Funny Contemporary Fiction

“Wot’s this, then?”

“It’s my new smartphone, Grandad.”

“Wot’s it do?”

“Lots of things.”

“Like wot?”

“Like, read emails, search Cyberspace.”

“Wot’s Cyberspace - when it’s at home?”

“It’s a superhighway of information available to everyone.”

“Like a motorway?”

“Yeah, sort of.”

“Where’d they build it?”

“It’s not something you can see. It’s mostly underground. But lately, it’s up in space.”

“They’ve got motorways in space, like the Jetsons?”

“No, they’ve got satellites in stationary orbit that provide access to the superhighway. It’s like a big net of communication systems.”

“So, ‘ow does wots-is-face at thingy get his rockets past ‘em?”

“You mean, Elon Musk at Space X?”

“Yeah, that’s him. How does he get his rockets through the net up there?”

“It’s not like they’re connected to each other, Grandad. Well, they are connected, but not like a fishing net. The connection is invisible.”

“It’s magic, then.”

“No, it’s science. Bloody hell, Grandad!”

“I’m just pullin’ yer plonker, mate. I’m well aware of wot’s up there and all around and underneath us. I mean, my whole garden shed is proof of that, full of useless items bought on eBay.”

“Yeah, mine too.”

I went to a séance, once – in the seventies.”

“No, Grandad, I said science, not séance. Are your hearing aids working?”

“I was sittin’ at this round table holdin’ hands wif this young woman, who was wearing a scarf round her ‘ead. It had a big blue stone in the middle of it, like some Sikh magician. She kept repeating, Is anyone there, is anyone there? Like she was in the dark and had just ‘eard strange voices. I think she must ‘ave been blind, coz the room was fuckin’ packed with people. Poor love. I felt sorry for her, coz no-one answered. Rude gits. They just couldn’t deal with her disability, I suppose. They all looked shit scared of her, like if they muttered anything, she’d scream at ‘em. Then, all of a sudden, the table started to rise up on its own and this bell kept ringing. You know, the type that calls for a butler in all them posh tv shows. I thought, blimey! The Earth’s lost its gravity. So, I jumped on top of it to weigh it down and some geezer hidin’ underneath yelled out such a torrent of foul language, I stood up and left. I mean, what fuckin’ dead spirit wants to hear all that, hey? I know I didn’t, and I’m alive! Still, came home wif a nice souvenir, but your Gran didn’t appreciate me ringing it every time I wanted a cuppa.”


“Yes, my son.”

“You went rambling again.”

“Did I? Right. Must be getting’ old. So, tell me more about this smartphone of yours. Can it add?”

“It can.”

“Can it play the radio?”

“Yes, it’s called streaming music.”

“Screaming music?”

“No… Stop making fun of me.”

“Nothin’ but screaming music, these days. If you can call it that. In my day, it was love songs and dancing and fingerin’ Jane Snipper in the back alley of the dance hall.”

“Erm, Grandad. Too much info.”

“Wot, you never fing…”

“Not something I feel comfortable discussing, Grandad.”

“So, wot do you young people do these days to get your jollies?”

“Let’s get back on topic, please.”

“We never ‘ad the luxury or the readies to rent a hotel room.”

“That’s not…”

“Nah, it was either a bunk up in the local cemetery or a quickie in a toilet. You know, every time I ‘ave a sit-down, it brings back memories of those days. Who’d of thought taking a shit could be such a turn on.”

“…You can also play games on it.”

“Wot, the khazi?”

“No, Grandad. My smartphone.”



“How long do you ‘ave to wait for the other person to make his move?”

“It’s against a computer. It’s an App you download onto your smartphone.”

“Wot’s an App?”

“It’s short for Application. Like a computer program on your phone.”

“Why can’t you just say, Application, then? Wot’s with all this shortenin’ of words these days. Your generation too lazy to pronounce them? In my day, an Application was something you did to yerself in school.”

“Do I need to know what you did to yourself in school?”

“It was the practice of applying yourself to your school subjects. The teacher’s reports at the end of each term would be filled wif the word. Reggie could apply himself more, or Reginald’s application to his studies would be improved if he applied himself to them with an application of interest. I suppose in today’s lazy language, that would sound like gibberish.

“That’s your opinion.”

“Nah, mate. That’s my Applied philosophy. Or is it, my App philosophy?”

“Okay, you’ve made your point.”

“Can you play twenty-one on that thing?”

“You mean, Blackjack?”

“Yeah, but in your Woke world, ain’t that politically incorrect to call it that name?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Well, you’re wot’s called a child of Generation Z, are you not?”

“How do you know about that?”

“I’m a fuckin’ Baby Boomer, Tommo. We started all this generation-naming nonsense. Well, our parents did. Post war, cold nights, no telly, nothin’ else to do but bonk, and that’s how I came abowt.”

“It’s strange thinking about people doing it back then.”

“It’s even stranger thinkin’ ‘bowt your mum and dad doin’ it. I mean, I bet you don’t look at me and yer Gran and think that at some point in our lives we went at it like rabbits, do ya.”

“Can we change the subject, please.”

“I mean, I suppose every generation thinks they invented sex. I know we did. It was so popular, there was a three-month wait at the library to borrow that Karma Sootra book.”

“It’s pronounced, Kama Sutra, Grandad.”

“Oh, so you’ve read it, then?”

“It’s everywhere on the Internet, Grandad. They just call it other things these days, like PornHub.”

“…Not read that one. Must be new. No, the whole topic of sex instruction was so popular in my day, that even WH Smith sold out of the paperback version of the book. Some bright enterprising young artist in Peckham went and copied a few pages in his own style and sold them in the Exchange and Mart classifieds newspaper for a couple of quid apiece. Made a small fortune, then went on to create his own magazine. I think it was called Forum, or sumfin’ like that. Full of saucy letters and articles. Very little photos, but when I was in school, there was a boy that used to rent copies out to his classmates at lunchtime. The teachers could never figure out why there was always a big queue outside the boys’ toilets every lunch. Mr. Boslan used to comment, sayin’ What good is a weak waterworks when there’s a war on? An army marches on its stomach, not its bladder. Poor bugger suffered from shell shock; I think. I mean, the war had been over for twenty-five years. I dunno. Maybe, he was just a fucking nutter, instead.”

“You’re rambling again, Grandad.”

“Yeah, the Karma Sootra was a big deal to the sexual revolution. Everyone wanted to try out the infamous position Fourteen – the Dhenuka.”

“What was Position fourteen?”

“Just good ol’ fashioned Doggy Style, Tommo. Up and in from behind! After all, we’re all just animals, aren’t we?”

“Sorry I asked.”

“Embarassed you, ‘ave I?”

“It’s one thing talking to people your own age about it, then there’s…”

“Heh! Yeah! Yer Grandad.”

“Some things are best left sacred.”

“Then you don’t want to hear abowt the time your gran and me walked in on yer mum and dad in the…”

“NO! Thank you. Let’s move on, shall we? I don’t know how we got here, but I was trying to explain to you what my smartphone can do.”

“Look, Tommo. I’m very much up-to-date wif technology gadgets. What I ‘ave a hard time gettin’ my head around, is figurin’ out those little symbols on the oven controls. I mean, if anyone wants proof of alien life, they just ‘ave to look at the symbols on a modern oven. All I want to do is switch it on, set the temperature, and stick a roast in there.”

“Don’t you have the manual?”

“It’s all in Chinese!”

“That’s unusual. Most manuals are written in several different languages.”

“Not this one, Tommo. Can you read Mandarin?”

“Where did you buy the oven?”

“Where I buy everything else, Tommo. On eBay. No, sorry. I didn’t get this one on eBay. I got it from that – oh, wot’s it called? It’s named after the flying carpet bloke.”

“You mean, Ali Baba?”

“Yeah, that’s it. But it was from the faster one.”

“Ali Express.”

“Yep, that’s the one! Although, I never realised Ali Baba was Chinese. I thought he was from Persia or someplace like that.”

“He was, Grandad. I used to like reading Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves as a boy.”

“Fuckin’ Chinese will steal anything and copy it.”

“That’s a bit unfair, isn’t it, Grandad?”

“You know, in the Eighties, when Ronald Reagan was runnin’ around the White house in America, he banned the sale of any technology to the Chinese. You know why?”

“You’re going to tell me anyway, aren’t you.”

“Because, he knew they would copy it, mass produce it, and sell it back to ‘em at discounted bulk prices. I mean, back before then, their biggest export was fucking tea and fortune cookies, weren’t it.”

“That’s a generalisation, Grandad… and a little racist.”

“Wot!? Am I wrong?”

“It’s how you explain it.”

“Oh, sorry. I forgot that you are a child of the Woke generation. How ‘ave we gotten to the point of un-labelling everything. We can call someone Chinese, but we can’t say Chinaman. I mean, it’s getting to where we can’t call ourselves English anymore. It’s those people west of France or East of Wales, or South of Scotland.”

“You’re being ridiculous now, Grandad.”

“You know wot’s ridiculous? These fucking symbols on the oven.”

“Okay, let me see. Yeah, I can see how someone like you could get confused.”

“Someone like me?”

“You know, the bigoted East of Wales person.”

“That’s facetiousness, Tommo. I thought I taught you better.”

“You did, Grandad. That was just toned down sarcasm.”

“Cheeky little fucker aren’t you. Keep it up and I’ll tell you about your mum and dad in the…”

 “Okay, okay! Let’s look at these symbols, shall we?”

“Thank you, Tommo. You’re a good lad. I’ve got the Sunday roast ready to go, okay? Your Gran left me explicit instructions to have it ready by the time she gets back from visiting her sister. Now, wot’s that one with the line going across the bottom of the square that makes it look like a grumpy face?”

“That means it’s the bottom heating element.”

“And the one that looks like it, but with an added line at the top, making it look like he has to take a shit?”

Top and bottom element.”

“The one wif the line at the bottom, two sad eyes, and a third sideways eye above them, like a dot on an Indian woman’s forehead?”

“It means bottom element and fan assisted. The dot you’re referring to – by the way - is called, a Bindi, Grandad. Traditionally worn to indicate that an Indian woman is married. Although, these days, it’s used as a beauty mark.”

“Bindi? I thought that was Crocodile Dundee’s daughter.”

“No, her father was Steve Irwin, Grandad. The Crocodile Hunter.”

“Wot abowt this one? The puff of air looking symbol below and to the right of the fan-assisted one? See? I’m learning!”

“That means steam is used to assist cooking. Probably good for cooking your roast.”

“That’s the one, then! Even if it looks like a cartoon fart. Right, the rest of the tutorial can wait. Now, how do I set the temperature?”

“Just turn the knob on the right to the preferred setting.”

“Wot’s the preferred setting?”

“Dunno, Granddad.”

“I can see who does all the cooking in your house.”

“I live alone.”

“Exactly! You need a live-in girlfriend, mate.”

“You mean that I should get a girlfriend to move in, so she can do all the cooking?”

“I’m just saying.”

“I can cook, you know.”

“Then wot’s the temperature setting for a Sunday roast, Bachelor of the Decade?

“I don’t know.”

“You’ve got a smartphone, yes? Let’s see how smart it is. Look it up.”

“Okay… SIRI!”

“Wot are you doing?”

“I’m asking my phone.”

“Too many words for your clipped generational existence to type it in?”

“…What is the perfect temperature to set for a Sunday roast?

“Wot she say?”

“She says, here are some links to What is the perfect temperature to set for a Sunday roast.”

“You know, Tommo. I sometimes think that we’re all just aliens living in an alien world, using alien technology that is alien to common sense. Forget the search. Don’t look any further, your Gran’s left a note.”

“What did she say?”

“Push the button with the image of a turkey on it.”

“Ah, for fuck’s sake. That was too easy.”

“Too right, Tommo. You took the words right out of my mouth. Fancy a pint down the local while this is cooking?”

“How do you know how long to cook it for?”

“Your Gran’s left a link to a web site that monitors the oven. Says here, that it’s connected to the Internet with a camera inside and will alert you when it’s time to take it out.”

“That’s impressive.”

“Yeah, Turns out the fucking Chinese seem to have improved all that technology they stole. Clever little buggers, aren’t they.”

“Grandad! Now you’re assuming that they’re all small.”

“I’ll leave that to the statisticians, Tommo… Now, put that address in your smartphone and let’s get down the pub for a Sunday pint.”

“Don’t you have a smartphone, Grandad?”

“Wot do I wan’t wif a smartphone, Tommo? Conversation killer, mate. Nah, you bring yours and I promise not to mention what we caught your mum and dad doing in the living room.”

“I’m not listening, I’m not listening.”

“Yeah, that’s the trouble with Gen Z. Too busy talking…”


August 09, 2023 06:22

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Graham Kinross
05:51 Jan 05, 2024

The threat of telling the grandson about what the parents got up to is cruel… As for copying technology, that hasn’t changed has it? So many legal cases recently about that. And police stations in foreign countries arresting anyone who speaks out against the government. Wonderful stuff…


Chris Campbell
06:17 Jan 05, 2024

Thanks, Graham. Granddad loves winding his grandson up. Keeps him young at heart, I think. Coincidentally, the two of them have returned in this week's story. In the 80's, we all knew that once the technology became shared, it would be copied, improved, and sold back to us. However, there's so much in the public domain now, that re-inventing the wheel is unnecessary - when you can just adapt it to your use (speaking as a computer person). Long live free speech while it lives longer!


Graham Kinross
07:05 Jan 05, 2024

Hopefully it outlives the many dictatorships that dominate the news. I hope people sieze their opportunities when current supreme leaders die off. I’m pessimistic though.


Chris Campbell
07:36 Jan 05, 2024

I agree. However, history is a reminder that dictators come, and dictators go, but dictators, there will always be.


Graham Kinross
09:33 Jan 05, 2024

Sadly. I look forward to outliving some of the dictators of today. Even if someone follows them up it’ll be good to see the back of them. Maybe I need to draw up a bingo card…


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Amanda Lieser
00:15 Aug 25, 2023

Hey Chris, What a charming interaction between the two generations. Both of them, so desperate to communicate properly. You write the humor tastefully while keeping the messages of the piece clear. I also love a good dialogue based piece from you, Chris. The importance of maintaining a relationship with your elders is so valuable and the love they share for each other is clear. Nice work!!


Chris Campbell
05:18 Aug 25, 2023

Thanks, Amanda. This is the second installment of Reggie and Tom. You've already read "Exact Change" last year. A teasing grandfather keeping the "youngster" on his toes, is not a bad thing. Especially, when it ends with a pint down the pub. So glad you liked it.


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Ellen Neuborne
23:31 Aug 15, 2023

Great pacing. You really put the dialogue to its best use.


Chris Campbell
00:50 Aug 16, 2023

Many thanks, Ellen. I had fun writing this.


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Michał Przywara
20:33 Aug 15, 2023

Ha! Funny :) What's the point of getting old, if not to mess with young people? Grandpa knows more than he lets on, and while he might not know what an app is, his trolling game is top tier.


Chris Campbell
00:55 Aug 16, 2023

Thanks, Michal. There's life in the old fella, yet. This is the sequel to Reggie and Tommo's first outing in "Exact change." https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/yuhvgf/


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Turey Rosa
15:37 Aug 14, 2023

I really enjoyed your story! I had a good laugh with it, thank you for sharing.


Chris Campbell
23:37 Aug 14, 2023

Thanks, Turey. So glad to have made you laugh.


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Tom Skye
21:12 Aug 13, 2023

Great characters. Read like a comedic play. Really enjoyed it. Good job


Chris Campbell
23:37 Aug 13, 2023

Thanks, Tom. So glad you enjoyed the comedy.


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Delbert Griffith
12:50 Aug 12, 2023

This was a fun tale, Chris, and it also highlighted some telling traits of the differences - and similarities - between generations. In this case, two generations. I liked the grandfather. Salty as hell! I had grandfathers like him: scary and entertaining at the same time. Great job, my friend. One of the best takes on the chosen prompt that I've read. Cheers!


Chris Campbell
03:22 Aug 13, 2023

Thanks, Delbert. We're all the same whatever age. Reggie has proved that with his incessant opinions and endless chatter. Sometimes, you need to stop and listen to the world around you to accept its change and realise nothing changes. Time just marches on.


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05:54 Aug 11, 2023

This is one of the most fun and original takes on the prompts this week;) "Grapple with something alien to them"... grandpa with a smartphone is so spot on for this. "I suppose every generation thinks they invented sex."....yes reading history, it appears every generation believed they re-invented the idea of sex, and relabelled the words for an array of things... and are absolutely certain they are the first ones to have ever done this. I'm sure it goes back to Roman times. I like the line about how the chinese improved everything, just bo...


Chris Campbell
06:44 Aug 11, 2023

Scott, Great feedback, thank you. We could say that anyone experiencing sex for the first time, thinks they invented it. 🤣 I have an iRobot Roomba I got half-price on a local auction site. Brilliant piece of tech. We named it Rosey - after the Jetson's robot maid. Old people and gadgets don't necessarily go together, but Reggie keeps his knowledge to himself, so he can wind up his grandson. I first introduced these two in "Exact Change." Here is the link, if you're interested: https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/yuhvgf/


07:22 Aug 11, 2023

Rosey haha, Someone recommended iRobot as the best brand. I bought a cheapo Xiaomi one, thought it would be a big pain to setup (i'm a ludite with consumer technology) but it was precharged, I pushed one button, and then it went around exploring by itself. It can actually "see" the room with lasers or something, and doesn't randomly bump into things like the old robots did. Will take a look at Exact Change, fiction is def a fun way to discuss modern trends in a light humorous way.


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Anna W
14:32 Aug 10, 2023

Coming from a family where all the grandparents and great uncles use humor to try and connect to (and sometimes embarrass) their grandkids, this absolutely cracked me up. 😂 I enjoyed your take on the prompt! Even as a millennial, I can hardly keep up with all the new apps and technologies being produced. Thanks for sharing this story, Chris. Really enjoyed it!


Chris Campbell
15:05 Aug 10, 2023

Anna, Thanks for the great feedback. I try my best to keep up with technology. So far, so good. I've even got an iRobot Roomba now. She's called Rosey after the Jetson's cleaning robot. SO glad you like the story.


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Mary Bendickson
20:12 Aug 09, 2023

This thoroughly un-modern Mary resembles old Reggie in feeling everything is becoming more alien all the time. Loved your story anyway.😜


Chris Campbell
23:43 Aug 09, 2023

Thanks, Mary. Technolgy must be kept up with, or we'll all lose sight of it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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Michelle Oliver
13:50 Aug 09, 2023

I think grandad is a lot smart than he lets on. Loved the story and the banter between, the exasperated grandson and the ornery old grandfather. Your dialogue sparkles with humour and verges on the edge of inappropriate with hilarious moments of inter generational exasperation. Well done


Chris Campbell
15:14 Aug 09, 2023

Michelle, Many thanks for the great feedback. I tried my best to keep it clean and also remain funny. This is the second Reggie and Tommo story. The first, "Exact Change" can be found at https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/yuhvgf/


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Kevin Logue
12:23 Aug 09, 2023

You took that prompt and drop kicked it in the face! Grandad seems to find so much alien to him, and hilarious to boot. The funniest thing for me is the unsaid joke, if he confused science and seance, then what the hell is in the shed hahaha. The actual imagery of the séance scene was too good man, genuinely smiling through the whole thing. Another cracking story Chris!


Chris Campbell
15:11 Aug 09, 2023

Kevin, Thanks for the wonderful feedback. My second story of the week that just flowed out of me. So glad to keep the comedy going. This was a return to Reggie and Tommo. Their introduction was in "Exact Change" at https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/yuhvgf/


Kevin Logue
15:30 Aug 09, 2023

Oh yeah! I'll check that out later. Cheers.


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Unknown User
17:23 Aug 10, 2023

<removed by user>


Chris Campbell
00:03 Aug 11, 2023

Thanks, Joe. Yeah, The old fella is a bit of a teaser. Although, he may need a modern lesson on sensitivity. Glad you liked it.


Unknown User
00:28 Aug 11, 2023

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Chris Campbell
01:09 Aug 11, 2023

It's an English thing.


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