Tag Archives: re-blogging

The Lost Plot Revisited

As Dan Brown’s new book hits the bookshelves I reckon it’s time to re-blog the piece I wrote when his last book came out in 2009 …..


Professor Robert Langdon stared at the rows of small tablets arranged before him, each with a letter, symbol or number engraved thereon.

Katherine Solomon, his third girlfriend in as many books, watched on in admiration, taking in his firm jawline, taut biceps and magnificent physique – so typical of a, well, historian.

Langdon studied the tablets, occasionally carefully pressing one in an order pre-ordained long ago. At the end he chose one with the enticing and thrilling inscription “Enter”, tapped it delicately, and Google found the website he was looking for.

“Got it!” he exclaimed proudly. Katherine sighed with suppressed desire. She would have run her fingers through his wiry hair and suggested they go someplace private, but the chapters in the book were too short for stuff like that.

“See what I’ve found?” he said. Katherine stared at the computer screen in front of them. At the top it had the words “Worth Doing Badly”. In the article below a man seemed to be telling the World-at-Large some story about Mary Poppins, in the optimistic and mistaken belief that the W-at-L would find this interesting.

“Er, it’s a blog,” she said.

Langdon was impressed. “Oh, you’ve heard of them,” he said. “It is indeed a blog, from the old Sumatran word ‘bellock’, meaning short message.”

“Really?” said Katherine, “I thought it was short for ‘Weblog’.”

“A lot of people make that mistake,” said Langdon. “Thomas Jefferson, one of the first and greatest Freemasons, was actually the first to use a Bellock. Indeed, he wrote under the pen-name ‘Hilaire Belloc’, meaning ‘short witty message’. He used to write mostly in limericks.”

Katherine, who was fairly certain that Belloc had been a real person, felt the first tiny seeds of doubt.

“Anyway,” said Langdon, “these ‘blogs’ are now hiding among all the other websites on the Internet. They are the main method of communication of one of the oldest and most secret societies on earth – the Geeks, founders of modern civilisation.”

“Wasn’t that the Greeks?”

“Alas, what damage can be done by a simple misspelling. Most people think they know of Ancient Greece, but in fact the country was called Geece.”

“You’re kidding,” said Katherine, who was beginning to understand why Robert’s previous two girlfriends had left him.

“Indeed not,” said Langdon. “The Geeks were once the most powerful and knowledgeable race on the planet. Then all the other major civilisations – the Romans, the Spartans, the Preposterons, the Madeupnames – joined forces against them, and they were driven underground. But they have remained a secret society all these years. It is rumoured that their mantra is ‘the Geek shall inherit the Earth’. They conspire all the time to rule the world again.”

“Isn’t that a bit far-fetched?”

“Is it? Compared to a man being the Son of God? Compared to Re-incarnation? Compared to Santa Claus?”

“Er, I don’t think anyone actually believes in Santa,” muttered Katherine, but Langdon wasn’t listening.

“Unfortunately for them, I am on their trail, and now I have found the Blog of their leader.”

Katherine stared at the blog again. “This guy’s their leader?” she said dubiously. “He comes across as an idiot.”

“Only because you can’t read his Blog as I can,” said Langdon. “The signs are all there, as clear as DaVinci predicting the Television by putting one in the Last Supper (Editor’s Note: have a look, it’s right there at the front). Look, for example, at the first symbol in the Blog’s title.”

“The ‘W’?”

You see a W. I see a Spider – symbol of deceit – upside down.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. Need I remind you that I found this site on the Web.

Katherine could feel the beginnings of a headache. Also she was starting to notice that his jawline wasn’t really that firm, his biceps that taut, or his physique that magnificent.

“And that’s not the only clue,” said Langdon. “Hidden inside the third word, visible only to a Scholar such as myself, is the word “Bad”, often used as another word for evil.”

Katherine made a sound that can best be shown in print as “!”

“And the final proof,” said Langdon smugly, “is the name this man has chosen. He has selected “Tinman”, from the Ancient Myth Of the Oz Wizard. The “Tinman”, according to the legend, had no heart, and therefore was not human at all. Clearly our Tinman sees himself as a god.”

Ah, for fuck’s sake,” thought Katherine, looking around for her coat.

“Not only that,” continued Langdon, as only he could, “he has added two symbols to the end of his name – a 1 and an 8. Not a lot of people know this, but if you add 1 and 8 you get 9, and an inverted 9 is a 6, and 666 is the Number of the Beast.”

Unnoticed behind him, the sound of clacking high-heels grew more and more distant. Katherine had accepted that her spinsterhood had a while to run yet.


Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, in a quiet room which he had entered via a Portal (or door, as they called it in Ireland), Tinman read the last page of the new Dan Brown book, sighed a deep, deep sigh, and rubbed his hands over his steely, piercing eyes (sorry, the writing’s infectious).

His head felt as if someone had syringed the StayPuft Marshmallow Man into it through his left ear.

His mind was stuffed to capacity with symbolism, symbols, and cymbals (he had distinctly heard the sound “B’dum, tish” in his brain everytime Langdon had solved yet another mystery).

He knew that they were going to remain there until he could blot them out by reading another book.

He had to get to a Library – fast.

…And Another Surprise

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “surprise”. While I am trying to think of something (and shopping) I am re-posting this story “…And A Surprise” from last year. I am justifying this to myself with the thought that Christmas is the season for repeats. Just have a look at the TV schedules, not to mention the effect that sprouts have upon your digestion…


He knew not to expect it.

He had always been told that when he was seven Santa would bring him a Playstation. His seventh birthday had been six weeks earlier and it was now early on Christmas Morning, but he knew that the Playstation would not be coming.

He knew this because he knew that there was no Santa, that it was just his Mum and Dad, and he knew that there were problems about money, because the company Dad worked for had closed down during the summer. He knew because had noticed that they hadn‘t repaired the dishwasher when it broke, and that they did the washing-up by hand, that Dad never went to the pub anymore, that Mum had given up smoking. He knew because Mum had taken to cutting his hair, leaving him looking like Tintin at the front and like an old tennis-ball at the back.

He knew because when he was in bed at night he had sometimes heard them arguing about money.

So when he had had to write his letter to Santa (he had never told them he didn’t believe anymore, he felt that it was important to them that he still did) he had taken a deep breath, then had written “Dear Santa, I would like a book, a selection box and a surprise”. Mum had stared at the list.

“A book?” she’d said. “I thought you wanted a Playstation?”

“Nah, Playstations are for girls,” he’d replied, then realised even as he said it how ludicrous that sounded. His mum had looked thoughtfully at him for a moment or two. “I’m sure you’re probably right,” she’d said softly, eventually.

Now, as his clock showed that it was an acceptable time (5.04) to be getting up on Christmas morning, he swung his little legs out onto the floor and began to go through the pile of presents at the end of his bed. The red stocking with his name on it was on top, and he emptied it of its mandarin orange, its 2-euro coin, its strange walking-stick candies that appear at Christmas and at no other time of the year and of course its pair of socks, because a male always receives socks at Christmas, no matter what age he is.

He turned then to the other presents. There was the book. (Never Let Me Go, his parents weren’t experts on the reading habits of seven-year olds). There was the selection box. And then he turned to the surprise.

It was a Playstation.

He gave a quick squeak of astonishment and delight, heard a chuckle and looked up. His Mum and Dad stood framed in the doorway of his bedroom.

“I guess Santa thought you might like a Playstation after all,” said Dad.

He said nothing, he didn’t know how to begin. He knew Santa didn’t exist, couldn’t exist, it just made no sense. Reindeer don’t fly, let alone have red noses, most people don’t have chimneys , he’d have to beam in and out like in Star Trek, and no sack could carry all the toys, it’d have to be like Mary Poppins’ carpet-bag.

And yet, his parents couldn‘t possibly have afforded it …..

He was a very-logically-minded little boy, but there were times when logic just didn’t seem to know everything.

An hour later, it was all set up and he sat furiously working his thumbs to enable one set of computer-generated creatures to marmelise another. Downstairs his parents listened to the roars, yells and explosions (and they were just from him) and smiled at each other sheepishly, guiltily and yet a little defiantly.

Two days earlier they had walked into their local DVD store, Dad had asked the sales assistant whether it was necessary to have seen a Night at the Opera before watching Night at the Museum and while the assistant was patiently explaining that the two films were in no way related Mum had stuck a Playstation into the huge coat that she used to wear when she’d been pregnant with their son, their wonderful son who had asked Santa for a book to spare them embarrassment.

Just because a story contains three lovely people, you can’t always expect them to be perfect.

Hand Relief Again

I have never re-blogged an old post before, but since I seem to have sprained my left wrist in my sleep I can’t really type anything (it’s taken four minutes already just to get to here), so here is a post called Hand Relief, that  I wrote the last time I hurt my wrist….


Today’s post starts with a plea for sympathy, which I have a feeling I’m not going to get.

I think I have Repetitive Strain Injury in my right hand.

Already I can sense the giggling bubbling out across the internet, as my virtual friends treat this news with the same ribald hilarity as my pubmates did. I have received a number of suggestions in my local as to what might have caused this, and to say that there is a recurring theme to these suggestions is putting it mildly.

I have pointed out to them that I am not, in fact, a fourteen-year old schoolboy, and that there are a number of activities that could cause such an injury, such as sword-fencing, bell-ringing or staking vampires through the heart. They in turn have pointed out that I don’t actually take part in any of those activities, and I in turn have pointed out oh, shut up.

I think that I actually got it at work from using the mouse so much, since whenever I put my hand on the mouse now the pain seems to sit around my hand like a glove. I (*sigh*) shook it off at first, but the pain is becoming more consistent, and now I’m finding it hard to grip things (oh come on).

In an attempt to ease the pain in my hand (hence the post title, of course) I decided to use Voltarol Gel, the one that’s used in the Tinhouse whenever we have muscle pains. The tube that we had was empty (but had been carefully put back in the cupboard by whoever used it last), so I went to the pharmacy to buy a new one.

I’ve noticed a welcome development in my local pharmacy recently that, if you order some well-known product, they will offer a similar generic product that’s cheaper. This is what happened when I asked for the Voltarol, so now I have a tube of this:

Now, I’m full of praise for companies making generic products cheaper by cutting costs, but I have to say that had just a teeny amount of money been spent on branding or market research they might not have come up with the name above.

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve to rub it in three times a day. We might as well continue the theme the whole way through.

Thank you all for your concern.