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Robb Slipped

Posted by garethwatkins on October 5, 2009


I wrote this about 6 or 7 years ago for an example edition of a magazine someone was hoping to get published. Needless to say that the magazine never made it to production, like so many of this someone’s ideas. But I’ve always rather admired his dogged perserverance in pursuit of his ideas and I always rather liked my contribution to this particular idea. So I thought I would get it up here for others to see, if for no reason other than it means it feels like it got at least close to publication. I’ve edited it slightly before posting it, but only really for spelling, formatting and the removal of a trace reference to a character in the original draft, later removed, who somehow managed to still get their name in the story.


The drunken girls clattered down the stairs.  Robb slipped.


Robb Slipped birth certificate


Growing up in care wasn’t as bad as the look people gave him suggested.  In fact it was fun.  There were other kids about for starters, something Robb had wished for endlessly while he was at home.  The only thing that wasn’t at the Upton Downes Care Facility was his family.  His parents.  Sometimes he couldn’t think of anything but Mum and Dad.  But most of the time he just thought about one thing.  No, not that.  Robb never thought about that.  As far as he was concerned, girls and boys just had different toilets.  All Robb thought about was tubes.

When he was younger his father had tried to teach him about a process called mind mapping.  His father had read a book about memory improvement which he saw advertised in the back of the Daily Mail.  His father had struggled to explain the concept to Robb, so he dumbed it down for him.

“Imagine each idea like a station on the London Underground.  Every idea is linked to another one.  So if you ever need to remember something else you just travel along the line until you arrive at the next station.”

Robb’s first idea had been to memorise the tube map.  Every station.  Every line.  Every junction.  Even stations that had closed down, but because he couldn’t get to them, they became fleeting thoughts and brief moments of hazy genius.  And right at the heart of his map was his complete knowledge of the Underground system.

When Robb was eighteen he left school with a D in Technology A level, having made an illuminated representation of the London Underground map.  While at school Robb had made friends with Mr. Kenning, the school care taker.  He used to do odd jobs for him and after leaving school became his assistant.  Kenning used to pay him, rather than the school, out of his own pocket.  Robb didn’t know it, but Kenning admired Robb for getting on with his life despite having Downe’s Syndrome.

Tonight had turned out to be one of Robb’s favourite nights of his life.  He had been attending the annual general meeting of his local London Underground Society.  That night, for the first time, Robb had found out that he was to become the general secretary for the next year.  He couldn’t remember a time before when he had wanted to shout and tell every person he saw what had happened to him this evening.  He was just itching to get home to tell Mr. Kenning his news.


Still recapping the can, leaving the indigo paint running down the walls in places, Jason sits himself down on an early morning tube.  Pulling out a long thin black notebook from one of the numerous pockets on his outfit, he begins to jot down the details of his newest tag.

  • STATION:                  Chancery Lane
  • LOCATION:              East bound Central Line platform, roof
  • DESCRIPTION:        NewMark
  • DATE:                          17.10.02
  • TIME:                           0612 hrs

Unusually Jason had been out tagging without his crew.  It was one of those rare mornings when he had woken surprisingly early, first train of the day early, and hadn’t been able to get back to sleep.  On mornings like this he had been known to get up, pull his shit together, and head out onto the tube.  It was risky at this time of day.  All the people on the tubes were suits or workers.  They were all alert and crotchety.  It was a crowd of people more likely to grass essentially.

The other downside was also that it meant he was less creative with his work.  Not the location, but the art itself.  Without Copycheck he was reluctant to be too creative, for fear of making a mistake.  So it always felt less fruitful first thing in the morning.  But today was looking up, literally.  He had managed to get a roof.  It had been tricky, but getting a tag on the ceiling always looked special.  Jason definitely thought today was starting to look up.

As the tube pulled into St Paul’s station, a chubby guy in a suit boarded and sat opposite Jason.  Still writing notes Jason didn’t really notice him.  The two of them sat opposite each other, one jotting something down in a notepad, the other rocking gently with his hands clasped between his knees.  He was starring at the line map above Jason’s head.

“Your Jason.”

Jason, responding to this, looked up, but gave nothing away with his expression.

“Excuse me?”

“Your Jason,” exactly the same matter-of-fact tone as before.

“Sorry, you must have me confused with someone else.”

Jason had been preparing to be defensive, his natural fear being that he was in trouble.  But when he had looked at the swaying person in front of him and seen the almost universal image of a Downe’s victim he had realized he was OK.

“No, your Jason,” Robb repeated.

“And where exactly is it you think you know me from?”

“You’re the gay guy from school.”

Now Jason did become defensive.  This sort of information was something virtually no one knew.  It certainly wasn’t common knowledge when he was at school.  In fact, it wasn’t even common knowledge now.  Copycheck was his only friend who knew, and that was only due to a chance meeting when they were out “working” late one night in Farringdon Station.

“No, you really have got the wrong person.”

His tone more insistent and aggressive now as looked around to check no one else was on the carriage.

Robb started to give Jason a biography. Jason had heard this sort of thing before when he had been arrested for possession for the second time.  Hearing a policeman read his bio had made him feel uneasy, but this was far worse.  More personal…and accurate.

“Jason Neumark, age 27, Dr. Chaloners Boys School, studied art A-level…”

As Robb spoke, his eyes moved along the map above Jason’s head, each station revealing a new piece of information.

‘Yeah, yeah.  Right, whatever.  Who are you?”

Jason had blurted out an interruption.  It was frankly a little freaky having someone you didn’t know spouting your juvenile life at you.

“I’m Robb.”

“And…”  Jason finished.

“I was two years below you in school.”

“And how did you know I was…”



“Mark told me.”

Mark was Jason’s one and only regret.  It was him that had confirmed Jason’s suspicions about himself.  One night, working late in art class, just the two of them, Mark had quickly and briefly confirmed his suspicion right in front of his still life.  And for that brief moment Jason’s life had stood still.  It was only a kiss, but it was the kiss which had changed Jason.

As this memory flew through Jason’s mind, he recalled a handicapped kid, younger than him, being in Mark’s circle of mates.  Robb seemed as likely a person as any to be that kid.

“…Jay the gay.”  Robb broke Jason’s train of thought.


“That’s what we used to call you:  Jay the gay.”

The tube pulled into the next station.  Jason had no idea which station it was, but he got off.  He needed to escape.  As the doors starts to glide shut, he heard a farewell.

“Bye bye, Jay the gay.”


Alison was walking along a staff only section of the platform, towards the locker room.  Her bag over her shoulder, more than just a handbag.  It was a large record bag, with a Smirnoff Ice logo on the side.  The kind given away in promotions in pubs.  Inside were folders full of notes and books full of information to learn.  She was, as usual, early.

Five eleven, slender and blonde.  From behind a potential ten.  Busty and above average from the front, a narrow thick rimmed glasses crossing her face like the arms of a letter “t.”  She had the look of a secretary.  Alison was a solid eight.

Due to her punctuality, she was ambling along reading the adverts that disappeared in an endless mural down the tunnels.  Passing the gate and going under the platform cameras she headed for the locker room door.  Then she heard that static crackling from the tracks.  It was a sound she had grown to like.  It meant she was on time.  The last train was about to enter the station.  It had four stops after this one, and then a quick shunt into its siding.  Then the tracks would be switched off and her work would begin.

Alison loved to stand right by the wall at the start of the platform, her face flush to the walls of the blackened tunnel.  Her eyes wide open and staring straight ahead, waiting.  Anticipating the train rushing into the station inches from her face.

Then there was a different noise.  Coming from the tunnel joining the platform from upstairs.  It was a flat footed clapping of feet.  Someone awkwardly running for the imminent tube.  To her later surprise, she found herself distracted enough to look at the person entering the platform, crescendo-ing to a halt like horses hooves stopping on cobbled streets.  The person stopped at the edge, still catching his balance from the momentum he had developed.

And another noise.  The unmistakable sound of stilettos pinging off concrete.  There was a girls’ night out trying desperately to catch the last train home.  She looked at them.  The man on the platform looked at them.  The train exploded into the station and Alison jumped back.  Natural reactions pulling her to safety.


Shepherds Bush platform 2 Westbound – the stage.

Robb (center stage), Alison (stage left), drunken girls (entering stage right), Jason and Copycheck (back centre stage) – the players.

One Split Second – the play.

There is a cacophony.  The thunder of a man’s stamping feet.  The lightening steps of heels on hard stairs.  The buzz of the rails.  The hyena laugh of drunken female voices.  The frame-advance motion.

The girls spill onto the platform, drawing the attention of everyone.  Robb looks right, his body still adjusting on the axis of his ankles.  Alison looks right, steadying her balance with a hand on the wall beside her.

Fade up lights, center stage.

Copycheck kneeling, packing spray cans into a canvas bag, facing away towards Jason’s completed work.  An explosion of reds and yellows surrounded by steel blue outlines spelling out the word “SLAM!”  Jason is approaching Robb from behind.  He is the only one not watching the girls entrance.

A train enters from stage left, in front of all the action.  Alison is last seen jumping away from the entering carriages, turning her head in surprise to look at the tubes metal sides.  Robb is confused.  Distracted from his stopping by the girls’ noise, distracted from them by the noise of the tube, and distracted from both by his body’s continuing rotation.  He is dangerously close to the point of no return, when he will need to take one more step.  Something the platform’s edge will not allow.

Jason, behind Robb, is extending both his arms towards Robb’s back.  Reaching, for one purpose or another, towards Robb.  The pair silhouetted by Jason’s fresh work.  Robb falls just as the train reaches him.

Fade to black.  A scream is heard.


Robb Slipped death certificate

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Posted by garethwatkins on September 17, 2009

I had been hoping to knock out a big steaming braindump tonight, but in the last 36 hours my Hotmail account has been hacked. The password has been changed and I can no longer access it. The same is true for my Facebook account.

Now I can live without Facebook, although it does mean I may lose touch with a few people. Those that seem to have forgotten that email exists and works perfectly well. Or those that haven’t quite yet grasped Twitter’s superiority. Losing the Hotmail account is a little infuriating though.

While I rarely use Hotmail as my main email address with friends, preferring my work account due to their sensible approach to email in the workplace (essentially, don’t be a twat) and it’s ubiquity in my (week)day to (week)day life. I do use Hotmail as a place to send myself messages from work so that I can access the information anywhere. It’s like my braindump before I dump the edited brain on here. It also contains things like my itunes e-receipts, membership information and other miscellaneous but handy rags.

And that’s where the real concern comes in.

Is there enough information in there to initiate credit fraud? Can my financial information be traced enough to be stolen? And, more importantly, does this compromise friends “working for our government” in foreign countries who only know this email address?

These are all questions that will be answered one way or another in time. Just how much time now depends on Microsoft and Facebook and their customer services departments. Both have been contacted via (work) email and both have responded with automated messages. And I understand this response, I really do. Most people who use the internet are idiots. That fact simply has to be true as most people are idiots.

So I politely furnished them with the information they required to confirm that I wasn’t an idiot (confirmation of self help steps taken, IP addresses, etc.) and I now await a response. Microsoft say I should have one within 24 hours, Facebook aren’t as specific. Mind you, Microsoft’s email also purported to be from “Max” in an attempt to convince me that I was dealing with a human. They should probably have just signed it off D.A.R.Y.L. It would at least have demonstrated some real human input somewhere along the line.

With this new-found zen-like peace, separated as I am from a segment of my social network, I have time to reflect on the emotions I’m feeling about this intrusion. I’ve been burgled before and never particularly felt my privacy had been invaded. Luckily, the burglars that have been at my stuff have never been ones to leave a “signature” behind. I think what has consumed me most, mentally, in relation to this is the question of “why?” Not an existential, “why, Lord, oh why?” but a logical understanding of the motivation.

The burglars wanted my stuff because they thought some of it might be worth a few quid and there wasn’t exactly a high level of security to prevent them from getting at it.* But they had no idea of the contents of my email account and my Facebook stuff isn’t really hidden as little is on Facebook. A thought which leads you to consider more vindictive intent. Was I targeted specifically?

Chances are that I’m not the focus of an internet scam, but a small fish just big enough to get caught in a large net. But what if I’m wrong? Who would want to hack me? The best I can manage is that it’s related to a programme I’m connected with through my job and a potentially unwise relationship stemming from that. Something it’s clearly best I don’t discuss at the moment and isn’t really that interesting in the first place. Or…Derren Brown is setting me up to be the star in the grand finale of his current Channel 4 series.

What has come out of all this is the unsympathetic abuse of friends who can’t understand why I’m not yet on Gmail. Firstly, I am on Gmail, but the intention was that my Gmail account would be a business-use account (job applications, an address to give people I don’t like but are handy to know, that sort of thing). Secondly, there is nearly a decade’s worth of crap stored in my Hotmail account. If I’m shifting email accounts I’m going to have to do some tidying, cleaning and shifting – it’ll be like moving house. And thirdly, if I’m going over to Google’s email system, I’d prefer a different address to the one I currently have. But I really don’t want a googlemail address. If I’m shifting, I want Gmail. But it’s starting to look like I may have no choice but to transfer over for my own protection.

I’ll keep you updated and I’ll hopefully have a braindump of substantial proportions to offer soon. And yes, I realise that if I want the information I’m sending myself from work I can just copy the emails from the sent items on my work account and forward them to my Gmail account. I realise this because I’m not one of the idiots.

*Please note, potential thieves, security has been increased significantly – I now have guard ferrets.


As a result of the initial complaint, the reply to the automated email from “Max” and the subsequent reply to “Diane” I was emailed with details of how to access my Hotmail account. And it worked. And it doesn’t appear that any damage has been done to it. None the less I’ll be transfering my stuff to my Gmail account as fast as I can. This also allows me to request Facebook to send me an email that allowed me to change my Facebook password. I have regained access to Facebook. Now I can continue to do nothing on there.

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World Freerun Championships 2009

Posted by garethwatkins on August 17, 2009

As controversial as this event always is and there is no question that the people who went enjoyed it. I personally had an incredible time.

I was lucky enough to win tickets into the slightly dubiously named Golden Circle through @LDN on Twitter, although I get the impression that there wasn’t really a bad view from anywhere. Except maybe the VIP section.

Rather than get involved in another argument on the interent about the merits of this event, I’m simply going to post up a few pictures to let people see what was going on in Trafalgar Square last Saturday.

A few pictures from Saturday’s big event.

This was happening in the heart of London, surrounded by some of the capital’s greatest landmarks (and even built onto one!), in the middle of tourist season on a sunny day. How amazing is London!?! On top of all the joy of watching the championships, I had a genuine sense of joy that it was all happening in my city.

And then you add on top of that the inclusion of breakdance crews, Diversity and The Pete Box. Now that’s a show!

On a format note, I’d allow competitors the introduction before starting their 60 seconds. Make it 60 seconds from the first move rather than the start of the music and it would be easier for them as well as the audience.

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Red pepper soup recipe

Posted by garethwatkins on March 22, 2009

Slight change of direction with this new article. It’s the recipe for one of the few things I can make really, really well.

At some point I’m hoping to add either some photos or a video showing how I make it and what it ends up looking like, but for now I’ll just leave the recipe there.

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Eleventh hour bonus

Posted by garethwatkins on March 21, 2009

Yeah, yeah. I know it’s technically only the second hour, but you’ll get over it.

Just seen this linked to on a tweet from @rustyrockets.

Scared the bejesus out of me.

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Posted by garethwatkins on March 12, 2009

I thought a quick update on my life would be appropriate about now as I otherwise appear to have disappeared off the metaphorical face of the internet.

Due to illness, committments (no, not the film) and work I have been otherwise engaged. I’ve had two days of meetings in a foreign land (OK, Birmingham, but if you’ve ever been there you would understand), a course on communication (which I pretty much dominated with my communications) and minor theft and vandalism (victim rather than perpetrator).

I will probably include events and learns (a rather unpleasant term which is becoming an irritatingly frequent intruder upon certain meetings) from the last few days in later posts. But I first have to establish which official (and non official) NDAs are restricting me.

I will also continue my over-use of parentheses due to my rather unhealthy obsession with asides (embarrassingly, I failed to develop a witty comment to add here – feel free to create one of your own that amuses you).

(now feel free to laugh aloud (but alone) at your own witicism)

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Hawaii article

Posted by garethwatkins on March 6, 2009

The second of the Hawaii articles is now up. It’s about Hawaii*. I may one day write a third article dealing with Maui, but it’s not the top of my list of things to write right now.

*it will make sense once you’ve read it, I promise.

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Oahu article

Posted by garethwatkins on March 6, 2009

I’ve stuck up an article originally written for Travel Channel about Oahu, Hawaii’s main island. I might try to add some more pictures in there when I get a chance. There is a second article to come about the Big Island, which should be up fairly soon.

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Posted by garethwatkins on March 6, 2009

I’ve set up an Articles section for some of my writing. Initially I plan to post versions of things I’ve written before but I’ll slowly start posting things that are currently works in progress.

First up is a piece about my first visit to Israel. Originally written for the Travel Channel website, but never actually used there due to political concerns, I thought it was about time I posted it somewhere.

As I intend to do with all the articles I post, I have included some links throughout for further reading or reference on the things I mention. In the case of the Israel article I’ve mainly linked to Wikipedia because all the other sites I could find were extremely politically biased. As the subject of Israel is so charged, I tried to keep as much balance as is possible. In future articles there should be a little more variation in the links.

So have a read and feel free to let me know what you think. I’ve tried not to be too political, so please try to do the same if you do comment. Thanks.

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Huge heed!

Posted by garethwatkins on March 4, 2009

While hunting around for something else, I found this picture of the man with the largest head in the world.

big head

Clicky for biggamy.

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