Thursday, 31 May 2007
The best thing of all, I think, is that it gives me an opportunity to indulge in the harmless fantasy that we are all taking part in a nightmarish musical in which the correct response to everything Jessie does is to burst into a screeching version of a popular song. Thus, Jessie being carried by the vet to my car this afternoon was a cue to sing a version of Westlife's'You Raise me Up' during the privacy of our ride home together. And not a day goes by without a member of the family singing a version of Gwen Guthrie's Ain't Nuthin Goin on But the Rent ('no romance without finance, you gotta have a D O G if you wanna be with me...')
Yes, I know. I half promised myself I wouldn't write anything else on here about the dog. But what can you do? I've got a dog who looks like Woody Allen disguised as the robot in Sleeper. Hysterical. It's a gift to a writer Actually, anyone who has ever cleared up after a dog can tell you that dog shit is truly the gift that goes on giving. There's only one response as your fingers close around the latest warm little parcel your pet has left for you. You're familiar with the songs of Ella Fitzgerald? Come one then, all together now, sing it with me: 'Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen...'
Saturday, 26 May 2007
The last talk they did was when Tom Morris interviewed Emma Rice about Tristan & Yseult, a Kneehigh show which was a huge success. These platforms attract a mixture of theatre students and old people. As we filed out of the auditorium afterwards, the place was buzzing - although the older people were mostly talking about the daring Tom Morris had shown by wearing a pair of shorts which revealed his very white legs.
Last night's talk was a more subdued affair. Tom Morris was fully clothed and both he and Emma Rice seemed conscious of the less than enthusiastic reviews for the show, which have provoked a bit of a theatrical spat. (You can read about the spat here on West End Whingers blog and here on David Eldridge's blog)
If you haven't seen a Kneehigh show before, it's worth going to see A Matter of Life and Death. I disagree with the line of reasoning that says that if you're unfamiliar with physical theatre then you won't 'get' Kneehigh. I'd put it the other way - that if you've seen all their work, then you begin to see some of the same tricks crop up. An old boyfriend of mine used to say to me, rather pointedly, 'familiarity breeds contempt'. I wouldn't put it nearly so harshly in this case although I must admit I have never quite recaptured that rush of joy in watching subsequent shows that I felt when I saw Tristan & Yseult.
Even so, I'm always knocked out by the inventiveness and enthusiasm of their productions. I'll be going to see whatever they do next.
Friday, 25 May 2007
Awkwardness-wise, it's probably slightly more awkward than getting a male acquaintance to feel your baby kicking in your stomach when you're pregnant, but not as bad as having the baby delivered on a bus by the driver.
But back to the smell. If you ever have to explain to someone about an elusive thing that is troubling you, that you alone have witnessed, you should watch their face carefully. You will be able to tell the exact moment when they begin to wonder about you. It's a look they get. Not suspicion, exactly. Not quite sympathy. It's more like a brief absence as they mentally retreat to audit potential dangers or threats. But since I don't open the door in my nightie looking lonely, and since they are nice people used to meeting all sorts, they generally emerge cheerily enough from this moment and we part on good terms.
For now, the house smells only of toast and marmalade mixed with the faint trace of the aftershave of the men who have been round to investigate. Last night the house was full of my daughter's friends, who came round and laughed and told stories, smoked fags, drank booze and then went away again. After they had gone, so had the smell. Perhaps, after all, it was an unquiet spirit, a llems that had been troubling us and it was their laughter that has exorcised it.
If it could speak, what would it say? Speak, lemms... Silence. Nothing. I'm going to stop blogging now and get on with my work.
Thursday, 24 May 2007
I can't help wondering, what does it portend, this llems? Why has it taken up position just outside my office, where I spend all day writing? I feel cowed by it. I feel haunted. Perhaps it isn't a portent but a poltergeist and it needs to be exorcised? But how?
The kids say don't worry, perhaps it will just go away by itself, like last time. Last time? It was here before and I never even noticed?
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
We had another development meeting last week, which encompassed various production meetings as well as discussions about the script, how the show will be staged and so on. It was exciting, challenging, useful and sometimes fraught, as these kinds of meetings always are.
At the beginning of the week, a pigeon got trapped in the chimney of one of the meeting spaces we were using. It couldn't go up or down. We (I say 'we' in the loosest sense - actually it was someone else) contacted the SSPCA who said they couldn't come and get it but that it would be dead within 48 hours. It didn't die, it clung on to life in its dark little prison. Mostly it stayed silent but at a certain time each day it would squawk and claw and flap its wings, trying to get free. Whatever you think of pigeons, you don't want to be a witness to the slow and miserable death of one that is trapped nearby.
We (that's 'we' again in a loose sense) called a chimney sweep for help. On the last day of our development week, two sweeps came and retrieved the bird. They pronounced it the biggest, fiercest pigeon they had ever seen, wrapped it in a blanket, took it downstairs and set it free. It flew up into the sky, alive and apparently unharmed. Before it flew off, it brushed against a cream-coloured wall and left a perfect sooty imprint of its chest and feathery wings - the sort of image that could have been used to prove to credulous Victorians that angels exist.
It was a real pigeon but it also seemed to provide an allegory for what is involved in a development week.
Tuesday, 22 May 2007
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
My daughter set it up, posting photos of Jessie wearing a variety of wigs. Soon Jessie was 'friends' with other pets on MySpace, including some frolicsome chiuauas, a dog whose fur had been dyed pink to match its bedroom and a budgie who appears in the guise of figures from history, including Queen Cleopatra and Mona Lisa. Lots of messages appeared on Jessie's MySpace, commenting favourably on her appearance. So far so good.
My daughter's computer slowed noticeably under the strain of downloading the animated sparkly message files left by other pet owners and her interest in the MySpace began to wane.
I stepped in, feeling guilty about the messages, the way you do when your child is small and doesn't say thank you properly at a birthday party. I began to leave messages for the other pets. It's time consuming - on MySpace there is no 'send to all' button (or none that I have found, anyway - if you know differently, pls advise). You have to craft personalised messages on every glittery page that has been set up to honour a family pet. Mostly I just wrote 'woof'. Big mistake - a deluge of messages came back.
Next thing you know, there are bulletins about such and such a dog who is sick or dying and needs your prayers. Composing a message of encouragement, you can't help thinking there is something very odd about some of these people. I mean, they spend their days posting messages on the internet that purport to come from their pets...
Fortunately I'm going to Scotland for a week to work on the play I've been writing for Benchtours, so I'll get a break from all this. It's been fun, though. So far.
Monday, 14 May 2007
Sunday, 13 May 2007
Here's a YouTube link to the Irish Rovers singing the song. The version I remember (was it Ralph McTell or someone?) was much more 'easy listening' and until I found this version about two minutes ago, I always thought there was a line in it about green alligators and long neckees (i.e. giraffes). But the Irish Rovers are quite clearly singing about long-necked geese. Shame.
Saturday, 12 May 2007
Save time by reading a conflated version of two literary classics
e.g. Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past
The conflated version begins – Last night I dreamt I ate a madeleine again.
Friday, 11 May 2007
Thursday, 10 May 2007
Thatcher, that ogre, never
Note to Tony Blair and others: When reading this, it's helpful to pronounce 'Margaret' with three syllables, to maintain the 5-7-5 integrity of the piece. Thanks.
Wednesday, 9 May 2007
Preamble = something to brace you for a walk in the country.
As in ‘Do you fancy a quick preamble before we put our wellies on – I’ve got some jolly nice lardy* cake we could have with a pot of Earl Grey?’
*made with lard, currants, sugar and bread dough. I'm not kidding about the lard; I used to make lardy cake all the time and it tastes very nice.
Monday, 7 May 2007
As in 'don't bother him now, he's snoozing.'
*See Juliet Stevenson in Truly, Madly, Deeply for the definitive performance.
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Friday, 4 May 2007
Thursday, 3 May 2007
I used to go to school in Dorchester. At the weekends, I’d cycle from my home to the Borough Gardens where my friends and I spent long hours sitting in a little hut (‘the black hut’) smoking John Player Special cigarettes, biting our nails and complaining of our addition to nicotine. That’s it, that’s all we did – there was nothing else to do. From what I knew of London, I suspected I might have a better life here.
How does a shy, unsporty, skinny white kid get from Dorchester to London? Why, with words, of course. When I saw the film 8 Mile I felt as everyone does when they see a good film - that, essentially, it was my story (except that my family didn’t live in a trailer park but in an old vicarage). I’d like to write my own version of it. It will be entitled 3.8 Mile - the distance I used to cycle between my home and Dorchester, over a very steep hill, just to sit in the black hut when I was 14.
And now Julian Fellowes has turned up in Dorchester, demonstrating that I need never have left after all, since Hollywood would eventually come to the Borough Gardens.
The cross-cultural relationship sours when the Aidensfield bobby insists on following a hunch about who's responsible for the crimes the CSI team is called on to investigate. Although, in life, we know that the simplest answer is often the correct one, it seems the CSI Miami team just cannot accept that every crime committed on their patch must be the work of a roguish but loveable local poacher.
In a rather downbeat end to the episode, Aidensfield’s finest is sent home in disgrace by CSI Miami's normally irascible Horatio.
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
Information day with Rachael Duke, Film Fund Manager at Skillset and Paul Ashton, Development Manager at BBC writersroom.
For more information or to claim your place, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Screen South office on 01303 259777.
Siren seeks sailor
at risk of drowning; hopes he
will let her save him
Sailor seeks siren
for night of fun before she
dissolves in the foam
Wild Cat Personal Ad
Tiger seeks lion:
Strong, wild, brave, free. Good hunter,
full mane. No cheetahs.
They follow the 5-7-5 syllable format of haiku but there is no reference to the season. So perhaps better described as senryu. But it doesn't matter too much. It is, after all, only a joke.
Tuesday, 1 May 2007
Usually (in theatre) ‘an old-fashioned farce’ i.e. featuring a pretty actress who is called upon to show her arse, esp. in a pair of lacy underpants
Also (of a badly organised event) ‘the whole thing's a farce’ i.e. the person responsible is an arse
One owner was friendly, one unfriendly, although I bought from neither, being on the run from the police. I had stolen petrol by siphoning it through a small straw. I threw the straw away but the distinctively sweet, artificial smell of the petrol on my hands - like washing up liquid - threatened to give me away. I drove into the car park of the unfriendly tea shop, where I did a reckless three-point turn and parked unnoticed among lawless teenagers.
I offered advice to the unfriendly tea shop owner – that she should bake her cakes on the premises to increase custom. She had the facilities to cook onsite but refused to do so. I don’t know whether it was my advice that made her unfriendly, or whether she had seen me do the reckless three-point turn.
OK, it's not The Sopranos. But do dreams have meanings? If so, what could this one mean?