*This piece was an entry for the New Writing North ‘A Writing Chance’ programme. The brief was ‘an original piece of journalism, non-fiction or / creative writing, up to 500 words on the theme ‘Life in 2020–2021’*

I read the news today, oh boy.

It used to be a vaudeville joke: A family describe their act to an agent. It breaks all social norms. It’s perverted, sickening, vile, incestuous, racist, hateful, putrid and poisonous. The shocked agent asks, ‘Whaddya call the act?’ to which the father replies, ‘The Aristocrats!’

We’d read the papers and see that gag shifting under the…

Keir Starmer’s Goldilocks approach to dealing with the mainstream media is lukewarm porridge, and which maniac likes lukewarm porridge?

Starmer, seen here holding an invisible microphone.

Writing about Keir Starmer has become like the qualities we’d hoped he’d embody when he became Leader of the Labour party; reliable but politically benign to the point of dullness while, for a multitude of reasons, necessary. Though I’d really like to get back to making fun of Tories, right now they’re rolling out the vaccine like a weekend dad dishing out Happy Meals to prove just how good a parent he is two days a week.

Some polls show Starmer’s…

If Matt Hancock said he could jump the English Channel in a single bound, Kier Starmer would say, “The public has no desire to watch this man drown.”

Matthew John David Hancock, The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and a man whose parents only managed to whittle their baby name list down to the three dullest names they came across, has been found to have acted unlawfully in his handling of contracts given out to private companies in securing personal protective equipment (PPE).

The details of the High Court verdict rest on rules regarding the transparency of…

Donald Trump has coronavirus and huge swathes of the internet could not be happier. After spouting off nonsense and dangerous treatments for the virus, lying about how deadly he knew the virus was, mocking his presidential opponent for wearing masks too often, and overseeing the deaths of over 200,000 Americans, you’ll forgive a momentary relishing of the irony and sharp sense of schadenfreude felt, not just in America, but around the world.

“Sic semper tyrannis”, a phrase tied and sullied by American history, translates as “and thus to tyrants”. It predates America, and goes back to ancient Rome, but is…

Statue of Thomas Paine. Photographe by Richard Croft

It might seem foolish to compare Enlightenment political theorist Thomas Paine and the bloke off the telly who plays a sidekick’s sidekick, Laurence Fox. But, aside from the fact I’d already started an essay about the culture war and Paine when Fox announced he was starting a new political whose only goal was to “fight the culture wars”, the two do share a common target for their revolts — Great Britain.

Before we get to Britain, it’s worth pointing out something very obvious. “Fight the culture wars” can mean two things — fight against or fight in. I’ve already argued…

“The factories are born, thrive briefly, turn to husks as the hand lettered signs above the shops give way to corporate logo; The same insignia reiterated; the same faerie ring of names about each city centre; the same architecture: Docklands über alles. And each town stamped from the same diseases potato in this great and final wallpapering of England.” — Alan Moore, “The Birth Caul” from A Disease of Language

The above passage, in addition to being grimly nihilist, is both correct in its observations and wrong in its assumption. There is no doubt England, and Britain more generally, has…

Dear Nephew,

I was very pleased to receive your letter in regards to my work at the Bureau Office for Legend and Lore Communication and Knowledge Services. Before I get to your questions regarding our recent efforts, I must apologise for the tardiness of my reply. We’ve been rushed off our feet here at BOLLCKS. You know the expression “The Devil makes work for idle hands”? Well, my hands were already quite occupied, and what’s more the Devil has nothing on The Buffoon. But it comes with the territory I suppose. …

Art by Blaine A. White

If you are at all interested in politics or social causes you’ll inevitably find yourself drafted or volunteering for the culture war. You might be surprised to learn that the idea isn’t a new one and dates back as far as 1871. coming from the Kulturkampf ( lit. “culture struggle”) between the Catholics and Protestants of Imperial Germany. It will not surprise you to learn that it is exhausting, unwinnable and essentially, meaningless.

The first thing to say is that condemning the culture war doesn’t mean you aren’t engaging with it. Trust me, I understand the desire to point out…

In a quest to escape the reality of 2020 and recapture my youth, I’ve set myself the goal of reading all 41 Discworld novels in one year. Join me on this voyage of discovery which definitely isn’t a complete waste of time. Mild spoilers, probably.

Art bu Josh Kirby

Jingo is another entry in the Watch Cycle of Discworld novels. This time around a mysterious island has risen from the Circle Sea creating tensions between the surrounding nations of Ankh-Morpork and Klatch. Add to that the assassination of a Klatchian prince during a diplomatic visit to The Big Wahoonie and Commander Sam Vimes, Captain Carrot, Angua, Nobby, Colon et al, find themselves trying to keep the peace while being joining a war.

It’s good. The Watch cycle as a whole is coming out as the strongest element of the entire series. But before I get to whatever highfalutin subject…

In a quest to escape the reality of 2020 and recapture my youth, I’ve set myself the goal of reading all 41 Discworld novels in one year. Join me on this voyage of discovery which definitely isn’t a complete waste of time. Mild spoilers, probably.

Art by Josh Kirby

So far as I know, Hogfather is the closest anyone has gotten to fictionalising the laughable War on Christmas.

The Assassin’s Guild is given a contract on “The Fat Man” aka The Hogfather aka the Discworld equivalent of Father Christmas. Death steps into the role for one Hogswatch night to give his granddaughter, Susan Sto Helit, a chance to reluctantly save the day. It’s the Ur-Pratchett plot, his metaphysical mono-myth — what we believe in, or in this case, don’t believe in, can save or doom the world.

It’s not exactly original, but neither is doing a Christmas themed story…

Rik Worth

Journalist, author, comics writer and rambler. I like odd things. Comic found here www.hocuspocuscomic.com/ — Support my writing here https://ko-fi.com/rikworth

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