Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Just got back from seeing my son in the school Christmas play. He was great, I know that all parents feel indulgent at this time of year, but he truly was wonderful. It's not just my obvious love and bias; the people behind me were talking about him and looked in the programme to find his name, and at the end, he was given a huge bar of chocolate by the woman who wrote the poem that he spoke.
I'm writing this here partly in the hope that at some point he might read this blog, and in turn know that my love and pride are more than just fleeting words. It's written here in indelible cyber-space for all hyper time, well done Oz you were a star.
Knowing that he might read this, it occurs to me that perhaps I should not continue with what I was about to say. Time to change track.
Or perhaps not - should we hide what we really think and feel from our family?
In a strange way the very thought of wanting to censor myself brings me full circle.
Watching him up there on stage, I know that he's got a real gift for Drama: clear expressive voice, cute smile, not to mention the freckles, but most of all he was so clearly enjoying it. I've always wanted to encourage him into theatre because I loved it, but didn't, as I didn't want to be the kind of mother who pushed a child into something that I always wanted to do. But, now he's found this by and for himself. He so wanted a part and put everything into the audition. He got such positive feedback from everyone; I know he's dead chuffed to be 'good' at it. How he memorised such a long poem in such a short space of time I don't know, but all respect to him. So if he wants to find a drama class and explore it further, then I'm right behind him.
Which is where I was going, wondering why I had such negative feedback as a child about something that I loved to do so much. The 'advice' to me, was that drama was something that I could do if I failed academically and writing was something that I could do in my spare time. Those were my biggest passions for years. But always as a Side-Show-Bob.
I've always felt that this blog should not become an emotional diatribe, but right here right now its bugging the hell out of me. I won't go into specifics; I'm sure that will only make me cringe in a few days time. But - what is it with family? Why the need to niggle, put down and criticise. I guess me getting on with the writing might present a 'certain' threat or jealousy. But the bigger picture is that in finally taking the plunge, I'm happier than I've ever been.
Writing came before the love of acting. From as early as I can rememember, the characters in the books I read were as real, if not more so, to me as any person around me, and I was always writing stories in secret little note pads. I won a competition when I was nine. I'm still quite proud of the stuff I wrote as a child, there is a certain quality to it that I see even now. So why it took me thirty six years to get to this point I really don't know. Lack of confidence I guess, a permanent feeling of never quite being good enough.
So, as this is my blog, I suppose there is the space for me to use it in a wholly indulgent way, just to pick myself up and start over again. Back on track. We always look for parental approval on some level, no matter how old we are. It's the biggest dent to receive those little chips and scratches time and time again in the same place - your internal body work errodes and corrodes. I love writing, I always have and there's no palce in my life now for external crushes to confidence.
I want my son to grow up and look at his Mum doing something that she loves, something that she's good at. I'll do the same for him, after all isn't that the biggest thing that I can do as a parent; just allow him to be who he is, not who I might like to think that he may be. I love that he loves maths and computers, because I don't 'get' them. I also love that he's finding a love for drama, it gives us a common territory. That's not any kind of threat, just a pleasure.
Oz, no matter what talents you may choose to pursue in your life, I love you.
You are a star.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Four Weddings and a Funeral

I know, it's a cheesy film (the kind I love to watch on my own with pyjamas and lots of chocolate) but it seems to be such a relevant theme to life at the moment - part of the reason why this blog has perhaps been overlooked for too long. The weddings are ok; a fine excuse for a new pair of shoes and over indulging in Champagne.
The funeral bit, well that's a different story.
Grief is a strange thing; many people have written about it, but no matter what they may say, there simply are no rules. It is, of course, far, far, worse to go through it yourself, but to stand alongside someone and try to support them through it, seems that there are even fewer rules. The hardest thing is that if the loss is not immediate, time returns some sense of normality to life so much faster. It is just too easy to bumble along with out much change and therefore, to act and feel stupidly ignorant about the sense of loss that someone right next to you returns to on a daily basis. I'm not suggesting for a moment that it is harder to support someone who is grieving than to go through it, far from it. However, as someone who reguards themselves as pretty sensitive I'm shocked to find that I seem to be permanently wearing size ten hobnail boots. More to the point I feel like a callous cow, not because I am, but because I'm not going through the grief and someone I love is.
The weddings, well, there have been four this year. What a strange irony. Perhaps there was 'something' to the film after all. Perhaps all families should double check that they don't manage to book four into any one year on the basis of a new fad superstition. Perhaps I am talking absolute rubbish.
The most recent was my brothers. I'm just back from London, and just recovered from the hangover. It was very beautiful and very much everything that I would never do myself. An even bigger irony it took place in one of the churches used in the film that this posting alludes to. The duck face one, with the punch. It was a beautiful church, very gothic cloisters; the sort that I fully expected Dumbledore to peer forth from at any moment. Not so nice was the long walk that I had to take to the lecturn for a reading. I've never had any desire to walk down an isle myself, and was acutely aware of the sound of my heels as I clattered along, even more paranoid that people might be watching my bum. Turns out that I was right about that; all of my brothers friends admitted to that once the wine started to flow. Seems their perception of me fifteen years ago as the very scary big sister was finally blown away; I'm glad about that. I never was as scary as they all thought.
The ceremony was very religious with a vicar doing all of the 'assunder' and 'troth' bit. It seemed so much more impersonal than my Mum's registry office wedding earlier this year. There was such depth and emotion to the words spoken there. Similarly, the funeral. It was a humanist ceremony and so much more moving because every word spoken was absolutely unique and personal. Words are just so bloody powerful. I have never been a devout Christian, so perhaps that is why religious language leaves me so cold. Not the songs - they are always beautiful - but the organised traditional ceremony 'script'. It just does not seem to convey anything personal to the people involved.
Back to the old words and audience theme. It does matter. The bible contains some very beautiful writing. But the interpretation of it all I just don't understand.
When asked to do a reading at my brother's wedding, I found a beautiful poem by Christina Rossetti. The vicar said no. So I read a verse from Romans as instructed. Just makes no sense to me. The Rossetti poem would have actually meant something to my brother and his new wife; rather than imploring them to 'service the lord'.
There really is so much power in words, particularly at poignant times.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Regarding Mr Happy

Given the work that we have been doing in Bill's classes about Genre and stereotyping, this seemed like an appropriate posting. Surely if nothing else as an example of a) what happens when two stereotypes collide b) one way to play with an established genre.
Sounds like I am trying to justify it, with some intellectual spin. Perhaps I am a little, in these days of political correctness can never be too sure what may or may not cause offence.
It made me laugh, and I do think it says a lot about streotyping and genre. 'A parody of the post modern aesthetic', or some such intellectual waffle, does that get me off the hook?

Mr Happy Meets The Chavs!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Radio Gah Gah (Radio Kills the Video Star.)

What a week! Have been some what out of the normal swirl of things writing and recording a radio play. What a joy and a pleasure, and yet another week of 'doing things that I've never done before'.
In homage to Breakfast at Tiffany's and being paralysed age twelve, 'doing things I've never done before' is quite a favourite past time of mine, but this week was exceptional. (Well taking part in the world Paper Plane Throwing Competion as a result of cheek and a good blag in Prague was close, but that's another story).
Have emerged from the week with a supreme sense of achievement and something verging on love for the group that I worked with. Group writing pushes you to the absolute limits but is such a rewarding experience.
Writing can be a lonely occupation, it takes me so far from my patient son and boyfriend - as I voyage off somewhere to get in touch with the random voices in my head. I do love it for that. But, I also love the process of collaboration and absolute challenge that writing with a group offers. The play we produced from five connected but disparate monologues is testemony to that.
This week has also renewed my interest in radio writing; mainly thanks to Paul, who was an amazing teacher throughout the week. I had somehow placed radio writing as 'lesser' to the God of TV, no reason I guess it (TV) just plays such a dominant role in mass culture. Paul pointed out that when the mix of story/character/music etc is 'right' then radio creates something that can be far more filmic than the screen; no need for elaborate sets or extras. You can create a 'whole theatre in the listeners mind'. How true. How I long to put a lot more time and energy into the quest for getting that 'right'.
I still want to pursue the screen writing, but after this week will put a lot more time and thought into radio writing. In many ways I think it might suit my 'style', such as it is, far better; a good arena in which to send the voices into. (All writers live with them, I'm sure, this is not an alarm call for a section!)
I don't think the memory of the writing process this week will leave me for a while. On Wednesday Bernie, Janice, Besty, Gordon and Camilla took flight and joined forces with five equally stong willed writers behind them. There were moments of such intensity and concentration behind that, not least in the library when all five of us were thinking so hard that we all became totally dehydrated. A strange image, but perhaps you had to be there..
The end result might seem far from professional in years to come, but for now I'm dead chuffed. I do think that we should record it ourselves, just to see what happens. Not that the actors were not great, they were, but I think it would be an interesting experience. Gordon's voice needs Tim's dry comedy genius behind it and it would be an honour to hand Bernie over to David's Glaswegian lilt.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

little house

little house on the prarie

Post this here as a comitment to love my bloger self.
This just makes me grin, no reason, it just does.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Feeling proud

It might not seem much, but I feel very proud to have just posted a Youtube video on here.
This time last year life was so very different.
In the past month I have pushed my technical capabilities further than I ever dreamed possible. I've started a blog, helped to make a podcast, edited an online writers website and finally mucked around with Youtube.
It's a lot, to me. but more than that, it is just all so very exciting. There's a whole world out here that feels very Alice in Wonderland and I love it.

Blank Verse

I feel slightly Bridget Jones about this blogging; as though the intention to write it everyday almost by definition keeps me away from it. Like many a New Year resolution, it fails simply because I put that expectation there. The irony is that once I remember the resolve to write it at a sensible time, like now, I really enjoy it.
The bigger irony is that in so many other, I'm writing more than ever. The self discipline that was so lacking has emerged from some where been a long haul but I've never been happier.
Finally wrote my first piece of blank verse.
After years of teaching Shakespeare and demystifying blank verse to Years 7 to 13 it was my turn. I remember bouncing up and down in the classroom and getting very excited, whilst explaining just why we 'still read some dead bloke' because 'he's a genius' and 'blank verse is great'; so when asked to write a soliloquy it kind of seemed rude not to at least try it.
Well, it was a challenge and I'm still not entirely convinced that my iambics were not occasionally trochaics, but I kind of had fun. Reading something back in blank verse creates a real sense of achievement; there is a beauty in the challenge of the form. i worry that it may come across as slightly pretentious to even try it - but what is this year if not a time to stretch everything that I know about writing to the limit. I know what motivated me and that is enough.
Whether or not it was 'good' blank verse, is open to speculation. What I do know is that there is a beautiful alchemy that takes place with words when you approach them with such precision. They take on a life and shape when placed together so carefully that has really surprised and delighted me.
Such random things words; they have so much power. Stretching a little further in to find ways to make them dance in a certain pattern is a joy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Phil Mitchell

I often wonder what I would say to Emily Bronte should I have the chance to meet her. Along with Gandi, Elvis, and Angela Carter she would be on my 'fantasy' dinner table list. I'd like to ask the obvious; what prompted Heathcliffe? I could then end those undergrad 'autobiographical reading' debates once and for all. But I do wonder what she was like as a woman and whether she felt a sense of accomplishment before she died.
Phil Mitchell would not be on my dinner list. However, I did see him in a bar the other day. I use his screen name, to avoid any legal issues and because he seemed synonymous with the character. It was a hard choice; take a photo and get my name in 'heat', or blatantly ask him for any leads about writing for East Enders.
I do want to write for Enders, there's a sense of pride that I want to gain from seeing my name roll on the credits alongside that music. For a writer it's a kind of stable income, but the real goal is to, one day, make Peggy Mitchell say 'its on the 'ouse'. Don't ask me why, I just do.
So, after a few more glasses of wine, I ditched the 'heat' idea, and went over to introduce myself. I outlined my situation and ambition, but was stunned when Phil said in his best cockney RSC voice "Do you mean it's on the House?" (with a very big H). His friends (who I'm sure were really extras from The Arches) didn't even glance up. He asked for my number and said he'd call the next day. I left my card and went back to my friends.
Funily enough, he still hasn't phoned..

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Wuthering Heights

Sitting in a house, alone with a storm raging whilst re-reading Wuthering Heights has been quite an experience.
I haven't got as far through it as I thought I would. Partly because yesterday I started and finished my first Mills and Boon. Why? Why, because they are one of the few publishing houses to edit and pay a good advance. I learnt this on a Mills and Boon course that I went on years ago (so I hope that this information still stands). I've no qualms about devising a good pseudynom and taking the money whilst focusing on 'bigger' projects of a more 'intellectual' nature.
It took two hours and one box of chocolates to finish it and left me thinking that I probably could write one, but am not quite sure if I want to. Not from any intellectual snobbery but simply because I'm sure I'd just put in too many twists and complications to fit the formula and would be a bit lost without doing so.
Think I'll read some more to make my mind up. They do last a little bit longer than "Heat".
Quite a contrast to Wuthering Heights. After reading it twelve years ago, I've always cited it as one of my favourite books. I still love it, but am amazed how much longer it takes to read than contemporary fiction. Alongside the M&B I've read half a novel too (Demo by Alison Miller). It can't just be the language, somehow it just seems to command more time from me as a reader. Is it because of greater depth of plot or narrative or of character? I don't know and the thought just won't leave me now.
Last time I read it, whilst an under grad, I got serious concussion. This time I find myself alone in the country, with only two small kittens for company and a full Cornish gale raging outside. How perfectly gothic. It does seem to somehow add to the effect though. I do still love it, someone told me the other day that they hated it and that if Cathy and Heathcliff had ever lived together 'it would never have lasted'.
I don't see it that way at all, the whole novel seems to me driven by just how screwed up and unhappy we can get if we don't take risks and chances in life. It's a testimony to never leaving a big 'what if'.
Perhaps I should write for Mills and Boon after all.