Yesterday I trundled up to London to find out what Don Allen thought of the first draft of the script he commissioned me to write:
“What a load of shit. I can’t believe I actually paid you to do this, you incompetent, incoherent, cretinous nutsack. You have no right calling yourself a writer. Who are you trying to fool? You couldn’t write my arse.”
I could write it, I just couldn’t spell it.
Those aren’t his words, by the way. That’s the sanitised version.
Actually, that’s what I was imagining he’d say as I was on the train from Eastbourne, vaguely wondering where the conductor had got to. I’d had three hours sleep, been up since 04.00 and was feeling a little jinky around the edges. I’d nearly missed the train and had only just managed to dive on before it left.
What I really needed was a good cup of tea; but I’d settle for whatever that brown sludgy shit is they serve on the train.
But no, not only was there no conductor from whom to buy a ticket, but there was no buffet trolley guy running down the aisle with his head down so he won’t accidentally make eye contact and be inconvenienced by having to make a sale.
At Victoria, I found the first official looking person I could find and tried to buy a ticket. Only to have him make sucking noises and shake his head. Apparently it’s an offence to try and buy a ticket on the train, a fact all of the conductors have failed to mention once a week for the last few months.
I argued it would be helpful if someone bothered telling the passengers.
He directed my attention to the large poster right in front of us which says:
IT IS AN OFFENCE TO BOARD A TRAIN WITHOUT A TICKET.
In nice big red letters.
I did the only thing I could. I pretended I couldn’t read.
So he looks up the penalty fare – twice the standard single fare.
“You said you came from Eastbourne, yeah?”
“No. East Croydon.”
He didn’t believe me. Twice the single fare: £12.90.
For fuck’s sake.
After a bit more swearing, I paid the fine, then attempted to buy a return ticket and a tube ticket.
“Single to Eastbourne, that’s £18.90. Plus a travelcard will be–”
“You fucking what? How can a single from Eastbourne to Victoria be six pounds less than the same ticket going the other way? A return from Eastbourne to Victoria is only 20p more. No wonder everyone in London looks so pissed off; they can’t afford to leave. Do you want a kidney as well? How about I just hack out a kidney and give it to you? Will that make you happy?”
Here’s a handy hint when you’re running a little late: don’t waste twenty minutes swearing at people who work for train companies.
Especially, don’t do it when the station is full of twitchy-fingered armed police in the aftermath of a weekend of terrorist activity.
Thoroughly pissed off and feeling a little light in the wallet, I hauled my tired arse up to Don’s office to receive his verdict on the first draft of ‘Kapital’. I was feeling an intriguing mixture of fury and trepidation. I wanted to punch someone and run and hide at the same time.
I settled myself down and let him lay his opinion on me. I don’t know why I get so uptight about this, no one has ever actually turned round and said they hate my work; I guess there’s always a first time.
But not this time. He really likes it.
So we go for dinner. I tell the tale of the armed police guy putting his knee across my throat and we all have a laugh.
The script is only a first draft, but it’s a good solid base to go on with. Funnily enough, you can actually see where I finished writing each night. Particularly on the last few nights when I was writing 30 pages a day and working from 08.00 until 0.300. For example: the last scene I wrote on one of these nights involved two of the underworld’s most fearsome criminals getting into lion costumes and prancing around.
Not sure what I was thinking, but apparently too much tea makes me go a bit funny.
So there we go, another satisfied customer – still a way to go yet, but we’re off to a good start. I’ve got a load of notes for the next draft. Most of them are to do with character development and clearing up a couple of muddy plot points; but writ large among them, in big black pen is this:
NO FUCKING LIONS.