Friday, 27 April 2012

The Day Matchstick Man Asked a Question (and got an unexpected answer)

At times Matchstick Man was prone to a bit of pondering. Pondering didn’t usually get Matchstick Man anywhere fast, like a car or a skateboard might, but he liked it. Sometimes Matchstick Mum called him a dreamer, sometimes he didn’t move for hours, sometimes he walked into lamp posts, but still, he liked it.

Matchstick Man pondered a great many things like, for example, his ponderings about the moon which you know…well, they didn’t turn out too well. But anyway, sometimes he wondered if it would be a good idea to talk to someone about his thoughts. After all, all the great thinkers have, at some time, spoken their great thoughts out loud, otherwise no one would know about them. Matchstick Man wasn’t sure that he was a great thinker, but you never know until you try. It sounded like a mission, and if it wasn’t Matchstick Man would make it into one.

Now, Matchstick Man knew that with every mission you needed a clear objective; without it you might as well be a twig floating downstream. So he thought about it and decided that for this mission he needed two things:

1. A good thought, and
2. Someone to share it with.

Of course the thought was the difficult thing as, Matchstick Man thought, in order to be a great thinker your thought would have to be original, and groundbreaking. Now Matchstick Man thought about a lot of things but he was pretty sure that most, if not all of them were not groundbreaking or original, for example ‘what’s for dinner’, and ‘what’s that smell’, and ‘where did I put my socks?’ he thought would be fairly common thoughts. Then he thought, perhaps even his most profound thoughts might well have been thought before. How could he know? He wondered if, perhaps, there was such a thing as a Thinktionary that listed all the thoughts that had ever been thought. If there was then there was only one place it could be -Matchstick Man had to visit the library.

Now Matchstick Man loved the library with its rows upon rows of neatly stacked, variously coloured books, though in truth he found it a little bit overwhelming. Today was no different. He walked into the voluminous room, took one look at case after case, shelf after shelf, brimming, overflowing with words, thoughts, feelings, and he felt just a little dizzy. He wondered how much time it would take one person to read all of those words, absorb all of those thoughts, and he felt a bit more dizzy. He needed help. With some difficulty he stumbled over to the counter.

Miss Tree, the librarian, was doing something mysterious behind the counter. Matchstick Man wanted to wonder what it was that happened behind a library counter, but he thought that the answer might make him more dizzy, so he tried to think about something else. Miss Tree looked him up and down “Can I help you?” she asked.

Matchstick Man had to admit that he found Miss Tree just a little scary and enigmatic. She seemed very prim and proper but somehow he thought there was much more going on beneath the surface than immediately met the eye. Matchstick Man found this quietly disturbing. One day, Matchstick Man thought, he might get to the root of her strangeness, but for now he was on a mission and stick men on a mission need to be brave and focussed. Matchstick Man braced himself “I’m looking for a book about thoughts.” he said, smiling hopefully. Miss Tree looked him up and down again.

“This way.” she said with an enigmatic smile, and walked in the direction of the children’s section. Matchstick Man was confused until she placed in his hands a book called ‘Oh the thinks you can think’ by Dr Seuss. ‘Brilliant’ he thought, and opened it up.

After a few moments Matchstick Man came to the conclusion that this book was not exactly what he was looking for. He turned to Miss Tree, a little awkwardly and said

 "Thank you so much
for this lovely read
but I really don’t think
it’s this book I need;
I wonder if you
could help me to find
a book by a thinker
all a-bout the mind”

Miss Tree looked him up and down as though he had gone insane, quite frankly Matchstick Man thought she might be onto something. She turned again and marched over to a dark and dismal corner of the library. Matchstick Man followed. She pointed to a musty area, full of dark and dismal looking books, old and apparently untouched for some time. Matchstick Man looked at the sign ‘Philosophy’ it said. ‘Hmm’ thought Matchstick Man as he perused the rows of books, this may take some time.

Matchstick Man read and read. Some of the things he read didn’t make much sense, but he read them anyway, hoping, perhaps, that the words would somehow put themselves together in the right order in his mind and he would understand them. He read until it became dark. Miss Tree appeared behind him, a shadowed, disturbing presence. “It’s time.” she said, enigmatically.

“Time for what?” said Matchstick Man, a little unnerved.

“Time to go home, library’s closing.” Miss Tree said.

Matchstick Man had a difficult night’s sleep. He tossed and turned, thoughts, ideas burning through his mind. Dreams of people talking backwards in red rooms, a dancing dwarf, a giant leaning down, grasping ‘it’s happening again…it’s happening again’. Matchstick Man jerked awake. He rubbed his head. No more watching Twin Peaks for him. His mind was sparking. He realised something. There was something common between the philosophers he had been reading; they didn’t necessarily have all the answers but they all had really good questions. Matchstick Man smiled. He was brilliant at thinking of good questions. He mentally checked his list:

1. A good thought, A good question, and
2. Someone to share it with 

He thought until he came up with what he thought was a good question. Now the next question was who to share it with?

He thought it might be a good idea to start with Professor Pipette. He also thought that it was a good job it was morning and he was wide awake, so he might have a chance of understanding Professor Pipette. After about 10 minutes or so he realised how wrong he was. Professor Pipette, having duly considered the question, launched into an hour long exploration of the subject, without coming to any firm conclusions. Now Matchstick Man respected Professor Pipette, he really did, but the fact of the matter is that these scientists, well, they’re made differently. They talk about precision, facts, empirical measurement, proof and those kinds of things. Matchstick Man found it all quite overwhelming.

He left Professor Pipette no wiser than when he started. On the whole Matchstick Man was finding his mission a little bit wearing but then, he thought, if a mission was easy he guessed it wasn’t much of a mission. He wandered the streets a little aimlessly, clearing his mixed up head. After he’d been walking for a while he happened across his great friend, Pogo Stick.

Pogo Stick came from a different town, a place where people were a bit more sporty. The thing was, sports didn’t really suit Pogo Stick, he found them too aggressive and, on the whole, a bit too competitive. Pogo Stick was a chilled out kind of guy.

“Hey MM,” he said “whatcha doing?”

“I’m thinking great thoughts.” Matchstick Man said, and explained.

“Far out Man!” Pogo Stick said “So, what’s the question?” Matchstick Man told him. Pogo Stick sat down by the roadside “Hmm,” he said “hmm.”

The sun clicked through the sky like the hands on a clock. “Hmm,” said Pogo Stick “hmm.” Matchstick Man’s legs started to get a little tired. He wafted a hand in front of Pogo Stick’s face. No response. Quietly Matchstick Man crept away.

Matchstick Man felt dejected. He’d been thinking great thoughts for two days now yet still it hadn’t got him anywhere. Feeling a little sad he did the thing he always did when feeling a little sad. He went to see his Mum.

Matchstick Mum was in the kitchen making a pot of tea. She placed a plate of biscuits and a glass of milk in front of him. He chewed absentmindedly on an arrowroot. Matchstick Mum watched him carefully. She poured herself a cup of tea and sat down next to him, patting him gently on the knee. “What the matter, chuck?” she asked.

Matchstick Man sighed heavily “You know I like to think,” he said. Matchstick Mum nodded. “and I thought that perhaps I could become a great thinker, so I thought of a really good question but I just can’t seem to go the next step.” he sighed again.

“Well, what’s the next step?” Matchstick Mum asked.

“I need someone to share it with. I tried Professor Pipette…” Matchstick Mum raised her eyebrows (this was a common reaction when someone mentioned Professor Pipette) “…and I tried Pogo Stick, but neither of them were very helpful. I’ve thought and I’ve thought, and I can’t think of anyone else who I might be able to share my thoughts with.”

“Well,” Matchstick Mum said “could you share your thought with me?”

Matchstick Man looked at her curiously “But, I thought you weren’t interested in my thoughts.” he said.

Matchstick Mum laughed “Oh dearie,” she said “I’ve always been very interested in your thoughts, but you’ve always seemed to want to keep them to yourself.”

Matchstick Man was surprised. He’d always thought that Matchstick Mum had thought his ponderings a little bit silly but here she was saying she wanted to know them. Suddenly he felt better, and perhaps a little bit special. It gave him a warm feeling inside, more than the answer to any question, or any great thought ever had.

“Well,” he said, started “this is it…”

Matchstick Mum listened, and they talked, and they laughed, and drank lots of tea. In the morning Matchstick Man went back home, tired but happy. Before he left he hugged his Mum, “Thanks Mum,” he said “I love you.”

“I love you too,” said Matchstick Mum “thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. Perhaps we can do it again sometime?”

“Definitely,” said Matchstick Man “definitely.”

Friday, 30 March 2012

Matchstick Man Makes a New Friend

Things have gone a bit front-to-back, but no matter. Here's a story from Matchstick Man's past. Let me tell you about it.

Matchstick Man likes to walk. Because he likes to walk he spends a lot of time walking, and because he spends a lot of time walking many of his adventures happen whilst he is walking.

For example, if Matchstick Man didn’t like to walk so much he would never have fallen into the disused mineshaft and discovered the meaning of patience.

And if Matchstick Man didn’t like to walk so very much he would never have learned the value of sun screen.

And if Matchstick Man didn’t like to walk so very, very much he would never have learned that leaves can also be used as…well, you get the picture.

Anyway, these are all stories for another day. Today Matchstick Man would like me to tell you about the time he made a new friend.

Matchstick Man was out walking (you’d have never guessed, would you?). It was a beautiful sunny day, the sky was vast and blue, stamped here and there with little fluffy clouds wandering a little shyly, as though ashamed to be seen out in public. Matchstick Man breathed the warm air in, and blew it out cool and green. It made him feel brisk and determined and so he walked brisk and determined, heading towards a favourite place, a grassy banked pond surrounded by cool pines. A small oasis in which he could think and believe, perhaps, that he was the only Matchstick Man in the world. It was a good place to ponder and, second only to walking, Matchstick Man loved to ponder.

The scenery shot past, and soon Matchstick Man arrived at his destination. Being so brisk and determined he was also rather sweaty. The water appeared cool and inviting. He looked around and, as expected, there was no one around just him, the sun, the trees, the birds, and the placid water winking at him. Without another thought he dived in, breaking the waters’ virgin skin with a graceful ‘plop’. Gleefully he splashed around, enjoying the slick water against his sticky body.

After a while he settled, floating easily on his back, pondering. It took a while for him to notice that something was out of place. There was a noise, a strange noise coming from the bushes, breaching the peace. Now, you may think that being out in the wilderness it is only right to expect strange noises, but Matchstick Man knew better. Nature cupped him in its warm hands; he knew every sound, every whisper from the trees, the call of each bird, the soft sibilance of the breeze. This sound didn’t fit. For a moment he rested in the water, listening. The noise continued. Slowly, quietly, he slipped out of the water. Slowly, quietly, he crept over to the bushes, picking up a rock on the way. Slowly, quietly, he pulled open the bush.


Before he could react Matchstick Man was knocked to the floor, and found himself covered by a dribbling, slobbering, warm mass. Fighting back he struggled to his feet, finding himself faced with this:
a dog, a skinny dog, a kind of smelly dog, but definitely a friendly dog. Matchstick Man patted it on the head, pondering. He pondered why the dog was all the way out here on its own, he pondered who the dog might belong to, he pondered why it was so skinny, he pondered…what was it doing to his leg!

It was getting late, and his sun screen had long since washed off. Matchstick Man sat on the grass wondering what to do. Dogs, he thought, were kind of good at finding there own way home better, perhaps, than Matchstick Man was. He thought that maybe if he headed for home, then the dog would too. It was a good plan. Matchstick Man got to his feet, “Well, see you again pooch!” he said hopefully, and walked off in the direction of home. The dog followed. Matchstick Man turned around, waving hopefully at the dog, “Bye, bye now, off you go home.” he said hopefully, and carried on walking. The dog followed. Matchstick Man pretended not to notice. He pretended not to notice until he was nearly all the way home, but every time he turned there it was, trailing a little behind, the dog.

Matchstick Man sat down on his doorstep. The dog came over, licked his hand, looked up, hopefully. Matchstick Man sighed, “You don’t have anywhere to go do you?” he said, half to the dog, half to himself. The dog yipped, hopefully. Matchstick Man opened his front door, “Do you want to come in?” he asked. The dog leaped through the door, snuffling like dogs do. “If you’re going to stay,” Matchstick Man said as he closed the door behind him “you’re going to need a name. How do you feel about ‘Paperclip’?”. The dog yipped, Matchstick Man smiled, hopefully.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Marchstick Man Makes a Miraculous Return

It’s been a long time. You may have been wondering where Matchstick Man has been; maybe you thought he was lost forever? So did he. Let me tell you all about it.

Now Matchstick Man, well, sometimes he has these moments. Mainly he’s a laid back kind of stick, but there are times when life just gets on top of him. One day, a long time ago, Matchstick Man was having one of those kinds of days. It all started when he woke up late, as these things tend to do.Outside it was a blustery autumn day; the sky was crowded with lazy, grey clouds that were sure to hang around all day, leaking. Matchstick Man dragged himself out of bed. His head felt fuzzy with half-remembered dreams and there was a slightly sickly feeling lingering around the dimple of his stomach. He looked at the clock - 10:18am – and groaned. He was late. He’d promised to help his friend, Russ, to bring in the carrot harvest. It was an important time of year on the farm, and Matchstick Man hated to let his friend down. They’d have been at it for hours already, but there was still time to help if he hurried.

He shook the dreams from his head and started to get dressed. Only now did he realise that Matchstick Mum had tidied his room. ‘If you don’t do it, then I’ll have to,’ she’d said and true to her word (as she always was) she’d squirreled everything neatly away: his books were straight on their shelves, his pictures of Paperclip lined up like little doggy soldiers on the dresser, and his sock neatly matched up in the drawer. Matching socks. Matchstick Man never wore matching socks (for reasons which will become apparent later), but there they were neatly, tidily matched up all lined up like prisoners on death row in his drawer. He sighed. With a feeling of mouldering dread he picked out a pair of soft red socks and slipped them on, put on his shoes and stomped out of the room.
Downstairs a note from Matchstick Mum was waiting for him.This is what it said.

Matchstick Man sighed again; more jobs to do. He looked over to Paperclip’s bed in the corner of the kitchen and it was true, Paperclip was looking a bit dull. Matchstick Man hadn’t been spending much time with him lately and hadn’t noticed. The dog looked at him with a cloudy eye; Matchstick man went over to his bed and gently stroked the sad looking dog’s head, noticing how a thin film of grime came off on his hand as he did so. ‘Not feeling yourself pooch?’ he said. ‘Me either. How about a walk? It might do you good.’

But no, Paperclip didn’t feel like getting up, didn’t feel like walking, he just lay in his bed making a quiet little rustling noise, almost a whimper. ‘I’m sorry,’ Matchstick Man whispered. ‘I’ve not been very attentive recently have I? How about I get you all polished up and maybe we can go out for a walk after that?’ Paperclip sniffed and raised a cloudy eye hopefully. ‘Okay,’ Matchstick Man said as he walked over to the polish cupboard, opened the door and then: ‘oh!’ Of course the cupboard was bare: no cloth, no polish. ‘That’s right, Matchstick Mum said we needed some more. I’d best get some. So,’ he said to Paperclip who had nuzzled his nose back under his blanket, ‘I need to take my library books back so I can do that, then pick up your polish, then I’ll come home, polish you up and we can go out and help Russ in the fields. How about it?’ Paperclip’s nose resurfaced from beneath the blanket. ‘I’ll take that as a yes,’ Matchstick Man said.

As I said before, outside it was a windy, rainy, miserable autumn day. Matchstick Man (without an umbrella – he wasn’t risking that again) walked as quickly as he could towards town chanting to himself: ‘Library, polish, fields. Library, polish, fields.’ A gentle song to remind him what to do. Alongside his own chant was another, beginning quietly, so quietly he hardly noticed it at first, but then growing louder until he couldn’t ignore it.

‘Hey Match,’ it went. ‘Hey Match, it’s Mr Match with the matching socks.’ The moldering feeling returned. Matchstick Man turned to find his steps being dogged by three small, irritating children: Dip, Dumb and Ugly. The neighbourhood ‘scallywags’ as people politely called them (tiny terrorists, as Matchstick Man liked to think of them). In their mistuned voices they started to sing:

‘ Match the match.

Match the match.

Match the match...  

On and on it went, tuneless, pointless. Matchstick Man felt his temperature rising. How he hated to be called Match. He found himself silently cursing Matchstick Mum and the stupid matching socks.
Fortunately for Match...I mean Matchstick Man his journey was almost at an end as he found himself standing outside the library. He walked in, safe in the knowledge that Dip, Dumb and Ugly would not dare to go inside on account of the fact that they might learn something or, and perhaps more pertinently, that Miss Tree, the strange and unknowable librarian, would promptly toss their wooden bottoms back out on to the street.

Outside of earshot of the chanting children, waiting in line at the counter did nothing to improve Matchstick Man’s mood. For standing at the front of the queue was Sticker, and as we all know Sticker is almost impossible to get rid of once he’s got himself stuck into something. And right now he was stuck in a long and involved conversation with Miss Tree about themes of modernisation v traditionalism in Under the Greenwood Tree. Matchstick Man tapped his feet in frustration, but once Sticker was stuck on a subject it took a minor miracle to move him on. Fortunately Miss Tree is a woman of strange and peculiar talents and after five minutes, during which Sticker launched into a protracted soliloquy involving an organ, a string quartet and a vicar, a sharp ‘Next’ from Miss Tree brought Matchstick Man to the front of the queue.

‘I’d like to return my books,’ Matchstick Man said politely (in truth, he was a little scared of Miss Tree).

‘Of course, just put them on the counter,’ Miss Tree replied. Matchstick Man lifted his hands to the counter and...oh no...oh yes...he’d forgotten the books. His face burnt, deep red. ‘Yes,’ Miss Tree said. ‘Just on the counter, right here.’

‘Oh, um,’ Matchstick Man jibbered. ‘Um, I’ll be right back.’

He ran out of the library, straight into the waiting chant: ‘Match the match. Match the match. Match the match...’ The children, like a scratched and broken record, chanted on and on. Matchstick Man ran away, ran down the high street, face flaming, ran until he reached the veterinary surgery. ‘Please, please,’ he begged quietly.‘Please let something go right today.’ He walked inside. Behind the counter was Needle Stick, the sharpest woman in town. Matchstick Man’s mood plummeted.

'Can I help you,’ she said.     

‘Yes, yes. I need some polish for my dog.’


‘He’s a paperclip.’

‘Stupid boy. What type of polish?’

‘Um, metal?’

‘Obviously.’ She gave him a piercing look. ‘Is the dog rusty?’

‘No, just kind of grimy.’

‘Ah, you need Grime n’ shine. We don’t have any. I can order some for you. Should be here by Tuesday.’


‘That’s what I said.’

‘But, but I need it now.’

‘Well I can’t magic it out of thin air now can I?’ Needle Stick said sharply. ‘Do you want it or not.’

‘Yes, I want it.’

‘Tuesday it is then. Goodbye.’

Needle Stick turned away leaving Matchstick Man mouthing like a goldfish at the back of her spiky head. After a moments useless gesticulating he turned and marched out of the shop.

It was the last strike, he couldn’t take any more. He felt as though his head was about to ignite, his body burning in a fiery rush of rage. He had to cool down. He started walking, just walking. He walked past the library, past the chanting taunts of the children that haunted him, ‘Match the match, match the match...’ He walked out of town until the sound of their voices was just a memory. He walked into the countryside, past Russ Stick’s farm where the labourers bent and straightened, bent and straightened, pulling the carrots out of the ground. Hedidn’t stop. He walked through the forest, past fallen leaves, brown and crispy. He felt like throwing himself into a great pile of dead leaves, letting his anger out in its full destructive force, letting it burn, taking the forest with him. But he couldn’t do that, so he kept on walking. He kept walking even though he didn’t know where he was going, where his feet were taking him.

Then it grew dark. Not the darkness of an approaching storm, nor the darkness of night. A different kind of darkness. Darkness that closes around you, enveloping you. Darkness from which it is impossible to escape. Matchstick Man stopped walking. He looked up. All around him were tall buildings, tall as the sky, great concrete monstrosities that caged him. Glass windows reflected the grey, dead emptiness of it, a kaleidoscopic vision of endlessly repeating towers. And there was a chilling absence of sound. Not even the wind blew here, no whistling through the gaps between the buildings, no movement of air, just stillness, silence, absence. Matchstick Man turned. He turned again. He was surrounded.

He knew this place. He had heard about it, been warned aboutit though he never thought he would find himself here, trapped. Writer’s Block. A mythical place in which characters could become completely lost. Better to be Erased than trapped here like this. Living and not living. Matchstick Man sank to the floor. He sank to the floor and cried. Everything around him oppressed him: the buildings, the endless grey sky, the unnatural silence. The blank uniformity of it all stripped the anger from him, leaving him blind, cold,empty. He didn’t even try to escape. He just crawled into a space under a doorway and lay there.

How long he lay there, well, we may never know. It was longenough that Matchstick Man became a mere splinter of his old self, a small, ghostly impression on the page. Long enough for roots to start growing out of his chin. Long enough for his head to become damp and sparkless. And all the time he laythere he didn’t see another soul. Few characters could survive in that dark, depressing place.

Now, Matchstick Man has more character than most so perhaps that’s how he came, one day, to hear a sound. A snuffling, kind of rustling sound, almost a whimper. And he sat up, because in all the time he’d been trapped in Writer’s Block there had never been such a sound, or any sound to speak of.  And the sound was coming closer, and closer, and closer. And then, just out of the corner of his eye, he caught a sudden gleam of light. A marvellous, metallic reflection. And there, running towards him like a shard of shattering light was Paperclip. Paperclip:bright as a laser beam. Paperclip: curvilinear knight in shining armour,bounding, barking, a beacon in the darkness. Paperclip. Matchstick Man opened his arms for Paperclip to leap into and suddenly there were no buildings, no grey, drab nothingness, just a Matchstick Man and his dog caught in a dazzling beam of light, rejoicing, returning to life.       

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Matchstick Man Ponders the Moon

Now Matchstick Man isn’t the sort to go around looking up at the sky, as with a head that large and a neck that small it’s somewhat of an uncomfortable experience. But lately he has been cricking his neck on a more regular basis to ponder that nightly enigma, the moon.
Matchstick Man has something of a strange relationship with the moon. He wonders about it, how it hangs there so large and bright and circular. Particularly the hanging bit, I mean, how does it do it? It doesn’t appear to have legs, at least not unless they’re incredibly long and invisible. He could see no signs of bluetack, or sticky tape, or pins, or anything. Yes, the moon was a mystery, and Matchstick Man was determined to solve it.

Take this, for example. After much close observation Matchstick Man made a startling discovery: the moon moves. At first he thought he was getting confused or mixed up, so he got a friend to take some photographs and they proved it:

sometimes the moon is to the right, and sometimes it is to the left. Matchstick Man wondered why this was so he asked a few people about it, and these were the answers that he got:

1. no idea (this was the most common answer)
2. the moon was a paper cut out, another world much like this one moving in a very precise circular orbit…( Matchstick Man lost the thread at this point. He had great respect for Professor Pipette but sometimes he didn’t half drone on, and on, and on.)
3. because the moon was a slice of lemon hanging in the sky, and, being as it was still juicy, it slipped about a bit.
4. because the Creator deemed it so

all interesting theories. Matchstick Man considered them in some detail.

Theory 1

This didn’t take much pondering. Matchstick Man understood this theory, but on reflection he didn’t really think it advanced his knowledge much. ‘No idea’, after all, isn’t much of an answer to any kind of question, and in fact he did wonder if sometimes it would be better just to say nothing at all.

Theory 2

Matchstick Man endured a very long lecture from Professor Pipette concerning the mechanics of the moon and its orbit. He thinks he might even have fallen asleep at one point. To be honest, this theory could be true, but Matchstick Man didn’t have the brainpower or the will power to follow it. On the other hand Professor Pipette was known for his rather ‘off the wall’ theories, which had gotten him into some trouble in the past, and he continued to espouse them even though he had been threatened with a public ripping, which was, to Matchstick Man’s view, a sure sign of madness. Quite frankly he didn’t know what to make of it, but even trying made his head hurt, so he gave up on this theory.

Theory 3

Matchstick Man wasn’t sure that the moon really was a slice of lemon. If so, wouldn’t it rain lemon juice at night? Wouldn’t the moon be vivid yellow, with a rind and segments? Wouldn’t night time smell a bit on the sour side? No, on reflection he thought this was a ridiculous theory, but a surprising number of the paper population seemed to think it was the truth (33% to be precise).

Theory 4

More people believed in the Creator than believed that the moon was a slice of lemon floating in the great cocktail in the sky. Matchstick Man didn’t know if he believed in the Creator or not, after all he had never seen the great Creator, had not had contact with the mystical Pencil, and had little experience of the Eraser, though he knew that once Erased a person would never be seen again and great sadness ensued. It was possible, he thought, that the Creator existed, but if so he thought that perhaps the Creator, being all-knowing, would probably set up some precise rules for the actions of the moon (perhaps those that Professor Pipette had tried to explain). This created something of a conundrum. Was it possible that if there was a Creator, then Professor Pipette wasn’t mad at all, and in fact his theory was true? Matchstick Man tried to discuss this possibility with a number of others but found that suggesting that the existence of the Creator was consistent with the mad theories of Professor Pipette tended to send people into some kind of hysteria, so he gave up on that one.

Matchstick Man was stuck.

So he decided that the only way to really find out the truth about the moon was to climb up there and find out first hand what it was. He waited until a cold, clear night, and with the largest ladder he could find he attempted to climb up to the moon.

Well, you can imagine what happened can’t you? For a start the ladder, though long, wasn’t nearly long enough to reach the moon. But this didn’t put him off. No, if he could anchor the ladder close enough, he figured he could jump the rest of the way. He saw a suitable tree, leaned the ladder against it, climbed to the top, took and deep breath and…jumped!

Then promptly hit the ground with a bump! Not so easily defeated he tried again…and fell to the ground again. Again and again he tried, and again and again he fell, with increasingly heavy bumps, to the ground. Sore and confused Matchstick Man sat sadly gazing up at the moon. The moon gazed back. He was too tired to even shake a fist at it, and instead he thought about all the time he had spent trying to find out about the moon, only to find it gazing implacably back at him, unchanged and unknowing, and he wondered, did it matter? If he were to find out the nature of the moon would it change the moon in any way, or would the moon remain the same? And would it change him in any way or would he remain the same?

Matchstick Man thought this was a question worth pondering, so he picked himself up, bid goodnight to the moon, and ambled away in the direction of the pub, companionship and conversation.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The Day Matchstick Man Lost His Umbrella

The Day Matchstick Man Lost His Umbrella

One morning Matchstick Man (hereinafter referred to as MM) awoke to find the rain pouring down in sullen sheets, and the wind gusting playfully with the trees. The sky was dark and puffy with clouds that promised to hang around all day until something better came along. “Hmm,” MM mused “looks like it’s an umbrella day”, and he beamed a smile of simple joy.

MM loved his umbrella with its delicate silver spokes, its solid wooden handle, and clear plastic cover that the rain drizzled down in glistening streaks, like snail trails but without the goo. He loved it when it rained and he could take it out of its special place in the under-stairs cupboard, carry it carefully to the door, waiting until he was outside to open it (he’s a little superstitious that way). He would always open the umbrella slowly, listening to the familiar creaks and moans of the plastic stretching from its sleeping position. Afterwards he would carefully dry each section, and let it rest for a while before closing it up and placing it back in its home. Oh yes, MM had something of a love affair with his umbrella; it was his most prized possession.

Today was no exception. He felt the creeping rise of glee as he clasped the umbrella in his hand, the wooden handle cool against his fingers. He was almost hysterical by the time he reached the door and stepped outside. Perhaps if he hadn’t been so caught up in his own excitement he would have seen the warning signs, but he was, so he didn’t.
The rain made a harsh drumming noise on the umbrella as it beat down and down. The wind was in an angry, vicious mood, as Matchstick Mum would say it had ‘the devil in it’, and it blew and battered against the umbrella creating a wall of air so hard that MM was finding it difficult to walk. ‘No matter’, he thought, ‘for I am surely stronger than the wind’. On and on he walked struggling against the weather, the wind blowing harder and harder against him. He held onto the umbrella tightly though the smooth wooden handle began to slip in his hands. Then, all of a sudden, the wind sneaked under the umbrella, and with a sudden tweak lifted it easily from his hands.

MM shouted out in horror “Noooooooo!” as the sneaky thieving wind slipped his most precious possession up and up, and out of view. He was so dumbfounded with disbelief that he could make no attempt to chase after it, he just stood there, empty handed and bereft. He felt like crying. He waited, searching the sky, hoping that the wind would change its mind and bring the umbrella back, but it didn’t. Without the umbrella the rain drummed down on him like thousands of tiny fingers, sharp and cool against his skin. The wind was soft against his face, like the stroke of a soothing hand consoling him. It was a sensation he hadn’t experienced for some time. The rain flooded him with memories, of days spent running through the trees, climbing hills, splashing through rivers with his friends, and he felt a happiness far greater than that the umbrella had given him. “Thank you wind.” he whispered, and walked on, a smile beaming on his face, just a man and the rain and the wind, at peace with each other.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Meet Matchstick Man

The Many Marvellous Adventures of Matchstick Man

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, who goes by the name of Matchstick Man.

Matchstick Man is very pleased to meet you.

Matchstick Man is a funny old character, always getting into commonplace scrapes and having everyday adventures. He’s a bit of a philosopher too, though at times he could be accused of being a little two dimensional. He’s small, but would prefer that you didn’t mention it, and he’d like it to be known that the name ‘Matchstick’ refers only to his slender frame and in no way should be considered representative of his pe..rsonality. He’s lonely, simple and good natured. He’s looking for love, if you know of any nice Matchstick ladies who enjoy a glass of wine and a good chat, then he really like you to drop him a line with their number. Unless their number is seven. Seven is too spiky for Matchstick Man.

Now you may be thinking that the name ‘Matchstick Man’ is kind of a mouthful, and you’d be right. I suppose you could call him ‘Match’, but he’s not overly fond of this, he may be small but he has his pride. Sometimes people call him ‘Mitch’ by mistake which he really doesn’t like, it makes him sound like a character from Baywatch, or the man at the pub who slaps people on the back, tells awfully crude jokes and laughs really loudly. No, if you must shorten his name then he prefers to be called ‘MM’, like the sound people make when eating chocolate ice cream, or when catching the scent of bacon cooking (even if they’re vegetarian).

MM has lots of interesting adventures that he’d like to share with you. Why don’t you pop round every now and again to find out what MM has been up to?

P.S. Bring beer.