Archive for great ideas of our time

Ten Twitter Feeds of Joy

Twitter is an incredibly flexible medium: diary, conversation, promotional tool, link collection, repository of tiny fiction, joke factory, confessional. And sometimes, work of art. For example:


What is it?

Washing instructions delivered in the tone of a despairing apocalyptic scream.

Why is it?

BECAUSE IT IS!!!!! Also, because it just gets funnier with every tweet. At least if you’re a fan of being told how to wash laundry in excitable capslock, which it turns out I am.

Sample tweets:



see also: nothing else is really like hysterical laundry, but some good all-caps accounts include Feminist Hulk, Drunk Hulk and Film Critic Hulk.

Friends season 11

What is it?

Tweet-length pitches for a new season of Friends.

Why is it?

Because somewhere, I choose to believe that a small and imaginative film crew is actually producing these, possibly using Lego version of the actors. Or finger puppets. If nobody is doing this, I suggest they start now.

Sample tweets:

‘The One Where An Unlikely Number Of Limbs Burst From Rachel’s Torso Like Spring-Loaded Toy Snakes.’

‘The One Where Monica’s Birthday Is Ruined When The Clown Rachel Hired Performs A Impenetrable Beckettian Monologue About Decay And Memory.’

This is Iceland

What is it?

It is the tweet of the country Iceland. Not the government. The actual land.

Why is it?

Because Iceland wants to be your friend. And because this, in an ideal world, would be the start of a global trend which resulted in every country in the world having its own Twitter account.

Sample tweets:

‘Many humans are talking about same-sex marriage. It is not only legal on me, but my people’s prime minister is a woman, married to a woman.’

‘I am bigger and brighter and wider than snow.’

See also: We Are Ukraine

My Toaster

What is it?

It’s a toaster.

Why is it?

It toasts, therefore it is. Also it has 1,500 followers, which isn’t bad considering it mainly alternates between two tweets. Which are below.

Sample tweets:


‘Done Toasting’

see also: pothos, although that has more of an actual function.

Tweet of God

What is it?

It is the Word of God in sardonic 140-character form.

Why is it?

Because if the Tweet of God is anything to go by, God has some things to get off his or her chest. And has picked up a few modern idioms since the Bible. Also, apparently the only human he likes is Justin Bieber.

Sample tweets:

‘Next time you feel guilty about the kind of world you’re leaving behind for your children, remember how whiny they get in the car.’

‘If for budgetary reasons I had to eliminate one of the three dimensions of space, which one would you miss the least? Just, uh, asking.’

Feral Pigeon

What is it?

It’s the life of a Trafalgar Square pigeon. I don’t know which one. Maybe that grey one over there, in the corner, with the tiny laptop.

Why is it?

Presumably even pigeons need creative expression.

Sample tweets:

‘flap flap’

‘coo coo coo’

‘shifty look’

The Scream

What is it?

It’s the painting The Scream in word form.

Why is it?

Because it has a mouth and it must scream?

Sample tweets:

‘AAaaaaaahhhhh!!! #moveslikejagger’

‘Aaaaaaaahhhhh!!!! #ImNotCrying #IToldYouImNotCrying’

Hirst Skull

What is it?

It’s Damien Hirst’s skull. Not his actual skull, though that would be interesting too. The shiny art one.

Why is it?

Possibly to keep Hirst Shark company.

Sample tweets:

‘I’m eyeless’

‘I’m noseless’

‘I shine’

Hipster Dalek

What is it?

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but Twitter is overrun by Daleks. Republican, Communist, unemployed. poetic, flamboyant, happy, lethargic – every flavour is represented. (Including, for all I know, actual flvours. Raspberry ripple Dalek, anyone?) The one thing they have in common is that they all want to exterminate you. Yes, you specifically. Hipster Dalek is a bit more laid back about it than most, though.

Why is it?

Because Daleks are people too. Well, no, they’re not, but they still get to listen to indie bands.

Sample tweets:



Not Tilda swinton

What is it?

It is a thing of beauty, a joy forever, and (I assume) nothing to do with the actual Tilda Swinton. It’s also the newest big thing on Twitter: when I started following her a couple of days ago she had about 400 followers, now it’s over 15,000.

Why is it?

I think she may mean to kill us all. But we won’t mind because she will do it so beautifully.

Sample tweets:

‘I spent a year riding a grizzly bear piggy-back, my legs tied into his fur. He was my brawn, and I was his brain. We were called Prita.’

‘Ask your neighbor over today. Cover your basement floor with salt and pebbles; braid each other’s hair while weeping. This is connection.’

‘I once dove to the deepest part of the sea, only to tell the ugliest fish they were beautiful to me. They told me they needed no pity.’


My Experimental Valentine

I love Christmas, I love Easter, I love birthdays, but frankly I can take or leave Valentine’s Day. Possibly this is because my cultural heritage has taught me that the only acceptable means of expressing passionate affection are a) mockery, b) sarcasm, or c) a brief, neutral pat on the shoulder.

However, should you wish – inexplicably – to explore beyond the list above, I would like to present three ideas for communicating your feelings in a suitably offbeat and alt-romantic style. (Please note that I take no responsibility whatsoever for any break-ups that may occur as a result of putting these suggestions into practice.)

1. Phobia Surprise!
Making dinner is a nice thing to do for a loved one. And a common self-help tip is to do something every day that scares you. Handily combine these two by making your beloved a dinner out of something that terrifies them.

You will need:
- a pastry case with lid
- a loved one who enjoys a challenge
- spiders, snakes, small rodents, an enclosed space, a roomful of intimidating people, or other phobia of choice.

Simply place the chosen item or concept in the pastry case, cover, and serve with a spring of parsley on top.

Chance that you will end the night alone: 95%

2. A Life in the Day
Dreaming of a future with your date? Help them to visualise what that might be like by providing them with a life experience compressed into a couple of hours.

You will need:
- An extensive list of your likes, dislikes, tastes, opinions, favourite foods, allergies, pets of choice, and a short essay on how you feel about putting knives in the fork drawer.
- A doll’s house painstakingly decorated to resemble the home that you plan to share with the object of your affections (if you do). Make sure the decor is appropriate to your tastes,energy levels and ability to do DIY: if your lives are to be spent in a house with bright orange carpets, bits of strange-smelling crisps hidden behind the sofa, and a large hole in the roof that both of you keep intending to fix and never do, it’s best to get it all out in the open now. Much like your future roof.
- Lego models of holiday destinations you would be prepared to go to, ranked in order of how likely you are to complain about the local food.
- Life-size cardboard cut-outs of your future children, lined up along the wall wearing expressions of either hostility or scorn. (If children are not part of the plan, a similar effect can be achieved with supercilious-looking cats or disappointed-looking dogs.)
- A brief re-enactment by you of the arguments you expect to have at various important points during your life together. Don’t forget to do the hand gestures, and to indicate the range and degree of imagination you will be using in your insults. Make it clear that you don’t currently think your date is a mean-sprited grinch with the soul of a shrunken bath towel: that’s just what you expect to be believing during your 2021 row about who broke the virtual TV.

Chance that your date will be so freaked out they fake a sudden toe cramp and leave: 86%

3. Literal Love Lyrics
Songs are romantic, aren’t they? So what better way to prepare a Valentine surpise than to choose a favourite song and find a way to turn it into a live-action adventure for your beloved. For example:

- Pet Shop Boys: Surburbia
You will need: some dogs, a ride, a local suburb, a gang of disaffected youths.

- Pulp: Common People
You will need: a flat above a shop, a haircut, a job, a handful of roaches arranged artistically on a wall, a posh Greek student.

- David Bowie: Five Years
You will need: a group of terrified and angry people doing terrible things, a date who is excited by the thought of an imminent apocalypse.

Collect your props and your date and embark upon your adventure, climaxing in an acappella rendition of your chosen song to emphasise the romance of the occasion.

Chance of your date going along with it: 10%. Max.

Happy Valentine’s Day! And no, don’t thank me – you’re welcome.




But is it art?

Because I have children, I tend to find objects in random places and positions around the house. If I like the resulting tableau, I take a photo of them on my phone.

After a while I started putting them in their own folder, labelled ‘accidental art’, and playing around with them on Picasa.

My house is full of stuff like this.

At this point I started wondering about the definition of ‘art’ in this particular case. My personal definition of art is “life, deliberately rearranged”. But how did that fit with the process where my daughters played with toys and left them around, and I took pictures of them? They had created the arrangements, but (mostly) not intentionally. Was that art? Or had I created art by taking the photographs, or by editing the photos?

Or was none of this art? I am not a photographer or an artist, after all. If my dad – who is both – had taken the pictures instead, would that have made them art?

I realise it doesn’t especially matter. But I like the idea of life being turned into art in stages, even though each stage isn’t in itself art.

Anyway, the one thing I did know was that I wanted to put the pictures up here and call it the Almost Art Project. So here they are, with commentary (and mouseover text).


Five Tips for Winter (That May Only Be Useful If You’re Me)

1. If you can’t find a matching pair, it’s perfectly ok to wear one black leather glove and one fuzzy rainbow glove. It’s also fine to rearrange your outfit to match the look: perhaps a black leather bodysuit with a furry multicoloured trim? One black leather shoe and one fuzzy bright pink slipper should complete the look, making you feel both toasty warm and enjoyably eccentric.

2. If it snows, move a wardrobe to be against your front door. Cut a doorway-sized hole in the back and pretend the outside world is Narnia. You can then choose to go exploring for Aslan – a toy lion or local good-natured cat will be all the props you need – or if you prefer, snuggle up on the sofa and claim you can’t leave the house in case the White Witch gets you.

3.. Pack your razors away for the next six months! Beards and body hair are nature’s way of providing insulation. If you feel unkempt, try plaiting the hair into tiny elaborate shapes, to make it clear that this is a conscious fashion choice on your part. This will also provide employment during the months of darkness, and teach you valuable craft skills sure to be useful in later life.

(Speaking of beards, by the way, my friend Mat is growing one for charity. Think how much more luxuriant it could get if watered by your money.)

4. Furry hats that make you look as though a wild animal is devouring you are a valid fashion choice for adults as well as children. If a passer-by misunderstands the situation and attempts to rip your hat off in order to rescue you, simply view it as a fun conversation-starter.

5. If you wish to avoid turning the heating up from motives of economy or environmentalism, a handy alternative is to vividly remember something embarrassing that once happened to you. The resulting hot flush of shame will provide valuable warmth and a pleasing rosy glow. And if you share the experience with your loved ones, their affectionate laughter will provide material for the next time you need that warming memory. Free self-replicating heating!

(Bonus genuine tip: my sister’s gorgeous quilts, blankets, balls and bags are the ideal Christmas present for any babies in your life.)



Rapture 2: This Time It’s Fluffy

First published at the Huffington Post

Back in the spring, you may remember, a man called Harold Camping informed the world that the Rapture was going to take place on May 21st. The Rapture according to Camping would consist of one day in which all true Christians would be raised up to Heaven, and then a six-month period during which the rest of us would suffer in the ruins of a fiery Earth. (I wrote a blog post at the time called You May Experience A Burning Sensation, in which I speculated that God’s reason for the six months of fire was that he had some really big sausages to toast. Probably lost me a few brownie points in Heaven.)

Anyway, as you may also remember, the Rapture didn’t happen. But as is the way of self-styled prophets, Camping is undaunted: his website explains that Christ did come to earth on May 21st – spiritually, of course, not visibly or publically or anything, that would be silly – and the Rapture period began then. It will climax, by which I mean actually be noticeable, on October 21st with the actual carrying-people-up-to-heaven part.

So far, so good. Well, no, not good, but it’s impossible not to admire a man with such ability to bounce back from disappointment. I mean, seriously, Camping should write a self-help book. (Carry on, Camping? Camping in Heaven? The potential titles are endless.) Or if he doesn’t have time for that before Friday, he could write an inspirational song. It could be called Don’t Stop Believing In Camping.

However! Reading through his announcement, I noticed that Camping has softened quite considerably since May. The original prediction has been startlingly revised. To quote:

“We have also learned that God is still teaching that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and will not punish the wicked beyond what is called for in Deuteronomy 25.”

Good news. Because I looked up Deuteronomy 25 and it doesn’t say anything about fire, or the world perishing, or any of that. It says the loser in a dispute can be beaten – ok, not ideal, but we’ll adjust – and it also has a few other laws which are frankly bizarre, but presumably aren’t going to come up that often. I’m thinking of this one:

“If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand.”

and this one:

“You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light.”

I don’t know about you, but I can probably manage to avoid those two sitations.

So basically, the prediction now is 1. All true believers will be taken to heaven (but you won’t know if you are one till it happenes) and 2. Everyone else gets to stay as they were, except for obeying a random handful of archaic rules. No problem.

There is one more thing, though. I would like to alert Mr Camping to a potential issue he may need to be aware of. Has he heard of Project Blue Beam?

Project Blue Beam – of which you have probably also not heard, unless you like the odder corners of the internet or have read my book, in which it features – is a fascinating (if you’re me) offshoot of Rapture theory. It holds that the New World Order is designing a false Rapture using special hologram-based technology. The purpose of which would be to make true Christians believe the Rapture has happened and they’ve been left behind, thus causing mass outbreaks of panic and atheism, which are of course what the New World Order likes best.

This would be such a great – if cruel – practical joke that I almost wish someone was designing it, but to the best of my knowledge they aren’t. However, that doesn’t stop these people believing it. Or these people. Or these people. Oh yes, there is a corner of the web that is forever Blue Beam.

I was going to write a paragraph that started “So, why are people so keen to believe these things?” but really, there’s no mystery at all about it. It is blindingly, face-meltingly obvious that we all want to feel that we’re being paid attention to and that we’re special. This can manifest itself in becoming an actor, in writing a blog, in getting drunk and smashing things up, or in devoting your life to the idea that a huge, powerful and secret organisation is so obsessed with breaking you that it will create elaborate and wildly expensive schemes in order to destroy your faith in yourself. In fact, that could loosely describe so many movie plots that it’s hardly surprising the idea is spilling over into real life.

Best of all, the fact that there is no evidence for it doesn’t matter at all because a) obviously a secret all-powerful group would be good at hiding its tracks, and b) it hasn’t happened yet. All in all, it’s the perfect conspiracy theory in many ways.

So: if Friday comes and you see the people around you slowly ascending into the air, don’t panic. It’s always possible they may be holograms.


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Mum

(First published on the Huffington Post)

Two major films were released last Friday, both adapted from bestselling novels published in previous decades.

Firstly, there’s I Don’t Know How She Did It, from the novel by Joan Le Carré. This gritty 1970s-set thriller features retired spy Georgina Smiley, pulled back into a world of secrets to find the woman who betrayed the Service – but which woman is it?

It’s not easy juggling a lifestyle that includes ultra-secret spying, being separated from one’s cheating husband and walking down grimy London streets looking pensive. Played by Helen Mirren with dignity, intelligence and a hint of cruelty, the character of Georgina has reignited the debates first sparked by the novel.

Should women be spies? Is it really a suitable profession for a sex notorious for backstabbing, gossiping and betraying each other at the first opportunity? The media has been overwhelmed with articles on spying, and particularly on how the career can be combined with a family life when it is by nature a secretive job. One feels sympathy for Georgina’s cheating husband Alex: it’s clear she was spending all her time at the office in a miasma of smoke having furtive conversations with other women whose marriages were also suffering. Her return from retirement to take on yet another murky, complicated investigation illustrates where her loyalties lie. No wonder Alex strayed.

And, as many articles have pointed out, what about all the spies and spymasters who just get on with spying and spymastering with far fewer resources than Georgina? Georgina is at the top of her profession, or at least was once, and appears to be relatively wealthy. Moreover, she has unfailing support from her friends and colleagues (admittedly, mainly secret and unofficial support), such as Peta Guillem (played by the redoubtable Benedictine Cumberbatch, famous for her portrayal of detective Shirley Holmes). Ultimately, Georgina fails to represent the real workday life of the spy, making it hard to empathise with her.

The week’s second novel adaptation is Worker, Lover, Husband, Dad from the 1990s Alastair Pearson book. This is a lighter, but still significant, drama about Kevin Reddy, a New York dad who juggles three children, a high-flying job with constant business travel, and a potential love interest. Media interest in this film has mainly focused on the high-quality acting by hit sitcom star Matthew Perry, who ably portrays the harassed father as he attempts to fulfil the four title roles and keep everyone happy.

However, the popular consensus is that the film lacks an element of tension, since everyone knows men can juggle any number of roles with ease, particularly if they have – as Reddy does – a supportive wife who helps with the children, arranges his social life and turns an understanding blind eye to his potential infidelities.

Ultimately, I Don’t Know How She Did It is a women’s film: dark and low-key, it reveals its secrets slowly and conversationally. Women will appreciate the fact that virtually everyone in the film is female, and the emphasis on solving problems through talking.

Worker, Lover, Husband, Dad is aimed more at the male market – many middle-class men will empathise with the travails of Reddy as he attempts to make a lot of money to maintain his already luxurious lifestyle while trying to make sure at least one of his children remembers what his name is.

Next week, we look at the return of Danielle Craig playing the ever-appealing Jane Bond, and we talk about the film version of James Eyre – the story of the young orphan tutor James and his imperious older mistress Miss Rochester with a dark secret in the attic.

A post about this post


How I predicted the iPhone (not really)

So my novel is set in a different world from this one, but only very slightly, like the width of one quantum universe away. If quantum universes work the way I think they do, which they probably don’t since my ideas on the subject come exclusively from science fiction. Anyway, one of the minor differences in my world is that there are items called iTems, which act as phones, GPS services, people finding devices etc.

If you’re thinking “Well, that’s not much of a stretch, is it? Bet it took her all of five minutes to come up with that,” then you have hit on the exact reason why I’m annoyed about this, because I came up with the idea in 2002. When it was genuinely science-fictiony, or at least more so. I didn’t called it the iTem then, just the Item, and I called it that mainly because my mother has a habit of calling all objects she’s looking for “the item” (as in “Have you seen the item?” “Yes Mum, the remote control/cup of tea/cat food bowl is on the sofa/ in your hand/ on the floor in front of you.”) In the book it functions as a minor plot device, nothing more. Nevertheless, I felt it helped to signal that my book was a little bit set-in-the-future, a little bit speculative.

And then it took nine years to get the book published, and in the intervening period Steve bloody Jobs invented the iPhone plus everything else beginning with ‘i’ (the launch of i-Cecream and the rebranding of i-Celand, i-Reland and i-Srael can only be a month away at most). So when I came to write the final draft of All Lies and Jest, I realised that I had lost the only tiny shred of science-fictionality my book possessed.

On the other hand, in order to bring my invention up to date all I had to do was move the capital latter across one. So it became the iTem and it does all the things the Item did except much less impressively because everyone already knows about the idea (or iDea) of multifunctional phones beginning with i.

Thanks, Apple. I could have been a visionary.


I was going to take a photo of my iPhone for this post. Then I realised it was the one thing I couldn't photograph.


Toygers, invisible art, and face emoticons

Links! Which are, as always, connected by nothing more than the fact that I like them.

- What should I read next? you may ask yourself, on the occasion of finishing a book. This website answers your question based on existing reader data. I tried it with a couple of favourites and it recognised them and offered reasonable-looking suggestions.

- If you see Einstein, you don’t need glasses. If you see Marilyn Monroe, you do. That’s really all you need to know.

- Cats bred to look like tiny tigers. Can we have tiny lions next? Then I want budgies that resemble cute little mini vultures. I have my reasons.

Handy pocket size, and they probably won't eat your face.

- Once people read books. Welcome to the new world, where they function as technology accessories. (OK, I kind of want this.)

- Like baths? Like boats? You’re going to want to see this.

- Notebook full of photos of New York walls for you to draw on, so you can pretend to be a street artist. Nice.

- I know this is incredibly easy to mock, but I quite like living in a world where someone will pay money for works of art that only exist in the artist’s head.

- Emotion-enhancing glasses, on the the other hand, are just silly. But kind of appealing. Maybe.

- And if your appetite for Things off the Internet remains unsated, try these Simple Ideas That Are Borderline Genius.


Unposting: a brief and statistically unreliable guide to posting letters without letterboxes.

Post used to mean what you receive in the mail. It still does, of course, but you wouldn’t know it from the internet. Search for post or posts or posted, you get forums and blogs. Much like this one. Search for mail, you get email.

Which partly explains why I can’t find any internet-based references for the anecdote on which this post (bah) is based. But I know I’ve heard it somewhere.

Anyway, the anecdote, such as it is, is that the writer GK Chesterton never posted his letters in a letterbox. He wrote them, put them in an envelope, stamped the envelope, and threw the envelope out of the window, on the assumption that any half-decent passer-by would pick it up and pop it in a letterbox for him. Apparently he never had a letter go astray.

(Update: it turns out the reason why I couldn’t find anything is because it was PG Wodehouse who did this. D’oh, as I would say if I was the kind of person who says that. Thanks ElizabethW!)

I have long wondered if this method would still work, and suddenly it seemed a good time to find out. (Before the act of writing or receiving a physical letter becomes merely a folk tale we tell our children during those long winter nights when the googlechip in our heads has malfunctioned.) So I wrote and ‘unposted’ five letters, to see what happened.

In the process of doing this various considerations arose that
probably never bothered Chesterton. I started to worry about my potential passer-by. Would I be causing someone inconvenience? They’d see the letter, think ‘Aha, I am a good citizen, I shall post this stray letter,’ but then they’d forget and find it in a bag two weeks later and be racked with guilt. Maybe it would be the last straw and they’d abandon their lives and go to work with orphans in the Third World. Although that might be a good thing, of course Complicated.

And also, weather. I could hardly leave a letter out in the rain: it wouldn’t last long enough to be rescued. And I couldn’t literally throw my letters out of my front window, as Chesterton allegedly did. They’d end up in my driveway and get run over by our car.

So I decided to leave them on my high street. One went in a flower bed and another on a windowsill of a local bank. But then I began to worry that if I left a third one on the same street, people would start wondering what was going on. Maybe I’d see an article in one of our local blogs headed ‘Mysterious Envelope Littering – Who Would Do Such a Thing?’ and the police would get involved and I’d be arrested for wilfully failing to put letters in a letter box. Ok, possibly not, but nevertheless I decided to widen my field. I left my third letter in the next suburb along from mine, and the fourth near my local hospital. The fifth, experimentally, I left in Central London, on the window sill of some posh office near the Ritz in Piccadilly.

So, the results. Of the four letters I ‘unposted’ in my local area of South-West London, all four arrived at their destination the next day. (I’d previously enlisted some London-based friends to be recipients of letters and to report back.) Of the one I posted in Piccadilly, there has been no sign.

Conclusion, and I use the word in a very loose sense as this has been the world’s tiniest experiment: unposting works, provided you live in a reasonably friendly suburb and pick a dry day. On the whole, I’d probably just use a letterbox, but it’s good to know there are options out there should you have a phobia of letterboxes. Although if you do have a phobia of letterboxes, I’d probably just stick to sending emails if I were you.



Prejudice and Pride: Singing Jane Austen’s Song

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a husband.

There is a Borges story called Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, in which a Pierre Menard attempts to write Don Quixote, many years after it was written by Cervantes, based on having read the original some time ago and on reading around the history of the times. His version, Borges says, is startlingly different to Cervantes’, yet the same.

This is a very pretentious and presumptuous start to the project I’m about to describe, but in my defence, I read this story when I was about 15 and the idea of it hit me then like a ton of literary bricks: the idea that the same text can be entirely different in different contexts. (The story is about much more than that. But I was 15 and that’s what it meant to me.) You can change one thing – in that, fictional, instance, the writer of the book – and everything changes.

This concept was in my head, I think, when it occurred to me a few weeks ago that what I really wanted to do with my free time (ha) was to create a cover version of Pride and Prejudice with all the genders swapped round. So I did. It’s the same text. I’ve changed the minimum necessary – pronouns, titles, names, a handful of details to keep it broadly believable. I’ve called it Prejudice and Pride, of course. And it’s different. For (an obvious) example, the world of the book is now a matriarchal society. The women ride around on horseback, go where they like, own houses, lead households. The men – or, as they’re more often described, the boys – stay at home, play the piano, and know that marriage is the only realistic aim of their adult lives.

One thing I kept noticing was that, although it’s still a heterosexual book, of course, it feels much queerer, because the men in the book – some of them – are almost stereotypically gay men in some ways: talking about emotions, crying, flirting, exclaiming. And the women – some of them – are taciturn, butch, strong, in charge. The switch from ‘girls’ to ‘boys’ makes so much difference to the feel of it, too.

No scheme could have been more agreeable to Edward, and his acceptance of the invitation was most ready and grateful. “Oh, my dear, dear uncle,” he rapturously cried, “what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are young women to rocks and mountains?”

Some characters are easier to visualise in their new personas than others. Elizabeth Bennet is now Edward and I found that easy to imagine, perhaps because she was already active and outspoken. His brother John (previously her sister Jane) is gentler and far more passive, and I found it hard to see her as male. Which was interesting in itself.

The elopement of what is now Lyndon Bennet and Miss Wickham feels disturbing to me, where the original didn’t: an adult woman in the military seducing a sixteen-year-old boy? Lyndon in general has become quite a different person in my head to Lydia.

In Lyndon’s imagination, a visit to Brighton comprised every possibility of earthly happiness. He saw, with the creative eye of fancy, the streets of that gay bathing-place covered with officers. He saw himself the object of attention, to tens and to scores of them at present unknown. He saw all the glories of the camp – its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and, to complete the view, he saw himself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.

The rector Miss Collins (previously Mr Collins) works surprisingly well; her pomposity and heaviness are as convincing as his were. But look at Charles (previously Charlotte’s) reasons for marrying her:

Without thinking highly either of women or matrimony, marriage had always been his object; it was the only provision for well-educated young men of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want. This preservative he had now obtained; and at the age of twenty-seven, without having ever been handsome, he felt all the good luck of it.

I said above that this was a cover version and that’s the description that makes most sense to me (though for Kindle publishing purposes I’m having to describe it as a translation). Cover versions of songs are often the same song with the genders changed. So I’m singing a song that was written and first sung by Jane Austen; it’s been remixed or sampled already by others (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure) and there are fan versions too, but mine isn’t either of those: it’s almost a straight cover with virtually no creative input from me. And yet, it’s also a fresh experience in some ways, familiar though it is. Certainly it’s given me a new look at a book that I must have read a dozen times during my life, including writing college essays on it. I think it’s worth reading.

Which brings me to the fact that you can buy the Kindle version of Prejudice and Pride: A Cover Version for 70p from Amazon here, or for $0.99 from Amazon US here, and you can buy a paper or PDF copy from Lulu for £7.50 and 75p respectively. I also plan to publish it on this site, chapter by chapter, but there are 61 chapters so it may take some time. The first one is up already, though.

Finally, I found this project so enjoyable that I plan to do it again soon with something else, maybe create an entire library of genderswitched works. Watch this space.