10 Jan


Dusk drew in as rain pattered off windows, bringing an end to yet another nondescript London day. The grey fug of Piccadilly hung about the rooftops – November cold nipping at crowds running for buses and home-cooked meals.

Bill fumbled with the door, turned the lock and ambled over to the microphone standing on his desk. He had done it a thousand times, used his loquacious larynx to lull the young and weary to sleep with once-upon–a-times and happily-ever-afters. He sat down, placed the headphones on his head and waited for his queue.

“And now over to London, to Uncle Bill Brewer and his goodnight story.”

“Queue Bill – Play music  – and intro.”

The light above the door switched from green to red; the show was on the air.

“Hello children everywhere. This is Uncle Bill. I am sure that before you climb the wooden hill to Bedfordshire and wait for the sandman’s magic dust to carry you off to dreamland you would love to hear a story. Would you like to hear my story?”

All around the country children pinched pink from hot baths, pyjammered and nightgowned sat before radiograms in anticipation of tonight’s tale.  The ritual of rushed teeth cleanings and hurried suppers insured prime spots in front of crackling speakers.

“Tonight’s story is about Chopper John, a woodsman who lives and works in the ten-acre wood. His days are filled with the sounds of the forest and the little birds and animals that live beneath its spreading canopy. Are you ready?”

Screamed confirmation from a thousand small voices echoed throughout Radio Land.

Bill had been in radio since it was silent; what he didn’t know about broadcasting would fit on the back of a postage stamp. He had done it, seen it all and met everybody who was anybody. His career spanned thirty years and Broadcasting House was more a home than it was a place of work. Bill was loved by the children of Britain, both young and old.

“Every morning Chopper John would get out of bed, yawn loudly, put on his favorite red shirt and eat his breakfast in the kitchen. Toast and marmelade with two boiled eggs.”

Bill reached into the cupboard below the desk and pulled out the bottle. Medicinal of course – for celebration purposes only. He screwed off the cap and poured a finger or six into the white enammeled cup in frontof him.

“Then he would pick up his axe and head into the forest.”

Bill put the cup to his mouth and gulped its contents. He had often been asked the secret of his success, how he managed to cultivate the rich warm tobacco tones for which he was known and adored. This wasn’t his first whisky today and he was beginning to feel the double-malt’s effect.

“Chopper John walked into the wood, whistling as he went, passing all the friendly woodland creatures on his way. Rabbits and squirrels lined the path waiting for Chopper John just as they did each morning.  Because it was such a beautiful day Chopper John decided to ignore the whisperings of the creatures. Their acerbic, back-stabbing remarks, meant to hurt a man who had given his all for the corporation – laid down his life for Radio.”

Children sat in awe, the tale of Chopper John filling their sleepy little minds with images of fun, furry, critters scampering through bushes. Happy days and even happier dreams ahead.

The chipped cup hit the desk again and Uncle Bill fought the grimace on his face as the bight of alcohol stung his throat.

“The sun warmed his body and the breeze blew through his golden hair – the insidious comments made by the newly installed management team would not deter him. Vicious mean bastards trying to get rid of Uncle Bill and replace him with some snot-nosed wanker with no experience.”

Children turned to parents with bright wholesome smiles, the sound of leafy woodlands dancing in their ears. Parents put down newspapers and knitting needles and turned up the volume on the Radiogram.

“Chopper John was not a bitter man but if he was, he would shove their gold watch so far up their arse that they’d  have to open their mouths to check the time… as he wandered into the clearing.”

A bald headed man rushed into the control room and slashed a finger across his throat. Uncle Bill looked up briefly, ignored him, and refilled the cup.

“As he meandered through cool leafy glades, Chopper John decided that he should tell the truth, and let his young listeners know what bastards they really were. Money-grabbing scum-sucking boy lovers, who wouldn’t know the meaning of a hard day’s work if it jumped up and kicked them in the balls, and took his hunting rifle off his back.”

Children sat mesmerized half dozing, half dreaming as they lived the story floating through the speakers. Fathers removed pipes from mouths and mothers hastily bookmarked pages.

Now there were a crowd of people in dark suits inside the control room. Banging on the glass, gesticulating wildly and mouthing mute threats. Bill smiled, reached into his pocket, and brought out the revolver.

“Chopper John loved to hunt and a plump pheasant would make him a lovely supper. Pheasant in rich gravy with potatoes and carrots, and the bastards will rue the day they got rid of Uncle Bill. Arse licking sycophants with nothing in their empty heads but shit and sawdust.”

The pistol exploded and clattered to the floor. The smoke curled around Bill’s slumped body, as  security guards kicked their way through splintered wood.

 “Unfortunately the story of Chopper John will have to wait for another time and we wish our listeners sweet dreams and happy thoughts. Goodnight from Chopper John and goodnight from Uncle Bill.”

Parents stared at each other. That hadn’t sounded like Uncle Bill?

 Very strange!

Radiograms around the country were turned off and sleepy children carried to bed.

Good bye Chopper John. Good bye Uncle Bill.



  1. Eveline Horelle Dailey January 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Your secret for speed, action without moving from a chair was again remarkable!
    I was hooked from the first line, awed by the surprising delivery. I am waiting
    for publication of an anthology of your flash fiction.

  2. davidwburns January 11, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Excellent read, man. Uncle Bill goes off the deep end with the whiskey on air…

    “medicinal purposes” indeed. Could happen to any of us.

  3. General Zzod January 12, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Vitriolic, utter despair, words strewn about in discord without a hint or
    regard to even the basic use of language skills.
    Perhaps just the ramblings of an ingrate or a drunkard having no meaning or sense.
    The precious few early morning hours hours that should have been spent
    sleeping are now… forever… wasted. Determined, he sent the last bit of energy sent streaming through his gelatinous mass to resolve this rant. However, this proved utterly useless.
    Even the “Ruler of the Universe” knows when to bow to the great english writer.
    General Zzod bids you….

  4. Steve Green January 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    Awesome!!! I love it, the mingling dialogue of fairy tale-esque, with alcohol fuelled resentment, I could just picture the parent’s faces too. Pity about poor Bill though.

  5. General Zzod January 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Kind Mortal,
    I do not need a World Wide Web site.
    My web site is Universal in nature.
    From my portal I see and know all.
    ( I know for example, you ski beautifully! )
    It is upon my choosing when communication to any common man or beast shall unfold;
    Not a moment before. I say again… do not test the Ruler of the Universe, lest ye be struck
    down. As a bug beneath the wheels of my flaming chariot.

    I have read all your ramblings and short stories mortal.
    I pray you have the good sense to step it up and proceed to the next adventure.
    My patience grows weary and my hair thin.
    If you doubt my power, I will turn your Becks beverage into water if I do not receive a
    new story by the fortnight.

    General Zzod

  6. brindabanjee73 January 25, 2011 at 7:39 am #

    You built up the drama masterfully Colin, loved the line ‘…since radio was silent..’ and .. good luck!

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