Friday, 29 March 2013

1. Ok, a new TLS is out so I have transcribed the review and the link is over on the right. My explanation for guiltily doing this is that I don't think a single person would subscribe to the TLS in order to see it, and if I didn't do this, no one would ever read the review, and for obvious reasons, I would prefer people did. I am sorry if that seems shallow. If it makes me seem less shallow, I would prefer it if you read The Dazzle.

2. Tall Tales was smashing last night. We had a last minute drop out for projectile-vomiting reasons, but we have a very deep bench and Matthew Parker stepped through two months in time. The next one is going to be on May 23rd rather than May 30th for reasons of my spending the week of the 30th at Hay.

I told a story which people didn't realise was more than half true. That's the problem with the truth being stranger than fiction.

3. Some fiend borrowed my copy of The Pyrates ages ago and I don't know where it is. Why are people such fiends?

4. Following up from the incredible story about Buzz Bissinger spending half a million dollars on Gucci, Gwen Knapp writes about having Buzz as a boss.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


As in 'I am really full, I shouldn't have had that second helping of lunch, but I'm playing hockey later and it's probably going to be really cold.'

Apart from that, I mainly working out what the hell I am going to do at Tall Tales tomorrow and rewriting bits of Farm! after last week's triumphant production at Mayfield Primary School. I loved all of it, but Rocky and Apollo were particularly magic, and Boxer was very funny, and we had the world's most adorable The Knackerman.

Sample question from one of the cast: 'Why did you cut the first half of The Knackerman's song?'
Me: 'Because we were worried your parents might find it scary.'
Her: (Disappointed but understanding) 'Ohhhhh!'

None of this means anything to you, which is a pity, but maybe we'll get it into schools yet. The songs are amazing (I didn't write them) and, and this is the ballgame, the kids were grinning like crazy throughout. It was genuinely exciting.

(By the way, this feature on shopping addiction, via Light Reading over to the right, is jaw-dropping in various ways.)

Friday, 22 March 2013

gone farming

In 2002 or something crazy my friend Susannah Pearse and I wrote a musical called Farm! (SP wrote the songs. She's a genius.) Like a higher proportion of my work that most writer's, it features talking horses and centres around a race between a zebra and a racehorse on which the fate of a poor farm next to a rich farm hangs. A cute little girl rides the zebra, obviously, and the zebra is helped out by a sceptical team of fellow animals.

This is also the plot of the Disney movie Racing Stripes (2005). My mother will never not find this suspicious. I am convinced it's convergent evolution and my bad luck. It was unlucky because, in 2005, after a couple of years of workshops at Greenwich Theatre, it looked like Greenwich were going to put it on properly, and then Racing Stripes came out...*

The show was originally written for Debden Primary School in Essex, where my friend Holly taught. She now teaches at Mayfield School in Cambridge, and, after seven years, Farm! is being performed this afternoon. Sue and I are really excited about it.

(As you can see from the reviews links, there's a TLS review. You can, at present, only get it by paying. Or by reading it in a shop.)

* One of these workshops was professional and properly paid, which was quite something at the time. We suggested keeping the same director and mostly the same cast as we had in the first very successful workshop. Greenwich said 'I think we can do better than your university friends.' Thus, the Greenwich professional workshop did not feature David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Olivia Coleman (who had to pull out of the first workshop because she got paying work) and Gus Brown, and was not directed by Paul King. I regret these things still.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

horse diving. for real, horse diving

How the hell have I never heard about this before? Now I can't think of anything else. Diving horses were a tourist attraction at Atlantic City for years, then they went away, then they came back. This one was from 1993, of all crazy things. Then they went away again.

Wikipedia says Doc Carver got the idea when a bridge broke and his horse fell in. Or, as Carver put it, 'dived'. His partner was Al Floyd Carver, who seems likely to have been a relation, and who married Sonora Webster, one of the riders.

Sonora's horse Red Lips slipped and fell in 1931 (I bet Doc would have called this a dive, but Doc was dead by now). The fall cost Sonora her sight, but she carried on anyway.

As a result of this, I also lost time to a great blog called Redneck Liberals and to the Fahey/Klein photography gallery. What about this! And this. And this. And, of course, this.

I am normally wary about retweeting and reposting reviews, because, you know, for all the obvious reasons. However, my day was genuinely made by Queenie on Amazon: 'This book was on a radio 4 programm and sounded really good. It was the most boring book I have ever read.' This is great! The only way she could have heard about the book on the radio was from listening to me talk about it! I knew I was good on radio.

(By the way, when you saw the diving horses I bet you thought, 'This would be a great way to advertise a President!' You weren't the first.)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

warhorses, tall tales, hay is for horses

Gosh, time flies. You will be interested to learn:

Marie and I are writing the next Warhorses of Letters episode. Series 3 hasn't been commissioned yet, as far as I remember. (I definitely should know for sure, but it's been really busy and I could believe I'd missed it; I am pretty sure the situation is that we have heard, 'Don't worry, it will be commissioned,' but one doesn't make assumptions with these processes). We're going to write on anyway. We know what happens next, and what happens next is that Copenhagen and Marengo will be back in their regular slot at Tall Tales on 28th March, with me and John Finnemore. Do come.

Also, we'll be doing a Warhorses event at the Hay Festival, on Sunday 26th. Come to that too. I am doing something for The Dazzle on the following Saturday, so I might need to buy a tent.

You will also be interested to learn about the big stories in this year's NFL draft. Well, the ones I am following are:

- Barkevious Mingo, because he is called Barkevious Mingo. There's nothing the name doesn't have, but the thing that makes it art is the first 'o'.
- Menelik Watson, because in spite of the name he is from Manchester and he's only played two years of college football. Before that he was a basketballer and boxer.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Hot or not? An uninspiring photo essay.

Obviously, everything to do with bodies in public is much worse for women, and I am sorry for that. But a couple of times in the last week, I have been brought up short by male bodies. Mainly, it was Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now. I mean, look at this weedy dude.

He's a super hard soldier in this movie! How does he even pick up a gun? He just looks like a normal fit human being. Cut forward 35 years and this is what a not particularly actiony actor looks like:

Sport is the other one. This is Finlay Calder, who captained the British Lions in 1989. He looks like a normal fit guy. But his head doesn't taper gently in from his shoulders, and his legs go in at the knees. He was a flanker.

So is England captain Chris Robshaw. But he is a professional sportsman, and he doesn't look normal by any means. He's 6'2" and weighs 17st 9lb.