"Prayer is what we turn to when the only thing we have left is hope."
- Johnathan Elias

Sometimes I think I should read the newspapers more. Then I do, and remember why I don't.

In the Telegraph: Israel, instead of retaliating for the murder of eight students by a Palesinian, is nobly continuing with peace talks with its terrorist neighbours.

So remind me which country occupied the other, and has all the weapons? Palestine invaded Israel - that is right isn't it?

Nevermind, underneath are articles on important stuff like how gadgets break marriages, and how Victoria Beckham is on the cover of Vogue.

The Mail...isn't a real newspaper, so ignore it.

The Mirror have more on the latest dead missing schoolgirl. Madeline McCann is so old news now.

And an appropriately named singer forgets where her mouth is.

On the BBC news website, we learn there is a campaign to put the faces of the 175 British soldiers killed in Iraq on stamps. Because it honours their sacrifice, apparantly.

I'll happily lick the heads of all the soldiers you want, but how much saliva do they need to become national heroes?

This must be one of those campaigns with no actual people in it - just a journalist saying there is one. A bit like those adverts for films and shows you see on the metro, promoting something no one's heard of yet by saying "everybody's talking about it".

By the way - 175 in 5 years? That's an average of 35 a year. For a war - and a losing war at that - it's a miniscule number.

Socialist Worker talks in it's lurid way about what the Telegrah forgot to mention - Israel spent the last week bombing the Gaza strip. While conducting peace talks.

The money is indeed delayed. What a surprise. So I can't repay Mother, because Tania the secretary can't pay me, because Ian the director hasn't paid her, because Scott Ian's employer hasn't paid him, because...he forgot or something.

Some people like to say there are only four stories in the world. The same people like to say there are only seven jokes. The difference is, no one can list the jokes, but a few can produce a list of story archetypes.

So what are the only four stories in the world? A quick google search produces this list:

1) A man goes on a journey
2) A stranger comes to town
3) Star-crossed lovers
4) Of honor and revenge

...and this one:

1) Overcoming adversity
2) Being more than what you are
3) Falling in love
4) Finding revenge

...and this one:

1) Love between two people
2) Love concerning more than two
3) A struggle
4) A journey

...and this one:

1) The city that is defended by brave men but will be destroyed nevertheless
2) The return against all odds after a journey of many years
3) The quest for a very rare treasure
4) The god who sacrifices himself

Well I reckon I can do better than these. So here is Kapitano's list of all the stories you will ever hear, shoehorned into four categories:

1) Solving a puzzle or overcoming an obstacle to win a prize (Examples: the murder mystery, fighting war or revolution, hitting the jackpot, seduction, the quest, engaging in a worthy struggle and failing heroically, finding then losing then regaining love)

2) Growth through pain (Examples: coming of age, making a mistake and learning from it, pilgrim's progress, the book of job, ghost stories and alien abduction, frankenstein)

3) Transformation (Examples: Everyone's lives are disrupted when a stranger arrives, the protagonist goes slowly insane, going to jail, coming off drugs, get rich quick)

4) One damn thing after another (Examples: a sequence of events with no moral message, waiting for godot, pornography, soap opera, tristram shandy)

Note that funny anecdotes, vingettes, and stories about natural justice (eg. most episodes of The Twilight Zone) don't fit into any of the above. Nor do stories about personal sacrifice, missed opportunities, or men turning into insects.


  1. Lord knows I don't mean to be argumentative, but surely your 'men turning into insects' will fit into both 3- 'Transformation' and 4- 'One damn thing after another'.

    On a more pragmatic note: not being paid is BAD, especially when it's your first pay day. Don't be the nice self deprecating English (or should that be Engrish?) man. Go ballistic, and get your wonga. Now, not next week or month. No, really. It's good advice. They need you, and, unless you're there for some other reason, they should pay you on time. Do not let them extract the Michael.

  2. Well, Gregor Samsa doesn't become a better person by working through the pain of being transformed into an insect, so "Metamorphosis" isn't in the "Growth through pain" category. He also doesn't adapt to a sudden catastrophic change in circumstance, so it's not in "Transformation".

    No, the forth category is for stories without the begining, middle and end of traditional plots. They're for narratives where things just happen, like real life. If Kafka's work goes anywhere, it's there, I think.

    Of course, the categories aren't watertight - they overlap sometimes and as I indicated, some stories don't fit easily into any of them.

    As for pay...I'm being indulgent this one time, because we're all working under shambolic conditions. If it happens again, I'll have to seriously reconsider.

  3. Kafka? Who said anything about Kafka? I was thinking of 'The Fly'. Anyway, being turned (or transformed) into an insect certainly sounds like a 'transformation' to me. And if it happened at the end of a long day of misfortunes, could it not be construed as 'one damn thing after another', too? Hmm? You cutely didactic chappy, you. ;)

    As for indulgence: it's all well and good if you can afford it, but a bummer if you can't. Don't set a precedent.