Monday, 31 December 2007

And Finally

I think on balance I’ve had rather a good year (Sturgeon’s Law notwithstanding), certainly writing about it here has helped, this little sounding off forum substituting for some of the social aspects of office life I found myself missing about a year back.

Professionally, I’m much nearer my goals now (actually one of my longest held professional ambitions was fulfilled in 2007- see most posts passim), the mortgage (a word that must seem even more depressing if you're French) is dwindling and I’ve been so much happier than I was in 2006, so that's all got to be good.
I hope you’ve had a good year too and we’ll carry on having fun next year.

Don’t be a stranger.


New Year’s Resolution

1152 x 864 pixels.

Sophistry and Fractions- a review of the year

I first heard Sturgeon’s Law about 15 years ago. It goes like this “Ninety percent of everything is crap.” I think that’s as true of 2007 as is was of 1992 or whenever it was.

It’s a useful rule of thumb for creative people (the law was originally only applied to works of art before it was realised it works for Real Life too), as they cast their envious eyes over the work of others and it helps them sleep. However, and here I’d probably need a freaky maths bore to help out a bit on the stats, I can’t help wondering if Sturgeon’s Law itself is ninety percent crap as well.
If so, well either everything’s completely crap or (I think) only 9 percent crap, which would be nice, as long as we trust Sturgeon’s Law.
The only problem of course is that we don’t, and are thus likely to get into one of those tiresome recursions I’m so fond of that allow tortoises to beat Achilles in running races without them even waiting for him to have a nap like they do with hares.

So there you are, a review of the year- I’m not sure what it was like, I have a suspicion, but if I explore any deeper I’ll only get more confused.
Points out this is the human condition in microcosm, types out stage directions, smiles wanly like an Alan Bennett vicar and waits for fade out.

Tune Marr, Pun Morrissey

I got new shoes on Saturday, proper serious outdoor ones that can clamber over mountains and everything, it’s like driving a 4x4 through the suburbs having a pair of these for cities, but we’re reaching the time of year it’s good to have waterproof stuff on your feet with a tread and I feel the lure of healthy trudging through mud with my cheeks turning red with wind-burn.

I’ve also got a CamelBak (tm) for running, which is a thrilling mini-rucksack thing with a small pocket for your keys and soundtrack emulation device and a two litre bag of water swilling around inside it that you can swig from through a tube. It’s like a pregnancy sympathy belly you wear backwards essentially.

Theoretically, this will allow me to run longer than I’d normally feel comfortable doing with the bonus of hands-free hydration, tinny motivational tunes and a dead weight on my back to match that around my front. I can’t help worrying I’ll start urinating on the move like Paula Radcliffe only much slower and fatter if I overuse it though. I’m sure there’s a happy medium to be struck somewhere.
I suspect I’m just the man to oscillate wildly between extremes before finally finding it.

Procrastination is the thie

Today is an "email writing" day as I try to make contact with around about 40 people I’d like to meet up with during January and February, thus the rest of the week will be a "confused answering emails attempting to make diaries work" week.
It is therefore vital I update my weblog first, and not instead of.

Next year is going to involve a lot of travelling and at least a bit of writing for money, both of which will make updates on this a bit trickier for a while.
I’m going to let myself get away with 4 posts a month I think and see how it goes.

If nothing else it will save you having to read a cluster of nothing much like this at the back end of each month as I strive to find nine things a month to believe.

Friday, 28 December 2007

The Mahogany Hogmanay Show

Oh, and as I haven't posted about it, last week I had an entertaining 'phone interview with Jane Featherstone of Kudos (I was at uni with her sister who is now running Scottish theatre in a way I've somehow failed to) and a trip to Glasgow to see Colin Gilbert at The Comedy Unit, who was exceptionally generous with his time and highly amusing in discussing just how much folk singing and country dancing there was in Scottish Light Entertainment in his early days there.
Once upon time folks, backe when we had as many rain forests as uses for the wood it was all Andy Stewart not Only An Excuse at the year end North of the Border (hence the feeble anagrammatical title- though be fair it's a great anagram and one I feel should be used more widely).
Colin's dad is the great Jimmy Gilbert incidentally, which I hadn't known until about an hour before we met. He was the BBC Head of Light Entertainment who offered John Cleese his own sitcom, enough said. Even if he'd done nothing else we should all thank him for that one.

Lots of fun had, and I really liked the feel of the city. Glasgow felt like Manchester did to me in the '80s, a city of just the right size somehow (possibly because I didn't see enough of it). It also has much better architecture than a lot of Northern English cities, I think.
Particularly in West and North Yorkshire I get a real sense of everything having been knocked up in a rush by Victorian mill owners with a bit of a puritan streak and then only having been mucked about with briefly afterwards, once during 1968 with some flaky concrete to make an FE College and a fly-over and again in 1991 to cobble together some red brick single story shopping arcades with health centres attached. This is probably Just Me (TM).

Coming back to size rather than aesthetics though, Sheffield's a tidge small I think, London's a bit big, I've never quite got to grips with Leeds, even when it was wall to wall eye-liner and patchouli (last week/1987) and Manchester seems to have grown a touch too big for my grumpy old bones now. I think they should probably pickle Glasgow and keep it as it is from now on- they may already have done so.

By contrast, I sampled Warrington's stations and city centre on the journey back. Deary me. Somewhere to pass through or come from (insert own male genitalia gag) rather than live in, I fear. I should have taken an alternative route back but I wanted to catch Low Gill again, which had been just beautiful coming up. Funnily enough on the way back in pitch darkness it didn't have quite the same magic.

Odd that.

What Christmas is for...

Some of you may have already have worked this out, but I think I've been a bit slow on the uptake and only just got it.
Christmas is not for the kids, not for Jesus and not just for a dog (reverse that). Christmas is for getting you through the grimmest part of a Northern European winter. It may be for something else in other parts of the world, but I think right here it's a series of treats to make midwinter bearable.
I want proper daylight and I want it now.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Express Yourself

Quick rattle through last week time- three TV producers, an inflatable bed, a fairy tale in Marseilles and one long, long National Express journey marked by a drunken Italian man with about eight sweary words of English which he used pretty much exclusively while drinking a whole bottle of vodka until he got a ‘phone call revealing his nationality. One of those big bottles of vodka, I hesitate to call it family size but it was the spirit bottle size below the ones full of coins in pubs. As a bonus, he did use the word "comment" to mean "come on" a lot which almost made the constant swearing alrightish.
The journey back was less remarkable apart from the curse of the people who read out every sign they see between London and Chesterfield and what I'm fairly confident was someone being sick into a plastic bag as I got off. No cause and effect there, I think.

Chesterfield’s a funny place- all I know about it is that it’s where the famously bent church spire and Mark Michalowski are from. I’ve lived within metaphorical spitting distance of the place for twenty years on and off, and have only ever seen it from a train, coach or car window (and that due to terrible diversions after a major accident). Because, I mainly see it at odd times of day and night and mainly see the coach station I can’t help thinking it’s entirely populated by ghosts and predominantly grey.
This may well be the case.

London gave me Tim and Mim, who I first met roughly contemporaneously around 1989. I’ve got very fat since then, they don’t appear to have changed, just quietly and mysteriously become parents and therefore adults. They gave me too much wine which was good and off I went to ask obscure questions of telly people, hoping this week none of them had been to a funeral liable to cause mild-mannered Jonathan Creek actor Alan Davies to get rattily drunk.
I can report I visited a toilet and walked along a corridor featured in Charlie Brooker’s TV Go Home book at Endemol’s HQ in Shepherd’s Bush (anything more in depth you'll probably need to pay for). I felt quite the Nathan Barley.

I also got to catch up with Ken Campbell for the first time in an absolute age and have a bit of a chat. Hopefully we'll meet up again soon in the New Year.

Manchester on Friday brought me the news that actually my BBC drama producer doesn’t hate me and all words I produce at all, having apparently heard and enjoyed No Tomatoes (I hadn’t known that), and that, oh I don’t know there maybe half a chance still in that world. I've been invited to pitch Afternoon Plays this offers round, which is slightly better than last offers round when I pitched because I knew it was on but I hadn't been invited to, so, you know, progress. I also found out we’ll know about series 2 of No Tomatoes in early January ('find out' is used here in the sense of 'discover if there’s going to be one').

After that I popped over to the University Drama department and had an entertaining chunner with David Butler there, who shares too much of my cultural DNA. Very rarely in life do you feel relaxed enough to sing Roger Limb music to people in conversation, which, you know, is good generally, but it does mean it feels great when you know you can...

Perhaps the most exciting thing to come out of week, other than a glimpse of Peter Bazalgette’s socks and the discovery of how Paul Smith of Celador got started on Zokko (one for the older readers there) was an email this morning asking if I might be interested in doing a proposed Classic Serial for Radio 4. Obviously, the serial may not happen, but if it does, it’ll be damned exciting. It’s a well known book I’d be adapting and one I’d love to explore in sound. More later on this, if there is any.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Going Underground

I was in London last week, feeling rather bad for intruding on TV producers I admire just after they’d been to Verity Lambert’s funeral.
On the Wednesday morning I was feeling particularly bad having been forced to drink lots of beer in a pub by a Celtic fan and a surprisingly supportive Rangers following mate of his, while we watched two football games simultaneously the night before.

It was thus in a slightly befuddled state I got on the tube at the dog end of rush hour on Wednesday morning, which as you may know always turns into a particularly uncomfortable, sweaty summer’s day however cold it might be outside. Rammed up against the yellow line of death by a wall of bodies behind I waited for a pair of tube train doors to open near enough me that I could mince myself up sufficiently to fit in the remaining gaps inside.

It took four goes, all under the baleful eye of a St Trinian’s poster which made the whole place seem uncomfortably sexualised for such close contact with strangers (I thought the Tube had rules about sexual imagery in advertising- maybe grown women in pinafores with their stocking tops too low doesn’t count as sexual imagery? Probably not. There always seems to be posters of someone from Chicago covered only in thin mesh, black lingerie and lots of old chewing gum on the tube when I get on, which is fairly perverse even without the face full of Wrigleys).

Anyhow, on the third go a man started shouting “I’ve got to get on! I’ve got to get on!” and forcing his way through the crowds, committing the cardinal sin of not waiting for the passengers to alight before attempting to fill their air space. An older chap by him said “We all have,” quite politely.
The first man replied “Yeah, you’ve got to get to work- my mother’s dying! I’ve got to get to hospital!” and rammed himself in the gap by the door where you have to bend backwards like Rigsby to avoid being caught when the train moves off.
As the doors shut a glowering minute or so after, he called out to the man on the platform “I hope you get the sack!” in a rather pathetic, and, I thought, petty way, but maybe just kind of forgivable in the state he was in.
I hope he got to his mum in time because otherwise that venom is probably lingering in him still. The whole experience was pretty troubling.

Some people must live with that much every day.
I got off at Tottenham Court Road, and slowly got back to a kind of safe feeling body temperature and social distance walking into Soho where I met up with a producer who restored some of my faith in the capital and nearly forget about that man’s rage underground.
Back down there again tomorrow, fingers crossed for more of the fun bits..

Friday, 30 November 2007


Whereas this post IS an obvious attempt to increase my activity here in order to hit my self-imposed monthly post count, isn't it?


Killing Jokes

If any of you here, who listened to N* T*m*t**s, would you mind telling me what your favourite sketches were...?
I've got to put together a range of around 5 of my best sketches for someone, or rather my best scripts and ideally ones that show a bit of range.
Basically, if you laughed at the words it might just have a script that doesn't look like gibberish on a page.

Will you do that for me, lovey...?

This message is about a real thing that I really have to do, before Monday evening and not an obvious attempt to increase my activity here in order to hit my self-imposed monthly post count.

Gaurdina acrhiev

Another thing I've just signed up for to help me with the book, which I am liberty to tell you is called The Rise and Rise of the Independents - a television history is The Guardian's Digital Archive, it only goes up to 1975 at the mo, and it costs money almost immediately (the free offer evaporates like snow on the sun, within seconds of getting on to the site) but it's great to poke about in, and saves me spending too much time in reference libraries, very few of which seem to be in my house, despite all the obscure books I've bought trying to lure them in.

It's a bit slow and clunky on my system (I am dial up boy) but it works.

Hey, the future- it's handy for the past and you don't even have to go out!
Sign up before midnight for a half price offer...

Sorry, that was all a bit Whizz for Atoms! wasn't it?

Baby Limbo

In other olds...

The opportunities to have opportunities I hinted at a couple of weeks back- one's fallen through, bummer. The other one is possible still but would now involve a lengthy stay in London which isn't ideal, but might be worth exploring. Bummerish, but still...

There also looks to be faint possibilities on the radio drama side again. It had seemed to me that I was meeting nothing but disinterest on that front (which made it all the more galling when I learned midweek that a biographical drama idea I pitched as radio last year and was told no one was interested in, and was now talking to a TV producer about, is being made as a TV film for BBC 4. It was obviously a story someone should do, I wish it could have been me).
So, I was pleased to get an email towards the end of the week from a radio drama producer who liked my writing, which made a nice change from me having to send in pitches that failed to engage anyone. We'll meet up after I've interviewed my second tranch of TV industry multi-millionaires and see what happens.

Then there's Project X which is a co-writing thing I'd love to do, which is very much in the lap of the gods, so you know, I'm not starving yet.
I might be, come tea time.

Paperback Writer

Where's the month gone? I had it in my hand just five minutes back.
Most of it has gone in book research and then a chunk of it in long emails and 'phone conversations as I start arranging interviews. It's with some alarm I realise I'm about to meet some of the most talented and wealthy people in UK TV over the next two weeks including a couple of personal heroes.

One of the personal heroes I would have dearly loved to talk to properly for the book (we spoke incredibly briefly once at a conference) has of course just died. A number of the people I'll be talking to are women who've reshaped the TV industry, and there's no denying Verity Lambert led them from the front. Her Thames career alone produced some of the landmarks of TV drama, now remember she was the first producer of Doctor Who and what she achieved with her own company, GBH, Jonathan Creek, Eldorado (no, read around, after its tricky start it ended up a very good show.

Talking of meeting personal heroes, last week I did have a brief chat to Terrance Dicks at the National Media Museum, shortly before he had a very long and entertaining chat on stage with Tim Neal, the co-author of The Target Book a guide to those Doctor Who novelisations that so influenced the imaginations of a generation of excitable young men before video recorders went and spoilt it all.

Terrance says half the TV industry seem to tell him his Making of Doctor Who book was partly responisble for them ending up in it! Somehow I don't think I'll be seeking to confirm this with my interviewees, though I bet one or two of them have given it a flick through. I also had the ridiculous pleasure of reintroducing myself Andrew Pixley again, who I've been bumping into on and off since about 1984 when we were both in Sheffield. He was kind enough to praise my chapter in Time and Relative Dissertations in Space about... the making of Doctor Who which drew heavily on his incredible research into the making of Doctor Who.

There's a pattern emerging here.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Invasion of the Polaroid People

When you get a piece of phishy spam it’s often instructive to analyse the hidden assumptions behind it, assumptions deliberately put there in the hope the spam will hit the intended target more times than not. However I’ve been getting rubbish spam of late, which doesn’t even give you the pleasure of a bit of close textual analysis.

Firstly, I don’t live in America, secondly, I don’t bank with who you’re claiming to be, thirdly, if you don’t get my name right I’m unlikely to trust you, fourthly, I can recognise a redirected address when I see one and fifthly, you’re sending it to an email address I don’t use alongside any passwords. Poor show.

They remind me of nothing so much as the time two older kids in junior school who’d just heard my first name called by a friend in the yard, asked me if that was my name, told me they’d been sent by the headmaster and that I had to come with them at home time because my mother had died and so there was no one waiting for me back at my house.

They addressed me as if they had more knowledge than they had, used the spurious authority of a trusted figure, attempted to play on a general weakness and totally cocked up. They’d failed to realise they were mimicking the way real authority would work very, very badly indeed and that my mother worked at a school across the city and thus was never home before me on school days. Poor show.
I wonder sometimes what they wanted, I think it was just to make smaller kids cry. I wonder if being rubbish at it stopped them in their tracks, or just taught them greater cunning.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

London (KLAR mix)

The media have been in touch...
Not my words, the words of track 4 of Penny Broadhurst's poptastic Allons-y! EP, but they have anyway.

Two calls from that many headed Hydra the BBC today... One, a request at stuff all notice to go on a local 'phone in and discuss a gay kiss on Emmerdale (luckily, I was out for that one and it was too late by the time I got back, so I didn't have to be rude and decline), the second, a tantalising chance to maybe do something a bit more interesting.
We'll see.
Coupled with another opportunity that may (or may not) materialise shortly (the chance to have a chance to have a chance of doing something more interesting) and a chat with an agent which is nothing yet but might be one day, things could get fun quite soon (or might not), not to mention chancy.
Better get this book done then...

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


Chief excitement on getting home, bar fevered message board reading was the arrival of three comp copies of

Time and Relative Dissertations in Space, Critical Perspectives on Doctor Who

which is a cracking read, even with a peculiar last minute design blip on the cover (not pictured), Royal Mail having inflicted an impressive gouge on the cover of the lovely hardback edition and there being a few tiny details to quibble over inside.

These are teensy little niggles basically- a minuscule typo in Paul Magrs wonderful freewheeling finale, Tat Wood's curious memory lapse on Monoid voice treatments, me calling Day of the Daleks "THE Day of the Daleks", Dale Smith's terrible double sin of misspelling Jac Rayner's surname as Raynor and calling The Myth Makers "The Mythmakers", that kind of stuff that makes you cross because everything else is so very good, basically.

Even my chapter reads all right- bits are a bit tortuously phrased as I tried to cram in as much as I could into my word count and it ends abruptly simply because to do the next bit of the story properly would have taken far too long again (it would have taken James Chapman's Inside the TARDIS basically), but you know it's okay and I get a couple of pictures too.

Really proud to be part of this line up- David Butler, Jonathan Bignell, Daniel O'Mahony, Matthew Kilburn, Tat Wood, Alec Charles, David Rafer, Fiona Moore and Alan Stevens, Me, Dave Rolinson, Kevin J. Donnelly, Louis Niebur, Andy Murray, Alan McKee, Lance Parkin, Dale Smith, Matt Hills and Paul Magrs, many of them people whose work I'd just read before.
It's almost like finding you've got a short story in a book alongside Terrance Dicks (Doctor Who - Short Trips: A Christmas Treasury, copies still available), or you've been on the proper real radio next to proper real comedy from the olden times- I'm on after Hamish and Dougal, I've gone from interviewing Barry Cryer to being in the same business as him!
It just makes you beam and feel slightly grown up and childish at the same time.

Anyhow, it's a great big fat fanzine for grown ups who can still be childish some of the time, and recommended for everyone who always knew The Unfolding Text was a prime exhibit in the case for TV studies not quite getting it, yet. I think it's also a massive tribute to the Gary Gillatt era DWM which is quoted from extensively and really raised the level of discussion (and fun) in fandom.
I reckon TV Studies has grown up as much as us in the last couple of decades and Doctor Who is finally getting the attention it deserves particularly since Barker and Britton's excellent Reading Between Designs, we can come out from behind the sofa, if we like.

Other academic books about Doctor Who are available.


Back, fresh and destressed, from Herefordshire- Goodrich castle, the Mappa Mundi, a cider maker’s and second-hand bookshops visited to much excitement. Look, I don’t get out much, old stuff is as good as it gets.

The Mappa Mundi is brilliant - a world view, quite literally, and liberally dotted with those bits of dubious mediaeval zoology and anthropology that make any modern reader of Othello go "He's making it up- he's never been anywhere!"
The chained library which accompanies the Mappa in Hereford Cathedral is possibly even more exciting to a more specialist saddo like myself. Look- really old books chained to shelves with built in work desks and benches! Just fantastic- everything from early Caxton volumes to Doctor Johnson's dictionary in vaguely sensible shelving orders.

Goodrich castle is also worth a poke 'round, an excellently preserved site, with everything you want from a castle and with the layers of occupation clearly exposed too- you could see it was a space that had evolved, which I always love.
Paradoxically, I think the old Ministry of Works sign saying bits are a bit unsafe so it's your own fault if you break a leg or anything was one of the things that transferred me furthest into a different time zone.
No friendly visitors' centres with dragon glove puppets and opportunistically labelled fudge or audio tours and bits fenced off for health and safety reasons back then, just a lot of trip hazards and the assumption you'd behave sensibly enough not to come to any great harm...

I was reminded of that sense of history as a layered process in a location watching the new Poliakoff, which had a brilliant twenty minutes slowly built up to over almost an hour of watchable TV. Quite theatrically paced, and featuring a bit too much curiously disengaged rumpery between not quite convincing people for my tastes, the film repays your attentiveness in the end, particularly for the lovely use of archive film and for the revelation that the evil in a man's past his son was seeking to make reparations for, was the time when he'd stood by and done nothing as evil began to assert itself.

Still more thrillingly, on my return, the person on the BBC 7 message board who didn’t like No Tomatoes after episode 1 has had a “road to somewhere in the middle east but not Damascus yet and there’s no guarantee they ever will go to Damascus” experience.
The show has been growing on them and they mentioned a couple of items from show 5 they’d enjoyed, which was very nice, and comforting too.
However, they still feel as if the show is “written by a disgruntled mathematician whose thought processes are too close to my own to be funny”.
I’m almost certain I would be disgruntled as a mathematician actually. I’ve met one, he colours in maps, and tries to come up with a justification with writing and stuff for how many crayons he uses.
All day, apparently.
I only got O level Maths grade C, which essentially means I turned up and didn’t defecate on the exam paper. I was also famously bad at colouring in.

I suspect this disgruntled mathematician tag comes from the writer getting a couple of references I chucked in to Cantor in show 5 which they assume only a maths expert would understand, coupled with a couple of infinity and pi related items in earlier episodes. I reckon it means the esoteric scatter gun approach has hit at least one target anyhow. It’s just a shame they don’t think us appearing to have similar thought processes is nice. I suspect it means they think the shows are a bit too predictable and obvious, it's either that or they’re riddled with self hate (in which case their thought processes are indeed too close to my own).

If you want to hear No Tomatoes again, or even for the first time, you can’t, well not now, but it’ll probably be ‘round again in a year or so, they've paid.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


Off to Hereford for a few days soon to get cold cheeks, have fun, be hale, hearty, rusticated and conspicuously Northern. We may even make it over to Hay if the sun shines.

Hope to return with ideas clever and/or useful as available a bit later in Firework Fortnight, the traditional British festival of being fourteen, drinking cider on street corners and messing with pyrotechnics to show just how invulnerable you are.

Until then, play nice and don't get in the papers like last time. Oh and forget about house-breaking too- we are protected and have nothing you want.


There we go, that's that there radio series over and done with for the mo, and Alex Riley has spoken to the nation-

"I’ve really enjoyed that. I think it’s good... More please."

Dare anyone disappoint the mighty voice of the Doctor Who series 1 boxset extras, he who told us about Destroying the Lair?

It would seem unlikely. Could happen though.

I was pleasantly surprised by episode 6 last night, it hung together better than I recalled (just needed about another two seconds or so of silence scattered around in it really). I think the struggle to complete the edit at the end made the compromises, fudges and rushing stick in my memory more than any of the jokes.

If there's a series two I think I'll put the silences in first and edit around them. You need breathing spaces, not quite as much as you need material, but I suspect 4 gags and some thinking time beats 5 gags and no time to digest them almost every time.

Right, I'd better get on with trying to earn some money, now.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Remember (Walking in the Sand (You're A Womble))

I've just dug out an old VHS to find a film for someone which is in large part about the unreliability of memory and the fictionalising of your past. It took me some time to find it, largely because my memory of where it was and what the side of the tape might look like were both seriously at fault.
Not at all surprising, of course, a recentish New Scientist article suggested that memory and imagination are essentially the same thing, coming out of the same bit of brain stuff- we confabulate stuff about the past, present and the future and treat one as fact, one as speculation and the one in the middle as opinion.

When I found the tape (in the last place you'd look- obviously, because when you find it you stop looking) as well it not being where my mental image had put it and not looking like I'd imagined it, it was interesting to see what had been on the tape before and then wiped and scribbled over-

Hearts and Minds, the Jimmy McGovern and Christopher Eccleston school drama,
those compilation repeats of Not the Nine O'Clock News which I think they've since put on DVD that don't really give you a sense of what the show was actually like at all but do give you the canonical Good Bits,
and, intriguingly, something listed only as Potato Thing.

I'm not sure but this may have been that "all the McGanns" drama set in Ireland possibly really called The Hanging Gale, and only called Potato Thing on the side of the tape to annoy my other half within agreed safe limits of co-habiting teasery.

My memory was patchy but willing to supply details when given the cues and clues from the scrawl on the tape label.

I then had a quick peep at the tape to check there was nothing dreadful on it. It was leaving our house as an ambassador of our past viewing and intending to view, after all, so it was important to see if it had a fairly good human rights record.

Pleasingly, it came out pretty clean, having the film version of The Plank (unbilled on the tape label), which I had no idea at all I had on VHS, and Orson Welles' film of Othello, which I've watched bits of several times but never sat right down and gone for properly.
I still believe I will watch all of Welles' Othello some day, by the way, despite it having a) spent years in an old monitor box with some hats on top of it in a cupboard we rarely use and b) just been parcelled up to loan out.

One thing that interested me was seeing some of the dreadful old adverts on the tape and remembering them in hideous detail- though crucially only as I viewed them, not beforehand. It was a sort of deja vu experience, where recollection and experience seemed to be happening simultaneously. I was either unravelling every detail of these long forgotten ads from some kind of compressed zip files somewhere in my head as I watched, or else convincing myself I was.
Probably a bit of both, because, as we've established, memory is unreliable and capricious.

You search actively for a name you need to know right now, only for it to pop unbidden to mind a day and a half later when safely irrelevant, past embarrassments crash unbidden into vivid life when you least expect, talking heads on popular TV list shows all remember the same iconic moments no matter how old or young they are, almost as if they'd just been shown the excerpt on a monitor by a researcher a few minutes ago. "The memory cheats" as I think RTD once said.

To illustrate from personal experience, I was knocked down by a car as a child, and most of my recollections of the event actually come from my later retelling of it to others, I've largely erased the actual moment and replaced it with my subsequent explanations of it.
However, for many many years when falling asleep I would sometimes have a sudden sense of my face collapsing and smashing inwards which would cause me to leap upright and then struggle to get any rest for a few hours. It occurred to me, just as suddenly, in one of these spasms in my late twenties that this might be some kind of raw, unprocessed "muscle memory" of the impact with the road where I lost a couple of teeth, breaking through when my guard was down.

That might have been a totally unscientific rationalisation of an unrelated problem of course, but since making that mental connection those imagined face collapses seem to have stopped. Whether it was true or not, I'd found an explanation that made sense for me, and tidied it away.

I think this is also relevant to the ongoing Diana blah going on in court at the mo, and for the rest of time, I imagine. After a while, you don't really remember most things, so much as remember what you remember remembering, and can often replace actual memory with a later rationalisation of what you've experienced, so it's hardly surprising testimony now doesn't match that of ten years ago.
The tapes have been written over with new versions of the programme a few too many times since then, and there's only little flashes and snippets left where the old stuff pokes through.

As Leonard Cohen definitely sang in the song I may have misremembered slightly in an earlier post- "I can't forget, and I can't forget. I can't forget but I don't remember what."
I think.

Second hand and possibly apocryphal trivia

Pudsey, the cartoon bear who turns up shortly after Samhein each year allowing advertising on the BBC and shyly exhibitionist adults to dress up in silly costumes and sit in baths of custard and/or beans while pretending they didn't want to anyway and are just doing it for a good cause, has had a makeover.

He now looks a lot less like Theo, the similarly eye bandaged bear that is the mascot of Sheffield's Children Hospital. The resemblance of the two icons in the past is reputed to have caused a bit of friction between BBC and hospital, with BBC lawyers apparently writing to the hospital complaining that the hospital's bear could be seen as an infringement of the BBC's copyright.

The hospital, so Sheffield-lore relates, wrote back agreeing that yes, the two images were remarkably similar, and they'd noticed it themselves when the BBC adopted the logo very like the one they already used, a year after filming at the hospital for the appeal some years back.
The correspondence then ceased apparently.

I think the new Pudsey looks a bit Pooh, let's hope the BBC lawyers don't get any letters from Disney...

Morning: A Summer Long Since Past

I've been struggling with the 6.15 alarm clock a bit over the last few weeks, often grogging back into collapsitude within an hour or so and not feeling together until about 10 am.

In fact, I've been so knackered of late I've had to go to bed before I came on the radio for me to cringe at on the last few Monday nights and have just checked what Alex Riley has been saying about me the next day (he was in the Crucible Youth Theatre both before and after I was apparently, as if he was hiding until I was safely out the way). That all ends tonight, like Summer did this weekend, until the inevitable reruns. We've pitched series 2 now, which may be a little different if it happens and ideas are queueing up nicely to be considered. We'll have to wait and see.

Today though, I felt terrific and full of beans and properly rested as the alarm went off at quarter past the Today programme. Good news. The feeling, not the Today programme

I've picked over a hundred apples of the tree, picked the last of my tomatoes (a peculiar mix of the big, the manky, the pathetic, the malformed, the perfect, the under and over-ripe, much like my No Tomatoes in that respect) and am preparing for a winter full of exciting mucus and thrillingly stung cheeks, stop that you.

"Summer's gone but a lot goes on in Autumn" as Saint Lenny very nearly says. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, 28 October 2007


"I love a party with a happy atmosphere," sang Russ Abbott in a tribute to Joy Division almost as wonderfully wrong as The Wombats annoyingly catchy Let's Dance to Joy Division with its cry of "celebrate the irony" which for me encapsulates all that was wrong with poncy student discos, back in the day when we didn't even say "back in the day" to mean "when we were young".

I went to see Control, the Ian Curtis biopic last night, at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield.
There's probably a cinema like it near you- it also has lots of carefully styled urban bohemians in it, in hand knitted lumpen jumpers, big coats and thick framed spectacles you think may be an affectation of the perfectly sighted, an exhibition space, wi-fi hot spots and tapas in the bar and conference rooms in which terrible seminars can take place complete with flip charts, power point presentations and grim awkward coffee breaks.

It's an independent cinema affiliated to the bunch who run a little trailer at the start of each screening saying how they support European film.
I like it a lot, particularly the veggy tapas.

Our screening of Control due to begin at 5.45pm began perhaps 5 minutes late, which was fine. We were kept fully informed by staff, who let us know the previous screening was over-running and were told a few minutes before we went in that "it wouldn't be long now because the credits had started".
This only made it more infuriating when at around 8pm the film stopped abruptly on a slide



detailing the birth and death dates of Ian Curtis (he dies in the end I'm afraid), the music fizzed out and the house lights came up.

I laughed and then swore, and quite a few others around me did similar things, we'd been totally jolted out of the film's mood.
Nothing happened for a bit, we whinged, and then, like the good English customers we are, we started filing out.

I can only conclude that the Showroom staff now felt a punctual start for the next film was more important than the artistic integrity and enjoyment of the previous one, I don't know that for sure of course because, unsurprisingly, there were no staff around to explain the decision.
Really shoddy I thought. Even the biggest commercial multiplexes run the credits, even BBC1 gives me 30 seconds of them rammed into a tiny box in the corner of the screen.
So I've written and complained, which really isn't like me.
No, really, it isn't.


I've now received a very nice explanation and apology from the Showroom which is both reassuring and slightly interesting if you're a bit geeky (oh come on, you're reading a weblog, you must be).

The abrupt halt was caused by a sync pulse on the print which multiplexes use to automatically raise the house lights apparently. Unfortunately, with the Showroom's system it also has the effect of stopping the projector! Their projectionists usually hunt these sync marks down and remove them when they make up the films but this one got missed. It seems their earlier Control screenings had been digital so this first film print showing was the first they knew of it.
Nice to know it was a mistake rather than a deliberate act and get some background on the problem too, and even nicer to be offered comps with the apology as well.

DOWNDATE DOWNDATE DOWNDATE. We now return you to your previous webloggery.

The film itself was very very good, occasional clumsy biopicitis where you have to put over career developments and historic info rather baldly, but surprisingly funny and genuinely moving. It's also extremely nostalgia inducing, accurately depicting a time and place 25 years back that looks more like 50 years back now (there's even a Williams and Glynn Bank!), furthermore, everyone has terrific record collections, we get to watch the pulsating of a run out groove (a teenage pleasure I'd forgotten) and our old gas fire is even in it too.

In terms of performances, John Cooper Clarke is pleasingly still alive and doing a pretty damned convincing version of himself (His Snap, Crackle and Bop album is an absolute work of art that you can get very cheap nowadays, greatly recommended) and Sam Ryan's Ian Curtis is an impressive piece of work that goes beyond Stars In Their Eyes mimicry (how Granada music TV fell from So It Goes glory), Samantha Morton breaks your heart, I could go on.
You really do feel you're seeing the real band a lot of the time.
There's a nice in-jokey reference to 24 Party People too by the way, when they attempt to tell Curtis that things could be worse and he could be lead singer of The Fall (the role Ryan played in that film).

In terms of sound, there were three sequences in which I wondered whether they were doing something tricksy with the wildtrack noise, making it pulse rhythmically as if foreshadowing the effects in the later hypnosis and suicide scenes, but I don't know if that was just the facilities at the Showroom now.
Anyway, some of the Macclesfield traffic rumble, the background noise at the maternity hospital and at the Labour Exchange when Debbie looks for bar work and of course the grasshopper sounds on the hillside near the start all seemed to have a curious alienating pumping quality to them to my ears. Maybe that was just me, grasshoppers sometimes have that quality anyway if they're in large numbers, as their chirrups go in and out of phase with each other.

The one sad thing is you get a sense from the film of Curtis as a rather immature selfish individual incapable of feeling proper empathy with others, and although you feel for his pain, you end up feeling more for those around him who loved him despite and because of his empty coldness.

The band's flirtation with Nazi imagery is acknowledged but essentially ignored leaving one feeling as uncomfortable as ever with this aspect of punk and post-punk music. Obviously, we've all forgiven Bowie and Siouxsie for playing with the swastika back then (interestingly, we forgive Kula Shaker a lot less speedily for being slightly more intellectual about the symbol's history in the 90s because they were pants basically) and lounge lizard pop dad Bryan Ferry is now excused for his attraction to the aesthetics of fascism, but it all feels like a dirty secret we're not talking about from the 70s and 80s.

How much of it was just seizing onto iconography designed to upset an older generation, how much was based on a failure of understanding (the Second World War played out like Cowboys and Indians* on our screens and in our comics back then- Dad's Army never dealt with the Holocaust), how much of it was genuine neo-Nazism?
I feel sure all three things were going, and I think that's worth admitting. Young people, even very clever young people, can be incredibly stupid, that's why some of them "celebrate the irony" when they go dancing, of course.
In fact young people being stupid is pretty much the Joy Division tragedy. In retrospect, all so obvious, but, back in the day, unimaginable.

*Not that with hindsight you can be particularly comfortable with the morality of those Cowboys and Indians stories either... So it goes.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Message

As some of you may know I'm something of a late developer. I've only recently developed emotional maturity, a sense of self awareness, the skills to display proportional and appropriate behaviour in public, the honesty to tell people just how great I am in anything other than a faux self-deprecating way and suppressed the obsessive instinct in me which has led me to watch and listen to all of Doctor Who in order, even those large swathes of it when it was undeniably rubbish beyond redemption (and that's the more socially acceptable face of obsessiveness).
It was last Wednesday all that developed.

Another thing I came late to was Seinfeld. I spent years paying a great deal of attention to UK produced TV because that was what my job as a TV curator focused on and devoting a disproportionately smaller amount of time to US TV, particularly if it was on way too late at night. So, it was only after I resigned from that job last year and was spending much more time thinking about the mechanics of comedy I decided to give the show some serious attention. I'd become a great fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm and kept being told Larry David had been the driving force behind Seinfeld and I really should watch it.

Obviously, I'd seen a few early episodes before, but hadn't really taken to the show. There was a man who got applause for coming through a door, and the lead seemed stilted and wooden interacting with the rest of the cast and slickly insincere when doing his stand up bits and, you know, it didn't grab me.

However, starting to watch the show in order it became clear the hero of the show was George Constanza, a neurotic over-reaching little man painfuly aware of both his best and worst impulses, struggling between facing the world with a sense of himself as he feels he should be and a sense of who he really is, and thus determined to save face even if it destroys his dignity to do so.

I like George, he's like me only not as brilliant.

Here's the weird thing though, I've just finished watching Seinfeld Season 5 and watched in order the extreme physical clowning of Kramer (in a show of his own), and Jerry's passive protagonist have begun to make sense (and his acting has definitely improved) but George has quite suddenly undergone a horrible change.
His self awareness and battle with his sense of morality have literally vanished, he has become a butt of jokes, moved in with his parents and become a caricature of himself. He is just nasty George now.
This happens with sitcoms over time, the writers play to actors strengths and what gets the big laughs and the character gives way to the sit. This is particularly notable in Seinfeld which was initially quite plot light but by Season 5 has become driven by fast interlocking storylines. It's almost as if the rest of the cast have moved into Kramer's world.

Now apparently this is considered the season (number 5 of 9) in which Seinfeld comes into its own and becomes one of the great sitcoms of all time, but watching it now I can't help feeling I'm watching a show throwing away all its most interesting aspects.
As a mature adult, I think it's time for me to quit Seinfeld now, and remember my friend George as he was rather than persist with him now he's become a monster. There again I'm over half way through and it would be great to watch the whole show in order, and see what develops later...

I am rubbish, but at least I'm not as bad as Newman.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

Today Ofsted has expressed concern over behaviour, which was "just satisfactory" in secondary schools.
When was there anything "just" about satisfactory? Will these people never be satisfied?
Not until everyone's above average, I suspect.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Like a Rolling Stone

If your life is anything like mine you’ll be wanting comfort from the fact you’re not alone, and more importantly, it’ll be pretty much a rock rolling down a hill side.
There’s a certain amount of what happens to you which is just a natural result of how the land lies, a certain amount that’s influenced by your spin and how fast you’re travelling, and most of the rest is a result of the direction you were pushed at the hill top.

Basically, the filters you put on the world and your reactions to it are in place from pretty early on. I’m a lefty, a veggy, a Doctor Who fan, a Liverpool FC supporter and a BBC boy, because I have been ever since, and I’ve been a creature of habit since shortly after, and it takes a lot to break that conditioning
Which is why when the organisations I instinctively trust let me down I feel particularly torn.

This isn’t about Liverpool FC playing like a drain in Europe*, the BBC having shown a misleading trailer to journalists and having spoken in ignorance and error about the contents of the programme the trailer was promoting**, Doctor Who being given back to a general audience away from the sweaty over-possessive hands of loons like myself, the Vegetarian Society allowing a product using non-free range eggs to get its green tick *** or a Labour government doing the kind of things I always hated the Tories doing.

Basically, someone I rate in an organisation I rate is losing their job and there’s not a sausage I can do about it. Broadly, I think “Yeah, great outfit," specifically, I think “Dumb arse decision”. In the past I’ve been able to take my bat and ball away when this happened in organisations I had some stake in, but in this case I don’t think I have a bat and ball to take. You can’t help but feel a bit muddied and compromised.


Got to find a way to take some control, got to get me some bats and balls.

* I know the usual form would be “playing like drains”, but a team should be treated as a single entity grammatically, even if it's not playing like one.

** Clearly, a sacking offence and not just the ordinary nature of broadcasting. Oh hang on, it involves our constitutional monarch, fair does, a heinous act.

*** Quorn, I’m told, got its tick before it should have. It deserves it now, but I believe it was given it on promises of becoming truly veggy down the line. This may be FOAFlore but that’s what I was told.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Metal Machine Music

Well, I've now read some feedback on the BBC7 website from someone who doesn't like No Tomatoes at all- which is a relief to be honest.
They were polite, reasonable, appreciated a lot of effort had gone into the show, all of which made me happy, and just didn't laugh, which I can absolutely understand.
They identified me as a Burkiss Way fan too which was perceptive (I think show 1 is the most Burkiss like of the lot and I've made no bones that the sig tune in particular is an attempt to do something Burkissy). I appreciate the criticisms, I have my own issues with lots of bits of the series and always knew that a sketch show written by one person was unlikely to appeal to a wide audience (particularly when that one person is me), the idea was that it'd speak very directly to the kind of people who like that kind of thing.
Equally, we learn loads more from criticism than praise, like that we're basically worthless and must go back into the cupboard under the stairs until we're better people who can hold forks correctly and don't deserve beating with the big metal studded belt any more, for example.
What I really liked was the critic's analogy that the show was like "atonal music", which I take to mean 'yes, you can appreciate it's all very clever, and all that but you can't actually stand listening to it'. I thought that was fab.

Feel free to love/hate/have mixed feelings about the show yourself, either publicly or privately by following this link.

PS. This is in no way a contractual obligation post written to bring September upto 9 messages, composed in a rush much as Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music was in order to fulfill a commitment to RCA. The title Metal Machine Music clearly only refers to the above mentioned atonal music, and anyone who says otherwise is a businessman in his suit and his tie...

Parisienne Walkways

I saw Belle De Jour this week, not the ITV2 drama which has now been retitled The Secret Diary of a Call Girl in case any of the potential viewing demographic might be put off by a title that doesn't immediately describe the programme content, the Luis Bunuel film with Catherine Deneuve who I of course remember most fondly for picking up Goths in a New York club with David Bowie in the middle of a surprisingly under-populated Bauhaus gig.

It's a curious film and like the only other classic French film I've seen recently Godard's A Bout De Souffle (which disappointingly turns out not be about a souffle at all) seems to have a curious fascination with gun-toting low rent crooks on the streets of Paris, coupled with Serge Gainsbourg's Bonnie and Clyde this all leads me to presume on the scantiest of evidence that American scuzz was terribly hip at the time in Paris (and the New York Herald Tribune seems to have sold well on the streets too).

The central character of Belle De Jour, Severine is a woman who fantasises about being punished and humiliated, though, like the prostitute's client in the film who pays to be chastised as an unworthy servant, she clearly wishes to maintain control of the humiliation fantasies too. It all seems psychologically plausible enough, though one scene in which she is asked to impersonate a grieved over corpse feels to have slightly different well springs, perhaps the narcisism in the desire to be shamed, and feels it came from a different film or a very different person's fantasies (apparently Bunuel's film incorporates fantasies of real women into the narrative).

However, the sexiest thing in the whole film about sexual fantasies is Catherine Deneuve fully dressed, in buttoned up Yves Saint Laurent outfits, in particular there's a great double breasted red jacket and a grey coat like a cut down Russian army uniform that she wears with a knitted hat shaped like an Astrakhan but that thankfully doesn't look like it involved the same cruelty to produce (if you don't know about Astrakhan hats look it up). That sense of buttoned up, held in control style, coupled with Deneuve's cool slightly hard beauty, is far more interesting than her in her scanties allowing dirty, scarred, broken-toothed petty criminals with holes in their socks to writhe over her (see how degraded she allows herself to become!).
It's not really a particularly great film but it does leave gaps in the narrative and ambiguities for you to ponder after it's gone which you rarely seem to get in the well-constructed narratives of today.

I guess that's why I've not bothered with ITV2's The Secret Diary of a Call Girl too, even the title seems engineered to avoid difficulty.
To speak metaphorically, I'd rather see Deneuve dressed up and be left with questions than Piper dressed down and left with none, and obviously as a Doctor Who fan I love Billie (or rather love Rose and Honey to the Bee I'm not that weird), but there are certain arenas where letting it all hang out are much less interesting than keeping it all under wraps, and this is one of them for me.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Autumn Almanac

What’s worse that swollen infected tonsils?
Swollen infected tonsil stump scars.

It’s that time of year when you become painfully aware the map of the inside of your head is bigger than the map of outside it, as you wander around feeling discomfort in places that appear to be floating around a short distance outside you as much as within you.

Physically then, in poor shape, oozing green ickiness like something from 1984 tea-time telly and with a recurrent foot injury that could beat Michael Owen’s hamstrings hands down if feet had hands that could beat hamstrings and wanted to.

Oh woe is me, I’m sure no else I know has any foot injuries or a tendency to get phlegmy, whatsoever.
I’m going to go away and count my blessings, arrange them in order and then dismiss them one by one cynically as worthless until I get bored or cheer up.

Oh and my pedometer battery’s gone flat- you’d think they could make one like those self-winding wrist watches wouldn’t you? At the very least they could do a freeplay one which you could attach a giant handle to and knacker your arm charging up.

Anyone would think they were just like us, moping around not doing things expecting some other thems to get on with everything.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007


Hey, did I mention about…? Oh yeah, nothing else but, sorry…
Well, the first one went out and I didn’t altogether hate it (there’s one bit where something goes monstrously wrong with the mixing that still makes me cringe, but I'm just going to have to deal with it and move on). I think the later episodes are better, less frenetically “piloty” if you know what I mean.

Anyway, you can “listen again” to it here until about 5am on Tuesday the 2nd of October.

Feedback’s been nice so far.
Obviously, friends have been either glowing, guardedly critical- "marvellous, but…" or discreetly silent*, but beyond that self selecting kindness, I’ve had a comedy writer I didn’t know seek me out to offer congrats, pretty good feedback on the BBC7 comedy discussion boards (where I thought it would be utterly despised) and a pleasing anecdote relayed.
A friend of my wife was recommended it by a colleague (who’d discovered on their own it without any nagging and begging emails or associated webloggery). This friend googled it, realised it was the thing I’d been writing when we last met and told my wife off for not informing her it was on!
Not bad at all really for something as marmitey as this...
Let's hope we get to make a second series because attempting to pitch drama is a bit of a waste of time at the mo.

*Their mothers probably told them if they couldn’t say anything nice they should say nothing at all**

**My mother told me that once, I told her to shut her vacuous blabbering maw until she had opinions worth wasting air on.***

***Not really.****

****Would have been good though.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Street Life

"There is, Watson, much one can deduce about a city by the state of its streets," said my companion sucking on his habitual liquorice root, which I never normally mention because it makes him sound less intellectual.

"One can surmise, for example, the date at which the city came to prominence. If the roads are cobbled and unevenly pathed, one can deduce that the city's growth largely predates the motorcar and that either insufficient funds or an excessive attachment to the city's heritage has precluded subsequent refinement to the road surfaces. If the streets are smooth and the kerbs accessible to wheelchair users then one can presume the city flowered in an age such as ours in which it is possible to support one's self in a city by the efforts of brain as much as brawn, as we do and the inability to walk is not the impairment it might once have been.
"In short, the historic cities of the world can be neatly divided into those that welcome visitors to interact with their pasts and those that wish you to merely gaze upon it."

"What are you talking about, Crick?" I replied.
He said nothing and we sat in silence for a while until the tea lady came in with some bath olivers and shower stanleys and showed us the structure of DNA.
I resolved always to play down her involvement in our work, and give her share of the credit to Jeff Goldblum in association with WGBH Boston.

Ian Potter has been to Prague, Vienna and Budapest recently (during the trip he bought a European edition of The Guardian which featured him displaying considerable erudition in the field of Neanderthal teens in Notes and Queries, which was nice, if odd).

The Pitch

Writing rather aggravating at the mo, or rather not writing- writing pitches.
After a week of racking my head for SF ideas that can be pithily expressed and thus edged towards flogging without anyone having to spend to much time reading them, I was told that actually the commission now has too many SF ideas and to pitch other things again, which I did.
Of course, the think about a pitch is it can be turned down with even fewer words than a proper proposal, so they receive quite brief turning downs, 'no sorry', or 'commissioner doesn't like this kind of thing' or 'had one with a similar milieu rejected last year so not worth bothering', none of which really inspires one to keep pressing on.
However, press on we must. Paradoxically, being in the position to have something turned down without writing it is a privileged one...

More saddening for me, was having the story I really enjoyed writing recently, turned down for a collection. If you recall, I wrote a full draft of this because I reckoned a pitch would have been rubbish. This does leave you rather scuppered however when competing against pitches.
I suspect my actual story draft while capable of being changed is less appealing than similar pitches, in part because short pitches are still at a stage the editor can easily help shape them, and, as is so often the case, ideas are more intriguing than finished things.
Another writer I know, did exactly the same thing sending in a full piece for this collection, and we've agreed there's a lesson learned here- a fait accompli is easier to hate than a letter of intent.

BBC7 Minutiae Round Up

No Tomatoes is now on the BBC7 front page

as well as the Comedy Club page,

and I heard my first trail today - 57 seconds in here if you're reading this before Friday the 28th of September 2007.

Even more excitingly, continuity announcer Alex Riley (you remember- Mocks of Balloons DVD extra) has already 'raved' on air- "I've heard the trailer and it sounds very good indeed."

It's all too much, I tell you.

The first show airs on Monday at 11pm between Hamish and Dougal and The Goldfish Bowl but you know all this...

You don't have to pay the usual admission if you're a cook or a waiter or a good musician

Ladies and Gentlemen, not only have I just received a three CD set of Louis Jordan (not the Bond villain and BBC Dracula the other one) in the post today but Stephen Fry has a "'blog", see side link, please come back one day.

Pleasingly, in the inaugural entry he rightly praises the Psion 3 series (which had only one flaw- a hinge mechanism which wasn't up to the kind of rough use I gave it, you know occasionally opening and closing the device), and also rightly says the Psion Revo, which I now use, was a not quite as good successor (it has a robust hinge, but no back light- fools). I've had two Psion 3s (both broken-spined) and am now on my second Revo, and I love them both because they do pretty much all I really want, fairly reliably, without too many distractions and they use the fact that I can type fairly fast rather than waste electronic brain power trying to decipher my handwriting. I'd still be on my first Revo if gravity and floors weren't both quite such stubborn swines.

Anyhow, my favouritest thing about Psion as a brand is that it should have been Psi, short for Potter's Scientific Instruments but that name was taken. Consequently, Psion which stands for Potter's Scientific Instruments Or Nothing was plumped for. If that's not true it should be, as it's Quite Interesting, which leads me clumsily towards the fact that Fry's comfortingly enjoyable and not thick QI is back with a new series tonight on BBC2.

Like David Attenborough, Fry has a force of personality that helps keep not-dumb telly on mainstream channels. Reason enough to cherish him even if he wasn't such a great prose stylist, and comic writer.

I found a very sweet form letter from Mr Fry a few months back, which I along with, I hope thousands of others, was sent for wishing him well in the wake of the whole Cell Mates situation, it's brief, well-mannered, self-critical sincere, lovely and intelligent- like Moab Is My Washpot but short then really.

In almost related news, I suspect the Andrew Wong who's recently received a Silver prize in the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards was someone I knew slightly at the time who was in close touch with Mr Fry.
I didn't really know Andrew well, and for various arcane reasons I was not allowed to help him with a project with attempted to couple Stephen Fry with the archive I then worked on, but I liked his sensibilities and enthusiasms, and I really hope it is him making steps forward in the writing world.

Also winning a prize in the same competition, Gold no less, is a chap I met once and had the pleasure of doing some sound design for, ages back, David Bishop. I'm really pleased that he and his remarkably '80s winkle pickers seem to be thriving in the 21st century.

Small world isn't it? I'm beginning to think it may actually be smaller than Facebook.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

A Modest Proposal 2 - This time it's personal

We are, as you may have heard, doomed- too much food in some places, not enough in others, world population doubling in fifty years, definitely not enough food then, big asteroid hitting Earth- not kill loads of folk with the impact but making vast dust clouds that will result in years of failed harvests across the globe, definitely definitely not enough food then.
Well you don’t have to be Dean Swift to see the answer is staring us in the face-cannibalism, not the ad-hoc dilettante cannibalism the young uns and zombies go in for these days but a properly structured and centrally organised programme of resource management.

Firstly, for efficiency's sake, I propose people are relocated around the globe due to their body mass index, people with a few pounds to lose from the West where food is routinely wasted would be much more sensibly placed in areas where food is scarce and they have to work to subsist, allowing a number of the starving to take their place in the food rich areas of the planet. This is much more practical than sending food to the starving, send the starving to the food- it’s certainly more efficient in food miles.

To prevent the Jack Spratt scenario which would see couples of differing BMI split up, I propose a married couples fat allowance, which would allow you to share your fat designation with a partner.

Once this efficiency relocation has taken place- the International Food Lottery will be instigated, and weekly lucky individuals will be selected for death for the greater good and then cooked and eaten, or if they’re terribly disease ridden or unappetising just killed and disposed of. More food, lowered population- this has to be good.
Smaller prize winners lucky enough to be in possesion of a spare tyre may just have some of their body fat turned into nutritious shakes through liposuction, allowing them both to live and relocate to less food poor climes as their BMI is reduced. This system would have the advantage of not massively altering our lifestyles, forcing us to have fewer babies or addressing the underlying causes of our problems, and so is clearly better than any of those less palatable alternatives.

If we're lucky though, we won't even have to bother with my scheme because a nice big war, handy pandemic and/or dying out will intervene and do the Malthusian dirty work for us before we reach crisis point.
Good luck everyone.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Blogging about blogging, the last refuge of a navel-gazer

This weblog as I will insist on calling it (conjoining the words web and log was a big enough step for someone like me) serves a very useful purpose for me- like my pedometer it's an external regulator of me- it makes me explore what I'm doing and thinking, and often actually firms up what that is.

Like most people, I suspect, I don't know what I think about a subject until after I've heard myself talk about it, and generally find when I do listen to myself I don't know a damned thing about anything. So these entries form a sort of exercise regime for my mushy thinking and communicating, firming up my ideas and opinions in public just as I attempt to firm up my flab when exercising physically.

Just as with physical exercise I set myself arbitrary targets to hit- I must run for more than half an hour/I must produce nine entries a month, and I do it in public so once I've started I feel obliged to carry on, even when it's painful.
Letting myself down or showing myself up in public would be horrendous.
Basically, I'm in the process of creating observers to measure myself by, and if occasionally that means making an idiot of myself in clear view that's what I have to do.

Hopefully, in the process I'm exercising my mental muscles a bit and behaving more like the me I'd like to be (another imaginary observer) would.

Interesting meeting today- I found myself publicly unenthused about my sitcom idea King Coney, which was a relief, because although it uses one of my writing styles quite nicely it's not a style I'd particularly want to listen to in half hour chunks, let alone write half hour chunks of. My lack of passion allowed my producer to express similar uncertainty and I've quite happily written the thing off.
Funnily enough though, letting the thing I was uncomfortable writing go, unlocked the germ of something I fancied writing much more on the way back home.

There we go- mandatory ninth entry of the month completed. I feel better for it, at least.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007


There’s been illness in the house this week, which is always a bit weird. There’s someone else here needing beans on toast, sleep and sympathy at unpredictable intervals. The world’s shrunk and the difference between week and weekend, already a bit bleary when you work from home, has almost completely vanished.
In my head this is what getting old seems like, a sneakily shrinking world.

Tomorrow I’ll be braving distances greater than a five minute walk to the shops for the first time in ages, I’ll be the one wandering around making Rip Van Winkle style incredulous faces at how the world has changed while I’ve been away and pointing at normal stuff in wonder.
Say, isn’t that Wilma Dearing over there? No, it is not.
The world has not changed that much.

I’ll be off to that Manchester again to talk about radio ideas- comedy ones, maybe a feature one which I’d love to do, a couple of comedic drama ones, no SF ones, that producer’s away at the mo. Wish me luck like the insincere, innumerate liars who don’t think through the consequences of their wishes on the lottery would.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

So-so Po-mo Promo

Thrill to the tiny words and picture, thrill, I command thee, thrill!

Incomprehensible, yes?
Clearly, this will generate good word of mouth as the whisper goes around that's there's a head-scratchingly unfunny new show in town, like some monstrous David Shrigley cartoon made audible.

This is what Sally sent- "In No Tomatoes, BBC7 talks to the regions and to dogs, zero will vanish forcing all the negative and positive numbers in creation to bang into each other and cancel out, you will be invited to imagine the most bizarre and dull slide show possible, pompous academics will be found ranting in the dairy section of the supermarket, children’s TV characters will go on strike, words will change their meaning and form. There will be jokes."
Obviously too long given what was used, if we'd known they wanted that little, I would have just suggested sending the "There will be jokes" bit as I think that's quite important.
There will be jokes.

Still, nice to be up there, in terrifyingly public view, another slouchy step forward towards existing.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Sliced Tomatoes

Just seen the billing matter that's been prepared for No Tomatoes behind my back! I imagine this will scroll tediously across digi-displays and sit somewhere or other on the BBC7 website.
It's been put together by unsung Production Assistant Sally Harrison in an actually rather creepily good pastiche of my style, and only partly because she's nicked bits out of my initial pitch document in the process. I'm quite giddy now, because it appears I'm going to get some prepublicity on the BBC7 website (I'm guessing in that tiny window that says Coming Soon). We think they'll be featuring my logo on the site too (I think largely because the one photo taken in production is ghastly beyond flabber).

Sally couldn't believe I created that logo by bunging a real tomato in my scanner and photoshopping the hell of it. It does seem ridiculous thinking back, but hey it was the easiest way I had of finding a copyright free tomato graphic.

Tantalising teaser text follows-

Episode 1 / Dog Days: Talking to the regions and to dogs, No Tomatoes immerses you in occasionally surprising words.

Episode 2 / Trash Talk: A nostalgic trip through the rubbish dump of your mind - featuring spellings in shaped spaghetti.

Episode 3 / Train Times: Smell your 3rd portion of No Tomatoes, with couscous from Paul Copley, Helen Moon and Ian Potter.

Episode 4 / World Weary: Imagine a perfect picture in sound then hear it shatter before your very ears.

Episode 5 / Doctor Doom: The best cure you’ll find for a moody fridge - No Tomatoes have been peeled and censored by the man.

Episode 6 / Retro Rocket: Dub your life into English and re-connect with that harp effect from olden times.

Your interest is piqued now, isn't it? Admit it. Go on, or I may cry.

For more tedious No Tomatoes promotional nonsense why not check here out?
It's got the signature tune and the rotten photo on and allsorts.

This Personal Quantaleptic Phase Distortion Device That I Have In My Right Hand in Loaded

Well, I’ve been bashing around some ideas for Afternoon Plays and failing to grab my radio drama producer’s imagination for a bit, when suddenly comes the suggestion- do you have any science fiction thoughts?
You know what? At the moment I have absolutely none.
None that will lend themselves to an Afternoon Play audience, anyhow. I think good radio is so often about people and good SF is so often about ideas that finding a story that includes real emotion and a new SF idea seems almost insurmountable.

So often SF radio seems to be built on quite old and rubbish twists like “A ha, but the humans are actually monsters, we tricked you, you see because you couldn’t see what they looked like.” An ancient swizz of a reveal, so Antediluvian that it might as well be-
“It is our duty to populate this new world then, Commander.”
“If we’re going to do that you better stop calling me Commander! It’s Adam, Miss Goodbody.”
“Eve, call me Eve.”
Either that or it's some kind of space operatic runaroundery featuring Paul Temple style urgent acting and tinfoil and tinsel jargon sprinkled on the dialogue. Impressively, James Follett managed to do both in Earthsearch.

Must come up with something clever, with a plot and real people you can pitch in one or two sentences that hasn’t been done. Eeek.

Maybe I could adapt my Doctor Who short stories? Doomed romance with couple ending up in parallel worlds? Doctor Who gives Shakespeare ideas? Doctor Who in an unhappy love story? Doctor Who receives the gift of peace at Christmas? Involved stuff featuring the mountains above the citadel on Gallifrey with a lot of nonsense about time rewriting itself and enemies vanishing into paradox at the end?

No, those are unbroadcastably daft ideas.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Coal to Diamonds

Oh yeah and I wrote a radio sitcom pilot- I knew I'd been doing something.
It's called King Coney, but I may have still have to sit on it quite hard to make it shine.

In the beginning was the word and the word was Logos

New BBC Radio branding unveiled. Can't say I'm utterly sold- a bizarre combo of individuality and uniformity, I think.

Who said the pictures were better on radio? 4 and 7 both look a bit daft to me. I'll be imagining the old logos floating in mid-air when I listen from now on.
I wonder why the World Service has escaped the rebrand? Because BBC Radio World Service with a little globe in a circle would look and sound rubbish?

The Unexamined Life... apparently not worth living. Can't say I'd noticed to be honest, but then I wasn't looking, was I?

I only really became aware just how true this was when on Friday I lost my pedometer two half-hour walks and three train journeys from home, and realised all my accumulated steps counted for nothing if they went unrecorded.
Happily, I found it at home on my pillow that evening like a high-tech hotel chocolate. I have a suspicion this was the work of those particular elves/elemental forces who move stuff about the house you're looking for, before later replacing it somewhere unlikely you know you've already looked. If God's in the gaps and the Devil's in the details, minor household deities have probably been sniggering unseen in our drawers since the Romans named them Lares. The deities, not the drawers.

Modern physics tells us observation shapes the Cosmos, so who knows, maybe the Universe does muck about a bit like this when we're not looking. Maybe, that's why an unexamined life isn't worth living? If you're not looking, all the gubbins you're after gets hidden, and you have to go around making your special 'summoning mimes' to find things.
This is called boot-strapping- do a good enough tin opener or scissor mime as you pace around the kitchen, opening and lifting things at random and you'll invoke one.

Anyhow, what I started off intending to say was that an empty weblog is a sign of an unexamined life, and so I better start putting that right if I want to make something worthwhile of it. The weblog, not the- oh hang on, I've done that joke. Lots.

Well, since my last entry I've spent a few more days back in Bradford researching the telly book, which I've now had the advance for (hurrah!), and it's all quite nice. As usual, when you do this kind of archive trawling you keep finding out fascinating things that are of no use for your current project.
Did you know for example that Leonard Rossiter, Richard Beckinsale and Don Warrington recorded an 8 minute promo for Betamax in 1978 in which Philip and Alan explain the VCR to Rigsby. Be honest, how much do you want to see that, right now? Apparently, it was only distributed to salesrooms not to the public.
What do you mean "you already have it, and can provide Youtube links?" You're scaring me.

Another notable development since I last wrote here is that Death has come back from a holiday and been on double-time, taking loads of cool people and Antonioni whose famous film I've still not seen. I'll miss him mainly for his fabulous stammer inducing surname. So, to make these people's lives worthwhile I'll give them a quick examination for you.

Ian's list of the work of recently dead people to seek out:

Mike Reid - severe-faced soldier in The War Machines obviously.

Ingmar Bergman - Smiles of a Summer Night.
If you read this weblog you're either, arty, campy or desperately nostalgic so this should work quite nicely, ticking all your variously demanding boxes. It is funny, romantic and bitter-sweet, and should help dismiss any ideas you might have that he's one-note Nordic misery. It's also the missing link between A Midsummer Night's Dream and A Little Night Music if, you know, you're a friend of Billy Elliot.
I hate that film, by the way (caught an annoying chunk again last night), but then I have a massive Lee Hall blind spot I think. I just feel emotionally exploited by Spoonface Steinberg and I Luv You, Billy Spud etc., which seem just a little too obvious in the ladling of sentiment into the mouths of babes for me. I also resent having to sit all the way through a movie full of Marc Bolan just knowing "Ride A White Swan" is going to be crassly combined with Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake as a coup d'obvious at the end. All a touch "on the nose", I find.
If Smiles of A Summer Night works for you, you might find that the much longer and more varied in mood Fanny and Alexander makes you smile too. After that it does get a bit bleaker, but some of it's still amazingly cheerful- even the 'Dance of Death' sequence in The Seventh Seal is quite uplifting (do bear in mind I think Leonard Cohen's funny and find a lot of Edvard Munch uplifting too, your version of cheerful may vary).

Lee Hazlewood - Some Velvet Morning.
I've been haunted by this song since hearing a fragile weird cover on Mark Radcliffe's Out On Blue Six (an anagrammatic tribute to a certain Louise Buxton apparently), that I've never been able to track down. The envelope I scribbled details on suggests it was by Big Star but that was probably just the next act on. Anyhow, this was the only version I've heard that makes the sickly swoony tempo change into the 'Phaedra' bit work properly (and I've heard a lot of covers since, believe me). It was probably Lydia Lunch's version but it doesn't sound how I remember that take on it. Thin White Rope's version is okay too, Bobbie and Kate's is best avoided for me. This is a track in severe need of Saint Etienneing one day.

Tony Wilson - Earthbound by To Hell With Burgundy.
It's danceable folk music really, and I've picked it because it's peculiar, pretty and a bit different to what you'd expect. Not everything Factory produced was quite so sweaty and indiscriminately in love with you as people recall (I lived in Manchester for seven years and went to Hacienda about four times, and two of those were to see Spacemen 3 and The pre-ecstatic Shamen supporting All About Eve, so I can speak for the people at the edge, man). Obviously, Wilson's biggest achievement is So It Goes the show that made the legend, but let's also mention Be What You Wanna Be by ACR, because all the tribute air play's going Mondays, New Order, Joy Division at the mo and it's a decent track. Mainly though, Wilson strikes me as like that largely shambolic quiz show he did with Frank Sidebottom on- good in parts but making it up on the spot. Self-belief and taking chances can take you an amazing way, people will invent your masterplan in retrospect from the best bits. Good on him for what he achieved and for having the chutzpah to make it happen..

Phil Drabble - The One Man and his Dog signature tune. Evocative, rural, idyllic and in a jaunty late seventies synth styley? Nostalgoverload!

There- that was worth doing, wasn't it?

Thursday, 2 August 2007

The Theme from S-Express

Here we are then in sunny August, your date and weather may vary, and I'm back at my old place of work in Bradford doing some research for a book on telly companies, using the fantastic library they have there that I never had enough opportunity to use while I worked there.

Don’t it always seem to go that you don't use what you’ve got
‘til you've gone? (They paid Joni Mitchell to promote a cruddy coffee shop).

It's like time's gone funny again. I'm spending more time there now I'm not there than I was there when I was there (Now you miss my helpful commas, eh? Never diss my punctuation again).

I've also handed out a few copies of No Tomatoes to people and am getting nice comments back (reassuringly, people are having different favourite bits, which means it must appeal slightly, in slightly different ways, to different people who know me a bit and feel obliged to be polite), which is probably good.
By the way, I'm now assured the BBC7 TX dates are 24/9/07, 1/10/07, 8/10/07 15/10/07 22/10/07 and 29/10/07 at the ever popular times of 11 o'clock at night 4 the following morning and on the internet for a week after, if you can remember. These are plum spots for comedy I'm informed (though you can't swear because 4 o'clock in the morning is pre-watershed, true, it's like 10 million years BC in that respect). I told you time had gone funny again.

Incidentally, I was in a Starbucks the other day (it was a social thing, I'll planting a rain forest of smug somewhere to offset the gaffe and atone) and ordered a double espresso, (I've given up using the word 'doppio', it doesn't help) and was asked, as usual, if I knew an "eXpresso" was "just, a small strong black coffee".
"Yes! I do, that's why I ordered it and used the correct bloody name for the thing, stop asking! Is it part of your moronic training that you're obliged to say this? Is it part of your script, designed to prevent any genuine interaction with your customers and thus enable the Starbucks experience to be uniformly bland and aggravating whereever you are in the world?" I might have screamed, if I could have been arsed.

My blood metaphorically boiled and, poetically speaking, made a satisfying hissing gurgle, as steam, quite literally (here meaning "didn't actually") came out of me.
"Not everyone thinks coffee is milky stuff with syrup and froth and chocolate nonsense chucked in!" I didn't yell, politely.

Gawd, imagine if an over reliance on coffee made me tetchy and short-tempered? I'd probably have over-reacted.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Random Opinion Generator

I quite like doing radio, no one has to look at me, it's done quick and often live and it's usually less rubbish than the tiny bits of telly I've been involved with. It's quite reassuring to find I can talk coherently off the cuff and be understood by people who can't see my lips moving too, but what is strange is how eager you become to have views on everything as soon as the transmission light goes on. You become a hyper-opinionated caricature of yourself because there's nothing worse than being dull, disengaged or just failing to fill the silence.

You begin to suspect that some of the more unpleasant "shock jocks" might even be quite nice in real life when not raising their personalities and voices and my blood pressure on air. Time must be filled and listeners connected with, and I suspect it's far easier to do that by going a bit extreme, than by being sensible, understated and reasonable.

I wonder if this is how Lord Haw-Haw started?

That's what went wrong then- nothing interesting enough happened to be worth an entry, how dull. Maybe I should be attempting to lift my on-line personality into caricature too? It's either that or witter on about nothing much to fill the time in.
Oh hang on, false dichotomy- wittering on about nothing is my personality.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Latest BBC dishonesty shocker

The idiot who says "Good luck, everyone." on the National Lottery doesn't mean it, and hasn't even thought it through properly.
How can everyone be lucky any how? Just supposing they were, the consequences would be disastrous anyway- they'd either all end up winning a proportion of the jackpot smaller than their initial stake money, or bankrupting Camelot by winning larger numbers of the smaller fixed amount prizes than had been budgeted for.
Doesn't add up.

Furthermore, I have reason to suspect that Lottery HQ is in fact not a real building but a crude computer generated facsimile and doesn't even have real helicopters with searchlights flying over it (unlike our neck of the woods on a Saturday night).

I do hope the BBC reconsiders and puts an end to this wicked deception of the credulous...

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

God Only Knows

“If you want to make God laugh,” they say, “tell Him your plans.”
Of course, if you do want to make God laugh, you’re probably religious and more a little over-confident, and need to consider just what kind of God you’re dealing with before developing your set.

Number 1) Is He Existent? Don’t both trying to make any non-existent Gods laugh. It’s your own time you’ll be wasting, not His.

Number 2) Is He Omniscient? If so, I’ll wager He’s heard it, whatever the joke, however, if also Omnipotent and So Inclined, He may be able to laugh at jokes He already knows. This may also require Him to be a Personal and Active God, not to mention Personable (which I haven’t, OK?), and much may hinge on the way you tell ‘em.

Number 3) Is He a God who allows humanity Free Will? If the Universe in Deterministic and Pre-ordained it’s possible God will already know the outcome of your life (not to mention your comedy routine about it, which I have mentioned, to be honest, but only in parentheses) and may thus find your plans amusing.
If He’s one of those laissez-faire, leave it all down to you Gods, then He may have no idea how things will turn out for you and may thus fail to appreciate any possibly irony, unless He’s, as mentioned before, Omnipotent and/or Omniscient.
It goes with out saying that if Omnipotent He can also be Omniscient as required (obviously it hasn’t gone without saying just now, but it could have done).

When I was making my list of "things that could possibly go wrong" before, I neglected to count the barbecue being cancelled due to ill health as one of them, which is obviously far far worse than any of the scenarios I’d come up with in my head, and I hope all works out well.

That’ll teach me.

Sunday Morning

Okay, so I've agreed to do a local radio show for taxi fare only (normally I want at least some kind of token payment to remind them I do this sort of stuff for a living, however meagre, but I like the host).
It's on Sunday morning after a traditionally boozy and rather classy Saturday evening barbecue we attend every year. There's a jazz band there and all sorts and I always end up tipsily rasping along in my best Fats Waller voice to I Can't Give You Anything But Love. Hint- my best Fats Waller voice is not by any means even as good as your worst one, and I've heard yours is rubbish.

What can possibly go wrong?

I've come up with a list of about five things so far. Six now, I've just thought about the things that can go wrong with a Halloumi, pepper, mushroom and courgette veggy kebab. Make that seven actually, ooh no, nine. Twelve for safety.

I was warned about this- after a certain amount of time 'blogging, you deliberately go out of your way to do stupid things just so you'll have something to write about afterwards. Oh dear, this is what comes of not posting enough this month.

Monday, 23 July 2007

One person didn't pass on the chain and ghastly things happened to them, though it's unclear how this information entered the text of the chain letter

"Where've you been, Ian?" I hear you cry out in unison in voices so soft you can't actually discern them yourselves.
"Oh, about," I say, mysteriously failing to sound mysterious.
"And what, pray, have you done?" you respond eagerly, while carefully maintaining the punctuation that helps readers parse your collective utterance. "You've not posted in so long, your mother was considering 'phoning you," you add, unnecessarily archly, I think, but I'm pleased nevertheless that you're like me and you put an apostrophe at the start of 'phone.

Well, I tidied a bit, then messed a bit just so the tidying didn't feel too smug about itself, sent off one contract for a book when I should have sent off two, grizzled pointlessly over the bits of m'radio show I don't like any more and which are all my fault, considered an invitation to go on local radio again (still am doing), and didn't reply to a perfectly polite virtual "tagging" because they're just a reincarnation of those faintly sinister chain letters you sometimes got from friends in the 1980s really and all they ever do, if you fill them in, is tell you that you have fewer friends than your contemporaries and that you're eager to waste some time.

After that, I wrote the first draft of a 6000 word short story, when really I should have been writing a synopsis of it.
There's a good reason for this- the story is a ghost story based on historical fact, and a synopsis of it wouldn't contain the atmosphere, liberal smattering of verifiable period detail and little misdirections and suggestions that hold the thing together. Well it could do, but it would be about two thirds of the length of the actual story if it did and be about an eighth as interesting. So, caution to the wind, I did a first pass at the whole thing, which takes longer for me to produce and the possible purchaser of the story to digest obviously, but hopeful affords us both a bit more pleasure.

I'm quite pleased with it, it feels like it obeys the rules of the form quite nicely in a sort of MR James gets a bit more with it kinda way, and sends a little pleasurable chill up my spine. It has a proper plot too, which is a relief because my last short story was such a mood piece- just a very long conversation hinting at a plot really.

Fingers crossed, if it's knocked back I'll find somewhere to pop it on-line.