Thursday, 17 March 2016

Shorter books are coming back.....

Professor Tom Ressencourt, in a recent article for the Literary Review observed that the shorter novel is making a comeback. He said, " Short novels are for busy people, for the journey to work, for the weekend, for the beach.  They have no padding, no stuffing, no unnecessary waffle to get the page count up to 500 – just the story/the action/the characters/the dialogue. They are for the modern age.  They are for today's reader. Frankly I couldn't care less what type of coffee the hero prefers or what time he gets up in the morning.  I want the story to keep moving along.  And there are plenty of examples of  knock-out short novels in the past."

Professor Ressencourt's list included:
The Great Gatsby
Animal Farm
Peter Pan
A Christmas Carol
Northanger Abbey
Fahrenheit 451
The Old Man and The Sea
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Big Sleep
Bonjour Tristesse
Heart of Darkness.                                         They are all short novels.  About 200 pages.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The 2016 Panto - by popular demand!

The 2016 Panto!

Dramatis Personae:

Dodgy Dave
George Skint
Corb The Plain Speaker – A Man of the People

Citizens of London:-
Sergei, a Russian billionaire
Abdul, an Arab billionaire
Ying, a Chinese billionaire
Switch, a tax-evader
Banquo, a money-mover

Air Chief Marshal Bombsaway
Rear Admiral “Nuke'em” Glug-Glug

Chorus: Hard-working British Families

Act One, Scene One. An office.

Dodgy: I want to give a really, really big party.

Skint: Oh.

Dodgy: For all our friends, supporters and donors.

Skint: Uh huh...

Dodgy: No expense spared.

Skint: Ah....

Dodgy: A super party to show how much we appreciate their support.

Skint: Er....

Dodgy: We'll have it at the Ritz.

Skint: Er...

Dodgy: And I'm going to order the finest spread my guests will have ever seen. Krug, the caviar, the lobsters, the venison, and so on.

Skint: Er...

Dodgy: I've booked a fleet of limos to pick them all up from their homes.

Skint: Er...

Dodgy: What is it, Skint? Why the devil do you keep saying 'er' all the time?

Skint: No money.

Dodgy: What do you mean? No money? Are you unwell?

Skint: Well, Dodgy. It's like this. There's no money left in the Treasury. We're broke. Not a single quid left.

Dodgy: Well, get the Bank to print some up, fast. I'm giving my party next week.

Skint: The Bank's got none, either.

Dodgy: What? Why was I not informed, dammit?

Skint: We only found out this morning.

Dodgy: Do you mean to say I can't have my party?

Skint: Sorry. It's all gone.

Dodgy: Bloody Hell! Where? Can't we get some of it back?

Skint: I don't think so. Hold on though. We could ask the recipients of our foreign aid to send the latest payment back to us. And we'll send it back to them when we're better off!

Dodgy: Brilliant! E-mail them all immediately. Report back to me later, after Murdle's cocktail party.

Act One, Scene Two.

Dodgy: So, Skint, how did we do? Lots coming in?

Skint: Don't know yet, I've got their emails up on my screen, now. Oh dear... This one says he's already spent it on a fleet of Mercedes. The next one says...he's bought a palace on the French Riviera with it. This one says it's all in a tax haven and cannot be got at. And this one, the last that I've received, says he's really sorry but he's spent it on a national football team facility.

Dodgy: I hope their e-mails are encrypted or we'll have the bloody media on our backs.

Skint: I've just had a thought, Dodgy. You remember that the Opposition recently got a huge donation from the unions? Well, maybe we could ask them for a temporary loan.

Dodgy: Ask bloody Corb The Plain Speaker for a loan? What a stupid idea!

Skint: Well, it's either that or no party.

Dodgy: Get him round here! Fast!

Act One, Scene Three. Enter Corb The Plain Speaker.

Dodgy: Well, Corb. There you are. How are you?

Corb: Not too bad, really, considering.

Dodgy: Considering what, dear old Corb?

Corb: D'you ever read Shakespeare?

Dodgy: Who?

Corb: Every time I go to a party meeting I feel like Julius Caesar waiting for Brutus to put the knife in.

Skint: I just love Shakespeare, always have, he's so human...

Dodgy: Oh, shuddup! Now, my dear old Corb. I need your help.

Corb: Every man is entitled to his opinion.

Dodgy: This is not PMQs, old chap. Just a simple request. Between you and me.

Corb: Well, I don't know about that. Anything serious has to be put to my supporters and must obtain their approval, before I allow myself to take a position. I don't know what your request is but there is always the chance that someone may not approve.

Dodgy: Oh, you mean like old Bennt? What a liability he must be to you. For Heaven's sake, don't let him cross the floor and become a supporter of my party. A damned orator!

Corb: Look, I've got an appointment with the Peace Corps President, the Anti-Munitions Group, and the Bicycle Preservation Society this morning. So, how can I be of help?

Dodgy: Well, it's like this, dear old Corb. Skint has just informed me that the Treasury is a little embarrassed at the moment – depleted liquid funds, no ready cash, a bit strapped - and I was wondering if you would be ready to help out?

Corb: D'you mean join a demonstration against rampant Capitalism?

Dodgy: Good Heavens, no! Not in this weather, old chap. Your bicycle might get rusted up. Oh, dear me, no. The nation has an urgent need for a cash injection. In fact, the fate of the nation is in your hands.

Corb: Ah. Then I stand ready. To serve my country - I stand ready.

Dodgy: Good show!

Enter Air Chief Marshal Bombsaway and Rear Admiral “Nuke'em” Glug-Glug.

Bomb: I say, I say! Now listen hear, Dodgy. I've just been informed that you haven't paid the deposit on our next lot of RPM Mach3 Splat bombs!

Dodgy: Eh?

Skint: Er...that little problem I mentioned earlier, Dodgy.

Dodgy: Do not worry, Air Chief Marshal. A mere oversight. It will be paid tomorrow.

Bomb: Well, it had better be or we can't blast away at those targets you personally gave us last week.

Glug: I say, I say! I've got the same dashed problem. My nuke supplier says he hasn't been paid for the war-heads. And if we don't pay, we won't get the software to fire 'em!

Skint: Same again, Dodgy.

Dodgy: Do not worry, Rear Admiral. Their payment will be sent tomorrow.

Glug: I should hope so! How do you expect my chaps to protect the nation's shores if we're not armed?

Dodgy: Quite.

Corb: Are you people all mad? What purpose is served by war? Tell me that.
What good are you doing the citizens of our great nation by bombing foreign cities or shooting nuclear missiles at a supposed enemy?

AUDIENCE: Applause.

Bomb: Good God! Who is this fellow?

Glug: Damned impertinence!

Dodgy: Allow me to introduce Corb The Plain Speaker.

Bomb: Never heard of him.

Glug: Wait a minute. Somebody in the mess mentioned him last night. A damned Trot! A Marxist, damn him! Rides a bicycle! What the devil is he doing here?

Corb: You must be a Daily Mail reader.

Glug: Damn your impudence. I read the Daily Telegraph and The Times!

Corb: Is there a difference?

Dodgy: Please gentlemen!

Corb: Have you stopped to think, Air Chief Marshal and Rear Admiral, if what you do is of any real use to mankind, of any help to the citizens of this country?

Enter The Chorus of Hard-Working Families.

Chorus: 'We work hard all day,
For very little pay.
What we've got
Is not a lot.
But nonetheless
We say:
Hurrah for our government
Hurrah for our leaders all!
We're happy to pay our taxes
To keep Great Britain standing tall!

Dodgy: Ah yes, we are all in this together.

The Air Chief Marshal and the Rear Admiral are wiping the tears from their eyes. Skint is rattling the change is his pocket. Corb is using his smartphone.

Dodgy: Good heavens! What's that noise outside?

Corb: I believe it's a demonstration by my supporters.

Enter Sergei, Abdul and Ying.

Dodgy: Greetings, dear friends and welcome!

Sergei: No greetings. Big problem.

Abdul: Very big problem.

Ying: Velly big ploblem.

Dodgy: No matter what it is, Her Majesty's Government will remedy it.
Under my leadership. I have always been clear about my leadership. Now, tell me, dear friends, what is this problem?

Sergei: Price of houses London are falling. Where is your vodka cabinet?

Abdul: Our investment losing. No more racing Lamborghini cars round Harrods. We move to Brussels.

Ying: Shall remove to Ofrica. Unless remedial action soonest.

Dodgy: Skint, is this anything to do with us?

Skint: No, I don't think so. It's the markets.

Dodgy: But they are supposed to be always in our favour!

Sergei: Decision needed today. Good-bye. You send e-mail when problem fixed.

Abdul: Otherwise I return to sands. To my princely brethren and human rights for all workers in my lands.

Ying: Me too. To Shengszhen, home of my spiritual fathers, my ancestors, my ying and yang. Maybe for the best. No ying, no yang in London. Only bling.

They leave.

Dodgy: I'm glad I'm retiring in 4 years' time.

Skint: A wise decision, Dodgy.

Dodgy: Aha! Fancy my job, do you?

Corb: Can we discuss something of more importance please?
I am going to make two proposals to Parliament, next week. Firstly, I am going to propose that, in future, the only citizens who should pay taxes to the government are those who voted for it. In your case, that would be 24% of the electorate. Why should the 76% of people who didn't vote for you, give you money to spend any way you think fit?

Dodgy: That's barmy. The other 76% don't pay any tax? The country would soon go broke.

Skint: Careful, Dodgy....

Corb: The other 76% would pay tax to the party they voted for and the money could only be spent on what the people approve.

Dodgy: But none of them would want to give away billions in foreign aid, or buy my bombs, or buy Trident missiles!

Corb: Precisely.

Chorus: 'Oh, oh, oh, oh!
What a change is here!
There's somebody in parliament
Who has the people's ear.
Was it ever so before?
Let's hope it lasts and lasts,
And we are no more poor
And he brings down the taxes on our beer!

Exeunt Omnes: Dodgy sweating, Skint smiling secretly, Corbyn looking ahead at the future.


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The New Opposition Leader's Got Dave and George Worried.

Yes, Jeremy Corbyn is keeping them awake at night.  They're looking grumpy whenever I see them.  What with the rising debt and floods in the north of England (where it is, they're not quite sure) refugees, bombing Syria and Jeremy's unusual style, my client is not bursting with seasonal jollity right now.  And Dave and George are expecting me to make a big sale before Christmas, as well.  Not easy.  And I wish they'd stop sending me snotty e-mails about getting on with it. Anyway, I'm going for the big one. I'm going to suggest leasing out the House of Commons.  It's rarely used now, hardly ever full (except when they voted for their own pay rise) and could bring in some useful cash for George, on an on-going basis. And a decent bonus for me.  Not sure how the idea will go down with Dave, but we'll see.
In the meantime, gentle reader, Season's Greetings and a Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Does Jeremy Corbyn Scare the Daylights out of Dave and George?

Well, I think he does. and I'll tell you how I know. I can't get any time with either of them to pitch my new idea for a sell-off.  I want to get them to agree that I sell-off the Privy Council. I bet there are many countries in the world who would love a Privy Council.  All that tradition and stuff is just what newly formed nations want.  I bet they'd pay a ton for it and I'd get a nice little bonus.  The problem is that whenever I ask to see Dave - or even George - I get the brush off.  I asked why. "'They're locked in with their spin team and Lynton," I was told by the ravishing Peaches McClean, who's temping at Number Ten.  (Peaches is my new confidante.)

I figure that they're worried about Corbyn's unusual approach to PMQs.  So they've got their heads down trying to come up with a hundred more briefs to the blue-banner press to rubbish the poor guy.  As if that hadn't been done enough already.  They're also scared that the public will finally realise that everything they say - Dave and George that is - is very dodgy. All of which means that I can't get on with my job - selling off Britain.   So I'm gonna update my c.v. and see if there are any interesting assignments around for a man of my calibre and accomplishments.  I can't sit about waiting for Dave and his little pal much longer.  (I'm told Dave calls George, 'Tonto' when he's not around!)

Monday, 15 June 2015

I've been a month now with Dave and George...

And it's not proving very lucrative.  I can't even get an interview with them to discuss my next sell-off.  And you'd think that would be easy in view of the tsunami deficit they've got.  And I've got a stunning possibility - Scotland!  I know Dave hates the place since he went on a shoot and caught his pants on a gorse bush.  And he hates even more the 'Virgin Sturgeon' as he calls the lady leader of the SNP.  But, it's no entry through the portals of Number Ten.  They don't want any interruptions from yours truly while they try to sort out the EU referendum mess they've created.  Things are looking bad.  I overheard this conversation the other day:

"You know, I'm not sure if Dave is alright these days. Do you think he's got some mental affliction? Everything he says is wrong. Everything he suggest is unworkable. Perhaps we should take some soundings and see if we can put up an alternative. What do you think?”
“Worth a try. Another double?”
“Yes, thanks. What do you think about finding a pleb for an alternative? It would help us get over our image of being the toffs' party.”
“Do we have any plebs in the party?”
“Couldn't say. Have to ask around.”

Monday, 18 May 2015

All Change at Westminster. An Up-to-Date Report from JAson Bryggs.

I now work for Dave and George. I thought I might not appeal to George, him being a bit obsessed with the numbers and me not being an accountant, much less a CFO from the City.
But him and Dave approved another year on my contract. Plus the car and the bonus. So, why not? Pity about Nick – he was an easy-going sort of guy. But there you go. British politics. Can you believe the winners represent only 24% of the populace? Honest. Do the numbers.

The first thing I did was to ask them if I could sell off the NHS. They gave each other a quick look and I was instructed to stay away from it. Then I asked them if I could sell the BBC. Wow! That got a lot more attention! Dave asked me if I could really do it. George listened intently. I said, of course I could, no problem. In my head I was rapidly reviewing potential buyers – Murdoch, Dubai, Branson, EDF, the odd oligarch or two.... But the PM told me to do nothing and that he would advise when I should start seeking buyers. I don't know why he wants me to do it – they could sell it off at the drop of a hat to one of their mates.

This is a lousy job, selling off British assets to pay the National Debt, but somebody has to do it.....
so why not me? And the bonus is great.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A brief commercial.... (because the book has a use-by date - May 7, 2015)

......with reviews of 'The Government's Top Salesman Tells All':

"Author John Problem has a healthily irreverent attitude to the government and a very funny way of writing about "The Prime Minister and Nick". The opening of the book explains what Jason Bryggs' new job is: to sell off whatever national assets he can in order to reduce the National Debt. Some of the characters are a bit far-fetched but usually very amusing; at times this book is laugh aloud funny. The writing style is sharp and pithy and moves along at a cracking pace. I read it in a couple of sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it. Light hearted and entertaining but with overtones of seriousness, The Government's Top Salesman is well worth a look.

Laugh-out -loud - and timely!

Very creative,good British humour,wide ranging display of culture , much travelled.I particularly enjoyed the hero Jason Bryggs's visits to Paris and Prague, a joy.

A formidable piece of incisive and entertaining satire. The hero (Jason) is just right for the subject - cynical but light; worldly wise but self preoccupied. I love the overall style, the educated and informed easy flow of the intelligent dialogue, and the 007 atmosphere, created beautifully. The characters are nicely drawn, likeable, colourful and credible - and Jason particularly provides so much corroborative detail that I find him thoroughly convincing. 007 for the 21st century. John Problem wants watching!
The ladies too are real characters, rather than cameos, and they carefully and cunningly avoid the "Leaping into bed " alley, so predictable and tedious in the more narcissistic variants of the genre."