I’ve given this introduction the title “Party pieces”, because as children we used to perform our favourite trick, sing a song or do an Irish jig at birthday parties. On 27th February 2021, our guests all did their party pieces – and gave us great enjoyment. But also food for thought. So let’s re-live the multi-faceted moments by re-reading the “pieces”.

The first one is from Oz.

From Wolf Planet

When all’s said and done, the Big Bad Wolf’s not so big or bad, so I invite him round for tea every once in a while. We’ve little in common but long years of huffing and puffing, and it’s best to avoid politics or religion with wolves, so we keep conversation insubstantial: how my job’s going, what’s new in the dark wood, and how there’s a trend towards personal redemption and a wider morality in current comedy shows. I reckon this latter’s a good thing, but the Big Bad Wolf feigns ambivalence, adhering to his culturally prescribed role. He never stays late, getting twitchy when the light fades and the howling starts, gathering darkness into a concert of freedom and need. When he takes his leave, his paw is hot and wet in my cold hand, and even as we exchange commonplaces on the threshold, I can see his eyes are elsewhere, unpicking the hunger we share but never mention in the spiced heart of my gingerbread house.


Oz Hardwick