Three authors' versions of the same text.

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Original text in yellow, anagram in pink.

Autobiography, a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

The original text -

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
watching the champs
of the Dante Billiard Parlor
and the French pinball addicts.
I am leading a quiet life
on lower East Broadway.
I am an American.
I was an American boy.
I read the American Boy Magazine
and became a boy scout
in the suburbs.
I thought I was Tom Sawyer
catching crayfish in the Bronx River
and imagining the Mississippi.
I had a baseball mit
and an American Flyer bike.
I delivered the Woman's Home Companion
at five in the afternoon
or the Herald Trib
at five in the morning.
I still can hear the paper thump
on lost porches,
I had an unhappy childhood.
I saw Lindberg land,
I looked homeward
and saw no angel.
I got caught stealing pencils
from the Five and Ten Cent Store
the same month I made Eagle Scout.
I chopped trees for the CCC
and sat on them.
I landed in Normandy
in a rowboat that turned over.
I have seen the educated armies
on the beach at Dover.
I have seen Egyptian pilots in purple clouds
shopkeepers rolling up their blinds
at midday
potato salad and dandelions
at anarchist picnics.

I am reading 'Lorna Doone'
and a life of John Most
terror of the industrialist
a bomb on his desk at all times.
I have seen the garbagemen parade
in the Columbus Day Parade
behind the glib
farting trumpeters.
I have not been out to the Cloisters
in a long time
nor to the Tuileries
but I still keep thinking
of going.
I have seen the garbagemen parade
when it was snowing.
I have eaten hotdogs in ballparks.
I have heard the Gettysburg Address
and the Ginsberg Address.
I like it here
and I won't go back
where I came from.
I too have ridden boxcars boxcars boxcars.
I have travelled among unknown men.
I have been in Asia
with Noah in the Ark.
I was in India
when Rome was built.
I have been in the Manger
with an Ass.
I have seen the Eternal Distributor
from a White Hill
in South San Francisco
and the Laughing Woman at Loona Park
outside the Fun House
in a great rainstorm
still laughing.
I have heard the sound of revelry
by night.
I have wandered lonely
as a crowd.
I am leading a quiet life
outside of Mike's Place every day
watching the world walk by
in its curious shoes.

I once started out
to walk around the world
but ended up in Brooklyn.
That Bridge was too much for me.
I have engaged in silence
exile and cunning.
I flew too near the sun
and my wax wings fell off.
I am looking for my Old Man
whom I never knew.
I am looking for the Lost Leader
with whom I flew.
Young men should be explorers.
Home is where one starts from.
But Mother never told me
there'd be scenes like this.
Womb -weary
I rest
I have travelled.
I have seen goof city.
I have seen the mass mess.
I have heard Kid Ory cry.
I have heard a trombone preach.
I have heard Debussy
strained thru a sheet.
I have slept in a hundred islands
where books were trees.
I have heard the birds
that sound like bells.
I have worn grey flannel trousers
and walked upon the beach of hell.
I have dwelt in a hundred cities
where trees were books.
What subways what taxis what cares!
What women with blind breasts
limbs lost among skyscrapers
I have seen the statues of heroes
at carrefours.
Danton weeping at a metro entrance
Columbus in Barcelona
pointing Westward up the Ramblas
toward the American Express
Lincoln in his stony chair
And a great Stone Face
in North Dakota.
I know that Columbus
did not invent America.
I have heard a hundred housebroken Ezra Pounds.
They should all be freed.
It is long since I was a herdsman.
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
reading the Classified columns.
I have read the Reader's Digest
from cover to cover
and noted the close identification
of the United States and the Promised Land
where every coin is marked
In God We Trust
but the dollar bills do not have it
being gods unto themselves.
I read the Want Ads daily
looking for a stone a leaf
an unfound door.
I hear America singing
in the Yellow Pages.
One could never tell
the soul has its rages.
I read the papers every day
and hear humanity amiss
in the sad plethora of print.
I see where Walden Pond has been
drained to make an amusement park.
I see they're making Melville
eat his whale.
I see another war is coming
but I won't be there to fight it.
I have read the writing
on the outhouse wall.
I helped Kilroy write it.
I marched up Fifth Avenue
blowing on a bugle in a tight platoon
but hurried back to the Casbah
looking for my dog.
I see a similarity between dogs and me.
Dogs are the true observers
walking up and down the world
thru the Molloy country.
I have walked down alleys
too narrow for Chryslers.
I have seen a hundred horseless milkwagons
in a vacant lot in Astoria.
Ben Shahn never painted them
but they' re there
askew in Astoria.
I have heard the junkman's obbligato.
I have ridden superhighways
and believed the billboard's promises
Crossed the Jersey Flats
and seen the Cities of the Plain
And wallowed in the wilds of Westchester
with its roving bands of natives
in stationwagons.
I have seen them.
I am the man.
I was there.
I suffered somewhat.
I am an American.
I have a passport.
I did not suffer in public.
And I'm too young to die.
I am a selfmade man.
And I have plans for the future.
I am in line
for a top job.
I may be moving on
to Detroit.
I am only temporarily
a tie salesman.
I am a good Joe.
I am an open book
to my boss.
I am a complete mystery
to my closest friends.
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
contemplating my navel.
I am a part
of the body's long madness.
I have wandered in various nightwoods.
I have leaned in drunken doorways.
I have written wild stories
without punctuation.
I am the man.
I was there.
I suffered
somewhat.
I have sat in an uneasy chair.
I am a tear of the sun.
I am a hill
where poets run.
I invented the alphabet
after watching the flight of cranes
who made letters with their legs.
I am a lake upon a plain.
I am a word
in a tree.
I am a hill of poetry.
I am a raid
on the inarticulate.
I have dreamt
that all my teeth fell out
but my tongue lived
to tell the tale.
For I am a still
of poetry.
I am a bank of song.
I am a playerpiano
in an abandoned casino
on a seaside esplanade
in a dense fog
still playing.
I see a similarity
between the Laughing Woman
and myself.
I have heard the sound of summer
in the rain.
I have seen girls on boardwalks
have complicated sensations.
I understand their hesitations.
I am a gatherer of fruit.
I have seen how kisses
cause euphoria.
I have risked enchantment.

I have seen the Virgin
in an appletree at Chartres
And Saint Joan burn
at the Bella Union.
I have seen giraffes
in junglejims
their necks like love
wound around the iron circumstances
of the world.
I have seen the Venus Aphrodite
armless in her drafty corridor.
I have heard a siren sing
at One Fifth Avenue.
I have seen the White Goddess dancing
in the Rue des Beaux Arts
on the Fourteenth of July
and the Beautiful Dame Without Mercy
picking her nose in Chumley's.
She did not speak English.
She had yellow hair
and a hoarse voice
and no bird sang.
I am leading a quiet life
in Mike's Place every day
watching the pocket pool players
making the minestrone scene
wolfing the macaronis
and I have read somewhere
the Meaning of Existence
yet have forgotten
just exactly where.
But I am the man
And I'll be there.
And I may cause the lips
of those who are asleep
to speak.
And I may make my notebooks
into sheaves of grass.
And I may write my own
eponymous epitaph
instructing the horsemen
to pass.

Dharam Khalsa -

AUTOBIOGRAPHY

I live in New Mexico,
the Land of Enchantment
in a southwestern-style house.
I value my personal life,
husband, teenage son, and two dogs.
I manage a business from home;
a jackrabbit manages the property.
I am working on a tax return,
which is due on April fifteenth.
I'll finish it earlier this year
because I am habitually late,
and then resume anagrams.

I was born in a Cleveland hospital
with an unbearable name at birth;
I won't reveal the name to anyone.
I came from a "heathen" atheist family;
I'd sneak off to Bible school by myself.
I was an unmanageable child,
bickered with my young sister.
I gave our mother awful headaches,
or so she wanted me to believe.
I read eerie 'Nancy Drew' stories,
and searched for a hidden passage
in my grandparents' stone house,
less than a mile from our home.
I loved to assemble jigsaw puzzles,
then do them again upside down,
with no picture visible to see.
I had quite an active imagination.
I invented secret codes and games
that I played quietly alone.
I confess I was shy and fearful,
but did phenomenally in school.
I was intelligent and attentive.
I learned both violin and piano,
rode horseback in shows,
and rode piggyback on my father.
I went harness sleighing in winter,
made tree houses in summer.
I had a pleasant childhood.
I played baseball with local boys,
until a freakish incident
when I got hit in the head with a bat,
had a hemorrhage, headache, shiner.
I joined the Campfire Girls
(was never interested in Girl Scouts)
and made hot S'mores by the fire.
I trick-or-treated for UNICEF.
I was not a cheerleader or athlete.
I traveled to Rome and Madrid,
where I left the bullfight in tears.
I am humane, but not squeamish.
I adore animals of all kinds.

I had a crush on a friend's brother,
who lived down the avenue.
I was a bareback horsewoman.
I fell off a horse on my head
to impress him with my horsemanship--
another hemorrhage, ache, amnesia.
He came to visit me in the hospital;
I was ungainly in a tie-on gown,
too embarrassed and humiliated
to ever see him again.
I hear he became a veterinarian.
He died of leukemia later,
and I never professed my love.

In my teen years, I misbehaved,
gallivanting with friends.
I went out through the window
at night when it was dark.
I'd stuff a level bed with pillows
to look like I was asleep.
My mother turned on the light
and I ran away from home.
I hid where they couldn't find me,
in my friends' grandma's house,
while she was away in Florida.
I was apprehended three days later
when the grandma got home.
The police called my indignant father.
It was a serious infraction.
I never quite knew the reason
I was sent to boarding school;
I think it was probably behavioral,
because I was a juvenile delinquent,
at least according to my mother.
I was sent to a private school
they couldn't really afford.
I worked part-time in the kitchen
to pay the expensive tuition.
I felt like an abandoned orphan.
I was an introverted teen,
though I enjoyed serving others;
I knew it was a privilege.
I lived on the third floor of a dorm;
I can't remember my roommate.
I know we smoked hash in the closet,
behind a heavy wool blanket
hanging over a rod.
Our sweaters smelt of smoke.
I learned to understand French
and express myself in print,
but I am not verbally bilingual.
I haven't ever used the language.
I loved new philosophies.
I read Hemingway and Shakespeare.
I watched cheesy old movies
on the lower floor of the dorm.
We turned all the armchairs over,
shook out years of coins
to put in vending machines.
I drank Fanta Orange soda
and ate PayDay candy bars.
I had embarrassing acne.
I used heavy Cover Girl makeup
and mascara on my eyelashes.
I wore heather-tone fashions.
I skipped the morning chapel
to sneak off to smoke hashish.
I experimented with drugs,
and had hallucinations.
It was the year nineteen-sixty-nine
and I was "sweet sixteen".
I played pranks on dorm mothers.
I was expelled from school
right before the holidays.
I rode home in my father's car
for thirteen hours in complete silence.
Advisors permitted me to return,
but only until that year's end.

I went to the beach in the summer;
I was seventeen that season.
I found a job as a waitress
at a fishing pier restaurant.
I moved to a boarding house
with several serious surfers.
I hitchhiked for transportation.
I protested the Vietnam war,
burned my bra, was a hippie chick,
and drank Boone's Farm Apple Wine.
I was a vagabond in blue jeans,
living on my own at seventeen.
I loved bookkeeping in school,
then attended business college
for accounting and computer science.
I learned Fortran, Cobol,
and Basic Assembly Language.
I programmed an endless loop
into the full-room IBM computer
before Christmas break
and left it running for a week.
No one found out who did it.
I got involved with an older man;
I envisioned marriage to him
and thought it would be heaven.
I wore a lovely diamond ring,
but he was businesslike, snappish,
and always late to meet me.
I had been sadly mistaken.
I broke it off and vanished to heal.
I headed to Tallahassee, Florida,
hid as a long-distance telephone operator.

I met my spouse-to-be at a party
the evening Nixon was reelected.
We were drinking, commiserating,
not celebrating the victory.
I thought my husband-to-be clever,
and called him "Philosopher King".
We listened to Firesign Theatre
and erupted into laughter.
I dreamed of his magnetic blue eyes.
I observed him practicing yoga
and meditating with self-discipline,
though I was irreverent and negative.
I talked and babbled and jabbered,
and asked him to take me along
on his journeys and adventures
in search of a higher spiritual life.
He said "There's no room for another",
but I aggressively pursued it,
and eventually convinced him
that I could be a helpmate.
Exhausted, he agreed I could go,
and I quickly packed my things.
We left in a bus the next morning.
I had only a small backpack,
no baggage except my faithlessness,
which was apparently very heavy.
We overstayed our welcome
with his college friends in Austin.
We found an apartment in San Antonio,
but were unable to get employment;
we did not speak Spanish at all.
We slept on a shapeless mattress,
ate Pop-Tarts and Instant Breakfast,
and followed Watergate on TV;
fun, but "heathen" - not a spiritual life.
We ran out of most of our cash
and rode the bus back to Virginia.
He got his glassblower job back.
Our housemates got high in the evening,
served meals to yoga teachers.
I became a wholehearted vegetarian.
I adopted real spiritual behavior.
and felt very enthusiastic.

We hitchhiked to an ashram,
lived separate there as renunciates.
I woke early and took cold baths
(great for ailments and overall health).
I performed humanitarian service,
and ashram housekeeping
(the men seemed chauvinistic).
I sang elevating music,
shared peaceful chanting,
sat in silent meditation,
did Kundalini yoga, too.
Our marriage was at an amphitheater.
Relatives did not attend the service.
I had the flu, felt peevish at the time.
We had no true honeymoon.
My husband became an unshaven white Sikh,
receiving his spiritual name.
I took his name in earnest,
meaning "righteous, faithful",
although, I had real reservations.
We rolled into Espanola in a VW bus,
hearing the ashram there had a farm.
Arriving at the hacienda in overalls,
we helped a while with a harvest,
laundry, and barn chores.

At length, after several miscarriages,
I bore two healthy sons...
(I have a hunch that's enough)

Hawaiian retirement? Heavens, no!

Tony Crafter -

SCENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
An 'Odourbiography'
by Anthony David Crafter

When Auntie Cissie kissed us,
It always smelled
Of eucalyptus.


It's strange how that phrase suddenly popped into my head, especially as Auntie Cissie has been dead for thirty-nine years. But there I was, sprinkling eucalyptus oil onto a hankie in an endeavour to soothe my influenza-ravaged sinuses when, voila...! long-lost memories of Auntie Cissie came wafting back through the decades.

A wrinkled hankie hides
A million germs and
Memories inside


Indeed, I have always found aromas to be very evocative. Unlike T.S. Eliot, I've not measured my life in coffee spoons: more in nasal experiences. But I grew up in a household of five sons and, as one can imagine, it was a veritable aroma-minefield. Indeed, if I wrote my life story it would probably be called 'An Odourbiography'!

Whoosh! There goes another wave of Auntie Cissie wafting past. Aha! Here she is again; nearly had you then Auntie! But you were too quick for me, flitting in and out of my memories like an elusive will o' the wisp. Not that Auntie did much flitting when alive. I have vivid memories of her visiting us and waddling in through the front door on those elephantine, perennially-bandaged legs, the aroma of eucalyptus hanging in the air behind her like an invisible vapour trail.

Aha! and here comes her pipe-smoking husband, Percy! Much loved, much travelled, Uncle Percy - a debonair ex-naval engineer, awash with exciting tales of exotic places:

Uncle Percy's smoky hugs
Smelled of pipes
And Persian rugs.


Alas, Percy also died - in his eighties - many years ago but here he is again, vivid as ever, alive and revived, a videotape in my head! Hi, Uncle; just passing through are you? I wonder to which fantastic world you are returning now!

I remember that brother Kevin (known to all as Windbreaker Kev) was Percy's favourite, but he only ever saw Kevin's well-behaved side. He didn't know that this fiendish devil-brother liked to lock me in the cellar in the dark, or sit on my head and make smells. Now, in white-haired old age, Kevin has not changed much, except that he doesn't lock me in the cellar any more...

Whene'er I smell a rotten egg,
I think of Kev
With lifted leg.


Being the youngest sibling, I always had pole position for piggy-backs from dad, and I remember a particular evening when we had all been to see a Bud Abbott and Lou Costello movie. I was draped, warm and sleepy, on his back, arms around his neck, enjoying the tangy-sweet fragrance of Brilliantine emanating from his hair as he trudged up the hill to our house.

Suddenly, he halted to draw everyone's attention to a shooting-star, but I was too tired and comfortable to raise my head. I never did see that shooting-star, neither have I ever seen one to this day, and I have grown up rueing the fact that my brothers had seen this incredible sight and I had not. Now, when I smell Brilliantine, I feel a sense of sleepy contentment tinged with the sad regret of missed opportunities.

Piggy-backs and Brilliantine,
A shooting-star
I haven't seen.


It was always a great source of intrigue and amusement to my brothers that I identified people as aromas, and I in turn was delighted to provide them with entertainment. I remember sitting cross-legged on the kitchen table while they fired aroma-related questions at me, and awaited my imaginative pronouncements with eagerness:

"What smell is Alistair Reeves, then?"
"Baked beans."
"What is Mrs Hanrahan at number nineteen?"
"Lavender."
"What is Keith Hankin?"
"Gorgonzola cheese."
"What is Annie Andersen?"
"A banana-milkshake."
"What is Kevin?"
"Bad eggs."
"Ha ha! What is Dad?"
"Brilliantine."
"What is Mum?"
"Oh..."

This was the question I had been dreading. Was there a universal fragrance that epitomised a mother's love? And if so, what was it? Ah, not a fair question to ask a seven-year-old kid. I thought hard. Then it hit me! They all leaned forward in expectation.
"Aha! She is... she is..." I said.
"Yeah...? What?" They gathered in closer.
"Clean washing!" I announced. "She's clean washing!"

"Huh...?" Their faces dropped and they walked away in disdain, now bored with the game. I was broken-hearted; I was only telling it as I smelled it, but I had disappointed them. From that day, I learned to embellish my pronouncements to ensure maximum audience appreciation.

Mum's the one I loved the most,
Washday-fresh
And warm as toast.


Of course, no childhood memories are complete without those of our schooldays. I hated school with a passion. The corridors invariably reeked of Johnson's Wax and vomit and, although neither of these odours in isolation reminds me of school, just mix them together and I am right back there with the kids.

I can even feel Mr Waterman the music master rapping my head with a wooden blackboard duster when I didn't know how many beats there were in a semibreve.

When my addled brain then failed to distinguish a crotchet from a quaver, he used the analogy of a chocolate bar to accompany the highly effective rapping of the blackboard duster. "Each (rap!) square (rap!) of chocolate (rap!) denotes a musical (rap!) beat, and together they make up the whole bar (rap!). Have we got that Crafter? Bonehead!" To this day the smell of chocolate gives me a throbbing headache, and rap music gives me even more of one.

Chocolate bars and blackboard chalk
Are things of which
It hurts to talk.


Then, one memorable, teenage day, I discovered girls! Having been raised in a family of brothers, the household was dominated by indeterminate male aromas, but when I started going out with girls I stepped from a world of aromas into one of fragrances. Ah, heaven! And what wonderful perfumes there were to remember and idealise them by! Valerie was 'Evening In Paris', Nadine was 'Rive Gauche', Hannah was 'Miss Dior'. I have never forgotten the heady smell of those perfumes and as a result I have never forgotten the girls either.

Nadine, Hannah, Val as well;
A pot pourri
Of heavenly smells.


Now a sexagenarian, with more years behind me than ahead of me, I have added a host of new smells to the list. Talcum powder represents babies and I am instantly reminded of our two beautiful daughters at baby-age.

In contrast, there is the depressing and all- pervasive stale-urine aroma I encountered when I visited a nonagenarian relative in a nursing home (and, no, it did not come from me!).

Then there is the intangible smell of sheer fear I experienced when an armed robber raided a bank where I was an assistant manager. Adrenaline does indeed have an aroma.

In April, the viburnum juddii here in our garden bursts into flower and releases a divine fragrance, but it lasts a mere three weeks then it's gone. While it is there, the aroma is an announcement that Spring is here again. Alas, like life, it is all too brief.

Babies, Spring and urine stale,
Each aroma
Speaks a tale.


One day I am going to amass a load of those individual Shippams paste pots and in each one I shall put an aromatic reminder of various times in my life. Ok, I don't think I'll be having a Kevin-jar but, apart from that, I shall have eucalyptus in one, pipe tobacco in another, have a hint of Brilliantine in another, a bit of floor wax in another (I think I'll leave out the vomit) and so on until I have built up a comprehensive potted history. Then, when I am feeling nostalgic, I can pick a jar at random and embark on my own 'scentimental' journey. I wonder what aroma I would be?

When they have tolled my final bell,
Will I come back
As just a smell?

David Bourke -

Life - a Reminiscence

David Sean Bourke (age forty-nine):

I was born at a young age in Homerton, in East London, of Irish descent. I moved to Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, and from five, home was in Swiss Cottage, a Viennese-Jewish refugee enclave in North London. As a nipper, I went to George Eliot, a wonderful primary school...I cherish my happy childhood memories there! Then I went to Haverstock Comprehensive, a tough, harsh school a mile away in Chalk Farm. My form teacher was Alan Scrivener. It was in the early Seventies then, in the "glam" era...I had long hair and I even used to wear high-heeled boots like I was David Bowie or Marc Bolan! A heterosexual, but naively unaware of what a vain, effeminate fairy I looked, I was chased and beaten up by the girls. I mean, boys didn't even consider me fair game! It was hell...a sheer hell. I misbehaved. I failed in most of my exams.

At about thirteen-ish, I got into motorbikes. I used to hop on a thirty-one bus and I'd beeline to F.H. Warr (a Harley- Davidson dealer in Kings Road in Chelsea) and stare, while in awe, at the massive, powerful, shining machines in their window. I knew everything about them...except how to ride one! I wanted to be Barry Sheene or Evel Knievel. I could even recite gear ratios, external dimensions, engine measurements, bore and stroke, for an Electra Glide, a Cafe Racer, a Sportster...off the top of my vacant, juvenile head. No use to anyone. Years on, I have still never ridden a motorbike!

At fourteen I forgot about bikes, as I got into guitars. I read up on the subject. I knew my stuff. I couldn't even play one to any degree, but I knew all the model names, numbers, values, good or bad points of each "axe" brand, expensive and cheap. At fifteen, I switched to playing a bass, as they had fewer strings to think about. Or maybe it just suited my introvert personality. I left Haverstock, then I worked in a shop (Chappell of Bond Street) selling the things, where I met famous rock stars such as Carlos Santana, Tom Robinson, Steve Howe, John Entwistle, Trevor Horn, and Mark King on an almost daily basis. Which I thought nothing of, this was just what a seventeen / eighteen / nineteen-year-old did. I went skiing in Austria annually. I got engaged at twenty-two to Terrie Smith, a lovely, beautiful honey-blonde girl with whom I was besotted (and had been for years before we became an item). A shame it didn't work out with her...we split up, and shaken, that night I smashed a car backwards into a brick wall, and I got severe whiplash. It took me ages before I got over the unbearable heartache, the anguish, the sheer pain...oh man, I still miss that car!

Meanwhile, I played the bass in a bunch of under-rehearsed and unremembered bands, with various haircuts...'The Outsiders', 'Pressure', 'Dance Macabre' (goth gloom, similar to Bauhaus), 'The Chance' (or "No Chance"! - a Shepherds Bush "mod revival"...my favourite album is 'Quadrophenia' by The Who), then 'Coda' (Queen/Van Halen-ish stadium rock anthems...without a stadium!), 'The Marquee No-Stars', 'The Shout' (heavy Welsh blues)...none of them ever got anywhere. (The bands, not haircuts. Well both, when I come to think!). I played as a pianist in a cover band called Self Inflicted...I remember an unimpressed landlord of a bar in Holborn where we played...he thought I was SO bad, he said, his eyes heavenwards, "If I ever see Dave near a piano in here ever again, I shall superglue his fingers together!"

In the Eighties, I was made redundant as a guitar salesman, and hence I signed on the dole. I sat idle on my backside for a while. I learned Italian and Dutch. I studied sharks, whales and dolphins. I joined a scuba diving club. I played underwater hockey nationwide for Hampstead. I tried hashish ...and I inhaled! I even tried hallucinogens. Then my sister Jackie bought me a calligraphy set for my birthday, despite (or perhaps because of) my illegible handwriting. I experimented, and before long, I could write Georgian-style script. Likewise, Olde English. Then a shop in Kensington asked me to paint them a massive fascia sign. I did, despite never having done one before. It didn't look half bad. "I can do this!", I thought...and I've worked doing "this" for a "living" ever since...all cut vinyl now though, I no longer do painted ones.

Watching 'Have I Got News For You' in the mid-Nineties, I was amazed when Ian Hislop pointed out 'Virginia Bottomley' was an anagram of "I'm an evil Tory bigot". Unbelievable! I had it verified on pen and paper. I endeavoured to create a few anagrams myself...I failed to do anything memorable. Then a few months later (in a branch of W.H. Smith...Bromley South, if I am not mistaken), I saw a PC magazine with a free cover CD that had a trial of a program called 'Anagram Genius'. Oh, what fun! I used up all the ten trial runs in half an hour. Being shrewd (and mean...too mean to actually purchase a full version of said program) it didn't take long to work out I could get around this by deleting a particular file, and a manual reset of the PC date to a month earlier. I didn't tell William Tunstall-Pedoe (the software creator), but he realised. High on adrenaline, here is where my life started to go downhill. Creating anagrams started taking precedence over work. Before long, I'd stare at a screen all day, wide awake at midnight, I'd be awake all night...I'd fall asleep exhausted, as the hours vanished. Every morning, I awakened, and I'd pop over to a postbox and send my creations to a newspaper (the Daily Mail) who occasionally printed one, and sent me a ten- pound book token. I think I had at least seventy tokens before even they got bored and stopped printing anagrams for a while. I needed an outlet for my "creativity" though. Eventually I'd start to meet with people driven with the same dreadful affliction...new friends like Michael Tully, Chris Sturdy, Mike Keith, Anna Shefl (alias "Lardy"), and Phil Carmody, who I had met through an online group called A.A. (alt.anagrams). We'd meet once, even twice a year in a bar...The Metropolitan in Baker Street, London. We'd invariably compare tales of household woe caused by our unexplainable antisocial compulsion. Over the years, I must have squandered whole months and haemorrhaged thousands as I preferred to sit, pissed, impoverished, composing anagrams ...some simple, some mammoth, thousands of letters long... some inane, infantile and tasteless (a hallmark I maintain!), some driven by a sheer hatred of Tony Blair. The American president, George W. Bush was a frequent victim, but I didn't despise him, maybe he was just an obvious target. Meanwhile, the Mail rang up...they were going to print anagrams again, and would I please furnish them with a few ideas with which to get started? No tokens this time, though! Apart from which, it is nigh-on impossible to get anything published in the Mail these days, as there is another irredeemable, hardened veteran anagram headcase in Kent ...Tony Crafter from Sevenoaks. It seems he sneaks his ones in each and every day!

What achievements! WHAT achievements? In consequence, I have become an obnoxious, misanthropic, impoverished, unshaven, shuffling under-achiever, a serial philanderer, a habitual skiver, a pariah, a heavy absinthe drinker. I'm a horrible husband to dear Catherine. Ah, the shame, the shame! I now live in the Asian area in Rochester, in financial upheaval. Anyway, as I am a vegetarian non-smoker, maybe I shall live an extremely long time...either that, or it will just seem like it! And William Tunstall-Pedoe? He has much to answer for, damn him!

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Updated: May 10, 2016


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