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Who is Smirrell?

When I was young we lived in a small quiet cul-de-sac.  At the end of the road was a tiny patch of grass, it wasn't a park, there were no swings or slides, but it was about the size of a small school football pitch, which was exactly what I used it for. I mainly used to kick a ball against a wall there on my own, for hours at a time. One day while I was playing, another boy of my age appeared who lived in the next Street. He was called Mark, and asked to join in. We played together for a few hours.  At dinnertime when I had to go home we arranged to meet and play again the following week. And then again the week after that. And so it continued. We usually played three and in, one person would be in goal and the other would try to score three goals, and when they did they would go in goal. We would pretend to be different footballers we'd seen on Match of the Day that week when we were trying to score, usually I'd be Glenn Hoddle, and he was Ian Rush. But one week he insisted…
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Being forced to live a lie.

Once when I was between permanent jobs I took a temping job at a vending machine company in their accounts department. I didn’t expect I would work there for a long time so I didn’t take the job all that seriously. At the end of my first week there, I really wanted to have Friday afternoon off to go to a concert but thought the boss might say no, so decided to pull a sickie. I didn’t want to call in sick in the morning because as I was temping and paid by the hour I would lose a whole days money, so decided to fake an illness halfway through the day. 
At lunchtime, there were cakes for someone’s birthday brought out, so I ate the biggest cream cake that I could see, and then a while later disappeared.  I spent a while in the toilets, and then went back to my line-manager and said I had been sick and would have to go home.  Here is where I made my big mistake; I said that I must have had an allergic reaction to something in the cake and that it had happened before. I go to go home that …

Unforgettable

I was walking through soho, when I saw a man coming towards me – I recognised his face, but Just couldn’t place him. He was on my side of the road, and had seen me looking at him, so I had to say hello.
“Hello mate, how are you?” I shook his hand enthusiastically as I tried desperately to rack my brains to remember where I knew him from.  Was it an office I used to work in? he wasn’t dressed in office clothes so I guessed probably not. 
“Are you working back this way again?” I asked, hoping his answer would give me some clue as to where I knew him from. I used to run a highly amateur open mic comedy night, maybe I knew him from that? Maybe he was one of the so called performers? 
“I’m doing something with a theatre company down that way” he said. He pointed deeper down into soho.  A couple of the ‘comedians’ had been actors, maybe he had broken through into serious acting? But there was something beginning to nag at me, I just couldn’t place where I’d worked with him or knew him from.
The…

Cage Fight

Chicken Shop Terror

There’s a jerk chicken shop around the corner from my office that sells the best lunches I’ve ever tasted. I love jerk chicken, but I never feel like I can go there unless I tag along with a crowd of people from my office.   The owner is a very cool looking Jamaican man, and at lunchtimes it’s full of young trendy types eating their lunch and listening to the reggae music they play. I, on the other hand, am a balding middle-aged man in a grey suit. I feel like I stand out too much to go there, and don’t really belong.
One day though I felt brave, moments like these are usually where the problems start.
I stepped into the shop, and ordered my jerk chicken with rice and peas from the shop owner and gave him my money. Then I started to feel self-conscious and looked sheepishly around the shop, I wondered if I was being looked at by the hipsters and young professionals enjoying their lunch, but thought I was probably just making too much of it. As I turned around again the shop owner wa…

Noise

I had decided to have an early night. I unplugged the phone, switched off the TV, set the alarm on my bedside clock radio and headed for my pillow.
As I lay there I became slowly aware that I could hear music. I had to strain to hear it, but once I was aware of it that's all I could hear.  But I couldn’t work out where it was coming from.
I lay in the dark and tried to listen for which direction it was coming from, I had neighbours on both sides, but it was not quite loud enough to tell which way it was coming from, even when I listened at both walls.
Two hours later at 11.30 I was still lying awake – the music was still going. It sounded like someone had a radio on, but must have been loud for me to hear it in my flat. I listened at the wall furthest from me, there was definitely no noise coming up from that direction; it had to be my other neighbour.  I pulled the covers up over my head and hoped it would stop soon.
At 2 am – I was still awake, and still hearing the same noise.…