Your reaction, Minister?


She soundly condemned his failure.

He had failed, roundly!

Failed to condemn those

who had not issued

a condemnation.


The nation surely

would not understand, sorely

missing something statesmanlike

in his poorly articulated



A silence construed

as a thoughtless insistence

on measured reflection,

a reckless rejection

of a well-considered platitude.



Miss asks who did that bad thing.

"I might have."


In the shop, I ask Mum to buy me An Illustrated Pocket Guide to British Birds.

On the bus, I am driven to say: "I didn't really want this."


I bump into people on the street.

Was it my intention to kill them?


In the bidet, I wash the soles of my sandals.

With bleach.


My best friend assures me: there is nothing left to fetch.

Scuttling, I go to check. He watches me, scuttling.


I lock the door.

Then I unlock the door. So that I can lock it.


I buy something and don't drop anything.

I scan the floor.


At last the tablets are in the box - each day's in its place.

But why are there sixty in the rubbish a knotted plastic bag?

[ About 1% of the population suffer from OCD. The gene SLC1A1 may be to blame.]

A Male Pied Flycatcher at Buchenwald Concentration Camp

"Observe, children, the bright white wing patch of the beautiful breeding male

and how it loves to flick its tail for sheer joy,"

Fräulein Knapmann had instructed in Nature Study.

And he had and did the day

Koch and the Witch had them on parade

for three hours and he felt he would faint at last,

except that just before Sommer stepped forward and broke his jaw

a flycatcher landed on the gate and shat

all down the A in JEDEM DAS SEINE,

causing him to laugh out loud

for sheer joy.


The Pied Flycatcher is a small passerine that spends the spring and summer in Europe.

Karl-Otto Koch was commandant of Buchenwald from 1937 to 1941.

Ilse Koch, Karl-Otto's wife, was known as the Witch of Buchenwald because of her alleged cruelty.

Walter Gerhard Martin Sommer, known as the Hangman of Buchenwald, was a master sergeant in the camp and considered to be a depraved sadist.

JEDEM DAS SEINE (EACH TO HIS OWN) was the motto displayed over the entrance to Buchenwald camp.