Welcome to my writing archive…

This is where I shall be archiving my various scribblings, past and present, which I deem anywhere near good enough to want anyone else to read (rather than collecting dust in my house, doing no good to anyone).

There’s my Mortimer & Mears comedy sketches (or blatant Morecambe & Wise rip-offs), poems, short stories, miscellaneous humour, stuff I’d posted to now defunct websites, and eventually there’ll be articles and other stuff too. Meanwhile, more than enough stuff to keep you entertained (I hope!) until I upload some more stuff.

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Bloody Meetings!

Bloody meetings! Chat, chat, chat
Discussing this, the other, and that
Taking minutes, lasting hours
Getting nowhere
Slow, slow, fast!

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Fitting Ends III

More of my entries from the now defunct website, fittingends.com (link to archive.org).

Dawn French

Sacrificed by Zanon7c

On location in the jungle, making a Vicar of Dibley Missionary Special, she bends over (for no adequately explained reason) causing an eclipse of the Sun. The terrified natives attack and slaughter her as a sacrifice to their gods. Asked if it had affected morale amongst the other actors, Trevor Peacock (Jim Trott) replied: “No, no, no, no, no….yes. She will be sorely missed.”

Pam Ayres

Final wish by Zanon7c

She wished she’d looked after her teeth — Cause then (it was her belief) — She could’ve gnawed through the ropes — Employed by the blokes — To bind her, then hang her (then leave).

E.J. Thribb (17 1/2)

Lines by john anon mcgonagall by john anon

Twas in this year of 2005, that E.J. Thribb, Great Poet of Private Eye up and died. His many lines had remembered others, who’d left behind their friends and fathers and their mothers. Alas! in his final days he went round the bend, from ink poisoning. A sad but fitting end. Let us all hope whether heavenward or hellbound he ended up going, it’s full of people who liked his poems.

In Memorandum by Zanon7c

So, farewell then, E.J. Thribb. (17 1/2) — In Memorandum poet in Private Eye magazine. — “So, farewell then.” — That. Was your catchphrase. — “That was your catchphrase” — That was your other. — Keith’s mum says she will miss your poignant poems. — Keith’s dad thought they were rubbish. — I just wondered how many more years it would have been until you turned 18.

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Re-Introducing Mortimer & Mears!

Good reading,
ladies and gentlemen,
and welcome to our show.

Dick: Please!!! Not such large print. I haven’t fully recovered from “The Bentilean” Christmas Party yet.

Sarah: Too much to drink?

Ed: No thanks, he’s had too much already.

Dick: Blummin’ heck, I’m still drunk! And seeing the most horrible, crawling, slimy thing.

Ed: It’s me, the editor.

Dick: Arrrrrgh!! It’s real!

Ed: How would you like to spend the New Year in a manor house? Or haven’t you read Elsie Procter’s article?

Dick: I’m sorry, your Crawling, Sliminess.

Ed: I’m warning you.

Sarah: Ignore him, Your Editorness, and tell us why you’ve called us out of the blue like this. I thought the next issue wasn’t due out ’til Summer ’92.

Dick: Yes, and why’s the mag shrunk? I’ve been all the way through and can’t even find a Poety Page.

Ed: There isn’t one. Just the odd ode inserted to break the monotony. And you two are here because our wonderful and dynamic publisher, RM

Dick: Raving Megalomaniac!

…..has made his New Year’s Resolution to develop “The Bentilean” into a more newsy, topical, and professional magazine — and increase its circulation to rival to that of the Bentilee Bulletin.

Sarah: But why call us up? And why, as Dick asked, as the mag shrunk?

Ed: The mag’s shrunk because he’s planning to publish one once every two weeks now, for at least the next three months, and eight pages should just be the right size for this — more would be too much, less hardly worth the effort.

Dick: It never is.

Ed: And you’ve been invited along to add a little light relief to this, the first issue of what R.M.’s calling “The Bentilean” mini-mag.

Dick: But what can we be doing? We’ve got no script, again, and the author’s gone off on holiday with the new designer woman, Molly.

Sarah: I didn’t know they were so close.

Dick: They aren’t, but you know what these writer-performers are like, always giving themselves the best parts. And Molly has some of the best parts I’ve ever seen!

Have you forgotten about me?

Sarah: Who said that?

Me! Your dynamic and
wonderful publisher, RM.

Dick: It’s the Raving Megalomaniac!!

RM: Watch your tongue, you. I thought this script was going to be all about me and the new mini-mag, and here you’re going off at tangents about the author and the new designer woman, Molly.

Dick: Ah, well, we were just filling in ’til you arrived. Weren’t we, Sarah?

Sarah: Sheer, desperate ad-libbing to mask our eager anticipation.

Dick: Do you know, if you’d crawled any lower then, nobody’d been able to read you?

RM: I’m warning you! Any more snide comments and you could be one of the changes round here.

Dick: Don’t threaten me! Without me, you’d have to give the mag away to people.

Ed: We do already. That is why you don’t get paid, you know.

Sarah: And we though he’d just sent our cheques 2nd Class. But what’s all this about changes?

Ed: He means more news, more features, more community info, less mindless gibberish!

Dick: You can’t do that!! What’ll we do for a living?

Sarah: I have a dog and useless wastrel to support.

Ed: Dick’ll just have to find somewhere else to live.

Dick: I’ll smash his face in!!

RM: That’s not what I meant at all.

Ed: No?! Hold the front page!!

RM: Why?

Ed: Sounds like news to me.

Dick: He’s been reading my jokebook again, “Frankie Howerd’s Greatest Titters, 1872“.

Sarah: Don’t you mean 19-72 ?

Dick: There’s none of them that new!

RM: No, what I had in mind was semi-naked women.

Sarah: I won’t do it!!

Dick: Besides, you’d never fit her on the page.

He doesn’t mean her.

Dick: Who said that?!

RM: Our latest asset, Samson Fox.

Sarah: Shouldn’t that be Sam?

RM: No, she’s bigger than her! Show them, Samson.

Sarah: He’s gone all BIG and Stiff.

Ed: Please!! This isn’t The Sunday Sport, you know.

Dick: We can tell from this rubbish we have to perform.

Rupert said that, if I was good, I could
have the entire centre pages to myself.

Dick: Rupert!!? I wondered why he was wearing that red scarf and them there yellow trousers.

Ed: Last warning.

Don’t let him fool you, if you’re ‘good’, you won’t even last to the end of this sketch — nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more

I don’t know what you mean,
our relationship is purely
professional, like a boss
and his secretary.

Dick: I know a secretary who got made pregnant by her boss, twice!! A Mrs. Pendlebury it was. Mr. Pendlebury’s boss was most upset.

Sarah: His boss was upset?

Dick: Yes. Mr. & Mrs. Pendlebury has supposed to have been sorting out theit in-and-out trays at the time, and the photocopier’s never been the same since!

Can you say things like that
in a magazine?

Dick: You can when nobody reads it. Anyways, your charms may be great, but why do you need two pages?

RM: Well, semi-naked would just be the beginning.

You mean, I’d have to go
completely naked?

RM: Soft focus, one leg over an armchair rest, your hair teasingly not quite hiding your left nipple, it’d be very tasteful.

Sarah: Have you ever thought of a cruise round the Canary Islands on a small yacht?

RM: Think of it: together we could grind our rivals into the ground, with your attractions — first the Bentilee Bulletin, The Advertiser, the Evening Sentinel, the Beano & Dandy; then onward to a national magazine — The RM Times — and International — a Euro-Bentilean!! — then into satellite television, cable television, Worldwide Radio!!! And you; you could be Britain’s first nude chatshow hostess; Calendar Girl to millions of macho mechanics; video star, and the voice for all those lucrative 0-8-9-8 numbers!

{Dick: Sad, isn’t it? They can land a man on the moon
but they still don’t a cure for the Raving Mad and
Chronically self-deluded.}

I just can’t do itt, my
mother’s still alive.

RM: Then you’re both fired! And Dick as well.

Oh, what will I do? All I’ve
got going for me is my body.

Dick: Rubbish!! Let me be your Professor Higgins and we’ll plumb your hidden depths together; discover your unsuspected talents, and prove to you and the world that you’re a Mindwith brains — not just a body.

Sarah: I’ve obviously mis-judged you all these episodes. Such feeling, and not a single double entendre or sleazy, sexist comment!

Dick: No point. They’d never print the depths I’m really planning to plumb.

Bring me sunshine…

Sarah: He’ll never change. Do you think RM
or Samson will be back again?

Ed: Will any of us, after an ending like that?

Sarah: Ah, well. At least he didn’t do the one
about the feminist, the Hell’s Angel, and the
transvestite vicar.

Ed: He’s saving that for next time.

Copyright John Steele, 1991, 2011, 2016
I was allowed to go onto the government’s “Community Action” scheme (a programme for the long-term unemployed), to produce a spin-off, ‘mini-mag’ version of “The Bentilean” magazine. The original intention was to produce a fortnightly issue of 8 to 12 pages but only managed to produce 9 mini-mags and 1 full-size edition of the magazine.

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My First Kindle eBook

Someone asked me how to produce a eBook for publishing on the Amazon Kindle bookstore, so I had a practice with my old short story “Pete and the Pottery Genie” to find out how to do it and now it’s available on Amazon from today!

It tells the story of a young boy, Pete, who stumbles across an old looking teapot as he races home across the Berryhill Fields to escape a heavy rainstorm, and finds it holds a magical secret.  To buy a copy for your Kindle, just click the cover pic right to go to Amazon UK (it is also available through the .com, .de, .es, and .fr Amazon domains too).

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Mortimer & Mears #5: The Bentilean’s 2nd Birthday

Dick: Good reading, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the mag.

Sarah: And what a special mag we have for you this time. [To Dick]: You know what it is this time, don’t you?

Dick: We haven’t got to go visiting somewhere like that Willfield Open Learning Centre again, have we? It was just too terrible last time.

Sarah: Why? The place was alright.

Dick: It’s not the place, but last time I was just standing by the fire, in the manager’s office, when he shouted from the corridor “I want that office cleared now!!”

It took hours. There was three skips worth of waste paper on his desk alone! And so old — I found a Computer Studies test paper written in Latin. Very easy though — cause they didn’t have many computers in them days, you see.

Sarah: Gibberish, sheer gibberish!

Dick: Well, what then? Have we got a plot this time?

Sarah: Now you are being daft. No, it’s only the second birthday of this magazine, that’s all.

Dick: You mean we’ve been doing this rubbish for two years now?

Sarah: Amazing, isn’t it?

Dick: Sure is. You don’t get that long for murder nowadays. Mind you, I did tell you that if we kept that photo of the editor and….you know….

Sarah: From Berryhill High?

Dick: Them are the three!!!…we’d have a job for life, didn’t I?

Sarah: You did.

Dick: But what are we going to do this issue then, if we still don’t have a proper script?

You could throw a party.

Sarah: Look who it is! It’s the new designer woman, Molly.

Molly: I said, you could throw a party. You know, for the editor. You could even invite your fan, whats-her-name?

Dick: Good old Gladys!!

Sarah: But could you get enough food? The editor didn’t get that size by eating a few ham sandwiches and a fairy cake, you knows.

Molly: No problem. We just have to get the author to write a few words to the effect that there’s a banquet of food as far as the eye can see, and then a few more words if those aren’t enough. You can do stuff like that in a magazine.

Dick: Could he write a few words about you, me and a tropical island, do you think?

Sarah: What are we waiting for then, get clapping.

Dick: Clapping?

Sarah: Well, you know what these authors are like: clap, chant “Author!”, and there’s no stopping them from appearing.

Dick: O.K. Altogether now:

Author! Author! Author!

Thank you! Thank you! You’re too kind, but you know
I really couldn’t have done it without the support of
my wife, my publisher, my silver haired old granny….

Dick: What’s he on about?

Molly: Just author talk. Probably thinks he’s getting an award or something.

Sarah: Author chappie, we’ve been thinking, it’s the mag’s second birthday this issue and we thought it would be nice to throw a party for the editor.

What?! Oh, er…yes… I just thought I was at an awards dinner
for a moment there. You were saying?

Dick: We just wanted you to write a few words to conjure up a celebratory banquet for the mag’s second birthday.

Write? Write?!!

Sarah: Why’s he in a box all of a sudden?

Molly: It’s writer’s block.

You don’t know what you’re asking. I can’t just ‘write’ like that.
I have to muse and cogitate for hours, form a crystal clear image in my mind,
then prick the very arteries of my soul and bleed the words onto the paper.
I can’t just ‘write’.

Molly: All we want you to do is write something like, ‘An immense table of food suddenly appears on the page’, and we can take it from there.

Where’s the challenge in that? Here I am talent the size of a planet and all I’m ever asked to do is write gibberish like this, and now you want to reduce me to a common caterer.
Where are the sonnets?
The plays?
The Great British Novel?

Sarah: You could write it in verse.

Oh, alright then, here goes:

As far as humn eye can see
Appeared a table set for tea:
A banquet of food,
and the finest wine
Fit for a king or queen to dine.

Dick: Bravo! A poem worthy of John Bread-n-Jam.

Sarah: Betjeman!

Dick: Him too. Such imagery! And the rhythmic devices too.

It was rubbish.

Molly: Yes, but look at the food.

Did somebody mention food?

Dick: It’s the editor, right on cue!

Right on cue for what?

Sarah: Well, we decided, it being the second birthday of “The Bentilean” magazine, that we’d put on a little banquet — in recognition of your achievements.

Dick: Achievements?! What achievements?

Sarah: Thinking up the idea of the mag, finding people to write fo it…..

Don’t forget to mention for NO money!!

…….for no money, gaining three stones in weight, and the self-control when it’s mistaken for “The Bentilee Bulletin”.

Dick: Never heard of it!

I don’t know what to say, I’m touched.

Dick: Now there’s a novelty!!

Molly: Well, tuck in then. It was all conjured up for you, you know.

Sarah: Look! Here comes Gladys, her daughter Beryl, Samson Fox and RM from the mini-mag, and even the landlord of the Man O Horses Cottage, pub meals served twice daily.

Once on Sundays!

Both: We’re sorry to hear that!! [Sarah to author]: You don’t write them like that anymore.

Dick: He never did! It was straight out of “The Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show”, 1959…..

Both: ……….and every year thereafter!!

Well, what now? A cheap double entendre and the first
three words of “Bring me sunshine”, as usual?

Dick: Ah, well, I wanted to talk to you about that, actually. Any chance of you writing a few lines about me, Molly, and a tropical island…(nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more!)?

Never!!! I couldn’t prostitute my talent just to satisfy your sordid desires.

Dick: And if I slip you this fiver?

And as it came to end of day
Molly and Dick slipped away
To some isle, in a far off sea
To live in sunshine, and

Dick: Another masterpiece! Bring me sunshine….


Copyright John Steele, 1992, 2011
Self-evidently written to commemorate two years of my self-published community magazine, “The Bentilean”.

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ARTICLE: Beginning Modestly

It never ceases to surprise me the number of beginning writers who want to leap straight into the Big Time! I suppose their reasoning is that one cannot make a living by selling one’s efforts for £1 per 100 words. But this is faulty logic.

Take acting.  No doubt some people burst upon the poor unsuspecting public with super nova-like suddenness, but not the majority.  Most struggle, happy to make the horizon.  They start as scene shifters, or carpenters.  They progress to a non-speaking, two-second walk-on part, and consider themselves lucky.  That is how you should start.

First, make sure you know the nuts and bolts of your craft: spelling, punctuation, basic grammar!  It is amazing how many beginners think that the editors will deal with such things for them.  They won’t.  No more than a director will play the actor’s role for him; he will simply find someone more competent for the part.  So learn your English language.

No doubt, also, the quickest way to make writing your livelihood is to become a novelist.  But, if self-discipline is in short supply (as it is with me), it is also the quickest way to failure.  Far better to begin modestly.  Concentrate on just getting published first.  Don’t worry about payment.  Try out several types of writing, to see which comes easiest.  Articles: how to’s, personal experience, local interest.  Poetry: check the specialist mags.  Short stories: plenty of market for romance, but check the children’s mags, the confessions mags, men’s magazines, and the teenage market.

But remember, practices first.  Practice, practice, practice!  Then target the humbler markets.  Progress towards the biggies.  Then, maybe, you will be ready for that novel, or non-fiction book — even make yourself a millionaire.


Copyright John Steele, 1989(?), 2011
Published in Writing magazine, Edited by Barbara Horsfall (ISSN 0308 2024), in 1988/89(?). This wasn’t the first article I had accepted by a small press magazine (if memory serves, that dubious honour goes to Writing Today magazine), but I think the first to pay me (a modest £2) because I believe they paid on acceptance rather than publication. I believe the last sentence has been tweaked too, to make it fit the space available (the word limit was just 200 words – once again, if memory serves). I think I set out to write articles on the ‘how to’ of writing because my Writers’ Workshop tutor had had such an article published and I have a competitive streak.

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ARTICLE: On frying pans, fires, & boiling water

What have these to do with writing?

Nowt!  But they’ve everything to do with action.  They’re the essential ingredients of any action scene in any well-written book.  Take a showdown between a private-eye and a couple of baddies.  in a badly written book, there’d be a sudden blare of gunshots, then a page later, the P.I. would either have the villains trussed-up or be lying in a pool of his own blood.

In a well-written book, things would be very different.

First our private-eye would find himself in the initial frying-pan.  A mysterious phone call. “Come to Wally’s warehouse, midnight. I know who killed Mr. Fallguy.  Be there!” He goes!! The warehouse appears deserted.  But then: gunshots! He’s in the frying pan.

But he doesn’t stay there long.  A quick dash for cover and he’s safe behind one of the many islands of crates that seem to inhabit such places.  Out of the frying pan.  More shots.  Return fire.  He snakes through the crates – towards the sources of the gunshots.  Everything is quiet.  Suddenly, he sees the back of the gunmen.  He smiles, and aims his gun to pin him down…


The sound of a gun-click behind him.  He turns round.  Nothing!  “Up, here, sucker!”  He looks up; he’s pinned down.  By an impressive looking villain holding an even more impressive gun.  He looks back at the first villain.  Now he’s got him pinned down too.  The flames grow even higher.

But, in the best tradition of mystery-thriller villains everywhere, he can’t resist a quick gloat.  “Ya think you’re so clever, don’t you? But who’s on the wrong end of the guns, eh?”  He lets them ramble on a bit while he glances round for a way out.  They begin to explain half the plot to him, getting increasingly confident in the process.  Suddenly, he sees his escape route.  A mains lever!  Taking advantage of a confidence-induced lapse in their concentration, he leaps towards the lever, throws it!

Darkness.  The flames ebb.

Confusion!  Shouts!  He uses the wall to guide him to the only way out.  Hears them scrambling over, and through, the crates.  Towards the exit!  The heat still burns his neck.

Makes it!  Squeezes through the door.  hears a car, or three, rumbling towards him.  Looks.  Shortish, low.  Police cars?  His partner coming to rescue him?  Water?!  Wishes he still had his gun.  Hasn’t.  The villains are breathing down his neck.  He puts on a spurt of speed towards the cars.  They pull up.  Doors open.  Darkly clad men get out.  Cops?  Holding guns.  not police issue; the water is boiling hot!

Whether you want to call it Terrible Trouble, Awful Aggro, or Horrible Happenings, the above sequence is at the heart of all action scenes.  What happens next?  Perhaps the cops do turn up to rescue him.  And his client rewards him in her own slinky way.  Or maybe he has to find his own way out of the boiling water.  To that cool pool of pure spring water.

Only to find it’s….H2SO4*?

*Sulphuric acid.


Copyright John Steele, 1990, 2011
This article was published in the small press magazine, Writers’ Own Magazine, No. 33, in Spring 1990 (ISSN 0267-1360). No payment, but did receive a complimentary copy, and I have a vague memory that someone commented on it, or another article of mine, in a later issue.

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