Mansour Chow

Co-editor of The Alarmist. I need to have a shower, get dressed and leave the house in the next fifteen minutes. Will I manage to do it in time?

Headless

Whenever someone asks me what it’s like not to have a head, I’m always incapable of answering in the manner I would like. This is, firstly, because I don’t actually hear them ask me because I was born without a head, and, secondly, for the same reason I don’t hear them, it is impossible for me to answer them anyway.  But even if I could hear the question and I were capable of replying, I wouldn’t really know what to say because I’d have to have a head in order for me to hear their question and to tell them what it’s like to be without one which wouldn’t make any sense for them to ask me that question in the first place. I would probably end up replying with something like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have a head.”

Also, significantly, I’ve only ever known of life without a head. If insects were capable of more meaningful thought (and the ability to speak), you wouldn’t get much from asking them what it’s like to fly or what it’s like to see in colours that humans are incapable of seeing. They’ve only ever known life to be the way they know it. They have no idea what it’s like not be able to fly or to see in a smaller spectrum of colours. That’s just how it is, much as it is for me to only know life from the perspective of not having a head. Sure, I can try my best to empathise but the reality is: prosthetic or transplantative empathy doesn’t work, not that I could know this for sure as I would have to have a head in order to attempt such a thing.

So when people ask me what it’s like not to have a head, I usually reply by telling them that I don’t really know, as I’ve never had a head. Except, obviously, I don’t actually tell them this because I don’t have a head.

Guidance for Good Citizens

1. People should never be too happy

If you come across anyone expressing happiness you should constantly question them and discreetly point out as many reasons as possible as to why they shouldn’t be happy. For example, are they fat? If so, point it out to them discreetly and imply that they’re a burden on the NHS and will probably die prematurely.

Show happy people award winning war photographs and bring in newspapers with all the depressing news stories highlighted in fluorescent pen.

2. People can never fear too much

Point out devastation from natural disasters daily. Talk about job insecurity frequently. Continue suggesting the economy is soon to implode.

Speak of any improbable epidemics as if they have already happened. Tell everyone the MMR vaccine produces autistic children. Discuss cot death daily with parents of children under three. Discuss miscarriages to expectant parents, especially if the pregnant party is over thirty.

Make sure everyone fears immigrants and under no circumstances let them gather a proper understanding of refugee or asylum processes.

Most importantly, don’t let evidence get in the way of causing fear.

3. Blame individuals/Champion individuals

When crime occurs – never focus too much on deprivation or poverty. Instead, blame the individual for being inherently bad. Mention how evil Jamie Bulger’s killers were and never refer to Jamie as James.

If bad citizens try to argue that criminals may be victims of their environment and circumstances, counter by championing rich people who started in poor or relatively poor areas. Lord Alan Sugar will do if you can’t think of anyone else.

4. Never tolerate young people

Under no circumstances should you tolerate young people, particularly if they are in groups. Always assume they are taking drugs or have just taken drugs and never be specific about their drug of choice (it’s fine to use drugs as a catch all phrase). All young people carry knives and will violently assault you if you challenge their behaviour. They may even kill you (see point 2).

5. Try to question government and councils in the least active way

A good citizen won’t bother attending too many protests; instead they will make their dissent known by joining facebook groups and writing online petitions that don’t seem to go anywhere.

If you do intend to make valid points, ensure that they are not taken seriously by writing your disagreements in text talk whenever possible and adding z’s in place of s’s, and d’s in place of th’s.

6. If you have to attend community meetings make sure you piss out of your mouth when you’re there

Pay careful note to point 5 but if you do have to be more active than usual by attending community meetings, make sure you talk about the lack of youth provision and spout lots of rose tinted spectacle arguments but not to the extent that you undermine Point 3. Negate your comments by encouraging severe punishment for minor problems (see point 6) and use the phrase “zero tolerance” repeatedly without any understanding of what it means.

7. Punishment is great

Punishment is always a solution. Any serious evidence that positive reinforcement is more effective should be rebutted by case study examples at every opportunity.

Judges, Magistrates and Barristers should remember to highlight the emotional impact of crimes by focusing on beautifully worded victim impact statements.

8. Challenge vegetarians and vegans but not religionists

Never question people about irrational beliefs when they’re religiously based, even if they’re really silly, unless those beliefs advocate violence.

Feel free to encourage people to express their religion by wearing silly hats and covering their face or body, unless this is done by young people for no religious reasons in which case you should be very careful because they are probably carrying knives (see point 2 and 4).

Vegetarians are just inside the boundary of society. Vegans are hanging half in and out. Both groups should have their beliefs challenged to encourage them to move closer to the model citizen. You should constantly point out that a healthy diet includes meat. Make them look like hypocrites by telling them that the keyboard they’re typing on is 40% leather.

Maintain a healthy fear of vegetarians and vegans, especially if their arguments are cohesive. They are dangerous and citizens should be vigilant when they are nearby (see point 2).

9. Don’t download or buy pirate movies

A good citizen should know that, despite being a ridiculously tenuous link, supporting movie piracy indirectly supports terrorism. Therefore you should use only the official channels for watching movies.

This is, of course, the same logic as suggesting the facial muscles used in smiling may cause a Tsunami. But it is logic and therefore must be correct despite how illogical that contention might be. Hence, you should be acutely aware of the dangers of smiling (see point 1 and 2).

The only piracy to be supported is pornographic movie piracy. It’s still unclear why this is acceptable but a good citizen simply knows it is. However, good citizens must keep completely schtum about these activities.

10. Drugs are Bad

A good citizen knows that all drugs are bad. For the following reasons:

They are popular with young people (see point 4)

Everyone who takes drugs are muggers or burglars (see point 2).

They are bad

Never take drugs, but if you do, don’t inhale. Particularly if you are injecting them.

11. Alcohol is bad but enjoy drinking it

It is the right of a good citizen to complain disproportionately about young people being rowdy on weekends and puking or pissing on their door step.

Read as many articles alluding to Britain’s shameful drinking culture. Then discuss at the pub with friends.

A good citizen knows that alcohol is far too cheap and easy to get hold of but should also complain about how bloody expensive alcohol is nowadays and how sad it is that so many pubs across the country are closing. You should discuss both these seemingly contradicting points at the pub with friends.

Know that underage drinking is out of control. Even in light of evidence of underage drinking decreasing (remember: never let evidence get in the way of fear). Then after knowing this, discuss it at the pub with friends.

Watch pseudo documentaries about British people getting drunk in the UK and on holiday and assume that the country suffers from mass binge drinking. Discuss the pseudo-documentaries at the pub with friends.

12. Pregnant women’s stomachs are public property

It is never inappropriate to touch a pregnant women’s stomach even if you’ve never met. In fact, it is perfectly acceptable to start a friendship by stroking a pregnant women’s stomach and saying, “When is it due?” (Note: This is never appropriate to say to Jewish expectant mothers who may misconstrue the statement as an argument against their general policy of childhood indoctrination).

Platform 1 (Highbury & Islington Station)

I want the pretty, tall brunette girl
who kissed the shorter man
with balding hair and goofy teeth
on the forehead several times
whilst on the northbound Victoria line
to do it to me instead.

I’m becoming resentful
of less than handsome men
with pretty girls.
They should give a man like me hope
but they sting me with disappointment instead
and I do not know why.

This is the last train home
and I will have arrived back
on faithful stories
that continue to serve me well,
because deep down,
I have nothing interesting
to say about myself
so I must resort
to the tried and tested gems,
pretending that these aren’t stories
I’ve told more times
than I count on two hands.

A moment of peace.

A moment of peace.

Pain

Pain has imprisoned you
merely by suggestion.
Memory an event
telling you why
you should
(plausibly and rationally)
fear.

Pain does not need you
to be anywhere near it
in order to cripple you:
to bind your legs,
knot your muscles
and twist your tongue until it’s tied —gobstopper, stoppedgobber.

Pain laces our drinks,
spices our foods,
sneezes on a crowded commuter train.
It is ever present
(even when it’s only in the past)
because it’s always in the future
(even when it does not exist in the present).

Pain exists like Schrödinger’s cat.
No, it is Schrödinger’s cat.
A radiated, poisoned corpse.
A possibly perfectly healthy cat (only when unobserved),
which is to say
that it is never a healthy cat,
and it was never a healthy cat,
which is to say
you were once a healthy cat,
only for a moment,
but memory and linear time
will radiate and poison you
until death.

Monkey Business

I heard of a study in which capuchins were introduced to the concept of money and forced to use it.

When one of the monkeys tried to steal all the money and lock all the other monkeys in, the experimenters shook their heads and said, “Naughty, naughty monkey.”

When one of the male monkeys gave a female money for sex, the experimenters shook their heads and chastised them both, saying, “Naughty, naughty monkeys.”

Doesn’t this all seem quite familiar?

Stress

His stress a joke candle
Its irritant flame
Coming back to burn him
Again and again
Every time he thinks it’s gone

He couldn’t even finish writing a suicide note before he found the ink too arousing to continue.

When he tried to commit suicide, the thought of jumping and the fact it was a two syllable word led him to masturbate in tears whilst on a ledge outside the 14th floor of the Adolfo hotel in London.

He later said about the incident, “Even my tears and sadness are sexy, which makes me feel even sadder, which turns me on all the more.”

Preview of The Alarmist: Issue 4
“Blowing the stereotypical literature model out of the water”
Popshot Magazine
“Plenty of variety, freedom, fun, irreverence, and ever-expanding talent.”
It’s Nice That 
“The Alarmist, a literary magazine that looks and reads like no other. Flashes of colour, beautiful illustration, esoteric typography and superlative writing make this a magazine to watch out for.”
Rough Trade
“The Alarmist strives to release only work that excites. They collect pioneering writing of all forms and release it in a beautifully formed biannual edition.”
Annexe
“The editorial is short and sweet and the design is great and immediate. This magazine seems made for short and powerful.”
Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum
“Possibly the most irreverent new literary magazine I’ve seen.”
Dazed and Confused, Issue 39 (listed as one of the top three young literary magazines)
“This is a fascinating, intriguing, gorgeously designed and refreshingly unpretentious literary journal, and is pretty much perfect for anyone who fancies themselves a thinker but hasn’t lost their sense of humour.”
Newsstand
“The Alarmist goes from strength to strength to strength. Creative writing that oscillates between deeply emotive and downright mischievous might sound oppositional but, by the time The Alarmist is done with you, you’ll wonder why this approach isn’t already huge. Special mention goes to the increasingly witty, increasingly gorgeous design and layout.”
Foyles

Preview of The Alarmist: Issue 4

“Blowing the stereotypical literature model out of the water”

Popshot Magazine

“Plenty of variety, freedom, fun, irreverence, and ever-expanding talent.”

It’s Nice That 

“The Alarmist, a literary magazine that looks and reads like no other. Flashes of colour, beautiful illustration, esoteric typography and superlative writing make this a magazine to watch out for.”

Rough Trade

“The Alarmist strives to release only work that excites. They collect pioneering writing of all forms and release it in a beautifully formed biannual edition.”

Annexe

“The editorial is short and sweet and the design is great and immediate. This magazine seems made for short and powerful.”

Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum

“Possibly the most irreverent new literary magazine I’ve seen.”

Dazed and Confused, Issue 39 (listed as one of the top three young literary magazines)

“This is a fascinating, intriguing, gorgeously designed and refreshingly unpretentious literary journal, and is pretty much perfect for anyone who fancies themselves a thinker but hasn’t lost their sense of humour.”

Newsstand

“The Alarmist goes from strength to strength to strength. Creative writing that oscillates between deeply emotive and downright mischievous might sound oppositional but, by the time The Alarmist is done with you, you’ll wonder why this approach isn’t already huge. Special mention goes to the increasingly witty, increasingly gorgeous design and layout.”

Foyles

Isolation

I dress my wounds
in the alcohol soaked
bandages of solitude.

It stings a lot more
than friendship,
but this way
I cannot become infected

Bowling
from Issue 2 of The Alarmist.

You can buy the last few copies exclusively at Mapile.