If I Ruled the World by Clovenhoof

I love the internet - I don’t have to lie about who I really am. If I met you in the street I’d have to tell you that my name is Jeremy Clovenhoof and that I live in Boldmere, but here I can come right out with it and tell you that I am Satan. That’s SATAN, Lord of Hell! I do live in Boldmere though.

Let’s just say that I was the victim of some corporate re-shuffling and they thought they’d park me in the suburbs to keep me out of the way. Keep a low profile they said. You’ll love it, they said. Well it’s been weeks since I’ve blown anything up, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on some changes that I have in mind to make things more interesting.

Okay, first up, I need to look after number one. It’s not selfish. How can I be expected to apply my full genius to the humdrum problems of the world if I’m chasing my tail trying to make a living? I’ve got a great job at the undertakers, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. They won’t even let me take my work home with me. So, here’s a couple of easy fixes that will see the cash come rolling in…

1) I’d like a column in the Daily Mail. I think it would suit my style, although I do worry that I’m not rude enough.

2) I’d like royalties from the church every time they mention my name in a service. Yeah, they love to chunter on about how Satan does this and Satan does that. Well a lot of it’s true, but I think I’m due a cut from the collection plate, it’s only fair.Now that’s sorted, let’s put the world to rights. The world of religion is obviously my thing. I think the main problem with it is that everyone takes it all a bit too seriously. I’m going to pep things up a bit.

3) Richard Dawkins is to be made pope. Seriously, I just want to see his face when he finds out. I’ll give the current pope a new job, don’t worry. I think he might enjoy a starring role in a Broadway musical. Something with lots of feathers and sequins.

Onto more general changes.

4) I think I can safely say that everyone will be happier if I stipulate that dogs are to have a minimum size. If a dog can sit comfortably in a teacup then it just isn’t a dog. Let’s reclassify those little ones as gerbils and move on.

5) I want food that bounces. I’ve had enough of the world’s scientists, doing this so-called research that tells us things that we already knew, I want to see them developing things that are genuinely useful, like bouncing food. Someone invent a kebab that you can drop on the floor and then catch on the rebound. You’ll all thank me for this one.Let’s get local now.

Birmingham’s fine. I like it a lot, but it could do with some small tweaks.

6) Birmingham is to be moved nearer to the sea. Canals just aren’t the same, so let’s sort it out. If it’s any easier to move the sea closer to Birmingham then that would be fine too. I don’t want you to think I’m unreasonable.

7) The Custard Factory. I went there and it was definitely not made of custard. As I said, I’m a reasonable man, so just a little custard fountain would be fine. I worry that the lawyers will turn nasty if we don’t throw them a bone. You can’t just say something’s custard when it’s clearly not.

8) While we’re at it, let’s make Spitfire Island actually spit fire as well. It’ll look a treat at night.On the subject of famous Birmingham landmarks, clearly Spaghetti Junction was designed to be viewed from above. It looks good on a jigsaw. Jigsaws - one of my finer inventions. Back in Hell, we had a team of demons who developed the whole concept. The demon who came up with the baked bean jigsaw got an award. Or it might have been an extra flogging, I forget. Anyway, on the ground, Spaghetti Junction’s way too dull. Even if you coerce the driver of a number 11 bus to take you over it, you blink and it’s over. I speak as one who knows. What’s needed is something to pep it up a bit, especially for us non-drivers

9) I’d like to see a helter-skelter installed there. Ideally it should have a device like they use on railways to shunt trains onto a different line. As people are sliding down, I’ll move the lever to send them either onto the soft cushiony landing place so they can have another go or if I don’t like them, I’ll send them the other way into the canal.

10) One more thing. Once a year, to celebrate wonderful me, I would like the canals of Birmingham to be filled with Cadbury’s chocolate instead of water. It will be reserved for me and my speedboat. I’m ruler of the world, aren’t I? I’m entitled to some perks. Okay, maybe if you’re really good, you can also ride up and down my Chocolate Speedway. I’m a reasonable chap after all.

Find out more about what Jeremy Clovenhoof gets up to in these books:

  1. Clovenhoof
  2. Pigeonwings
  3. Godsquad
  4. Satan’s Shorts
  5. Coming in October: Hellzapoppin’

 

Book: Pigeon Wings by Heidi Goody & Iain Grant

pigeonwings cover 2The follow up to Clovenhoof, one of the funniest books I read last year. That one had Satan being sent to live on Earth and covered all the trials and tribulations of the Prince of Darkness living in the West Midlands. This included working out what money is, what parts of the body do and what items are generally found in most homes across the civilised world. This time, after a – em, mix up – Arch Angel Michael is banished from heaven and is now the neighbour of his adversary. The other neighbours in the Sutton Coldfield building, Ben the book shop owner and Nerys the singleton who works in recruitment are still around.

Michael finds it easier to settle than Jeremy Clovenhoof did but the laugh-out-loud moments are still around him finding out what his man parts are used for.

Because he has been all about looking after mankind as his (former) boss wanted, he blends into human society so much better and is seen as a model citizen. Of course, he finds modern society with its lacksadaisy attitude towards church and god challenging. He even finds a way of earning a very good living by designing app for himself, which he is then encouraged to sell instead of giving way free. Who says being good doesn’t conquer all?

It took a little while longer to get into this one, what with monks on an island off Wales making magic jams, social climbing mothers and gay gym bunnies to contend with, but once past 100 pages, it’s a super-funny page turner.

By Rickie J, founder & editor of Birmingham Favourites @RickieWrites

@BrumFaves

 

In Other Hands by Iain Grant

Book review by Simon Fairbank

In Other Hands is a novel about five characters living in Birmingham who cross each other's paths in a series of unlikely coincidences. The story is written by local author, Iain Grant, and published by Pigeon Park Press.

The five-perspective approach with such a rich ensemble keeps the story fresh and makes for a page-turning reading experience. A lesser writer might struggle with such breadth (and depth) of characters but Grant slips between them effortlessly.

Readers will be divided over which character is their favourite: homeless Templeton, fox researcher Karen, amateur sleuth Nadia or terminal psychiatrist Jane. Many will rightly favour Danny, the reformed paedophile who regularly escapes into the fantasy of online gaming. Danny is a particularly difficult character to make sympathetic but Grant appears to relish the challenge. The scene where Danny is holding a little boy's hand is a tense, uncomfortable and brilliant piece of writing.

As ever, Grant's talent for witty dialogue exchanges is correct and present. One feels it is only a matter of time before he tries his hand at a screenplay. Perhaps his collaborative comic novel Clovenhoof will get a much-deserved BBC3 adaptation in the near future.

The sixth character in this modern day masterpiece is the setting. Joyce had Dublin, Dickens had London and now Grant has Birmingham. The city is realised in all of its timeless, charming Midlands glory with plenty of shout-outs to locations both in and out of the city. It will provide an extra frisson of joy to any Brummie or Birmingham graduate turning the pages and is worth buying for this reason alone. As Grant himself writes in the Dedication: “You might be able to imagine a story like this being set somewhere else. I can’t.”

If a criticism can be levelled at this masterful work, then it is this: Grant should have called the novel Five Ways, after Birmingham's infamous roundabout. Then again, the film adaptation can resolve that one.

In Other Hands is available for Kindle download on Amazon, currently priced at £1.94. A true bargain in this reviewer’s opinion.

Contact Iain Grant via  @iainmgrant or @pigeonparkpress.

By Simon Fairbanks who can be contacted via @simonfairbanks