Tag Archive | cliches

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 13

A grebe leapt in my heart. My eyes, two lamps of light, held hers in glutinous intimacy. My lip muscles relaxed and my mouth hung like a virago’s in mid caterwaul. I took a step forward. She stood still, smiling wistfully. Suddenly possessed by ambition, I fell into her arms and together we sealed a lease of rapture. Your lips are caviar, I said, disengaging myself. She stared at me, two liquid bronze dots on her cheeks. I will call you Alhambra, I said. Without a word she took my hands. I found myself being led through a bend in the river… #My New Mistress September

[The lab. ALCHEMIST is observing everything within].

ALCHEMIST [relief stenciled on his face]: Maybe the lab is free of bombs. Maybe. But no regret having stayed away yesterday. [Coughs and swallows the phlegm]. We still have Ameh Comrade Godwin to thank for today’s specimen. Three rounds of applause for him, please. [Claps drunkenly. Stops as quickly as he had begun]. Someone must be eavesdropping: I heard a sound at the window. [Walks to the window and pokes out head]. Nobody visible… No, they must have hidden. [Moving away from the window]. I see death stalking me… [Shakes head]. Thanks, Godwin, for this –

Specimen – A BIG/ HEAVY BLOW

In the phrase Big and Heavy are robbers; you should have realized that. They are clumsy, but having the power of death, they slaughter without inhibition. Have you seen Ananaias of The Jero Plays? Congratulations if you have. Ananaias is a sterling representation of the murderous duo of Big and Heavy. A (brutal, enervating) blow has been dealt, not on the widow, widower, rape/ accident victim, e.t.c., as you would have us believe; but on the head of your story/ feuilleton. What we have now is a stunned page.  Grammar Nazis and linguistic snobs are sending you a free coffin…  [Grabs head, suddenly]

Headache? [Staggers out of lab].

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 10

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist is 10 issues old… An isle of thanks to the followers of #JohnAnusie… @anusieva… An isle of thanks to the commenters… Your responses have been overwhelmingly encouraging. You make me want to do more…

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

[The thump! thump! thump! of a hammer is the only indication that a carpenter is busy somewhere. Moments later a carpenter is seen observing the reconstructed door of the
ALCHEMIST’s lab and nodding to himself.

Unseen, from a distance, ALCHEMIST observes the CARPENTER].

CARPENTER [looking at the door and smirking complacently]: As good as new. I, Emeka Ndalu, am a master craftsman. [Beats chest drunkenly]. In vain other carpenters try to challenge my genius. [Suddenly thoughtful]. But must we continue under the tyranny of masks, bombs and bullets? The street is death itself. Well, the madmen, the restless sons of grenades, won’t get me. They cannot get me. I will drink to that!

ALCHEMIST [walks right up to the CARPENTER and grabs him on the collar. CARPENTER freezes].: You will drink to that! Are you the newest duffer? Are you determined to ruin my students? [Shakes him roughly]. Now pick your bag and go: I’ve paid you.

[CARPENTER picks bag up and slinks off. ALCHEMIST enters the lab, closing the door behind him].

ALCHEMIST [wearily]: There will always be those who will never learn. [Spits out]. Let that fool drink his senses to a funeral. Here –

Specimen one – SHIP OF STATE

What ship of state? Ship of the stale perhaps. The unfortunate ship has long been scuppered by storm. What are left are pieces of iron, rancid fat, maggots, mould… Everything is stale; the ship stinks: desert it right away.

[Suddenly alert, sniffs]. A gourmet’s delight is being cooked somewhere. [Opens the nearest cabinet and brings out a plate. Dusts it with his hands]. I’ll be right back. [Exits].

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 9

I was rifling through the journals of my early teenage years and stumbled upon this:

In all the state you lie
You’ll be forever mine.
To thee will I clung till I die
Oh, my wondrous faith.
Venomous adders may surround thee
But then I will take your stake;
You my ethereal moon…
You hurt and my soul bleeds
For nothing compares to thee…

I spent a few minutes wondering how I had written it and the context of it. And then I laughed: back in my teenage years, I had, without much care for the meaning, scribbled down whatever arrested my attention. I also had the habit of writing on whatever was available – my school notes, margins of textbooks, pieces of paper. Everything. Much of these early writings have been lost, swept into the trashcan by my younger ones. I have been a prisoner of regret ever since. Regret is a brutal tyrant; regret is right now tearing at my lungs…

Save me…

[Early afternoon. The sun is gradually increasing in gold. It is apparent that the door of the lab has been shattered: bits of wood litter the ground. ALCHEMIST is seen five metres away, ambling to the lab, heads bowed. He stops right at the door and freezes].

ALCHEMIST [Puzzled, aghast, but quickly recovers composure]: Oh my God! Whatever happened here? [Reflectively]. I would have died. Thank God I sneaked out the time I did. Thank God. [Walking into the lab]. They tried. [Smirks mysteriously]. But they are incompetent. [Looks back at the shattered door]. Ha! Ha! Looking at that door, the prisoners of ennui would readily say all hell broke loose in the street. [Fingering his pince-nez]. By the way, that’s the first specimen for today –


Hell is the doll of the bored; the new zeitgeist. Hell has been the world’s fancy, attached even to most the infinitesimal of things. Apparently, most people cannot wait to be swallowed by its arcane depths. Why have they deliberately spurned the linguistic paradise? They alone know. They have magical powers and can invoke angels. Why, then, do they choose to conjure up a crone as barbarous in decrepitude as ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE? The hell is not in the great hubbub, not in the hullabaloo, not in the bedlam, not in the tumult, and certainly not in the scene of chaos and pandemonium that you want to describe; the hell is in the article/ essay/ feuilleton. Because it is in your interest, I shall blab: grammar Nazis and linguistic snobs are right now plotting your execution… [Looks ahead, sullenly]. Flee. Now. [Coughing]

Specimen two – BY AND LARGE

[Smirking]. So easy, and, oh, so hopeless. Kill that beast! Everyone knows you have a house under construction. The large ungainly beast in the premises brings no bricks, it brings no panes; it adds nothing but the ghastly forbidding visage of Grendel. Do you realize Beowulf has long exited the earth? There’s no saviour near. You have brought misfortune upon yourself. Now is the moment to trust your heels… [Sticks out tongue]. I should love to see you outrun a cheetah… Run, run, run!

[ALCHEMIST exits the lab, looking now and again at the damaged door].

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 8

You will love the Chilean-American writer Isabel Allende – her person, her books, everything. She is the author of several books including: Forest of the Pygmies, City of the Beasts, The Infinite Plan, Paula, The Stories of Eva Luna, Zorro, House of the Spirits, and Daughter of Fortune – my favourite. Daughter of Fortune is the story of Eliza Sommers, a “small slender girl with features as delicate as a quill drawing,” who, with the help of her friend the Chinese zhong yi Tao Chi’en, ran off in search of her lover Joaquίn Andieta in a California of whores and horses and hordes of louts possessed by the chimera of instant gold. An obsessive picaresque the book is. You will love this book

[Mid afternoon. It is evident pandemonium has broken loose outside. Feet pounded; hysterical screams rented the air – “Run! Everybody run!” Two minutes later, the ALCHEMIST bursts into the lab and slams the door so hard the furniture quiver. He leans on the door with his back and listens. Tentatively, he peeps through the keyhole.]

ALCHEMIST [breathing noisily]: I escaped. My God, I’m alive! The bastards bomb everything in sight. [Shakes head, suddenly glum]. They despise western education after having received one. The government had better deal with them, a degenerate dissembling mob of moonstruck idiots invoking religion on behalf of their paranoid constructs. [Bolts the door, moves to the nearest table and drums it angrily]. Friends are capital. How much capital have I lost at the hands of these madmen! [Shakes head again]. Only two things are sure in the country now – the bullet and the bomb. Oh, Olympus, what am I here for? [Scratches head]. Ah, I remember now –

Specimen one – BUDDING GENIUS

You are bored. You have not told the world that and really need not tell: the world already knows. The person so phrased should be repelled at your state of ennui. He will be more pleased in your being another genius than in your spouting geysers of platitude. Challenge his genius, not worship it. Who knows, you might end up a genius yourself – without “budding” of course!


After what said and done? You have said nothing, zilch, zero, nought. Nothing. You have only succeeded in hurling yourself into the oven of grammar Nazis and linguistic snobs. Your funeral begins a few seconds from now… The time is short and desperate. Do away with AFTER ALL SAID AND DONE and you will find yourself, miraculously, in the estuary of the living, lolling in a flower boat…


ALCHEMIST [meditatively]: I told you before, only two things are sure in the country now – the bullet and the bomb. [Moving to the window]. Will sneak home now. [Eases one leg through the window]. Death is everywhere, but she won’t find me. [Eases the other leg]

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 7

Excerpts of a Pain:

“I opened the door of 10-8 with my own little klootch, and inside our malenky quarters all was quiet, the pee and em both being in sleepland, and mum had laid out on the table my malenky bit of supper – a couple of lomticks of tinned spongemeat with a shive or so of kleb and butter, a glass of the old cold moloko. Hohoho, the old moloko, with no knives or synthemesc or drencrom.”

──────── Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, part-written in the lunatic code that is Nasdat, was a strain to read. But I do not regret having plodded the pages of that book. You will love this book, the blood and the violence notwithstanding. By the way, what are you currently reading? How often do you have a book break?

Hey, I almost forgot. Where is the alchemist?

[“Behind you,” croons a voice. But for the moment no one is seen. A minute later, the ALCHEMIST walks in gingerly and moves straight to the window.

ALCHEMIST [opening the window]: I can see the wind collecting fealty from tree to tree. Poor trees, how violently they’re being robbed off their money! The ground is rich when the trees are poor… Today’s specimens cannot be shown, unfortunately. [Coughs].

Specimen one – A WIND OF CHANGE.

A wind of change indeed; your wind of change. Not mine, I’m warning you. [Splutters with laughter]. You have just earned – or rather been given – $100 in your dreams. What good fortune! Now show us the money. [Looks ahead introspectively]. Of course your pocket is as dry as a nightmare: nothing there. That’s how it is with a wind of change: you feel you have earned something when in fact you haven’t. Leave it at wind. Or at change. Even better, discard both of them. [Backing the window]. I will confess to you, the wind does changes things with serpentine celerity. It changes you from the living to the linguistic dead – if you officiate at the marriage of wind and change. [Scratching his chin].

Specimen two – SHORT BUT SWEET

The relationship (etc., etc) has ended but you remain a prisoner of its memories. And in your lassitude, or rather amorous indolence, you simply cooed “oh, it was short but sweet.” When grammar Nazis and linguistic snobs hear you say that, they convulse with mirth, drink glasses of vodka and dismiss you as naïve, sentimental, emotional – a teenager. Scalding. “Short” and “sweet” have been married for too long they’re beginning to demean and denigrate each other. Divorce them and the hosts of heaven will click glasses to your sagacity. Do it. Now.

[ALCHEMIST stares at the quartz clock on the wall, freezes, recovers, presses both hands on his stomach. Running out of the lab, he bawls: “I’m late for lunch!”]

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 6

Have you seen – I mean read – the book? I speak of Coming of Age in Mississippi, Anne Moody’s autobiography. I fell in love with that book and with its author as well. Does anyone out there know where Anne Moody is? I’m desperate to see her, if only to tell her how much I admire her. She used to be called Essie Mae Moody. Back in her childhood when she needed a birth certificate, Essie Mae, the name which she found somewhat embarrassing, was accidentally changed to Annie, and it pleased her. Apparently she had later done away with the i. Now the name is Anne.

Coming of Age in Mississippi is one dark tale of privation, mutilation and degradation, but with the underlying message that everyone can if they think they can. Anne Moody is a sterling example. It is unavoidably tempting to compare this book to Richard Wright’s Black Boy. In both books innocent tulips were bashed and told they don’t belong; they were stereotyped, dismissed as stupid and made to act like they were. It is not surprising, then, that, like the Bigger Thomas character in Native Son, another novel of Richard Wright’s, most blacks ended up as branches in the clockwork orange of hate… (Will review the book here later…) 

For now, just pass the word: John Anusie is determined to see Anne Moody…

[The lab. Enter ALCHEMIST, brushing his feet against the floor. On his right hand swings an ancient briefcase. His countenance is obviously ambiguous, alternating between amusement and exasperation].

ALCHEMIST [dropping the suitcase on a cabinet]: He wanted to borrow money. Am I a contractor? [Cackles]. But he didn’t move me one bit, that indolent neighbour of mine. [Opens briefcase and brings out a doll].


When a linguistic pretender made this doll, the world clapped and screamed approbation. The doll has since grown old and hideous – a fearsome crone – but most men still think her beautiful. They go out with her – to their ruin. In the linguistic paradise, a vast concourse is seen as actually waiting for GODOT. And you know what happens when you wait for GODOT. You get dusted by the wait of waiting. x:-P. Salute the creator of this doll: he has done well. But refuse to date his creation – you’ll die. [ALCHEMIST drops the doll in the suitcase, brings out another, larger, three-headed].


[Cackling in amusement] A Goringian bulk, three watermelons for heads. I wonder, is that why her name is To All Intents And Purposes? She probably eats garri, sushi and vol-au-vent at the same time. She’s obese and Gorgonian. And you can rightly say she goes nowhere. However good your intentions, however benign your spirit, you’ll flop ignominiously if you marry her. Already married to her? It’s likely grammar Nazis and linguistic snobs haven’t noticed. Unwed her now and be safe.

[ALCHEMIST drops the doll back in, clicks the briefcase shut, picks it of the cabinet and struts out of the lab].

The Cliché Collector/ Alchemist: Issue 5

(Forgive me Lumina Foundation). It would have been an Edenic afternoon at the Blue House today luxuriating in the company of numerous Facebook friends and other literati and of course drinking from the fount of the Nobel laureate and other masters… But here I am, miles away from where I should be and barely able to restrain the tears. That has been the trend recently – writing feverishly, applying for workshops, getting invitations. But going nowhere.

Well, because, my principal says, ‘the company will lose money if you take a casual leave.’(?!) That, it should be noted, is one of the tragedies of being in the employ of someone else. :-/ I’m not about to give up my literary ambitions on the altar of ersatz coffee and light #bandaged# rolls. Perhaps I should fire my editor… *I mean my principal… 😉

… Hmm, I wonder if I’m safe now…

[Clack. The door of the lab eases tentatively but no one is seen coming in. A minute later, the ALCHEMIST peeps in dubiously and then withdraws. Outside, a scuffle erupted. Three minutes later the ALCHEMIST is pushed into the lab and the door banged behind him].

ALCHEMIST [looking angrily round]: Those smelly, ill-trained, foul-mouthed thugs! I wonder which gang they belong to – Tokyo’s? or Sugar’s? or Beans’s? Fools! How come my business is now theirs as well? Pestilent cretins! Even in their absurdity they have no class, unlike Alex and his droogs.(Go eat A Clockwork Orange). I will make no effort to reform them. Let them speak to their death. [Dips hand in one pocket and then another, growing upset with each fruitless search]. They stole the specimens. They did, the demented Fagins! We’ll have to do without the specimens. At least I call recall their names. [Moving to the window].

Specimen one – RIGHT AS RAIN

[Coughs]. I wonder why it has to be right as rain and not just right. They think rain is always a blessing. It is not. Ask the wino who sells ice cream in winter. Ask the cotton farmer whose cotton just germinated. Just do it – right. Right you are. Right. Right. Rain, if you dare to invoke it, beats you – and your demons of rebellion – to dust. [Moves away from the window and flops onto the sofa].

Specimen two – D-DAY (ARRIVED)

ALCHEMIST [wearily]: Then it arrived – their D-day. Not mine, please. When it did, athletes won medals; the army baptized the president a la Diem; students glittered into summa cum laude. Listen, the D-day never arrives. Not again. What actually arrives is your funeral. Forget the D-day. Let it be day. Day. The Day. And, well, let it just arrive. Arrive. Arrive. You’re at liberty to choose the day of your death. Confused?

[Slinks out of lab].