Posts tagged ‘Facebook’
Is it possible to love someone so strongly, so overwhelmingly, you’d be willing to sell your soul to the devil to have him?
That is the opening line to my short story “Hell is Where the Heart is” from my anthology Getting Even: Revenge Stories (
Ca). Having to repeat it again and again for the camera on Monday afternoon caused me to revisit a sentiment that has been amplified exponentially from the time of the story’s conception. But read it I did, for the planned filming of my performance reading was a year in the making. And, on a cold winter’s afternoon in London’s South Bank, it finally came to fruition.
It began over a year ago at the London book launch of Getting Even, where I planned to do a reading of my work. Because my story was so heavy on dialogue, I realised I needed to find a legitimate Cockney to perform the part of my character “Alf” the Cockney Devil, since I didn’t want to get any Dick Van Dyke comparisons being hurled at me (cor blimey Mary Poppins!). So I’d put out a notice on Facebook and voila, enter Bob Boyton – as Cockney as Cockney can get, and in possession of an accent that could slice through a jellied eel in milliseconds. Yup, I’d definitely found my Alf!
Judging by the reaction of the audience that evening, our performance went down a right treat – so much so that let’s just say I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. Enter Paul Atherton from Simple (TV) Productions – a gentleman who kindly offered to film the reading. Well, I won’t say I got all starry-eyed and fancied myself as Lana Turner being discovered at the soda fountain at Schwab’s Drug Store (yes, I do realise I have star quality!), but I did imagine the video being watched on YouTube and anywhere else it was possible to upload it to.
Having lived for a time in El Lay, one tends to become rather blase about such creatures as actors. However, after an afternoon spent in various locations within the Royal Festival Hall – an afternoon consisting of back-breakingly hard work reading bits of my story again and again and getting them shot from various angles, I will never again be dismissive of those who have chosen or received the calling for the Thespian life. As if it wasn’t difficult enough trying not to flub our lines, we were forced to put up with Muzak playing in the background, espresso machines whooshing, cleaners banging and emptying bins, and individuals so stupid and inconsiderate that they couldn’t shut their mouths for two seconds when walking past what was clearly a film shoot. I mean, does the camera with the microphone sticking out of it not offer a tiny hint of what is transpiring? We were even interrupted by some daft old duffer asking why the door to the auditorium was locked. Um… probably to keep daft old duffers like you out! I nearly shouted. Instead I gave him my Hungarian evil (albeit myopic) eye, at which point he fell over dead with a heart attack. Well, okay, so maybe that isn’t what happened. But you gotta admit, it sounded pretty good.
After we finished the shoot, I went back with Paul to his flat to do some editing. Well, if the filming wasn’t labourious enough, just try editing it! To add insult to the injuries incurred courtesy of the Royal Festival Hall, the cable that was supposed to feed the film into the computer decided not to work. Fortunately another cable was secured – a nifty little red one – and after getting all the footage transferred into the computer and selecting passages to slice and dice, we found ourselves being further thwarted by technology when said computer, for some arbitrary reason known only to itself, decided not to automatically save the work it was programmed to save, and we had to start all over again.
By this time I was utterly convinced the project was cursed and that my tragic aura was having a negative impact on the equipment, and very possibly on Paul. I mean, the day had begun with a text message that pretty much shattered my universe, so why not have the film project shot to hell too? But Paul is nothing if not a consummate professional, thus when I left him late Monday night, he was still toiling away editing the video which, if no other mishaps occur, should be done and dusted by this coming Monday. And yes folks, I will post it on Facebook (including my group page and fan page) and MySpace and every conceivable place there is on this planet to post it, including here. I bet you can’t wait, huh?
Solo reading, Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZ2hvlxqYbM
“You JUST couldn’t write this stuff!”
As a writer (or even as a non-writer), have you ever said that to yourself or to someone else? I know I have. Many times, in fact. I’ve seen and experienced things that are so unlikely, not to mention so outright ridiculous that if I’d written them, I’d be putting myself at risk of failing to suspend disbelief in my reader. Usually it’s the kind of thing you’d never dream up in a million years, not even if you’d raided the shelves at your local pharmacy.
Last week I received an email from a television comedy writer who had a big hit series on the BBC some years back. Apparently he was looking out his bedroom window the other morning, only to discover that his front gate had vanished. Certain he hadn’t misplaced it, he got dressed and promptly set off to search for it, eventually finding it in the next street over, leaning against somebody’s front door. The homeowner, who appeared in her dressing gown looking none too pleased at the intrusion, didn’t take kindly to my friend’s claim that it was HIS gate on HER property. She proceeded to interrogate him, demanding to know how he knew the gate belonged to him in the first place – whereupon he drew her attention to the fact that the gate had his house number on it. How did the gate get there? He concluded that the local lads had stolen it as a drunken prank.
A hit comedy writer for the BEEB, and even he had to admit that he could never have come up anything this bizarre in one of his television scripts.
I know exactly what he means. Only last night I attended a drinks do at a pub in Islington (one that wisely supplied my Belgian strawberry beer on tap, I might add). It was a bon voyage-slash-fundraiser for one of my friends, who’s setting off this weekend to bicycle from London to Lourdes to raise money for the Glanfield Children’s Group (https://www.bmycharity.com/V2/cycletolourdes08). I assumed it was going to be the usual piss-up at the pub kind of evening, replete with a mob of Irish Catholics suffering no guilt whatsoever about imbibing as many pints as the Vatican will allow. And that’s exactly how it started out.
…Until the guest of honour’s girlfriend brought out the waxing strips.
Undressing from the waist down to a pair of black bicycle shorts, her boyfriend bravely leaned back in his chair and shut his eyes. In true Murder On the Orient Express fashion, one by one we proceeded to have a go, stripping the virgin hairs off this poor lad’s calves, knees, and thighs. He was even forced to lie facedown so that the backs of his legs could be attended to. Much maniacal laughter ensued, along with yelps of pain from our victim, as both video and photographic evidence were collected on mobile phones and digital cameras – all of which will likely appear on Facebook. Save for a few glances in our direction, the other patrons sharing the mezzanine area with our little group carried on as if nothing unusual was transpiring within a few feet of their pint glasses. And perhaps this was true; perhaps men having their legs waxed in a pub is common practice in north London. Thank god nothing else was being waxed, that’s all I can say. Indeed, I was told more than once that this could be the inspiration for my next erotic story. It’s always nice to have your mates support and encourage your creative endeavours, isn’t it?
(Now in case you’re wondering if this waxing was initiated in order to appeal to the passions of the rural French he’ll be meeting on the way to Lourdes, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Its intended purpose was far more practical and far less erotic: if our bicylist ends up sustaining an injury to his legs, his wounds will be easier to clean and treat without all that manly hair getting in the way.)
Since the evening was supposed to be a fundraiser as well as an excuse to drink, a member of our party decided to round up a nearby quartet of women to have a go, afterward informing them that they must now pay for the privilege. Upon hearing this, their drunken giggling faded in volume, however, they did open up their generous hearts by depositing a pound coin on the table as blood money. After the waxing strips had finally been exhausted, our charitable bicyclist was left with a patchwork design of silky white skin and brown fur on his legs. Little red bumps had already begun to appear on the plucked flesh, and he rubbed some soothing lotion onto them which had been thoughtfully provided by his girlfriend who, in case you’ve forgotten, is the same kind soul who thoughtfully provided the waxing strips. When he finished, he put his trousers back on – an act which seemed to generate far more interest from the other patrons than the act of his depilation. We quickly downed the last of our pints and headed out into the night, all of us secure in the knowledge that we would never show our faces in this pub again. The last glimpse I had of Mr. Sexy Legs was of him being dragged across the road to a curry house.
Which brings me right back to my original statement: You JUST couldn’t write this stuff!
Well, it was yet another lovely week at the University of Wales in Caerleon – my third time at the Writers’ Conference. My erotic writing workshop attracted a diverse group of men and women of all ages and persuasions, and a surprising amount of talent. Some excellent work was produced in a short amount of time, ranging from the poignant to the downright hilarious. I don’t want to play favourites by mentioning specific pieces, but yes, I did find myself moved by several of the works presented on the final morning of the course. What is always rewarding to me is when people tell me how I’ve changed their perspective on erotic writing and that I got them to do something they never believed they could do – and to be comfortable in doing it. One participant even wrote a charming little ditty about me and Teddy (my bear, if you’ve not figured that out yet!). And yes, it’s suitable for those of a more delicate persuasion. I should add that this wasn’t part of the homework I’d assigned, but rather a … well… dare I say, “tribute”?
One great thing about the conference is that I got fed and fed and fed some more (I don’t like to cook). I partook of two desserts a day; anything with cream was fair game – and I was prepared to fight till death for it too! Of course, having Teddy with me tended to put anyone off violence at the dessert section. I doubt I gained any weight though; the region is extremely hilly and after schlepping back and forth to the village enough times (no one in Wales seems to know what “schlep” means), not to mention on the campus itself, I probably ended up losing weight. And yes, everyone kept asking me where I put it. I do hope they were referring to the dessert.
On Monday evening, Teddy and I went along on the pub crawl (though I’d already been in my favourite pub the night before – The Hanbury Arms – where Alfred Lord Tennyson apparently went on the piss and where I had my toes bitten – and I’ll leave you to ponder that one). On Tuesday I paid yet another visit to the Roman ruins, which has the remains of an amphitheatre. It was a perfect day, the clouds were threatening overhead, a drizzle had begun, and I stood in the centre of the arena no doubt looking very peculiar. I also wrote something on a stone (using another stone as pen), but I’m not going to tell you what it was. It’s personal. On Wednesday afternoon I went on the excursion to Hay on Wye. Well, if you’re really into mouldy musty old books, this is your Mecca. Everyone ran off to find their treasures; as for me, I found some ice cream and a pair of one-of-a-kind earrings in an artsy little shop. Or at least I think they’re one-of-a-kind. Our coach driver was a roly-poly fellow from Brecon who made a lot of sheep jokes. All I know is, I’ve been to Wales many times, and I’ve yet to see any kind of dodgy activity with sheep. Mind you, I did notice a cow walking a bit funny.
Moving on from the profane to the sacred, the highlight of the week was definitely the Thursday evening appearance of the Cwmbach Male Choir, a cheeky bunch of Welshmen who performed for us and then as is customary each year, continued in the bar for another two hours till midnight, downing pints and singing everything from Elvis to weepy Irish ballads. When they left (threatening to kidnap both me and Teddy), a disco ensued, but it featured so much Abba that I was finally forced to seek refuge in the computer room to check messages and return pokes on Facebook. (I don’t care what anyone says: I am NOT going to see “Mama Mia.”)
Sadly, I couldn’t stay forever in that lovely land and had to return to London right at the Friday evening rush hour. The tube quickly jolted me out of my Welsh tranquility with its delayed trains, trains that didn’t stop where I needed to stop, and trains that just sat there because there was a backlog of trains. One can’t help but wonder how Britain actually ran an empire when they can’t even run a transportation system. But I’m not going to get all political here. I probably should stick to writing fiction. It’s easier.