Saturday, October 25, 2014


Returning from England earlier this week, my wife’s trolley case set alarm bells ringing at the security check in Heathrow. The officer politely explained that they had detected “traces of explosives” in her case and, Would she mind detonating opening it, please? Closer inspection of one jersey, two pairs of tights and three packets of Marks and Spencer chunky white chocolate cookies failed to reveal the source of the problem. While my wife fumed silently – Did these people have any idea how long it had taken her to pack the blasted case? –, I bit my lip and resisted the urge to make any wisecracks along the lines of, “Come on, darling, tell us where you hid it”.

The officer was very apologetic and asked us to bear with him while he went over to consult with his superior. ‘Run!’ I shouted to my wife. But it was too late, and so the interrogation continued. Our new friend informed us that his colleague was “swabbing the case”, and that we would be able to continue our expedition once he had filled in the form that he was holding in his hand. I guess that’s the usual place to hold forms …

‘What was the nature of your visit, Madam?’

I explained to my wife that they were not asking whether she was into mountains and country walks, but simply wanted to know why we had gone to England. In retrospect, this was probably a bad move on my part as we spent the next three minutes arguing in Spanish before finally opting for, “To visit my husband’s family”. This answer seemed to go down well, and so we moved on to Section Two (“Length of stay”), breezed through Section Three (“Suspect’s profession”) and, just as we were entering into the spirit of the thing, we were both terribly disappointed to discover that it would not be necessary to do Sections Four, Five and Six.

Just as well they didn’t ask me to open my case, come to think of it, as I might have been hard pressed to explain why I had packed a girl’s blouse and matching skirt. Oh, and in case you're wondering, it’s none of your business!
‘May I have your attention, please. Gittish Airways flight three two one to Zurich is now ready for boarding. Please proceed to gate fifty.’

‘Hurry up, Amanda! We’ll miss our flight if we don’t get a move on.’
‘Relax, Colin. We’ve got plenty of time.’
‘So how come they’re telling us to get on the plane?’
‘They always do that. Don’t worry. Do you like these earrings? One word, no hyphen.’
‘They’re alright, I suppose. Yes, I know.’
‘OK, what about these?’

‘They’re alright.’ Idiot! It was a classic blunder which Colin put down to his lack of shopping expertise with the opposite sex. Before dropping them off at the airport, Jack had handed Colin a piece of paper on which he had scribbled some heartfelt advice …

Jack’s Top Ten Tips for Surviving Shopping Expeditions

1.     Never say, ‘It’s alright’, ‘They’re OK’, etc. This is only asking for trouble.
2.     Always say, ‘It looks great on you’, ‘You look lovely’, etc. Just trust me on this.
3.  Never question the price unless you want to be branded a cheapskate. Besides, she’ll be taking everything back for a full refund the following Saturday, so it’s really not worth getting worked up about.
4.     If she says it’s a “bargain”, it is a bargain.
5.    Avoid any references to time, being late, etc. Shopping is stressful enough as it is without being told to get a move on.
6.     Avoid references to being hungry, thirsty, etc. Skipping lunch and/or dinner won’t kill you.
7.     Remember to smile at all times. Nobody wants to be seen with a misery guts.
8.    Create distractions to pass the time e.g. try to work out in your head what the final bill is going to come to. This should be right up your street, Craphead.
9.    Take your mobile with you and pretend to be using it at all times. This gives the impression that you are a busy man with a purpose in life, rather than some sad git wishing he had the guts to go down the pub with his mates to see the football.
10.  Offer to carry her bags. That’s why you’re there, remember.

‘They look great on you,’ said Colin, quite unable to discern any tangible difference between this latest pair and the previous seven that Amanda had tried on since entering this delightful little boutique.
‘Excuse me, how much are these, please?’ asked Amanda.
‘Eighty-five pounds, love. They’re on special offer.’
Eighty-five pounds?! For a pair of safety pins!
‘They normally cost ninety.’
Five pounds off? Now that’s what I call a bargain.
‘And do you have a necklace to go with them?’
Bloody hell, Amanda!
‘Won’t be a minute, Colin,’ said Amanda, smiling.

Colin smiled back – what else could he do? – and returned to his mobile. He’d already sent his SMS to the Samaritans; now he was experimenting with screensavers ...

                dayrealing, Chapter 50, “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Always On My Mind

“For the heart, life is simple: it beats for as long as it can. Then it stops.” 

- Karl Ove Knausgård -

Dad’s heart stopped beating six months ago today. I miss him terribly, and I can’t wait the full year’s mourning to say so … even if I virtually ignored my poor father for the last 30 years of his life. Not deliberately, of course. But you’ll agree that two visits a year and one monthly phone call from me was a far from impressive performance. Pat, my oldest sister, fared even worse: one visit every two or three years if I could struggle all the way up to Coventry, plus a phone call on her birthday. Both Pat and Dad were always in my thoughts, of course. And now that it’s too late to tell them, even more so. 

All of which leaves us with just photographs and memories. Personally, I don't remember much about our family holiday in August 1962, but Dad's memoirs, My Life So Far (1999), never fail to entertain me ...

1962 – MARGATE  (Kent) – Boarding house near station – Weather: mixed
August (1 week) with  Pat, Debbie and Mike – by Keith Bryant’s car

Keith took ages because of traffic jams and getting lost. The boarding house was close to Margate Station and the racket kept us awake the first night. This was the cheapest board ever (£4 per week each for us; less for the children). The food was good! 

Classic Dad! He persuades a friend to give us a lift to the coast, and then slags him off in his diary for his poor driving skills and lousy sense of direction! 

Margate, August 1962: Mum, Mike, Deb, Pat, Dad

Dad continues:

Sitting on the beach on Sunday afternoon, we lost Pat. I got frantic, looking for her. (Myrtle had to feed Mike who was four months old.) People brought Pat back (she’d been playing on the sand and went to the wrong hut) but Deb got sun-stroke and I had to take her to the doctor next day. 

So all's well that end's well. And I'm pleased to see that Mum had her priorities right: "Stop fretting, David. First, I'm going to give Mike his lunch. Then, I'll help you look for Pat. OK? Oh, where did Debbie go?"

Talking of Mum, perhaps I''ll give her a quick call before I forget ...

Wycombe, April 2014: Deb, Sue, Mum, Brian, Mike

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Riding The Waves (For Virginia Woolf)

Please click here for audio.

13 >>

The ___ ___ _____ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______ burning
We ___ ___ _______ __ ______ ___ waves

‘OK, hands up those of you who did your homework.’

A sea of arms fell to the floor.

Homework. The dreaded h- word … or o-word, depending ’ow you pronounce it. Soldiers cling to their rifles; preachers to their Bibles; and teachers to their trifles. Except they call it “homework”. And whoever invented it has a lot to answer for.

As any experienced teacher will tell you, “homework” is short for “anywhere but home work”. In the street, on the bus, at work; in the yard, on the tube, at school; in the library, in the canteen, in the playground; in the corridor, in the toilet; in class. Especially in class.

And, as any home owner will tell you, the little “homework” that actually gets done at home is short for “poor sods at home work” …

‘How are you getting on with those Basque verbs, Dad?’
‘I’m stuck on number ninety-seven, Sam. Does “Aditzak gustatzen zaizkit” sound right to you?’
‘No. You need to use past verbs, remember. How many times do I have to tell you, Dad? Try, “Aditzak gustatzen zitzaizkidan”.’
‘OK, thanks …’
‘Can I interrupt you a moment, Jason?’
‘Not now, Mum. Can’t you see I’m watching The Simpsons?’
‘But I need your help, darling.’
‘Well, quickly, then.’
‘It says here, “Discuss the implementation of The Marshall Plan and its immediate effects on post-war Europe”.’
‘So what’s the problem?’
‘I haven’t got a clue what they’re talking about.’
‘Why don’t you ask Dad? He’s always banging on about the War.’
‘Dad’s busy doing Sam’s Basque verbs.’
‘Have you tried Wikipedia?’
‘Vicky who?’
‘Ha ha ha … When will dinner be ready, Mum? …’

As if deciphering the true meaning of “homework” isn’t hard enough in itself, getting to grips with the word in the context of a full-blown sentence often proves to be a formidable challenge, particularly for the more inexperienced student. So, for example, when a teacher says, “OK, do exercises nine, ten, eleven and twelve for homework”, what they really mean is, “Next class, we’ll be doing exercises nine, ten, eleven and twelve, but I’m pretending to set these for homework in order to cover my back”. 

By the same token, when a teacher begins their next class with, “Hands up those of you who have done your homework”, the last thing they want to see is an enthusiastic show of hands, as this means they will most likely have to move on to exercises thirteen, fourteen and fifteen, which the teacher hasn’t prepared properly or even looked at yet. Worldly-wise students – or “learners”, as optimistic pedagogues would have us call them – are more than willing to play along with their teacher, given that this happy arrangement means less work for all concerned; a win-win situation if ever there were one. 

Unfortunately, there are always one or two students who take their teacher’s words at face value, with the result that the poor teacher has no choice but to pick up from exercise thirteen, as it is hard to justify making these “good” students do exercises nine, ten, eleven and twelve again. In brief, the reality is always far messier than the theory, and never is this more so than in the classroom; especially in Colin’s classroom …

Two people raised their hands enthusiastically. One of these was Miss Tedley, simply because she always raised her hand enthusiastically. But Colin had never seen the other person in his life. Or in anybody else’s life for that matter …

‘Who are you?’ asked Colin, discernibly displeased.
‘I’m Miss Tedley, dear. Don’t you remember?’
‘No, I meant him,’ said Colin, pointing pointedly.
‘I’m Scott.’
‘Well, you sound Irish to me.’
‘No, my name’s Scott. Actually, I’m from Saint Paul.’

Colin had always been hopeless at accents. And at geography too. He knew Minnesota was in America somewhere, and he had a rough idea where America was. But whoever said that ignorance is bliss was even more of a fool than he was. And that was saying something.

‘Well, wherever. Why did you raise your hand, Scott?’
‘Because I did the homework.’
‘But you didn’t even come to my last class.’
‘Oh yes he did!’ said Swotty Scott’s supporters supportively.

Not only was Colin useless at spotting accents and locating places; he was also notoriously bad at remembering faces and taking the register. In rare moments of peace and quiet, he would take the class sheet out of his briefcase and decorate it with a few random ticks. Nobody had ever complained about his attendance records – probably because he never handed them in – so why rock the boat by taking them seriously?

What was the homework? Colin cast his mind back, then forward, from side to side, and back again; but it was no good. He was beginning to regret having raised the topic in the first place. Unfortunately, “Hands up those of you who did your homework” was one of Colin’s stock phrases for beginning a class; in much the same way that we ask, “How are you?” to begin a conversation. And just as “How are you?” is not a serious question – only a crushing bore will reply, “Well, actually …” – this was no less true of Colin’s homework enquiry: the last thing he expected was a serious answer. Scott The Swot, however, had yet to learn the fundamentals of classroom etiquette.

Colin had no intention of admitting he couldn’t remember what the homework was. He was on the ropes again, and he loved nothing more than a good challenge. It was time to fight back …

‘So why didn’t you do your homework, Jack?’
‘Couldn’t see the point. You always forget what you set us.’
‘Don’t be so bloody cheeky, Jack. OK, how about you, Cow, er, Nicola? Sorry.’
‘They didn’t have it.’

At last! A clue!

‘They didn’t have what, Nicola?’
‘The book, of course. Looks like Scott beat me to it.’
‘Sorry, Nicola.’
‘That’s OK, Scott, I wasn’t going to read it, anyway. I just wanted to make sure nobody else did, either. At least I know where the library is now.’
‘Sorry again,’ said Scott, already half wishing he’d stayed in Minnesota; or three quarters wishing, to be accurate.
‘So what did you make of The Whales, Scott?’ Colin didn’t need any more clues; he was back on everyone’s wavelength.
‘You mean The Waves?’
‘That’s what I said, Swot … Er, what are you doing, Miss Tedley?’
‘My Computational Fluid Dynamics homework, dear. You don’t mind, do you?’
‘Aren’t you interested in Virginia Woolf?’
‘Virginia who?’
‘Virginia Woolf. You read her book for homework.’
‘Did I?’
‘Never mind, Miss Tedley. Scott, tell us something about Virginia Fox.’

Seizing his opportunity, Scott cleared his throat – not that he needed to – and addressed his audience …
‘Born in London in eighteen eighty-two, Adeline Virginia Stephen is considered to be one of the finest writers of the twentieth century. In nineteen twelve, she married fellow writer Leonard Woolf, with whom she remained until her death at the age of fifty-nine. Suffering from severe depression and nervous breakdowns throughout her life, Virginia ended up taking her own life in nineteen forty-one. Noted for her fine innovative and lyrical prose, Virginia Woolf produced, among other works, Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Between the Acts and, of course, The Waves.’

‘Great Scott! You’re a walking Dikipedia!’
This was just the signing Raphead’s Rappers needed: a student who studied.

‘OK, does anyone have any questions for Scott?’
‘Where’s Minnesota, dear?’
‘It’s somewhere in America, Miss Tedley, but I meant, Does anyone have any questions about Virginia Woolf? … Nicola?’
‘Why’s it called The Waves?’

Not having read the book, Colin had no idea how to answer this question. Fortunately, he no longer needed to know the answers to questions. That was Scott’s job now.

‘Good question, Nicola. Tell her, Scott.’
‘Well, on one level, The Waves is an obvious title, set as it is on the south coast of England. On a more figurative level, however, The Waves refers to the protagonists’ flow of thoughts – their so-called “stream of consciousness” – as they interact and interweave with one another throughout their lives.’
‘Thank you, Scott. Yes, that sounds about right. OK, anybody else want to ask Scott a question?’
‘This one’s for you, Craphead: Why?’
‘Why what, Jack?’
‘Why should we read The Waves if you yourself can’t even be bothered?’
‘Er, tell him, Scott.’
‘Well, …’
‘Shut it, Scott. I want to hear Craphead’s version.’
‘An appreciation of great literature is essential, Jack, if we are going to perform well in the Storytelling Championship.’
‘Bollocks it is. So, anyway, what’s the last great literary work you read?’
‘Apart from The Waves?’
‘I said, “read”, Craphead. Lifting summaries off Wikipedia doesn’t count.’
‘Doesn’t it? In that case, I suppose it would have to be Papillon.’

There was a deadly, deathly, deafly silence. Or something like that, anyway. Well, let’s just say it was very silent. You could have heard a papillon drop. Papillon was possibly the only book Colin had ever read from cover to cover in his life – back in the days when he still had time to read and hadn’t yet sold his soul to Looniversal Learning. It was therefore, by definition, the greatest work of literature that Colin had ever read.

‘It’s a milestone in French literature, Jack. You ought to read it. I expect they’ve got a translation in the library. Nicola could show you where the library is. Kill two birds with one stone.’
‘Easier said than done.’
‘I’m sorry, Miss Tedley?’
‘Killing two birds with one stone. I find I need at least four or five stones these days just to kill one bird.’
‘Stone the crows! Is that the time?’ asked Colin, pointing to the clock by the door.
‘No, it’s twelve minutes fast, we’ve got plenty of time,’ said Nicola helpfully.

But Colin was already in shutdown mode …

‘OK, everyone, for homework, read The Waves – if you haven’t done so already – and then write a short story about boats, the sea or something like that. Basically, anything water-related.’
‘How many words?’
‘Two to three hundred, Nicola … Jack, if you can make fifty, I’ll be more than happy, but remember that compound nouns like “birdbrain” and “bonehead” count as one word, not two.’

- zzz -

It had been another narrow escape for Colin. As Colin stuffed his stuff into his briefcase, he noticed that Jack was looking none too pleased. The silly lad only had himself to blame: when was he going to learn once and for all that you just don’t mess with Papillon Raphead? Nevertheless, Jack seemed to cheer up no end when Nicola showed him her mp3 player.

‘What, Nicola?’
‘Do you like Steve Harley?’
‘Love him. Why?’
‘Knocking on a bit, isn’t he?’
‘The older, the better. Look at Miss Tedley.’
‘Have you ever heard her sing?’
‘Well, no, Jack, but that’s not my point.’

As the two giggling lovebirds fled the nest, Colin was left pondering, Why can’t you ever find a stone that is big enough when you genuinely need one?

dayrealing, chapter 13, "Riding The Waves"

Friday, August 22, 2014

On The Beach

Cambrils, Tarragona, August 2014

Thundercloud sky, uninviting sea, deserted beach... 

No frisbees, no boats, no balls... 

No swimmers, no surfers, no people... 


Three minutes after I took this photo, the heavens opened and I was drenched from top to toe. It was worth it, however; if nothing else because it gives me a perfect excuse for a link to one of my favourite Neil Young songs from one of my favourite Neil Young albums.


It was only now that Colin realised that his trainers were smoking and his feet were feeling rather hot, to say the least. He had experienced something similar on the beach in Benidorm last summer, when he had tried to make it to his towel without wearing his flip-flops. That occasion was far worse, of course, because he had had to play cool by pretending that he was in no discomfort whatsoever. Down here, fortunately, he had no qualms about screaming his head off as his toes began to melt. It was as if the road were on—


A bullet whizzed past Colin’s ear. Shoot! This was all he needed right now, he thought, as he dived for cover.

‘Ooh! … Aah! …’ He glanced at his frazzled fingers, scrambled to his feet and staggered on. He had to get off this road. Left or right? Er … Right!

As Colin headed for the left side of the road – a last-minute change of heart –, another bullet shot past him. Colin stumbled on a rock – Who put that there? – and soon found himself hurtling uncontrollably down a hitherto invisible and impossibly steep hill that some joker had placed by the side of the road for everyone’s convenience.


After an impressive display of reverse somersaults, half twists and open pikes, Colin finally came to rest at the boots of the meanest-looking cowboy he had ever seen. And Colin had seen some mean cowboys in his time.

‘Good evening, Mr. Raphead. I’ve been expecting you.’

‘Who the Devil are you?’

‘Welcome to Helley-in-Flames.’

dayrealing, chapter 42, “The Passenger”

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I recently started releasing my books as audiobooks on Audible. Amazingly, despite zero promotion on my part and an inflated price tag – over which I have no control, I hasten to add –, I have already sold two, yes, TWO, copies of Spanish for Rhythmic People! Even more amazingly, however, it would appear that they intend paying me in chocolate bars:

Naturally, I queried this, and I asked whether I might choose an alternative form of payment, given that chocolate gives me migraine. I pointed out that I would be perfectly happy to be paid in bottles of wine and/or whisky. They haven’t got back to me yet.
COge las maLEtas, nos VAmos
Get the cases, we’re leaving

COMpra unos HUEvos camPEros
Buy some free range eggs

¡DADme mi diNEro, caBRONes!
Give me my money, you bastards!

¡DEja de juGAR con tu PElo!
Stop playing with your hair!

HOY es el ayER de maÑAna
Today is tomorrow’s yesterday

NAdie enTIENde mi LIbro
Nobody understands my book

¡OStras! ¡La somBRIlla se VUEla!
Blimey! The parasol’s blowing away!

¿QUIÉN se ha lleVAdo mi SIlla?
Who’s taken my chair?

¿VAmos a la PLAya, AMAia?
Shall we go to the beach, Amaia?

¿VOY recogiENdo, caRIño?
Shall I start tidying up, darling?

Spanish for Rhythmic People, Pattern 20, “DUM-di-di di-DUM-di di-DUM-di

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Details In The Fabric

For anyone who cares…

… about little things like numbers and letters
… little things like commas and colons
… things like accents and hyphens
… like dots and apostrophes

For anyone who cares…

… about silly things like rows and columns
… silly things like words and phrases
… things like puns and palindromes
… like spelling and syntax

For anyone who cares…

… about pretty things like tales and stories
… pretty things like poems and sonnets
… things like songs and opera
… like books and novels

For anyone who cares…

… about simple things like singing and playing
… simple things like sharing and learning
… things like reading and writing
… like living and laughing

For anyone who cares,

This one’s for you

A teacher, I, and for my sins I’ve worked.
I slave away, my DoS, he guards the door.
‘Piss off!’ I cry, ‘Have I my duties shirked?’
‘Not yet,’ says he, ‘but soon you will, I’m sure.’
Reports, reports– that’s all I seem to do.
A waste of time, believe me, I should know.
But don’t complain– they’ll only say, ‘Poor you’.
There’s no way out, why bore you with my woe?
Directors come, directors go, sob, sob.
They scream and shout, they nag me, and it galls.
For they refuse to let me do my job.
I’d gladly hang the lot up by the balls.
I hope you liked my silly Shakespeare sonnet.
It’s time to go, my end is weak, but sod it.

            dayrealing, Chapter 30, “Laughing Stock”

Thursday, June 19, 2014


I have a new publisher!
When Tim Roux, my previous publisher, decided to call it a day at Taylor Street, I was extremely fortunate to be offered a contract with Thorstruck Press, “publishers of electrifying fiction”. And my book. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity, even if, according to Bill Bryson, “needless to say” is a naff phrase because it’s redundant. Needless to say, Bill’s wrong. It’s early days yet at Thorstruck, but it does feel great to be wanted and to be part of a happy family again.

I have a new cover for dayrealing!

Poppet, my colleague and editor at Thorstruck, has completely redesigned the cover for dayrealing. I think she’s done a superb job.  What do YOU think? My wife was seriously impressed; she says the goofy-looking guy on the cover is the spitting image of me. No comments.  By the way, Poppet tells me that dayrealing 2.0 will be up again soon on amazon “so that you don’t lose momentum with your sales”. You have to love her dry sense of humour, don’t you?

I have created an author’s page on Facebook!
Thorstruck threw in a beautiful Facebook banner with my new book cover, together  with instructions to “create an author’s page, or else”. So I did. That’s the easy part, of course. Now I have to build a fanbase. If by “fanbase”, we mean “at least one fan”, I guess I’ve got an outside chance of reaching my goal by Christmas. In the long term – say, by 2020? – I’d love my FB page to have as many followers as this blog. Six fans after five years is a depressing statistic, so I’ll console myself with that old cliché: It’s quality that counts, not quantity. [The hell it is! – Ed.] Anyway, Paul, Pragya, Jessica, John, Sudam and Peter: I salute you, and I thank you for not abandoning this ship. That said, am I right in supposing that  the real reason you’re still with me is that you could never figure out how to “unfollow” me?

I have created my first Facebook event!
I thought I should celebrate my new lease of life as a writer by giving away my back catalogue, namely, Spanglish for Impatient People 1 and 2; Spanglish for Impatient People Do-It -Yourself 1 and Do-It-Yourself 2; Spanish for Rhythmic People; English for Monosyllabic People; and fifty shades of Spain. So, if you happen to be reading this on Saturday 21st or Sunday 22nd June, if you missed my  30 previous giveaways over the last three years, if you have nothing better to do or download this weekend, if... Yes, I know that’s a lot of ifs, but if we couldn’t use “if” in our writing, we’d be in a right pickle, wouldn’t we? And here comes another... If, miracle of miracles, you’ve read one of these books and actually enjoyed it, I’d really appreciate a review and a few stars (minimum 4, please). Actually, come to think of it, I don’t care whether you read or enjoyed it; I just want those stars. Thank you! Needless to say – sorry, Bill –, there will be a prize for the best review.

I have opened a Twitter account!
To date I have avoided Twitter like the plague (I really can’t see the attraction), but my contract says I must “create a Twitter account,  or else”. OK, I’ll give it a bash. Here’s hoping I get to grips with the blasted thing more easily than I did with Facebook. Apparently, my “Twitter handle”, whatever that means, is @Other MikeChurch. I wanted @TheOneAndOnlyOtherMikeChurch, but spoilsports said my name was too long. So, not a very promising start, but let’s review the situation again in five years’ and/or tweets’ time, shall we?

In brief, exciting times here at “The Other Mike Church”. If you made it this far, thanks a million for reading. J

‘Hey, listen to this, Fred. It says here, “Marjory has poked you”.’
‘Oh yeah?’
‘Yeah. And now it’s asking me, “Would you like to poke her back?” ’
‘Poke her back? What’s wrong with her front?’
‘You what?’
‘Joke. Yeah, go for it. Er, who’s Marjory?’
‘Oh, just a friend.’
‘Where did you meet?’
‘On a forum.’
‘So, what you’re saying is she’s not really a friend at all, is she?’
‘Just because we’ve never actually met, that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.’
‘So, what does this Marjory look like?’
‘She’s got straight black hair and a lovely smile.’
‘Is that it?’
‘That’s all I can see of her in the photo.’
‘And how old is she?’
‘You’re twice her age!’
‘So what? One and three-quarters, actually.’
‘And what does she do?’
‘She’s a writer.’
‘Another one?! Don’t you have any normal friends?’
‘Normal friends? People like you, for instance?’
‘Yeah. People like me. People like me a lot. So, how many friends have you got?’
‘Hang on . . . Four hundred and ninety-nine. Wow! I only had four hundred and eighty-eight last week. Would you like to be my five hundredth Facebook friend, Fred?’
‘Piss off.’

 fifty shades of Spain, 21, "A Friend To Me"