Diary of a Somebody – now out in paperback

Here’s a mildly dull, information-based post to let you know that my latest book ‘Diary of a Somebody’ is now out in paperback.

It was shortlisted for the 2019 Costa First Novel Award.

It’s available in all bookshops – and here are links to the book through some of the online booksellers.

Amazon

Blackwell’s

Book Depository

Hive

Waterstones

Wordery

Foyles

Here endeth this boring promotional post.

Shameless Promotional Message

My bank manager has told me that I need to promote my book some more now that I’ve given up my proper job – or I’ll soon find myself on the breadline.

So, here’s a photo of it. It can be found in shops, some of which are mentioned in the link below:

Click here to find some of the places where you can buy my book

It publishes in paperback in the US tomorrow.

Thanks very much,

Brian

*End of shameless promotional message*

Paperback edition

Dominic Cummings: The Lockdown Tour

He’s been locking down in London,
And a bit in Durham, too.
Not to mention Barnard Castle,
Legoland and Bristol Zoo.

He’s been locking down in Stoke-on-Trent
And Weston-super-Mare.
He’s spread himself quite thin of late.
He’s been spreading everywhere.

He’s been locking down in Basildon,
In Derby, Penge and Rome.
Wherever he lays his beanie hat,
That’s his lockdown home.

He’s more spreadable than margarine.
He’s been spreading far and wide.
He’ll be locking down in your town soon:
Spread the word and stay inside.

Notes and Clarifications

Let’s be very clear about this,
you should stay inside,
except for those occasions
when you go outside.

You should work from home
unless, that is, you cannot;
in which case you should work
in other places,

avoiding all public transport
(unless you have to use it)
and the shared, confined spaces
in which you work.

A socially distanced meeting
is permissible with ONE person
(possibly more, maybe fewer)
from another household,

but this must only take place
either in a park, on desolate wasteland,
or in the BBQs and Grills section
of a local garden centre.

Clarity and precision are vital
at this time. Please see
the accompanying 50-page booklet
for further details.

Kindness

To recap what we now know: it did not begin
in a laboratory in Wuhan, nor with a pangolin or bat,
but it already lay dormant within us, like a seed
in need of certain conditions to grow;

its symptoms are many and various,
and may include some, or all, of the following:
tear drops, sudden laughter, a feeling of warmth,
and a peculiar uplifting of the heart;

it leaves its traces everywhere: from boxes
left on doorsteps to conversations over fences;
it can be transmitted over vast distances,
through a phone call, or from a smile across a street,

or a certain softness of tone spoken beside
a hospital bed; it affects young and old equally;
there is no race or gender immune from it;
it has the power to topple bad governments;

if one person were to pass it on to just three others
and they, in turn, were to pass it on to three more,
in no time at all, the world would be full of it,
and where, might we ask ourselves, would we be then.

Spokesperson for the Department of Positive Thinking

… but let’s not dwell on all of that.
Now is hardly the time for tears or frowns.
We would like to share with you the latest figures,
which show shoplifting is down.

And the good news doesn’t stop there.
Car crime and burglary have declined the same.
Our social distancing strategy has begun to pay off,
pickpocketing is on the wane.

The economy is booming.
We’ve seen huge market growth for sanitiser gel.
And the video-conference company (in which I have a half-share)
is performing rather well.

It’s also a wonderful time for rescue remedy makers
and anxiety pill suppliers;
whilst anyone manufacturing PPE knows
demand has never been higher.

So, no, it’s not all doom and gloom!
Let us leave that to the negatrons!
Everything has been going entirely to plan.
Keep calm, good people, and carry on.

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Robert Smith’s Lockdown Diary

I don’t know if Monday’s blue.
It could be Tuesday. Wednesday, too.
Or Friday, I don’t have a clue.
But Thursday’s when I clap.

Monday, I don’t want to blame.
Tuesday, Wednesday not defame.
Nor Friday – every day’s the same,
But Thursday’s when I clap.

The weekend’s scrapped.
No Saturday, Sunday. It’s left a gap.
Thursdays, I never cease to clap.

I don’t know if Monday’s black.
A weekly schedule’s what I lack.
My sense of time’s not coming back,
But Thursday’s when I clap.

Chronologies I disavow.
Tuesday’s Wednesday, I don’t know how.
Friday’s just like Monday now.
But Thursday’s when I clap.

Lost Words

Let’s lockdown with the Scrabble board,
have a rummage in the tiles,
and conjure words of hope and love
to pass the time awhile.

And if you’re short of consonants,
you can have a few of mine.
Hang on – what does ‘PRAXY’ mean?
No, whatever, I’m sure it’s fine.

Now you’ve set down all your tiles
on a triple word score, too.
Great. That’s the Q I’ve just acquired
and you’ve taken the last U.

I used to think we were meant to be,
but now I just don’t know.
You spelt ‘JUVENILE’ with your tiles
right where I’d planned to go.

On Leaving the House and Encountering Another Human Being

I’m sorry I dived into the bushes.
It’s not personal, you understand.
You happened to walk in my direction
and my nerves got the upper hand.

I’m sorry I screamed when you came near me.
Don’t take my angry shrieks to heart.
Idiomatically, let’s stay in touch –
and physically, six feet apart.

Apologies if it seems like you repulse me,
that I recoil when you come near.
In other times, we might have spoken,
shared a joke or had a beer,

or waltzed together down the footpath,
perhaps we may yet still one day.
But just for now, embrace the margins
and wave to me from far away.

Comparative Guidance for Social Distancing

Just remember it’s:
The length of a musk ox or fully-grown llama
Three Rubik’s Cubes plus one Keir Starmer
Eleven seven-inch singles by Bananarama
That’s what two metres is.

Alternatively, it’s:
1/ 192,199,930th of a single moon beam
2.2 times greater than Munch’s The Scream
About 10½ packets of custard creams
That’ll be two metres.

If easier, think:
Thirty-three pairs of dragonfly wings
The length of a yoga mat belonging to Sting
Two one-metre long pieces of string
That comes to two metres.

Or failing that, imagine:
0.00000091 of the coast of mainland Wales
18.2648402 cricket bails
One and a quarter Prunella Scales
That’s two metres.

Cat under Lockdown

My cat has been adapting to the lockdown
rather well, it must be said.

She leaves the sofa for very limited purposes,
exercising once a day in the flowerbeds,

never failing to wash her paws
for at least two hours upon her return.

She no longer meets friends or relatives
who do not live in her home,

but contents herself in catching up with them
on Skype or Zoom. Should other cats

intrude on her territory, she’s always careful
to maintain her social hiss stance,

and she deplores the action of her neighbour
who has been stockpiling mice for weeks.

She bears it all with great fortitude
although she knows everything is changed,

and, when the ambulances go by,
they will wake her and she will look at me

as if to say, don’t worry, I’m here,
I have no plans to go anywhere.