Back to: Rule 34: Part Two | Forward to: Rule 34: Part Three

Write the story!

A very silly newspaper leader board

I'm off to sunny Stockholm for Eurocon tomorrow. (I'll be appearing on some panels; I'll also be signing books in SF-Bokhandeln in Stockholm on Thursday at 5:30pm.) Do not worry; another chunk of "Rule 34" will show up on the blog while I'm gone.

Meanwhile, here's a tabloid newspaper headline from Scotland. There is a story behind it. Would you care to guess what it is? (I'll post an explanation when I get back, if not before.)



Since Charlie hasn't said, I'll make it very clear that the "Sunday Mail" is NOT a sister paper of the "Daily Mail" (aka Daily Snail, Daily Wail or Daily Heil, depending on which Scot typed the relevant posting).

The Sunday Mail is the Sunday only sister of the Daily Record.


And since paws4thot didn't say, I should just add that the Daily Record and Sunday Mail are Scottish tabloids. Notorious for such happy-fun leader boards as HORROR AT HOUSE OF BLOOD, SCOTS GRANNY KEPT KIDS IN CAGES, and WE'RE AT THE MERCY OF MANIACS.

(I am not making this up: I have photographic evidence.)


This was bound to happen after Glasgow ice cream sellers went into the small pet business.


Might be some rain in Stockholm Wednesday afternoon.

I live in Stockholm and will show up at the bookstore on Thursday if it isn't too crowded.


But we are at the mercy of maniacs, aren't we?


Sounds like the tragic duct tape shortage has reached Scotland.


Gerbil is the nickname of a murdered Scottish gangster, so I guess this chap is declaring imminent revenge for the demise unfortunately named crook.

I dont know why I know this, I'm from Ireland. ( though we call our gangsters by silly names as well)


EDIT should read" Demise of the unfortunately named crook"


Deep-fried hamster fritters anyone?*

*Deep-fried ice-cream really is available in some Scottish fried food emporia.


The rampage spreads to the south - see this Brighton Argus headline.


I just hope the poor gerbil wasn't used in some dodgy act. Now don't be dirty minded...


In an unfortunate mishap at the airport the purported gang boss's pet gerbil got swapped with that of international do-gooder, Richard G*. Imagine the poor pampered gerbil's surprise to be suddenly pulled from the cargo hold and within minutes shoved into a plastic bag and right up into the arse of a world famous celebrity? Presumably the irate gang boss knew immediately that he'd been handed the wrong gerbil (by its abject fear of the light). Richard too knew something was amiss by the sudden discomfort that arose from his innards as the previously pampered gerbil attempted to do what all gang related gerbils do naturally - bust out. Richard, upon realizing the mistake immediately returned the now rather pungent gerbil to the lost and found where lo and behold stood waiting rather impatiently the irate mob boss. Had not a Sunday Mail reporter happen to coincidentally be standing there, this rather untoward story would never have been told.


It was Norman. Everybody knew it, and he'd been after Dinsdale for years.

Dinsdale loved that gerbil. Kept him in his jacket pocket, constantly slipping pellets to him. You might think it a bit funny for man to get that attached to an animal that only lives a few years, tops, but he was more than a little off. He's been insisting that it's been he same gerbil for a few decades now, even though he's been seen buying replacements. You didn't want to contradict Dinsdale.

Dinsdale, being a creature of habit, had dinner at Montoni's, as usual for a Friday, but that Friday, they were having trouble with the heating. Well, not so much trouble, as much as an abundance of heat. Having a hand in the building trades, as Norman does, can be quite helpful in getting a man out of his jacket.

The maitre d' had a sudden windfall that took him out of town that weekend for a well earned vacation, and a substitute was readily provided, courtesy of Norman Temporary Staffing.

It took only the space of a few minutes, just after Dinsdale walked in. Norman's man proceeded to start helping Dinsdale remove his jacket, then pinned his arms together behind his back with it. Out comes the sap, and soon, one squashed gerbil, a quick exit, and Dinsdale broken down in tears on the floor.


Ag! I just can't get over the bad grammar in the headline!


I expect to be in the hostel and sorted out by 16:00, Thursday, so if it isn't pissing down gerbils or any other similar creatures, I'll try to drop by.


Of course, this was when Doug got involved, and went after Big Tony. Doug was well mad, and when that happened he pulled out all the stops. If you saw Doug like this, he used sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire.


Are you SURE this wasn't the Piranha brothers, and the giant hedeghog, "Dinsdale"???

Actually, try starting HERE I know it's a News-of-the-Screws piece, but .....


Fried ice cream is a common dessert in Mexican restaurants.


Now, if we can just interest you in deep-fried pizza and Mars bars...


This would be about the gangland figure The Gerbil, a notorious Glasgow gangster, I think associated to Ferris and his ilk.

Forgot his real name to be honest, though the headline does make for amusing reading.

One of the fringe benefits of being Scottish ;)


Several years back, I visited a rather fashionable place on Parker's Piece in Cambridge, and had a deep fried ice-cream dish for dessert.

However it wasn't your batter-fried type. It was ice-cream wrapped in a crepe and then cooked, so not authentically Scottish.

(I did try a deep-friend pizza one time in Glasgow. I think my arteries have now recovered, but it was in '95.)


A classic from the usually serious South London Press: [Picture of squirrel holding piece of Crack cocaine]

SQUIRRELS ON CRACK Oct 7 2005 · South London Press

Nature lovers fear that squirrels could become hooked on crack cocaine plundered from addicts' hidden stashes. The furry animals are thought to be behind a new drugs turf war in Brixton - stealing rocks of crack hidden in front gardens.

Tough police action to rid the town centre of dealers and addicts has seen crackheads abandon their usual drug stash hideouts. But the blitz has displaced some dealing into nearby residential streets. Drug addicts are known to be hiding small stashes of crack rocks in people's front lawns late at night.

Squirrels have been spotted in the same front gardens, seemingly hunting out the buried narcotics. The discovery has led some residents to speculate that the squirrels are already in the grips of addiction. One resident, who asked for his name to be withheld, told the South London Press.

"I was chatting with my neighbour who told me that crack users and dealers sometimes use my front garden to hide bits of their stash. An hour earlier I'd seen a squirrel wandering round the garden, digging in the flowerbeds. It looked like it knew what it was looking for. It was ill-looking and its eyes looked bloodshot but it kept on desperately digging. It was almost as if it was trying to find hidden crack rocks."

Crack squirrels are a recognised phenomena in the US. They are known to live in parks frequented by addicts in New York and Washington DC. The squirrels have attacked park visitors in their frenzied search for their next fix.

I'd post the URL but none of my posts that include URLs seem to survive moderation


I was thinking of posting something fairly obvious, but; a) I can't stand the "Godfather" films, and b) waking next to the bloody head of a prize-winning race gerbil doesn't have quite the right menace.


My guess:

For years, Charlie "the Gerbil" Scotsman had been the terror of Glasgow's underworld. "Beware the Gerbil", junkies and ne'er-do-wells used to whisper to each other; "Beware the Gerbil, or he'll do you in right good."

All this came to end last Sunday, as young, enterprising and twice convicted-of-armed-robbery Felix Cattus stumbled to the source of an unasked mystery: "Why's he called the Gerbil, exactly?"

While details remain unclear, apparently Mr. Cattus had gotten into a drunken war of words with Mr. Scotsman over pints in Dutch Courage, a disreputable place over at the English district of the city, over the question of luck.

"What's luck anyway?" Mr. Cattus is reported as having said; in answer to which Mr. Scotsman drew a humongous live albino gerbil from what observers had though a mobile phone harness, and proceeded into a furious rant touching on black magic, interspecies blood brotherhood, several witches, a family prophecy, and the wood of Dunsinane.

Mr. Cattus, uninterested in this, flicked a cigarette butt at the animal, which subsequently combusted.

The whereabouts of Mr. Cattus are at the present unknown; Mr. "Ex-Gerbil" Scotsman is reported as being alternately full of intimidating premonitions of doom, and full of boiling rage and willing to pay six-figured sums for the head of Mr. Cattus, "which would be a bloody good mascot too", as unverified sources close to the mob boss say.

The Glasgow Police Department declined to say whether they have been contacted over the matter, though Sgt. Bobby of the Home Safety squad urged pet owners to remember that most pets can be flammable in some situations.



Anyone seeking enlightenment should google on Kevin "Gerbil" Carroll.

Props to Ak in comment #7 who nailed it.

The remaining question is, how hard does a gangland enforcer have to be to gain a fearsome rep despite being nicknamed "the Gerbil"?


An unfortunate nickname makes it a much less entertaining story.

Awesome headline though. Am assuming it was a slow day at the Sunday Mail and the juniors were playing with the Daily Mail Headline Generator until it got close enough.


Err, you are aware that Rule 34 has an equivalent in the food sector, 'there is a local speciality like that'?


Including the following unfortunate phrasing from the BBC:

Ross Monaghan is accused of repeatedly shooting and killing Mr Carroll in the Asda car park in Saughs Road, in the city's Robroyston area, on 13 January.

There is something rather sfnal about repeatedly killing the same victim.


:::gasp::: You put your friends into boiling oil?


I only got as far as trying to figure out how the poor bastard who was minding the gang boss's pet gerbil managed to kill it. (Wikipedia suggests that plastic housing could do the trick - gerbils will gnaw on plastic, unlike hamsters.)


Local accent, dialect, argot, cant, and slang, could be a factor. If the Paper isn't based on Glasgow, all we can be sure of is that somebody once heard somebody else say something that sounded like "gerbil".


Hmm - the mention of accent and mangling did it...

I'm currently re-reading Brian Callison's Trapp books, and the similarity of gerbil to Gorbals comes to mind...



What panels will you be in? I found the following: Reading: Charles Stross When Sun, June 19, 12:00 – 12:30

Carles Stross Interviews Hannu Rajaniemi Interviews Charles Stross When Sat, June 18, 18:00 – 19:00

Will you give any other talks while in Stockholm?

(I don't want to miss anything!)

Best, Per


:::gasp::: You put your friends into boiling oil? No, into pizzas. Deep-pan, naturally.


The Daily Record is based on Glasgow. It's also about the closest thing that Scotland has to a "national newspaper"; The (Glasgow) Herald, Scotsman (Edinburgh paper), Dundee Courier and (Aberdeen) "Press and Journal" all tend to have a bias towards their local areas. In the case of the P&J, so much so that legend has it that they ran the sinking of the Titanic under the headline "Aberdeen man lost at sea".


The Swedish tabloids, Aftonbladet and Expressen here in Stockholm, have sometimes interesting headlines, but not that good today only one interesting: Miljontals flyr från facebook (Millions fleeing facebook) in Aftonbladet, refugee camps on the net?

Going to EuroConn this week-end.


A touch of googling suggests his nickname derives from 'Kevin the Gerbil', sidekick to Roland Rat - early 80s UK kid's TV characters. Plausible, though the source offered no supporting evidence for the claim.



Several years back, I visited a rather fashionable place on Parker's Piece in Cambridge, and had a deep fried ice-cream dish for dessert.

It was a crepe restaurant. (Insert mandatory joke of "no, it was quite good actually".)

Long gone. It's a Thai restaurant now, with a view of the ever changing colour illuminated, architectural award winning, public lavatories the other side of Parker's Piece.


The week before last, the P&J was advertising itself with the headline:


Alas, I didn't have the presence of mind to get a photo.


First the Great Hamster of Alsace and now this.


Yuk, did some googling.

What a thoroughly unpleasant bunch these Glasgow crims are.


You don't want to know about a "Glasgow smile" then.


Umm, what? Apart from the fact that the Scotsman has been calling itself the national newspaper of Scotland for donkey's years, it has also, since I wer a lad, changed from a Scottish paper to a wannabe national UK paper with some extra local bits thrown in from the Evening news to keep the Scots happy. The Herald is similar, except with a weegie and more anti-establishment bias. Or do you mean that it just prints pan-scotland tabloid crap?


I didn't know the Scots had tapas bars...(do not meddle in the affair of gangsters, for you are crunchy and go well with ranch dressing).

But I'm sure the little guy was deep fried.


I have, as a bit of idle time-passing, been playing with the idea of what the kids of some of my characters (hence born around 1940) might do in mid-1960s London.

There's a certain notorious Casino that was owned by the Kray twins. This crew might listen to the Beatles rather than Glenn Miller, but Granny is in town, and they wouldn't dare disappoint her.

Oh, and they have contacts. Think The Long Good Friday meets Enter The dragon. Granny plays Poker with Rebecca Chan...

Anyway, I looked up the history. Both the Krays and the Robinsons were pretty vile people. People were nailed to the floor, and the Piranha Brothers were not just based on the Krays. There was a whole milieu of terror and crooked cops, and of celebrities slumming it with the hard men of London.


The US of As Gangsters of the last century's Great Depression/Recession seemed to have done business with much more style that the UK mobs of the 1960s onward. Still, the UKs gangs could be said to have followed the golden rule of ' Bugsy ' Siegel ' ..."we only kill each other."

" Furthermore, organization philosophy was summed up in the words of "Bugsy" Siegel to a nervous building contractor hired to make alterations in his home: "We only kill each other." Hitting police or prosecutors was strictly forbidden lest it produce intensive crackdowns by law enforcement people.

Read more: Inc. Trials Murder: 1941 - "we Only Kill Each Other" - Dewey, Schultz, Buchalter, Syndicate, York, and Board "


OopS ..I've somehow managed to duplicate a post.

I've been migrating to firefox from Microsoggys Internet Explorer and I still haven't got spell-check to work properly but I'd put it down to typing to fast with an unfamiliar system. Could whoever is doing moderation please zap the surplus post?

[[Moderator : done]]


As every school child knows, spacers are split between the Gang and the Organisation, two factions constantly at the brink of war. But that's only half of the truth. "Gang boss vows bloody revenge for gerbil". Not a year ago, you would have needed a starlight plus clearance to understand that headline. Then came the Organisations revolt in the gas planets, upturning the Gang's Saturn empire data warehouse, bringing hundreds of classified documents into the public net. Document no. 42/0815 found firstly only disbelieve. What else could it be than an Organisation disinformation approach, trying to put the Gang faction into red moonlight?

Two months later, Neutral University scientists undertook it to test the steps spelled out in document no. 42/0815, trying to verify or falsify something that had started to bring conspiracy cranks into orbit like moths into the light. Neutral University being Neutral University, their triple peer reviewed report couldn't be dismissed. It was true: Gang faction had found a way to contact an alien nation.

Disbelieve was replaced by shock. Alliances slowly started to shift, a shift that gained velocity, until The Intervention Troupe did what they do and bought Gang malus future derivates. Gang went underground in most of the solar system, Organisation gained the upper hand. But what about the Gerbils? Organisation's reaction was a fast ideological money swap, moving Humanism as Organisation's belief system to the fore. Humanism: Only one species should rule the Milky Way, should inherit the galactic empire - humans first. Gerbils second, or better: dead. T.I.T. funded Organisation's military arm, re-working the steps Neutral University hat tested so carefully, reaching the Gerbil home system. Ignoring the doorbell, they smartly and silently placed the planetary bomb there. They left. News went faster than their ships, arriving in a solar system where cold war between underground Gang and for a time legitime Organisation had become hot - Gang's bloody revenge for the Gerbils.


gee, thanks. Had to look that one up. Though, still not as nasty as a "Colombian Necktie".


And here in Melbourne I have encountered deep fried sushi, which approaches the metaphysical.

In Hawaii they used to have Spam sushi, which, I suppose, did something to account for Pearl Harbour.


Am in Stockholm: Book signing here this afternoon at 4:30pm


And when the nice people in one of Edinburgh's finest fishmongers (Mr. Lee's, in Marchmont) don't have tuna to hand of a suitable quality for sushi...

...Scottish salmon sushi! (She Who Is Obeyed makes very nice sushi indeed)


Off-topic But relevant to past posts' and perhaps Charlies interests/predictions... Today on the BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme, at about 07.16hrs (go to BBCR4 website, select "i=player" etc for replay) ... TWO successive items. First on "bubbles" and how to predict them, and how it appears useless, at the moment at least (no mention of being too close to the trees to see the wood, I notice) and, immediately after that... The rise and rise of small-size, high-priced luxury goods manufacturers, out of all proportion.

Fascinating stuff.


Welcome to Stockholm! There are some pretty good places to get proper beer close by. Let me know if you want some tips...



so true about the repeated killings of the man.

Reminds me of an old joke, based on news reports about pedestrians being run over. "A man is run over in Our City every 5 minutes."

"The same man? He be getting tired of that."

Of course, the ambiguity is more clear under the old method. The new method, using 'A person' instead of 'A man' somehow makes it unclear whether the statement is about a repeated event with a particular individual, or a type of event that happens to many individuals.


I'm trying to remember which rather nasty little SF story was inspired by the quote of Nathan Hale before being hanged for treason: “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”

In the story, there's no such limitation.

don't have tuna to hand of a suitable quality for sushi

At least you can get away with slightly lower quality fish when it's with sushi. It's when it's pure sashimi, no sushi at all, that you need the best.

And there's nowt wrong or even unusual with salmon sashimi - it's a good fish for it. It's even currently first in the list on the relevant Wikipedia page.


Long time reader, first time poster -- but I need to correct this... Spam musubi was unknown in Hawaii until after World War 2; the influx of American soldiers in the island introduced Hawaiians to Spam which, unlike other rationed meats, was widely available.

So, while some people might find Spam musubi worthy of bombing, it did not account for Pearl Harbor -- it was a spin-off from that incident.


Some support for the 1980s children's TV hypothesis about Kevin "Gerbil" Carroll's nickname is provided by one of his pallbearers being Francis "Fraggle" Green; who was also the first on the scene after Gerbil's murder.


It's an Orson Scott Card story (from Omni if I remember correctly). Something Executioner? Can't remember. Notable for an even less realistic take on a Soviet invasion the "Red Dawn".


"then 'Red Dawn'" d'oh



Time to start drinking I think.


A gangster who happened to be a regular reader of Bruce Schneier's security blog thereby learned that carrying a small pet frees you from having to undergo a full body scan. Said gangster brought a well trained gerbil into an American airport terminal and allowed it to board the plane of its target (as it had been trained to). Once in the air, the pressure-triggered device implanted in the rodent activated.


Nice to see and hear you at the bookstore yesterday. I was the guy that left after 15 minutes- had to go home because of a highly pregnant wife. I wished I could have stayed till the end and gotten a signed copy of The Fuller Memorandum.

I used to read alt.peeves in the '90ies when it was active.


Ok. Make that "The Daily Record" was the nearest thing Scotland had to a national daily, about 17 years ago (the last time I read it regularly).


This thread made me realise that my local convenience store carried the Daily Record in far away sunny Dublin. Don't think they take the Sunday Mail - I'd have remembered that headline!



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on June 14, 2011 11:14 AM.

Rule 34: Part Two was the previous entry in this blog.

Rule 34: Part Three is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog