"A Horse Walks into a Bar" by Charlotte Harker
A horse walks into a bar.
The barman did not say, "Why the long face?'
Before the barman could proceed the horse explained, 'I am a horse. I have a long face. I am a grazing animal and evolved in open grassland. With a small stomach and a diet high in forage, I spend a large amount of time eating with my head down at ground level. Having a long face places my range of vision, in this position, at a level which allows for greater awareness of my surroundings. This is important as I am a prey animal and my primary defence is running away. That's evolution for you. Happy now?'
The horse ordered drinks, 'Bacardi and coke with ice and a straw. An orange juice for my rider.'
The barman served the drinks and turned to the horse for payment, since the horse seemed to be doing all the talking.
The horse said, 'My rider is paying, you idiot. I am a horse. I don't have any money.
The rider paid the barman.
They finished their drinks and the horse turned to leave, banging its head on a low beam. The horse was drunk and not concentrating. The rider ducked beneath the beam as they made for the exit.
Outside they passed a queue of assorted fauna. A swan was at the front, followed by a cat, a bear, a squirrel, an otter and so on down the line. Each was clutching typed scripts in whatever means of clutching evolution had deemed appropriate, beak, paw, pouch, for example.
A sign read,
Today. Auditions for replacements or variations on 'A Horse Walks into a Bar.’
'I thought that went quite well' said the horse. The rider nodded in agreement.
"No-one" by Chris Tattersall
His wife was comforted by friends and family as he lifted their daughter. It was the smallest of coffins but weighed so heavy on his shoulders, yet no one realized the effort it took him.
He was masculine, dependable, strong. Weak in no one’s eyes, he was a man’s man and undoubtedly a hunter-gatherer in a previous life.
He had no recollection of the last time he had cried and in this dire situation tears still eluded him. He couldn’t summon a reaction despite feeling so desperate he would willingly give his life to change the recent
past. No one saw his pain.
Time off on compassionate leave was killing him. His vocation as a Police officer had informed him of life’s possible battles but this was personal for which no training or experience could prepare him, yet no one considered the possibility that he couldn’t cope. He was a rock for his wife, her friends, his parents, seemingly everyone. He soothed their tears, served them with sympathy and gave them strength by proxy.
"Your poor wife, is she ok?"
"It must be so hard for her, give her our love."
No one offered him solace.
After the mourners had left and the nursery door closed, their future lacking in life was adjusted to. Time slowly dragged itself forward.
Like an excited child showing off her latest toy she rushed out of the bathroom clutching the white stick. Proudly she presented him with it, its window displaying a thin blue line. He put a strong arm around his wife and kissed the top of her head. He showed her nothing but joy.
Turning away, his heart sank, he didn’t want to risk any more pain.
A tear came to his eye but no one noticed.
"The Buzz Around London" by Laura Stubbs
Smoke! Burnt toast as a healthy accompaniment to fried green tomatoes and boiled eggs? I’m reassured by the elderly woman hovering next to the fire alarm that it is not a toast disaster but in fact wanted charcoal that helps cleanse her body. I want to stick to the belief that the smell of her burnt toast is exposing me to more pollution than a busy intersection. But at age 80 and with drooping jowls she can still find her way around the YHA kitchen, so maybe BBQing your toast has some impressive health benefits?
The other hostel guests are excited over photographs of their bright and insanely healthy looking acacia breakfast bowls. Superfoods come with a generational buzz in London - teenagers eat mouthfuls of immune-boosting berries and grannies bake, fry and roast toast until it looks like death itself.
My age is hidden somewhere between 18 and 80 and my morning cup of coffee is also hiding somewhere in-between what some say is healthy and what others simply call a bad habit. Like oxygen, I need to breathe the all-natural liquid through my lungs and down into an irritable bowel that energetically pumps life, and movements, back into every part of me. But is coffee really any good for you or just another fashionable addiction? Evidence shows, just like berries it is full of antioxidants which may help you stay young. Another study has linked coffee to a reduced risk of Alzheimers, and a lower risk of burning your toast.
I take a little more coffee then energetically step outside into the cool brisk English morning. What’s that in the bushes? New research has found that drinking coffee may improve eyesight and I have just spotted two slices of cancerous black toast tossed into the garden!