Category Archives: unpublished

This one book: IT by Stephen King

IT is a ridiculous book. It’s silly, it’s disgusting, it was written by a drunk and worst of all, it’s a book about a gang of kids who save a town from a scary clown. Well sometimes “It” is a clown. Sometimes It’s a big spider and other times It’s Paul Bunyan or a leper. Did I mention the book is ridiculous? Basically, It shape shifts into the things children are most afraid of and then kills them. Sound familiar? I don’t know if IT (published in 1986) ripped off Nightmare on Elm Street (released 1984), but who cares? If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there can never be enough stories about murdered children, am I right?

If you’ve not read IT, I suppose this is the part where I should warn you of impending spoilers but as you probably have no intention of reading IT anyway, what difference does it make? Besides, most of the spoilery bits are above anyhow. I don’t even feel bad.

“Why is this ridiculous book the one that changed your life?” I hear you not ask. Let me tell you anyway.

Before reading IT at thirteen, I had read precisely three novels: Jacob Two Two meets the Hooded Fang, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (Yes, two books by Mordecai Richler… Canada innit). Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly hooked on reading. In fact, I found the idea of sitting down with a book a fairly tedious activity, especially once the NES came out. Remember how awesome Super Mario 3 was? Why would you read a friggin book when you could play that game instead? Finding your first secret coin room… oh, MAN.

Stephen King changed all that.

Stephen King books are bad. And I don’t mean the writing is shit. Ok, yes, he spends too much time describing scenes and characters that have no bearing on the plot and maybe he does love an adverb or two (despite the surprising diss he gives them in On Writing), and oh I guess it’s true his books are way way way too long, but oh my dear lord, they’re fun to read.

When I say they’re bad, I mean they are properly off-side. Some are a bit racist, women are often battered, dudes are sleeping with their own moms and, of course, the stacks upon stacks of dead kids.

Even now, in these days of overprotective supermoms and paedomania, you can still find Stephen King novels everywhere. Book shops, airports, car boot sales, Oxfam… you name it. I found IT in my school library. In Junior High! I read it on the bus, I read it in the cafeteria, I read it on the couch at home and no one seemed to care. It was so strange. Everyone knew Stephen King books were a bit wrong, but they just seemed happy to see me reading an actual book. A tut here, the odd eye roll there, but that was it, no one said I couldn’t read it despite the grisly murders, the occultish baddies, the domestic abuse or the graphic sex. It was like discovering a socially acceptable porno mag. “Ah, is that porn you’re reading young sir? Good lad. More kids should be like you. Don’t forget to look at the tits!” You know the bit where Stan drags a razor blade lengthwise down both forearms and paints the word “It” on the shower wall in his own blood? I read that bit during church youth group while the pastor was giving a lecture on the evils of heavy metal. It was amazing.

King novels are the crack cocaine of the literary world, and IT is crackiest cocainiest. It has to be to keep you reading a book about a scary clown for well over a thousand pages. As soon as I finished, I immediately withdrew all the Stephen King novels from the library and read them all, then I went to the public library and read all of the ones they had and then when I was finished with those I went to the book store and used my own money to buy some more. Birthdays, Christmases, books had made their way onto my gift lists. I looked forward to reading the books we were assigned in school and English had become my favourite subject. I even found love for Mordecai Richler!

Stephen King is largely responsible for getting a dummy like me to read and even moreso to write. In fact, it wasn’t long after reading IT that I wrote my first story; a bit of flash fiction entitled “Barnyard Bob and his dog named Phil”; a story about a dog who has sex with his degenerate owner in exchange for room and board. It was god awful, but shit it was fun to write.

If Canada had colonised the UK

What would the UK look like if John Cabot’s voyage went not from east to west across the Atlantic, but West to East?

Probably nothing like this but I was bored last night and hadn’t touched illustrator in awhile so I thought why not do a blog post that is bound to offend everyone who reads it? Apologies in advance.

map of UK with Canadian provinces taking the place of UK counties


  • Has it’s own language
  • Run by separatists
  • Men put a disturbing amount of time/thought into their attire
  • Cultural capital of UK, contains its most beautiful city
  • Fantastically proficient at its national sport, terrible at soccer

British Columbia

  • Tradition of flirting with Socialism
  • Beautiful and full of lakes
  • Home of the United Kanata’s Green movement
  • Home of the UK’s best soccer team


  • Bloody cold
  • Home of the country’s indigenous people
  • Invaded by Norse sailors
  • People communicate by throat singing
  • Lots of blubber


  • Known for mining
  • History of violent protests against the government
  • Moustaches never went out of style
  • People known for their friendliness
  • Completely mad for national sport, despite being hopelessly shit at it


  • Country’s middle
  • Incest abounds on its fringes
  • Parts of it are so flat, you can watch your dog run away for three days
  • Everyone drives through it, nobody stops
  • Hella ugly capital city (Second biggest city surprisingly awesome)

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Crazy accent
  • So different from the other provinces, it’s almost like a different country
  • Home of the country’s (now defunct) fishing industry.
  • UK’s favourite pisstaking target. Inhabitants take it with good humour (to a point)
  • A very musical race of people


  • Home of UK’s biggest and most multicultural city
  • Ontario’s largest city is the only city in UK that foreigners can name.
  • The capital city used to be great at the country’s national sport, but is now pants
  • Traditionally UK’s business hub, but efforts are afoot to spread wealth to other parts of the country.
  • People who live in Ontario scarcely aware of the rest of the country’s existence.


  • Does things their own way despite it not always being the right way
  • Half-assed separation movement
  • Home to UK’s largest onshore oilfield (Wytch Farm)
  • Never votes Labour/Liberal

Nova Scotia

  • UK’s most populace maritime province
  • Nova Scotia translates literally to “New Scotland” and it’s erm kinda close to where Scotland was before Canada invaded and renamed it Quebec… sorry bit of a stretch


  • Tiny and cute

New Brunswick

  • Only technically bilingual (French/English) province in confederation
  • It’s the last province everyone names when listing them off
  • No one lives there

A Canadian on Caramac Bars – by Guy Garrud

Because my next column for Leftlion is about cycling and I’ve blogged about it quite a bit here already, I present to you my next blog post via writer/blogger/fire inspector about town Guy Garrud.

HEY, WAITTAMINUTE. He may be taking the piss here. I’m not sure this man is even Canadian.

Let’s all make fun of his terrible handwriting.

In defence of Mark Garner (sorta).

This morning, I read this blog post from food writer, Lizzie Mabbot.

Go on, go read that and come back here, I’ll wait.

Finished? Good.

As both readers of this blog will know (hi mom), I, like Lizzie, have written for Mark Garner in the past and as some of you who know me personally, i.e. the poor souls who exist within my tortured little whinge-sphere, Manchester Confidential were late in paying me as well. Very late.

I’d written an article on Labour’s failed ID card scheme and after numerous, polite, attempts at extracting payment from ManCon, I sent this email to their accounts department, cc’ing the big guy himself:

Hi X,

Have I done something to piss you Manchester Confidential folks off? Was it the dissing of one of Mark’s food photos on Twitter? Maybe you don’t like my tie.

Your refusal to pay me has to be a personal thing. It can’t be standard practice for ManCon to take over 6 months to pay a contributor. I’ve written for many publications in the UK, most (who are we kidding, ALL) are much smaller than ManCon, and I have never had to wait this long.

I know what you owe me is a pittance and a low priority, but I’m a stubborn bastard and I won’t go away. If you think I won’t pursue this because it’s such a small amount, think again. I will sue on principle, it’s what we colonials do. Although, I will probably write a couple more nasty emails (and maybe even a letter on PAPER) before I go that far. I am also half British, you see.

If I’ve hurt someone’s feelings over there, kicked someone’s dog, pissed in someone’s Shreddies then please accept my apology. Accept a hundred of them.

Just pay me.


Rob Cutforth


Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Holy crap, Rob, you sound like a whiny little asshole like Lizzie”. And you’d be half-right, especially if you read that letter without irony. Mark Garner didn’t read it without irony, He gets irony. He likes a bit of spiky humour; anyone who has ever read anything he’s ever published will know this.

You’re probably also thinking “Six months without getting paid?! Jesus, I thought this post was supposed to be in support of Mark Garner” and you’d be half-right again. Six months is an unacceptable amount of time to go without getting paid for an article, especially when you factor in the fact that I had to acquire one of those fucking Labour Big Brother ID cards in the process.

What you don’t know about the above response is that this bit, while true, is a tad misleading: “I’ve written for many publications in the UK … and I have never had to wait this long.” I have indeed written for quite a few publications in this country, some of which have enormous readerships and yes, while it is true I have never had to wait six months for payment, the reason is not as obvious as it might appear.

The fact is, the sum total I’ve been offered for the dozens of articles I’ve had published in magazines, newspapers and websites in this country is a big, fat, zero. Bupkiss. Nada, nothing, zip, zilch.

I’m not excusing these publications for not paying their writers, but I know for a fact that paying writers is something many independent publishers who aren’t lucky enough to receive lottery money can afford to do. Every single issue that goes to print is a struggle and many publications operate at a loss. I have since made a conscious decision to stop wasting my time writing for free (except for my LeftLion column), which is why you no longer see published articles on this, or my other blogs anymore.

It is entirely possible that my writing is worthless and Lizzie should be paid in gold bullion, lord knows a quick comparison of the number of comments Lizzie gets on her blog and at the comments I get will tell you that there is little to compare between the two of us. Lizzie probably isn’t a massive celebrity in Nottingham like I am (irony), but still, it has to be said, she is obviously much better at this business than I am. I hope she gets more paid work, I really do, but I can tell you right now that if I were a small publisher reading her post whinging about a payment that was a mere 10 days late, I would be asking her to shove things where the sun doesn’t shine as well. Ok, well, perhaps I wouldn’t go that far.

Oh yeah, and if you want proof that Mark Garner responds better to irony than moaning and browbeating, here is his response to my email (the spelling mistakes have been corrected):


Please confirm that we owe Mr Cutforth this money.

Mr Cutforth, to short circuit the whole thing, send me a copy invoice with your bank details and I will make a payment tomorrow.

I am unsure as to whether I should apologise, we may well be able to get another of your emails which made me smile, in the nicest possible way…

Mark Garner

The first cheque I ever received for writing in the UK followed shortly thereafter.