It’s time for the day to be over. We throw our parties; we abandon our families to live alone; we struggle to write books that do not change the world, despite our gifts and unstinting efforts, our most extravagant hopes. We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep – it’s simple and ordinary as that.

A few jump out of windows or drown themselves or take pills, more die by accident; and most of us, the vast majority, are slowly devoured by some disease, or if we’re very fortunate by time itself.

There’s just some consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined though everyone but children (and perhaps even they)  knows these hours will inevitably b y others far darker and more difficult.

Still, we cherish the city, the morning: we hope, more than anything, for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so.

The Hours, Michael Cunningham




A conveniently located undertaker’s has set up shop opposite an old people’s home. It must be really heartening to pull the curtains back each morning and see Harry Hurry’s funeral parlor waiting patiently for your custom.


Humans generate enough madness in the world without conjuring up visions of the devil and blaming it on satanic hocus pocus. Too much TV. Too much religion.


An amusing variety of death cries rang out from the collective pen of war comic authors during their heyday in the 1960s and 70s.

The length of the enemy’s final gasp was dictated by their nationality and whatever heinous crime they had committed.

A blow to the back of a German soldier’s head was usually registered with a simple ‘UGH’ or slightly more pronounced ‘UGGH’, while being shot started at ‘ARRG’ before moving through an increasing range of tonal death rattles from ‘ARRRG’ to the choral ‘AAAAAAAGH’.

Jumping out of a flaming tank guaranteed a good response as did being blown up in an ammunition dump.

Writers sometimes combined it with an expletive for dramatic license, such as ‘BRITISHERS – AAAG!’, ‘ENEMY AIRCRAFT! AARH!’ or “IT WAS A TRAP FOR US! AAARGH!’

The Japanese always met their end with a more high pitched ‘AIE!’ or ‘AAAAAI!’ but it was always precluded by some good anti-western sentiment, such as ‘I WILL BLAST THESE WHITE DOGS OFF THE FACE OF BORNEO’, or ‘BANZAI! FOR THE EMPEROR!’

In contrast, Allied soldiers meet their fate with stoic silence extolling the virtues of the stiff upper lip. The exception is an Australian who squeezes out an ‘EUGH!’ Then again, it can be hard to understand those antipodean accents.


A sweat-off between two finalists in the World Sauna Championships in Finland resulted in the death of one contestant from severe burns, while the other was hospitalized. Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy collapsed alongside reigning champion Timo Kaukonen of Finland after spending six minutes in a sauna whose temperature reached 230 degrees.


A long time ago a wealthy Persian merchant walked in his garden with a faithful servant.

The servant sought his master’s protection after revealing he had met Death earlier that day who had threatened him.

The servant begged his master to loan him the fastest horse in the stables so that he could flee to Tehran and lose himself in its thronging masses.

“If I ride hard I can reach the city later today,” said the servant.

The merchant agreed and the servant galloped off.

When the merchant returned home he found Death waiting for him.

“My servant was a good man. Why did you threaten him?” he asked Death.

“I didn’t threaten him. I only showed surprise to find him still here when I planned to meet him in Tehran tonight.”


Job cuts loom in the workplace but our boss insists on marching us over the cliff with a smile on our faces and a song in our hearts

It feels like being in some World War One film where the officer sends his men over the top knowing they are going to certain death with a ‘chin up, lads. We’ll be home for supper.”

I agree that there is little to be gained from wallowing in bad news but stop short of ignoring reality.

Management seem to live in some laudanum soaked alternative reality where they think everyone believes their cant and waffle. I felt my eyes begin to glaze after hearing the latest pep talk aimed at keeping us working until we enter the meat grinder and are left to our fate with a kind word.

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