Socks are not Enough – Exclusive post from Michael Swarbrick

Today I’m delighted to welcome to our blog, Michael Swarbrick, star of the hilarious novel, Socks are not Enough(read our review here). Michael, in his own distinct style, has written an exclusive post for Literature for Lads.  Using lists and footnotes, that feature so prominently in the book, Michael tells tells us what happens when he went to the library on National Libraries Day…  

National Libraries Day

Today I went to the library at lunchtime. I wanted to see if they had any books about how to divorce your family because of: 

1) My brother. He is the worst human being alive. 

A) He is vain. Sometimes he wears girls’ make-up to cover his spots, even though he is not a girl. He also uses so much hair gel that from behind he resembles a seagull that has been plucked out of an oil slick. 
B) He has recently tricked Lucy King into being his girlfriend. Lucy is nice. Some people say she is attractive although I have not noticed. She is also Britain’s second most promising swimmer(1)

2) My parents. Yesterday I returned home to find them completely nude in my front room. Apparently they are “practising at being nudists”. And, even worse, they are building up to being naked outdoors. Outdoors, I tell you. I would rather they were building up to destroying the entire universe(2)

Anyway, so I went into the library with my so-called best friend Paul Beary. Paul is an imbecile. Here are some facts about him: 

A) He is obese. However, he claims he is big boned. Nonsense. Bones are hard. They do not wobble when you run to the vending machine. Nor do they roll over your belt when you sit down like a big marshmallow waterfall. 
B) He is obsessed with girls. And not in a good way. Sometimes he steals their pencils and licks them before putting them back in their pencil cases. Apparently, girls always chew their pencils so this is “just like snogging them”. 
C) He lies. According to him, his sister’s husband owns a rhinoceros farm in Kenya (at which Paul often milks the rhinos), he used to be in a New York street gang called (honestly) “The Naughty Alberts”, and his uncle invented the caravan. Paul had heard about a new book in the library called My Changing Body – Pop-Up Edition by Floella Rampazzo. The promise of seeing “nudey women in 3D” was so exciting that he even let me have a piece of his Toblerone. The Toblerone came straight from his pocket. It was covered in fluff and

  1. Source: Swimming Gazette. Number one was some shaven-chested diver with goofy teeth. I do not wish to be nasty about his teeth but I think that maybe he missed the pool with one of his dives and landed face-first on the tiles. He clearly did not deserve to beat Lucy (who is obviously superior in every way), but I am glad for him that he has found some success. It cannot be easy having teeth like a camel. Actually, perhaps they act like parachutes when he is diving. This would give him extra time in mid-air, therefore enabling him to perform more complex tricks.
  2. OK, maybe not. But it would have been less embarrassing.

warm to the point of being completely melted. However, Paul does not give food away often, so I did not complain.(3)

As I was looking through the “Family Issues” department of the library, I noticed there was a talk going on for National Libraries Day. A group of people were sitting around listening to a short, chunky man with messy hair and no dress sense(4) droning on about being a writer. Do not get me wrong, I like books a lot. But this writer sounded seriously dull. Anyway, at this point he was just finishing his talk. As he thanked the audience for “absorbing his musings” (I have no idea what this means), I noticed Lucy King in the front row, applauding enthusiastically. She looked absolutely lovely.

N.B. Just to be clear, I mean “lovely” as in “a very nice girl” rather than“phwoah, I want to share a McFlurry with her”. As a brief aside, if I were to share a McFlurry with Lucy, I would insist on separate spoons. This is not because I believe that she is diseased; it is simply because I am sensitive to germs. For instance, in the library I was wearing gloves so I did not have to physically touch books that other people may have read.

I joined in the applause in order to support Lucy. I know that her ambition if she does not make it as a swimmer is to become a writer.(5) Knowing this level of detail does not make me a stalker. It just means I am closely following the life and career of a promising athlete. Lots of people do this.(6)

As everybody drifted away, Lucy smiled at me. The top of her nose wrinkled like a beautiful used tea bag.(7)“Hi, Mike. Did you enjoy the talk?”

“Absolutely loved it,” I said.

Lucy narrowed her eyes. “Are you wearing gloves?”

“Yes,” I said. I did not wish to say that I did not like sharing books with other people. Some people would think this was weird. I needed something fast. “I have a terrible skin disease.”

Skin disease? Good grief.

“Oh,” she said, stepping backwards.

“Yes. My hands are flaking like a pair of overcooked sausage rolls.”

This was not going well.

[3] Incidentally, this was Paul’s first visit to the library since last year, when he came in to steal a stepladder. He now uses this to spy on the girls getting changed after PE.

[4] I do not exactly dress at the cutting-edge of fashion but this man was something else. He had what appeared to be a curry stain across his T-shirt and was wearing socks and sandals.

[5] Source: Meet Our Champions page – Preston Piranhas Swimming Club Website.

[6] Although I will accept that not everybody keeps a scrapbook of their chosen athlete, including such artefacts as discarded energy bar wrappers and strands of her hair that fell out when she removed her cap after a big race.

[7] Actually, I am not sure that this image is a particularly good one. Perhaps it is more like the skin of a baby gerbil. No. I do not think I am doing it justice. It just looks nice, OK.

This was not going well.

Lucy bit her lip. “Looking for a book?”

“Yes. I want something about …” I did not want to mention the nudity. “… swimming. Yes. I want to improve my swimming.”

This is actually true. Despite being a member of Lucy’s swimming club, I swim about as well as a bucketful of crippled pigeons.

“Well, there are a few books over in the sports section and—”

There was still a chance of escaping with a shred of dignity.

That was, until Paul returned.

And this what he did:

1) Clutching My Changing Body – Pop-Up Edition, he barged round the corner, drooling like an overexcited walrus.

2) In doing so he bundled over a bookshelf and the writer, who then lay there on the floor moaning about how his “creative juices” had been knocked out of him.

3) Ignoring the stricken writer, Paul stood up right between Lucy and me.(8)

4) He opened the pop-up book right into our faces.

Of course, Paul did not choose any old page. He chose the pop-up picture of a naked lady. It was gross. He could have had our eyes out. And he opened it again. And again. And again. Each time he said things like “Check ’em out!” and “They’re still there!” and “Look at the detail!” 

Eventually, Lucy kicked Paul in the shin.(9) He yelped and hopped backwards.

“See you, Mike,” she said, looking at Paul like he was a bag of rotting grapefruits. “I’m off to meet your brother.”

I watched as she walked away.

(8)Paul does not respect personal space. He was so close I could smell the encrusted beef stew that had somehow made its way into his ear during lunchtime.

[9] I realized that he was standing on her other foot, hence why she had not escaped earlier.

Socks are not Enough is written by Mark Lowery and features many lists and footnotes just like this exclusive excerpt does. If you would like to find out more about Michael Swarbrick he is on Twitter and Facebook:

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