Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Persona Non Grata weeks 6 & 7

(originally posted on myspace here)


Look, I mean you're alright with me just leaving you with these, aren't you...

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("Planet Arkle" was a strip in The Big Issue, I think by Peter Arkle. As far as I can see there's no record of it on the internet, but I liked it.)

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Persona Non Grata weeks 4 & 5 (Handwriting is unprofessional)

(originally posted on myspace here)



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(I am indebted to Miss Natalie Haynes for a number of Medea's lines here, and for yesterday's "She was sexy, she was sticky, she was sex on a stick", and also for the re-naming of the Corn Exchange in tomorrow's post, while the thing at the bar is obviously a nod to David Cronenberg. My dad's just given me a hat like that... I used to get these strips in about an hour before the paper was put to bed. Editorial interference was therefore pretty minimal.)

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Ah! Oops! (Persona Non Grata week 1: "I have been singed?")

(originally posted on myspace here)


... That last strip spent some time in Limbo. I was having problems with my mum's computer. Anyway I'm still in France but have this to hand, so here's where the story really starts. It appeared in the University paper back in 1996: I only had the one character, and he was always going to be called Jaundis - I'd decided that back when I was thirteen, imagining him as some kind of futuristic bounty-hunter - but I never got round to that strip ("Urban Vulture"). Then at eighteen I did get round to "My Quiff", but none of the independent titles rife at the time were willing to print anything so irredeemably wet. And then, then, I was finally approached to create a strip for Varsity at the age of twenty-one and had one more crack, which is this, and which, as I head home tomorrow, should hopefully take us up to the new year:

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Friday, 26 December 2008

Persona Non Grata -1 (whimsical and inconsequential)




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From 1993. That is tiny. Or maybe just far away. It's only up here because the narrator appeared three years later a little mellowed, in the strip I was hoping to upload before coming out to France for Christmas and haven't. Sorry. It was going to be great; the whole thing would be serialized and silly and festive and take us up to the new year but I met up with some people for drinks instead. Anyway how's your Christmas been, dear bunch? Get anything nice? I got a Harold Pinter! Worked fine for the first couple of hours but then...

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

... aaaaaaaaand Satan!

(originally posted on myspace here)


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It's Monday the 22nd of December and the weather outside is thirty-seven minutes late, so whatever you're doing this morning be sure to leave plenty of time.

Apparently the Dungeons received a memo from "top office" to "tone down" SATAN'S GROTTO this year, and replace the line "I've killed Santa" with "I've kidnapped Santa", which we've done. And the displays team have set him just to the left of Satan's throne. Only he's a bit rotty. And nailed to a cross.

Still could be worse... I honestly don't think the sight of Santa's gnawed, eyeless, crucified carcass is going to be as traumatic as any actual Santa. I really do. "What's he doing in Bentalls?" I seem to remember asking myself as a six-year-old. Surely part of the mythos is you never actually get to see him, like 'Er Indoors or Doctor Claw or Humphrey Lyttelton.





That's a medley of money shots from Benjamin Christensen's enlightening 1922 expose "Haxan", re-released in the sixties as "Witchcraft Through the Ages" with narration by William Burroughs (the Haxan blooper reel's also up on youtube, featuring at 1 minute and 40 seconds in four takes of a nun "trying out a variety of ungodly titters"). And that's the director himself playing the devil, top off and tongue out, which must have made for an interesting set. (Warning: contains bumbums.) Anyway coming up next, as requested by Mr. James McQuillan, a short yuletide run of an old cartoon strip of mine "Persona Non Grata" as soon as I work out how to scan A3. Meantime here's more Santa.

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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

But Emily scared me...

(originally posted on myspace here)

 

 



... and looking over this opening again I think I can see why. It was the smile. I thought it was evil. And she looked like a ghost. Also I was a terrible racist until I was about five - all Asians looked to me like evil wizards - and I thought Emily looked Asian. Regional accents disturbed me as well so "Ivor the Engine" never really got a look in either, particularly those dragons (and nor did "Why Don't You?"). And they didn't show The Clangers when I was a toddler, which I think I would have loved (even though it wouldn't have made me laugh, like "Chorlton and the Wheelies") let alone Noggin the Nog - I must have missed those both by a few years - so what I'm saying is that Oliver Postgate's influence only really began to work on me when I became a teenager.

And I'm saying this because of course Oliver Postgate is now dead.

And that I should only love Smallfilms' output now - REALLY love them - makes perfect sense to me. Look at Bagpuss or Ivor, there's an inbuilt nostalgia. And I trust nostalgia. Perhaps that is the wrong word. I trust stuff that is old, and handmade. Such stuff has earned my trust, and the worlds built by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin in their magically non-magic shed are timeless, and chiefly responsible. So I should mark his passing somehow, definitely, and I'll do it by posting this link to Chris Goode's own excellent tribute here. It includes a recording of perhaps the last story Postgate ever told, the introduction to "Hippo World Guestbook", and praise for Postgate's own blog which is also well worth a look if you're interested (it's political, in a good way... ie it has a moral). Enjoy, all interested parties.

I just hope Brian Trueman doesn't die now.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

"And we've definitely checked EVERYTHING?"

(originally posted on myspace here)


The BBC you might have heard is incredibly nervous at the moment about putting another foot wrong: you can hear Adam and Joe checking with their producer to see if they're allowed to say "Smack My Bitch Up" just like the old days when you weren't allowed to hear "I Want Your Sex", all shows are now undergoing a three-day vetting period to ensure nothing which might possibly offend anyone reaches the internet etc, everyone's clearly under a lot of pressure to play it as safe as is humanly possible with no more "slip-ups"... in the light of which I found this image from The Mxxl On Sxndxy illustrating what's accidentally been programmed for Christmas Day SO HILARIOUS I CRIED.

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(It was lying in a cafe. I did not buy it. And it's not the outrage I'm promoting, just the delicious Oops of it... Sorry, have you already seen this? I'm a little out of the loop.)

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Moon Alert!

(originally posted on myspace here)

Yes, moon alert: Tonight's full mooon will loom larger in the sky than it has since 1993, although peering through the blinds tonight all I see is cloud. Actually I should put some curtains up. Venetian blinds are all very well for a two-fisted man of letters keeping faith with Ridley Scott's vision of 21st century living, but it's getting quite cold now, and the bonsai tree by my brass bed's beginning to smell ill. Seriously it took me ages to locate the garlic odour.

On the subject of the moon, here's a short animation made by Paul Barritt accompanying a story by Suzanne Andrade; she stands in front of it, looking eerily like Jean Charles Deburau but with sexier hair, in their show "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" which I saw last night at the BAC:



They don't do cabaret any more. That's a shame because an hour of this on its own can look a bit phoney, whereas a fifteen-minute invasion of the stage of the Battersea Barge, say, is awesome… That's a terribly ungracious judgment for me to make however because I was sitting right at the front on my own, with a bad neck, and hadn't even paid and paying always gets you in the mood. But this was a Big Christmas Treat from the Battersea Arts Centre, you see, who'd invited me along to a "Brainstorming Session". I felt like a real player. After the show there were probably about two-hundred of us sat around tables with crackers and lasagne, two-hundred who had all, we were told, been "put on a list". Lewis was there (of "Alf and…" fame) and personal favourite Julian Fox. Crackers were pulled and tiny pairs of nail-clippers sent flying across the hall. And then the time came to "round table" some subjects, and I joined the round table that read:

ONE ON ONES

… firstly because of The Books of Soap and Interview Room H, but also because I found the name very pleasing to the eye and couldn't quite work out why. At this table the BAC's joint artistic director tabled the notion of a "one-on-one theatre festival" which sounded great. Then he suggested this festival might answer a demand from a public finding themselves in a "post-capitalist, post-Blairite, post-spin" era, hungry for honesty and "energized by Obama" etc. and I thought "Who? What? Oh no..." But it prompted Lewis to make what I thought was the most interesting and important point of the evening, namely that this demand for "one on one" theatre wasn't in fact coming from the public at all, but from us artists. It's us who want "the house-lights turned up" as he put it, far more than our paying or non-paying house. I love Lewis. And it seems to me a very important distinction for an artistic venue to make when deciding on its focus, and indeed for commentators in general. Art doesn't change direction because the public want it to but because the artists do; but artists are also of course the public - they're seeing stuff as well as making it, and chances are they're making the stuff they want to see. In other words, you don't necessarily need all these feedback forms. And the idea that the Battersea Arts Centre is somehow a barometer of national public interest is, when you think about it for a second, bonkers; what the BAC can I think genuinely take pride in is the interest they generate from the large number of artists wanting to produce work there. Dedum.

So anyway I walked home well-fed, clearly knowing everything there ever was to know about my chosen medium, found a DVD of "Planet Terror" in the living room, bunged it on and was immediately reminded how much I clearly wanted to DO THIS! THIS! MOVIES NOT THEATRE! THIS!!! Gah:

Friday, 12 December 2008

Awaiting Further Instructions

(originally posted on myspace here)



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I have written no screenplay-he-dee-dee-doe.
I have written no screenplay-he-dee.
Done nothin all the livelong day but written this song
And then whittled a fiddle out of whicker from a skip
And stuck it up me bum-dee-doe.


Dear Hollywood, I'm afraid I did not get round to writing "Fat Adolf" in the end but here is a song I just done instead, can you make a film of that? Yes? Excellent, phew that's a load off.

Writing isn't hard you know. Graham Linehan said in an episode of Screenwipe I have left it now too late to link to, it was like "doing a poo". Perhaps I should get off the pot then. Certainly I'm not going to get anything written at the British Library; people are distracting, and I've never written anything in a library I now realize. When I write I tell myself a story and take it down, and that means being on my own, maybe in bed, with warm low lighting. Sounds nice enough but I'm still not doing it, I'm simply filing these reports. Some excellent writers were interviewed for that Screenwipe and the only thing, disappointingly, they had in common was that they all dreaded writing. And willies. They all had willies in common I mean, they didn't all dread willies. Russell T. Davies' one piece of Advice To Writers was "Finish it", which is sterling.

Wednesday's the half-point, yes? The half-point of the week? So I'm at the half-point of my paid holiday now and that's five livelong days of procrastination (ten day week, yup... You weren't told? You're in for a big shock come Stansday)... five days in which I have written nothing, and done very little else either because I know I'm meant to be writing. Everything has been put off, even sleep. I mean I've been for walks. And into second-hand bookshops, as should now be obvious (NICE FACT TO STAVE OFF PANIC NECESSARY TO GET MY ARSE IN GEAR: Shunt have asked me to be in their next show, which is based on "L'Argent" by Zola. I've been looking for a copy). And I've been eating out a bit (SECOND PROCRASTINATION-FRIENDLY FACT: The money came through from those Mitchlook and Webbell sketches, the ones with this

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in, on the back of which I have now been invited to write for BBC 3's "The Wrong Door" following a very friendly meeting with - I think - the producer and receipt of a brief in which "Edgeyness" was misspelt.) I've been swimming. I've been running baths. I've found an old sitcom of my Dad's in its entirety on youtube, and been reminded yet again just how kind a writer he is, and how glamorous ITV used to be back in the eighties: that handover from Thames to LWT, those floodlit office blocks along the South Bank promising such good times for the weekend (recalled to perfect life in the opening credits of "Man To Man with Dean Lerner"), and Richard O' Sullivan in a pastel blue track-suit toppling suavely into Regent's Canal... I mean, yes, the BBC had the world for its logo, but ITV had the South Bank! And the West End! AT NIGHT!

And what am I going to see of that glamour, eh, in this day and age? Where will I find all the magic bits in a W1 I now know like the back of my tiny hand?... Anyway sitting in front of the laptop this morning looking at - I don't know - this maybe -
 

- I received a text out of the blue from Dr. Meikle of Foix: "Lazy bottom..shift and do something other than pretend you know what its like ouside!scoot!i think you should go to....maida vale today!why not."
So I got up and headed out.
I went to Maida Vale.
I'd never been.
It was sunny. I had ciabatta on a barge. I picked up a leaflet called "Little Venice Circular Walk". I hit Regent's Canal and attempted a run, like Richard O' Sullivan. I felt queasy and slowed down. Ibis to the left of me, dingoes to my right and up ahead moored to the Cumberland Basin, the top-heavy Feng Shang Floating Restaurant just waiting to be hijacked. I continued my way to the top of Primrose Hill and, similarly buoyed, awaited further instructions.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Ward Lock Wonder Book of Electricity (price 9/-) was quite a find.

(originally posted on myspace here)


Frontispiece...

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and inside...

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exciting glimpses of the future...

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(heh heh, mammoth washing)
eerie little landscapes...

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and then the madness...

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... yes, the electrodes should only be used by those who understand it. I'd say definitely.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Paradisehead

(originally posted on myspace here)


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From "Adam and Eve" by the late Willie Rushton and the Primitive painters of the Portal Gallery, a beautiful little book picked up in Oxfam in Kentish Town on a Sunday evening set aside to be spent as though the doctor with a talent for tenderness was in town and knocking about beside me (the "she" mentioned below is Mrs. Bradley, Rushton's own imaginary companion, like my doctor or that American who lives inside Jack Dee's head in 'Lead Baloon' - or maybe he's a ghost, or a cylon, I don't know. And the painting is "First Love" by Martin Leman):

"Now she's tut-tutting very loudly.
" 'Mr Leman,' I say, 'is well-known for his cats.' I don't know why I think this will help. 'World famous.'
" 'Tut-tut-tut.'
" 'He loves chess.'
"There is no way I am going to persuade her that these are two cats playing chess."

That made me laugh a lot. I loved this book:

"Tuesday: God brings every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air to Adam 'to see what he would call them. And whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.' Here we were very lucky as he was 100% right."

And here's one of a number of bizarrely oblique jokes I recently unearthed that I had sent off to Private Eye back in the nineties. Eh?

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Monday, 24 November 2008

Those books of soap in full

(originally posted on myspace here)

 



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Some water damage. A little plastic cup full of soapy water routinely toppled onto this hundred year-old Welsh hymnal. I think the damage suits it though. Mother if you're reading this sorry.

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I hit my nose on a beam that first evening and I think I also look better now as a result of the damage. The scar draws one's eye away from the chin. "And and Bee" also got wet (shown above) and I love And and Bee. They're out of print now, I'm pretty sure. The page above makes them look creepy. They're not. They simply met this GIRL on a BOAT bound for ASIA, and later they will meet a fairy in a STAR while standing in a QUEUE by the ROAD who helps them catch a TRAM, gives them each a VEST and sneaks them into someone's back YARD just in time for XMAS. Which reminds me, it snowed this morning, what a kick!

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Anyway, here are the rules for the Books of Soap: "Bag checks in operation. Only one visitor allowed in at any time [only the display case is illuminated, the walls covered in mirrors that are cracked but not smashed, and you have a torch]. Certain volumes may be handled [beneath strips of processed chicken - that and the soap were my nods to the Trinum Magicum] Simply ask an attendant. Every visitor must be accompanied by an attendant [so me]. Please do not mark these books. Goggles to be worn at all times ['The place is a bit of a tip.' 'But I can't see anything.' 'That's why we ask you wear them. Because it's a bit of a tip.'] Attendants to be blindfolded [so take my soapy hand and lead me out]." And once out you were asked if you'd like to go back in without the goggles - If you'd kept them on, this treat was your reward and if you hadn't, this not being a treat was your punishment. Only half said yes... And the last book:

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"Simon, did you write this?" shouted David R from behind the soapy goggles while I stumbled into the leg of a chair.
"Describe it."
"It looks like it was made by a child, with access to a typewriter."
"What's it say?"
" 'But then Sam Spaghetti, Picky Pear and Quarrelsome Cucumber slid into the whale's tummy because they were swallowed... and I expect you can guess what happened then!'

That's quite an optimistic expectation."

Friday, 21 November 2008

P.S. Speaking of rare books...

(originally posted on myspace here)


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... I meant to post this link
for anyone with wide papery screens.

Event: The Books of Soap. Chek it.

(originally posted on myspace here)

 

Yeah like this is going to work.

Hosted By: Simon Kane
When: 21 Nov 2008, 19:00
Where Shunt Lounge
Joiner Street, underneath London Bridge Station
London, SE19RL
United Kingdom
Description:
Simon Kane

Click Here To View Event

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Look, here it is: It will be a busy week (including Robert Popper previewing a radio piece in the Arena - zooks!) and it's the last week the Lounge will be open for a while before the big hatted panjandrums of MagniDickensChristmassyCorp move in with their antlers, barrels and gluey snow-cannon. But yes, the books of soap: Having valiantly transformed the penthouse into a reading room, Gemma's now had to skip the country before being able to realize the final dream of turning that beamed murk at the back into a "Rare Books Room". She was inspired by Eleanor's tales of the "Trinum Magicum", a book bound in human skin on display by appointment only at the Brighton and Hove Library, which was worth bearing in mind when I got the call a couple of days ago to come in and see if I could come up with some use for what had been put in place. Great. It was a paid gig, and the room actually looked pretty much finished if you squinted. So I said yes gladly and smeared some vaseline on a pair goggles. I'm actually very pleased with how Books of Soap's turned out for a day's work. It's not just the random creepy gubbins I initially hoped to get away with, it's turned into something that really takes account of the care with which you handle an old volume (along with the bag checks enforced at the British Library) and doesn't I hope just make you feel like a blundering game show contestant, the path of least resistance in these kind of makeshift sensory installation deals. Oh yes and bloody hell Graham Linehan was in last night, a definite "get to meet"! He is a diamond. "Hello - Jon [Ronson!], this is Simon. He's a comedy writer also." Except of course I'm not I'm a fan Graham a tiny fan and we've never even met... Actually though, I did go along to the final recording of laughter for That Mitchell and Webb Look on Monday and feel now finally that he may have a point... It was very good, I'll expand bout dat laters tho. At the top is a picture of Quinto's on Charing Cross where I used to work. They've got rid of all the shelves, look. I wonder what it will smell like.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Shunt Niche (with karaoke and the transvestite stewardess enclosure)

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I'm afraid you've missed this now. Sorry I should have said. For the past two weeks seventy-four empty, wooden frames have hung to form a false perspective in Shunt's long corridor, their distance from each other and diminishing dimensions perfectly calculated by Tom Duggan. They looked great. And to the right as you came in there hung a piece by Kathy Hinde, the working guts of a prepared piano with a video of birds alighting on a wire projected on the underside. A white line passed steadily from left to right across this image and every time it hit a bird a note was struck... It's been a rich programme this past fortnight. Problems with the license meant I ended up performing Nijinsky Karaoke twice to plug some gaps, once on Thursday as planned, and another shotgun showing of it in the Arena on Saturday which turned out to be far more successful. It took a while to get going but from about 11pm onwards I didn't have to perform at all, or any way I decided this time not to intervene, and it was fine. People were perfectly happy to sit and natter and listen and then, most importantly, cross what I had feared was an intimidating distance to a lone chair three arches down, tap a stranger on the shoulder and take the mike from them. I still get a kick from watching these changeovers. Occasionally the volunteers wouldn't read from Nijinsky's diary at all but perform Cyprus Hill or the opening credits to Beverley Hillbillies, and I was fine with that; despite its name, all "Nijinsky Karaoke" really needs to be is an oppressively isolated open mike, comfortable seats and a crowd happy to take turns (and they always returned to the diary in the end). I enjoyed Saturday. It got me thinking. And I think most of these thoughts I then put down on the following strand of Chris Goode's "Thompson's" blog regarding his allusion to some inherent ideological flaw in the Lounge's make-up.

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So in brief... Me: "Am I sort of right in saying that the ideological problem for you is the space's remoteness from the surrounding reality... the very fact that people upon entering might go 'Fantastic'? A theatre company should have a 'quizzical' relationship with a space this patently -- non-domestic, this ostentatiously alien in your view, and 'Shunt are the benevolent dictators' presumably because people are unable to make themselves at home here, is that it?... But here, re: works of art and paying attention, what is it you pay attention to? It is never going to be, and therefore should not be, just the piece. You pay attention to each other as well. And, while not really 'my scene' whatever that is, the Shunt Lounge matches and probably surpasses any venue, show or indoor event I can remember in the opportunities it gives its artists (and frankly in the pressures it puts upon them) to pay attention to their audience and allow their audience to pay attention to each other as part of the work... I mean really joining in. Audience then becomes the wrong word. 'Crowd' is fitter. The Shunt Lunge is very much about the Crowd."

On Wednesday we didn't even have the documentaries, so Amber Sealey was projected in their place before two columns of plane seating and a dirty mesh, while I paced disconsolately around this enclosure in a pink wig and the rags of a stewardess' uniform. Again, it was fine.

Now, Chris: "I think the best way to describe it is in relation to recreational drug use... One of the things I regret about the recreational use of, for example, ecstasy, which generally seems to have a positive effect in making people happier and calmer and more open and more readily available to genuine experiences of love and intimacy in relation to others, is that on the whole users seem to tend to ascribe these positive effects to the drug alone... So, your mind is blown by Shunt? What do you do with that? You look forward to going back to Shunt again another night."

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And this is the image I bore in mind while I knocked about that transvestite stewardess enclosure with the punters peering in: the horse that slowly approaches you from the other side of the fence, and then stays there.

Finally, me again: "To be clear, I am not arguing that the Vaults is the perfect model of a theatrical space. I'm not sure one single place can ever fulfill that Function. What I do believe is that it is a useful and beautiful mutation, rather than a dangerous placebo... the response I hear more often than any other from people entering the Vaults for the first time is - and it's why I love the place - 'How did they get hold of this?'... Why don't you ever hear that asked in, say, a space like the Tate? Is it because the Tate is immediately baffling? Because it is. But this question, to me, sounds like a person having their idea of what is possible suddenly enlarged a little... I don't mean people have asked me this knowing I'm 'in'. I mean that I constantly witness people enter and yes go 'wow', but then also go 'how did they do this?' and the excellent and important thing is that this isn't a magic trick, because it isn't a secret! Which is why this isn't a dictatorship. It might be a compound, yes, or a haven - although not my idea of one - but I'm fine with that because everyone's invited and we're around to show our working if anyone's interested... 'We are monarchs of all we survey' is the inherent message of the place, for me, while the subtext is 'Go and do likewise'. And in six months time it will all be handed over to the sandwich barons anyway and Shunt will have to build somewhere else. None of which is to detract from your assertion that this build is a project which should not have been embarked upon in the first place, and all of which boils down to my love of theatre almost solely as a medium for amateurs. And builders."

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Oh and another thought I've had since: Great Art should not, contrary to popular belief, necessarily get us talking. What Great Art should really do is shut us up. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

HIlarious Bush Clip! Oh wait no not hilarious tragic.

(originally posted on myspace here)


I've just seen Oliver Stone's "W." and it's a bit sketchy, which is the last thing I expect of an Oliver Stone film, I expect bold, impasto swathes of goo, bits you open up and glitter and pasta. (And why does every Bush impersonator always go for the frown and pursed lips when his signature state should surely be Garth Algar's nervous smirk?) I then came home to idly surf and found the following exchange, which I have not seen before. It's deep. Sticking it in "W." would instantly have made that film twice as good. I mean, it's the pith. Now while this beautiful piece in The Onion has seen me finally feeling as cock-a-hoop about Obama's victory as I was hoping to, in our relief let's never let this poor little guy off the hook...


"Help!... I wasn't kidding... This is how I work..." etc.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

This beautiful Arizona evening

(originally posted on myspace here)


The night of my thirtieth birthday was spent sitting in the kitchen with a bottle of cheap white wine watching the first uncontestable election victory of George W. Bush. He didn't steal it this time, they chose him. I couldn't face that again. So last night I stayed up long enough to see Obama gain - what was it, 150 seats? against McCain's 90-odd - then McCain suddenly gained another 20 and I remembered Kerry and knew exactly where this was going.


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This morning was very grey, wasn't it. I turned on the telly and... well McCain's victory was still a kick in the guts even though I'd called it. Obama's wry but wounded speech in Chicago, the tears in the crowd, the quiet, broken rage, everything as I'd imagined, the predictability of the whole scene was almost a comfort. And the tension had been unbearable so at least we'd been put out of our misery, that too was sort of a comfort... And then McCain took the mike in Pheonix to give his victory speech, and I thought it odd that he wasn't smiling.

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I mean it was very odd. Especially given the ecstatic noise the crowd was making. There was no pointing at the crowd either, I can understand that he wanted to come across as, well sobre, but why wasn't he smiling? He just stood there flanked by single-star-spangled banners, his lips pressed, palms out, and it looked like the crowd would never shut up. But when they let him speak I have to admit he was more gracious than I'd ever seen him: "Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening. A little while ago, I had the honor of a call from Senator Barack Obama - " at which point the crowd struck up again, like a wind, almost like they'd lost. There were real jeers. The cameras picked out face after face and none would have looked out of place in a meeting at the warehouse in a straight-to-video Steven Seagal film. McCain put his hands out once again and signaled weakly for silence. Finally he got it, and he held it. For what seemed like a minute. And then, it was extraordinary. It was sort of beautiful... "Guys. You scare me."

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Silence from the crowd. And then: "My fellow prisoners... Goodbye." And he opened a door in the air behind him, turned to raise a small old hand above his head for the first time in twenty years, waved farewell, and walked through it smiling.

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Ah man, the look on their faces! And then when Sarah Palin stood up to the mike and they all started cheering again but just as she's about to speak the ground suddenly LURCHES TILTS ALARMS SOUND ALL THEIR FACES PRESS UP AGAINST THE GLASS AND THEY REALIZE THEY WEREN'T ON THE PLANET EARTH AT ALL BUT ACTUALLY STUCK IN A TWO-DIMENSIONAL PRISON SPINNING THROUGH SPACE!!!

Dude. No I have to say I didn't see that bit coming. That was cool.
 





Wednesday, 5 November 2008

and we sat at the Blackwatch table

(originally posted on myspace here)


Last night I think I finally cut the Gordian knot of "Iago's Little Book Of Calm". I cut the Gordian Knot, stole the Gordian posts and then bombed Gordia, electronically deleting all references to Gordia in the process. The play probably lasts seven minutes now. Good. It should always have been slight as a paper cut, I'd just forgotten.

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And here I appear to stand behind David Tennant, unshorn and taking a private snap of Ella with her Ev*n*ng St*nd*rd statuette for Outstanding Newcomer. Claire Bloom was in that room. She's worked with Chaplin. I have nothing very coherent to say about the afternoon right now... when you hold the award newsprint comes off on your fingers I noticed. And Charles Dance had a hacksaw in his pocket which was odd. And I was very, very proud. And everyone was nice, and happy, and interested. Ella's speech seemed to go down well, which was good as we'd hammered it out in Cafe Nero half an hour before and really made an effort:
"Hello. Thank you very much. I'm very pleased to be here. Thanks to the cast and to Neil Labute for putting me in a play called Fat Pig. I'd also like to thank the producers of Fat Pig. And everyone who came to see Fat Pig. That's Fat. Pig. I hope you all have a lovely afternoon. Thank you, I'm really really chuffed to bits."
Textbook! Go Team! Go Ella!

Monday, 3 November 2008

"peripheral specificity"

(originally posted on myspace here)


The walk home has been getting very weird lately...


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I finally went and saw Ben Moor performing Not Everything Is Significant at the Etcetera tonight, which is extraordinary and on tomorrow night too and then not. Go see. It's been far too long since I've seen a Ben Moor. It was only tuning in to (alright, dowwwnloaaaading) his show Undone last week in bed with a cold that I was reminded just how much his stuff can get under my skin, and has done ever ever since I first saw him wobbling about onstage and enriching his surroundings twelve years back. Good as Undone is it's these one-man shows that really send you off with the five extra senses, the ten senses, and although I'm now thirty- well, we'll get back to that - it happened again tonight. Then having bumped into a mutual friend I got to meet Ben after the show ("got to meet"? Well yes) and he asked me if I was up to anything which was nice, so I started telling him about "Nijinsky Karaoke"... when it dawned on me: There's a distinct possibility that for the past decade I've been subconsciously trying to turn my life into a Ben Moor show.

Well not such a bad idea maybe, they tend not to have happy endings but the protagonists do live full and active lives or at least get out a lot... And it's tomorrow now, the third, my birthday. I've I-hope-not-churlishly cancelled all plans for an Eritrean bunfight in favour of having nothing whatsoever I must do and just seeing where the day takes me. My thirty-fourth birthday. Surprise me.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

America Next Wednesday (check this out etc.)

(originally posted on myspace here)

 

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Just trying out a couple of images to flash up on the big screen in the event of a technical hitch the day following John McCain's inevitable election victory. I'll be sitting above the bar in Shunt covering the panic, skyping the States and fielding any questions you may care to scrunch into a ball and throw up at my feet as part of Gemma's fortnight curating the Lounge. I might also keep a gun on the news-desk to repel stage crashers, it'll be a reckless, red, misty hoot! Then on Thursday, once everyone's woken up to the irremediable fuckedness of the American spirit once again, I'll be hosting another Nijinsky Karaoke. A nice couple of gigs. Pop in.

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Tonight's Halloween celebrations also look very promising. I'm off to Broadcasting House to watch some sketches so won't make it, but when I was over there this morning they were putting the finishing touches to a whicker man in the penthouse and the itinerary I glimpsed in the kitchen mentioned a "pig filled with blood". I also overheard Andrew Rutland refer to a "blonde wig that makes me look like a Mexican prostitute, fortunately they'll only be seeing me from behind" which can only mean he's finally given up trying to hire a lookalike to cover the non-appearance of Jarvis Cocker and opted instead for distracting the crowd with his impression of Britt Eckland, which would have been fun to watch.