Posts Tagged ‘Rufus Hound’

I first became aware of Rufus Hound when he was a team captain on Argumental, and he made an impression on me then as a nice, clever, funny man. In the years since, I’ve prefixed “very” to those labels, and it’s always great to see him on telly, or hear him on the radio, especially presenting My Teenage Diary on Radio 4 which quickly became essential listening. He was kind enough to challenge me for Twenty-Four Hours of Fast Fiction for Comic Relief in 2013, and it was a genuine pleasure to finally meet him a couple of weeks ago and discover he’s even nicer, even funnier and even cleverer in person.

It is a little known fact that Rufus spends part of the year in Shangri-La where they worship his tattoos.

Title: The Judge Disagreed
Word: brassican
Challenger: Rufus Hound
Length: 200 words exactly

As the crucial piece of evidence was presented, the jury leaned forward as one. The defence lawyer restrained a smile, their curiosity anticipated, as was the defendant’s demeanour; he’d been instructed to look ahead without reaction.

The lawyer glanced to his side, and the judge’s obvious interest encouraged him further. He addressed the waiting witness.

“So…”, the lawyer said, stretching the word out for several syllables, “this was the murder weapon, was it not?”

“No,” the detective replied, seemingly astonished at the question.

“I misspoke,” the lawyer said, and trotted out the line he’d practiced before the mirror that morning. “I meant to ask: did your questioning of my client give any indication that this was the catalyst for the fatal argument?”

The detective looked down at his notes, then replied in the affirmative. “The Christmas dinner was being placed on the table when an argument commenced. Brassican made a complaint, and the argument escalated, with fatal consequences.”

The judge raised an eyebrow, obviously incredulous that a brussel sprout could be the cause of murder. He liked sprouts, a lot.

The brussel sprout in question sat there, quietly, listening to his lawyer. And waited for his own chance to testify.

© Lee Barnett, 2014

This story is part of The Twelve Days of Fast Fiction (More information on the Twelve Days here)
Day 01: This Lion Of Winter – challenger: Antony Johnston
Day 02: An Immense Pecuniary Mangle – challenger: Steven Shaviro
Day 03: Is The Pope Pregnant? – challenger: Matt Brooker
Day 04: Father Christmas Got Stuck – challenger: Bevis Musson
Day 05: Early Sunday Chop Suey – challenger: Michael Moran
Day 06: Of Tinsel And Fire – challenger: David Baddiel
Day 07: The Man Who Could – challenger: Joanne Harris
Day 09: Sweeping Up Shattered Chandeliers – challenger: Kirsty Newton
Day 10: Glorious Concatenation – challenger: Neil Gaiman
Day 11: Weaving With Angels’ Hair – challenger: Nick Doody
Day 12: Their Eyes All Aglow – challenger: Mitch Benn


“There are two hundred stories collected in this volume. They are funny, they are thoughtful, they are romantic, they are frightening. To me, though, they are more than entertaining. They are inspiring.” – Wil Wheaton, from his introduction to volume 2 of The Fast Fiction Challenge

Two volumes of The Fast Fiction Challenge, containing 180 stories in Volume 1 and a further 200 stories in Volume 2, for £3.00 each, are available in ebook format from the author; email for details.

To read the prologue, what when where, setting up why this took place, etc., click here.
To read about stories 01 to 04, click here.

When you left me (Where’d you go? I hope you had a nice trip. Anyway, welcome back.) I was a little behind where I’d planned to be, but seeing as I’d stated 45 minutes late, I was fairly pleased with how much I’d caught up. No worries – we were doing well.

Four and a bit hours in, things were settling down to a kind of routine. Every so often, I could hear Mitch mumbling to himself and others, working out songs in his head. Occasionally, I’m sure I heard a laugh from him, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t even aware of it. Or anyone else, really.

Mitch and I were, it has to be said, working in entirely different ways. For a start, I was writing my stories in sequence: writing one, getting it done, and moving on to the next. Mitch, on the other hand, in part due to the circumstances of recording, was writing all of his at the same time, moving from one to another, nailing the lyrics, then working on the “musically thingy bits” as I believe they’re technically known.

I mentioned yesterday that I had a white board and an orange marker pen. By now, I’d gotten into the habit of, once I’d chosen which the next story was going to be, just before I started writing it, scribbling out my choice – the challenger, not the title – and showing it to the webcam, and those viewing. Darren Saunders – our tech wizard – snapped some of these scribblings, and you’ll likely see some of them.

Like, for example…

Story 05
Title: Boy Meets Girl (Again)
word: serendipity
Challenger: Rory Bremner

It’s always interesting when I get a challenge and it’s a classic trope; boy meets girl is such a classic that, of course, it’s beyond parody, which is a pain, since that was my initial thought.

Unfortunately, this meant that if I was going to write something that wasn’t a piss take of the concept, it would have to look at the whole concept from a different angle, especially the tantalising “Again” teaser.

I was very tempted to turn it completely around; show boy anticipating meeting girl again after SO long, after SUCH a long wait… and of course it turns out they’re four years old, and he’s waited all of one whole day to see her again at kindergarden. It just didn’t sit right.

And then, I started thinking about television miniseries, how separated couples always seem to meet again just when it’s convenient for the story to move on… and wondered what if they never met under such circumstances; what if they met under a completely different, entirely coincidental scenario… and their “lives” were both changed and unchanged by the meeting?

What indeed? Find out here. (Story posted at 17:39 pm)

Take a look at when that story was posted – almost twenty-to-six in the evening; I’d caught up massively and that gave me some comfort for the next story. Ah, you know what they say about comfort. Well, what they should say anyway…

Story 06
Title: Hummingbird Harbingers In Hell
word: halcyon
Challenger: Rufus Hound

Sometimes, I approach a challenge with humility and with an open mind as to the various ways a story can go. I’ve even been known to admit on occasion to thinking that I’m incredibly fortunate that my mind allows me to come up with one more story, one more twist, one more fast fiction.

And then there’s the story I wrote for Rufus Hound which taught me again the much needed lesson that there’s no greater guarantee of crashing to earth than running full pelt off a cliff with the arrogance of having once jumped off a stair.

So, take a look at the title Rufus gave me. And the word. See anything jumping out at you? Yep – all the words (well, almost all the words) begin with H. It’s a holiday of H’s. A huge, humungous, horrifyingly…

Yeah – you can see where this is going, right? Some time ago, I wrote a fast fiction entirely in alliteration. It was incredibly satisfying to do. both to be able to tell a story in that format, and have the enormous fun I did in doing so. And for this story, I thought it would be so cool to write a story not only all in alliteration, but entirely using words beginning with the letter ‘H’.

So I confidently typed:

“Help!” he heard her holler! Hurriedly, he hefted himself…

And then I stopped. And grinned, and ignoring the little part of my head that was beginning to scream at me, I continued…

Ten minutes later, I wasn’t grinning. Or even smiling. I was furious at myself for wasting ten minutes on this when I could see the impossibility of 200 words of this… I was struggling to reach 60.

Clara came over, as did others, all of whom I assured I’d knock it on the head and try again.

But I didn’t – I tried some more.

I finally gave up another thirty-five minutes later, having added only another 40 or so words to the tale, for a total of about 100 words. I was furious with myself – I’d wasted an hour on a story I’d known wasn’t going to work after ten minutes.

I stood up, took a walk around the room, and within a minute or so of deciding it was a dead idea, another idea (which must have been knocking at my brain for half an hour or more) took the opportunity to rush in.

I sat down and wrote that story in ten minutes flat. Barely needed a rewrite, and I think it’s one of my favourite stories of the run, especially because of the language used. Although I’m sorry I couldn’t write the earlier story, I’m very, very pleased I got to write this one, and I’m delighted that Rufus enjoyed it so much; the other story would arguably have been a cleverer story. This one is a better one.

You can read it here. (Story posted at 19:15 pm)

The fuckup and stubbornness on my part had cost me; not only in the actual time involved, but I was badly shaken. I was furious with myself, and even more angry because I didn’t know whether I would be able to shake it off and write something genuinely silly, something that played with language, as I desperately wanted to write for my next challenger.

Story 07
Title: These Aren’t My Breasts!
word: tureen
Challenger: Caitlin Moran

Catlain Moran does wonderful things with words; her columns are a pleasure to read and I love how they flow so beautifully from paragraph to paragraph, point to point; she occasionally uses a bludgeon, but is far happier, I’d guess, with a rapier.

As I mentioned yesterday, with a couple of exceptions, I didn’t know what the titles of these stories were going to be. Clara and Mitch, on the other hand did, and the night before the challenge, they both told me that Caitlin Moran’s challenge was without doubt their favourite story title. They were giggling at the mere thought of me reading the title and laughing out loud at my trying to write a story based upon it.

Together with my own concern after the previous story, what happened in fact astonished me.

I laughed when I saw the title and read it out loud… but when I read it, I carried on going

“These Aren’t My Breasts!”, the young man said,
As he strode across the floor.
“They’re strange and pale and much too big
They’re not what I paid for.”

And just like that, I had the story – the whole thing, laid out in my brain, exactly what was going to happen, and even most of the rhymes. In fact, I had too much fun writing this one; took me a long time to edit this one down from the 250 words it stubbornly wanted to be.

I loved writing this story, and I’ll always be grateful to both Caitlin and the story for getting me back on track.

Go on – read the story here. (Story posted at 20:15 pm)

Story 08
Title: Goth To A Flame
word: ululate
Challenger: Lauren Laverne

Lauren Laverne’s work was introduced to me by an alumni of Twelve Days of Fast Fiction, the supremely talented artist Jamie McKelvie. I’d heard of her, of course, but it was Jamie who suggested I listen to her 6Music radio show in the morning, Jamie who told me to seek out some old Kenickie videos, Jamie who got me watching 10 O’Clock Live and Jamie who, bringing this up to date, acted as a middleman for this challenge. So, thanks Jamie, for this as for so much else.

I was absolutely determined to write a tale for Lauren that was about how music matters; I wouldn’t be daft enough to try and write about why music matters – I’m damned if I know the answer to that one.

But I definitely wanted to write this story for Lauren, a tale of what music does do, what it can do, and what it inevitably will do.

I wrote this one for Lauren – I’m delighted that so many other people appear to have enjoyed it.

Read it here. (Story posted at 20:55 pm)

OK, so now I’ve written eight stories; I’m still behind, but thankfully, Lauren’s story was written in half an hour and I was slowly getting back some of the time I’d blown earlier.

More tomorrow…

To read about stories 09 to 12, click here.

Title: Hummingbird Harbingers In Hell
Word: halcyon
Challenger: Rufus Hound
Length: 200 words exactly

The doors to the nearest regions of Hell are tall and dark and made of jet black stone. They are guarded by nine creatures of myth; five of them are there to ensure no soul escapes from hell, the others to prevent anyone and any thing from entering.

The guardians range in size from one, huge enough to dwarf the doors themselves, to the smallest sentinels, two armed fairies of ill repute, the latters’ duties strictly limited to warning Satan himself should angels appear and seek entrance.

Winged messengers from Heaven rarely appear, but when they do, they regard the fairies with hummingbird wings as tiny annoyances. And yet, somehow, the angels never succeed in their desire to enter Hell.

It is said that long ago, long, long ago, in the time before even the halcyon days of myth and legend, God and Satan wagered. In some versions of the story, Satan wins truly. In others he cheats. And only God and Satan know why the smallest of Hell’s protectors have never failed in their task of protection.

Blackmail is never mentioned. Never. Ever. Of course not.

But the fairies are of very ill-repute. And even a God can blush.

© Lee Barnett, 2013


This is the sixth story in The Twenty-Four Hour Fast Fiction Challenge. There will be eighteen others… Sponsor me to complete them!