Johnson and the Farragonauts

Johnson is sent away as a child to be educated by the wise centaur Eton (a centaur is a fabulous creature, half horse, half complete arse) who hides him away and raises him on the Mountains of Spondulix.

When Johnson turns fifty-five he journeys to The Tory Lands to claim his throne. At a nearby river, Margaret, the Queen of the Tories, approaches Johnson disguised as an old woman not for turning. While carrying her across the river, Johnson loses his comb and arrives at Number 10 with his hair a mess. The Tories are nervous when they see Johnson in this state, for an oracle had prophesied that a shag-haired clown shall usurp the throne.

Johnson demands his rightful place. The Tories reply that Johnson should first accomplish a difficult task to prove his worth. The task is to retrieve the Blatant Fleece, kept beyond the edge of the logical world on the Isle of Brexis.

The story of the Blatant Fleece is an interesting tale in itself. Murdoch, King of the Gods, had given a golden promise to Johnson’s ancestor Camoron. Camoron later flew on the golden promise to the Isle of Brexis, whose king was called Hateful, son of Poison and Media. Hateful sacrificed the promise and hung its Blatant Fleece in a sacred grove guarded by a dreadful, racist dragon called Enoch, as an oracle had foretold that Hateful would lose his kingdom if anyone got close enough to see the Blatant Fleece was actually not all that.

Determined to reclaim his throne, Johnson agrees to retrieve the Blatant Fleece. Johnson assembles a team of absolutely useless heroes for his crew, and they sail aboard the Farrago for Brexis.

The journey takes forever (feels like). The heroes have many opportunities and basically fuck them all up, including The Clashing Rocks of The Bleeding Obvious (each rock emblazoned with a made-up statistic); Barnier Bear Island; The Land of Europe, where bananas are straight and the rulers are not; Nigel and the Harpies; The Invisible Covid Parties; The Sirens (who try to lure Johnson onto the rocks by waving bundles of cash), and a terrifying robot called Starmus, who they eventually defeat by unscrewing a bolt in his ankle and letting out all his charisma.

Finally, Johnson parks the Farrago at the Isle of Brexis and asks Hateful for the Blatant Fleece as it belonged to his ancestor, Camoron.

Hateful knows that as soon as Johnson touches the Fleece all the paint will come off. So he comes up with another challenge. Johnson must first plough his cabinet, then sow it with the teeth of the Enoch. However, Media has taken a liking to Johnson. She gives him magical powers, and with her help he manages to slay Enoch, pull out his teeth and sow them in the vacant cabinet seats. Soon there grows a dreadful army of racist politicians, any one of which might rat on Johnson and bring him down. But Media had already briefed Johnson, who cast stones in news interviews that led them to turn on each other in confusion.

Johnson takes the Blatant Fleece, marries Media and together they go back to The Tory Lands to claim Camoron’s throne. But the people have finally realised the wool is being pulled over their eyes. So Johnson and Media are driven out of The Tory Lands – now renamed The People’s Lands – and they retire to the Mountains of Spondulix, where Johnson marries someone else, Media is slain by poor sales figures, and Johnson tries to make money by touring a jukebox musical called Fleece a Jolly Good Fellow! – but gets flattened by the reviews.


the legend of king midas

Once there was a king called Midas
a notorious tight ass
who loved gold more than anything
ending up spending
his whole life inspecting
all the krugerrands he was collecting
counting them in giant hoppers
stacking them in iron coffers

then Dionysus
sayeth unto Midas
mate – you’ll give yourself dermatitis
find yourself a healthier hobby
this gold love’s giving you a flabby body
no said Midas
I’m sorry but I don’t need you to guide us
it’s only gold these days excites us

so Dionysus
spaketh with his advysus
and offereth Midas
one big wish
to teach him the evils of being rich
and Midas said he wanted everything he touched
to turn to gold, thanks very much

and lo!
(an old Greek way of saying so)
Dionysus gave the godly nod to go
and whaddya know
everything suddenly went 24 carat
from his wife and daughter to a pomegranate
Midas couldn’t believe his luck
I mean – sure, he can’t eat – but what the actual?

letters home II

WHAT a lot to tell!
I was outside picking daisies
when dodgy uncle Hades
showed up in his Mercedes
we’re off to the underworld he said
so effectively dead
I said
can’t we go to Skiathos instead?
this time of year, no hope
so he took me to the underworld
one word?
the decor?
the lighting?
basically an underground storage facility
for deadheads shuffling around unpredictably
in various states of invisibility
a bit like a Club Med holiday
for the damned
where none of the activities go as planned
anyway – thanks for pulling that crop stunt, mum
I can’t believe Hades would be so dumb
my bags are packed, my passport valid
I’ll be off when I’ve finished this pomegranate salad

welcome to the island

[Aeaea is pronounced Ay-Ee-Ah; Circe is pronounced Sir-See]

[Enter CIRCE, to greet ODYSSEUS at the gates of her island mansion]

Welcome, welcome to Aeaea!
the island of vowels
that sounds like the howl
of a hungry wolf or hyena

Welcome, welcome to Aeaea!
it’s really SO lovely to see yah
You’re off on a quest?
I’ll do my best
to follow you on social Medea (….it’s a Greek joke, Odysseus… lighten up… she’s my niece, fer chrissakes….)

Odysseus, Odysseus!
Why so mysterious?
C’mon – whaddya think about pigs?
D’you like them squealing
not so appealing?
d’you like them stinking and big?
I feed mine
on treachery
and lust
and despair
and I plait their tails
and I comb their hair
and stuff them full of the most succulent figs!
honestly, Odysseus – the worst thing I did
was spoil them like kids
I’ve got specialist tailors
who dress them like sailors
so don’t be surprised
if you stare in their eyes
and think you see someone
who looks like you guys
Imagine if that could be true!
Imagine if that could be YOU!
Wouldn’t THAT be a lovely surprise?

I’m Circe
here at your bidding & tender mercy
dinner’s served sharp
at the sound of the harp
you’ll hear the girls play at eight thirty

five short chapters from the age of gods & mortals


prometheus was generous / he was basically alright / he leaned down from the clouds to the ground / to give all the smokeless mortals a light / and if his punishment was a bit over the top and livery / for such a naive and unauthorised delivery / still, the laparotomising eagle always took flight / and the poor guy’s liver grew back each night


the medusa / was a serial user & abuser / every day a bad hair day / (the classic gorgon confusion / any new relationship a foregone conclusion) / but perseus got the heads up / on the practicalities of this particular pre-nup / wore cool mirror shades / that paid off in spades / and just as he practised in rehearsal / did all his sword fighting in reversal / ended up tossing her hissing head in a sack / and whistling heroically, sauntered back


scylla and charybdis / a couple of mean-minded sisters / who took a terrible maritime toll / one a monstrous snake and the other basically a hole / they lived either side of the strait of messina / guarding the water inbetweener / royally and orally destroying / anything buoyantly annoying / until odysseus / stealthy & inconspicuous / taking the line of least resistance / managed to / find a way through / and okay – so a half dozen heros got eaten by scylla / but at least the boat made the homebound flotilla


labyrinthitis is rarely fatal / except if you’re a cretan youth or neonatal / because that’s where a bunch of them got sent / every year as punishment / the labyrinth was this crazy maze / built by daedulas in happier days / before icarus and his fickle attitude / to altitude / failing so spectacularly in his fatherly devotion / by hurtling curls-first into the ocean / so anyway / the labyrinth / basically a plinth / in the middle / of an underground puzzle / with a griddle / for the minotaur to get snacky with the kiddle / until down came theseus / muscles gleaming with greaseus / who straightway cut him to piecius / lopping off his head / and then winding his way back with a ball of thread


the chimera! the chimera! / most terrifying creature of the antic era / body of a goat and the head of shakira / and the tail from a snake / and fiery breath that would burn and bake / and giant paws that would pound the ground and make the houses shake / which the general population found pretty hard to take / until – step forth bellerophon! / ripped & ready for the slay-a-thon / he leapt up onto pegasus, his horse / tough as a rhinocerorse / but aerodynamically better of course / together they swooped on the hapless creature / and ran it through with his most prominent feature / (a long & lethally lead-tipped spear / which pretty much did the trick, I hear)