Thought, experience and memory from a brain in a jar, one that sometimes has control over a thirty-two-year-old Londonite.

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Location: Herne Hill, London, United Kingdom

27 June, 2006

For Weeks The Fields Were In A State Of Shock

I managed to do a fair amount of noodlin' and adoodlin' last night on the Everbury cycle. No details so far, but I'm beginning to get a better idea of how the thing will come into being. I had a few moments of "flow" which is always welcome. Nothing builds the confidence like spurting out a load of words that you're automatically happy with- especially when you make the leap from notes to prose. It's a weakness of mine, however, that I really take it badly when what I write is crap. I'm dependent on my "channeling" mode...

Everbury's going to be a series of stand alone stories that are bridged by the continuing narrative of a film director who is attempting to script out a film about the Everbury event. He talks to various people about the event, so we get vox pops and interviews. We also get sketches and ideas from him as he works towards developing sequences for the film. He may crop up from time to time in other people's stories too. I've not decided yet. Part of me would like to have the stand alone stories taking place after increasing passages of time (2 years, 4 years, 8, 16...), but that might be a different set of stories.

I'm cheating a little in basing Everbury on Canterbury, which allows me to lift wholesale aspects of the city's history, local culture, and economy. It's interesting though because as I research into all that I'm getting a view of Canterbury that I didn't have before. Everbury will have to take a conscious departure from Canterbury, though, in part to keep the reality cohesive and also for a couple of gags I might want to pull when the director starts finding out about me.

I finished reading Black Swan Green last night (which disturbingly contained one of my jokes - "Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet" "Yeah? Well I've not met the Yorkshire Ripper..." I shall take it as a good omen and move on) and noted that David Mitchell is a graduate of Kent University. Hee hee.

I really wanted the Everbury event to take place on 16th January 2018, which would give me 1618, and the beginnings of something about phi, but 2018 is too far out. Knowing my rate of progress though, I might not have it done by then! I'm also keen to involve a certain degree of political satire (well, satire's too strong a word - comment, perhaps). The event - and really the point of at least one of the key strands of the stories - has both a personal and a political impact. I don't want to get too bogged down in the latter because it's the people stories that I'm more interested in, but a certain amount will be required, certainly in the director's pieces, where he begins to investigate the event.

There was a line I liked, too - not got it worded just how I want it yet. Something like "For weeks the fields were in a state of shock". Hey! That's iambic pentameter! Also I've scheduled in a torrential downpour for the 17th of January - the creator clearing his tracks... Lots of nice little ideas have occured to me along the way, too, including a kind of deep sadness that picks out individuals at random. It starts with the military and police personnel on the scene, but somehow is transmitted through the documentation and the press. Even dry administrative paperwork somehow carries the sadness with it. The director will get a bout or three.

Anyhoo, there goes lunchbreak...

26 June, 2006


Fawlty Towers Freeby
Fawlty Towers Freeby,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
Well it's grey skies today. I suspect between David Miller, John Duffy, Alison & Mike I have had rather too much fun. I feel thoroughly worn out and miserable today. Just the right frame of mind to work on a manual for the super-duper workbook I created when I started my current temping assignment.

Many of my characters are defined almost entirely by the environment in which they find themselves. They are the shapeless entities that the world reaches around to make something of; the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle in Perec's Life: A User's Manual. That's often how I feel about myself - unable to really determine who I am or what I want out of life. Hence my being thirty-one and only the vaguest idea of what I should be doing. I hope against hope that somehow I will gain the freedom to sit at home for three weeks and belt out a novel that will gain me fame and notoriety. Instead I find myself trying to manage my urge to write, the domestic chores, and having to work for a living.

When the black dog is with me I'll reach for a pen. It's only then that I feel what I write escapes being laughably bad.

I've started making a map of Everbury to be used in a cycle of stories I want to write. It's a step into the void, really. I'm not sure there are any stories there to be told. We shall see. I find I want to make the place as real as I can, and know all that endeavour to make it real will merely sit in the background whilst I draw up characters that fall apart. I want the stories to end with a feeling of hope, but I don't know how I can do that convincingly. The best I can come up with are those few moments one gets when suddenly the world seems beautiful and to exist is all the power in the world anyone might need. I hope that will be enough.

15 June, 2006

Living The Dream

Daniel Kitson
Daniel Kitson,
originally uploaded by Simon Scott.
This is just an excuse to get some bloody blogging done, as the last two brief posts, spread far and wide across the sea of time like delapidated groins poking up from the waves, hesitantly hinting at the structure of my life that lies beneath, hardly seem to do the trick.

We went to see Daniel Kitson do his Weltenschauung and Tales For The Wobbly Hearted shows at the Regents Park open air theatre. Butterflies fluttered by, fireworks heckled, there was pink light in the trees, and I think I saw a dragonfly.

This was the first time we'd seen Kitson outside of the Brixton Comedy Club, a much more intimate venue with a vocal, but generally warm, polite and regular crowd. The main difference was that what we had seen of Weltenschauung was sketchy, with Kitson finding his way through his own material. At Regent's Park, which Kitson claimed was the biggest gig of his career (no mean feat considering he won the Perrier four years ago), the show was fully formed and polished. It was missing a little of the excitement, but was also the first time I'd seen this material and felt I could get some sense of the cohesive whole.

Prominent audience members included Paul Whitehouse and Simon Day, who seemed to enjoy Kitson's attack on Lads mags. I had to steel myself from watching their reactions though.

The second part was something I literally had no prior experience of, save for some of Gavin Osbourne's songs. Kitson performed a series of short stories, unashamedly sentimental, life affirming and all those uncool things we're supposed to be above. Lovely way in which Kitson and Osbourne worked seamlessly together; not a sense of chemistry, really, just a sort of rightness about the two of them performing.

The stories themselves tended to be surreal without being impossible, and were chiefly about characters trying to connect to the right people, to make friendships that can remain true despite their imperfections, or the pressures of the world around us. They had the kind of hope I find impossible to bring out in my own writing. I guess the nearest I'll get is the girl smiling at the end of Magnolia.

Anyhoo, see Kitson! He remains the finest stand-up comedian of his generation.

14 June, 2006

Even my desk calendar hates me...

The quote on my Who Moved My Cheese desk calendar yesterday was as follows:

"My favorite thing is to go where I've never been"
-Diane Arbus

Which I would be happy to take on board were it not for the fact that Diane Arbus killed herself. It'll be Tony Hancock and old Hitlers next...