Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Cantabrigia et Mamucium et Caesaromagus CXXIII

This has come out of book research, but almost certainly won’t make the book, and is too good not to share.

I’m a fan of Alan Garner (in particular Elidor and Red Shift had a massive effect on me at opposite ends of my school career). I’m also a fan of Hat Trick productions. Imagine my delight to find just how they intersect.

Alan Garner used to send Hat Trick boss Jimmy Mulville faxes in Latin! That is like so way cool.

A few more details to populate the story- Hat Trick was exploring acquiring rights to The Weirdstone of Brisingamen* a while back. At a meeting with Mulville Garner said he didn’t watch much telly- but he had really liked a comedy show in which the cast had spoken perfect demotic Latin. This was Chelmsford 123, Hat Trick’s first show, a pleasingly Garnerish coincidence, “I wrote that!” Mulville said and no doubt much ice was broken as a result...
Consequently, as negotiations continued, Garner sent Mulville faxes regarding the project in Classical Latin.

Unfortunately, although Mulville had studied Classics at university** his Latin was now a bit rusty, and his perfect demotic Latin had been constructed with the aid of a friend from university days***, and thus to read Garner’s faxes he not only had to hold up the shiny heat sensitive paper and squint at the slightly ‘pages from Ceefax’ed letters like normal people had to “back in the day”, he also had to take it ‘round to his friend.

I had a letter from Alan Garner once, which was great but possibly the very best thing about it was that, after his house name at the top, he gave an OS map reference rather than a street address- that’s proper living in the country for you that is.

*the book I like to think which every visitor to Alderley Edge holds in their head at all times, unless they’re the kind of fool who just goes there to lie in the grass near Jodrell Bank and hum Paddy Kingsland to themselves- I’ve met one. Fool didn’t regenerate- he’d forgotten the scene he was attempting to replicate was a nasty studio recreation, set somewhere poncy like Cambridge and made up.

** at somewhere with a fictional radio telescope and Footlights. Like me Mulville did Latin at ‘A’ level at a comprehensive school that still remembered being a grammar school (unlike me he worked hard enough to pass).

*** I think we’ve established where, punters. While we’re cleaning up the university careers, Garner went to university in Oxford (he was a contemporary of Dennis Potter you know). I went to Manchester, in part for all the theatre there, in part because of The Smiths, and just possibly because Alan Garner had made the city sound magical in Elidor. The non-regenerating tripper to Alderley Edge amd environs went to the real Cambridge. He can still be seen there today on occasion, I suspect dressed as Skagra more often than not (see poncy and made up).

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Poison Door

Not a lot going on right now-
I'm tired, cricky-necked and sore-throated, all of which are probably symptoms of a rare and deadly syndrome known as Obvious Evidence of Something Serious in Retrospect but Nothing you Notice as Out of the Ordinary at the Time Syndrome.
It's closely related to the hacking cough developed in period dramas (as a precursor of Decorous Consumption) that audiences pick up like a badly dropped murder mystery clue, and characters never notice, being unaware that they are in a rather streamlined version of reality in which most things that happen are either significant, or off stage by virtue of being too expensive.
Anyhow, suffering from OESSRNNOOT as it's called by professional observers and lackadaisical sufferers, I seem to have been thinking and doing little of note this week.

Main points of interest-
I have read a script of a forthcoming BBC telly show and enjoyed it, which is nice. Means I'll be an absolute pain when it comes on, saying "here comes a good bit" over and over, but still, I'd probably have been an absolute pain anyway. More later.
I'll be interested to discover who they get to play Instantly Recognisable and Charismatic Man for two lines of dialogue and ten seconds of screen time, though. They'll either have to pull in a favour, or get lucky.
Mark Gatiss might just pull it off, with the right wig, hard-staring and half-smiling except then there'd be that "hang on wasn't that just..." brain freeze for everyone watching, either him or Benedict Cumberbatch who played Stephen Hawking a couple of years back (and always reminds me of Yakult's good bacteria yoghurt geek).
His mum is Wanda Ventham apparently, not, you might have thought, the kind of woman who'd name her son as if he was a minor character in Round the Horne. Mind Wanda Ventham sounds a quite plausible Horne-y name now I think about it.

My Afternoon Play pitch is good enough to be discussed with a commissioner in a couple of weeks time, which means the next stage is either a knockback or invitation to expand the idea, which then will result in either a knockback or commission. Under the powers vested in me by positive thinking I make that a 1 in 4 chance of it getting done. I am thinking positively for a change because I've been told changing my mind now and again somehow confuses Monty Hall, the goats and the nature of reality.
I'm unconvinced.
Or am I?
It is sad that my main awareness of Monty Hall is as a result of his hosting this non-existent edition of Let's Make A Deal.
Or is it?
That's enough of that now, surely?
Or is it?

I am having the occasional drink again now, but enjoying sobriety more, and having just had Radio 4 blather on to me about the silent undetectable curse of liver disease that smiteth you without warning and displayeth symptoms only when it is far too late (bwahahaha), I may continue to go easy.
Or shall I?
Coughs weakly and goes easy into that good night.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Long-Distance Operator

Right then, where are we?

Exhausted, four interviews in the last seven days which isn’t bad except that required around 40 hours travelling and three nights without sleep (though to be fair you can get about an hour in, in fits and starts on the 1.45 am coach).
Unfortunately this means I’ve hardly written a thing because I’ve been so busy gathering further info, and am exhibiting tell-tale signs of vague. I would forget my metaphors if they weren’t screwed on.

Best interviews have to have been Beryl Vertue and Anne Wood who are personal heroes of some standing, and didn’t let me down. Funny how much of the world revolves erratically around Spike, from Pob's Programme to Saturday Night Fever
It was also pretty damned cool to see what I assume was the actual "Vitruvian Man" model used for the World In Action titles at All3Media.

In frustrating Radio 4 news, I probably won’t be doing a Classic Serial because I have no drama experience for 4. I’m pitching an Afternoon Play now. This may well hit the usual wall of indifference too. We shall see. There will come a point soon where you could just re-run this entry with changed programme and people names. Annoying to have wasted time banging against a wall that was now apparently not as hard as all that for me only to find it was actually just as hard after all.

There was also a faint sniff of some sound design work this week, but after doing a short demo I was asked to do something more complex I simply didn’t have time for, and, given this would be on spec and there was no brief other than “make it a bit like this other company’s stuff” I thought it was wiser to leave it and just let that other company do the work.

So that’s all positive, isn’t it?

Oh, just remembered the line in that magazine review a few weeks back- the “The” should have been in italics, I’m told. That actually makes it even better, don't you think?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Man in a Suitcase

And now a message from Tuesday morning...

I'm knackered to the point of being mechanically reclaimed meat this morning- A human peperami without even the faint resemblance to those cheesy string things (which are probably just as full of processed pseudofood gunkery) that seem a bit friendlier.

Kids'll eat anything if it's marketed by an anthropomorphic version of itself with Aardman style googly eyes, won't they? Dip Marty Feldman in chocolate, he wouldn't last five minutes at the school gates (though to be honest, I suspect he wouldn't last too long at school gates undipped either).

"Pseudofood gunkery" there's a googlewhack for you.

Another is "google jetsam" (probably), which is my newly minted coinage for those surprise messages from unexpected sources you sometimes seem to get after posting on your weblog. For example, in my ongoing and pointless "name postings after vaguely apt tracks in my mp3 collection" campaign I headed a post 'All Nighter' a while back, and almost immediately thereafter received spam to the weblog mail address offering me drugs that would help me stay up all night.
Unlike most offers of drugs to keep me up these messages were apparently aimed at helping me revise for exams. Some Technorati grazing cowbot was ruminating on my messages it seems. No, that does make sense, read it slowly. I deleted the spam, I wasn't going to bite, not even if it'd been spam with googly eyes and the voice of Ade Edmondson.

This is why I often avoid using real people's full names in this weblog. I'm aware some of the trails get followed, and I'd rather let the world know the ins and outs of my dodgy music taste than everyone I know, meet or work with.
It's notable that I get more responses if I mention famous people, and I then feel bad for luring the unwary here under false pretenses with little signs saying Lindsay Lohan, Anthony Stewart Head, Sir Agravaine, Eduardo Paolozzi, Cab Calloway or Prentis Hancock which end up letting the searchers down.

I get over it though.

Today, I am mainly knackered because I got up at 5 am to go and see a TV producer and director, married to an ex-Hammer star whose father was a notable TV writer of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Now people who are interested in this kind of thing will know who that is immediately, but bots probably won't (unless I mention the F***** F*** connection). That's much more how it should be, you can unpack their identity if it's your bag (statutory "try to thematically justify the title" sentence).

Maybe I should go back and remove the names of people in past entries, making this weblog less of a cyber celeb seekers cyber siren song? Maybe I should go easier on the assonance? Maybe I should be sleeping not typing right now. People tend to be more forgiving of dreams that aren't really about anything, don't hang together properly and end abruptly without