Ambush in Saigon

I now present the first page of my war novel ‘Ambush in Saigon’, with the final page to follow tomorrow. Having done literally no research into the Vietnamese war during the writing, I feel the book (published in 1986) benefited from the absence of facts and truths, which could have distracted the reader. Some branded my approach lazy, monstrous and grotesque. My critics were less kind. Enjoy!



Flann O’Coonassa

Page 1 of 564

Charlie’s close. So close I can smell ‘em. I can also see ‘em, which makes the smelling largely redundant. I can hear ‘em too, but the same goes for the hearing as went for the smelling.

Dirty war, this Vietnam tussle. Goddamned Hitler up to his old tricks again, and with his buddy Stalin in tow. This ain’t gonna be clean and swift, like World War 2. It’s gonna be slow and bloody, like The Falklands War, which I’ve gotta hunch will probably take place a couple of decades from now.

The jungle’s hot, like the bonnet of an overheating 59 Dodge that’s been set on fire for some reason. Nothing stirs but the sound of mosquitoes having sex. Endless mosquito sex and searing heat. Squatting in my foxhole, I can’t figure what’s sweatier: my armpits or my lone testicle.

My other testicle? God knows where. Shot off in some Goddamned rice field south of Da Nang. Wasn’t even a war on at the time. Thought I’d found it, but turned out to be an African American ball. Found several other balls in that field that afternoon. Never did find a match though. Not even close.

“Jesus, here they come Sarge, three of ‘em,” whispers Leeroy. “We’ve got the drop on ‘em. Permission to fire?”
 ”Patience,” I tell him. “Let ‘em come a bit closer.”
“It’s a Goddamned Turkey shoot, Sarge,” whispers Danny. “They ain’t seen us yet. I’ve got a clear shot. Now?”
“Patience Danny.”

A shot rings out and Danny slumps to the left, his face largely missing.

“Christ Sarge, the bastards shot Danny in the face. Let’s cut these fuckers in half,” cries Leeroy.
“Patience Leeroy,” I say.

A second shot rings out and Leeroy slumps to the right, also missing a face. Damn Vietcong. They were just too quick for us. With Danny and Leeroy dead, I climb from the foxhole and bravely surrender on behalf of the entire platoon. Hero? Perhaps. It’s not for me to say. All I know is I can’t afford to lose any more men.

The three Vietcong bastards frog-march the eighty-six of us through the jungle. Goddamned Vietnamese sun reddens our necks, like nature’s sunbed, or an industrial toaster powered by excessive wattage. The Vietcong offer us sun block, mosquito repellent, shade, water, food and medical attention, all of which I refuse on behalf of the men. Sure, I take my share, so as not to appear rude. But I’d rather die than see my men indebted to these animals.

We march for three days and three nights, losing nine good men to dehydration and four average men to starvation. Morale nosedives further when the platoon’s token pygmy (Lil Joe) is eaten my a smallish snake. Some of the men pray, but not me. God? There ain’t no God in these thickets. Wood Elves? Mabye. Sasquatch? Definitely. But God? The jungle is fresh out of God, and running low on Jesus.

We reach the secret Vietcong layer, deep within the belly of Mount Vesuvius. Again I refuse rations on behalf of the men, and eat mine in full-view, just to show the Vietcong bastards the true meaning of discipline. Hero? That’s just a label. ‘Lionheart’ would be another label, but labels mean nothing to me, regardless of how snugly they fit.

Having eaten and drank thrice my fill, I set the men doing 1000 press-ups while I grab forty winks. They’re exhausted, but some brisk exercise will keep their minds off the starvation. Barely an hour later an armed minion wakes me.

“Hitler. He see you now. Come. Come,” he orders. Goddamit. Hitler. That’s all we need…..

(tune in tomorrow for the final page of Ambush in Saigon)

Horoscopes: lion-taming, time travel and great white sharks

Aries (Mar 21 – Apr 19)

Be assertive with colleagues this week. Don’t be afraid to lay down the law. Though you’ll spontaneously combust at midday on Sunday, a torrential downpour will douse the flames and spare your life. You’ll barely have regained your composure when an escaped zoo orangutan named ‘Ghandi’ savages you to death in front of your traumatised children.

Taurus (Apr 20 – May 20)

Pluto aligns with Mars this weekend, giving you an unmerciful rash. Next week brings a mammoth financial windfall. The money quickly corrupts your mind, spurring you to invest in a bionic penis that not only lacks the dexterity of your discarded human penis, but causes the deaths of countless prostitutes.

Gemini (May 21 – Jun 21)

Compassion and generosity are key. Your kindness to a homeless man does not go unnoticed. He is mugged and killed by a burlier, tougher homeless man for the pittance you flung into his upturned cap. Why does everything you touch turn to shit?

Cancer (Jun 22 – Jul 22)

Uranus begins its second lunar cycle, causing you to cultivate a ferocious mono-brow. Friends love your company. Your laughter is infectious. Also infectious is your zombie-ism, which not only sees you feast on the delicious, fresh brains of cherished family members, but has you roaming the moors with scores of your undead brethren for nigh-on eternity.

Leo (Jul 23 – Aug 22)

You have diligence by the bucket full. Though well intentioned, your time-travelling experiment destroys not only our universe, but all parallel universes except one. As the only mammal in your adopted universe capable of farting, it’s not long before you’re burned as a witch. 

Virgo (Aug 23 – Sep 22)

Timing is everything, and yours is impeccable. Your career as a circus clown ends this week when a custard pie-based altercation with a colleague escalates into a full-blown knife fight. Taking a young child as a human shield draws scathing criticism from both the clown community, and the child’s parents, who reluctantly accept a refund.

Libra (Sep 23 – Oct 23)

Saturn crosses the path of Jupiter this week, causing your car keys to go missing. Stand your ground on matters of principle. Insisting that you have developed powers of invincibility causes many a raised eyebrow. Attempting to prove it by raping a great white shark only vindicates the doubters and reddens the tank at Sea World.

Scorpio (Oct 24 – Nov 21)

Trusting is in your nature. A family member makes romantic overtures this week. The law takes a poor view of such dalliances, and a brief but torrid affair lands both you and your grandmother in the clink. Though your grandfather vows never to speak to either of you again, your great grandmother begins sending you chocolates and poetry.

Sagittarius (Nov 22 – Dec 21)

Responsibility is your middle name. Fifteen minutes of fame beckon when you save a drowning infant. A lifetime of infamy follows when CCTV footage shows you punting the wee tyke into the river to begin with.

Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 19)

Your passion is an asset. Thinking outside the box has never been your forte, which is a shame considering you’ll accidentally be buried alive following a heart attack this weekend. A foolhardy attempt at a final wank will rupture the coffin lid and collapse a metric tonne of earth upon you. Published findings of a subsequent exhumation will bring a measure of embarrassment to your family.

Aquarius (Jan 20 – Feb 18)

Life is not for sitting still. Your relentless pursuit of your wife’s killer makes progress this week, when you realise that you suffer from split personality disorder, and that a fragment of your consciousness named ‘Mike’ carried out the heinous act all those years ago. You also discover a third inner personality called ‘Deirdre’, which goes someway towards explaining why you have a tampon shoved up your ass.

Pisces (Feb 19 – Mar 20)

Orion is visible in the Southern sky this week, causing your remote control to slide down the back of the couch. Failure to take instruction from your tutors leads to disaster in lion-taming college. Not only do you flunk the course, but you are eaten by a lion. Your rookie mistake of trying to put the lion’s head in your mouth, rather than vice-versa, becomes a cautionary tale in lion-taming circles.

Oasis Split Dooms the Earth

The music world was effectively ended last week with the news that Noel Gallagher has quit Oasis. Rioting predictably erupted in all 147 of the world’s countries, causing the earth’s rotation to unsettle two centimeters from its usual axis, thereby setting us on a collision course with the sun for early 2011. Selfish apocalyptic Mancunian bastards.

Of course, Nostradamus predicted the whole affair in one of his more accurate quatrains from 1542:

Two musical apes ripping off The Beatles

Friction between the apes grows dire

The lute playing elder walks away

Pair of wankers rain death upon the world

Impressive enough to have predicted The Beatles by name, but Nostradamus’ use of the word ‘wanker’ is regarded as the first on record. Let's now examine the timeline to disaster:

1967: Mother Peggy gives birth to a fully-grown, unshaven Noel. Doctors confirm that she has in fact been carrying twins, and should continue pushing.

1972: Liam is born, bringing an end to a record-equalling five year labor. When asked how she feels, Peggy replies that she is “a little tired”, and says the fifth year of the delivery was “worse than the other 4 put together”.

1978: Noel throws a chainsaw at Liam when a game of Buckaroo goes awry, accidentally beheading him. Thankfully, the world’s foremost decapitation specialist (Dr Manfred Finklestein) lives nearby, and reattaches Liam’s head without charge.

1980: Liam beheads Noel with a samurai sword in response to a taunt about his lack of table etiquette. Dr Finklestein again does a sterling job, though Noel never regains the ability to roll his tongue. He later chronicles the tongue issue in the song ‘Wonderwall’.

1988: Noel’s highly touted dance career flounders. He is firstly ejected from the prestigious Royal College of Ballet for his insistence upon non-standard tutus. The final straw comes during a performance of The Nutcracker in The Albert Hall. Flouting the palette of accepted techniques, Noel improvises a fusion of ballet and a style called ‘The Running Man’ from the burgeoning rave scene. Reviews are unkind.

1989: Liam drops out of medical school, citing “…the impenetrable bureaucracy of the NHS”. Nevertheless, his thesis on the Neurology of Schizophrenia remains required reading in medical schools worldwide.

1990: The brothers form a band called ‘Granny’s Crotch’, later renamed ‘Violating the Platypus’, soon rebranded ‘The Chartered Accountants’, and finally settling on ‘Oasis.’

1992: Noel’s early songwriting bears few portents of the lyrical firebrand he’d become:

The Snuggle Bears


Noel Gallagher

Can you see the Snuggle Bears,

Snuggling you and me,

Can you see the fluffy kittens,

Snuggling puppies for free

Gallagher himself admits that ‘The Snuggle Bears’ starts to grate after the eighteenth verse. Other songs such as ‘Stay off Drugs’, ‘Smoking Damages your Health’, and ‘Obey the Food Pyramid’ are equally toothless.

1996: The brothers begin gaining headlines for their outspokenness. Scattergun attacks often seem motiveless and cruel, such as Liam’s branding of Mother Theresa as a “…towel-headed, shriveled up oul’ cock dodger.” Noel is equally unkind to Somalian refugees, regarding them as “…freeloading hobos with their grubby paws out, always wanting something for nothing.”

1999: Blur frontman Damon Albarn is found decapitated in a London park. Though his head is successfully reattached, his short-term memory is compromised, leaving him with no recollection of his attacker(s). In his autobiography, Noel later recalls chopping the head off an unnamed Indie singer:

“….myself and our kid dragged the Indie twat into a small park near Fulham. ‘Park Life? I’ll show you Park Life, you cunt’. And with that, we fashioned a crude guillotine from a plate of glass we’d found in a dumpster and chopped his fucking head off. ‘You’ll be doing no more living in any houses in the country,’ says Liam, which made me chuckle…”

Police question Noel over the contentious passage, but determine there is insufficient evidence to charge him.

2003: An Oasis concert in Norway descends into chaos when Liam produces a shotgun from his trousers and begins taking pot-shots at his brother. Noel flees the stage, only to return minutes later in a Sherman tank. The entire arena is leveled by the ensuing battle, which leaves more than 400 Norwegians dead and twice that number injured. The Norwegian prime minister declares the Gallaghers “mass murderers”, and calls for international sanctions against them.

2009: A minor disagreement regarding ownership of a Dairylee Triangle sees Noel quit Oasis, hence ending the reign of man on earth.

Readers' Mailbag: Madonna and Scatman John

Anybody who’s ever written an unofficial biography about you has died in mysterious circumstances. Why is that?


I don’t like what you’re implying Fred. Sally Wheeton (author of ‘Portrait of a Monster’) was adjudged to have died in a freak Spaghetti Bolognese accident; Mike Snowden (author of ‘Deconstructing a Maniac’) is technically missing, not dead; and Terry Wise (author of ‘Flann: 100% Psycho’) drowned in his own sink, which could happen to anybody who accidentally stabs themselves twice in the back of the neck.

You also ignore the fact that Bill James (author of ‘Celtic Genius’) is alive and well.

You were stripped of your World’s Strongest Man crown in 1979, though you always vehemently denied taking steroids. That famous interview on CBS when you broke down, and swore your innocence on the graves of your late parents, still reduces me to tears. I never doubted you for a second. Are you still bitter about the injustice?



Actually Collin, I stopped denying that late last year. Truth is, I couldn’t have taken any more steroids if I tried. Sorry for the confusion.

Why did Madonna take out a restraining order against you in the 80s?


Pure misunderstanding Joanne. I thought we were in love, whereas she held the opinion that we’d never actually met. I learned a valuable lesson that summer: when a woman finds a deluded stranger lying on the back-seat of her car holding a cloth and a bottle of chloroform, flattery simply does not come into it.

For the last time, stay off the west side. Next time we take your thumbs.


That coin has two sides Vinny. I catch your goons on the east side again, they’re coming home without pinkies.

You duetted with the legendary Scatman John in the 70s. That must have been a terrific time for scat. What was he like to work with?


Actually, we worked together more than once Justine. We scatted together on Sci-ba-di-ba-di-ba-bo, the second single off his first album, and again on Scu-bi-da-bi-da-bo-bo, which was the third single from my second album.

Frankly though, I couldn’t stand the prick. Overrated as a man and a scatter. Sure, he was a media darling, but his scatting was not well regarded among the scat community. It was sloppy, and he often forgot his lyrics live, like when he infamously scatted sci-ba-di-ba-di-bob-boo instead of sci-ba-di-ba-di-bob-doo at the Royal Albert Hall in 1974. The place nearly erupted in a riot, and he didn’t scat live again for over a decade.

You’ve always been a keen advocate of whaling, and Youtube footage has recently emerged of you clubbing a family of seals. Aren’t these outmoded practices to endorse in this day and age?


Not at all Jake. Whales, or ‘sea rats’ as I call them, are a filthy scourge upon our majestic oceans. And what do they even look like? Ignoring the general shape of their body, I defy anybody to take a pen and draw a whale’s face. Why is that? What are they trying to hide? I suggest we whale them to extinction and ask questions later.

As for seals, or ‘ice rats’ as I call them, have you never tasted Seal Stew Jake? It is a delicacy, and I contest that stew made from clubbed seals is clearly tastier than seals euthanised by lethal injection. I proved this conclusively in a Pepsi-style challenge a few years back, when I successfully picked clubbed stew in 51% of cases.

Jaysus, I’m bollixed,


Sure what can you do Phil, hah?

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