Blog Links Just some of the great blogs I keep stumbling on. Go for an explore, and if you see any really good ones, let me know...
- the hottest blogger I know. - I hate knitting. However, I love this blog. Who'd have thought? - If you ask me, it's perpetual brilliance! - 'nuff said. Inspired - inspiring.
- ...into light. Xenouveau - Her from Sadisticland. All Geek To Me - Fun from Scout Finch.
Elven Sarah - Witty and weird, a bit like me (but witty). Sedgefield - A nice blog, which may have died from meme deficiency... - A great lady had a great blog. Hopefully it returns...
superphase - A stick hero for the masses...
Sadly, we have been given the cold Shoulder. - a great blog from the continent, nice and warm there. - Not indulgent any more.
She Speaks - The star-crossed lover is now silent.
Organic Feminism - A tremendous blog. Even though she calls me Scoots *shudder*
You can no longer get your soup fix from souplover.
The more I visit the town centre, the more depressed I get. It's not because I live up north, but because I moved into a shopping mall without realising.
Every time I walk down the main street, I see a new shop announcing a closing down sale, an empty carcass where another stood, and a new Costa. Things aren't going well for the town I've been visiting for the last five years, which I surmise from the four types of store that predominate:
Pound shops. Everything in my town can be bought for a single pound, it would seem. The interiors are like Aladdin's Cave, with all kinds of cheap tat, from tea-towels to DVDs, to coffee, to toys, all for the price of a loaf of bread. There are a few super-pound shops, where items are more expensive, but the general thrust is that of cheapness.
Coffee shops. It wasn't that long ago that there was one coffee house, and that was inside a bank. Now there are eight, and a new Costa Coffee opened last week (there's another Costa inside the Waterstones). Everyone is no doubt completely wired.
Charity shops. Perhaps this is indicative of the disposable society we live in, but there is a cornucopia of charity shops brimming with second-hand clothes and book, with new ones opening all the time. There's a new YMCA shop across the road from my bank, and it was from here that I bought a comic book of Transformers: The Movie (1985) and The Crucible script for less than a pint of milk. Two of the stores are large enough to house furniture, and I bought an armchair from one of them.
Bakers. It's nigh on impossible to stand anywhere in the town where a Greggs, Hampsons, or Greenhalghs can't be seen. The proximity to Wigan, home of the World Pie-Eating Championships, is palpable. I don't know what amazes me more, that they don't go out of business, or that everyone I see isn't morbidly obese.
I can see the future, and in it the human race has become totally sedentary, recognisable by old clothes, bloodshot eyes, and cheap DVDs.
People die all the time. I discovered this at a relatively early age, I think, when my grandfather passed away, and I have vague recollections of the funeral. In some ways it's a shame I don't really remember the service, but on the other hand, I have some wonderful misty memories of spending time with him. He taught me how to draw ships in perspective. My uncle died a lot later. He was a very like my dad, and I can see some of myself in what I remember of him, particularly his interest in politics. And there was my gran, who died on her 80th birthday. It was from her that I inherited my unusual fondness for martini.
Still, when most people die it isn't deemed particularly newsworthy unless it's notably tragic or unwarranted. Unless they're famous. Celebrity changes people's perception of strangers;someone you've never met dies and it's especially tragic because they've been on television or in films, or graced the pages of tabloids.
So far this year there have been three "big" celebrity deaths reported in the UK, each as tragic as the other, but as inevitable as any other death. Heath Ledger's death was surrounded by a furore of unnecessary speculation - was it suicide? did the masseuse make non-emergency calls? When reporting Jeremy Beadle's passing, the headlines read "King of Pranks" on the same newspapers who once reported him as the most hated man in Britain. Roy Scheider died on Sunday, and most reports condense his lustrous film career into "the man from Jaws." It seems that the assorted media resort to the lowest common denominator in their attempts to sensationalise stories, as they've always done. At the end of the day, one man died accidentally and two men died of protracted illnesses.
It's a terrible shame that they died before they could bring more to the world, but we would better serve their memories by enjoying what they did bring. I for one will probably have a martini tonight.
It's the end of 2007. In some ways I'll be glad to see the back of it, but mostly I look back over the past 12 months with wistful affection. I graduated with a lower degree than I hoped for, but I've still managed to gain industry respect. I've injured my knee, but it gave me the opportunity to carry on with my film making without being badgered by the government to earn money. Although I've had three girlfriends this year (something of a record for me), they've all enriched my life in one way or another. I've also had some very promising things happening in my professional life, so watch this space.
In all, 2007 was fairly good, but I'm looking forward to an even better 2008. Happy New Year!
I met up with the old friend, and as a result, I'm no longer single. I suppose I can be a charmer; when backed into a corner, I charm with the best. I saw her again on Tuesday and we watched a few films at mine. It's worth mentioning her prodigious knowledge of films; her favourite director is Wong Kar Wai. Things are proceeding nicely, but unfortunately she's only in the area for one day now before the new year, so I'll have to make the most of that day. Ah, well.
The screenings were OK, although I would have liked to see more people there. My older friend, Guillaume, arrived on Wednesday evening, and we embarked on an odyssey worthy of Homer. We scoured the countryside looking for our oldest friend Bob, and were confounded at every turn. Defeated, we returned and I took him to La Salsa, a nice tapas restaurant where my friend works. Naturally, it was her day off! On Thursday, Guillaume came to see Milky Thursday, and he tells me he enjoyed it, although I should have added subtitles for his benefit, really. I introduced him to the delights of the nearest chinese buffet, and returned to the cinema. I grumpily watched the winners in Best of The Fest, and we could have gone to congratulate them in the bar, but by then my sour grapes had killed my enthusiasm for a couple of free Corona, so we called it a night. It's not as bad as that, really, I mean, getting nominated in Best Of The North West isn't that bad. Besides, I did enjoy the sight of a tramp dressed as Father Christmas, who played a flute for the car park patrons queueing for ticket validation.
The day of the road trip we finally tracked down Bob's current street, but had no idea which number he lives at. We made an educated guess, and proceeded to leave a note. Just then their neighbour arrived home, so we pressed her for information, and after much cajoling finally discovered that we were standing at the wrong house, and needed to be four doors down. Thankfully we were able to retrieve the note, and recommenced our leafleting campaign through the correct letterbox. Elated, we set off on our road trip, and it took an age, mainly because of the horrific accidents in our path, and partly because Guillaume's Tom-Tom tried to guide us down people's driveways and through hedges. All told, the 250 mile journey took nine hours, so we had little time for more than a meal before we had to retire. Michel, Guillaume, Gemma and I decided upon Bella Italia, and the food was delectable. We ate, drank and generally caroused until closing time, and Guillaume journeyed back to his plush hotel while I prepared for a night on a strange mattress in Gemma's spare room. Of course, Gemma and I had to watch the feature I'd edited for her, so we slumped on the sofa and picked it apart until around 2AM. She didn't like the cut, which wasn't a huge surprise, as no-one likes the first cut of their own film. Hopefully it'll be in better shape the next time she sees it.
Guillaume picked me up at 10 am and we set off back, but by Birmingham it was clear that we would struggle even to make his plane, never mind drop me off first. I left him at departures with minutes to spare and made my way home. I can't remember having had a more fun time in so long, perhaps I'd gone stale like the bread in my kitchen cupboard. Back home, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed over to Glen's where we were catching the Taxi to the airport at 6AM. We watched another rough edit, of a different film - Sweet Snogs. It went down considerably better, mainly because it's intended as a knockabout comedy, rather than a bittersweet lighthearted melodrama. This time there were beers, and after three hours sleep, I roused everyone just in time for the taxi.
I love Dublin. Despite its status as a European capital city, it feels small and cosy. We wandered the south bank of the Liffey searching for our hotel, but in vain, as they had claimed it to be near Temple Bar and Trinity College, when it was on the wrong side of the river. In their defence, though, I should point out that Dublin is quite small, and nowhere is really far away, even for someone hobbling around with a cane. I won't go into much detail at this point about the Dublin meeting, as it will all come out in due course. Let it suffice to say that the meeting went exceptionally well, and we spent the rest of the day drinking and making fun of each other, heading over to the South Bank and the ridiculously expensive delights of Temple Bar. After hardly any sleep we retired for the night, and the next morning we wandered around the north bank of the Liffey. We stumbled upon an unveiling ceremony that day. In 1975, three members of The Miami Show Band were murdered because their music promoted peace and unity amongst the Irish. The Taoiseach (I believe it's pronounced "Teashock"), Bertie Aherne, made a poignant speech about the Troubles, and the whole event was moving. Two priests, Catholic and Protestant, jointly read the lord's prayer, and everyone in the crowd held hands as a symbol of togetherness. A stranger offered his hand, and I felt awkward. I decided not to offend him, and concentrated instead on the message of humanity in the words. I turned to see my colleagues stifling laughter; like characters in an old comedy film, they'd all taken a step back when the hand-holding was announced. I can expect a lot more ribbing for the next few weeks. Ah, well.
It was a busy week last week, and not just because of the wild legal events. My friend runs an acting school, and every four months they hold a showcase; a series of monologues and sketches. It was Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week, and I went along to show support. All of the actors gave an excellent account of themselves, it was just a shame that attendance wasn't better. Naturally, the bar needed help, so I obliged by drinking a couple of pints. On the Wednesday I took it upon myself to walk to the venue. It was much further from the town centre than in the taxi the night before. And it was raining. I got rather wet. Still, it was worth it for the slight sense of smug achievement. Friday night was an after-showcase party, and a few of the actors turned up to the pub. We drank a little, told a few jokes, sang some karaoke (I do a mean Mack The Knife), and eventually made our respective ways home. I chatted to Drew quite a bit. He spilt up with his girlfriend a few weeks ago, and if anything he's hornier than I am. It's a truth universally accepted that a man in possession of no partner is incredibly horny. However, I must admit I thought it was odd when he offered me the use of his ex. I didn't things worked like that. Saturday was another adventure in the land of insobriety. My house-mate's ex was having her 21st in Manchester, and I was invited along. Without aforementioned house-mate. I suspect that would have made things pretty awkward, seeing as her other ex was there, and they clearly had unresolved sexual tension going on. Still, it was an entertaining night, and a nice opportunity to see the fully operational Students' Union at MMU.
And so to this week, when things don't show any signs of letting up. Tomorrow I'm meeting up with an old friend for drinks, after hopefully finishing the edit of a feature film. Wednesday I'm attending the Best of the North West screening of my film, and possibly meeting up with an older friend to hunt for a positively ancient friend! Well, maybe not, but that's the general plan. Thursday I have another screening, followed by drinks aplenty at the Best Of The Fest get-together, and hopefully they'll be celebratory drinks. Friday I'll be taking a road trip down to Southend. I'm really looking forward to it, as it's been an awfully long time since I did anything of that nature. If memory serves, it was Glastonbury in 91, and what a weekend that was! Hmmm... those events may come out in the fullness of time, but not today. We return on Saturday, and Sunday I'm heading over to Ireland for an important film-making meeting, returning on the Monday.
By then I suspect I'll be planning nothing but a nap.
I returned from the ancestral home to attend mny housemate's party. It was OK, if messy; there's still some unidentified red sauce on the carpet, and I can't kneel down to clean it up. On Sunday I attended auditions for the feature I've been working on since June, and the Director/Producer was there. As one of the three writers on the the project, I had been trying to persuade him to come to a production meeting that night, and he had wound me up with some of his texted replies. Finally though, he was there, and ! reiterated the importance of this meeting. the rest of the auditions were hit-and-miss. I felt that his actions were extremely unprofessional (after a long period of doubting his professionalism), and by the time he left I had no confidence left in his ability to turn a damn good screenplay into a passable movie. So we had the meeting, and as writers, we told him we were leaving the project. Naturally, as we had written the screenplay, he told us he'd find a new script and a new crew, and left.
On Monday he sent an email to the production company, telling them that he'd uncovered a conspiracy and sacked the writers. He wanted negotiations to continue with the script he had copyrighted. Uh-oh. Luckily we had already been in contact with the production company for a while, as this guy had successfully annoyed them so much that one of us had been forced to step in and handle correspondence with them a month ago. They were encouraging, telling us that they felt we had done the right thing in leaving his company (which we weren't official members of anyway) and to leave things to their legal team.
Since then he has been accusing people of incompetence and collusion, claiming that the script was his, and announcing that he has taken his film to another production company. The original production company is now taking him to court for slander, copyright theft and breach of contract, and has taken us (the writers) on their books to form a unified plaintiff. It's all a great big mess, and the film could be indefinitely shelved due to this one guy's actions. However, I've heard promising murmurs about this company I'm now signed to, and they clearly have long term faith in us. Watch this space.
My knee is still on the mend, and I can't yet climb stairs, but I have the plasters off now, and I can finally have a shower! I had circumvented this problem at the weekend by fashioning a waterproof curtain from a binbag, but it wasn't ideal and I felt very silly. I have three tiny scars, tenderness and some swellling, which I expect to fade in due course. I have found it amusing that walking around with the crutch has prompted people I know to ask "What have you done?" although it proves to me that no-one was taking my injury as seriously as they should have before the operation.
There have been more things happening, but I'll save them for another day. I think this post is large enough!
I wasn't looking forward to the operation, but it was the next necessary step on my journey to double-leggedness. As such, I accepted it with that inevitable resignation.
And then I chatted to Mel online. I'd been having a couple of low weeks, and as a result I'd written her a love letter which turned into a cathartic unloading of all my personal woes. I decided that I'd give it to her anyway, with the caveat that I was quite down at the time, and she might as well see me warts and all. To lighten things, I wrote another one, which waxed far more rhapsodic.
She told me she'd read the letters, and she'd sent me one back (by email, as I would be at my parents when it arrived). I joked that I hoped it wasn't a Dear John letter, and she didn't laugh. I realised then that it was but that didn't soften the blow.
Not one bit.
It's perfectly understandable; her baggage and mine were simply incompatible, like trying to plug a jack into a phono, or trying to connect an aardvark in a sack to a pillow. In the end, she told me that she'd been pretending to herself that her aardvark was enough like a pillow for it to work. I spoke to her later on, and any thoughts I'd had that we could make it work were dashed there and then. I'd got on better with Mel than with any other woman I've met, she was smart, funny and sexy, and we had a real connection. I've managed to get over the worst of it fairly quickly, and I think we'll be able to stay friends, but being without her is going to be hard.
Of course, this happened on Sunday evening, so I didn't sleep a wink on Sunday night. I ended up killing time on the PC until my dad arrived to take me to the hospital. I sat in the ward for a couple of hours, reading The Handmaid's Tale, and found myself getting mellancholy at Offred's (as in "of Fred," geddit?) plight, more than I suspect I would had I not been unexpectedly single again. The consultant came and went through the expected events, before drawing an arrow on my leg, pointing to my knee. It's standard procedure to make double sure they don't lop off an arm by mistake, but it's still amusing. I then signed the consent form, giving him the right to footle around as much as necessary. It was like being the Queen; every five minutes someone else came to where I was sat, and I shook hands witheach one and asked "And what do you do?" I met the anaesthesiologist, the physio nurse, a couple of other nurses, etc. The ward was split into two. I was in bed 2 of the first four, and the next four were across the aisle. It became clear later that there were two lots of operaations happening that day. In beds 5, 6, and 7, the patients were having facial moles removed, and they were all in and out of surgery before the guy in bed 1 came back. They collected me around 10:20 and I walked down to anaesthetics. I lay on the bed, they stuck a needle in my hand, and next thing I knew I was coming to, back in the ward.
The sensation was similar to waking up after fainting; I was extremely lightheaded, and my movements seemed exaggerated. I was also surprisingly happy, and I could only feel a dull ache in my leg. The surgeon came and spoke to me, giving me the piece of cartilage they'd removed in a small plastic phial. I have absolutely no idea what he said, but I nodded like a dope. I hope I didn't drool. The anaesthetic wore off, so the longer I sat, the worse the pain got, although it settled at a low throb. I could have had some morphine, but I thought it would be overkill, frankly.
I was brought back to the ancestral home by lunchtime, and I've spent the intervening hours hopping around on crutches and nodding off in front of the TV. It's not much of a playboy lifestyle, but it will suffice for now. This morning I removed the copious bandages, and frankly, I was disappointed to find that my knee hadn't become invisible. Instead I saw three plasters arranged at the points of an isosceles triangle, each matted with black, dried blood. They'll be fun to take off! My knee's a bit swollen, but already I can walk around a bit without crutches. With luck, I'll get a definite prognosis at my Friday physiotherapy session.
Milky Thursday is going to be shown at the 2007 Exposures Student Film Festival, and the programme arrived yesterday. I took a look through it, and I'm the only filmmaker from my university with a film there. It's a shame really, I worked on one or two that won't be seen by the general public. On the other hand, it's gratifying that all the effort I put into making the film has had such good results. I was expecting to find MT in the drama category, although there was some doubt in my mind, as they had originally told me it was in the experimental category. I duly found it where I expected, but it was a bit of a shock to also find it in the "Best of the North West" category. It put a spring in my hobble for the whole day, and I'm still grinning about it now. There are a series of prizes on offer for the judges' choices, plus an audience award, although I'm not expecting to win anything. Had I managed to improve the sound and visual effects, then perhaps. Still, everyone who attends should vote for me anyway...
This will probably be the last entry I make before the arthroscopy. I'm going in on Monday morning for 8AM, and afterwards my Dad's taking me back to the ancestral home for recuperation and convalescence. All being well, I'll be back on my feet in a week, and able to go upstairs again at last.
Mel and I took a trip down to London this weekend. Twenty-five years ago, the UK acquired its fourth TV station, Channel Four, and throughout the year there have been retrospectives and celebrations all over the place. To coincide with these festivities, the British Film Institute held a back-to-back screening on Saturday of both series of Spaced, one of C4's flagship programmes.
For the uninitiated, Spaced was an alternative sitcom about the adventures of two friends, Daisy (Jessica Hynes nee Stevenson) and Tim (Simon Pegg), who pretend to be a professional couple in order to rent a flat in London. It's very silly, very funny, and filled with in-jokes (For example, a running joke in series two is about Tim's hatred of The Phantom Menace - "Jar-jar makes the ewoks look like...f***ing Shaft!"). It's also notable in that Edgar Wright (who directed the series) and Simon (who wrote and starred) went on to make Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and Jess (the other writer/star) has been in things like The Royle Family, Doctor Who and BBC drama Learners (which she also wrote).
Sadly, we were unable to get tickets for the cast Q&A session, so Mel and I hung around outside watching the Lord Mayor's firework display. We did, however, get to watch both series, with Edgar and Simon sitting in to watch it themselves (and heckle at opportune moments). On the Sunday we were at something of a loose end, so we popped in to the Star Wars Exhibition at County Hall. It was pretty good, and Mel was arrested for cupping a stormtrooper (well, almost), but I couldn't help thinking that it could have been so much better. Oddly, I had the same thoughts about Phantom Menace.
On the whole, though, it was an excellent weekend, and a nice way to take my mind off the upcoming operation. A lot have people I know seem to have had an arthroscopy without any ill effects, but it does concern me that I'm pinning all my hopes on this surgery. If I still can't walk properly after this (and the accompanying physiotherapy), I've no idea what I'll do. Then again, if it does work, I'll face the very real problem of having to get a job. I've had the luxury of being able to continue with various film-related activities whilst being signed off sick, but I doubt I'll get such leeway if I'm back to 100% fitness. Well, 50% fitness. But I'll be able to exercise more. If I get the time...