Over-use hyphens

Susie squinted un-easily into the sun-set. She had a feeling that some-where out there, Lorenzo was coming for her.
‘God-damn you,’ she murmured to her-self. Almost un-consciously, her hand drifted to her gun-belt and rested there, wait-ing. It had been nearly four-teen years now. May-be four-teen-and-a-half. Hadn’t she earned her-self some res-pite? How long could a man be drive-n by that kind of hat-red? How long be-fore it bur-ned a-way, leaving only ash-es be-hind? There was no-thing - ab-sol-ute-ly no-thing - she would-n't do to be able to a-band-on her past and be-gin a-fresh some-where el-se.
‘F---,’ s-he mut-te-red.

Continue to sell books from a box in your garage

Dear readers,

Okay, that’s it for the book extracts – I still have some copies left, so drop me an email at writebadlywell@gmail.com if you’re interested.

All the best,

Rely on your back catalogue #9

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)

Empty Glass
A New Approach to Self-Help


Hello. My name is Dr Naïan Fedler. You don’t know me yet, but over the next two hundred and thirty-nine pages, you and I are going to go on a journey together. Along the way, we’ll encounter many obstacles. Together, we’re going to overcome those obstacles and end our journey exactly where we began, but wiser and with cold air in our lungs.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because what I’ve just described isn’t just the way this book works; it’s the way life works for each and every one of us. The story I’ve just outlined is one that you’re bound to recognise because it’s the very story you’re living right now – the story in which you are the main character. Also, I mentioned something similar in the introduction to my last book, Think Yourself Lucky, so you might remember it from there.

When you set out on the journey of life, you don’t know what to expect. Partly this is because you’re very young at the time, but partly it’s because life is unpredictable. In fact, I’d go one step further and say that life isn’t just unpredictable: it’s random. That’s a very hard word to fully understand, but it’s one that we’ll keep coming back to again and again in the course of this book. When you say the word “random”, a lot of people think of something like a game of dice or a lottery, but the truth is that the world we live in is far more complicated than we can possibly understand. Imagine a lottery where, instead of choosing numbers, you have to draw a doodle on a piece of paper and if your doodle matches precisely, millimetre for millimetre, the winning one, you get a prize that could be anything from eternal life to instant death. Except that you never get to see the winning doodle, or find out if you’ve won, until it’s far, far too late. And the rules change with every passing second. And no one’s quite sure if they’re actually playing or not. Or whether the game even exists.

If this sounds daunting, that’s because it is. The universe is infinitely complex and you can never hope to understand any part of it, let alone change any aspect of it in any meaningful way. Understanding this is the key to my approach, and the subject of this book’s first chapter, You Are Nothing.

In order to form a sense of self-worth, you must first recognise that there is not really, in any appreciable sense, such a thing as “self”. Far from being an autonomous and self-aware agent of physical action, you are little more than a ragged bundle of chemicals lost in the infinite chaos of an unintelligible universe. Seen from a perspective of unbiased objectivity, you are no more significant than the chair in which you are sitting, the air you breathe or the rotting orange peel you throw in your compost bin. In fact, one day you will become compost right along with that orange peel – your physical body will decay and become indistinguishable from the mulch under your feet. This is the subject of chapter two, You Are Dying.

In my professional capacity as a counsellor, a lot of people come to me looking for guidance. Often it’s because they feel lost, because they feel scared or because they’re worried that they lack direction in life. Over the years, I’ve thought about these problems and come up with a few answers. In a very simplified form, they go like this:
  1. You are lost.
  2. You should be scared.
  3. There is no “direction” you can have other than the slow, inevitable march towards death and, thereafter, oblivion.

Sometimes, people are resistant to my approach. They say, “Naïan, surely there must be some kind of purpose to life? Or if not a purpose, then at least a way for me to stay afloat in this vast, bewildering sea of meaninglessness? Or, if nothing else, a way for me to get out of paying for this session?” But to them I say, “You, my friend,” (this is merely a turn of phrase – I am fully aware that the people I counsel are clients rather than friends and I would never transgress the boundaries of that professional relationship for both clinical and legal reasons) “are like a clumsy Egyptian boatman.” I then leave a gap of precisely two seconds before revealing the punchline: “You’re in denial!” This little joke helps to relieve the tension, but also serves to illustrate a valid psychological point. To deny the fundamental lack of meaning at the heart of all things is to deny a universal truth, and anyone trying to lead their life with that kind of contradiction in the back of their mind is going to end up, like our maladroit African friend, in some pretty deep water.

Some people try to solve the problem of meaninglessness by relying on the idea of a higher power. For some it’s a god or gods, for some it’s a commitment to furthering human understanding, for some it’s a devotion to altruistic works. Whatever form this delusion takes, my diagnosis is the same. I call these people “head-in-the-sand-birds” (the term “ostriches”, which I used in my previous books, has since been registered as a trademark by Dr Fenton McWheely, the author of How Not To Grieve). By denying the pointlessness of every aspect of existence, these people are setting up a destructive dichotomy, or destrotomy, at the centre of their spiritual lives. If they came to me for advice, I would tell them this: it is only by accepting the fundamental emptiness of all things that you can learn to give your life the value it deserves, which is none. We’ll discuss this in greater depth in chapter seven, Nothing To Live For.

As you read this book, you will come across ideas that challenge you and exercises you may find difficult. My approach to self-help is, I will be the first to admit, radically different from anything that has come before, but this is what makes it so powerful. Whether you’ve picked up this book as a result of bereavement, unemployment, marital breakdown or simply a lingering sense of dissatisfaction with life, I guarantee that by the time you finish reading it, you’ll be seeing things in a whole new way. Next to the dark emptiness of a soulless and chaotic world, your problems will simply fall away into the background. When you and I reach the end of our journey together and turn the last page of chapter thirteen, Nothing Means Anything, So Don’t Worry, I promise you that you’ll be a new person: a clear-sighted, rational and, above all, fundamentally empty person.

Thanks for reading.

Rely on your back catalogue #8

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)

- Lunch Menu -
Hellenic Mussels Braised in Vintage Burgundy
A delicate, piquant, confusing dish, evocative in equal parts of Mediterranean hubris and earthy, unfulfilling intercourse. Not suitable for vegans or recovering alcoholics.
Symmetrical Loins of Highland Quail Served on a Bed of Virgin Spinach and Celeriac Hearts
Our chef’s exacting standards for this dish demand that we source only the finest cuts of quail from a small farm high in the Hebridean hills, where the verdant fields of swaying heather lend a unique fragrance to the proprietor’s firm and matronly breasts.
Non-Sequential Unmarked Fillets of Manatee Presented Somewhat Obsequiously, as if to Atone for Some Previous Unspecified Misdeed
The subtle flavour of manatee is perfectly complemented by the unmistakable zesty overtones of human faeces in this remarkable and altogether unnecessary dish. The characteristic avuncular aroma is due to the inclusion of nine varieties of unidentifiable cheese at the basting stage. This dish has been variously described as “holothurian”, “pancreatic” and “fish”.
Your Pride
In this unique and challenging dish, our Michelin listed chef will come to your table and present you with a mobile telephone, whereupon you will be expected to contact, in chronological order, every single person you have ever met and apologise to each of them in turn for your many failings as a human being. This will include, but will not be limited to: your arrogance, your selfishness, your pretension, your tendency to be an inconsiderate lover, your poor personal hygiene and your staggering, chronic insincerity. This will be followed by coffee and a selection of Baltic cheeses.

Rely on your back catalogue #7

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)


Any baggage left unattended will be removed
and destroyed, no matter how unlikely it is that
fanatical terrorists waging a holy war against
Western civilisation would conceal an explosive
device in a bright pink Miffy rucksack.

Rely on your back catalogue #6

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)

From: opportunity
To: temp-032@alton-associates.co.uk
Subject: 1,800,000 USD For You

Dear Friend,

I know this might seem a bit unlikely, but I’m a Nigerian Prince in need of your help.

You see, I’ve got approximately $1,800,000 in the form of oil company shares, but it’s all tied up in this quite complicated arrangement to do with inheritances and military coups; I won’t bore you with the details. To cut to the chase, I need you to help me get this money out of the country.

I know you must be wondering why I approached you. After all, you have no formal connection with the Nigerian government and precious little experience of international money laundering. Surely, you ask yourself, I could have used my political contacts to find a more suitable business partner – a diplomat, perhaps, or the CEO of a multinational company. However, I can assure you that, of all the options open to me, picking an email address at random from a softcore pornography website’s mailing list did genuinely present itself as the most logical course of action in this delicate situation.

I know this might seem like an uncertain incentive, but in return for your help in this matter, I can promise you by way of reward all the money that this sum will accrue in the form of interest during the time it will take to complete the transfer. I don’t know how your high-street bank’s graduate account deals with things like international banker’s drafts for almost two million dollars, but I imagine you’ll probably make about $50,000 from the transaction.

Here’s where it gets a bit embarrassing. You see, there are certain technicalities with a transaction of this size which must be taken into account. The paperwork involved is frankly bewildering and I’m sure you don’t want to know all the ins and outs of it. Suffice it to say, I’m going to need you to send me $300 just to ‘get the ball rolling’, so to speak. This is to cover admin costs, postage etc. and is no cause at all for suspicion.

I appreciate that you might be sceptical. After all, if I’m a Nigerian Prince with almost two million dollars at my disposal, why can’t I afford $300 for admin costs? Believe me, I’m as confused as you are to find myself in this odd and, let’s be honest, highly unlikely situation. However, this is where I find myself, the rightful heir to the throne of a large and relatively prosperous African nation – sending emails to strangers asking for small amounts of money in order to buy stamps and padded envelopes. In your position, I would no doubt be sceptical as well.

All I would ask you to do is to place yourself in my shoes for a second and consider what constitutes the right course of action. All I’m asking is that you give a few moments of your time to help a fellow human being in need and consequently make $50,000 tax free. Is that really too much to ask? If you decide that you cannot help me, I will regretfully bid you farewell and move onto the next email address on my list – I feel certain that there is someone on the wildwetwhores.com mailing list who can help me. What I will say, though, is that this kind of arrangement can be reciprocal. So, when you next find yourself with $1,800,000 you need to get out of the country, I hope you won’t hesitate to contact me for help.

All the best,

A Nigerian Prince.

Rely on your back catalogue #5

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)

Teddy’s SMS Loans
From £5  to  £100,000

Looking for a low-cost loan but too busy getting into all that debt to pick up the phone? No worries! Teddy’s SMS Loans are the solution!

Great! How does it work?
Simply text your name, the amount you wish to borrow, the names of all the most important people in your life and your bank account details to 82666. We’ll do the rest. 

That seems a little too easy…
It is! Our expert team of computer ‘experts’ are able to find out any information we need to know about you from your bank account details. If banks have already run complicated, lengthy checks, there’s no need for us to bother! You’ll have the money in your account the next working day!

Why do you need to know how many loved ones I have?
To determine how much money we can lend you. SMS Loans isn’t one of those scary finance companies that takes away people’s cars or houses. You don’t need a car or a house to get a loan with us. You don’t even need a job or a regular income. If for some reason you can’t keep up your payments, one of our ‘guys’ will pay a visit to one of your loved ones and see if we can’t find a solution. If the problem persists, we’ll visit the next one on your list and so on and so on. The more loved ones, the more money you can borrow. Simple.

Don’t I need to sign something?
What is this, the dark ages? Signatures are a thing of the past. These days, entering into a life-changing legal agreement is as easy as coughing at an auction. By texting your loan request to 82666, you automatically duck most of the red tape the government puts in the way of loan requests. Just see the “send” button as the dotted line and your thumb as all the legal advice you’ll ever need.

And you’ve got great interest rates, right?
Of course we have. We love our interest rates. Don’t you think if we were going to rip you off we’d have made our logo a picture of Hitler or something? You’re busy – you haven’t got time to go and check all this stuff out, so just pick up your phone right now and Trust the Teddy!

For full terms and conditions go to www.teddyssmsloans.com/theboringbits We experience a high volume of traffic through our website and this page may take between 3 and 8 hours to load. Remember, when looking for a loan, time is of the essence. What if they all go? Don’t miss out. Trust the Teddy!

Rely on your back catalogue #4

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)


05:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
05:30 Dougie, Howard & Beth
06:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
06:30 Don’t Go There
07:00 Upside Town
07:30 Dougie, Howard & Beth
08:00 Five Kids And A Dog Called Jack
08:30 Five Kids And A Dog Called Jack
09:00 Capital Punishment
09:30 Capital Punishment
10:00 Rodeo Dad
10:30 Dougie, Howard & Beth
11:00 Rodeo Dad
11:30 Don’t Go There
12:00 Rodeo Dad
12:30 Upside Town
13:00 Four Kids And A Dog Called Jack
13:30 Don’t Go There
14:00 Don’t Go There
14:30 Don’t Go There
15:00 Don’t Go There
15:30 Don’t Go There
16:00 Don’t Go There
16:30 Don’t Go There
17:00 Capital Punishment
17:30 Don’t Go There
18:00 Don’t Go There
18:30 Don’t Go There

19:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
All hell breaks loose when Beth finds a family of immigrants living in her garage and Dougie gets a new job at the Homeland Security Department.
(R) (S) 3073-5466-112
19:30 Capital Punishment
There’s a new face on death row when Frank’s lawyer lets him down. Unfortunately, as love-struck Jimmy is about to find out, Frank isn’t the only one who’s lost his appeal.
(R) (S) 8492-6066-320
20:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
Howard is having trouble adjusting to his new gender, while Beth and Dougie have been misdiagnosed with each other’s cancers after a mix-up at the hospital.
(R) (S) 0065-9811-002
20:30 Don’t Go There
In an act of cruel and premeditated brutality, Latisha forces Chantelle to “talk to the hand”. There’s also a tedious subplot involving  a lost cat.
(R) (S) 5444-9007-656
21:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
The gang are caught up in a tense hostage situation and for some reason, Dougie is suffering from uncontrollable flatulence. The whole things smacks of lazy writing.
(R) (S) 2047-6340-812
21:30 Rodeo Dad
After 136 episodes, Mikey has finally begun to suspect that his father is in fact a professional rodeo clown in this unfunny and ill-thought-through sitcom.
(R) (S) 2210-8654-000
22:00 Don’t Go There
Oh God, this one again. Well, the plot is pretty much the same every time, so my summary becomes superfluous if you’ve ever had the misfortune to see an episode.
(R) (S) 2020-5478-941
22:30 Upside Town
I mean, have you actually watched these things? Have you ever actually sat down and watched them? Week after week, episode after episode. It’s just relentless.
(R) (S) 8005-7403-997
23:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
A misunderstanding takes place. One character is hilariously camp and makes innuendos. Someone repeats someone else but changes the word order slightly. There must be more to life than this.
(R) (S) 1111-4723-067
23:30 Capital Punishment
I mean, what’s it all for? What’s it actually for, this stuff? What is it supposed to do? I can’t remember the last time I laughed. I mean, a real, honest belly-laugh that makes you feel that everything might just be alright after all. What happened to them? I’m sure I used to laugh.
(R) (S) 6300-8726-771
00:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
Is it only me, or does everyone feel like this? When did we stop laughing? When did “comedy” become a genre instead of a device and lose all its power? These things aren’t comedy. They aren’t funny. They don’t make life better.
(R) (S) 1010-7465-333
00:30 Rodeo Dad
Mikey spooks the horses whilst rehearsing for the big talent show. Steve loses his hat. Miranda discovers she is pregnant. But who’s the father?
(R) (S) 8349-0766-150
01:00 Don’t Go There
01:30 Three Kids And A Dog Called Jack
02:00 Capital Punishment
02:30 Two Kids And A Dog Called Jack
03:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
03:30 Don’t Go There
04:00 Dougie, Howard & Beth
04:30 Two Kids And The Tattered Remains Of A Collar

Rely on your back catalogue #3

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)

From: Hi There!

To: temp-032@alton-associates.co.uk
Subject: Genuine Real Girls

There in our chat centers real life girls waiting for you. They are so blonde and lonely they need you see them NOW! Click on!


They do any thing you ask them they are lonely and need you. See them NOW do any thing you want them too. These are real girls IN YOUR AREA!


On the webcam they will do what you say! You can ask them smile and they smile or play scrabble and they do that to.


All girls REAL GIRLS can play instrument. VIOLIN! OBOE! CLAVICHORD! They play for you now! They can listen to LONG ANECDOTES about work in YOUR office and make HOT STEAMY TEA! They agree with you HOUSE PRICE opinion! They laugh JOKES you make! HAHAHAHAHA with head tilting ACTION!


GENUINE REAL GIRLS so lonely need you. You MAKE THEM feel wanted. They STOP CRYING. You STOP CRYING. There is happiness. CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK!


Rely on your back catalogue #2

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)


  • When you hear the alarm, calmly make your way to the nearest exit.
  • If the nearest exit is on fire, consult the emergency floor-plan for an alternative escape route.
  • If the emergency floor-plan is on fire, report to your building’s safety officer.
  • In the event that your building’s safety officer is also on fire, dial 999 on the nearest phone and ask for the fire brigade.
  • It is entirely possible that the nearest phone is, like everything else in the office, on fire. If this is the case, use your mobile – 999 calls are free on all networks, so you won’t even have to fill in an expenses claim form.
  • If your mobile phone is on fire, you’re starting to run out of options. You could try shouting for help out of a window.
  • By this point, you’re probably on fire yourself. Your situation now is beyond the remit of this poster. Good luck.

Rely on your back catalogue #1

(if this doesn’t make sense to you, see the previous post)

Optimo HairFlow Tea Tree, Jojoba and Hake Shampoo is infused with a subtle blend of fragrances designed to invigorate, enliven and inspire. After just three weeks using it twice a day, you’ll be feeling so much extra confidence that your life will improve immeasurably in every way. You will find discarded money in gutters. You will win competitions you didn’t even enter. You will almost certainly get a promotion at work. Using Optimo Hairflow Shampoo will actually be earning you money, which makes that extra 60p a bottle over the supermarket’s own-brand shampoo seem more than worthwhile. In fact, it might be wise to invest your newfound wealth in buying more Optimo HairFlow Shampoo. This will give you a further boost of self-worth, spurring you on to even greater heights and allowing you to purchase yet more Optima products. Ultimately, this process will result in you having dominion over all the peoples of the earth and issuing commands from the highest minaret of your solid gold palace, where you bathe all day in a vast Olympic-sized swimming pool of shampoo, looking down on the lowly masses beneath you and laughing and laughing and laughing.

For best results, use with Optimo HairFlow Conditioner. Avoid contact with eyes, teeth and lawyers.

Sell books from a box in your garage

Dear readers,

We’ll come back to the random plot generators another time – for now, I’ve got an Exciting Opportunity for you, so Don’t Miss Out!

A few years ago, Luke Wright and I wrote a book called Who Writes This Crap? which consisted of spoofs and pastiches of everyday writing – small print, junk mail, newspapers and so on. It was pretty funny.

Through the magic of discontinued print runs, I’ve just come into possession of about 50 copies of the paperback edition and I’d like you guys to have them. They’re £6 each, or $12 for USAians (because, you know, postage). If you’re from somewhere else, they’re whatever $12 is in your currency. Drop me an email at writebadlywell@gmail.com if you want one and we can do a PayPal thing.

To try and tempt you, I’m going to post a few extracts from the book over the next few days. The actual print versions are all beautifully formatted to look like the things they’re parodying, but even without that, some of the jokes should still stand.

All the best,