The Tiny Compendium of Ridiculousness is available for download on Amazon kindle for as little as 75p, that’s right, I am shamelessly self-promoting. As the title suggests, most of the content is stupid and rather banal (I should really get into advertising), but for 75p you can’t complain really can you? Well you can, but people’ll shake their heads at you and say things like ‘not really the end of the world is it mate, 75p, that’s nothing. There are people in the world that are starving to death and you are complaining about spending 75p on a digitally formatted book and not being thoroughly entertained. You’re a prick.’ And then they’ll stab you.
So without further ado, to give you a taste [though the other stories have more of a thoughtful element] here is the introduction and first short story of the collection to wet your appetite. Or to convince you not to buy my book.
The name Hubert J. Watergipridget never fails to stir powerful feelings in all who hear it. The renowned, often controversial novelist is famed for his stirring – and at times haunting – coming of age novel ‘I Can’t Seem To Find My Hat’ as well as its critically acclaimed follow up ‘Oh Wait Here It Is’. Both novels poignantly tackled the pressing themes of his time (1933-1956 – though not 1938, that was a good year without any pressing themes) with his now iconic artistic flair and esteemed wit.
This collection, which you are about to read, is in fact selection of previously unpublished children’s stories. Each story weaves a rich tapestry of culture filled with life lessons and moral messages that resonate through the ages. They may be considered ‘dark’ by today’s condescending standards, but what one must bear in mind is that many were written with the backdrop of the Second World War, a time Watergipridget spent constantly switching sides.
“Well my friend Jimmy is English, but David’s German and he’s pretty funny. Also I have a villa in Italy, so I can’t be expected to route for one country the entire time now, can I?’”
This was typical behaviour from Watergipridget, as perhaps one of his most infamous moments was when he met then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Upon being offered a cigar he was quoted to have said “No thank you; you know what they say about a man who smokes cigars don’t you? Probably got something terribly wrong with his anus.” Which of course lead to the German propaganda song “Churchill Has A Dodgy Arse.”
Despite these bold statements, it is understood that Watergipridget was a reclusive fellow, who battled with periods of mental instability. There is perhaps, some truth in this, as he once published a four hundred page novel which recounted the life of swan in intricate detail in which he refused to use the letter S. Though others have argued that this was in fact a clever critique of British capitalism.
Each story shall be followed by an analysis written by myself, because it’s not enough that you simply enjoy them. You need to know precisely what he was trying to say. You can’t possibly work that out for yourself, because you are without a doubt a simpleton.
School of English
The Girl Who Would Be A Caterpillar.
There once was a young girl named Atefeh. She lived in a tiny village near the Weetabix factory. She was a girl of simple ambition, bright enough not to suffer scorn and ridicule. When she grew up, she wanted to be a caterpillar. Well, in actual fact she wanted to be a butterfly, but had been told by a passing biologist that that was impossible as butterflies came from caterpillars. She wanted this more than anything in the world. Her father, seeing this great desire threatening to consume his daughter’s mind, did what any responsible parent would have done. He told her of a wise old witch that lived in the depths of a vast and ancient forest.
‘There is a wise old witch who lives in the depths of a vast and ancient forest.’ He said (see?), pointing with a long bony finger that was usually seen pressing the buttons of his favourite calculator. He had very little to calculate, for he was very poor, but he thoroughly enjoyed calculating for calculating’s sake. His favourite sum was (81×4)-3 / 8.
Atefeh left the house one night, under cover of darkness, whilst her father slept in front of the old television set. His skin was bathed in the pale blue light of the screen. He was watching his Countdown video again; one he had made himself, editing together all the number rounds. She packed a bag with food supplies: Jacob’s crackers and packets of corned beef and the odd bit of creamy stilton.
The moon was her only source of light as she stepped outside, if of course you didn’t count the multitude of streetlamps that painted the village a sickly orange hue. The ominous shadow that was the Weetabix factory was still discernible in the distance, the yellow W shining out like a beacon. She followed it instinctively, like a guiding star. The air had a furry chill to it, especially when the wind blew which was almost constant, jostling her hair with invasive invisible hands.
It was only after she had been walking for precisely one hour and twenty-seven minutes that she realised her father’s words had been extremely lacking in specifics. There were many vast and ancient forests in the world, very few of which were situated near the Weetabix factory. There was no great forest of Kettering. No dense woodland of Corby, unless of course it happened to be made out of trouser presses, hah, imagine that – a forest made of trouser presses.
Unfortunately, Atefeh had gone so far that she had gotten herself lost in the darkness. She felt a liquid worry trickle about her body. So much so that she had to stop to have a nibble of a few crackers.
CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH, she went, crumbs falling into her lap. Her eating was so disgustingly loud, as the sound of other people eating tends to be, that she barely noticed the sound of scurrying going on all around her. She stood up just in time to see a large number of tiny crusty faced men charging towards her. Within seconds she was surrounded, there were dozens of them. She began to panic now, she considered kicking one in the head but decided against it, there was just far too many of them.
‘We are the Weetabix goblins!’ squeaked the closest, evidently the leader. He had a creamy headdress adorned with a scattering of summer fruits.
‘What do you want from me?’ Atefeh croaked fearfully.
‘EAT EAT EAT!’ Chorused the goblins.
‘Shh!’ hissed their leader sharply, ‘although they do have a point; we do wish to eat you.’
‘Eat me?’ Atefeh cried, ‘why would you want to do that?’
‘Revenge!’ bellowed the leader, shaking his long stick in a grand, threatening sort of way. ‘For too long have the humans been eating our kind by the bowlful, we are going to see how you like it!’ he went on, crumbs spraying from his crack of a mouth.
‘I should imagine people wouldn’t be all that fond of the idea.’ Atefeh stammered desperately. She did not want to be eaten, it was a notion shared by all creatures on the planet, apart from maybe the worm who lacks the mental capacity to fear being consumed. She was hurriedly trying to think of a way out of the situation.
‘And yet, you love to eat us,’ the goblin retorted.
‘I wouldn’t say love. In fact Weetabix are quite tasteless.’ Atefeh confessed.
There was a murmur of unease amongst the goblins, some started to shake their cereal spears whilst chattering ‘EAT EAT!’
‘More to the point, the Weetabix we eat tends to be just blocks. They don’t have legs, or talk or anything.’ Atefeh persisted.
‘Well, erm… they are… erm… our babies? Or our poo… I don’t know, I don’t think the author thought this through.’
‘Let’s just hope Weetabix don’t try and sue.’ Said Atefeh distractedly.
‘Maybe if we say something nice about them, they’ll see it as free advertising,’ suggested the goblin.
‘I don’t think we need to worry,’ piped up another goblin, further dismantling the fourth wall. ‘I can’t see anyone reading this drivel.’
‘People read Twilight.’ Sniffed the leader hilariously. The other goblins giggled at this slightly dated pop culture reference.
‘Anyway,’ said Atefeh, ‘I was only trying to find the wise old witch so that I could become a caterpillar.’ There was a jabbering of recognition from the goblins. Their heads bobbed up and down as they spoke.
‘We know of this witch.’ Said the leader mysteriously.
‘You do?’ asked Atefeh in disbelief.
‘Yes, by a magnificent coincidence we do. And instead of eating you, we will take you to see her instead, as it is said that those who see the witch, always regret it.’
With that warning echoing in her mind, Atefeh started to have second thoughts about seeing the witch. Had her father known about this when he told her about the forest dwelling lady? She started to wish she had never left the house, she longed for the warmth of her bed, the comfort of her blue pillow and the soothing sounds of the owls outside.
‘This way,’ said the goblin leader, with a menacing little grimace on his dried wheat face.
‘What if I refuse?’ she said boldly, though she didn’t feel it.
‘We’ll cut off your feet.’ Was the curt response. ‘Don’t you want to be a caterpillar? Isn’t it your dream?’ it was her dream. It was. She had always wanted to be a caterpillar. She wanted to be a butterfly. But of course, that was impossible; she needed to be a caterpillar first.
Though she had to admit dreams were funny things. So wrapped in delusional expectations they were, so edited by idealism, that to actually achieve them, risked suffering severe disappointment. Of course these were pretty intense thoughts for such a young girl to be having, so they in turn instilled a sense of confusion in her. She just wanted to be a butterfly.
‘Where is this witch?’ she asked with trepidation.
‘Why, she is nowhere… she is everywhere. She lurks in the laughter of children. She dwells in the shoots of new trees and in the husks of old dead ones… but if you want specifics – Brazil.’ Said the goblin leader. Atefeh felt her heart drop like a sack of potatoes, violently thrown into a lake. Brazil? That was so far away.
‘It’ll take ages!’ she complained. ‘How will we get there?’ she had no money for a plane ticket, and guessed that it would be difficult for a number of Weetabix goblins to make international flights.
‘It’s common knowledge that Weetabix can fly,’ said the Goblin, throwing up his hands extravagantly, shaking his stick again. ‘We shall carry you!’ and with that many hands grabbed at her, scratching at her dark skin. Her heart was pounding. These goblins were kidnapping her, taking her across the world. Her father and his calculator wouldn’t be able to save her. Nor would the police, because they were shit.
‘Don’t be scared,’ spat the goblin, face contorted with maliciousness, ‘after all, you’ll be flying, just like a butterfly.’
Atefeh doubted the accuracy of that statement. She had seen many butterflies fluttering about in her garden, peaceful, tranquil, undisturbed and free. Though occasionally they did look clumsy, drifting from one flower to another, they had never been supported by several Weetabix goblins.
Her thoughts slipped from her left ear and were left behind as they whooshed up into the air. The wind tore at her and her arms were jolted painfully in the vicelike grips of the goblins, as they raced ever higher, speed increasing all the while. Her poor watering eyes were pierced by great pillars of light. There was a tremendous wail of airplane engines. A silent scream burst from her lungs as they hurtled through the air at speeds beyond human conceptualisation. She must have blacked out, as before long she found herself standing in some sort of vast and ancient forest. The climate was hot and sticky, the air moist. A symphony of wild noise assaulted her ears. Hooting apes, squawking birds, splorting frogs and reptiles and the soft singing of wild barbershop quartets.
‘What have we here?’ asked a decidedly witchy voice.
Atefeh looked about in disbelief. In the small fern ridden clearing there was nothing to be seen. The distant sound of trees dying at the hand of manic sounding chainsaws filled the air.
‘What have we here?’ the voice repeated.
‘Me.’ Atefeh replied at long last, swallowing hard. She was sweating and her throat was dry.
‘And what are you doing here?’ asked the disembodied voice.
‘I want to meet the witch?’ she replied.
‘And why would you want to do that?’
‘I… I…’ what did she want? Did she want to be a caterpillar? Or did she just want to go home, away from these goblins?
‘You want to be a caterpillar, I can make it so.’ Said the voice.
‘I want to go home,’ Atefeh mumbled.
‘Are you sure? Home to your calculating father. Back to your monotonous life, at school where the adults condescend you, force information into your heads until you want to scream. Back to your life that will be forever influenced by test scores and other people.’
‘You want to be a caterpillar and lead a pleasant, simple life until you finally change into that beautiful butterfly you’ve always wanted to be. Then you can be free, free to live a life of tranquillity, not having to work and toil the rest of your miserable days. Not have to live with human fears.’ Said the voice.
Atefeh paused, chewing on her lower lip ‘I suppose when you put it that way, yes, yes I do.’ She said.
And so Atefeh became a caterpillar. She was transported back home and into her back garden. She shuffled along quite happily, readying herself for the eventual change. Readying herself to be the butterfly she had always wanted to be. Beautiful, transient…
She was eaten by a bird.
 Watergipridget – speaking at his trial for treachery.
 Von Speigel – Things Said By People Throughout History. Vol. 3 The Intellectual Press.
I would post a link, but instead I would say go on Amazon and search ‘The Tiny Compendium Of Ridiculousness.’