I am at work. Staring at the ceiling.

At a penguin.

A penguin in the ceiling.

With red hair.

I am smiling.


I’m at a huge event, to see a German bloke called Reinhard. He’s seen wonders across Africa, and is here to inspire the Black Country. Every church in town’s here, so me, Big Boots and My Brother are struggling for seats. When we see Crisp. A man you wish you knew. Unless you know him.

“Hey guys! Looking for seats?”

“Erm… yeah, actually. Why do you ask?”

“Well, Reinhard’s boss is a mate of mine. He’s asked me to find some people we know and trust to sit in the seats behind him. D’you want to come and sit at the front?”

“Sure, yeah!”

We sit, and survey the scene as Crisp assembles a ragtag bunch of ‘trustworthy’ friends. One of them is a man we know. A DJ with dreams. And hilarious, spiky red hair. He’s sitting directly behind Reinhard.

Whose face is on the big screen.

With hilarious, spiky red hair.

I smile. And hope everybody’s noticed but that nobody mentions it.


Nobody mentions it.

I smile.


It is a few months later, and I am at a curry house; being served by a racist, won’t-shut-up waiter. He spills curry over us. Mom isn’t happy.

“I can’t believe he spilt curry over us!”

“Oh well, Mom. It can’t be helped now. Anyway, everything happens for a reason. The universe has a plan.”

Mom looks at me blankly.

“Hang on, the universe?” asks My Brother.

“Yeah. What?”

“As in the massive empty space?”


“The massive empty space with absolutely nothing in it?”


“The massive empty space with absolutely nothing in it that’s only existence is in its’ complete lack of existence?”

“Erm… yeah. It has a plan.”



The Racist returns, and as an apology offers us free dessert.

Dessert! At a curry! It feels wrong, but I like it. The Racist brings menus, and we peruse the forbidden fruits. I feel like an 18th century prince in love with some scrutty peasant woman. It’s forbidden, but probably out of some girlie movie which probably means I’m the perfect man. Which is fine.

And accurate. If girls can dream, so can I.

My Brother is suddenly very excited.

“Hey! Our kideth! Hast thou seeneth the penguin? Of whom doth it remindeth thou?”

I look at the bottom of the page. There’s ice cream that comes in a plastic penguin. Huh. Who do I and My Brother know that looks like a penguin?

I think of Spade and his wobbly head, but I’m not sure penguins can do that; and I’ve never seen him eating ice cream.

Hang on… a penguin… with hair! Red hair!

Spiky red hair!

We order a penguin with ice cream (or ‘penguice cream’), and name it Reinhard. There must be a million uses for a penguin with spiky red hair.


I am in my room. Playing N64 with Reinhard. Who’s useless. He’s even poor at F-Zero X. I’m about to bin him when a thought jumps into my mind like a child that’s swallowed a bomb bursting into a room and exploding everywhere. I need a change holder for my desk at work!

I smile, and spare Reinhard’s life.


It is Christmas, and the office is putting up decorations. I’m a hilarious monstrosity, and naturally get asked to put up the ceiling ones. It means I get to climb on tables, and that is just fine. I’m handed a box of decorations. I smile, and open it.

I stop smiling. Because they’re rubbish; like a 2-year-old’s picture of anything.

I try to protest.

I fail, and the decorations are put up without me.


It is afternoon, and my team’s area’s about to be deco-ruined. I’ve decided that I don’t want Massimo Taibi-hosted-ITV-show-quality decorations hanging over my head, and decline. My Boss interjects.
“Come on Dan, why don’t you just let us decorate your desk?”

“Because they’re shocking! I wouldn’t mind if they were any good! But they’re just gonna hang in my face all day annoying me! I’ll say no more.”

She insists. And is My Boss.

I sigh. And look at the every-Chelsea-player-except-Gavin-Peacock-and-Dmitri-Kharine-quality misshapes of paper surrounding me. Hang on. This is an opportunity! I can offer a compromise! I can make My Boss happy, and still win!

I say some more.

“Ok, fine. Could I make my own decorations then?”

“Yeah! That’d be great Dan!”

I smile. And wait till she’s gone. To open my drawer. And a ceiling square above my desk. And trap in a small red spike of hair.

This is brilliant.


It is my last day at the Council. And I am smiling. And not just because I’m about to finish; but because Christmas was months ago.

And I am staring at the ceiling.

At a penguin.

At a penguin with red hair.

The bell goes, and I open the door for the final time; but take one last look at Reinhard, in the ceiling.

I leave him there.


And smile.

The universe could never come up with this.



Fun With Reinhard



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