Friday, December 22, 2006


Mostly work this week, getting things done before term ends, relatives arrive and Merriment Begins. Adding a scene to an episode running short, having an edit (‘We want more fun’), finishing a draft of a new ep. Saw the Christmas ep on the DVD they send us – it’s looking very good, thriller-ish, setting up a good whodunnit to run for a while.

Besides work, bought Christmas Tree and decorated it, wrote cards, wrapped unfeasible number of presents, conducted onerous task of tasting various shop-bought mince pies. (Local bakery won by a mile, but they’re 75p each – so Spouse baked some.) Battled over Christmas Tree – ‘What about a stylish red and gold theme this year?’ I suggested, as I usually do. Chaos won, as Chaos always does, as Chaos probably should. But why don’t Christmas trees smell like they used to? It was the smell of Christmas, and it no longer exists. What is the smell of Christmas now? Melting plastic perhaps, as credit cards implode. Also, Why are there no more brazil nuts in shells?

Walked the long way back from town yesterday, because of rare sighting of sun after near 40 days near constant monsoon. Cool and bright, the way you want winter weather to be. (If you don’t like snow.) We're lucky to live here. The best walk is to the Monument, where there’s a huge view across the valley, and up and down the valley. Hillsides seething with trees. Lifts you, if feeling low on inspiration and energy. Renews you, ready for the next day. And the next.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Barry Norman

Astoundingly (well, I’m astounded) saw three adult, mature-type, for grown-ups films last week. (Assuming we can agree Casino Royale fits that description.) Makes a change from steady diet of uninspired kids’ CGI crap over recent months. The Departed. Should have cut first twenty minutes and ending was ludicrous. All of a sudden there’s a second mole in the police force? Where did he come from? Felt like the writer holding up hands and saying I’ve got no idea how to end this. Enjoyed the whole middle section though, and would like to see Hong Kong original. Red Road. Slow and solemn, taking itself very seriously, but oozing atmosphere and, when the secret was finally disclosed, quite moving. Ill-judged thing with the little puppy at the end. And C.R. Too long, like Departed, like every film out of Hollywood now, too many endings, but a lot of fun. Some rubbish lines, not just the wonderful Rolex/Omega exchange, but also the thing in the shower ‘It’s like there’s blood on my hands and I can’t wash it off.’ Could it be any more on the nose? Also a bit distracting to have Alan Hansen as main villain, and the girl looking a bit like Richard E Grant. Or was that just me?

Friday, December 08, 2006


Spoke to the fifty or so students. They were open mouthed, in rapt attention. Forest of hands went up when I asked for questions, storm of applause when I finished. Not really. But they seemed fairly interested as I took them through the process. Conference, Script Document, Scene Breakdown, First Draft, Second, Third, Edit, Edit, Edit. How your favourite scenes – the ones with lots of character and texture but not much in the way of story points – are the first to get cut, how to use communal sets, how to build to a tag, how to deal with an actor suddenly becoming unavailable. Two questions about how to get work experience on The Show. So that’s the next generation sorted. Also went off at a tangent about How I Became A Writer. Basically through writing a story called Journey to the Wreck aged 7. Finished up 12 or 13 pages long, which felt like War & Peace at the time. An experience shamelessly fictionalised in my second novel.

This was all in Bradford, where they are apparently knocking down the police station to build a lake. Presumably somewhere they’re bricking over a reservoir to build a police station. Bradford soon to become the Venice of the North, then. It’s a small step.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Michael Grade = Blofeld

Conference last week was in a hotel on an island, reached by a narrow bridge. Half expected Producer to be waiting for us in a white swivel chair, stroking a white cat. We sit round in black leather seats, she presses a button and a 3D model of the Location rises out of the table. On the way back across the bridge a trap-door swings and someone who’d dared propose an unpopular storyline drops into the water. Splash. Scream. Water seethes and boils while the piranha feast. Disappointingly, it was not actually much like that at all. Unless all that happened while I was busy doing some tweaks to one episode (following Scheduling Problems) and a major edit on another (following Storyline Change.)

Met Editor/Publisher (same person) of my book for a drink. Passionate, engaging, complimentary, which is all good, clearly. We discussed some changes here and there, one or two fairly important ones. Plenty to consider – or there would be if I could remember anything he’d said in any detail. Hoping for an e-mail to clarify.

And tomorrow going to talk about writing in general and The Show in particular to a bunch of University students. How an episode happens, from conference to final draft of Script. They’re all writing short films apparently. Will they be interested in what I do? Will I remember what I do? We shall see.