Dross I couldn't find room for elsewhere.
The Tobacco Tin - 1989
This is a short story I wrote when I was 15. It's not the only thing I've written which isn't funny, but it's rare in that it wasn't meant to be. I've resisted the temptation to edit and improve it here, so this is the original version I wrote as a spotty teenager.

Note: If you find the ending a little difficult to take on face value, there's always the alternative interpretation that Mr Williams was in fact a junkie whose tobacco tin contained a hypodermic and some class A drugs. It works just as well.
   Phil Gardner 2002-7
Cleon II - The Forgotten Masterpiece - 1990
As a 16 year old doing A-level English Literature, I was forced to study the poetry of Robert Browning. Two months of mind numbing boredom later, I cracked, and found myself writing a poem composed entirely of clues from that day's Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword. I then added a short critique of my poem and handed it in. Let's just say it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Down at the bottom of the garden, among the birds and the bees...
In 1992 I spent some time working for Poddington plc, writing various bits and pieces based around the characters from the BBC children's animated series 'The Poddington Peas'. The following is a selection of three pieces which were written in story form with the intention of later becoming TV episodes. The third of these was a pilot for American TV, intended to introduce a new set of characters called The Bugz. This was written from a storyline by Colin Wyatt, the artist who designed the characters.
   Colin Wyatt
... And for fans of the bizarre, here's a page of my original notes for a Poddington Peas French language course, dated 20th May 1992. It's written entirely in pencil, and contains doodles of Pignatius the Hound and a mysterious cow-like creature, alongside lyrics by the Wonderstuff and They Might Be Giants. Yes people, this is the kind of mind that was writing for your children.
Phil Gardner: children's author or sad basket case? You decide.
This was a somewhat low budget (and low taste) publication created in the autumn of 1989 and terminated the following spring. It featured numerous in-jokes, so-called 'news' stories written under headlines such as "Depraved!" and "Fatality!", regular features like Uncle Phil's problem page (which I don't think ever featured a single genuine problem..... or solution) and Phil's Phascinating Phacts, plus high quality articles such as "25 Reasons Why Cucumbers Are Better Than Men" (I claim no responsibility for that one). I won't reproduce much of it here, but the link above contains what I consider to be the funniest thing we ever printed, for so many reasons. And I had nothing to do with it. It was a piece by my old buddy Scott Collings, who for reasons unknown, decided to review a board game aimed at children aged 4 to 8. I realise the humour of this will probably be lost on 99% of the visitors to this site, but for me it's a brilliantly inspired piece of comedy. So I include it here along with a little thankyou to Scott for making me laugh throughout those two years (not least when, thanks to a fundamentally flawed voting system, he came second in a 'Best Album' poll with "Scott Sings 30 February Songs").

Also included are two episodes from a serialised story I wrote for the magazine. The in-joke quotient is high, rendering much of it meaningless to most readers, but hey, the entire premise of this website is self indulgence, so what the heck...
The VIth Form Magazine, third issue. This is what happens when you allow a budding flower artist to do the cover. You end up with no room for the magazine title.
The VIth Form Magazine, second issue.
The VIth Form Magazine, first issue.
I used to write novels. I didn't use to finish novels, but I used to write them. These include such classic works of literature as "The Cases of Dr von Wolfitdown', a slightly silly comedy (and that's putting it mildly) written at the age of 16, and "Sounds of Darkness", a serious horror novel which was the last thing I ever wrote as I descended further into depression in 1995.

The dilemma here is whether to spend countless hours and days typing up these bits of pulp fiction purely for this website. So far, common sense has prevailed and I've decided I have better things to do. But the thing about common sense is that sooner or later it deserts you. So in the future, who knows...
And what's more, I've read 'Aspects of the Novel' by E.M. Forster. Well, I say 'read'. I flicked through it in a library once.
The Bugz
No Job For a Lady - 24th January 2004
This was my entry for the 'Writers Weekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest'. Five hundred writers from around the world had registered to take part, and at 6pm British time we were each e-mailed a previously unknown topic and word count. We then had 24 hours to come up with an original short story on that subject, and e-mail it back to the judges.

For this contest the limit was 1,100 words, and the 'topic' was given as follows:

"She looked behind her once again before she pushed open the largest door in the house. She only had a few seconds to search her employer's office or she risked detection. Her eyes were immediately drawn to a handwritten note sitting in the middle of the desk..."

The rules stated that your story must touch on the topic in some way, but it is not necessary to quote the topic directly, and the gender of the main character may be changed. It must be obvious, however, that the story was written specifically for the assigned topic.

The organisers describe this contest as "the ultimate source for creative stress... and tons of fun!". Having sat up til 4:30am on a Saturday night to produce this thing, I can safely say they're half right.
The Last Laugh - 28th February 2004
I wrote this for the 'Writer Online Non-Polysyllabic Short Story Contest', where the task set was to write a 200 word short story based on an event from your childhood, using ONLY words of one syllable. It's just the kind of kerrazy idea I find irresistable. Interestingly, it wasn't as difficult as I expected, so I think I must have a naturally limited vocabulary and an inbuilt aversion to long words.

I'd also like to apologise to my sister for libelling her outrageously here. She WAS strangely attracted to my pink pig cake, it's true, but to say this story is somewhat embellished would be a major understatement.

Still, I was awarded third place for this effort, so clearly libel pays.
Brian, the Itch & the Wardrobe - 7th March 2004
This is the 250 word version of my micro fiction story of the same name. I expanded the original into this piece of flash fiction for Fish Publishing's 'Very Short Story Prize'. It's surprising what a difference those extra 150 words can make...
The Poddington Peas
Welcome to Earth - 24th July 2004
This was my entry for the Summer 2004 'Writers Weekly 24-Hour Short Story Contest'. Having entered the Winter contest six months earlier (see below), I proved that I never learn from my mistakes, by choosing to put myself through the whole experience again.

This time around, the limit was 1000 words and the given 'topic' was...

"It had taken him almost an hour to climb over the rocks to the hidden beach. His metal detector was strapped to his back and he didn't think many other treasure hunters would go to this much effort. It was low tide, so he started at the water line and began sweeping the detector back and forth. On his fifth pass, the detector gave a strong beep..."

So I played safe and went for the silly vote...
Annie's People - April 2005
This is a 10-minute sitcom script written for the BBC's Last Laugh competition, in which entrants had to finish one of eight 20-minute comedy scripts written by some of the leading lights of British sitcom writing. I chose Annie's People by Ian Pattison, creator of both Rab C Nesbitt and The Crouches.

I was disappointed not to have made the shortlist with this script. Until I read one of the entries which DID make the final four. At which point my disappointment turned to outrage.

For copyright reasons, I'm not permitted to publish the original 20 minute script of which this is the ending, and taken on its own, my script is therefore pretty meaningless. But I'm posting it here anyway, in the faint hope that one day a member of the BBC might happen upon it and realise that they need to take a serious look at just who they're paying to read and judge their scriptwriting competitions.

Oh, and before you ask, yes, I am bitter.