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Spelling bee

Underway with a new play. It’s called Sleeptalking. And, rather predictably, it’s about a guy that talks in his sleep. Spent much of yesterday staring out the window, listening to music and working out twists and turns. Then put two fingers to keyboard and turned out lots of cliched rubbish. But there’s a glimmer of a decent idea there, methinks. Found out yesterday that sleep talking is actually called somniloquy, so might rename the play that. It’s something I suffer from, though not, I don’t think, as badly as this guy will.

Just watched a DVD called Spellbound, which is a documentary about the American phenomenon of spelling contests – the lexical equivalent of those dreadful beauty pagaents. It’s a really great little film that shows another fucked up side of the States. Lots of talk about the ‘American Dream’ which, unbelievably in these terror-packed days where American citizenship guarantees hatred, still drives everyone on that side of the Atlantic. For the parents of Angela, her place in the National Championships was the culmination of a dream that started when they crossed the border from Mexico – her father can now die a happy man, albeit one who hasn’t himself learned to speak the English language his daughter is so adept at. Neil’s dad – who pushed the poor lad into learning several thousand words, their definitions and origins every day – said that America is the only place in the world where hard work automatically leads to success. Yeah, right. One of these kids, Harry, was certifiably insane. The joy of being a critic is that, once in a while, an absolute gem like this turns up in the mail.

Finally got round to starting John Osborne’s double-biography Looking Back. I’ve had it for about five years and bought it for £2 from one of those bargain bookshops. It’s bloody good. Meanwhile, on the turntable, Michelle Shocked’s Short Sharp Shocked spins as I await delivery of that weekly highlight, the Doner Kebab.

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