Sunday, March 18, 2007


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Thursday, January 04, 2007

NY Resolutions?

NY Resolutions?

I think I jinxed myself in my last entry. I said I’d be quite happy to sit in with my snivelling boyfriend and watch videos. Well I did stay in, but it was a little more traumatic then I’d expected. I was blissfully unaware of Luke’s deteriorating condition as I made champagne toasts with my neighbours and parents, early in the evening of NYE. I left at seven-thirty, thinking that Luke would probably tell me off for being late.

But when I arrived at his house, I got a bit of a shock: there was Luke, huddled on the sofa in a big duvet, shivering all over and sweating like a marathon runner. He could barely talk, blood was coming out of his nose where he’d been blowing it so much and the veins on his temples pumped wildly whenever I touched his head. I was seriously worried, I’d never seen Luke ill before. It was obvious he had a fever, but I didn’t know what to do – I’d make a terrible nurse.

So I phoned the NHS emergency hotline, and spoke to a nurse who asked what his symptoms were. She was very calm and efficient, talking me through all the things I could do to lower his temperature. Luke wasn’t being cooperative; I kept saying ‘but the nurse said…’ which seemed to work eventually. I put frozen peas on his head, wrapped wet cloths around his hands, made him eat ice cream and replaced his duvet with a thin sheet. It was amazing how quickly his temperature dropped – I felt quite proud of myself, until Luke puked up the ice cream.

Aside from that the nurse arranged an appointment for Luke at the local hospital. This was at ten-thirty, and although his condition seemed to have stabilised, we still thought we’d better get him checked over. So we spent about an hour waiting to see the doctor for an appointment that lasted no more than five minutes. I got the impression that the doctor had seen more than enough flu sufferers for one day, but he suggested a few good tips to alleviate Luke’s condition.

We were both exhausted by the time we got back, and Luke was ready to sleep off his ailment. So, as he drifted off into a troubled, turbulent slumber, I watched the NY fireworks from the living room window, and then went to sleep. At least I didn’t see the New Year in with a fatal headache! I felt fresh and ready to face a NY’s day with extended family – I was even able to partake in in-depth conversations about my course and drink bubbly at lunch (simultaneously.)

And now, four days in, I’m ready to disclose my resolutions:

1) Get hold of some money to have fun without worrying about the holes in my pockets and to pay for the rest of my course.
2) Make some money from my writing, even if it’s just a few tiny-weenie words. Or, preferably, enough to pay my course fees.
3) Go on holiday. There are still another two months worth of winter left – I need some sunshine. Now.
4) Stop eating chocolate. I weighed myself at the gym today – I’ve put on a few pounds (OK, maybe five) in just three weeks. How is that possible? I went walking nearly every day at home!
5) Promote myself – it’s time I employed a ruthless advertising strategy to create some serious self –branding. I’ve already begun constructing my business cards, which include a black & white photo of moi on the back! Well, they say that people remember images more than words, so I might as well test this notion.
6) Get up earlier. I have to admit that I slipped into my old ways over Xmas, lying in till ten or eleven most days. Eekk! If it’s any consolation, I did feel very guilty for doing so. I am slowly getting back into my routine though. Ten-to-nine yesterday, half-past-eight today. I’ll be ready for seven-thirty by Monday!
7) Look after my body. By this I mean, the usual health treats and tortures needed to ensure good posture and complexion. Working out, eating like a Chinese woman and nourishing my skin.

I’m sure there are many more, but these are the most important. Life’s too short to write lists longer than seven items any way.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

I Hate NY

It’s 3.00pm on New Year’s Eve, and guess what? I still don’t know what I’m doing to celebrate, or if I even want to. This happens every year for me. New Year’s Eve = Indecisive rubbish. I can’t remember the last time I had a spectacular time on NY’s eve, or if I ever have. There’s so much pressure pending on going out and getting so drunk that you end up in bed for the first week of an expectant new year, and it doesn’t seem worth the bother.

I’m not going to do that tonight. I’m getting over a nasty cold, my friends are dispersed in too many different directions that it would be impossible to chose one specific party to attend and the miserable weather is one more good reason to stay in. The anticipation to NY countdown just doesn’t cut it for me; I’d rather be at home watching a good film with a take away. Which is exactly what I might do, with my flu-riddled boyfriend snivelling and coughing next to me. Great.

Another reason I don’t dig NY is that I’ve got a lot of catching up to do work-wise. I’m heading back down south on Tuesday, and desperately need to tie up loose ends and pack. I have to get my business cards printed, (I’m still waiting for Luke to come up with a caricature of me to put on the cards that does justice to my features without making me look fat or demented. I know it’s only a sketch, but it wouldn’t hurt Luke to accentuate a few of my features to make me look more beautiful. If he doesn’t produce something I’m happy with, I’ve got some arty photos to use…

But I hope I can use one of his pictures because he’s got great talent and having Luke’s work on my cards will give both of us a bit of harmless self-publicity. If I ever get round to writing a children’s story, I’ll definitely ask him to provide the illustrations.

Back to NY - the sooner it’s over the better, and then I can get my head and hands back where they should be: in a book or on my laptop. I’ve tried so hard to keep up with my ‘to do’ list over Xmas, but the time has galloped past and chucked me at the starting line again. I’ve read a few books, composed letters, written a 3000-word story, but that’s the extent of it.

I was going to send off my work experience letters before Xmas, but realised there wasn’t a stapler at the house to staple my CV’s together. Then, before I knew it, Xmas had descended and if I’d have sent them off, they’d probably be lying on office floors ready to be chucked away with the rest of the Xmas junk mail. So, I’ll send them on Tuesday and keep my fingers crossed. I’ve written to ten companies, and I’m hoping that I’ll at least get one positive response.

I’ve just finished reading Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat! Which is a one-stop-shop scriptwriting machine. Snyder is one of Hollywood’s most prolific scriptwriters, he’s had over a dozen movies put into production and earned millions of dollars from it. I met him at a seminar in Penzance, where he single-handedly taught us the best way to pitch, structure, write and re-write a script. It all seemed to make perfect sense, and reading the book helped to reiterate everything he went over in the seminar.

Armed with my new found story structure tools, I’m ready to start writing my own script. If I stick to Snyder’s ‘beat sheet’, and Robert McKee’s slightly more complex formulas, it should be fairly simple. I’m already applying these principles to all types of story I write; these principles are nothing new – just new approaches to the time-old tradition of storytelling.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Phishmas

I've officially had enough of Christmas now.
I had a fabulous Christmas eve, preparing the house for visitors, and decorating every available surface with some form of foliage or other. Then I went for a brisk walk in the woods with dad and Lilli. Mum had also gone out to pick up some mistletoe from our neighbour's house and the house was empty for at least an hour.

What we didn't know whilst we we walking was that mum stayed at Annie's for a Christmas tipple (or two), and had left the Rayburn on at full tilt, getting hotter and hotter.

Our friend Richard (one of the dinner guests we were expecting shortly after our return) turned up a little early, and by chance, mum had left the door unlocked. So Richard came in to find the chimney glowing red and smoke emerging from the Rayburn. We arrived back a few minutes later and if it wasn't for Richard's quick reactions and old school fire handling skills, Christmas could have been a bit crispy.

When mum appeared, she tried to make light of the situation by making a joke about Santa getting stuck down the chimney - how very convenient.

After such a startling incident, wine was much needed and the nibbles were quickly assembled. Mum then served up a fantastic fish pie with salad leaves from the garden. After our guests had gone we retired to the sitting room, in front of a roaring fire, and watched the pick of the slush-pile of Christmas TV.

Christmas day was split into two, the first half spent at home, and the second spent at Luke's house. There couldn't have been more of a contrast - but in a wholly pleasant way.
I had a lie-in til ten-thirty, then helped prepare vegetables and canapes of smoked salmon on cheesy muffins. Dad collected grandma and they arrived back at twelve-thirty. We opened presents, ate too much, then grandma fell asleep in front of the fire.

We snuck out for a walk by the canal, came back to Christmas pud and custard. That was the extent of it - apart from a few arguments between mum and dad over the lunching processions. I left the house at five and got to Luke's just as his family had turned their living room into a wrapping paper mountain. There were ten people in that room, but the mess suggested many more had been and gone. But no. Just them.

I opened presents from Luke and his parents, and helped myself to a large glass of bubbly. Luke's family are loud, raucous and completely barmy. But I love it, because they're such a contrast to my family, who are a bit up-tight and quiet. I watched with a smile as the younger kids squabbled over games, wine spilt over the carpet and each Xmas soap special was played back-to-back.

Later, more of the family arrived and more presents were opened. A toast was raised to Luke's auntie, who died five month's ago, and I watched as tears were held back. This family has been through so many twists of fate, horrific divorces and premature deaths - it is no wonder they stick together like they do. Nothing is kept secret, nothing is left unresolved. They are by no means the perfect combination, but I admire their honesty and sense of togetherness.

I found myself attempting to complete the most impossible puzzle with Luke's little brother Jake, after a few more glasses of wine. Not only was it black and white, it was one of those illusion patterns. The ones that you're supposed to stare at until you see something within the original picture. We got all the pieces around the edges, but then gave up, the middle bit was just too much to handle.

I was coaxed into going out on Boxing Day, much to my dismay. I've had enough of drinking, I can feel it taking it's toll on my skin and my over-all fitness already. But Luke says it's tradition, so I go with it. We started drinking at four and then walked to Wetherspoons and met my sister and a few other friends. The mood was still quite festive, but I just wasn't getting into it. Luke and I had five-bean chilli, which sobered me up and I had to start drinking doubles to compensate. We were supposed to be meeting up with Luke's family, but we didn't know where they were and decided to check just about every pub on the high street in search of them.

We had a drink in every pub we checked, but to no avail. It was too late to go back and find our other friends, so we settled in Galleries. I felt a bit secluded, because Luke knows just about every person in Bridgwater and I haven't got many friends here now. But we had a bit of a dance and then went home and ate some dirty, dripping with buttery badness garlic bread.

To me, Christmas is over after Boxing Day, which is today. So I'm all ready to get myself geared up with my writing again. Having had nearly two weeks off, it's time to get my creative juices flowing. I'm going to work on my two homework assignments asap, then tackle the dissertation form and prof. studies portfolio as soon as I get back to Falmouth on the second of Jan.

I've printed out ten letters to send to various TV production companies about work experience, but I don't want to send them too soon after Christmas, in case they get put in the bin with a mountain of Xmas junk mail.

My business card design will be ready before the end of the week, I very lucky to know a friend who is also an employee of a printing company and he's going to give me expert advice and a cut rate! Even if they're not produced before I go back, I'm sure Rob can send them on to me. Still not sure whether to go for something simple and corporate, or quirky with a photo or caricature of me on it. Either way, it'll be an investment, I wee bit of self-branding and publicity...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Decisions, Decisions

Having just rushed to finish an article for Bloc, I’ve come to realise how much I enjoy writing features, and may consider changing my option for next term. I arranged an interview with a writer friend of my parents, Brigid McConville on Tuesday. I’ve known Brigid all my life, but I had no idea that she’d achieved so much as a writer and filmmaker.

Equip with my new Dictaphone and digital camera, I spent an hour with Brigid discussing her unconventional career from a travel writer in London to a journalist in treacherous, war torn Somalia and Afghanistan, all in pursuit of the most intriguing stories. Her bloody-mindedness is an inspiration; her over-arching goal is to give a voice to marginalised women through her writing and films.

What I admire about Brigid is her willingness to cross any terrain – literally and metaphorically to source her stories. I was astounded to find out that she had narrowly missed being shot several times in Africa and Afghanistan. A few years ago she went to Afghanistan to interview a Taliban governor. She was the first woman he’d ever spoken to and apparently he was extremely hostile and uncooperative.

She wasn’t even allowed to write anything down, but she took the risk. Not only has she risked her life for the sake of outstanding journalism that has won her prizes, she has written over a dozen books, brought up three children and been a freelance features writer for many of the nationals and women’s magazines.

For a writer with no formal training, she has risen to a comfortable level of recognition and she’s gained a sufficient list of regular slots with the Radio Times, Woman magazine and most recently, Mslexia magazine. I really appreciated her honest view of the media machine and hope I have relayed as much as I could of her advice in my article. Although it was hard to include everything within a 1,500 word limit, the third draft is looking well balanced and I hope that anyone who reads it will find it insightful.

It was my birthday yesterday, and so I am twenty-four and I care less and less for birthdays, as I get older. The day was fairly uneventful, Luke made me breakfast in bed, I had a late lunch with dad and Lilli, and then donned my heels for a night out in Bridgwater. On the way out of Wetherspoons, I hit upon an idea for a good story opener.

As we walked down the street, a section of the pavement was littered with glass and splinters of wood. A few lads were talking to two policemen, looking up at the broken window. The object of the angry incident had landed in the boot of a swish new car – shattering the back windshield. Who ever threw that fire extinguisher must have thrown it minutes before we walked past. It had been a large bay window and a huge extinguisher, it could have been a very dangerous situation – had we arrived there a minute or two earlier.

The reason I thought this situation would be a good story opener is because there is so much intrigue behind it. Who threw the extinguisher and why? What if someone was on the street as the window shattered? What caused the instigator to react so violently?

So on to the Labour Club – a comedy venue, full of excitable teenagers and old school rockers. The Labour Club has become our new hot spot. It’s not the most fashionable retreat, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in character and music. When we went there last week, they’d laid on a free buffet of sausage rolls, cheesy baps and crisps. How convenient, considering I hadn’t had any dinner.

A friend’s brother was DJing – one of his first ever appearances. He would have been half decent, if he wasn’t so drunk. Nerves. It was very amusing to watch him struggling with all the knobs on the mixing desks and haplessly trying to line up the tracks. I think he’s got potential, but desperately needs to acquire some organization skills. I caught up with a whole host of old friends and had a dance – on the table, which was probably not such a good idea. But hey, when else could I get away with it, other than on my birthday?

So it’s three days till Christmas and I’ve still got shopping to do, but I can’t handle it. I went into Sainsbury’s today and I swear people were fighting over the carrots. I’ve never seen it so busy in there before and I started to hyperventilate at the thought of struggling through the isles. Not only was I disgustingly hung-over but I’d forgotten my shopping list.

I’ve decided to make truffles as presents, but I couldn’t find any mini bottles of spirits and wasn’t sure how much chocolate to buy. I think I’ll go back just before closing time – you can usually guarantee it'll be like a ghost town then.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lost Words

I went back to the canal yesterday, to write down the words and phrases carved into the wooden beams supporting the space between the footpath and an ancient building over the other side of the water. I have yet to research the history of the carvings, but I’d like to analyse what they mean and maybe create a story from them. They read as follows (each line represents the carving on each seperate beam):

Sinew and Bone
Jolt of the pick
Clack of the Hammer
Iron on Stone
Red Quantock
We came and went
Our legacy
A Boat
Coming Clean
Through the Hill

I sometimes find it hard to believe that Bridgwater was a highly prosperous port town, with a brick making industry that was hard to rival. It has all but lost those affluent connotations, but I would not want to forget the heritage of my home town. The river Parrot is now nothing more than a mud bath for abandoned supermarket trolleys. But I have seen photographs of magnificent boats entering the town’s high and clean waters, and the contrast is striking.

I’d like to think that the carvings on the beams above the canal are there to honour the men who worked so hard to make the town industrious. It tells of their toil and the pride they bestowed on their work. I think ‘sinew and bone’ is a reference to the close relationship they have with the earth they were extracting. I have a feeling that ‘Red Quantock’ is the name given to the stone - this would fit perfectly with the colour of the stone walls the beams are supporting. Quantock Red is abundant in Bridgwater, most of the houses built in the same period are all a very distinguishable burnt red colour.

The last three phrases really confuse me. Obviously, there were boats on the canal, but I can’t figure out the significance here. Unless the men are digging the canal, ready for boats to use. The only reason I could give for the use of ‘through the hill’ is another reference to the Quantock Hills.

The form is poetic and I am intrigued to find out the true meaning of the words. Why they are placed where they are? Who wrote them?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Christmas Cheer (Too Much, Too Soon)

We are only nine days into December and I think I've already had a bit too much Christmas cheer.

Thursday was our last official day of lectures and what a great day it was to round off such an industrious first term. In Bill's class we sat around in a huge circle and were each given a compilation of our homework, all 26 pieces with the theme of 'Metamorphosis'. We then had to read each one in turn and then comment on the others. None of the entries had a by-line, so we had to see if we could guess the author.

I've only read work by about half of the class, so it was harder than I thought it would be. Some people had changed their style to deliberately dupe us and others wrote in an entirely different genre than normal. There were a few that gave the game away by making the authorial voice strong enough to recognise and others ended up having to read their own work - which led to shifty body language and detections of awkwardness. But on the whole, the exercise was a great way for us to critique each others writing skills and to emphasise the overall consistent standard of the work.

At the end of the session we did a vote for our favourite three stories and then the authors were revealed. Hearing my work read by someone else and then critiqued by others was a bit unnerving. But it was certainly constructive - I noticed the mistakes in my story straight away, just from the way it was read out. There were a few 'stand out' stories which genuinely moved me, and I seriously think the collection is publishing material. And considering that the standard is already high - just two months into the course, I think we should try to publish some kind of anthology before we graduate.

So after all that suspense, and anticipation we dispersed after watching a short film with Richard E. Grant satirizing Kafka - just for some light relief. I got back into town at quarter to four - our Xmas dinner at Five Degrees West was booked for four. So I had only a smidgen time to buy a dress to wear, do my makeup and get myself cross the other end of town in my daintiest heels with gale force winds against me. Needless to say I was pretty late. Everyone was there already and I must have looked quite amusing with my wind-swept hair knotted around my head and rosy nose and cheeks burning in the warm atmosphere.

The wine flowed and the food swiftly disappeared - trust us students to make the most of our tenner! I think I saw Joe intercept a waitress when she tried to take away the ripe cheese selection - waste not want not. Maybe not the best thing to take home from a party, but if it's destined for the bin...

We took up our section of the restaurant till closing time, everyone extremely merry (one or two almost legless). The die-hards amongst the group honed towards Toast and then Club International (rumour has it that Steve McFadden aka Phil Mitchell owns the joint, which speaks volumes). Thursdays at Club are pound-a-drink student nights - which automatically spells out trouble. By this point I knew I'd crossed by limit and concentrated on dancing off my drunkenness. We danced madly to a selection of nineties dance tunes, Christmas oldies and modern cheese. Someone gave me a red bauble and I seem to remember passing it round to everyone, why it caused amusement: I could not tell you now.

We were drunk as skunks and I think we made quite a scene with our raucous behaviour, you've got to remember that Club tends to be chav central - so we probably looked quite out of place in our glam party get-ups. I have to say Liam is such a wild card - his dancing demands attention, he's got so much energy and disco pizazz. The night was over before we knew it, out on the street - an after party suggested at Duncan and Ryan's house. But the majority were in need of a Bayside kebab - (a place that's got a bad rep. for leaving the street in such a greasy mess on the weekends that they had to implement a 'no take away' ruling). It was fit-to-burst inside, and I couldn't be bothered to wait around for a bag of chip that would take me all week to work off at the gym.

I walked home with Liam and Ben who were going to get a taxi from the Moor, then staggered across the road - desperate to take my heels off. It was sad to say goodbye to my new friends, it's astounding how well we get on - and in such a short space of time. I'm off home on Tuesday, back to my old set of friends for yet more Christmas and birthday celebrations.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Editing Exam

Today we had an editing exam, which consisted of two quite daunting tasks. One was a 'top' edit, where we had to read a text and then rearrange it, according to our own personal logic, and to make the text more comprehensive. I would have quite enjoyed this one, except for I didn't have a watch on, so was completely oblivious to the fading time. Needless to say - I struggled to hand it in as a complete edit. I spent too much time planning a mock-up on paper and then when someone said there was only ten minutes left - I had to hastily copy everything and more onto the test paper.

I think with fifty or sixty minutes, this test would have been ideal. But forty minutes went by quicker than a blink of an eye. In terms of what I actually got done in the time frame - I think I grasped the basic errors in the original text and my dodgy drawing of guitars and their accessories will certainly amuse Christina and Susannah: endlessly. I used to be so good at art - where did it all go wrong? It was the pressure - that's what I'll keep telling myself!

The second test was a four page biography of Charles Dickens. It was poorly written, poorly punctuated, and the grammar was all over the place. This text came with a style guide of three pages and again, a forty minute deadline. Now - I like to read slowly, I have to read slowly to take things in properly. But I couldn't decide whether to take the text slowly and edit it as I went, or to read the style guide first - so I knew what to look out for as I read the text.

I ended up doing a really close edit on the first two pages, and then a semi-close edit on the third. I didn't even realise there was a fourth page until five minutes to the end. Susannah said she'd prefer us to do a detailed study of a fewer number of pages than doing all of them to hastily. I did get to tackle it, but not as closely as I'd have liked. I think the second test was more subjective than the first - so it's harder for me to gauge how I did with it. I think I picked up on a lot of the typos and grammatical errors, but I didn't really have time to sift through the structural details.

Enough of the critical analysis all ready!
Lets talk about something fun. Only one more lecture left before the old Xmas celebrations begin. We have Bill from nine til two then on to Five Degrees West for a good old fashioned Xmas knees up. From what I can gather, there is going to be a superb turn out (of staff and students). Must pace myself though, I've got parties lined up for the next three days - don't want to burn myself out at the first hurdle.

I've got my Cornish work placement sorted out, so I can look forward to a few days off over Xmas, and maybe I'll have time for some light reading. Maybe a spot of Blake Snyder or Robert McKee? It's not going to be a holiday , but at least I get to curl up with my cats and boyfriend and don't have to sit in a room without windows all day. (No offence to Tremough's designers... but really - space as a motto? (I laugh in the face of adversity!)

Don't know how I'll get all my books and clothes home with me, I haven't been back for longer than a few days at a time. Three weeks at home requires a lot of baggage, and I am a girl. Never mind, as long as I don't pick up to much on the other side, I'll be OK. But it's my birthday on the twenty-first, so I'm bound to accumulate more...

Bill's session tomorrow should be interesting and highly entertaining for all. We weren't allowed to put our names on our homework this week, so I'm presuming it's going to be guess the author time. I can pick out a few peoples style without seeing their by-line, but I have not read work by everyone on the course. It will be intriguing to see if anyone has deliberately tried to hide their style in order to confuse us.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Still Stuck

I am still oblivious to exactly what is wrong with my computer. I've searched all day for "Keygen" shortcuts on the internet, but it's all alien to me. I don't know how much more time to waste on it. I've got deadlines to consider - but how can I got on with them if I can't open Word?
I bet there's a really simple remedy, but I'm too scared to apply anything - just in case I twist myself and my computer into even bigger knots.

I've been using Google Docs the past two days, seemed like a good idea. It simulates word documents online, all you have to do is set up an account. I've got four files so far, I don't know if I fully trust it, but I'll put copies on my memory stick for backup. The greatest benefit I can fathom from it, is that you can access these documents anywhere.

So, if I don't get myself out of this Microsoft deadlock sharpish, at least I've got somewhere to write for now.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I Hate Computers!

I am officially at war with technology, more specifically with Microsoft. Yesterday I thought I'd be a bit clever and install a Microsoft Office update onto my iBook. But of course, it couldn't be that simple. The installation went very smoothly, but when I went to open Word as normal, it wouldn't let me until I'd completed a 'CD Key' code. What the hell is a key code? Apparently it's a code on your original Microsoft software CD.

But, unfortunately for me, I never had the original. I copied it from a friend who I have not been in contact with in four years and no longer have her number. Shit! Even if I did manage to contact her (which I am trying to do), hers was a copy too and I doubt she'll be able to get in contact with whom ever she got it from. Now, I'm in a bit of a pickle - I'm a MA Professional Writing student, and I can't open Word on my computer. Luckily, I've got a copy of most of my work on a memory stick, but how am I supposed to write my assignments and all my coursework, due in in January?

I don't know, my brain does not compute with computers. I spent all last night, desperately opening and closing every document, utility, and every combination for the code. But it's not going to happen. It just isn't. But then I thought, what if those lovely people in the IT centre can help me? Well, they couldn't. It wasn't as if I got my hopes up or anything, but I thought they'd at least give me some advice. No.

Apparently - the code is a new security precaution. Too many people have been copying Microsoft for free, and now they expect existing customers to conveniently put their key in and away they go. I am a fraudster, and my blissful ignorance has backfired spectacularly. I may even have to reinstall OS X again, from scratch. The only writing I can do on my computer is this blog, I may be able to open a rusty copy of Apple Works, but it'll be pretty basic.

I hate computers and I hate myself for not taking any attention during IT lessons at school. I hate being a techno-phobe, but it's probably too late to reinvigorate any kind of loving relationship. Ever.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Editing my words away

I had my first subbing session today - which consisted of picking a short article apart and then making a 200 word document into 50 words. The first piece was a bit of a mess - over complicated sentences, ridiculous repetition and redundant adjectives. Of course, I didn't pick up all this at first read. But, with a little push in the right direction from Angela, it soon became clear.

I could pick up the basic grammatical errors, but there were some spellings mistakes and more fundamental errors (specific to the context) that I didn't find. Having said that, we only had ten minutes to do the exercise and I'm not the fastest of readers. I got a lot out of the exercise, but I still think I'm going to struggle with the editing exam next week. It's the subjectiveness of the process, what's to say one word should be given precedence above another? Authors often don't even bother to acknowledge their editors comments and carry on regardless. I'd imagine it's a hard job, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes to pick up on mistakes without questioning yourself.

The other brief was for an advert for a glassblowing shop in Islington. We had to decide what to chop in order to minimise the word count - without affecting the continuity of the piece. This was very difficult. In the time that we had, we struggled to find the tone without compromising. But Angela hinted to us where the words could be cut, and we finished at 49 words.

I don't think I'd get on as an editor, I'm too indecisive. It would probably hurt my brain, debating what to change, what to keep and what the hell the author was thinking using all those bloody useless adjectives...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Speak Easy

On Friday night I was transported back to the 20's in the style of a flapper, fully equipped with fur shawl and feathered tiara. The Speakeasy was in aid of Stranger's second birthday, and it was certainly celebrated in style. Buses were laid on for us from Falmouth and we arrived to a free cocktail and some funky tunes. Everyone had made a superb effort with their costumes, there were only a handful of people who didn't dress up to the tilt.

Aside from having to wait half an hour for drinks in the downstairs bar, the night kicked off to a roaring start. We played Roulette at long tables with low lights. I didn't really know what I was doing, but it was fun to make spontaneous, outlandish bets. Needless to say I lost everything, but another drink soon made me forget. Luke lost badly to some local punks at Poole, he looked the part though, suited and booted with his trilby and waist coat.

The bands played at full throttle, fulfilling the ambiance with good humour. The last band, Hard Kandy rocked the house. My only complaint being that they finished to soon, without an encore. There was a little more music from the Jelly Jazz DJ's, but as soon as the lights went up, we where being ushered out the doors.

Much to our dismay, we were missing a few items. My phone which was in Luke's jacket pocket had been mislaid. We hunted everywhere for it, and very nearly missed the bus. It put a dampener on the evening, I gave Luke a lot of undue aggravation, certain it was his fault. But it wasn't really any ones fault, and material possessions don't mean anything anyway. Or do they? The only thing I was worried about was losing all my numbers. Numbers of people I may not speak to very often, but need that contact, just in case. Must do the sensible thing and write them all down on paper or put them on my hard drive - if I get them back that is. If not, I'll have to start afresh, even though I can't afford to buy a new phone.

We're supposed to be picking up the jacket, (hopefully with phone still in pocket) from The Chain Locker in an hour. I spoke to the manager of the Green Room yesterday and he said he'd drop it into Falmouth today, as he was coming here anyway. What a nice man - I just hope he remembers or maybe it was a blag? It sounded a bit too good to be true.

I'm peeved that our misfortune interrupted our big night out, just as things were hotting up, but I really shouldn't think about it too much. I will try to look back at the glitz and the sophistication; where else could such a good ol' time be had by all, other than at an old fashioned speakeasy? Guys and Dolls rule, chavs and hippies drool!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Finally Making the Grade

To my great delight, I'm finally getting the grades I want in Critical Practice. I have to admit I found the formula Derrek gave us at the beginning of the course quite challenging. But now that we've progressed to a basic story formula, I seem to have found my feet. I think I got too bogged down in research that I couldn't see the wood for the trees. I am more of a fiction-head, so I am beginning to thrive on the new story formatting.

It's amazing how everything seems to revolve around conflict and resolve. And three is the magic number. Three scenes, three acts, three conflicts. Four is too many, one or two aren't quite enough. It's the same in film, Blake Snyder (Hollywood Script Writer) also says that all films follow a three act rule and every scene includes a micro conflict and a micro resolve.

So I'm finally on a B+ and I'm ready to make the next grade. Here is my assignment from last week. Make up your own mind as to if it follows the conventions of a classic narrative. I think it's engaging, entertaining and has a degree of dramatic irony to boot. See what you think:

Death By Banana

ONCE UPON A TIME: in Bognor Regis.
There lived a: young girl called Maeve.
WHO: Desperately wanted her older sister’s teddy bear. He wasn’t just any teddy bear; Alfie was a three ft. mountain bear, with silky black fur and beady black eyes. Maeve’s father had won the bear for her older sister Dora at the fun fair. Alfie was the same height as Maeve and when she hugged him, she got lost in his arms.

BUT: Dora thought she loved Alfie more than Maeve. Dora was cruel and callous, if she saw Maeve so much as looking at Alfie, she would administer a Chinese burn or a pinch as punishment. Once she said, “If I catch you hugging Alfie again, I will pull all your hair out. Daddy won Alfie for me. Which obviously means he loves me more than you.” This hurt Maeve’s feelings, but she made sure to avoid Dora’s evil gaze.

So it happened: One day, Dora did a really terrible thing. It was something so terrible she couldn’t tell her mum or dad. So she had to find a way to pin the blame on Maeve. Dora said, “Maeve, I’ve decided you can have Alfie.” Maeve’s eyes widened, and she did an epileptic dance around the bedroom. Dora looked on, disapprovingly and said, “Hey – don’t get too excited, you can’t have him for nothing. Come here and listen to me. I need you to admit to doing something bad.”

Maeve moved closer to her sister and said, “But I can’t lie, especially if I don’t know what it is!” Dora replied, “Look, you want Alfie, don’t you? If you want him bad enough, you’ll do this. I promise it isn’t horrid.” Maeve furrowed her brow in distrust, and said, “OK, but you have to give Alfie to me right now.” Dora snatched Alfie and shouted, “No. No. No. You must go and speak to mum first.”

BUT meanwhile: Unbeknownst to the girls, their mother Alice had discovered the reason for Dora’s wicked plot. Goldy the goldfish was dead, floating gormlessly at the top of the tank. Next to the fish tank she noticed a displaced banana skin. “That stupid girl, I saw her eating a banana earlier, looming around the tank – teasing that poor fish. Better go and give her a talking to,” Alice said to herself. She put down her cup and walked out of the kitchen.

SO unbeknownst to: Alice, Maeve was still weighing up the stakes. She finally decided that she was willing to take the blame for her sister’s carelessness, the temptation of owning Alfie proved too strong to resist.

UNTIL the time came: Dora was ready to confess her secret. “I accidentally killed Goldy. It happened earlier, when mum was busy in the kitchen. I was eating a banana, and Goldy looked so hungry. So I dropped a piece of banana into the tank for him to eat. He looked like he was enjoying it, so I went off to play. But when I checked him a bit later, he was floating at the top of the water. I killed him Maeve, but you’ve got to say it was you,” whispered Dora.

Maeve’s mouth widened and she wished she could take her promise back. She gulped and said, “Dora, that’s terrible. But I’ll still do it for Alfie.” The girls shook hands; a wry smile crept across Dora’s mouth.

WHEN suddenly: Their mum stormed in, catching the girls mid handshake. She said, “What are you doing girls? Don’t tell me you’re swearing to keep what happened to Goldy a secret? Well – there’s no point, I already know it was Dora. I saw you eating that banana earlier.”

SO it turned out: Dora confessed her misdemeanour to Alice, and begrudgingly said sorry to Maeve.

AND forever after: The situation was resolved; Alice bought a new fish called Ruby, and they were only allowed to feed it fish food. She said, “Alfie is the root of all this trouble between you two, so you must share him, or else I’ll give him to someone who really deserves him.”

Funny eh?
And don't tell anyone, but... I was that naughty older sister! However, the fight over the teddy bear was another matter, a more serious matter that happened a few years later.
My sister and I were both bridesmaids at a wedding for some friends of my parents. As a present for being such adorable little angels, we received a teddy bear each, kitted out in the same dresses to match our own from the wedding. We were stoked. We treasured those teddy bears and when one got lost, things turned nasty. Really nasty.

I can vividly remember running about in a rough and tumble way, desperately trying to claim the remaining teddy. Now, my sister is two years younger than me, but she was a mean little kid, she really gave as good as she got. One minute I'd have the teddy and then run as fast as I could into the garden, Lilli hot on my tail. Then there was hair pulling and kicking and screaming. You may ask: 'but where were your parents whilst this battle was commencing?' Well, they knew we were fighting but chose not to get involved, they wanted us to solve our own differences. Obviously, they thought it was too petty a subject to get irate about.

But we had to stop at some point, and I think it could have turned into an epic year-long battle if it was left up to our stubbornness to dictate. But when my parents saw us flagging, I think they confiscated the object of our affection. We probably cried for an hour and then cut our loses. We had lots of fights when we were young, but I'm glad to say it doesn't happen so often now, well, not the hair pulling kinds of frays anyway.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Attack of the Killer Headache

Managed to get up at nine today, but my head was lagging behind desperately. I dithered around for a bit, then got myself down to the Maritime museum for a workshop on writing for TV. It would have been brilliant if I wasn’t so fuzzy-headed. Lesley Stewart was eccentric and engaging, Dan Sefton slightly quieter but just as intriguing.

They had a lovely bit of banter, doing their best not to dampen any illusions we had about the TV script writing industry. I already knew about the pit falls, but there were some things they highlighted that make a lot more sense now. It was good to pick up some tips from two successful scriptwriters; they were entertaining and thorough in their responses.

Still feeling fuzzy, I wondered out into the sunshine and headed for the gym. Did a half-assed workout, didn’t swim – too many kids. Came home and made a prawn korma, sorted my tummy and made me feel (nearly) a million dollars again. Out again tonight, with old uni friend Tamsin. No doubt it will be very messy again. Tamsin’s an Essex girl, so I’ll be expected to try and keep up with her…

Friday, November 17, 2006

Madness and Mayhem on a Train from London

Yesterday was a day that I will treasure forever. It was a long, surreal, head-spin of a day. Up at 5.00 am, after a very disjointed night of sleep. Apprehensive about the impending interview, I kept waking up with my heart pounding, certain I was going to be late. I hobbled along to the train station in my brand new T-bar’s and waited briefly in the shelter.

The journey up was fairly uneventful; we got to Paddington in just over four hours. That’s crazy, considering it usually takes me that long just to get to Somerset. Paddington was hectic, crowded and daunting. I had about an hour to spare before my interview, so I had lunch and found a place to sit and write some notes. There were police everywhere, which made me feel a bit nervous. Then I watched as one policeman saw a suite case unattended and began to try the combination lock to search it.

Unbeknown to him, the man that owned to bag was a few metres in front, extracting cash from a hole-in-the-wall. When the man turned round, witnessing the policeman fiddling around with his bag, he said, “Hey, that’s my bag!” The policeman looked a bit surprised and replied, “You can’t leave luggage unattended around here.” He got back on his feet and wandered off again.

It’s a shame this sort of scrutiny is becoming a part of everyday life. Paddington is a great place to people watch, but I couldn’t really concentrate on anything other than my rising nerves. So, my time came and I took the stairs to the top cafĂ© where I was meeting The Writer’s team of interviewers, I was desperately trying to remember what Neil looked like (I’ve only seen him once and that was at the front of a lecture hall.)

They greeted me with zealous smiles and offered me water. (Still or fizzy? I took still, but then thought they might be doing some kind of psychological test to see if I was adventurous or not!) The interview started quite badly, they asked me to criticise my responses to the briefs they set me and then asked me what I thought about their website and what was wrong with it. They played good cop - bad cop with me, firing questions left, right and centre. It was intimidating and I did feel out of my depth, but I kind of redeemed myself at the end by asking them some good questions and I sucked up a bit by thanking them for the opportunity to meet them.

I couldn’t wait to get to the bar and finally relax. Joe and Liam had already had their interviews, so we went to the Dickens Tavern (how ironic?) and waited for Jenny. We then rushed back to the station via the off-licence to stock up on wine and beer for the journey. Being Friday, the train was bursting with ratty commuters and students. Miraculously we managed to find a booth for all four of us, every seat was booked, but to our great relief, no one came to claim our seats.

We were hyper and oh so relieved to be heading home again. The drinking began and we got louder and (most probably) annoyed the hell out of every one in our coach. We played consequences, and offered our fellow commuters wine in compensation for our behaviour (funnily enough, no one took up the offer!) Liam played his station game, which consists of waving madly at people standing on the station. Once he had their attention, he would beacon them to get the attention of a person near-by. If it worked, the stranger would be made aware of Liam and then Liam would pretend he was a friend of theirs. Thus embarrassing everyone involved and providing a plethora of confusion. I laughed so hard I cried, the baffled strangers were probably quite annoyed by his behaviour, but getting someone to do something silly and then realise how silly they look was absolutely priceless. What a wicked boy that Liam is!

I did feel very sorry for a small, old Canadian man who sat directly opposite us, I knew he wasn’t happy because I saw him shout at the woman next to him when she was speaking too loudly on her mobile. So, Liam offered him some wine. He didn’t accept, but was fairly polite about it. Next we played picture consequences, and drank more wine. We got held up at Exeter, and in that time we made some new friends and most of the other passages seemed to disperse. By the time we set off again, the coach was near empty.

At this point we were playing the Rizla game, and people from around the carriage were following it with great interest. We picked up some extra players in the form of a comedy producer for channel 4, his friend and two older women. They were as pissed as us and so we played on. Steph bought another two bottles of wine and we finished the game, just as the train rolled into Truro.

By the time we reached Falmouth, we were royally sozzled. Ravenous, we walked to Asha and had a superb curry and more wine. Exhausted (and still in my precious new heels), we then stumbled to Toast. A pint of cider later – it’s definitely time to give up and go home. The London lads said they’d meet us in town, but as they didn’t show, and so there really was no other reason to elude sleep anymore.

What a spectacular day! A rollercoaster of a ride, surreal and definitely delirious. We met a whole bunch of interesting people, drank too much, partied hard and learned a valuable lesson from the interview. I don’t think I’ll be asked back for the apprenticeship, but I don’t really care. It was such a crazy day out, even if I was only actually in London for about three hours. It was a wake up call for me. I’m so far removed from the London scene; I’ve barely been out of Cornwall in the last couple of years. I need to gear myself up for a change in lifestyle. I’ve been toddling along at a snail’s pace, blissfully ignorant of the bigger picture.

I have a love/hate relationship with London. I love visits, but the thought of living there in the smog and chaos does absolutely nothing for me! But, I can’t ignore the fact that most of the media industry is based there, so I’m going to have to change my views and forget my prejudices. I’ve learned a lot about myself from yesterday, I need to prepare for my future and embrace the changes.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fun and Games at the Royal Standard

What a social animal I was this weekend. Three whole nights of drinking, three mornings of splitting headaches and regrets. But it's not all that bad.
Last night I was invited to The Three Mackerel staff party, (even though I haven't actually worked there since september) at Sue and Roger's other pub, The Royal Standard.
And very pleasant it was to. Free wine, spirits (and what ever you could wish for come the end of the night) and mountains of food. Roast potatoes, rice and a bizarre cabbage wrap for me and one other vegetarian.

There was singing and dancing and guitars. There was young boys spilling beer all over the beautiful floorboards. This Three Mac's party was actaully pretty tame compared to previous ones. The first one I went to was carnage. My friend Katie and I arrived late and played catch-up by drinking buckets full of rose wine. About an hour later, that all came back up the exact same colour, much to my shame and disappointment. Katie did the same an hour after me, and got taken home by her boyfriend. I, however, soldiered on until the wee-small hours. Couldn't drink another thing, but tried to look happy. Why is it when there's free booze involved - you always make a complete twat out of yourself? Or, maybe it's just me?!

So that was a coulpe of days ago, and I'm not drinking again until friday, after my interview in London. I've got to get the train from Falmouth at 6 something in the morning, interview at 1.30. I'm going up with three others, so I think we might have time for a few drinks before we get back on the train for another five hours. I'm dead nervous, haven't had an interview since college. Doesn't help that I've got nothing to wear either.

Not really going to have any time to prepare, because of the 'writing for radio' course I'm doing all this week. But I'm having too much fun with it to worry. Today, we are splicing our monologues together. I hope they fit well, or we may end up having to change things drastically.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Carnival and Carnage

So, it came, it tantalized and then it left. Another carnival over, another one to add to the list (23). It was beautiful. No, I lie, it was pretty average. But the company, the hot mulled wine and the warmth of the mood where enough to keep me smiling all night. Saturday turned out to be a long day, with me and Luke sleeping in and then me feeling guilty for sleeping in. So I got on with some work.

I had to submit my The Writer’s Apprentice briefs first, don’t know quite how I’ll fair with it. I’ve never written a Haiku before, so writing one about my favourite brand was a bit of a struggle. This was the end result:

Green, red, yellow, blue
Henry’s smile light’s up the room
The Hoover with heart

What do you think, because I have no idea, if this is any good?
Anyway, so I finished my chores and then Luke and me walked into Bridgwater via the canal, which I have never done before. I got very excited at seeing the town from this perspective. We got to the centre of town, but we were under the hub-bub. It was quiet and still on the canal path, we hardly passed another person.

The most intriguing part of the passage was when the canal seemed to narrow between two tall buildings. There was a series of ancient oak beams stretching above our heads, holding the distance between the walls. Each and every one of them had a sentence or a few seemingly unrelated words carved into them. Not graffiti, proper good old-fashioned carvings. I should of written them down, to see if I could work it out, but of course, being a (useless) writer, I didn’t have one with me. I desperately want to go back there to collect those words; I may even query it with the local council to find out when they were put there and why. It all seemed mysterious, and I have the feeling there’s a good story behind it.

Bridgwater is steeped in history, it’s just a shame the residents of the town don’t appreciate it. But I do thank Luke for directing me to this part of the canal, that he knows so well from his childhood and yet it’s somewhere completely alien to me.

So after this adventure, we then venture back into North Petherton, via the main road. We’d been walking for about two hours at this point, and desperately needed some ‘medicinal’ refreshment. A quick pit stop revived us with some cider and this made our journey pass much more amicably. My mum owns a shop on the high street and we arrived before anyone else, so stood and drank more cider and watched as the street began to fill with carnival goers.

Mum arrived and we congregated upstairs with cheese and mulled wine. My sister and a stream of beloved friends began to arrive and many hugs were distributed. There was a good crowd, and everyone was getting into the hype. I joined a group of friends outside as soon as we heard the first carts approaching. They weren’t good. Bloody tableau's! Some were quite skilled in their craftsmanship, but where was the flashing lights, the dance music, the comedy drag-hags? I needn’t have worried; the cheesy ones came and went, most unforgettable. The most impressive act was a group of kids aged from four to eighteen. They were all in finest Moulin Rouge get-up and they had a choreographed routine that would have put most of the contestants of Strictly Come Dancing to shame.

I suppose they kept the best ones till last, but there wasn’t many outstanding floats this year. Ghost Ship had giant skeletons hanging from the carcass of a ship, everything was gleaming white, and the light bulbs were practically on fire. Not only were there moving parts left, right and centre, the whole ship was swaying from side to side. Good music too, music we could all dance to. (There were no street side incidents this year; everyone was on their best behaviour.) The end of the carnival did not signal the end of our fun though.

My tipsy friends sabotaged my mum’s collection of feathers, (the ones she uses for stuffing cushions), and took handfuls out on the street to throw over everyone. The policeman close by did not look too impressed, but didn’t intervene. We were covered, but as we embraced in a huge group hug, I think the spirit of Rio was living in us!

So we then halled ass to Iris and Xynth’s house, young, old, and the legless. Sat round a tremendous fire and watched fireworks sprout off in every direction. More cider was consumed and a rather delicious selection of soups offered to us. WE stayed till three and were the last to leave. Staggering home, we enjoyed the full moon and crisp air.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Gunpowder, Cider and Plot

T'is nearly the eve of bonfire night, the air is cold, the ground is crisp and the cider is dry.
This time of year is nearly my favourite, next to summer.
Tomorrow is carnival time. The somerset carnival circuit has been parading their home-made carts for the adoring fans every year since Guy Fawkes messed up his stupendous plot. The quality of the entries varies for year to year, generally they get bigger and give off more warmth. Some have three or four carts strung together and thousands of light bulbs illuminate the streets. (Its enough heat to trick you into thinking you're sat on the beach in Lansagrotte.) Others are less spectacular, but usually make up for that in terms of charm. There is always a one-man band, usually sporting a dog in the back, or a small child with an elaborate costume.
All are judged, but there are a few clubs that win consistently, usually some kind of Disney theme is involved.

Music is another significant aspect of carnival. As people line the streets, the music pumped out from the floats blurs with the next, creating some very strange concoctions. The louder the better for us, my gang of die-hard carni goers. We consist of about a dozen of my friends, my sister's friends, my parents and all their friends. My mum owns a shop on the high street, so has to prepare for an on-slaught of crashers desperate for mulled wine and a view from the upstairs window. Only about ten people can comfortably fit around the window, so the rest of us watch on the street, come rain of fair. It's the best place to be, as we get drunker, the crowd around us seem to want to spoil our fun. We like to show our true appreciation of the floats by singing and dancing along. But some people can't handle us for some reason.
One year Laura (friend of mum and dad's) got rather merry and someone in front of her pushed her out of the way. Laura pushed back. This shoving contest continued for some time, until Laura had had enough and went inside for another glass of wine. Comedy- watching adults behave in such a way!

I have been every year of since I was born, t'is a tradition, a ritual not to be missed. Not only does it involve acting like a prat with your friends and family, it also involves community spirit and fireworks and there is always an after party.
This, I'm afraid, is where things get really messy. We usually congregate at one chosen destination and carry on drinking. Not such a good idea, considering we're usually still with the 'rents. Many a time I've had to escort my (nearly legless) 'rents home in the wee small hours. Not to far to walk, so we're lucky in some respects.
I wouldn't miss it for the world, I will see people I only see there once a year, so you can see why it is so important.
Bring it on, I will report back on Sunday, probably with a very sore head and not in the best condition for a Sunday roast with grandma!

Other highlights of the day included sitting very close to a middle aged woman who fell asleep on the train and could out-snore my dad! I could not stop laughing- Jenny is my witness...
Priceless, as she was very much oblivious to the noise she was making. (And the train took only two and three-quarter hours to get home, god bless Virgin trains!)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm Lost

Here I am, sat at a very basic computer on the third floor of my local internet cafe. I don't like it, I can hear the buzz of a thousand electrical impulses. Why am I here?
Because I've moved house and don't have the comfort of home connection for the time being. I feel lost, I don't like writing at any other computer than my own, it feels like betrayal. My phone went dead on Saturday, so I was well and truly cut off from the world for three whole days!
I eagerly await re-connection, to get back behind the screen of my iBook and browse at leisure. And not have to worry about paying £2 for half-a-messely hour!
Learned about podcasting today and how to record sound, it was very interesting and I can't wait to learn more, when we attempt to do radio play.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Shoddy Cider

I've just recently acquired a taste for cider. Considering my age, it is surprising I didn't get into it earlier. Whilst most my peers where swigging cider and black at parties I could not be whined from noxious spirits such as Malibu and Archers. Yuck Yuck. How one's tastes change. Now, I will never touch a drop of anything vaguely artificial. Now I stick to fines wines (well, anything above the £4 mark anyway!) and cider or the occasional G&T.

My boyfriend brought home two mini barrels of cider tonight, both are disappointing. One is Cornish Scrumpy and is exceedingly sweet, sweeter than any of the alco-pops I used to relish. The other is Cripple Cock, which I guess suites its name - it's strong but that's about it. What a shame, there is much to drink, but no enthusiasm to drink it.

I do need something strong though, after the day I've had. I'm moving tomorrow and have only had the time today to sort out my entire flat. That included scrapping out the microwave and binning much too much unnecessary stuff. I hate 'stuff' and I thought I wasn't a hoarder, but how have I got so much of everything?

Need to relax, but I'm worried that i've missed spots that need hoovering and I desperately need my £450 deposit back in order to pay for my next set of fees. I'm growing increasingly anxious about an iron burn in the carpet of the bedroom - is there any way I can disguise it?
Who knows - I'll have to hope my land lady forgets her glasses when she comes round tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Myth and Mayhem

I've just finished a first draft of a story I'm going to enter into a BBC R.A.W competition. It's an on-going comp. where every chapter is written by a different
person and then the whole piece is read out on radio and published in a book. I found it very hard to stick to the word limit of 1,500 and also make something self-contained yet open to interpretation for the next chapter.

I had to do a bit of research, although the story is based on the Somerset Levels, so at least I know the area well enough to picture it in my mind. The story has an eclectic mixture of myth and current ecological issues. The theme is clear; if the sea levels rise as much as a couple of centimeters in the next few years, like predicted, the Levels will flood again, like they did many centuries ago. This could spell disaster for local communities, not to mention all the marsh habitats and wildlife. Yet developers still want to build on it, to make homes for a growing population.

The story has elements of the myth of King Arthur and the language and description of such things as 'Punky's' and 'Rhynes' are native to Somerset and used to good effect.
The deadline for this project is November 3, so I may see if I can get a few people to read it and help edit it before I submit. If it doesn't get chosen this chapter, I will still follow the story and probably submit later on. It might be easier to format the end, rather than the beginning where everything is quite elusive.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What a Social Life!

Mum just sent me our diary of 1990, and after leafing through it for ten minutes I can conclude that I was a very social eight-year-old!
To name but a few hobbies; St John's Ambulance Badger Club, piano lessons, French lessons! Not to mention all my extra-curricular activities, which included parties, barn dances, children's festivals, theatre trips and numerous holidays with both sets of grandparents. I really ought to thank my parents for providing all these fantastic opportunities! I had a better social life then than I do now...

It was a great pleasure to flip through those memories and try to recapture my childhood. I had to ask mum to explain a few entries, things like; Did my parents have to pay for the taxi my sister and myself got to school, when we lived outside the catchment area? What was the 'Easter Eggs-hiliration' we went to on Thursday 5 April?

Many curious entries and many more to explore. I know in the holidays we were always shipped of to grandma Joan, who would usually take us away with my auntie Anita to various YMCA's around the south west. Then we'd go to Swanage at the tail-end of the holidays and stay with dad's parents. Their house was amazing, my grandpa had about four greenhouses dedicated to just about every species of cactus imaginable. He had one huge one (like the ones you see in a Hollywood movie when they're cruising through the desert) that wore comedy fake sun glasses, taking on a personality all of it's own.

Then there was the collection of random videos we watched on rainy days, (I'm presuming some were cast-offs of my dad's and his two brothers), which included; Star Wars (the old ones), Top Cat and The Sound of Music. We'd watch these repeatedly until we knew the characters and songs by heart.

Then there was Grandma's cooking. She's Danish and big on food, so she'd stuff us and then make us eat more and more puddings. But her food was absolutely irresistible! She fed my grandpa so much that he's subsequently had various heart problems resulting in a heart attack. She now over-feeds my uncle's dog. Ziggy is a lurcher and she's supposed to be agile and trim, ready to out-run a hare in a heart beat. Not Ziggy, I could out-run her at a stroll. Poor girl, she just can't resist grandma's fine cuisine. She's got dog-diabetes now. And she's on a dog-diet.

It's not grandma's fault, she comes from a country that loves food and pleasing people with it. But in this day in age it's not the sort of thing you want to promote. Having said that, I'd kill for one of her chocolate crispy bars or a spoonful of her fruit pudding...
I'm so glad my dad has taken on her culinary flare, but at least he's a bit more health conscious with it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Voice of a Seven-Year-Old Boy

I've been a very good girl this weekend. I've resisted all offers of Oyster Festivals and Beers Festivals to concentrate on my work. (With the exception of two hours spent guiltily watching "X" Factor and several gym sessions. And a few tea breaks!) It's been hard but very gratifying. I've completed two assignments and started research on two other projects. I'm desperate to get my screen play pitch into the Nick Darke Award scheme, but the deadline is Nov. 1st and they want a twenty page sample script and 2,500 word outline! It's going to be tough, but I'm going to try and submit.

So, I have been sat at this computer for a record number of hours and I'm developing a back ache. I must cram in as much internet exposure I can manage this week, I'm moving on Saturday and the phone line gets cut off at eight. I will be lost without it. I can't really complain, as their is an internet cafe on one side of the flat and a pub with wireless on the other. I could pick up a signal for free, I know this might work. Except my computer is four years old and doesn't have the built-in technology. How annoying. Maybe I will ask for some kind of wireless conducting device for Christmas.

The title of today's blog refers to the autodiegetic narrative I've just had to create for one of the assignments. I put myself in the body of a seven-year-old boy and write with his childish idiolect in mind. It was fun. It is really basic, but full of what I perceive to be paramount preoccupations of a young boy. In fact I'll paste it in now, for you'll to see for yourselves. (It's only 1,000 words.)

Big Voice, Little Man

Mummy told me I’m not supposed to pick scabs. I like picking scabs. Scabs turn into scars if you pick them enough, or if they’re big already, they leave a mark on your skin that you can feel to remember what you did. Mark’s got one on his knee; it’s where he fell over on the gravel in his dad’s drive. Sissy boy cried and we had to pick the bits of gravel out before his dad could put a plaster on it. Now it looks like an explosion happened on his knee. He says it still hurts. I don’t believe him.

I got two on the go, one’s from a mosquito bite that won’t stop itching. Other one’s from last week when I picked a mole on my arm. Mum got really mad and said,
“Your not supposed to pick moles, they never stop bleeding and they won’t grow back.” It did stop bleeding, not till after tea though. Who wants a mole? I have lots of them and I don’t like them. There’s this one on my back that’s like the size of a chocolate, but I can’t reach that one. It’s itchy as well.
“What’s wrong with scratching?” I asked mum. She said, “You can get infections, you’ll get scars and it’s not healthy.”

Never had a infection, so I’m not going to get one now. If I just squeeze my arm a bit, blood comes out where the mole was. I kept the mole, but I can’t find it now. I wanted to show it to Mark, see if I could dare him to eat it. I could put it in his sandwich and watch him eat it without him knowing. Then I’d laugh and he’d hit me till I told him what I’d done. I know you’re not supposed to eat other people’s blood, but if we’ve all got it, what’s wrong with that? I like the taste of blood; I can lick it off my arm. It tastes salty and warm. It fulls up again straight away. I can keep licking it and it will keep coming back.

If you drink blood don’t that make you a vampire? I like vampires. If I drink my own blood I’ll be stronger. I’ll grow sharp teeth and I will scare the girls at school. They don’t like me anyway. If a girl falls over she hates seeing the blood. When Abby fell over in the playground she cried for ten hours and wouldn’t look at her blood. It looked deep; blood went all down her legs. At school they put warm water and cotton wool on it and tell you it’s OK. Mum does more than that. She gets all these things from the cupboard and then puts a plaster on. One of those ones you cut to make a bigger one. I don’t like it because you can’t see anything.

Then when you peel it off it rips the hairs off you and the scab is all wrinkly and white. It’s soft and pink in the middle. It takes ages to go crusty again. Then it’s ready for picking. I like picking scars and looking at them close up. They look like pizza, with tomato and pepperoni. I did have a collection but mum took it away and told me I was disgusting. I like being disgusting it’s better than being nice. Girls are nice and they are boring. Except for Juno, she’s ugly. And she tries to hit me with stones.

Once, we were fighting in the playground and I threw a stick at her. She kicked me in the balls. It hurt so much I was nearly sick. I didn’t cry but I wanted to kill her. Miss asked what she did and I said,
“Juno kicked me in the balls.” She took hold of Juno and said to her, “You naughty girl. You must not kicks boys there because it is very sensitive and can seriously damage his private parts.” I didn’t like the way she said “private parts”, it sounded silly. Teachers always sound silly when they try to talk like that. Juno looked like she was going to cry, but she didn’t. We hate each other and she will never get me again, because I know she doesn’t like getting in trouble. I didn’t tell mum about that, but it hurt all day and when I sat down. Miss asked if I was ok and I said “yes.”

Juno is more like a boy than a girl and that’s why we don’t like her. She tries to join in with us and when we don’t let her, she does things like kick you in the balls or screams. Girl screams are horrid. They make you want to put your hands over your ears. You want to scream back at them but you can’t. Boys aren’t supposed to scream or cry. They can shout. I’m good at shouting. When I shout mum tells me off and says, “Shut up”. You can’t shout at school. I shouted at Juno once and she screamed and then we both got told off.

My mosquito scab is itching again. It’s more a scar than a scab now, but I still like to itch it. I like scars. They tell stories. Heroes always have scars. Their enemies always have bigger scars. I’d rather be a enemy. Enemies get to have fights all the time and they get scars. Scars make a man mean. I want to be mean.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Safe as...

I witnessed a very amusing incident early this morning, on my way to the gym. I was walking up Killigrew Street, which is very steep and a mission to ascend with a full backpack on. In front of me I notice two men trying to shift a large green object down a ramp from a house. As I approach, I realise it's a safe. A cast-iron safe, emerald green, both ancient and decorative. An old man watched anxiously from the door way. I looked around to see where they could be taking it to and spotted a removals van at the crest of the hill. I really didn't envy their task. If they were struggling to get it onto the pavement, they had a lot more pain to encounter. I wanted to know what was in that safe. I wanted to know why someone on Killigrew Street (just a regular house with no grandeur) would need to keep such a big safe?

I am moving out next Saturday and can't believe the time I've wasted today trying to cancel all my bills and direct debits. Every time I phone one of those hideous call centres I either run out of options and end up being disconnected or get told there will be a 15 minute waiting time and give up. I've spent over eleven pounds of phone credit this morning and have not resolved anything! These companies don't want you to lose your custom, and so they do their damned hardest not to tell you how to jump ship. I'll now have to keep trying and just hope someone answers my call before I seriously lose my temper. I'll cut them all off at the source - the bank, we'll see how they feel about that! But I want to be courteous and give them my final readings - just in case I'm entitled to a refund!

I've got to pack everything, clean everything (believe me when I say there are some dark and murky corners that have not seen the hoover or a dust cloth since I've lived here!) Fun, endless fun.

I am worried about not having time to complete my work and Luke's birthday is on the 29th, so I'll have to think of something special and inexpensive to give him.
Must start Bill's piece today and check to see if mum and dad have had a chance to find me some 1990 inspired memories.