The woman/man across from you at a cafe or cubicle: What did she or he dream last night?

642 A large bang wakes me up and I glance over at my phone and I realise I forgot to set the alarm and I'm running late for work.

I rush through the toilet, bathroom and kitchen not really having time for a cup of tea and some toast but eating them anyway.

Then run out of the house into the street, except it isn't my street, it's a street which I sometimes have in my dreams which is a mix of things I must have seen on television or lived in at university.

As I get to the bus stop the bus is driving away.

It's then I realise I'm feeling a bit cold and that as is so often the case in my dreams I'm completely naked and everyone is looking at me.

I try to use my limbs to try and cover myself up and start running back towards home but it's not there any more.

I run to the next street and then the next but my house isn't there.

So I decide to run towards work, but the street gives way to a city I don't recognise.

I see another bus, but again I can't get on.

Then I hear the sound of a horse slowing down next to me and looking up see Gal Gadot smiling at me.

But it's not the actress, it's actually Wonder Woman from the film.

"I have you" she says and puts her arm out towards me smiling.

I grab her hand and she pulls me onto the back of the horse behind her and I tightly  hold of her waist with both hands and we're off galloping through the streets between cars, and it's a wide boulevard like you'd find in a large city but the streets are empty. 

Then there's another loud noise and the "scene" changes and I'm standing in a muddy battlefield.

I hear gunshots and I start to run forward with a shield in hand and I'm not just with Wonder Woman now, I am Wonder Woman in the scene from the film, being showered in a hail of bullets determined to get to the other side.

I can't tell if I look like her, but I feel powerful and I have her armour and boots on.

I run and run and run and eventually reach the other trench, but its not filled with Germans but the people I work with and they're all looking at me because I'm naked again and that's when my alarm woke me up.

Christmas Links #2

Why The Apartment is the greatest Christmas film of all time:
"The Apartment is the perfect Christmas film. Not Christmas as we'd like it to be – roaring fires, jingle bells, snow – but Christmas as it is in reality. Sometimes joyful, sometimes mundane, sometimes lonely. The holiday season has always offered introspection: we hope for a moment of thankfulness, but life in its strange cruelty can, for some, feel like the knife is only being dug deeper, as hard as we may try to stifle the prospect."

Geeks Vs Loneliness: counting Christmas blessings:
"Cards on the table - I’m a Bah Humbug kind of person. Christmas comes but once a year for which I am thankful. This year it appears to be having a four month gestation period. The slush factor kicks in right about the time The X Factor raises its many hydra-ed head. And with it comes the ants of anxiety."

‘Last Christmas’ is the greatest Christmas song, so I made a 25-minute long version:
"No matter how much fun Christmas Day is this year, it will be a day tinged with sadness, for it will mark the first anniversary of the death of George Michael."

Deck the Halls with Vince Guaraldi:
"It’s that time of year. Most holiday Muzak seems to do little more than contaminate the air, but Vince Guaraldi’s contribution remains comparatively fresh. The four best tracks from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are in steady rotation. Guaraldi’s cover of “O Tannenbaum” is simple and “jazzy”; the slightly bland “Skating” offers rolling thirds in waltz time; “Christmas Time Is Here” is an excellent song given extra character by a children’s chorus. This is all good enough music, but there’s no doubt that the headliner is one of the most famous piano pieces of all time, “Linus and Lucy.”"

Santa’s Grotto for Dogs returns to Norwich this Christmas:
"Calling all dog owners! Here’s your chance to get your pet well and truly into the festive spirit this winter."

Derby cordoned-off Christmas tree 'an embarrassment':
"A large cordon placed around a city's Christmas tree for "public safety" has been criticised for looking "horrible"."

Derby Christmas tree 'exclusion zone' was 'over cautious', council says:
"A council has admitted it was "over cautious" when it installed a widely-ridiculed cordon around a Christmas tree for public safety."

Your mom has started online dating. She's going on four or five dates a week, splitting her time among three men. She wants tell you more about it than you want to hear. For each man, describe in her words the details which make you uncomfortable.

642 [Bit of a strange one this. My parents have been married since the late 60s. Brave heart, Tegan.]

(1) He voted leave at the Brexit referendum but says that didn't understand what it was all about really. He's not sure what he'd vote for next.

(2) He says Twitter avatar is an egg. He doesn't see the point in changing it.

(3) His favourite actor is Mark Rylance. His favourite film is Love Actually. He watches Good Morning Britain.

Write the first sentence of your obituary.

642 "Stuart Ian Burns would often tell people he'd live forever and as with so many thing in his life, including that 2017 would be the corrective for the awful 2016, he was very wrong about that."

Christmas Links #1

We Need to Move Christmas:
"The worst thing about Christmas is that it makes winter longer, and unbearably so. Thanksgiving ends and suddenly it’s supposed to be Christmas, even though there are still orange leaves here and there, which some people—I would venture to say a lot of people—like. Fall is tolerable enough that we don’t need to run out the clock on it, and yet we do, by sticking Christmas right after Thanksgiving, when as a group, we are tired to our bones, but not of the right things, and unable to admit it. We’re tired of our families, of hearty foods, of holidays themselves. You know you’ve got a problem on your hands when you’re literally tired of love. Why not give ourselves a break and move Christmas to the end of January?"

Southaven High choir serenades Peabody with Christmas carols:
"Mid-South students are bringing the holiday cheer to the Peabody Hotel in Downtown Memphis."

The Great Christmas Tree Shortage:

"If you end up in a frantic scramble to find a Christmas tree in the coming weeks, or you suffer sticker shock at tree prices this year, you can probably blame China—or more specifically, the popularity of Nutella in China."

Police ruin Christmas spirit by pulling over car carrying a massive tree:
"You know, maybe everyone's favorite felonious scam artist evangelist Jim Bakker was right when he said the goberment wants to outlaw Merry Christmas."

Official Christmas Number 1 2017: The contenders:
The race for the biggest chart battle of the year is underway - here's who is in line to claim this year's Christmas Number 1.

Rise in number of dogs abandoned in Christmas run-up:
"Charities in the UK and Ireland are seeing an increase in dogs being dumped or sent to rescue centres. The RSPCA has rescued 120 in two weeks."

A Woman Needed Help Finding A Special Toy Truck For Her Brother With Disabilities And Internet Came Through:
"Cassie Gretschel's little brother, Max, loves a specific, discontinued Tonka toy truck that his family has been getting him for Christmas for the past 17 years. But they've been getting harder and harder to find, so she asked the internet for help and cue the feels."

This Looks Terrible! Rapsittie Street Kids: Believe in Santa:
"As a pop culture writer, I live for the thrill of discovery. I live to discover art, but more often, and more importantly, trash. But not just any trash. No, I live for transcendent trash. I live for garbage that gets under your skin and infects your soul. I live for the kind of exquisitely unself-conscious trash that needs to be shared with the world, if only so that readers can share my pain and confusion. "

Have a happy homeopathic Christmas with Gwyneth Paltrow:
"Season’s greetings! Goop’s annual gift guide is out and, with $250 Christian Louboutin baby shoes and a trip to something called the ‘The Integratron’, there’s something for everyone."

Write the first sentence of a feature profile of you in a business magazine.

642 Stuart Ian Burns is laughing, "At a certain point I even thought I might be able to monetise my blog. Three seconds later, my delusions of grandeur lifted. Who would pay me to write this rubbish?"

Write the first sentence of a feature profile of you in a men's fashion magazine.

642 "If anyone asks, I always tell them I'm a bit 'man at Asda' " Burns grins as we relax onto the park bench where we're to conduct this interview, "But I bought this t-shirt from Amazon and the jumper is from M&S."

At a banquet in Kazakhstan, you are greeted as a guest of honor and served the traditional sheep's eyeball. Respectfully, you decline. You are then offered the sheep's tongue, instead. What's your excuse this time?

642 "Pass the salt."

[There's an unpleasant non-PC thread running through the book of which this is an example, redolent of the kind of xenophobic stereotyping exemplified by Sasha Baron Cohen's Borat. As a test I actually googled Kazakhstan and "sheep's eyeball" and the only results are from other websites which have used it as a writing prompt. I'm not playing this game, especially since Tom Kitchen once cooked them on television and they sounded quite tasty.]

Write instructions for how to do something you haven't learned to do since you were very young (blow a bubblegum bubble, or swim, or tie your shoes, or make a paper airplane, or build a snowman, for instance.)

642 How to hug.

First think of someone you care about.

Usually a parent, relative or friend.

Make contact.

With any luck they'll live in the same place you do, but sometimes the person you want to hug will require you to make arrangements and plans and exist outside of your front door.

Tell them you want to hug.

Sometimes you'll need the hug for some reason.

It's ok to tell them that too.

Sometimes it's for the best.


This can be awkward depending on how often the two of you have hugged before.

Often, if this isn't your first time, you'll already have a muscle memory of where to put your various limbs and digits.

If this is your first time be ready for not being sure where everything fits.

Mistakes can be made.

Not everyone hugs in the same way.

Under arms and over arms can be a problem.

But you should settle into something eventually.

Keep hugging until both feel like you've had everything you can from the situation.

Hugging someone for longer than they're comfortable with can be awkward and benefits neither of you.


Important: Do not hug anyone especially strangers without consent and you're absolutely sure it's what they want too. If you're potentially making someone uncomfortable and have a hint that they're only doing it to please you, don't.

What three essential items would you take with you?

642 Into exile? The Casio Bell Alarm which has woken me up almost every morning since the day after my eighteenth birthday, a photo of my parents probably the one on my shelf at the moment which I think was taken during my 21st birthday and the complete works of Shakespeare edited by Bate and Rasmussen. Those are the three things I'd want to take with me. But if it was an emergency and I had to grab only one thing, it would be the portable hard disk attached to this PC. It has everything on it.