Saturday, April 30, 2011


Ma famille, and the famille of VisualPersist had arranged to go for a picnic! Like all British picnics, our location (a playground near Argal Reservoir) ticked all the boxes of:

1. Being a bit cold.
2. Being near fields that smelled faintly, but distinctly, of manure.
3. Being, after about ten minutes, rained on.

So we upped to Trebah which is a large garden type place with a coffee bit outside but under umbrellas where we could mange our picnic with discretion. All very nice, and then we went back to the car where I found, tucked under my windscreen wiper, A NOTE!

And not just just any note. It was A CROSS NOTE. What I had done, you see, is just park the car in the middle of the carpark. This, I realise with hindsight, aided by THE CROSS NOTE, was the act of a buffoon.


If you can't read the note, I have quoted it below, Note there are two paragraphs, in different handwriting, which I have tried to replicate by quoting one in italics, the other in bold.

great work on Blocking us in thankyou! Could you not see that parking Behind us would not allow us to leave! Whats wrong with the rest of the carpark?

Having to remove the rope to actually leave the car park is not something we wanted to do to such a nice area!!

In short then, I had parked behind a car which had some rope in front of it, and in order to vacate the carpark, after presumably howling and sobbing for an hour, the blockees had been forced to move the rope.

But then it got worse. Because my wife Patroclus who has a far higher Perception skill than me turned over THE NOTE.

THE NOTE had been written on the only writing material the blockees had available, which appeared to be some sort of sexy wrapping paper! Containing words like: Submission Thrill Pleasure Desire Excitement Temptation!

None of which are words you expect to run across in a country garden, no matter how nice the coffee bit with umbrellas. Patroclus then proved her high Perception roll was no fluke by declaring both specimens of handwriting to be 'feminine'. Which means I have a far more thorough apology to prepare than I had previously considered, and here it comes now:


Patroclus does not think that just because you are both ladies, and your cross note has been written on sexy wrapping paper, it follows that you are both sexy lesbetarians. I however am more worldly, and realise you are like Gertrude Jekyll* and Vita Sackville-Baggins (but younger and sexier, probably called Tilly and Eve) and spent a good morning browsing sexy Cornwall boutiques and saying things like 'But I mustn't!' and 'Tilly, you're so naughty! and then decided you just had time to dash to a nice garden place (with a good outside coffee bit with umbrellas) before it was time to go home and be all languid and stuff.

AND THEN SOME IDIOT BOXED YOU IN! I imagine you reacted thusly:

TILLY: A car is Behind us! However can we get out?

Ten minutes later:

EVE (timidly, Eve is probably the timid one, in fact in the early hours of the morning she sometimes doubts she is really a lesbetarian at all, but Tilly seems terribly keen): We could remove the rope to actually leave the car park?
EVE: (wistfully) I do wish they had not parked Behind us and Blocked us in.
TILLY: But they did park Behind us and Block us in Eve, and that is all there is to it.
EVE: Could they not see that parking Behind us would not allow us to leave?
TILLY: (coldly) Clearly, Eve, they could not. You are a goose sometimes.
EVE: (meekly) Yes Tilly.
TILLY: Now what are the words of the day according to our favourite sexy boutique?
EVE: I don't remember, Tilly.
TILLY: They are Submission Thrill Pleasure Desire Excitement Temptation! Honestly Eve, sometimes I despair.
EVE: Is 'Despair' a word of the day?
TILLY: No Eve.

Long pause.

EVE: We're going to have to move the rope, aren't we?

Anyway, again, my apologies.

* I may be thinking of Violet Trefusis.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Development Executives

Recently I had a meeting with a development executive for a medium-size but up-and-coming production company. Development executives are the filter that stop screenwriters leaping into production companies, running up to actual producers and shouting 'Let's do the show right here in the barn!', whilst stealing all the biscuits and trying to use the free wi-fi to look at X-rated Thundercats fanfiction.

The meeting seemed to go okay, unlike the last time I had a meeting with some development executives at a (slightly larger and more successful) production company, where we all got on very well right up until the point where they actually said 'Right, well, are there any of our shows you fancy writing for?' I hadn't really expected this, having gone in specifically to pitch a few ideas of my own, and so quickly looked around at the posters on the walls, only to realise I didn't actually like any of their shows.

'Erm,' I said, 'not really'. Instantly I felt a disturbance in the writing force, as though thousands of agents suddenly looked up and rolled their eyes. 'Hahaha that's okay, obviously!' they said, but the remaining thirty seconds of the meeting were, I remember, frosty.

Anyway, this wasn't like that, this was a good meeting, and I followed up with an email with five or six half-page concepts for series, one of which grabbed the Development Executive INSTANTLY, so that within a week, we'd set up a meeting with a major commissioner at the BBC. One nice sign that we thinking along the same lines was when we simultaneously revealed our choice of actor for the main part - only for it turn out we were thinking of the same person.

DEVELOPMENT EXECUTIVE: And you say you know him?
ME: (smugly) Let's just say I've written for him, and we're both on Twitter.
ME: Not really, no. But I'm going to ask him on Twitter, and let's see what happens next.

He didn't get back to me, obviously, and the BBC turned the concept down. None of which mattered that much, because Development Executive and I both realised there was enough of a hook in the concept we could muck about with it a bit and start sending it around to other places with a reasonable expectation of at least getting a treatment commissioned.

Then I got another phone call.

ME: OMG! That's awful! How does this affect MEEEEEEEEEEE!

Because development executives are like pets: they're soft and cute, make funny 'yipping' noises when they're happy, and the moment you think you're building up a long-lasting and emotionally fulfilling relationship with one, your emails get bounced back with an attachment telling you your new friend's suddenly had to go and live on a farm with lots of other development executives, where they're all very very happy together, and spend their time focus grouping outlines for comedy dramas written by a team of rabbits and voles.

What I could have done was take the outline back and start sending it to other production companies. But because MY HEART RULES MY HEAD (*makes a face like a Kray Twin*) I said the Development Executive could keep the idea and start sending it around again when she gets back on her feet. In my head it's like giving a drowning man a lifejacket. In reality, it's more like giving a drowning man a pack of tissues and saying 'There you are, these absorb water'.

I haven't heard from her since. She's probably living on a farm now.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A True Story

If you happen to be in Turo sometime before April 26th and I see no reason why you wouldn't, there's a shipping container plonked down on Lemon Quay (the main open space where they have farmers' markets). In fact, there are fifteen shipping containers plonked down all over Cornwall, but the one in Truro is special, because it has a poster/short story combination by MEEEEEEE in it, as part of Cornwall Design Season put together by Rob Self-Pierson

Here below is what it looks like, although if you actually go inside the shipping container and point an iPhone style device at it, an actor will apparently read the words aloud to you, in words.

However, if you can't make it to Lemon Quay in Truro before the 26th April, you can read my contribution here It is a short story I wrote about a formative theatrical experience I SHALL SAY NO MORE.

Anyway, loads of time and effort has gone into making my, and all the other bits of writing look quite quite lovely. I like the way with my one, the designer tried to make sure the actual writing took up as little of the space as possible, filling the vast majority of the poster with a single quote mark, which I think is some sort of statement re: designers' feelings towards writers which are apparently comprised principally of hatred. This aside, it still looks nice.

Monday, April 04, 2011

One good reason...

(includes very mild CAMPUS spoilers) get as many spec scripts under your belt as possible is that when you've started to get your name known a bit, at least by the twelve people who might give you work, those producers who have a show in development and are looking for new writers are going to start asking for sample scripts. And they're going to want to see something at least vaguely in the same format.

So unless you want to write exactly the same thing over and over again (and some writers do), it's handy to have a sample scripts, from your own original ideas, that cover at least the basic formats. Of course, sometimes you have to interpret what they want a little, like what I done today.

PRODUCER: Hi, I'm looking for new writers for a new kids' show, which is sort of a half hour comedy thing, with puppets. Do you have a sample script I could take a look at?

I have a quick flick through my recent scripts. The latest is the thing I'm doing for BBC4 is this 18th century adaptation, filled with whores*, booze and slapstick (mainly comprised of the protagonist falling over whilst in the middle of booze). It is wildly unsuitable. But it is also, I reckon, quite funny. And half an hour long.


So we'll see how that goes.

* In other whorish news, I was pleased to discover that a scene I wrote for the Campus pilot which involves a discussion of 18th century terms for prostitutes, but was cut out for length, has made it back into the revised episode one. Huzzah! So a big week for Georgian whores, which is nice.