Ah. That went well. I set up a blog to help the creative process and then don’t make any further entries. Well, I’m back. Almost one year later. But I’m back. Thankyou for your patience. Who am I talking to? I’m insane.
Things have changed quite dramatically since then. I have moved to York. My dad died. The BBC have been blamed for the Iraq conflict. Apparently, Tony Blair speaks the truth, the whole truth and nothing but… But nevermind all that.
Death’s Door did, indeed, get completed. It now languishes on my own slush pile and is gathering dust. Originally, I envisaged ten minutes of it making an appearance at last year’s Hull Literature Festival (re-christened, by some arts genius aware of the importance of waterways around these parts, Humber Mouth 2003. Well done.) But it proved a difficult blighter to take a ten minute excerpt from. And it was so ridiculously stylised that, when it came to rewriting parts of it, I couldn’t capture the original mood I was in. I’m glad dad got to read it and approved, and recognised that all his best lines were in there. I shall return to it one day.
A short piece called Store Me Whether made the Humber Mouth. It was directed by Gareth Tudor Price, no less, a man whose work I have reviewed (favourably, mostly, once calling him a ‘thrusting lothario’ – he now has this on his CV) over the years. He did a good job, as did the cast, considering the material they were working with!
Store Me Whether is about megalomaniacal company-obsessed supermarket managers and, for good measure, prostitution. And the fact – it’s obvious to me but probably noone else – that there is very little separating a prostitute and a shelf-stacker. Only after the fact do I realise that this, too, is about dad. He worked tirelessly for the same supermarket company for several decades with little in the way of thanks, apart from a nice man in a tie turning up at his funeral and a small payout to secure his early retirement. I do hope I can, one day, write about something that has nothing to do with that man. Dad, that is, not the bloke in the tie. Or maybe he will always be there, sitting on my shoulder.
Store Me Whether is now being worked into a longer piece called Off Their Trolleys. It’s currently with Hull Truck, where the same GTP keeps forgetting to read it. I re-read it myself the other day and, as ever, was surprised to find that it’s quite dark. But there are lots of daft bits. I wish to dispense with the daft and increase the darkness (or decrease the lightness?) in my future work, without getting all pretentious.
Anyway, Trolleys should make this year’s Hull Literature Festival Humber Mouth 2004. Although I do have a couple of other pieces up my sleeve. We’ll have to see.
I’m crying out to be commissioned. But how does a struggling writer get one of those? I keep thinking back to how the 20-something bricklayer in me would have dealt with this one. I imagine that he’d have marched straight into a theatre brandishing a lump hammer and started swinging it until a commission was forthcoming. But then, he wouldn’t have had the confidence to walk into a theatre back then. Maybe I don’t make enough of the transition I’ve made from being a brain-dead navvy laying 1,000 each cold fucking day and getting through 8 hour stints by talking shite non-stop to superstar graduate and theatre critic. Maybe I could write Educating Rita? Damn you, Willy Russell. Sean Smith reckons I should tell every pretentious twat I interview that I used to work on building sites. I do, every now and then, and it usually results in a stony silence. Had a nice chat about bricks with Melvin Burgess the other day, who also used to work as a bricky. We both got bored quickly, realising that, as interesting as flemish bond and wall ties are, the building trade is shit. Maybe Melvin and myself could co-write an Auf Weidersehn Pet-style drama aimed at a disaffected youth audience? Anyway, I want a commission and I want it now. Keep reminding myself that George Bernard Shaw didn’t write for the stage till he was 40 and I still have a couple of years to go. But maybe I made that up and will have to look it up later.
I am reading Alan Bennett’s auto-biographical rag bag Writing Home at the moment. I can’t pretend not to love it. I notice that AB has lots of huge gaps between diary entries. I imagine that this blog will be very similar!