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Saturday, 20 December 2008

All Ears 20th December

(thanks to Anthea for Geology based pun inspiration!)

Article by Michael Holden

Crossing the country again on another train I leant back my head and tried to imagine I was going somewhere new when I fell into earshot of the people behind me who seemed to be newly acquainted by occupation and in the process of discovering what else they might have in common.

Woman: “I was doing geology…”

Man: (interrupting, comically forceful) “Don’t talk to me!”

Woman: (laughing) “I know, one day you’re doing geology and the next thing you’re a physicist!”

Man: “So, you must have done the old ritual drink up when you were there?”

Woman (rueful, experienced): “It’s the second day that gets you…but I’ve had some good times on that pub crawl. You can get away without spending anything.”

Man: (conceding that not paying for drinks can make drinking seem more worthwhile): “Tell me about it! Pure carnage. But it was more geology the geophysics in the end. I was quite surprised.”

Woman: “Where did you end up?”

Man: “Outside Dublin, in a caravan.”

Woman: “You did well, we never went anywhere that far.”

Man: “Does the company fund trips?”

Woman: “ You’ve just missed out actually, we just did the Jurassic coast. At the other company we just used to stay in a hostel, but with the new one…well it wasn’t exactly luxury, but it’s posh, you had your own bathroom. Stuff like that doesn’t worry you at college but once you’re working you think, hang on, I wouldn’t mind my own bathroom. So, that was good.”

Man: “What were the people like?”

Woman: “A good mixture, Geo physics has a bigger spectrum of people than geology.”

Man: (as though affirming one of the great unassailable truths of existence) “Absolutely. Every time.”

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Guardian All Ears 13th December

(article by Michael Holden)

I was queuing to buy a ticket at a railway station for some time when a man appeared and apologised for the extended delay and said that it was due to a systems failure.
Typically, no one in the line confronted him about what that might mean, but as soon as he had gone everyone starting whining about it, especially the two restless business types behind me.
Man 1 “Unbelievable!”
Man 2 “Computers though, innit? We’re at their mercy.”
Man 1 “My old man just got one.”
Man 2 “How old is he?”
Man 1 “He’s 80.”
Man 2 “What’s he want with a computer?”
Man 1 “I hate to think. Whatever he wants it for it’s my problem now. I showed him the basics, he acted like he understood. But he knows literally nothing: windows, update, delete, it’s all brand new.”
Man 2 “Well it can wind you up the best of times, the old IT.”
Man 1 “As soon as he told me he’d got one I knew it would be a nightmare, but what can you do?”
Man 2 “Say you don’t know nothing about ’em!”
Man 1 (aghast) “Whoa, no, you can’t do that! Someone’s taught you how to walk and talk and wiped your arse, you can’t turn round and act like you can’t help ’em figure something out.”
Man 2 “Yeah, but still, come on. It’s not your problem is it?”
Man 1 “Of course it is!”
Man 2 “What, so if your old man bought… a hovercraft…”
Man 1 “I’d be straight round.”
The other man looked at him hard, as if his theoretical availability in a potential hovercraft/father scenario had made him see him in a new light •

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Guardian All Ears 6th December

Don't ask me about the Dalek, I just like them OK?

(Article by Michael Holden)

I left a party, to have a smoke with the assembled lung worriers outside just as one of them was loudly lamenting the mixed blessings of his newfound single status.

Man 1 (holding a beer bottle in much the same as way aggressive preachers deploy their bible) “I had no youth, right? If you think about it I totally missed the whole freedom thing. I was with her for ten years. So this is all new to me. I’m like, what the fuck are you gonna do?”

Man 2 “Well what are you gonna do? You’ve got your own place, just go nuts, really go for it. I would.”

Man 1 (forlorn) “It’s not that clean cut though is it? I just don’t know what to do. You talk to women and then what happens?”

Man 2 “If they like you they sleep with you and if they don’t they won’t. It’s the same as before”

Man 1 “The guy I share the flat with, he’s really handsome, a ridiculous looking bloke, like an advert or something. He’s got these women coming all the time.”

Man 2 “Well you can clean up in his slipstream then. Is he thick?”

Man 1 (sensing a plan) “Yeah, he’s pretty stupid. I think, yeah.”

Man 2 “Well they’ll get tired of him and then you move in, acting clever.”

Man 1 (annoyed at the lack of a more realistic proposal) “There’s more to it though, he doesn’t flush the toilet. And these girls, I know they’re gonna think it’s me.”

Man 2 “Why.”

Man 1 “Because I look like the kind of person who might do that- he looks like he wouldn’t even go in there.”

Man 2 “Well, you’re gonna have to have a word with him.”

Man 1 (face falling as though visualising the issue a little too clearly) “Yeah…I am.”

Thursday, 4 December 2008


Seem to have developed the complexion of a 15 year old overnight which is faintly distressing - must be too much good living or similar

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Bang! Crash! Bah!

Portrait of the artist mid crash-tantrum! Horrible sense of déja vu while one redraws everything from the last half hour...grrr

Saturday, 29 November 2008

All Ears 29th November

(Article by Michael Holden)

It was a scene of quintessentially British misery-a train delayed for no explicable reason in the driving rain. As I stared at the seat in front of me trying not to consider what proportion of my life had been spent under such circumstances I became aware of what the women sat across from me were saying.

Woman 1 (as though finally admitting something of great magnitude) “It was my niece that made me think about the wedding ring. She asked me if I still had it and I realised I had kept it-I don’t know why I had.”

Woman 2 “We don’t know why we do things sometimes do we? We’re a mystery to ourselves.”

Woman 1 “It was a few weeks before I dug it out. Wimbledon was on the telly, I remember that much. I tried it on, it still fitted. Then I saw a shop that said “We Buy Gold” so I took it in. they weighted it up in this sort of alchemist’s balance, she said it was worth £26 to them. Well, I thought, it’s better that than nothing. So I took it.”

Woman 2 “Good for you.”

Woman 1 “I looked in the window as I left and there were others there, 18 carat, just like mine, for £200. I thought, ‘is that what they do?”

Woman 2 “I suppose it must be.”

Woman 1 “Anyway, it’s gone.”

Woman 2 “That’s the main thing.”

Woman 1 “They had some others too, platinum and white gold…”

Woman 2 “Platinum’s lovely.”

Woman 1 “Not to me it isn’t. I come up in a rash.”

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Guardian All Ears 22nd November

If I were to renounce the world of illustration & go into catering I'd like to think my emporium would be called Kebabylon - definitely with an interior like 'The Stone Cave' in Dalston

(article by Michael Holden)

I live nearby a kebab shop of such repute that people actually go there and eat at tables on purpose when sober. In was waiting for a takeaway when a man limped in and joined another at a table.

Man 1 “What happened to you?”

Man 2 (slightly ashamed) “I tripped over the cat as I was coming out. Fell down the stairs.”

Man 1 “You alright.”

Man 2 “I will be in a bit. Done some painkillers.”

Man 1 “Similar thing happened to me. Went to my sister’s the other day and they’ve painted all the doors the same colour, so I end up going to the wrong flat. I’ve realised and jumped down the stairs to go next door but before I hit the ground I see this-thing-come into my vision moving the other way. And I realise I’m gonna land on it.”

Man 2 “What?”

Man 1 “A rat. “

Man 2 “What did you do?”

Man 1 “Well, I’m mid-air, so there’s not much I can do. I try and take my weight off the foot, but I hit it anyway. You should have heard it. Horrible sound. I don’t like rats at the best of times, so I’ve screamed too.”

Man 2 “Did you burst it?”

Man 1 “No, it wasn’t that bad. It ran off, but I was scared so I ran too. For a while we were both running in the same direction, side by side. It was mental. It peeled off in the end. But, I tell you, I can hear it screaming still.”

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Guardian All Ears 15th November

Got slightly carried away with computer geek magazine detail - predicting the new feline themed Mac OS X version - remember I got there first!

(article by Micheal Holden)

I spend enough time in my local library to know by sight the others who do the same and I recognize and respect the hierarchy that exists there, especially among those who have nowhere else to go. Their leader is a bald man, in his sixties perhaps, who can read a single newspaper for up to eight hours. He seldom speaks, except to remonstrate with those who break his self-inflicted protocols of behaviour. The other day though he began almost flirting with woman half his age who was reading a computer magazine at his table.

Man (realizing they were both staring at the rain) “Time to go somewhere else perhaps. Like Morocco.”

Woman (smiling) “Yes”

Man (showing her the weather reports in his paper) “It’s warmer there, see.”

Woman (still smiling) “Yes.”

Man (pointing out a news story) “Did you see this? A pensioner 86, I think, confronted these two robbers. They probably went into shock, people don’t expect it, I mean once you're that age they pretty much write you off, nobody expects anything from you.”

The woman nodded, but her smile seemed more laboured.

Man (pointing at the story again) “Look I was right! They fled in shock, and there were about 50 people standing there doing nothing, the usual story.”

Man (noticing an advert on the same page) “Are you planning on visiting the Byzantine exhibition at the Royal Academy?”

Woman (unnecessarily firm) “No. I’m not interested.”

Man (unphased) “Well, I guess, these are things from the beginning of history, you're young. There would be no point in you going anyway.”

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Guardian All Ears 8th November

I love a bit of 'motivational speak' - I wonder if I'll ever make employee of the month?

(Article by Michael Holden)

I was in an especially busy city centre branch of a multinational burger chain trying to soothe my brain with saturated fats and staring out the window when I heard a repetitive cry, rising above the background of everyday bedlam.

Man’s Voice: (deep, enquiring, monotone, suggesting neural meltdown) “Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello?”

When it didn’t stop I turned round to check what was happening and was surprised to see the sound came from the franchise manager, a small man who leaped up behind his staff like a fat salmon in an attempt to take an order from the crowd of punters who seemed far too alarmed by the noise he was making to take up his offer of assistance.

Manager: (seeing that his team were coping with the mayhem and resorting to a deranged medley of motivational phrases at unbearable volume) “That’s it! That’s It! That’s It! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s Go! Now! Now! Now! Now!”

There are few situations in life where someone screaming the word “Now!” makes things any better so it was a relief when he developed a new refrain.

Manager: “Push the button! Push the button! Push the button!”

I watched the staff, the button was clearly metaphorical, but it worked. People got fed.

Manager: (wild, victorious, still yelling) “I told you I was in Beiing! We can do this! Motivation! Now!”

When the crowd departed so did he, he had tears in his eyes, or maybe congealed fat, I couldn’t say.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Guardian All Ears 1st November

I figured the Guardian audience might pick up on the Hogarth steals in the background (see article) while the ironic metal t-shirt is just a personal obsession at the moment - as are alarmingly low slung jeans on men who are 'old enough to know better'

(I realise I probably fit into that demographic but my trouserage is generally less ill informed)

(Article by Micheal Holden)
Queuing for an art exhibition I was distracted from the disparity between my expectations of what I was waiting to see and the tedium of the wait itself by the men behind me whose conversation seemed calculated to impress what they must have assumed was a learned audience.

Man 1 “You could go and see an original Hogarth, but I mean really, what are you looking at, it’s a print. The guy was an engraver.”

Man 2 “He couldn’t trust his printers apparently.”

Man 1 (anxious to display affinity with another subject) “Hmm…did you hear about the recent research on pharmaceutical copyrights? They told half the sample matrix they were taking branded American drugs and the other half they were using third world copies. Everyone reported better results with the American one, but of course, they were all placebos!”

Man 2 (not to be outdone) “What about Formula One? They say they’re cutting down on their emissions, but, think about it, they actually (+I)fly(-I) cars around the world!”

Man 1 (looking at sign on the gallery wall) “How many memberships do you think they need to sell to break even?”

Man 2 (looking at the queue) “I’m surprise they don’t have automatic barriers here”

Man 1 (all knowing) “Well they can create more problems than they solve.”

Man 2 (annoyed that he had lost his friend’s full attention) “What are you doing?”

Man 1 “Sending a text to Zoe. I’m being self deprecating. How do you spell zeitgeist?”

Man 2 (theatrically appalled) “I’d have thought (+I)you((-I) of all people would have known (+I)that(-I).

Credit crunch...

My nonsensical take on all recent things financial inspired by trying to avoid finishing some other work & haphazardly answering a friend's brief for a book cover (she has sensibly ignored my 'advice')

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Guardian All Ears 25th October

I know, I know, racial stereotypes are soooo easy but sometimes they're begging to be used! Wonder if I could get a Matalan tattoo somewhere - classy! (apologies for any mangling of French language involved in above illo)

(Article by Micheal Holden)

I was standing a queue for a cash machine-the only around that doesn’t charge a fee for its services-when the man behind me was joined by a friend who must have gone for a wander about to kill time.

Man 1 “You won’t believe what I’ve just seen.”

Man 2 “What?”

Man 1 “There’s a bloke up there, in the market, with the Pizza Express logo tattooed on his arm!”

Man 2 “Really?”

Man 1 “That’s what it looked like, I had a pretty good look at it.”

Man 2 “You see these things on the internet, sponsored tattoos.”

Man 1 “Mugs. You wouldn’t see something like that in France, they’ve got too much self respect.”

Man 2 “I was there last week.”

Man 1 “Any corporate tattoos?”

Man 2 “No. Mind you it was cold. They are nuts though, in their own way. I was in a supermarket, at the checkout and this bloke got angry because I hadn’t moved put the little ledge-the one that says ‘next customer’ at the end of my shopping.

Man 1 “How angry?”

Man 2 “He had a mutter and then sort of snatched at the sign and slammed it down. My mate who I stayed with says it’s a big thing over there, a proper insult if you don’t do it. And yet when there’s any real trouble on the cards…bosh, they’re gone.”

Man 1 “Like I said, too much self respect.”

Man 2 “Too much for their own good.”

Man 1 “But you have to respect them for that.”

Man 2 (visibly baffled but playing along) “Yeah, yeah. I do, I do.”

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Slightly hefty emo kids rule! (for Sean)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Superheroes gone bad...

The queen of the Amazons hits Lidl...

Superheroes gone bad...

The good captain getting some good ol' republican 'inspiration'

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Guardian All Ears 18th October

The Kirk Douglas picture is very small - but hopefully well formed! Couldn't resist the can of 'Wifebeater' or the circle of shame!

On a train just pulling out of the station I watched as a couple with a young kid collapsed into the seats across from me. Their joy at having made it was amplified by their amazement at finding seats together across a table and while the mum opened a magazine the father celebrated with a bottle of lager.

Child: “What’s that?”

Man: “It’s for me to drink?”

Child: “Is it a beer?”

Man: “That’s exactly what it is.”

The kid tired of its enquiries and stared out the window while the man looked up and down the carriage in admiration.

Man: (to no-one) “We should have these sorts of trains on our line. Ten carriages. Smart.”

As his family had lost interest in him he pulled out some kind of digital device and started prodding it.

Man: (craving a response) “I’m being stalked on Facebook.”

Woman: (giving in) “Who by?”

Man: (sounding worried) “I don’t know the name, no idea who it is-but-he’s using the picture of young Kirk Douglas, it’s quite disconcerting.”

He handed the phone over to the woman to inspect

Man: “He’s got one friend. You could make it up.”

Woman: “How do you know it’s a man?”

Man: “Well he’s using the picture of a young Kirk Douglas so I thought…”

The woman handed him the phone back and looked at him as if to say, “enough of this, you are an idiot.”

Child: “Who’s Kirk Douglas?”

Man: “A man on the Internet.”

Woman (decisive): “Never mind.”

Article by Micheal Holden

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Guardian All Ears 11th October

The cake Fonz...

I’ve been visiting the same bakery for over a decade and never in that time have I enjoyed anything more than straightforward transaction-based conversations with the staff, nor have I seen them talk much to anyone else except to remonstrate with the intoxicated and the clearly insane. I was horrified then to pop in the other day and find a bloke engaging in what might be described as light hearted repartee with the normally stoic staff.

Bakery Woman: (big grin on her face) “Small tea or a large?”

Man: (winking and smiling) “Large.”

Bakery Woman: (blushing with the innuendo) “I’d never have guessed!”

Man: (indicating cakes) “What are these?”

Bakery Woman: “Coconut and jam slice.”

Man: “What are they like?”

Bakery Woman: “Dunno, I never had one, they look nice though.”

Man: (gurning under the weight of his own wit) “Give me the (+I)biggest(-I) one.”

Bakery Woman: (turning purple, serving it up) Ooh…anything else?”

Man: “That’ll be it…for now.”

Bakery Woman: “Two pound seventy”

Man (winking again, offering money) “Make it three pounds.”

Bakery Woman: (melting) “Ta, see you soon babe.”

Man: (waving to everyone, even the queue) “See you soon.”

What kind of madman tips people in a bakery, I wondered, at the same time feeling rather cheap. The man left on what seemed to me to be a cloud of self-satisfaction and purchased familiarity. The next guy in line, evidently impressed, ordered exactly the same things. Christ, I thought, I’ve just met the cake-Fonz, and everyone loves him but me.

Article by Michael Holden

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Me being a TV pundit...

My moment of recent TV glory on a programme called 'When Were we Funniest?' reminiscing about directing Ivan Dobsky the Meatsafe Murderer for 'Monkeydust'
I wonder if there's anything such as an 'E-list' celebrity? Watch out Justin Lee Collins you c***!

Some new bits...

These were designed (& rejected) for an Orange pitch - should I switch to Vodaphone or is that just petty? Hmmm...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Guardian All Ears 4th October

As a kid I always thought the shops in Museums & other places of interest were the best bits - where you could buy dinosaur pencil cases or Tudor fudge etc. Anyway - didn't think this weeks copy was that great but I quite like the picture what I done...

I had gone to hear a lecture at a museum-quite a sedate affair you might think-but as I took my place in the auditorium I had no idea that an insane and wholly unnecessary micro-drama would soon be unfolding in front of me. It was only when one of the curators stepped up to the podium that the truth about the evening began to unfold.

Curator: (stern look on his face suggesting antiquities in peril) “After the talk there will be a ten minute comfort break, during which refreshments will not be available. But I must ask those of you here with children to keep them under control. Two children have already been found loose in the museum shop this evening, and that is unacceptable.”

There was a pause while people tried to gauge how serious he was.

Curator: (looking the entire room in the eye) “Theft is theft.”

Some people started laughing at this point.

Curator: (somewhere between pity and disdain) “You might think this is funny, but I can assure it isn’t. This isn’t funny. We have CCTV and if anything else happens then I can promise you that appropriate action will be taken.”

During the “comfort break” I made a point of seeking out the curator, who was being confronted by the accused kid’s father.

Dad: “Do you think this an appropriate way to react. Is this what’s in your training?”

Curator: “What about your training as a parent, what about that?”

The dad just stood there, open-mouthed while the curator stared at him with a look that suggested that he would stab anyone else who came near the shop to death with a souvenir pencil.

Article by Micheal Holden

Saturday, 27 September 2008

New animations in Fight Face by Sophie Woolley

Sample of animated projections I designed for Fight Face by Sophie Woolley & directed by Gemma Fairlie - it's running at the Lyric Hammersmith until October 4th - it's a great show

See Guardian review here...

Guardian All Ears 27th September

Monks, cheese, stupid little Paris Hilton dogs, generously proportioned women & '90s 'Gregorian chants 'n'beats' act Enigma - what more can one want?

There's nothing like a crisis for bringing folk together and the recent closure of the Channel Tunnel forced a collision of characters that saw me sharing a waiting room with some American travelers swapping stories about where they'd been.

Woman 1: "We went to a monastery-beautiful-you could sense the spirituality of the place."

Man 1: "It was tangible, like you could I actually feel it."

Woman 1: " I mean I haven't been to church since my mother passed but I, I don't know what but I went in and I lit a candle and I got down on my knees and I prayed."

There was much nodding at this, but greater revelations were to follow.

Woman 1: "But (+i)then(-i) the monks came into the chapel and started praying, it was like nothing you have ever heard…"

Man 2: "Gregorian?"

Man 1 "I'm not sure if they were strictly Gregorian but…"

Woman 1: "The most beautiful sound, I went up and said you have to have this on CD, but they had no idea. Other than this cheese they make they have no commercial sense whatever, they are on a completely spiritual plane, but I just had to have this music, this was such a special time for me

Woman 2: "Oh, completely. I mean I completely understand, without having been there…"

Woman 1: "We bought some of the cheese instead. You have to go there."

Woman 2: "How was the cheese?"

Woman 1: "Kind of dry, actually. We threw most of it away."

Article by Michael Holden

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Guardian All Ears 20th September

Aah! That's better - at least I got a correct credit this week - might even get a free sub...perhaps not! Bah!

I was eating lunch outside a sandwich shop when a woman walking passed and exchanged saccharine greetings with the woman opposite me who was working her way through a sandwich half the size of her head.

Woman 1: "Alright treacle?"

Woman 2 : "Alright Sugar?"

Woman 1: "That looks like quite a big lunch."

Woman 2: (proudly) "It is. I need it. I'm gonna have a drink tonight, drink some alcohol, a bit more than usual."

Woman 1: (somehow impressed) "That sounds like a plan!"

Woman 2 :"You better believe it."

Woman 1 "Where you goin', round here?"

Woman 2 "Yeah, round the corner."

Woman 1 "Happy hour?"

Woman 2 "More like happy ever after, you know what I mean?"

Woman 1 (not looking like she'd understood at all) "Yeah. "

Woman 2 "You should come."

Woman 1 "Who's going."

Woman 2 "Everyone from work and the office. It's a leaving do. That's how come I can get away with getting hammered."

Woman 1 "Who has a leaving do on a Monday?"

Woman 2" I dunno."

Woman 1 "You don't the person?"

Woman 2 "No I know the person but I don't know why they're leaving on a Monday."

Woman 1 "Why are they leaving?"

Woman 2 "They sacked her really, she is thick innit."

Woman 1 (as though the lowering of the intellectual stakes had made everything seem more appealing) "Maybe I will come. "

Woman 2 "Text me. "

Woman 1 "Nice."

Article by Michael Holden

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Guardian All Ears 13th September

Despite the blessed sub editors at the Grauniad crediting this to somebody else FOR THE SECOND WEEK RUNNING(!) I enjoyed the chance to draw bears, alcohol, facetious t-shirt slogans & very low slung trousers whilst simultaneously indicating my general disdain at camping in general...article follows...

One of the meagre perks of eavesdropping is that it can clue you in to worlds you might otherwise know nothing about. In this case modern festival culture, where it seems everyone gets a lift home from their parents. Years ago it would be several days before you could have faced (+I)anyone’s(-I) parents, especially your own. Still, listening to the man across from me on the train it was apparent that some aspects of generational division are alive and well.

Man 1 “My daughter went down to the Reading Festival, so I had to drive down there to pick her up.”

Man 2 “She had a good time?”

Man 1 “So she said.”

Man 2 “Did she have ‘bare alcohol?’”

Man1 “What’s ‘bear alcohol’?”

Man 2 “No, it’s ‘(+I)bare(-I) alcohol,’ it’s what they say instead of ‘a lot’.

Man 1 “I’d bought her a tent.”

Man 2 “Did she set it on fire? I hear that’s the thing to do these days, burn your tent.”

Man 1” No, well from what I gather she didn’t use it, she certainly didn’t bring it back with her.”

Man 2 Well they ask you to hand them in now, if you don’t want them. They recycle them, send them off to the Sudan, or one of those places.”

Man 1 “Well she said she didn’t use it. I suppose she must have stayed in someone else’s.”

Man 2 “Last time I went to one of those things someone kicked me out of a tent in the middle of the night, I was sure it was mine.”

Man 1 “Well, like I say, she must have stayed in someone else’s. She certainly made a lot of friends, she had three lads with her, I ended up giving them a lift too.”

Now are you being naïve or am I being cynical about what might have happened there, I wondered. I guess the truth, like her tent, is out there somewhere.

Article by Michael Holden

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Guardian All Ears 6th September

Bloody paper credited this to someone else this week - sandle wearing bastards!

Midsummer, midweek, mid-afternoon and bad weather proved no obstacles to the group of women with whom I shared a smoking area outside a pub on the edge of a park in Humberside. Their alfresco healthcare debate was evidently not a forum that could be curtailed by drizzle, commitments and ignorance, or any combination thereof.

Woman 1: (righteous, animated, slightly outraged) “She asked me to save her half of my cig, I said ‘I ain’t doing that, you’re on medication.’ She says, ‘Not anymore!’ I said well what were them tablets I see you taking?”

Woman 2: (anxious for an outcome, partly because she seemed desperate to say something judgemental) “So what did she say?”

Woman 1: “ She said, ‘don’t worry about those, them’s me medication ‘cos I am a nymphomaniac!’”

Women 2 & 3: (In unison) “No!”

Woman: 1 “I swear.”

Woman 2: “What’s she on about, nymphomania tablets?”

Woman 3: “She’ll be making all that up. You don’t wanna believe a word out of her. She wants truth drugs, never mind bloody sex pills.”

Woman 1 “Yeah but she had them tablets, those tablets that they give you when they’re not real tablets, what are they called?”

Woman 3 (definitely not joking) “Gazebos?”

Woman 1 “That’s them!”

Woman 2 “I don’t care what you call it, it’s just an excuse for being a slag.”

And having reached a verdict they crushed out their cigarettes beneath their feet and went back inside.

Article by Michael Holden

Monday, 1 September 2008

Guardian All Ears 30th August

Had a Japan based break last week so no illo in last week's Guardian - this one was quite apt due to my own fading jet-lag but I only really like the sinister pigeons in this one!

Eating a slice of pizza by a boating lake my attention was drawn from the flock of aggressive birds gathered about me in expectation of leftovers toward a man sitting behind me, persistently describing his jet lag on his mobile phone.

Man "Yeah, we just got in from Bali, this morning. Got upgraded... business class. Yeah, pretty decent sleep, but still...yeah. Well it's ten PM Bali time so...we might head home for a nap. But, yeah, see you Monday, thanks.

These days I strive not to make negative assumptions about people based on snatches of conversation, so I let this one go. Five minutes later though he said almost the same thing again to someone else, and then there was nothing I could do to stop myself.

Man "Yeah, well we've been in Bali, got in this morning. Swung an upgrade, to business class. Must have got about seven hours sleep, so, can't complain. Well it's what...ten past ten at night Bali time so...yeah, well, we're gonna try and stay awake."

Now I had to turn to look at him. He was like a malign remix of Nigel Havers. His wife just stared into the middle distance as he droned on.

Man " Well it's great that you're in London and we made it back in time to see you. If you wanna do something touristy then let us know, because we never get to do stuff like that. House of Commons? Absolutely, I think there's a tour...well it looks great from the outside...I'd like to turn it into apartments, no, better than that, a pub! A pub for me and my friends!"

I wondered what time it was in Bali.

Man "It's twenty past ten in Bali, so...yeah, absolutely. Let's speak tomorrow."

Article by Michael Holden

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Guardian All Ears 16th August

Also finished at breakneck speed prior to going to Japan - ha ha! I LOVE GOTHS THEY'RE ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

I was a shocked on a recent cinema visit to find that the process of buying a ticket had become totally automated and that there was no human being in the lobby who could tell you about anything other than the price of sweets. The queue for these refreshments was thus horrendous, but, thirsty as I was, I had to join up and wait. As I wrestled with the familiar sensation that everything that makes life bearable is being systematically destroyed, I noticed that the couple in front of me were talking about television.

Man “ Did you see Panorama, about how china are funding the Sudan? Brilliant! The trouble is China will never go on the record as saying anything.”

Woman “Well they just do things differently?”

Man “Yeah, but still…”

Woman “It’s just a different mind set, the Chinese mind set.”

Man “I suppose.”

Woman “ I took the boys to Camden, they absolutely loved it, Max bought a sort of a cap.”

Man “They’ll turn into little Goths.”

Woman “They were saying, ‘everyone here is crazy, if you dressed like this at home you’d get slated’. And it’s true”

Man “Do the kids take after you, you think?”

Woman “Well they are very open minded.”

Man “Meaning what?”

Woman “I mean I took them for an Ethiopian meal last night and they thought it was great ”

Man “I can’t stand that place.”

Woman “There you go then.”

Article by Michael Holden

Guardian All Ears 9th August

Finished at breakneck speed before heading off to Japan...

Sometimes when I travel by train I swear won’t subject myself to the conversations of strangers and instead listen to music through headphones designed to block out all ambient sound. But if I can still see people talking then eventually I have to know what they’re on about, and so it was that I found myself bound for the south coast turning down my music and tuning into the private drivel around me again.

Man: (holding an open book, but seldom reading from it) “I’ve had my bike stolen, in broad daylight, outside Waterstones.”

Woman: (setting aside a magazine) “I’ve left mine for three days at Euston, and it’s been fine.”

Man: “You were lucky.”

Woman (matter of factly) “There are about 500 bikes there.”

Man: “Maybe I was unlucky.”

Woman: “Maybe.”

There was a pause while they weighed all this up.

Woman: “I’m going to Finland again.”

Man: “That’s great.”

Woman: “’I’ve got a friend who lives in the middle of a lake. It’s amazing.”

Man: “What do you mean, ‘lives in a lake?’”

Woman: “On an island.”

Man: (perhaps expecting a more Arthurian explanation) “Oh.”

Another pause, then the woman poked at her reflection in the window.

Woman: “I can only be smart (+I)and(-I) comfortable if I’m wearing black.”

Man “What are you wearing tonight?”

Woman: “Black. You know what she’s like, she won’t be happy unless everyone’s wearing an long dress.”

Man: (maybe anticipating an evening of reluctant transvestism ahead) “Yeah. I know exactly what it’s like.”

Article by Michael Holden

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Things I hate (slight return)

Jeremy Kyle*...Is 'absolutely fucking despise' putting it too strongly?

* See previous post

Guardian All Ears 2nd August

Have also managed to squeeze in a picture of the odious Jeremy Kyle* into thew background of this illustration because every time I'm in a hospital waiting room this sort of soul rotting programme is on the TV

(* unless you're a) unemployed b) a student c) freelance with weird working hours you will hopefully have been spared this hideous man & have no idea what I'm going on about)

Anyway...the article follows...

Spend enough time waiting in hospitals and you find yourself noticing that your fellow patients can be split into distinct types, each having developed different behavioral traits based on the extent and nature of their experiences with the health service. A recurring character is the “Angry Optimist” who believes the way to overcome long waiting times is through verbal indignation based on a sense of perceived injustice. Though they may have a point, it is far from the Zen mindset required to wait four hours for an appointment you were half an hour early for anyway, as the two people I watched unravel last week demonstrated.

Woman:(in her 70’s, indignant) “I was first here, we should be the first to be seen. Why are other people called first?”

Receptionist:“That’s not how the clinic works.”

Woman:(dentures clacking softly) “Where’s the girl what’s normally here?”

Receptionist: (with audible envy) “She’s moved to the pharmacy.”

Woman: “But these lot have got 8.45 appointments, ours is for 8.30”

Receptionist: “There’s nothing I can do about that.”

Man: (the woman’s husband, who it transpired was the one who had the appointment) “Yeah, just sit down.”

The woman sat down but carried on complaining quietly to the man until he’d eventually had enough.

Man: (shouting) “What do you want me to do about it?”

Woman: “But we were here first. Where are you going?”

Man (walking off) “Nowhere.”

Woman “Say something to them.”

Man (almost in tears) “Will you shut up for five minutes? Will you please just shut up and stay out of my head?”

That did the trick. Five minutes later they called his name.

Article by Michael Holden

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Guardian All Ears 26th July

A PROPER Oompa Loompa (with added eye poke!)

I was about to overtake a man who was walking along the pavement in front of me when I caught wind of his mobile phone conversation and reduced speed to try and hear more of what he was saying. I made a swift diagnosis of what was going down and came to the assumption that he was talking to the mother of his kid, a woman he no longer lived with, and who had called him to ask why their daughter was in a bad mood.

Man: (wearily) "Well she got home from school and she was all upset, there doing Charlie and the Chocolate factory as the school play, they've cast her as an Oompa Loompa, she isn't happy…no of course not…she wanted to be a human."

He was silent for a minute while he listened to her response.

Man: "Yeah but it's more than that. She says the same kids that got the lead parts before have got the lead parts again…exactly…so I said well if you don't like something you have to speak up in life, I want her to know that this is how things are in life and this is what you do, you gotta speak up…she wasn't keen, she said they're teachers, you can't argue with the teachers…"

He listened for a moment and then his tone changed became harsher.

Man: "If there's a reason she doesn't know the difference between asking a question and having an argument, whose fault is that?"

There was evidently an emphatic response from the other end.

Man: "Ok, I'm sorry…well in the end I said to her, who do people remember from the story? It's Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Oompa Loompas, it's a big part…no, she wasn't buying it. She just wants to be a human."

Article by Michael Holden

Thursday, 24 July 2008


"Don't be soft...have a fight!"

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Threatening geezers

Having a general muckabout with some nice textures etc. - we call this research not procrastination!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Guardian All Ears 19th July

I like a floral dress me!

Mostly elevators are spaces where conversation ceases. In very tall buildings though where you can be in them for several minutes no such rules apply, as I discovered as I descended slowly from work one Friday night with an elderly couple who's weekend planning had gone awry.

Woman: (coyly)"How would you feel about…"

Man: (sensing danger)"C'mon, I'm holding my breath here."

Woman: "Andy coming to the house on Saturday?"

Man: "Andy who?"

Woman: "Andy, you know Andy. He just turned 65 and I haven't even acknowledged it."

Man: (scowling) "What do you mean' acknowledged it?' Who is this guy?"

Woman: "I mean I didn't even send him a card or call him up. I have to do something."

Man: (looking at the ceiling of the elevator as though it were the sky) "Well the weather doesn't look very congenial."

Woman: "He won't care about the weather. He's a very outdoors person."

Man :"Who is he again?"

Woman: (angry now sensing subterfuge) "Andy! My friend with the horses."

Man : "What horses?"

Woman "He used to run the polo stables in Uruguay, now he lives here."

Man: "Andy! Christ, he drinks, right?"

Woman: "He's an expert on wine."

Man: "He can come."

Woman: "I didn't say he was going to bring wine."

Man: "He can bring what he wants, I'm not going to be around."

Woman: "Where are you going?"

Man "There's a thing at the university."

Woman "Maybe we can all come?"

Man (staring hard at his reflection in the polished door) "Maybe."

Article by Michael Holden

Friday, 18 July 2008

Things I hate Pt 7

The devil's vegetable! Horrible big green lump of fuck all...& don't get me started on beetroot...

Things I hate Pt 6

What IS the point??!?

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Guardian All Ears 28th June

The temptation to draw a 'Sting' prophylactic was very strong with this one!

I was having a haircut, feeling quite pleased that fortune had provided me with a barber who wasn’t inclined towards small talk when the customer in the next chair suddenly emerged from a hot towel treatment with all kinds of things he wanted to say.

Customer: (nodding towards the radio) “This is The Police, innit?”

Barber: “It is.”

Customer: “Roxanne?”

Barber: “Yup.”

Customer: “Don’t talk to me about this record!”

Barber: (declining to point out that he hadn’t been) “Oh?”

Customer: (animated by his sense of the imminent anecdote’s hilarity) “Fella at work, right? He’s made this Doris on a park bench, at lunch time, and he’s started going out on like, dates with her!”

Barber: Yeah?

Customer: “She called Roxanne! Or that’s what she told him anyway. So to wind him up we start playing this record-Roxanne-over and over again in the office. I tell you, by the end of it he was going nuts. Almost crying he was.”

Barber “Right”

Customer: (changing subject effortlessly) “You ever been to Muay Thai?”

Barber: “No. What is it?”

Customer: The old Thai boxing innit.”

Barber: “Right.”

Customer: “Blood all over the shop.”

Barber: “I’m gonna put another towel over you, ok?”

And like a caged bird, that proved sufficient to silence him.

Article by Michael Holden

Monday, 14 July 2008

Guardian All Ears 14th July

Whoops! Managed to scoop myself by publishing this weeks article with last week's image last week (if that makes sense!?!?!) - here's the article again with the correct image!

Of the many things to admire about New York City its inhabitant's
uninhibited facility for loud public conversations naturally falls
near the top of my list. The simplest excursion will likely lead you
though the edges of endless dramas. Why anybody watches television
here is beyond me. I was eating breakfast when the people across from
me launched into a complex business/wildlife analogy.
Man 1: "It's a tough organization, there are sharks on the bottom, and
Huck is like a great white-he'll eat a rubber tire, and he'll keep
coming at you- not so smart but he'll do anything."
Man 2: "Edna's like the good shark.
The other man pulled a face that said "What do you mean by 'good shark?'"
Man 2: (Trying to bail out) "I mean, the kind of shark that, you
know…not like a great white, the one that floats around. Helping
Man 1: (Frowning and laughing) "What kind of animal, is this? Where
did you hear about it?"
Man 2: "You know, I mean she's good, Edna."
Waitress (pouring coffee) "You want more coffee?"
Man 2 "What's that, a rhetorical question?"
Waitress: "Ooh, 'rhetorical question.' I'm impressed.'
Man 1: "You should be, he's trying to impress you."
Man 2: (staring into some form of hand held device and considering his
professional existence) "You know I won't even take my blackberry home
with me."
Man 1: "You've drawn a line in the sand."
Man 2 " I'm saying, 'this is where it stops.'"

Man 1 (looking past his friend toward the waitress)"I have so much
admiration for that."

Article by Michael Holden

Thursday, 10 July 2008

'Support Your Local Butcher'

Meat! ...just do it!

I love those pictures of really enthusiastic animals who are about to be eaten - there's something extremely disturbing & wrong about that 'pig butcher' on the pork scratchings packet

Monday, 7 July 2008

Guardian All Ears 5th July

If the Guardian can do 'Organic Vegetable' wallcharts for kids with biblical names I figure the Telegraph readers might go a bundle on my Fox Hunting wallchart concept - or am I stereotyping?

I took a seat on a train and was struck by the aristocratic tone of the accents behind me-a rare sound in the modern phonetic landscape, and one that often merits closer investigation. I turned round to see a girl of around 16 sitting with her father, who must have been in his late fifties.

Girl: “You know Rachel?”

Father: (Peering over the top Britain’s only remaining broadsheet) “Hmmm?”

Girl: “She faints, all the time, she doesn’t mean to, but she can’t help it.”

Father: “Yes, I know the kind of thing.”

Girl: (Tugging at the armrest) “Does the seat move?”

Father: “I imagine so.”

Girl: (Struggling with the mechanism) “How though? How?”

Father: “Backwards and forwards, like a car.”

She tipped the seat back and spilt coffee on her jumper

Girl: “It’s stained!”

Father: “How many of those jumpers do you have?”

Girl: (As though this would never be sufficient) “Three.”

Father: (Perhaps considering this excessive) “Hmm”

Girl :(Dabbing at the stain) “I can’t tell what color it should be now, or whether it’s just damp.”

Father: “Well stop rubbing it, or you might find you lose the color completely.”

Girl: (Recovering) “Thanks for coming with me on the train.”

Father: (Animated by her gratitude “Well, we were quite fortunate. Your mother dropped me off at the station last week and I noticed they had some special offers. It worked out about £20m one way.”

Girl: “Is that good?”

Father “It is good.”

‘That’s better than good’, I thought to myself. ‘ It’s cost me three times that amount, you organized bastard.’ I was angry with myself really, but for the next few minutes it was all about them.

Article by Michael Holden

Monday, 23 June 2008

Guardian All Ears 23rd June

Hmmm...had to draw cuckoo clocks in two separate jobs this week...must be something in the air!

In a department store I queued for the till behind two men-colleagues on their lunch break I assumed-who were buying some lamps. As we waited for the lone employee to return from some errand I could see one of the men eyeing the display of clocks on the nearby wall.

Man 1: “My old man’s got a cuckoo clock.”

Man 2: “Eh?”

Man 1: “Yeah, my dad’s got a cuckoo clock.”

Man 2 (baffled): “What like, and a cuckoo actually comes out of it.”

Man 1: “Yeah, the whole deal.”

Man 2: “Had he been to Switzerland or something?”

Man 1 “No, no. He’ll have got it from somewhere in Hull. It’s not even much of a cuckoo. It’s just like a beak that comes out.”

Man 2 “You’ve had a proper look at it then?”

Man 1 “Oh yeah. I was round there with me daughter just after he got it. He says to her, ‘At five O’clock a little bird will come out.’ And I say, ‘It’ll cuckoo five times.’ Anyway, five O’clock comes and the thing goes nuts, keeps coming up, my daughter wants to know what’s going on. Then I’ve realized, it’s on 24 hour whatnot.”

Man 2 “So it’s come out 17 times?”

Man 1 “Aye. But I wanted to be sure. So I waited for an hour to see if it came out 18 times, but my dad said something to me and I lost count.”

Man 2 “So what did you do?”

Man 1 “Well I wasn’t hanging about for another hour, but I figure that must be what’s going on.”

Man 2 “That must drive your dad mental.”

Man 1 “He’s alright. He’s in bed by nine.”

Article by Micheal Holden

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


Rabbit strewn Phantasmogoria with a cheeky nod to Ed D Wood - bless his soul!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Guardian Guide June 14th

This week I just wanted to concentrate on the 'dog-on-string-soap-dodger' angle as I've been on the end of so many worthy but absolutely clueless self righteous rants from folk addled on cheap cider & cock awful 'tribal psy-trance' bollocks!

the article follows...

I was in a café sat adjacent to two girls and man in their mid twenties who would once have been described as “crusties,” though they presumably now enjoy some more contemporary title. Either way, matted hair and willful squalor was the overall vibe as they discussed their disappointment following a recent charity event.

Woman 1: (annoyed) “All that money at the gig that they collected they said it was going to Africa, right? That was the whole point.”

Woman 2: “Yeah, that was the whole point, right?”

Man: (quite exited at the thought of some wrongdoing) “No-you’re gonna tell us they nicked it?”

Woman 1: “No, but get this. They flew there on a plane! They got three returns to Africa out of it.”

Woman 2:(sensing something wrong in this but unable to find words to express exactly what) “Wah!”

Woman 1 “Yeah, so they got there and then it turns out they were just taking them art supplies, no food!”

Woman 2 “What, like pens ands things?”

Woman 1 “You know what I’m saying? This is Africa innit, take some tins. Take art supplies but come on, get your priorities sorted, take some food too.”

Man (forming what he evidently assumed was a lucid vision of the mechanics of global charity) “You can imagine the disappointment of the people that are hungry. When those three got off the plane-imagine the kid’s faces. They would be expecting some grains or something, and all they have is like…easels and shit.”

Woman 1 “It’s too much.”

Woman 2 (moving on) “What are you doing later?”

Woman 1 “I’m gonna go on line and look for a trip hop night.”

Man “Nice.”

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Guardian All Ears 7th June

This week's copy...ruminations on cat indolence...

I arrived at an airport with several hours to spare and having made it to the departure lounge without let or hindrance and not consumed by the urge to buy a foot long Toblerone or try and win a car in a raffle there seemed little else to do but repair to the hideous “pub”. This proved a popular option and soon I was sharing a table with a couple fretting about their abandoned pet.

Man “I hope the cat’s O.K.”

Woman “It’ll be fine.”

Man “I worry about him.”

Woman “ I dunno why, it’s not like he’s gonna get into a trouble, he never does anything when we’re there, I don’t imagine he gets up to much when we’re away.”

Man “You never know…”

Woman “You never know what? You think it’s gonna have some friends over and wreck the place?”

Man “No, I mean…”

Woman “What?”

Man (as though revealing a guilty secret) “They get lonely”

Woman “He’s too lazy to be lonely.”

Man “That’s not fair!”

Woman “The other day I was watching him and he was staring straight at the sun. I couldn’t figure out why an animal would do that and then I thought-perhaps it’s easier than dilating your pupils, perhaps it’s his way of doing even than less than he was doing anyway-which was nothing-just lying on his back looking at the sun in the sky.”

Man “The Egyptians…”

Woman “Don’t even start with the Egyptians, they built the pyramids. You worship a cat and you won’t even put up a shelf.”

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Guardian All Ears 31st May

Five Star haven't figured in my imagination for quite a while but this week's copy for 'All Ears' has changed that irrevocably....

I was in a bookshop whose layout made no sense to me, searching for something but not about to ask for any assistance when I noticed a couple talking to one another across a giant display of discounted hardbacks. They spoke so loudly the subtext of their conversation seemed to be ‘Check it out everyone, we’re in a bookshop!’ Perhaps it was their first time.

Woman (leafing through a huge volume of collected British pop facts) “Were Five Star from Britain?”

Man (genuinely surprised) “Are you kidding me?”

Woman (miffed, showing him the book) “Well they’re in here…”

Man (Essex accent becoming more pronounced) “I can’t believe you asked me that, they’re from down my way innit? Romford. ‘System Addict’ that was a tune. When did it come out? ”

Woman (studying the tome) “1986”

Man “Whoah, that’s what, twenty odd years. This is making me feel old now. What was the album?”

Woman (losing interest) “I dunno…they made loads…”

Man (excited) “Silk and Steel! Oh yeah, I had that. What happened to them?”

Woman (annoyed with the lack of further information) “I doesn’t say, this is just lists.”

Man “I remember they moved to a big house. They had a private disco and a fair and all that, like Jacko. Cars, you name it. Except this was in Berkshire maybe, they left Essex, I remember that.”

Woman “Did they have a monkey?”

Man “Not in Berkshire. I don’t think they’re allowed.”

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Things I hate Pt 5a

...people who peddle LIES like this

(see 'spiders')

Things I hate Pt 5


& don't get me started on...

Monday, 26 May 2008

Guardian 25th May

Guardian 25th May - loved the copy for this one ...

I was on a bus where the sunshine combined with the vehicle’s created a climate that was testing enough when a man got on who was so angry that in cooler conditions steam might feasibly have come from his ears. As it was he just sweated along with everyone else as he berated the woman he came in with for someone else’s mistakes.

Woman “You should never have paid them”

Man “I didn’t realise they hadn’t fixed it properly till I rode off, it had all new parts”

Woman “You shouldn’t have paid till you’d ridden it…”

Man “Bike shops are turning to shit. They were all sat about listening to Radiohead, it was like they were doing me a favour. This Russian mechanic rides it round the block and says there’s no problem. I tell him he’s gotta be joking. As soon as I got back on it you could hear the gears were slipping still!”

Woman (dutifully) “So what happened then?”

Man “It got worse. He starts saying it’s ‘cos the bikes dirty-taking me for an idiot-says, ‘when did you last ride it?’ I lost it then, said ‘I rode it here, you prick!’ He backs off into his garage a bit then, but he tells me I want it all doing on the cheap. I said ‘I just asked you to fix it and you haven’t.’”

Woman “You shouldn’t have paid them.”

Man “Well I just lost it then, after the mechanic’s skulked off I ask the other one, who’s picking at his beard with a pencil-stoned I reckon-if this is normal-he says, ‘well I can book you in for anther service.’ I walked out then, I wasn’t having that.

Woman “And now you’re taking the bus…”

Man (looking about him with disdain) “Innit. I might learn to drive, drive the car through the bike shop window…”

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Things I hate Pt 4

Just...keep them away...please...

Saturday, 17 May 2008

So sue me Mr Jobs...

...Apple might be unhappy with my 'grim-reaper-brand-association' schtick in this week's Guardian but I love a good law suit - always good for publicity damnit!

(Article by Michael Holden)
I had a table to myself on a train for a while but as the journey went on my seclusion was punctured by a couple that came and sat opposite me and began prodding at a laptop.

Man: “Do you want to see some thing really depressing?”

Woman “What, off the internet?”

Man “No. They don’t have that here. This is something on the computer. I look at it from time to time and I just…well, it blows me away.”

Woman “Will I like it?”

Man “You’re not meant to like it.”

Woman “I mean will it upset me.”

Man “Well, I dunno. I suppose it’s more poignant than upsetting. It’s just the calendar.”

Woman “The calendar?”

Man “Yeah, check it out.”

He began pawing extensively at the device’s touchpad.

Man “Look, it goes backwards, it’s like you’re going back in time.”

Woman “Why would you need that?”

Man “I don’t know, but look, there goes the year I was born. This is normally when I start feeling sad.”

Woman “ I see what you mean. It’s a bit weird watching all the years roll by.”

Man “I did it for ages once, you can scroll back to 1900, well actually it shows New Year’s Eve 1899, but that’s just because of the way the week’s laid out.”

Woman “What about the future”

Man “Eh?”

Woman “How far can you see into the future.”

Man “I’ve never tried.”

Woman (excited) “Let’s do it!”

Man (turning off laptop) “No, no. The battery might run out.”