A reader asks “In my earlier letter what I meant by “pyramid selling scheme” was a complex Ponzi-like scam by which various goods are sold mainly as a pretext to recruit new members to the scheme, the recruitment of which is the actual main source of money in the scheme and NOT a scheme by which a person literally sells pyramids. When I suggested to my friend that she should sell prisms instead (as per your advice) she assumed I was mocking her. She has now terminated our friendship and regards me as her mortal enemy. We have since become embroiled in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as her hatred of me and lack of financial success in the pyramid selling scheme has led down a dark path of spiralling violence. The good news is that her new business “Prim’s Pricey Prisms” has actually started to make money. I’m hoping that may help her out of her psychological rut but in the meantime she has me trapped inside a giant and deadly maze where I am chased by robot mice. Do you have any tips for escaping a maze?” Key Eops
I’ve visited several hedge mazes in this current time period and I have never found them to be much of a challenge. What can’t be eaten can be stomped upon. Here’s how I would escape a more substantially built maze:
pick a direction
get a good run up
headbutt the wall
repeat until the wall collapses.
A reader asks “Thanks for the help with my homework. My history teacher was late marking it. Apparently she broke up with her boyfriend and then tried to fly to Australia in a hot air balloon. Apparently she got back recently because she posted back my essay. My mark says “Help, I’ve been trapped in a death maze!” Is that a good mark or a bad mark, I can’t tell?” Archie Duke
Hi Archie. Thanks for the update! I think that must be an excellent mark because if anybody knows history it is me! There’s not much of history that I haven’t seen in my travels, including some that hasn’t happened yet!
Our first novel together was a great success and was widely acclaimed by all the people we showed it to.
“We should write another one.” said Straw Puppy.
“Yes, let’s!” I said.
But it took a lot longer to write a second one and in the afternoon we went out to steal chips from passers by.
The next day we dressed as pigeons and at handsomely in Trafalgar Square as we were fed by short sighted tourists. The day after that we wrote another novel. We had managed two whole novels in less than a week and also had made pigeon costumes. We were productivity demons!
A back of the envelope calculation revealed to me that at this rate we could soon write more novels than were in the average book store or maybe even two book stores as we wouldn’t need to make pigeon costumes repeatedly.
“I” I announced, “have unlocked the secret of publishing.” “Let’s take over the world,” said Straw Puppy, “then set it on fire.”
A reader asks “I need some more relationship advice Susan. I stopped dating my boyfriend (the family of opossums that was living in a pile of discarded clothes) and met a great new guy. He’s actually an emu in a bowler hat but he’s been very upfront about all that. He wants me to meet his family but that mean flying all the way to Australia. I thought emus were flightless birds so now I think he might have been lying all this time about being an emu. I’m not sure what to do. Can you help?” – Marsha Supial
“Flightless” here means “unable to power their own flight”. Emu’s can fly if they stand in the basket of a hot air balloon. Indeed they positively LOVE this mode of transport. Think about how romantic a hot air balloon trip would be with your emu boyfriend all the way to Australia. Bon voyage!
After considering a number of career choices I decided that ‘novelist’ was the best match to my temperament and experience. With both my schooling and military service behind me, I had a wealth of life experience to draw from and the natural wit of England’s upper classes running through my veins.
“What shall we write Straw Puppy?” I asked the shadowy presence at the end of my bed that was oscillating rapidly in the style of the special effect modern TV shows use to indicate somebody demonically possessed. Straw Puppy didn’t answer but instead glowed with a ghastly green/red light while surrounded by eldritch runes.
“Break the seals of the dark one’s prison with the blood sacrifice of innocents and unleash his presence upon the earth.” rasped Straw Puppy in a voice that clearly indicated that he had a throat infection and really should be drinking some nice warm lemon tea.
I considered his suggestion and replied: “I’m not sure horror is really my genre “
“Unleash horror upon the Earth.” rasped Straw Puppy.
“Oh, how about military science fiction BUT with spooky vampires.”
“Um.” said Straw Puppy.
“Spooky SPACE vampires…” I said clarificatingly.
“Oh…OK then!” said Straw Puppy suddenly instantiating into a much clearer form.
Thus began our adventure into not only space but also LITERATURE!
reader asks: “Should I buy a Mac or a PC?” Stephen William Jobgates
Honestly I have no idea what you are talking about Stephen. What is any of that supposed to mean? Where is the context for your question? I can’t make head nor tail out of this. Are you a t-rex by any chance? Have you got your feathers all in a twist because you couldn’t climb a tree and a nut fell on your head?
A reader asks: “Apologies for my last question. I meant ’should I buy a macaroni pizza or a pepperoni and cheese pizza’. In my town we call those Mac and PC. I should have realised that those names are just a local thing. Anyway, I bought a Chromebook which is what we call a bubble-and-squeak calzone in this county.” Stephen William Jobgates
Thanks for the clarification Stephen and apologies for my intemperate reply. Please also accept my apologies for rampaging over to your house, trampling your flowerbeds and eating your hedge.
To return to your original question, I would recommend the “Mangel-Wurzel Surprise” pizza. The surprise is that it is just mangel-wurzels and no pizza.
The careers teacher explained that the traditional career path for Bortsworth Grammar Old Boys was enrollment in the colonial service working in stationary procurement for the Empire. This career path had been unreasonably curtailed by two world wars and the collapse of the age of European Empire. Of all the teachers in the school, the careers teacher was the only one who had any kind of regular contact with the outside world (except matron who maintained her amphetamine racket extramurally). By Bortsworth Grammar standards he was a shining example of cosmopolitan sophistication having once visited a movie theatre. He had one alternative suggestion: join the marines!
The marines? I did not fancy the idea of being stuck on a wooden ship sent off on a three year mission to discover a new continent but the careers teacher assured me that the modern Royal Marines were much changed from how they were describe in the school history book.
Heartened by his advice I set off to town to find myself a Royal Marines recruiting centre.
My first attempt failed as I had mistaken the Post Office for the Marines. In my defence “Royal Mail” and “Royal Marines” look very similar if you are reading a sign from cat height. Further confusion at the Salvation Army ended more violently as I attempted to attack a uniformed man with a trumpet in an attempt to show my martial temperament.
“Kill them all.” said Straw Puppy in what I assume was an attempt to be encouraging but I had to leave quickly when two policemen arrived. “It’s that feline arsonist again!” shouted the short one and I had to run off before they stuffed me in a hessian bag again.
Eventually I had to travel all the way to London to find a Royal Marine recruiting office. “Kill them all.” advised Straw Puppy again, which I thought was both less helpful and less achievable as the marines were much better armed than the Salvation Army had been.
“I would like to be a sergeant in the Royal Marines.” I said to the beefy man behind the desk.
“You can’t.” he said, very directly.
“Why not?” I asked.
“You are a cat.” he said.
And that was it. I marked this down as an honourable discharge from the Royal Marines. With my military career over and my noble service to King and Country acknowledged by the “Join The Royal Marines!” souvenir pen I had swiped from the desk, I set off to return to civilian life.
“Kill them all.” said Straw Puppy as I hopped on board the double-decker Route master bus. “No, need!” I replied, “there’s a spare seat here.”
I was in the big city and a free cat once again. It was time to make my fortune!