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).

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