May 28, 2010

This was a day out. A drive around. earlier in the day we saw a donkey…

…and a turkey pecked my lens.


May 24, 2010

In the Godstone Farm tea room they have labelled their stirrers, “stirrers”. Those little plastic things that I use as oars when I put my non-existent Action Man in his non-existent canoe. Look! Action Man complete with tea stirrer.

I wonder why they chose to labe the stirrers but none of the other items of plastic cutlery or single serving condiments? Do farm visitors regularly pick them up and stare at them as if they were from the future? (the stirrers, not the people. People from the future would know a stirrer when they saw one I’m sure). Perhaps the staff are sick of people going up and asking “do you have something for er… stirring the tea?” What’s wrong with teaspoons? When did they go out of fashion? Did some folk see the stirrers as some kind of new-fangled cake cutter? Were they trying to eat their cakes with a stirrer, a crumb at a time?

I can’t think about this anymore. I have to go to choir. Bye.

The title’s misleading. There’s no beer in this post. Years back me and Trev came up with a programme idea called Beer and Clothing in… . It was to be a Hunter S. Thompson-esque road trip thing with the two of us drinking beer, dressing up and messing about. You don’t need to know any more details. There aren’t any.

Yes? So? Ok, it’s just a play on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Ok, it’s only one step up, or down, from Monkey Tennis. But what do you expect from the guys who brought you this?

A long-winded introduction to my day out in Lewisham. It’s easy to spend a day in Lewisham. We’ve just finished a first draft of our film, we have a meeting next Thursday to discuss it, get notes… so, for now, I’m just a waster, passing time. If anyone has a job for me, let me know. In the meantime I wander Lewisham.

I started off at the Post Office depot. I had to pick up Coma by Alex Garland, the picked book for next week’s Book Club. It should have been popped through the letter box, but I had to sign for it and the postman called at some ungodly hour. 6am. Or 9am. Or 10.24am. Something crazy when decent people are asleep.

Back to the depot it went. Or not. It hadn’t turned up by the time I got there so I had to wait til 12.45. I used the time to think about Douglas Copeland, Alex Copeland, Douglas Garland and Michael Crichton; the variety of names I had gone through before I found the right book.

Having got the book I headed to the shops to spend, spend, spend. I bought a laptop stand, a load of A4 paper, five pens, candles, shampoo, conditioner, all sorts of stuff. By this point I’d spent £9. I had to draw the line somewhere and so I resisted my desire to buy the £6 Mohammad Ali T-shirt in Primark. Nor did I buy a bundle of the £2 T-shirts. But, if you like your T-shirts go to Primark. I’m fussy about necks and the necks on the Primark ones are lovely; nice and thin, with none of that visible stitching thing going on.

Then, a read of the papers and a coffee. I used to go to Ponti’s, inside the Lewisham Shopping Centre, but they’ve introduced some new system of looking at menu’s, remembering your table number, going up and ordering; all too much for me and, I guess, for others since the place was unusually empty. Off to their neighbour, Muffin break. Old school. Go up, tell them what you want, get it.

It’s now the next day and I never got around to finishing this rambling post.

I’ll come back to Lewisham. There are good things going on that I’ve never noticed before.

In the Lewisham Shopping centre I did something I’d never done before. I went for a wee. And, in passing, I saw the Lewisham mural- a celebration of 200o years of Lewisham history. For once I had gone out without my camera. But I’ll be back. Bringing you details of Lewisham. Telling you how Max Wall, Boris Karloff and Spike Milligan fit into the picture.

For now, here’s the trailer to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And for now, for me, more rambling, wandering, passing time. Bad Lieutenant (the new one) calls.

Life is so peculiar

May 19, 2010

It doesn’t pay to complain. Really, you can’t stay home and brood. So, before we get to the nitty gritty let’s just enjoy a peaceful and calming break.

Are you feeling mellow? Life is peculiar isn’t it? Sometime, whilst I was in Manchester, between May the 4th and May the 9th, my car was stolen. Here’s the  story.

As much as I am an idiot I am also, when this comes to that, relatively capable. And so on discovering the theft of my car I tried to do everything in the right order. First, I phoned the council. (A few years ago I had been visiting my sister in America. I came back to find a new road and no car. I phoned the council. They told me that my car could have been moved and I should have a look around nearby first. Sure enough, I found it.) This time, I’d come back from Manchester to find nice new yellow lines. So, I called, and was told that my car hadn’t been moved. I walked around a bit anyway. I hadn’t used my car for over a week and I wanted to check I hadn’t just parked it somewhere unusual. I walked around for an hour. I was convinced I would find it.

I didn’t. It had gone.

Next, the police. They got me to phone some search company. No sign on it’s database, so back to the police, and then to my insurance company.

This was all a week last Monday. Yesterday I was walking to one of my local cafes when I saw this.

My car.

I felt sick.

A part of me was convinced I would at some point see it. I don’t know why. It may be part of being a writer that leads to all sorts of possibilities racing through my head. So seeing it was the most natural thing in the world. Also the scariest.

What to do? I couldn’t even bring myself to go near it at first. What if I saw someone try and get into it? What if it was madly and sadly disfigured and smashed?

And also… what if I was mad? What if I had parked it there? But then I knew I hadn’t. I hadn’t, had I? What? It’s just… It was all too much. I felt sad, happy, worried, sick; as traumatised as a naseous Woody Allen. What would the police think? And my insurers? If I was mad and I had parked it there, would I go to prison? Would I be fined for wasting police time? Would the insurers sue me?

So, of course, after a few days of standing in the street and just looking, months of feeling ill, years of being banged up, I walked over to the car.

There was a leaflet under the windscreen wiper, battered by the weather. It had been there since early May.

I’m not mad. The Council had moved my car. Or their sub-contractors had. It seems they just don’t choose to tell you.

Thank you to the police and Tesco Insurance for being so understanding about this; for not locking me up, and for leaving my no claims bonus in place.

Lewisham Council? No thanks to you.

And, to make sense of Life is So Peculiar… I have tried to complain. It didn’t pay.  I called the council back. I was passed from person to person, no one quite knowing how to handle my call. Eventually I was told that I could speak to some sort of inspector. I was handed over to him and then… I was transfered to an answering machine. I left my name and number. No one has called back.

I’m putting this down to one of those things and I am not going to chase it. I just don’t have the… Oh, let’s end on another philosophical favourite.

The marvellous Joff Thompson has very kindly uploaded the Trev and Simon Summer Special on to YouTube. This has been hidden away for 15 years. And most likely only ever shown once on TV. That shows you just how special it is. Oh, and it was shown in the summer. The summer of 1995 if I remember correctly. I haven’t seen it since we made it. I watched it, and I surprised myself by laughing out loud once. I think, 15 years on, I can watch it and fool myself  I am watching someone else. Someone a bit like me working with someone  a bit like Trev.

It was  a bit of a troubled production. We had such grand ideas for it, but the BBC kept very tight control over us. We were even told, by a friend on the production team, that the BBC had another script they planned to shoot; one full of alternative (but not necessarily alternative) jokes and sketches. We fought to get our stuff made. If we hadn’t been so full of ourselves I’m sure we could have benefitted from a like-minded script editor.

Well, here it is, and, if not ideal, I can see glimpses of the troubled minds that, at the time, were intent on overthrowing early Saturday evening viewing as we knew it.

In typical disclaimer style, all the comments that follow are mine. Do not hold Trev responsible for any libel that may follow.

Here’s Part One, featuring Private frank Porritt, The World of the Strange, Lottery gamble, the Inbred Idiots, and letitia Dean wearing a costume that made her cry.

Yes, it’s true, and we’re not proud of it; forcing Letitia Dean to wear an aubergine costume made her cry. To this day I am sorry. We had no skills and no tact when it came to telling someone they had to dress up as an aubergine. She did it though, and she looks very fetching. And she does a fine job with the Inbred Idiots, our attempt to inject a little Evil Dead/Deliverance into early Saturday evening viewing.

I like the aquarium. At the time I didn’t. We wanted a real aquarium with real fish, but the budget was tight. Now I think it has a kitschy charm. All things were inevitably compromised through budget. You only get a sneaky peak at some of our more outrageous demands in the opening sequence. We wanted a volcano, a mermaid, an Elvis. And somewhere on some cutting room floor are all the extra bits we filmed with them.

We got our sniper. Even now I’m surprised that sneaked by in a Little and Large slot.

The World of the Strange was filmed in its usual style; in front of a live audience and with no editing, just us running around the camera and ducking and diving in and out of fridges. I’ve always like our Two Ronnies nod at the end.

My favourite bits are at the desk, just messing about, being stupid with a Lottery pen, smashing things up, calling the Lottery pen Guineapig instead of Guinevere. I think we were always at our happiest when we could break things.

The I won a mini line reminds me of one of the cut jokes. This was in another of our Trev and Simon at home scenes, our attempt to pay tribute (nick?) the Morecambe and Wise style. Trev receives a Readers’ Digest type letter. He excitedly reads out  Congratulations! You have won a car before unfolding the letter to see it carry on to say digan. I love that joke. In that same (cut) sketch we had another special guest; the late great Keith Floyd. And in that sketch I painstakingly made an Airfix kit of a large plane. I can’t remember much other than at the end of the sketch it got smashed to pieces.

Part two really highlights my gift for accents. I’d say it’s a spot one one for French chef Geoff, with a G… string. And then there’s Terry in Vicar Watch with his local dialect. I’m just not sure where it’s local to.

I like Cook That! it fits nicely into our style of destroy. I could never understand though why we were not allowed to set fire to a real CD Walkman. You may have been fooled, or can you tell it’s a painted block of wood? But we have fire, a collapsing ceiling, and, in PVC, an out of control turntable/potter’s wheel. Thank you Graham Brown for providing auch great destruction. Graham was a great bloke to work with. We managed to get him up to Scotland after he had done loads of work with us for Going Live! and Live and Kicking. If you wanted something destroying Graham was the man for the job. Of course, there was always the issue of BBC Health and Safety. Thankfully Graham couldn’t have cared less for such rules and regulations. Once, working with him on a L&K New Year special filmed on Burgh Island, he set fire to all of the island. Well done sir!

Encyclomedia. If I remember rightly, this developed out of a thing we did on Live and Kicking called Looniversity Challenge; an interactive game played with kids at home over the phone. Kids in the studio had planets stuck on top of their heads and they were known as The Looniverse. Or did Encyclomedia come first? I can’t remember. I do remember having huge discussions over whether we could use the word loony or not. in the end we were allowed to. This led to other loony themed sketches such as Every Loony Wins. Our (weak) defence was that loony didn’t just have to refer to being insane, it could also mean foolish or ridiculous.

And then D:Ream. You may be able to spot Brian Cox, the whizzkid TV scientist, and, a few years back, Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter.

Jones the chemists was the last in our line of oddbod shop owners. We started with Ken and Eddie Kennedy, the barbers, then Don and Dougie Draper, the dry cleaners, then… Roberts Records… oops, can’t remember their names. Tom Jones and Jim Jones the chemists and their barrage of bottom related euphemisms. Sorry folks.

We had a plan to put all these shops and people together in a TV show we would call Street of Shops. If anyone wants to make it now, please contact us. We would also include the father and son characters who ran Cobblers to the Stars, a chiropodist/made to measure shoemaker combo who bred pigs in the back yard to make into shoes for the likes of Robert De Niro. My picture on the about page of this blog is me playing the father shoemaker, holding one of his future pairs.

Goodbye car

May 13, 2010

Goodbye car. You’ve been with me a while. You’re the only car I’ve ever had, and, likely, the only car I ever will have.

A metallic green Ford Fiesta 1.6si bought in 1995 for about £10,000. I’d done my one and, so far, only advert. For Fruitang . An advert deal for £10,000. It’s ridiculous I know. Shame I only get these jobs once every… well, once.

Feeling flush, I decided to learn to drive. I passed my test on my second go. The first try I was 17. The next, 33.

And so I bought a car. I thought I’d maybe have it for three years and then, with a little bit left on the warranty, sell it and get something fancier.

But that’s not how things go. I’ve had it for 15 years now, and I’ve grown fond of it.

It was the only place I could listen to my cassettes. Proper ones as well as my student compilation ones; John Peel’s Festive 50 from 1984, Kimono My House by Sparks, my first ever cassette, bought in 1974 and only just, a few months ago, snapped.

All my cassettes were in the boot, carrier bags full of them. And a Jim Reeves boxed set. Lots of pairs of shoes. My boot was a spare room.

I hope whoever has my car is enjoying the music. If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet forced the boot open try getting them by removing the rear seat. Oh, and you’ll find my favourites and most listened to, along with my sunglasses, in the glove compartment.

Don’t look in the ashtray. There’s no ash. But there is a Close Encounters-like mountain of chewed gum. Sorry.

You may have smashed it by now. Or resprayed it. Or burnt it. Or washed it. I hope you’ve washed it. It was very dirty. Oh, and can you buy four new wheel trims? You’ll see that one is missing and it’s really difficult to find a matching one. I’d like it to look its best.

If you get fed up with it, or don’t like it, could you give it back please? That’d be nice.

Gloomy Saturday

May 5, 2010

London's South Bank, Saturday 1st May 2010

Pigeon rebel

May 5, 2010