parasite peopleWORMS OF THE gut

Birds of the back,

Lampreys of the sea

Ticks of the skin,

Leeches of the anywhere.


We’re all parasites.

We’ve just found a way to detach ourselves from the host.

Conscience: clear.

Running man bachman kingTHIS IS NOT exactly a brand spanking new book review. The Running Man was published in 1982, two years before I was even born. What is fascinating is that despite its age the book still reads very fresh and is the best book I’ve read from King (albeit I’ve only read Joyland as well). The setting and imagined world is not so very far from reality and fairly prophetic of modern society – this ability to predict or imagine what the future can bring is something that seems to draw me to writers whether Orwell, Vonnegut or Bradbury. It shows an intellect, a mind that has thought about this small world and what might befall it. It is very alluring to me. And I’m not even a huge Sci-Fi fan either, although I’m slipping into it’s grip: no bad thing.

The Running Man reads like a sick parody of modern TV culture, but really isn’t that far fetched. It was written before all the contemporary TV programmes which feast on the reality aspect. The pace is perfect and the world that King conjures is brilliant, solid characters, a protagonist you can root for and enough drama and twist and turns to keep you blazing through the pages. The book follows Richards who decides to enter The Running Man, the chance to win $1b New Dollars, if he can survive for 30 days, being hunted on a nationally televised programme by the public and designated Hunters.

If you like futuristic writing, that doesn’t try to reach to far into it then you’ll love this book. King questions Western morality and delves into the aneasthetised psyche of humanity, if it can be called that, but not too deeply leaving the plot and story to carry you along.

You might have watched the film based on the book, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger which came out in 1987 and is a bit of a classic. I haven’t seen it recently and not since reading the novel, so I’ll see how it stacks up. From what I can remember Hollywood did what Hollywood does.

Pastoralia george saundersI LOVE FINDING a book that I’ve never read before by an author I’ve never heard of before then reading said book and finding that I love the authors writing style and entire way of thinking.

Well I was lucky enough that my girlfriend picked up Pastoralia by George Saunders in a charity shop. Right away I’d like to apologise to Saunders for the fact he’ll receive zero pence in royalties, royalties he richly deserves. I’ll have to buy another book at double the price to make up for it. Pastoralia is a weird and wonderful world of odd characters and quirky incidents. Saunders writes so well and expressively that he conjures up brilliant characters and scenarios with humour and wit that had me laughing out loud a few times, something I rarely do even when reading funny books. The way he thinks and expresses characters thoughts through the story world are fantastic, the stories themselves well realised and often comedic. He simply has a knack for compelling writing that draws you in.

This isn’t so much a book review but an appreciation of writers newly discovered. Continuing to read from certain authors is great, but picking a book up with no idea what to expect and being pretty mesmerised by it is a wonderful thing. Not always easy in these times of media saturation and spoiler alerts, press releases, illegal downloads and something I’ve only heard rumour of – legal downloads.


WHITE LIGHT RAINED down from somewhere up above, the ceiling from where it came too high to reach. The air was thick like breathing in tropical heat but lacking the warmth or moisture. All walls were padded with a canvas-like material that responded like a stationary punching bag when hit. Grime clung to the walls most heavily from the floor to about six feet high, as far as most could reach up to. Blood had stained various parts as well, making my four by four cell talk to me. Prisoners of old had punched their fists raw, scrabbled in a descent to madness at the sides of this room. From my slumped figure on the concrete  floor I spotted ‘RW’ in red, daubed near the bottom of the door. Those two letters would become my companions, as I imagined what they stood for. Reginald Wode. Reverend Winnipeg. Rita Wentworth. Rex Wellington. Robert Wise. The list went on and on in my head.

In truth I didn’t know if it was the door. No discernible lines or marks indicated its location and I’d no way of knowing myself having entered wearing a hood and under the influence of some very efficient tranquilisers. I was so disoriented were there no light I wouldn’t know which way up was – my throat so dry I wouldn’t have been able to spit either. Part of their tactics. Light had at first been a comfort but when it came to falling asleep, it was so bright that it seemed to radiate straight through a protective arm and burned away eyelids. Part of the process. They hadn’t even told me why I was being detained. Should death follow, my last memories of the outside world would be of walking along a quiet dusty street talking to my close friend, Zeke, as a black Toyota people carrier pulled up along side. The sound of the side door being pulled back now repeated over and over. Many hands grabbed at me like tentacles from inside the blacked out vehicle and my head slammed against the floor. The door was rammed shut and tires spat up gravel. I had barely felt the needle through my khakis.

I had no wife or kids, so they couldn’t harm them. Most of my relatives were scattered across the world, still more of them were dead, some from natural causes of course but most from wars. Friendly fire didn’t look so amicable up close.

Just as I was beginning to trip out on nostalgia with a little help from whatever came out the syringe earlier on, they started. Shock tactics. Somewhere up above I could hear music being pumped in, distorted and off key with no melody. Louder and louder it became, until I wanted to burrow into the ground and tear my ears off by hand. It jarred, stopped and then continued to pulsate carrying the most unnatural noises down to me, drowning me in audio. My brain felt as if it might start leaking as if it had been caused to burst inside my skull. This continued for – well – I didn’t have a watch. Far too long went by until a fine mist descended. Abruptly the noise stopped, the air went still. Before my mind could even begin to wonder what was in the mist I was unconscious again.

My joints ached. My throat was arid. Everything felt so dry. Was this a slow cook oven I was trapped in? I was on the floor sprawled out entirely naked. Someone had been in, the boxers I had previously been wearing were no longer being worn. Psychological tactics. Humiliation was a key component of breaking down the enemy, I knew that much. My brain felt fuzzier than ever, every thought delayed like a transatlantic phone call. From somewhere a burst of energy. I felt the need to stand up. Easier said than done. Limb by limb I managed to get myself to a kneeling position, then used my weak arms to lean on the wall for support. Exhausted but determined I did it, standing up as free as I’d felt since my arrival days or even weeks ago – who knew. I liked to think this was a symbol of my defiance, my unbending will, that no matter what they did to me I would rise again to stand tall, to make a mark above the six foot line. But I couldn’t jump. My calves felt as if the muscle had been sucked out. Feebly I couldn’t even clear the ground, collapsing instead into a sorrowful heap, looking upward at the light, blinking as tears dribbled down my temples, my last reserves of fluid.

Soon the music began again. I sat against my favourite of the four identical walls to listen, to act like I enjoyed every single discordant note. As if this was my own private concert by Elvis.

The music was different this time. Horrendous but not the same. Every so often a small sequence of melody or a snippet of another humans voice would play before the cacophony resumed, jangling, jarring and burning, even louder this time, a crescendo of the most inhuman noises thinkable kept playing. They stopped it for five seconds making me think the session was over, before starting it again. I tried to cry, but couldn’t even do that. My ears felt as if they were bleeding. I would check every so often, expecting to see blood on the fingertip of my index fingers. A headache had started too, pounding along to the distorted beat. Before the session was over I must have passed out, saving them some mist.

I awoke in a plain white t-shirt, nothing else. My eyes struggled to adjust to the intensity of the lighting. Was the sun itself directly above me? That would mean I was outside..I wasn’t thirsty either. They must have replaced some fluids. They don’t want me dying on them before they have the information. Classic mental warfare. Remembering my last stand, I was desperate to repeat it. Strangely I found my muscles felt better and I was able to stand almost without support from a blood stained wall. I looked up and raised my arms toward the glow above. Still feeling tender I couldn’t stand for long and slumped back down, seeing Randolph Weschler opposite. He spoke to me, but I said I was in no mood for conversation. Idiot – couldn’t he see the state of me? Actually..

‘Do you know a way out?’ I said. My lips had barely moved. I laughed like the maniac I was, briefly, very briefly, my last laughs slipping away.

Then it began again. It was almost boring now, the predictable nature of it like a school timetable. Music. Music. Music. Louder than ever the music blasted through, unfiltered and raw, filling my head with lyrics and chords; this was putting a stack of CD’s through a meat grinder. It felt like every part of my brain was being exploded from the inside in time to the arrhythmic beat. Every second felt as if tiny shards of glass were being driven through my brain, cutting it up into a kind of viscous pulp until I was longer able to think and began to claw at the walls. The finger tips were the first to bleed. Then the nails began to bend, breaking off in unnatural patterns. I rolled on the floor howling, hands to my ears, begging to someone somewhere to stop this madness. I hammered with fists on the floor feeling a pain powerful enough to override the audio stimulation, drowning it out for precious seconds at a time. For hours this continued, maybe even days. It was a daze alright.

As I lay prostrate, bleeding from multiple places, I could imagine no worse place on earth. Suddenly the music cut out. As my head tried to repair itself from within I listened to my breathing, rasping harshly, but at least a familiar noise, something I’d made myself, that I had control over. Then the next session began far sooner than usual and I hadn’t even been knocked out between sessions this time.

To my pleasure I heard music of clarity. There was a distinct melody, yes, then some sort of synthesiser kicked in over the drums. Was this to lull me into a false sense of security? Hostage Taking 101. No sooner had my eyes closed in relief at a recognisable tune, than the song changed. Lyrics were being sung over the stripped down beat. The most horrible and horrific words possible to utter, were continually being spewed from the speakers. Usually it would take me some time to resort to scrabbling at the walls or floor but within thirty licks I was howling, blood encrusted index fingers jammed in my ears, a futile attempt to block out the noise reverberating in the cell. I felt like confessing there and then, to what I didn’t know, but if someone had asked me then and there a simple yes no question I would have said absolutely anything to escape the cacophony rattling in my brain. I opened an eye and spotted a rag-nail on my pinky. It was like an exit sign. I placed it carefully between my teeth and ripped as hard as I could. Excruciating pain shot through my arm and hand, I forgot about the saccharine lyrics for at least ten seconds. But an insane mans counting is not to be trusted for accuracy.

As if some deity had sensed my extreme pain and suffering, the wall I was slumped on turned into a door. I fell backwards, clean noise free air the first thing to hit me. Some faces wearing surgical masks peered over me, blurry noses and eyes looked downward. Hidden lips spoke.

‘Thank you for taking part in this experiment. You will be paid in full once your medical has been carried out and you’ve been discharged.’

I couldn’t make out a single word, my ears ringing in pain, noises muffled. I passed out shortly afterwards.

They continued to examine my body once I was unconscious. ‘Interesting. Just like the others, it was the Justin Beiber songs which really sent him over the edge. We’ll pass that on to HQ.’


I woke up in the deserted reception of a hospital I’d never been to before. My whole being felt like it needed to be replaced with new parts, better parts preferably. Instinctively I put my hands in my pockets. I pulled out a bit of paper, it was from some newspaper. All my clothes had been through the wash, the print wasn’t easy to make out. I pulled the fragile paper apart at the folds with tender fingers and flipped it around. It was an old advert.

Do you like listening to music? Take part in a three day experiment. Payment upon completion! 

There was no number or contact.

writing humourWELL I SAID I would be concentrating on sending more stuff off to get published at the beginning of the year. Perhaps my concentration has been wavering…as this is the first thing I’ve sent this year, my second ever submission.

I finally got my shit together and sent a story to East of the Web who specialise in short stories. The hard part isn’t sending it, it’s editing it to a point where you are happy with it enough to hit ‘Send’. Despite the worst case scenario being a cold dead silence from EotW, I always get worried before sending my writing. Stupid worries crop up. What if my punctuation was horrible? The story reads great to me, what if they can’t understand it? But then…what if, I never sent it at all?

Submission jitters – it sounds like some BDSM terminology but it arises from the fear of rejection – not even face to face rejection, the worst kind, it’s the possibility of being rejected and not knowing why.

I have a couple more that are definitely publishable, so my aim is to submit them in the next two weeks. May the editorial gods be with me (or at least looking at their inbox, preferably after a bottle of wine).

FEW WRITE ABOUT the extra ordinary. Murders, death in all its forms; love, in all its guises; tragedy and triumph, in all its parts – all of these and more are written about, photographed, whispered and shared. But not the extra ordinary. The very word extraordinary makes no sense; suggesting something to be ordinary in the extreme, which is the polar opposite of what it is meant to do.  A slice of white bread is extra ordinary. A multi-seeded loaf with sundried tomatoes and olives is not.


aisle hell

   LEON WORKS AT a medium sized retail shop, a chain, one of those corporate behemoths that turns every employee into a Payroll number. The kind you hate. Even the managers carry zero respect. What does Leon think about during his shifts? Breaks. The next break. Small breaks and big breaks. Half an hour to sit and eat, unpaid, to reflect on why a university degree has helped him to become a cashier stroke shelf-stacker extraordinaire. And why that word makes no sense.

Lately he’s been prone to bouts of jealousy. ‘I’m just a jealous guy…’ sings Robert Palmer in the partition of his brain that stores music. You see, Robs swiping technique with the scanner is just that bit better. Faster, and with an economical motion from holder to barcode – it’s been eating away at him like crazy as the second hand noisily ticks its way around the face of the excessively large clock in the backroom. It wasn’t just Rob. Jenni and Mike had strengths as well. They were all-rounders, competent at all shop related duties. Their shelves were neater, richer in aesthetic appeal. Every item was date checked with appropriate reductions made. Nothing got past them in terms of stock related responsibilities. Lately, Leon was starting to worry that they were even encroaching on his once firm grasp as second in command, supreme scanner #2. And that wasn’t including customer relations. Sometimes stuck for words, Leon didn’t know what to do when a shopper came over to ask about where the gluten-free reduced fat granola was. Thoughts like, ‘I’m sorry I’m not sure I’ll just ask the manager’ followed by asking for the manager over the public address system gradually turned to, ‘Just eat some fucking wheat!’.

Where had his manner gone? Did he ever have one in the first place? Maybe Rob and the rest had simply made him feel like he was doing his job well when in fact behind his back, they were slagging him off. Maybe some of the laughter during stock takes, on the other aisles was about Leon’s rudeness. About how he simply didn’t seem to care. But he did care. Deeply, or at least as deep as it can get in this line of work.

The shop would be shutting in two hours. With five minutes of break left Leon did the unthinkable. He knew he’d be dealing with the cardboard from all the boxes, flattening and recycling them while the others faced up, making sure the shelves were stocked and neatly arranged for the next day. He looked in the trolley which out of date items were kept in. A dentless tin of beans, a week out of date was perfect – not exactly botulism in the making but acceptable. An indistinct product, generic enough to avoid detection. Leon picked it up and hid it inside the stock room, just before the doors on a small shelf for later use.

‘Leon! Can you sort out the self-service counter?’ said Martin, the manager, currently engaged with an acquaintance of which he had many.

Leon nodded. Anger began to brew. Martin knew Leon didn’t have experience using the swipe card to reset the machine and could never remember the password either.

Leon struggled with the machine while an exasperated customer decided to take their goods to a real-live-person-counter instead. Desperate eyes searched for someone that wasn’t too busy, to ask for the passcode. Jenni was slowly putting some drinks out, squatting down, pink thong peeking out label and all.

‘Jenni, what’s the passcode for the self serve till?’ asked Leon, fidgeting.

Jenni turned her head his way then went back to stacking cans. ‘Is it not 435862?’

Great. Even Jenni knew more than he did. Or did she? The code didn’t work. Rob spotted the man in trouble and mid-swipe, cooly and confidently announced he’d help him out as soon as he was done with the customer, who happened to want just about everything behind the till as well.

Rob wasn’t a bad guy. He simply knew the managerial spot was about as good as things were going to get. Smiling was his normal face. A friendly guy always, exchanging banter with customers regular and new, unshakable in the face of social situations.

BA Hons in Media zipped through Leon’s mind. BA Hons in Media it taunted.

‘Leon, you forgotten again?’ Rob stood next to him, fingers gliding over the screen at a speed Leon could only hope to emulate after four years of service. ‘Remember it for next time yeah?’

Leon had already forgotten.

Thankfully there were no more malfunctions at the self service until closing time. Leon stocked the shelves and even chatted to Martin about the state of the economy best summed up by, “Fucking Tory bastards”. Enlightened and thankful for the exchange of words no matter how banal, Leon restocked the shelves in what he thought was a personal best time, only to have his elation shattered by Jenni who waddled around the corner, having finished two sides of an aisle by her lonesome.

‘You guys need a hand?’ she offered, like a marathon runner who’d just finished half a mile in front of the closest rival.

The nerve of her. Undermining right in front of Martin. Some sort of mistress of psychological warfare.

‘It’s ok,’ said Leon firmly.

‘Nonsense!’ overruled the manager. ‘Many hands..and all that.’

‘I’m just going to the toilet,’ Leon said, slinking away.

‘I’ll take that off your pay!’ kidded Martin, laughing at his own joke. If it were a tyre it would be illegal, bald from overuse.


Leon went through the big swing doors to the stock room and grabbed the tin of beans. Poking his head out he spotted Martin whistling away to his left, arranging the wines. Walking briskly out to the right Leon headed for the midsection of the shop; bean central, the tin corridor. Jenni wasn’t to be seen and Rob was mopping up near the tills – impeccable timing. Mike had left early.

Leon needlessly snuck down the canned section. He plucked the two cans at the front of the beans shelf, and shoved the one he’d carried right to the back as far as his arm would reach before replacing the two tins as neatly as he’d found them. This was Rob’s section. A mild pang of guilt surfaced, submarine-like, as he’d helped him out earlier with the till. Never mind. This is retail!

The rest of the close went as smoothly as could be hoped for. Collectively they finished ten minutes early. To Martin ten minutes was an hour. “There’s always something to be done.”

Martin disappeared to the office, presumably to do that something. That left Jenni, Rob and Leon to reassess their aisles, to turn products a few millimeters so they were more central and symmetrically on display. All so the first customers of the day could see the handiwork and destroy the neat stacking. It was the bed making of the shop world.

With minutes to go Martin dashed through. ‘We’ve got an emergency. There’s a tin of beans missing from the out of date stock.’ Damn he was sharp.

Leon’s eyes widened.

Frenetically all four of looked around desperate to get away on time, into the street lit blackness of 11 pm having dodged the sun all day. ‘It’s not in the stockroom – let’s search the floor.’

To Leon’s delight, Martin assigned himself the beans section. Within two minutes he pulled out the can, holding it triumphantly aloft as the second hand of the store clock raced past 11:05.

‘Rob,’ he said sternly. ‘How did this get here?’

Rob was puzzled and for once speechless.

‘It’s a week out of date..’ he said curtly. The tin was held up in Rob’s direction.

‘No idea Martin. I swear I checked every single tin.’ Moving closer he examined the product. ‘Aye look, the labels not even the same. There’s no way I’d miss that boss.’

Martin squinted, comparing both in-date and expired tins. Indeed there was a discrepancy. How strange. Rob was always perfect at his job.

‘Hmm. Well, just keep an eye out next time.’

That was it. No admonishment or humiliation, nor even any sign of anger which Martin was prone to from time to time late at night. The saboteur had been foiled. Leon’s own status in the shop remained a non-mover at number five. And if you included the other staff members he was into the teens.


Several weeks passed although it was hard to tell exactly how long. The Bean Incident had become a topic of conversation and bonded those who shared in the triviality of it, with streams of terrible puns and word play including such classics as: “It couldn’t have bean me” and “Rob, you’re a has bean“. How they laughed. Even their laughs were somehow more genuine, louder and infectious.

Fifteen minutes after the shop closed Martin appeared having been in the office. ‘Where’s Leon?’ he said loudly so everyone could hear from whatever aisle they were in. Leon frowned and walked to the end of the fruit section to see Martin marching towards him. When he saw Leon he stopped.

‘Office, now.’


‘Don’t sit down. Come around here.’ Martin ordered Leon to the other side of the desk where his laptop was. ‘Watch this.’

Leon watched as a twenty second loop played of him taking and secreting a tin from the pile in the out of date trolley. Martin let it play five times before stopping it. Leon felt a sudden heat rising up under his skin.

‘Red-handed. What’s the idea behind this? Are you trying to get Rob or myself into trouble?’ Martin stared at Leon who couldn’t take his eyes off the frozen frame.

‘I was just messing about. I’m sorry Martin.’

‘Just messing about?’ he echoed. ‘I could lose my job over something like that. I’ve got a mortgage and kids to feed. Do you? I didn’t think so. I’m giving you a verbal warning. Any more of this and you’re off.’ He closed the lid of the laptop and held the door open, continuing the stern disappointed look.

As they walked back to the shop floor in silence Martin spoke to Leon. ‘What degree is it that you got again?’

‘Media studies.’

‘Aye, that’s what I thought…’



Using things properly

THIS IS A  prime example of using something properly and not bending to the will of convention.

*for regular viewers, please don’t think this blog has been taken over or sponsored by Kinder

Image  —  Posted: March 23, 2014 in Random musings
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sunshine pram

I CROUCHED DOWN looking into the black pram which sat alone without mother: an expectant expression unfurling on my face, best described as a diet smile. The way the sunlight shone meant my vision was hampered. My squinting eyes traced back and forth trying to spot the chubby white over-sized head in the depths.

Peering closer, I could make out only a darkness where the head ought to be, poking out of the nylon warmth, the end of the blankets blackened.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” prompted a voice above me. Whatever it was, it had a shadow darker than my own.

I craned my neck. I struggled to hide my horror, and to find another smile to use to hide the emotion. My eyes made contact above the hood of the pram. Aghast, I nearly lost my balance. Like mother, like ‘it’. A genetic likeness of black nothingness was all I could see. They did not belong here. Or anywhere else.

What kind of mother left their baby like this? I thought to myself, in my own mind as if that were the most pressing issue. Although the hideous answer towered above me, these sorts of rhetorical questions burrow their way to the surface regardless.

‘A mother like me!’ she snarled from no semblance of a mouth.


LIONAROUNDWRITING HAS NOW surpassed 500 followers and 500 comments – if you have been a apart of this happening  then many thanks. Your views, comments likes and presence have been great for feedback, sharing ideas and generally just having fun with this whole blog thing.

I realise the number of stories I’ve written has declined since I started work in a certain positive correlation, but I do get a chance to bash some Blackberry keys during the lulls and note down ideas so will try and get more stuff up on the site. I’m also trying to submit more short stories for publishing which is very time consuming.

In other news, is the newest way to look at my site as I bought the domain name recently, you can direct click – but of course that’s in your bookmarks already..

Thanks again, stay around, and I’ll keep up to date with your blogs as well for some inspiration.


YES OH YES! For any fan of Dumb and Dumber starring Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels, here is the proper sequel, ignoring the terrible prequel starring neither of the original cast members. Loosely the plot revolves around finding one of their lost children, in order to get one of their kidneys. A promising start and entirely apt for this sort of madcap caper.

The promo posters are great too. I hope this isn’t a shambolic attempt at recreating a comedy classic. It’s in post-production just now so might be out this year.

kinder egg

YOU MAY QUESTION why a 29 year old man would post a picture of an instructional insert from a Kinder egg. You might even think it was bought for someone else – a bit younger perhaps. Well…no. I bought it and the chocolate was great thank you. The toy however, was disappointing and on reflection far too simple and a symbol of the generational shift from between when I was a kid and those who are kids now. To put this together, you have to join two parts of either end of a platypus together. It’s not like this is a challenge even for a three year old. The fact the toys are so dumbed down was the only surprise I found. I don’t care if a few kids didn’t make it because they choked on the once small and multiple parts that used to be a standard decades ago- that’s natural selection, they should have put it together not in their mouths. If they managed to do it in their mouths and then choked – well – that’s highly unfortunate.

Image  —  Posted: March 17, 2014 in Random musings
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NOT AT SCHOOLI HEARD THIS on the news the other day. Parents were fined in record numbers this year for taking their kids out of school and having the gall to take them on a holiday. Again, parents fined for doing what they want with their own children by the government. It seems incredulous to me that there is even a measure in place to fine parents for exercising freewill over how their offspring spend time.

Not only are children in school all day away from their parents (although I’m sure many parents don’t mind this at all sadly), they also have increasing pressure to perform well at an earlier age in exams. Then once a day of ‘learning’ is over they’re expected to do homework also. Surely any education system worth anything wouldn’t need to lumber children with extracurricular learning as they’d be teaching children well enough in the first place.

Back to the main point – two weeks or less out of school is not going to effect a kids education, schools are not that good! Coming from a peculiar background I hit secondary school in the right age group and year, having only had one previous year of formal education. So who is benefiting from trying to deter parents from god forbid, taking their kid(s) on holiday? Well, the government makes money for starters, that’s a prerequisite. The main thing is that they drive a wedge between the boundary of parenthood and their child, trying to assert far more control over it than they ever have the right to. Far more children have been damaged from being in school than out of it. And the British education system is stuck in the fifties, it isn’t as if children are being treated to forward thinking learning that is beneficial for them in all aspects. Thirty children in a class= chaos for teachers and the children. In Finland, home to the top rated education system in the world, the children don’t even become pupils until seven, and even then it is in more of a social/ play capacity. Formal education starts nearer 12 years old. That’s because children need nurtured and allowed to be kids before you bore them to death with ancient history or trigonometry. Interesting; fun; engaging; choice; challenging; creative – rarely are those words spoken by any pupil beyond primary school. Boring; horrible; pointless; tired – more often are these words spoken, because children need stimulation. If taking them on holiday is punishable, then the educational institutions they attend should be as well if standards aren’t met in quality of service.

Alongside all the other erosions of privacy in the UK, the fact the government is trying to control our choices with our children seems like another sad sad nail in the coffin, a coffin which houses a dead British empire and conservative values, none of which are for the betterment of education but to churn out a factory line of school leavers who slot neatly into predetermined futures. If I was a parent my kid would be ‘off sick’ at least once a year – let’s face it, the inside of a classroom can become pretty tedious even if it wasn’t initially.