Saturday, 24 July 2010

Anti-Social Media


How much time do you have? It turns out it's a limited amount, and yet somehow everything has to get done in it.

I've noticed I've been posting a lot less on here in the last year or so, and I think that's partly because of Facebook, which started off as a fabulous way for me to keep in touch with people and maintain the illusion of office chit-chat while working in splendid isolation but seems to have slowly turned into a devourer of both work and leisure time. It's dangerously full of instant gratification, distractions, campaigns and really fascinating and funny people in far too many time-zones all conspiring to lure you away from your true course, and, as a bonus, eating up the slack time you'd have spent writing an occasional "weblog" in bite-size status update chunks.

It's got particularly wearying the last few weeks as I've been researching and tentatively writing bits of a play, and have reached the stage where research has become a delaying tactic keeping me from to the main business of actually writing and Facebook has become what I do in the breaks between the delaying activity.

So, as a little experiment I've decided to give Facebook up for a bit and see how the working days shape up without it. Next week will be Facebook free, almost as if my life is some annoying lifestyle article in a quality broadsheet that assumes you live the same media-saturated life as the author. Twitter's going too, it's even more littered with links for the butterfly-brained than Facebook and far less like real conversations.

We'll see how it goes. Who knows, the extra time this e-cold turkey buys me may even allow me time to complete a half finished AudioBoo sitting in pieces on my hard disk or complete this sentence eve

Thursday, 1 July 2010


Just returned from the TV Drama Writers Festival in Leeds, a really interesting couple of days (some of which was video recorded and I expect will end up on the BBC Writersroom page fairly soon).

It was really nice to catch up and chat with some writers and producers I'd met before and meet a few people for the first time, among them Dan Tetsell, the script editor of Radio 7's NewsJack who's put some things of mine into the show, even if not all of them made into the transmitted episodes!
I also discovered a heartbreaking missed opportunity relating to last year's Bill Mitchell radio documentary, a very famous actor's daughter had 'phoned up after transmission asking why he hadn't been asked to contribute. If we'd known he was a mate of Bill's we would have gone to him like a shot!

Tributes to Alan Plater were, of course paid and quite right too. I only met him once, quite briefly, and always wanted to meet him again. A very warm, approachable and supremely talented man, he was also wonderfully indiscreet about the film star Ava Gardner within minutes of our meeting. How brilliant is that? Funny, clever and nice. Never take that rare combination for granted.

There were some great sessions across the two days with Toby Whithouse, Tony Jordan, Alice Nutter and Jed Mercurio among those giving some serious food for thought., and you can glean a flavour of them from Twitter where Jason Arnopp in particular has been reported some of the pull out quotes, I found John Yorke's presentation on popular series very interesting this morning and full of farmore really useful practical advice than I'd expected. If it doesn't end up detailed elsewhere or on the BBC pages, I'll write up some of my notes at some point. I've also become fixated on the idea that documentary maker Adam Curtis who spoke at the event is a young Oliver Postgate, they share the same gentle patrician toned narration voice and Curtis even has a slight look of the great man. I now desperately want to see a Curtis film in the cut up collage style of his The Power of Nightmares using only bits of old Small Films shows (The Power of Bagpuss?)

Hats off to all involved. Having given a presentation to young writers recently I can easily imagine just how much more daunting mounting two days of the things to battle-weary veterans would be.
Particularly pleased to have found myself having new drama ideas as a result of being there. Sometimes you only find out what you think when you find you're saying it aloud to someone else...