Looking Back On Dan Lester At Elephant Words

Dan Lester – Author of “Bell, Book & Handlebars”, an account of his cycling tour of the UK’s supernatural hotspots – has returned to Elephant Words, after a triumphant six month engagement in the colonies.

His first new piece is a deceptively simple piece of faked-up ephemera that has one absolute killer idea at it’s core. It is called “The Museum Of July 22nd, 1987″, and exists here.

This seems like as good a time as any to take a look at some of my favourite moments of Mr Lester’s previous run at Elephant Words. His first post came on 29/07/08, but his first appearance came a week earlier:

Dan started strong, with a story about movie pitches, based on this image, posted by Andrew Cheverton:


Photo by Princess Bala Vera

Already I know what is coming. He’s going to tell me that the killer leaves poems on each of his victims’ fridges, each one containing a hidden clue to his motives, or to the identity of his next victim. I’ve heard this idea twice today. In one pitch it was elaborate paintings that the killer left behind, in the other it was crossword puzzles.

The Pitch by Dan Lester

It was a decent opener, but wasn’t the format-buster that I would later associate with the man. It’s worth noting at this point that none of the pieces Dan posted were bad, but this post is about the ones that stick in my memory.

The first image that Dan posted was this one:


Photo by Or Hiltch

His piece the following Saturday remains one of my favourite all-time Elephants, but I can’t show you it – I can only send you to it: When I Grow Up by Dan Lester

By the time Dan got round to 80s cartoon fetish double-takes, based on this image:


Photo by David Baillie

…one kind of knew what to expect, but the sentimentality in this piece was a pleasing shocker:

“Come on, Ray,” I sighed. “I had my fill of live sex shows when I moved out here. These days I’d be happier with a Val Kilmer movie.”

“No, no, it is nothing like that,” he said, smiling. “Just go along.”

I looked him in the eye suspiciously. “It’s not midgets again, is it?”

The smile disappeared and he shook his head vehemently. “I tell you it is nothing like that!”

“What, then? Amputees? Animals? Auto-fellatio?” I was mentally debating whether to try and come up with another perverse act starting with A, or move on to B, when Ray slammed his hand down on the counter.

Feel The Magic by Dan Lester

Closest” is a beautiful, uncomfortable story – unfortunately the image it’s based on is no longer available, but the piece is here.


Photo by ME!

I don’t know if metaphysical office-worker horror is an actual genre, but in “Leaving The Office” Dan nailed it totally, and in a Monday post to boot:

Reynolds woke up at around 8:30. He could hear the sound of dayshift people coming into the office, and the night workers preparing to leave. He got up from the floor, pulled on his shirt and tie, and discreetly made his way out of the storage room.

When he stepped out into the office the bright lights hurt his eyes. He squinted and looked down at his scuffed leather shoes, and the ‘intelligent simulation’ carpet. That was something that had confused him when he started working there. Surely a real carpet would have been cheaper?

Leaving The Office by Dan Lester

Dan posted this image:


Photo by Sean Azzopardi

… solely so he could write something hilariously ridiculous like this:

Laurence ‘Larry’ Fogelbinder, a top hardman, and quick with it too, stepped off the bus and into the street. It was pissing down harder than a Mexican housewife, but Larry didn’t care about the wetness, all he wanted was a pint. He’d just done thirty years of hard time for snuffing a southend snitch with a sawed off shotgun and he was ready to get his fingers dirty again. He looked around and saw a pub across the street, The Foxy Owl. It was the kind of place where men were real men. Larry knew what kind of man he was, the kind that wanted a beer, and fast. He crossed the street after looking both ways and waiting for a few cars to pass. Then stepped into the pub.

Inside there was nobody about, apart from the bartender, a squeaky nonce with a penchant for fishcakes, who looked up at Larry, grunted “we’re closed”, and went back to the magazine that he had been formerly reading.

Once Upon A Time In The East End by Dan Lester

Dan has a way of manipulating his pieces so he can come out with lines like this:

“What you need to do,” I said thoughtfully, “is manipulate your penis into an erection and then insert it into a vagina.” Mark looked at me as if I had just suggested that he euthanise his mother without waiting for her to become ill. Which annoyed me, as I felt that it was perfectly good advice, however sarcastically it was delivered.

A Word Of Advice by Dan Lester

I think I personally struggled with this image:


Flying Through The Grass by Budgie

Not Mr Lester. He combines economy with dark magic realism, and comes out with:

In America they called it eating your gun, and it was the most popular method of suicide for those in the law enforcement sector. For this reason it was also referred to as cop’s disease.

Not that he had ever been a cop. nor did he feel any sense of ownership towards the gun. It was merely an object he had acquired, a tool to be used once. It was a small thing, a .22 calibre, or so he had been told. He placed the barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

On The Possibility Of Things Being Not What They Appear (or A Different Kind Of Firework) by Dan Lester

One final favourite, though going through these I’ve realised that you really need to go through and read the whole damn lot, okay?

So, anyway, Matthew Hartwell posted this oddly cute image:


The King Of Wishful Thinking by Matthew Hartwell

And Dan, the freaking genius, posted this piece, which works fine first time, then swims in your vision with subsequent readings:

Even though it was the biggest turtle in the world, capable of stomping entire cities and leaving nothing but rubble in it’s wake, when it stood in the giant’s hand it felt as small as everyone else.

A Matter Of Perspective by Dan Lester

That’s the whole story, and the whole post. Go read Dan Lester’s stuffs, yo! He is the very bitter end.