Monday 16 January 2012

In March last year I entered a film competition run by the TUC to make a film underlining the impact of the government austerity cuts. Despite being titles the TUC 60 Seconds Ad Contest we actually had 90 seconds in which to make our point. My original edit was almost a minute longer than that, and considering the whole thing was conceived, written, produced and delivered inside 48 hours, I think we did quite well to edit it to the required length, and we won the competition.

That was in March last year, and since then it's been seen tens of thousands of times on YouTube, on giant screens in Hyde Park, at the Trade Union Congress and at all types of other events the world over. For almost a year now I've been promising the father and daughter team who star in the film - Tom and Isabelle - that I would get round to re-editing the full length version for them - and here it is.

Monday 9 January 2012

Handwritten Blog Post

When I was at school I corrected my teacher for misspelling ‘onomatopoeia’ on the blackboard. Nobody likes a smart arse. Ever since then I’ve had this feeling that if I tried to write stuff I’d be labelled a smart arse. But the stuff you write is perceived differently I guess depending on who it’s written for. I wrote all my best stuff before the age of 12, when I lived in Devon, in my English classes at Bovey Tracey primary school. Then I was writing only for myself. My teacher, Mr Billington, encouraged us to free our minds and write lucid, imaginative stories. The ultimate seal of approval would arrive the next day after he’d picked to best of the stories to read to the class. He was a brilliant reader, and would do different voices for the characters, so it encouraged me to write with dialogue, create interesting characters, unusual settings. Mr Billington often read my stories, it was always a great day when that happened. A few years ago he died and I went to his funeral where I learned his christian name was Travers. How cool was he?

The teacher I corrected for misspelling ‘onomatopoeia’ was Mr Martin at Godalming College in Surrey, another very admired and inspirational influence in my life. I discovered last year that he lives a few doors up from me. I’ve been meaning to call round and introduce myself, we got on particularly well me and Neil Martin, but recently I nearly ran him over while he was crossing the road as I drove round the corner with one hand on the wheel, a sandwich in the other, and he went mental waving his fist at me as I drove away. Best leave saying hello for a while.

Of course, at school in the 1970s – with no computers – our creative pursuits were entirely analogue, thus writing became my choice of creative expression. And the non-existence of computers meant everything was written by hand. Since getting my first PC in 1994 I have completely lost the ability to hand write anything at all in lower case. I just can’t do it. My handwriting was pretty shoddy as a kid (always trying to write so fast) but now it just consists of badly scrawled capital letters. I predict that in the future handwriting will become an ancient art. Nobody likes a smart arse though, so I retract that immediately.

See, this is what happens when you write for an audience – whether that audience is the world via a blog or whether it’s your clients, lovers, customers, website viewers, employers, you always have that doubt that what you’re writing is shite, transparent, false, rehearsed. A vast majority of what I write now is in the form of an email, and for someone like me who lives on a certain amount of nervous energy, who tends to react with spontaneous emotion to most situations, this is not necessarily a good thing. The amount of times I’ve hovered over the ‘send’ button while thinking “should I really be sending this?...actually no I probably shouldn’t” - then pressing send – is of no odds to nobody. I’ve tried to convince myself that keeping a blog will free my mind and allow me to create some really brilliant works, but the fact is writing this for you, whoever you are, is just as stressful as writing an email to an audience of one. And when I press ‘upload’ there’s no taking it back.

I’m not really enjoying it so far.


Who are bloggers? I don’t think I know any. Haven’t these people got things to do, TVs to watch? Who gets time to sit for several hours every day writing a blog? And about what? I don’t like the word ‘blog’ - it sounds like a hippo having a shit.

Two Paragraphs

I’ve decided to keep a blog. Having recently discovered that a policy of honesty and truthfulness gets you nowhere in life I’ve decided to keep a blog as a way of editing my existence into bite size digestible pieces of semi-fictional short narrative, wherein my life will be edited to appear much more glamorous, humorous and interesting than it really is.

I won’t launch into an essay about who I am or what I do or how I think or what I believe, like those people who you meet who just can’t wait to paint you a verbal self portrait of themselves, all that will unfold to us both eventually. Maybe. Actually, I’m not really sure why I’m here at all. Ego probably. And now I think of it I realise I haven’t given any thought at all to why I decided to write a blog anyway. It’s an impulsive thing, you know how it goes, sometimes you have the sudden urge to create, to write, but rarely does that line up with the moment you’re sitting in front of you laptop with no deeds to do no promises to keep, in the zone, a bit spaced yet strangely focused. And the next thing you know, you’ve completed two paragraphs in the time it would have taken to speak them, you’ve completed two paragraphs and then you’re committed. And I’ve just reached that point – here it is now, the end of the second paragraph.

There’s no turning back now. I’m committed.