in Vienna the day he wrote a poem that wasn’t called ‘Frank’. (There’s no connection between these two events, there just happened to be riots that day.)
5. Five words never used in his poetry : cumulative, hopscotch, kiwi fruit, sausage, enamel. (That’s six, but whose counting?)
6. Professor Zazzo Thiim’s hat is preserved in the New York Museum of Modern Art. In the Lost Property Office.
7. Zazzo Thiim translated into Navajo means ‘partaker of fungus’.
8. Professor Zazzo Thiim was never actually given the title of ‘Professor’. It just happened to be his first name.
9. Zazzo Thiim could easily have become MP for Basingstoke North if had he registered as a candidate, campaigned, and received the most votes.
10. Professor Zazzo Thiim never once attended a cricket match.
11. Professor Zazzo Thiim had phobias of cuckoo clocks, dustpans (but not dustpans with brushes), sofas, people called ‘Mark’, the colour magenta, his own left shoulder, and underground tube trains running on over ground lines.
12. Contemporary fans of Professor Zazzo Thiim include John Craven, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Lady Gaga, the two members of Oasis who aren’t those annoying brothers, Dame Judi Dench, Ian Rawlings (who played Philip Martin in ‘Neighbours’), and that bloke who played the android on that thing with the spaceship that used to be on TV, you know, the one with the annoying theme music.

Commentary on the novel ‘Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Diesel Locomotive’ by Zazzo Thiim

Many things strike one as peculiar in the novel Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Diesel Locomotive. At Just under nine words it is often seen more as a novella. Secondly, it’s sentence structure employs a certain Proustian deferment of the clause to its final undoing. (See Appendix Two). Thirdly, it is the only true book to have been written entirely in dialogue. Other factors, of course, are of detailed academic interest, and most of them have been probed by the eminent literary historian Augustus Slack who argues that ‘Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Diesel Locomotive, in its brevity, says more than most works ever could. Human affection balanced with environmental concerns. Destiny with the sensuous nature of the present. Allegory with undeniable truth . . .’, and so he goes on.
There are many purists who object to aspects of the novel. The comma between the fourth and fifth word is often seen as superfluous, an unnecessary caesura, while others attest that this is a tribute to Lucie Fisher herself – how often, they point out, did Thiim refer to her as ‘my little punctuation’ (Slack, p118). Interestingly, the same purists detest the extended version mainly because it is without a comma. The word ‘while’ has connotations of a different kind, that Thiim should ‘wile away the hours’. (Tiffin, p93). The bumps and crenulations of the word are seen as mountain peaks, the troughs and ridges of a machine measuring his own irregular heartbeat as Fisher walks away. Others see the omission of the comma as an admission that life goes on, concepts race one into the other without pausing for thought.
The ‘I’ and ‘you’ of the novel – its leading protagonists – are often translated as being Thiim and Fisher themselves. Certainly their characteristics would bear this out. Zazzo’s defiance of routine, Lucie’s quiet subservience, the constant hint of impending violence, the crumbling society of which they are both representatives. Other writers have written more fully on these subjects and this is not the place for a detailed observation – suffice to say that the significant theme of the novel is one of lost opportunity, love stifled by geographic variables, the brevity of all emotional embellishment. Forget the location, Thiim seems to be telling us : just grab it while you can.
Others, though, have a different interpretation. Leonard P. Sterne has argued that the usual order is inverted : Fisher, in her absence, travels the world, while Thiim castigates himself for forgetting. (Sterne, p6). Others wonder what it is that the ‘you’ is forgetting : the ‘I’, the world, the act of travelling – and under what context is the sentence uttered? Has ‘I’ met ‘you’ after his journeys, or is this part of a letter addressed backwards through time? (See Appendix Two). Did he even go away at all?
It is highly unlikely that Fisher would have read the finished novel. Indeed, she barely read at all, and had a very short attention span. It could be said that Thiim wrote the novel, therefore, safe in the knowledge that it would only ever be paraphrased to its sole recipient. And as such it remains as successful, a novel which, from its inception to its final realisation, has done everything that it set out to do.

Advancements towards a more wholesome punctuation method

Advancements towards a more wholesome punctuation method

(In April 1967 Professor Zazzo Thiim published his paper on the formation of a new mark of punctuation, the ‘collard’. Initially controversial, the collard was adopted to a small degree in some institutions and in the literary magazine ‘Madam What Are You Doing With That Haddock? (MWAYDWTH)’, before being quietly rejected just a few months later. The following is a transcription of the original presentation in which Thiim’s new system was unveiled.)

Ladies and gentlemen of the faculty. My fellow scholars and students. Your highness. (Sorry, Debs, I thought you were someone else). For a while I have been concerned with the variety of punctuation and the necessity within the act of writing itself not to bore the pants off people. And while some see this as merely the responsibility of content and editorial control, in my estimation, punctuation, too, must play its part. Hello? Hello? Is this thing switched on? Imagine, if one will, that one is reading a chunk of text. Now compare this to eating a sizeable flapjack. We all know that most flapjacks are plain, especially the ones from Tesco’s, and that some have a coating of various flavours. The coating, if you like, is the subject matter. It can be sweet and it can be sour and sometimes it falls off and crumbles for no apparent reason. And you have to get the dustpan and brush out. And at my age, that’s no laughing matter.
But what of the flapjack itself? The main content, the oats and the syrup and the . . whatever the hell it is that goes in to a flapjack. These are the words. Sometimes the mixture is dense. (Madam, if you’re going to cough like that, I shall have to ask you to leave). Sometimes the mixture is dense, sometimes not so. But whatever happens, it’s hard on the old gnashers, and for this reason the occasional raisin, nut, chocolate chip or – heaven’s above! – lump of apricot, can be a pleasant and diverting surprise which does not detract from the whole flapjack eating experience, from the very flapjackness of the flapjack in question.
How can punctuation mirror this? There can be no mistake that the majority of all written text is boring and uninspiring. I’m sorry, I shall read that again. There can be no mistake that the majority of all written text is aiming for conspiring in the acquisition of knowledge, in the same way that the flapjack is aiming for the suppression of appetite, or as a healthy snack, or as some kind of weird fetish the manner of which must be best left to those who enjoy their flapjacks in private. But the eye, just the same as the tongue or the various taste glands at the back of the tongue – bear with me, I know where I’m going with this – needs its sustenance to be broken down by instances in which the mind – or in the case of the flapjack, the throat – can rest, glance away from the page, think about something else for a moment.
For this reason I have taken it upon myself to devise a system of little red Volkswagen going up a hill into the sunset – ah – sorry, I seem to have lost the next page. Now where the hell is it? I had it this morning when I was talking to that wacko from the University of Basingstoke – ah, here it is. For this reason I have taken it upon myself to device a system of punctuation in which a random symbol might be inserted willy-nilly within the text as a means for the tired mind or eye to find its bearing. Indeed, this very paragraph is filled with collards. Here’s one. And here’s another. And this line here, the one I am reading now, has several. This line doesn’t, but that’s okay because I feel rested and refreshed after the collards of the last sentence. So do you see? The act of reading has actually refreshed me.
What are the benefits of the collard, I hear you ask? The page will look exciting. Imagine, if you will, a page filled with collards. How interesting this will be! How very intriguing to the enquiring mind! How easy it will be for the eye to glance down and gauge by the application of collards exactly where one is. And perhaps we might even break down the rhythm of collards so that the mind can, on a subconscious level, pace itself until the end of the paragraph. Collards and semicollards! Quarter collards! Inverted collards! The applications are truly exciting!
And what of the corporate world? The collard has many possibilities. With no formal design or standardised font, the collard can be printed as tiny logos advertising corporate images, tiny advertisements inserted into the text. The ink industry is particularly excited over the collard’s development, anticipating quite avidly the extra ink that will be needed to print hundreds, thousands of new characters per book. I do believe that everyone will walk away from the collard experience enlightened, happy, refreshed.
And that is why, ladies and gentlemen – woh! What was that? I know you might not agree with my research but there’s no reason to throw things! And that is why, ladies and gentlemen, I have done hundreds of hours of research in laboratory conditions on Peruvian reader-monkeys, comparing the results of those who have been left uncollardised texts such as Ian Fleming and Graham Greene, and those who have before them the newly collardised versions. In every case there were reports, amid the book-chewing that one would expect, and the rampant urination common among their species, of a more placid and accepting frame of mind among those who were given the new versions. That is why, ladies and gentlemen – (I told you not to throw things!) – I am particularly excited by the collard and its many possibly applications.
Thank you for your time and patience – I said – thank you for your time and patience, scholars and students – and I’m sure that, with the collard on board, we might – Owww! That hurt. I’m down. I’m down. Medic, over here. They got me. Bloody hell, that hurt.

I’m suddenly all in favour of poetry slams (now that I’ve won one) 

I’m suddenly all in favour of poetry slams (now that I’ve won one)
A couple of years ago I decided that I’d had it with poetry slams. This wasn’t because I kept losing, though I did crash out of the preliminary round of the Cheltenham All Stat Slam coincidentally the week before I made this decision. It was more a creative decision. I’d found that I was writing poems just to fit in with the whole slam ethos of a quick three minutes of ranting. And doing slams around the place, I’d seen a lot of ranting.
I cut myself off from the slams, and quelled the need to do slams. I was asked to judge a couple of them, the Exeter Poetry Slam and the Poetry Island Slam in Torquay, and judging them was even more nerve wracking than being in them. The need for consistency and objectivity mixed with the emotional side of seeing people perform and knowing that they were heading for a low score, knowing that I was about to completely shatter their evening.
It’s not that I had a bad record in slams, either. The first slam I entered was the Exeter Poetry Slam about five years ago, and I joint won it with Daniel Haynes. I came second in the Bristol slam the next year, and second at the mighty Swindon slam. A team I led won a team event in Exeter, and then I won the Spokes Amaze slam, also in Exeter, coincidentally at the same venue as the Exeter Slam and the team event. And in Edinburgh myself and another poet won a slam against a team of comedians.
But a moral idea asserted itself, that poetry and spoken word are art forms and cannot be judged or given points as in a sporting event. Every spoken word piece is a valid piece of art and the circumstances of its performance, audience, composition and meaning are different under so many conditions that it’s almost impossible to see it as a constant piece. Art should not be judged, i told myself.
Moving away from slams the last couple of years was one of the best creative decisions I’ve made, as it allowed me to concentrate beyond the slam format. Consequently I wrote short poems, long poems, comedy pieces, songs, mimed pieces, musical and prop pieces, without even thinking each time as I sat down, hmm, how will this go in a slam? It also allowed me to look beyond writing for a youthful slam audience and more for the regular poetry-loving gig audience member. No need to shock or preach, just to entertain and to write humorous or thought provoking pieces.
Lately there has been a glut of slams in South Devon as a means to find slam champions for a bigger event at the GlasDenbury Festival. As a judge at one of these events, and as a special warm up act at another, I was able to see that these events meant a lot to the competitors, and that they were hugely entertaining. For reasons which I’m still not sure, I put my name down for the Totnes Slam, then spent the next few days worrying that it was the wrong thing to do, whole obsessively timing my poems and practising, just like the old days. And wouldn’t you know, I won it!
So now I’ve completely changed my mind again and I want to get slamming again. The only difference this time is that I have more pieces in my back catalogue, and if a piece just happens to fit the slam ethos, then that’s fortuitous. I’m still going to be writing outside of the slam conventions, but yes. I’m back.
Slams are all right.

The Arrival (a short story from 2002)

A committee was set up in order to plan for the visit. A chairman was voted for, an elderly gentleman with a walrus moustache. He was then replaced with another elderly gentleman. The secretary resigned because she objected to the name of the committee. The replacement secretary used to be the treasurer, so a treasurer had to be found. The original chairman wanted to be the treasurer but the new chairman objected. Both the chairman and the prospective treasurer then resigned from the committee, so a new chairman had to be found as well as a treasurer. The positions were eventually filled with a man who used to be a car salesman, who said he knew all about planning visits. And the Treasurer was shared among the other members of the committee on a rotation basis. Just like a quiz show on TV, someone commented. The comment was recorded in the minutes.
A name had to be invented. Someone suggested the Visit Committee, but there was another committee called the Visiting Committee and it was thought that this would lead to confusion. Someone else suggested the Committee for the Visit, but this was also voted down because it sounded boring. The person who suggested it was the person who was also the Treasurer on this occasion, and she resigned. A third suggestion was to call the committee something trendy, just like a modern company, a name which would hint at science and progress in the arts. Implosion was the name that was banded around. The secretary commented that it sounded like something from The Apprentice. The person who suggested it was very upset about this and he threatened to resign, but just as he did they came in with the coffees so he stayed on for a bit. This was recorded in the minutes.
They finally decided on the Systemal Function for the Application for the Arrival of the Visitor and His Entourage. Or SFAAVHE, for short. This was recorded in the minutes.
It was then time to decide what the committee would actually plan for the visitor’s arrival. There was no doubt that he was eminent, so it was agreed by all that he should have a red carpet when he stepped out of his car. Then someone said that he shouldn’t be in his own car at all. If he was so eminent, they argued, then, surely, he should be driven? OK, then. A limousine would pick him up from his house. But he lived two hundred miles away. This was a problem. They decided they would compromise. He would drive as far as the halfway point and then the limousine would pick him up. It was generally agreed that this was a good idea and it was recorded in the minutes.
Then someone pointed out that red carpets were hard to find, and they got mucky if it rained. The under-secretary was dispatched to source a long red carpet. She asked what sourced meant and the chairman said that it meant to go and fine one. She asked why he didn’t say that in the first place, and the chairman said that it was business-speak, that’s how they said things in the world of business. The under-secretary objected to the tone that the chairman took and she resigned. A new under-secretary was then voted in and he said that he would look on the internet to find a red carpet. Ten minutes later he said that he could only find a yellow one. That will have to do, the chairman said. And all of this was recorded in the minutes.
The meeting then moved on to who would be there to greet the visitor on his arrival. One of the members suggested the head of the department, but then someone else reminded her that the head of the department was currently being investigated for fraud and it would be best that he were to stay out of the limelight. The chairman said that this was not the way to treat the head of the department and that he should be there. The treasurer then reminded the chairman that he, too, was caught up in the same scandal, so the chairman then resigned and a new one was voted in. She thanked the previous chairman for his hard work, but then she spilled coffee on her lap. She resigned, so that she could go to the bathroom and wash it off. When she got back to the room, the original chairman had been voted back in. And all of this was recorded in the minutes.
The next item for discussion was the food that would be provided for the function once the visitor had arrived. Someone suggested prawn cocktail, but they were reminded that the budget would stretch so far. Someone then suggested prawn cocktail crisps, but they were laughed out of the room. Someone suggested those funny spicy sausage things that go on sticks and you have to move them upwards with your thumb as you eat them, and they are often seen in films set in North Africa, but no-one knew what he was going on about, so someone else suggested scotch eggs. Scotch eggs it was. Then the secretary announced that he was allergic to scotch eggs, and someone said that he wouldn’t even be at the function, he wasn’t important enough. He then resigned. A new secretary was voted in, and this was recorded in the minutes.
Much discussion then centred around the manner in which the eminent guest would be introduced to the members of the department before he entertained them all with his speech. One person suggested a strict clock-wise motion around the room, someone else suggested anti-clockwise. The chairman said that the guest should be left to speak to whoever he wanted, but that the most prominent members of the department should be introduced to him slyly, subtly, so as not to provoke suspicion that the whole thing was stage managed. Someone then suggested name-badges, coloured according to the importance of the person wearing them. It’s what we did in the war, he suggested. Even Hitler wore a name badge. There was a show of hands and it was decided that there would be name badges. The discussion of whether they should be in higher or lower case went on for half an hour. And all of this was recorded in the minutes.
The meeting had almost finished and no-one had resigned for a while. The secretary was asked to read out the minutes, but he objected, so he resigned. The new secretary was then asked to read out the minutes and he did so beautifully, but in Spanish. The next secretary read out the minutes. This included the reading of the last minutes, which included the reading of the minutes before that, which included the reading of the minutes before that. This went on for some three hours. By the time he had stopped reading the minutes, everyone else had gone home. And this was also recorded in the minutes.
The secretary then resigned, but as there was no-one around to record this in the minutes, no-one actually knew about it.

The visit did not go to plan. The eminent guest was not greeted half way by limousine because he caught the bus instead. And when he arrived at the department, (climbing off the number 443), he tripped over the yellow carpet because he though it was a continuation of the pavement. The head of the department met him, but just as he did so he was handcuffed by the police and dragged away for questioning. The eminent guest was then led to the hall where, instead of meeting and greeting, and looking at name badges – (the font of which was so small he couldn’t read them anyway, and he was colour-blind), he crammed a scotch egg into his mouth and promptly choked, before asking why they had not supplied, instead, those spicy sausage things on sticks that you see in films about North Africa. And on the way to the podium to deliver his speech, he almost tripped over the end of his scarf.
‘Ladies and gentlemen’, the chairman of the welcoming committee announced in to the microphone. ‘Let me introduce to you, Professor Zazzo Thiim!’
Nobody clapped, because the committee had forgotten to send out any of the invitations. It had not been recorded in the minutes.