Monthly Archives: January 2010

Running at walls

Working to a deadline is a little bit like running head first at a wall with the intention of smashing through it – you’re not entirely sure it’s possible and have the sneaking suspicion it’s going to hurt.

Still, you’ve said you’d do it and there’s no stopping now, so you close your eyes and you plunge on  …. and somehow you find yourself standing on the other side wondering what happened.

It’s nice on the other side of the wall.

And for a while, there’s nothing much to do except appreciate all the clouds and flowers and bunnies you’ve ignored while you were running.

Sooner or later someone’s going to come along and tell you whether or not you ran through the wall properly, but for now it’s quite calm and lovely.

Of course, there’s always that next wall. Maybe if I start jogging now I’ll build up enough speed to break through without having to sprint in a blind panic from ten feet away? Maybe there’s a gentler way of doing this?

Nah, fuck it. I’m going to play with the bunnies until someone tells me otherwise.

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Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Writing and life | 3 Comments

Pitching the unpitchable

Do you ever look at something and think ‘how the fuck did anyone persuade anyone else that was a good idea?’

Like genital piercing, for instance. Some caveman mooching around his cave with a hammer and a nail thinks ‘I bet I can drive this through my cock’. And he does. Not only that, he somehow convinces other people to follow suit. Millions of years of evolution later and the same species who stood on the moon and watched the Earth rise are still hammering bits of metal into their balls. For fun.

Similarly, some TV shows defy explanation. Not their existence, I’m not complaining about quality, but they literally can’t be explained as a concept to anyone else.

Take ‘In The Night Garden …’ for example.

Have you seen it? If you haven’t got teeny kiddies then probably not, but I urge you to seek it out. On first viewing, you’ll wonder what the fuck is going on and why you’re watching this shit … but one day, after forced and repeated viewings, you’ll suddenly realise it’s a work of utter genius.

And completely unpitchable.

I mean, how did anyone walk into anyone else’s office and explain the show?

“Well, there’s this baby, right? And he, or sometimes she, is falling asleep while his or her parent strokes his or her hand and Derek Jacobi sings him or her a lullaby. Then there’s this boat with a puppet thing made out of blue towels who takes the sail down, only it’s not a sail, it’s a blanket and he puts a light up and goes to sleep. Then all the stars turn into flowers and bloom until the sky turns into a garden. Oh, then there’s this train thing, only it’s not a train it’s like a string of kids toys only one of them is like a flying saucer or something and another one is a detached house. And this train, right, this train thing – sometimes it’s knee high and sometimes it’s big enough to climb onboard. Oh yeah, and it can go up trees and upside down and stuff. So the blue towel thing who’s got a bell in his head or maybe his hand or maybe it’s a rattle and he falls over a lot, this blue towel thing has got a girlfriend who likes to dance and sing through a megaphone and if you pull a string on her waist then her skirt inflates and rises up so you can see her pants, only she hasn’t really got any on, and then she dances and sings. Did I mention her bed follows her around the garden? And there’s this other person/thing who’s slightly smaller than the others and likes to clean stones and blow his trumpet. Then there’s this hedge/house thing with three androgynous people in who fall over a lot and play the drums really, really badly and they’ve got this ‘no trousers’ rule in their house. Or hedge, depending on your point of view. Oh and there’s an airship which farts and changes size too. And these big pillows with eyes who float around and sigh in satisfaction. And blink. Sometimes they blink. And there’s these peg dolls. Ten of them. A daddy with a porn star moustache and a mummy with a pair of binoculars and eight kids and they all dance around their garden. Did I mention they live in a semi-detached house at the bottom of a tree? Oh, well they do. And they’ve got some next door neighbours called the Wottingers. They’re exactly the same, except they’re blue instead of red. And they all fart a little bit and play hide and seek and dance and go on picnics. Sometimes on the weird scale changing train/toy thing. Which is sentient. Did I mention the train thing is sentient? So’s the airship thing. And there’s these birds who sing a song. One of them makes a noise like a trombone.”

“I see. And do they have adventures with morals for the kids to learn?”

“No, not really. They just fuck about on the train a bit. Sometimes there’s a big ball which bounces around the garden. Did I mention it’s set in a garden? Sometimes they might get on the farting airship. Other times they don’t. That’s about it, really.”

To which, of course, the only sane reply is:

“Fuck me, that’s utter genius! Here’s enough money for a hundred episodes.”

A hundred!

One hundred.

100.

A hundred fucking episodes of randomly getting on and off an inconsistently sized toy/train thing and polishing some stones.

A hundred.

How the fuck did that happen?

I’ve thought about this long and hard and the only explanation I can come up with is drugs. Lots of drugs. Of industrial strength.

I’d love to meet whoever commissioned it and find out how mind fucked he is. And then shake his hand, because it’s fucking awesome.

Categories: Industry Musings, Random Witterings, Someone Else's Way | 13 Comments

They lie!

They say a watched kettle never boils.

They’re fucking liars.

Of course a watched kettle boils, it boils in exactly the same amount of time as an unwatched kettle. Unless they put more water in it or take the fuse out or some other such cuntery.

The problem is, watching  a kettle boiling is fucking boring. Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy the pause for breath making a cup of tea gives you – the chance to get away from the computer and wander about for a minute or two. Personally, I tend to throw a few Kung Fu shapes around the kitchen – which probably goes some way towards explaining why our neighbours think I’m a bit weird.

But what if you don’t know Kung Fu? What if you don’t want to do press ups or squat thrusts while the kettle is boiling? What if  you literally have nothing better to do than watch a kettle boil? How can you possibly cope with that level of tedium?

Well worry no longer, Breville have made kettles more interesting:

That’s right, someone, somewhere has taken the time to watch a kettle boiling and thought ‘I can fucking improve on that!’. Someone else has listened to that mental someone, agreed with their opinions on the dullness of kettles and authorised probably hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of research. Research was done, prototypes were built and focus groups were focussed in an ever increasing circle of madness until finally, finally the mood kettle has arrived.

And then some prick buys one, videos it and puts it on his blog.

Sad? Oh yes; but God damn, my kettle changes colour when it boils! I’m actually sitting in my living room right now, watching the kettle boil in the kitchen … and I’ve already got a cup of tea!

Not only does a watched kettle boil, but it does so in technicolour splendour. I don’t know how I’ve lived this long without it!

Oh wait, Mandy says I have to stop blogging about the kettle or she’s going to punch me in the plums.

Sorry.

Categories: Sad Bastard | 18 Comments

5.50 am

Did you know there was a 5.50 in the morning? I didn’t.

Or rather, I knew there used to be a 5.50 am when I was in my twenties. I’m fairly certain I used to pass it occasionally on my way to bed. I’d love to be able to say I passed it on the way to other people’s beds but sadly I didn’t really have that kind of youth. I think it’s something to do with being ginger.

Anyway, seeing as I hadn’t seen 5.50 in the morning since last millennium, I was mostly convinced the world had given it up as a bad idea and opted for just the one 5.50 – the sensible one around tea time.

Imagine my surprise therefore when I found myself standing ankle deep in snow on a train platform at that ungodly hour.

Why? For the love of Dairy Milk Crunchie, why? I hear you ask.

If you’re not asking why, don’t worry – I fucking was.

As it turns out, and for reasons which escape me at the moment, I’d agreed to go into a London school and talk about scriptwriting to a class of fourteen year old girls. Actually, a bit more than talk – I’d agreed to a talk first and then help guide them through the development of a story for a short film.

And so, for the first time since I was about 11 I found myself eating a school dinner.

It was Mexican chicken and surprisingly good. Although, I did have the shits the next day, but that might well have been the pasty I inadvertently bought at East Croydon. I certainly wouldn’t like to cast aspersions on the dinner ladies, whereas the pasty vendor was picking his nose at the time and I’ve no idea where he wiped it.

Anyway, enough of this rusty water chit-chat, the point is I stood up in front of a class full of 14 year old girls, rambled on about writing for a bit and only two of them fell asleep!

That’s something of a record, I feel.

Actually, they were superb. I spent a bit of time going through the components of a story and basic structure, but it was completely unnecessary. They just got it, they fundamentally understood how to tell a story and what made a story interesting.

A bit too interesting at some points. It took considerable effort to dissuade one girl from having all the characters murder each other with chainsaws at the end.

Not really a typical Bollywood ending, for t’was what the project was meant to be.

Which, to my mind makes it a day of four firsts:

  • first time I’ve seen 5.50 in the morning this millenium
  • first time I’ve done any kind of paid talking to more than one or two people about writing
  • first school dinner since I was 11
  • and, surely, I must be the world’s first ever ginger, Bollywood consultant.

All in all, a grand day and well worth the lack of sleep. I wonder what else goes on before midday?

Categories: Random Witterings, Things I've Learnt Recently | 1 Comment

The road to happiness

Happy New Year!

 

I know, I know – I’m a bit late; but I like to road test a year before I recommend it to anyone else. Six days in and this year feels rather splendid to me, so I feel comfortable wishing it onto others.

Happy New Year!

 

But is it? Is it really happy? Are you really happy?

As it happens, right now I”m quite ludicrously happy. So happy with my life in general that I frequently think to myself: “If this is it, if this is all there is for the rest of my life, I’d be happy.”

Obviously, I want more money, more control over my career, a better career (maybe someone else’s) a nicer house and some kind of instantaneous cup-of-tea-conjuring apparatus built into my hand*; but the basics, the general template is all lovely.

I’m with someone I love, raising someone I love, in a house I love doing a job I love – ain’t that a lot of love for one heart to hold?

The thing is, I meet a lot of people who aren’t happy.  And I’m not talking in the ‘I’ve got cancer/I’ve lost an appendage in a terrorist attack/my dog’s been face-raped by Satan’ kind of unhappiness; but rather in the ‘I’m not where I want to be’ kind of unhappiness.

It seems to me a lot of people are waiting to be happy, as if happiness is a destination you reach or a thing you can somehow acquire. It’s this ‘happy ever after’ syndrome we’re infected with from birth – as if someday you’ll get everything you ever dreamt of and then you’ll be happy forever.

What a crock of shit.

Relationships are the best example of this, the full on Cinderella ideal of meeting someone and falling into their arms as the image fades to black.

I’ll tell you why the image fades to black, because the next day, Cinders and Prince Charming have a blazing row about socks or putting the bins out or which bits of the toilet seat have to be in which position in order to constitute ‘left up’. All this is part and parcel of loving someone and as long as the good bits outweigh the bad then just keep going – living happily ever after is fucking impossible.

Unless you’re unconscious and on a morphine drip.

Writing’s another area like this – I sometimes get the impression unproduced writers feel they’d be happy if only they could get produced and dream of ‘breaking in’ (to what, exactly?). Produced writers think they’d be happy if only they got to work again, since the other side of breaking in looks suspiciously like the outside you’ve just broke in from. Writers working regularly think they’d be happy if only they could work on a project they actually liked. Writers working on a project they like think they’d be happy if only they could work with people they felt were slightly more competent than a bunch of retarded chimps on acid.

And so on.

As it happens, all of these things will make you happier, but none of them will make you happy.

Or at least not for very long.

Because happiness isn’t the destination, it’s the journey and if you’re not enjoying the journey then you need to find a different road. Doing something you hate in the short term for a long term goal is all well and good. Doing something you hate in the long term for a goal which is never going to fucking happen is stupid.

The only clever way to pursue a highly improbable goal is to be comfortable and happy while you’re doing it. That way, if you never achieve it, who cares? Life was still fun.

And let’s be very clear about this, earning a decent living as a professional scriptwriter is an extremely improbable goal. It probably isn’t going to happen for most of us who declare ourselves writers – partly because we’re not good enough, partly because we never get the lucky breaks but mostly because a large percentage of us will give up in disillusioned despair.

Which is just silly.

My point is … oh yes, for today and probably today only, I have a point!

My point is, enjoy the process.

If you’re unproduced, enjoy the thrill of the chase because I guarantee getting that first production off the ground is massively disappointing and frustrating. If you’ve had your first project produced (and ruined) then enjoy the challenge of finding someone more competent to work with.

But most of all, remember to love the writing. That’s really the key – love the thing you actually wanted to do in the first place no matter what other bullshit is happening. Even if you never, ever get any recognition whatsoever for your writing and it remains a personal thing for the rest of your life – as long as you enjoy doing it it’ll never be a waste of time.

And for the love of self-inflicted pain, make sure you’re enjoying the other bits of your life. The bits which don’t involve sitting in a darkened room peering at a series of nonsensical black marks on a white screen. Because the fastest way to be unhappy is to avoid interacting with other

You know what, mid way through that sentence I went for dinner, gave Alice a bath and put her to bed. Now I’m looking back over what I’ve written and it seems like a pretentious, pompous pile of puppy poo. Don’t take advice from me, don’t even read it. I don’t know shit.

All I know (apart from some startling facts about sparrows) is what makes me happy and what makes me happy is finding the bits of my life I enjoy and celebrating them. At the moment, the bits I enjoy far outweigh the bits I don’t; therefore I’m happy.

More importantly than that, if I continue living life the way I am then I look set to keep progressing along the road of happiness. Not to happiness, but of, because for me it’s all about the journey and I don’t see there being a fixed point after which I’ll be happy. If I wasn’t happy right now and there didn’t look like there would be a big patch of happiness coming up very soon, then I’d change direction and that’s what works for me.

As for you lot, do whatever makes you happy in whatever way makes you happy. As long as it’s not garrotting kittens or slicing off babies’ lips and selling them at car boot sales.

In other words, Happy New Year – Jesus, I wish I’d just said that in the first place.

Oh, I did.

——————————————————————————————————–

* As I typed this, Mandy brought me a cup of tea and a chocolate. You see? Dreams can come true!

This is a really confusing metaphor and I’m beginning to wish I’d never started it now. If I don’t believe in there being a point where happiness begins, how can there be a patch of it up ahead? I think I’m trying to say something like ‘you don’t reach happiness and stop, you have to keep travelling and the point is to name the road Happiness’; but since most roads are called the B2154 then that make no fucking sense. And even that’s a fucking lie since if most roads were called the B2154 we’d either find it really fucking hard to get anywhere or we’d all end up in fucking Portsmouth and nobody wants that.

You see? You see what happens when I try to be all positive and life affirming? It doesn’t fucking work, does it? Now I’m not happy, but really fucking annoyed with myself. Fuck all this lovey dovey shit, I’m going back to swearing and slagging shit off.

Categories: My Way, Random Witterings, Sad Bastard, Writing and life | 16 Comments

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