Sunday, April 30, 2006

Quick Travel Tip:

If you've booked one of them Apex tickets from London back to Cornwall that means you have to get that exact train and none other, make sure you actually look at the time of your train back rather than assuming you booked it for ten thirtyish. Otherwise, you might get out of bed at eight thirty, and then discover that your train departs at... eight thirty.

This will lead to a sudden realization that you'll have to buy another ticket from London to Cornwall for seventy-odd quid, which will in turn lead to you jumping up and down shouting 'fucking fuckety fucking fucking fucking fucking fuck.'

Lots of other stuff happened in my London trip, all of which was marvellous, but I'm still recovering from the ticket thing at the moment. The sheer biteyness of the impact on my finances can be assessed from this conversation with my financial advisor about three days previous:

F.A.: So how are the finances then?
ME: Well, I'm currently about three grand overdrawn*.
F.A.: Hmm. Any thoughts about investing in property in Estonia?
ME: Um.. 'argh' and 'no'?

Random conversational snippet overheard in Big Comic Shop I Won't Name:

Female Member of Staff: (back in the storeroom, and presumably not realising the door is open) God it stinks out there. Has anyone got any Customer Spray?

* UPDATE: There's nothing more annoying than someone with what most people would consider to be basically a dream job complaining that it doesn't pay enough. So I should probably say that I'm waiting for some GW money to come through, and a few other odds and sods - basically it's the boring old self-employed/cash flow problem, where you find yourself in a bit of a trough every now and then. According to my whiteboard however, I'm doing fine. Just waiting for reality to catch up with the theory. And for people to actually get back from Bank Holiday Weekends and, you know, pay me...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

AFK again

Off for meetings tomorrow, so from Thursday morning until Sunday, anyone who wants to reach me will have to do so on my mobile.

Note to burglars: my flatmate will still be in residence. But you can steal her if you like.

You have to know Falmouth high street to get this really, but today a removals lorry was attempting to turn up one of the incredibly narrow side streets, surrounded by at least thirty people with their mouths open, pointing. The lorry was still having a go by the time I had moved on, and perhaps it will still be there when I return. We have had a proper scandal down here about Satanic drug murders, and bodies dumped in the sea, and then being pulled up by a fishing boat called 'The Clairvoyance', so it's not that we're short of occurances. But there will always be something magical about a big lorry trying to turn in a small space.

Good luck to the plucky scamps, say I.

Right, I'm off to play what I think is the final session of this D&D campaign. My paladin (injured) has now ascended to the dizzy heights of 5th level, and thus can Smite Evil twice per day. Twice per day!

Evil, consider yourself Smoted.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Continuing the theme...

I'm definitely warming to the new Doctor Who with David Tennant in the lead role, although his impression of a well-read field mouse does make me think he and Richard Hammond should maybe consider teaming up to make CSI: Farthing Wood.

Top artwork, by the way, from David Peterson's comic Mouse Guard. Haven't been able to get the actual physical comic yet, but the art is great, and I'm going to be using it for when I take over Gamesmaster duties with my roleplaying group. I'm currently trying to persuade them that what they really want to play, instead of the standard elveses and orcses, is a band of viking mice, as that would help me develop the script/proposal I'm working on for a new kid's animation. Astonishingly they're going for it. Although I think the Druid character wants a wasp companion, which means paperwork, obviously.

In other roleplaying news, extensive perusal of roleplaying forum over at has turned up long-missed "Harlot Table" from Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide "City Encounters" charts (not made up):

01-10 Slovenly trull
11-25 Brazen strumpet
26-35 Cheap trollop
36-50 Typical streetwalker
51-65 Saucy tart
66-75 Wanton wench
76-85 Expensive doxy
89-90 Haughty courtesan
91-92 Aged madam
93-94 Wealthy procuress
95-98 Sly pimp
99-00 Rich panderer

'Trull'? I tried to get the insult 'thrupenny upright' into GW, but they weren't going for it. Apparently 'parrot's snatch' was funnier.*

* Bollocks it was.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pastoral Whimsy Ahoy!

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
Well nearly. I was decanting the contents of my compost bin into buckets (you need to turn them occasionally, and last time I nearly broke my wrists and bifurcated a mouse), when a robin appeared about three feet from me and started picking out worms with the intention, I suppose, of taking them back to a nest and dangling them above the gaping mouths of meeping robin chicks.

How utterly charming, I thought. How very quaint and postcardy, and lovely.

And then I thought: Not If You're A Worm.

Friday, April 21, 2006

More meetings.

I had a couple of meetings well before Christmas, both on the same day, both very positive, both mentioning certain magic phrases rhyming with 'hevelopment bunny' and both utterly failing to ever get back to me ever.

I'm more used to this now, but at the time, when your chase-up emails tumble soundlessly into the great pit specially dug in Soho Square, you start to concoct paranoid scenarios about what actually happened shortly after you left the room...


PRODUCER: Well, we like where you're coming from, we've got some projects happening right now that should be right up your street, so let me talk to the technical people and we can sort you out some development money!
ME: Okay, fantastic! Well, nice to meet you!
PRODUCER: And you!

I let myself out. The second the door shuts behind me:

PRODUCER: Hahahahahahahahaha! Twat!

MEETING TWO. About an hour later. Different Producer.

PRODUCER: So this Romey Loves Jools thing? You're thinking sitcom?
ME: (warily) Yeeeeeeees...
PRODUCER: Because I'm thinking film.
ME: Really?
PRODUCER: I think it would make an amazing film.
ME: Right, well... okay, I can see how that could work...
PRODUCER: An amazing film.
ME: Great!
PRODUCER: We'll need to sort out development money. Let's talk again soon.
ME: Okay!

I let myself out. The door closes, and the Producer stares into space for exactly seven and a half minutes. Then presses the buzzer for his assistant.

PRODUCER: Was there someone in my office just now?
ASSISTANT: Yes. A writer.
PRODUCER: Good lord. I could have sworn there was someone in my office.
ASSISTANT: There was. A writer.

Producer stares suspiciously at an empty glass of water

PRODUCER: But no-one was here, you say?
ASSISTANT: A writer was. James Henry?
PRODUCER: Yes! I'm supposed to meet him!
ASSISTANT: That's right.
PRODUCER: Well where is he?
ASSISTANT: He just left.
PRODUCER: My God. How very unprofessional.

He unfurls a long scroll-like list and adds my name to the top, putting a red 'X' next to it, and underlining it three times. Then very slowly, he passes out on his desk.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A list of the...

...Twenty Worst Agents

In fact for 'agents' read 'most likely scammers'. This has already been up on Writer Beware, and Neil Gaiman's blog, but probably the more people that are aware of this info the better. I think these are all American, and literary rather than screenwriting, but best to warn people anyway.

I had a few people emailing for writerly advice over the Bank Holiday Weekend, possibly influenced by massive amounts of sugary treats. To be honest, I'm not the best person to ask, as I have no earthly idea what I'm doing. I really don't, and I rather thought the blog made that clear, yet is seems that even on the internet it is possible to coast quite a long way on the basis of having great hair. However the best rule of thumb if you're in discussions with a possible agent is 1) are they in the Writers and Artists Yearbook? Because if they are they should be reputable, and 2) have they asked you for some kind of 'reading fee'? If the latter, then don't touch them with a bargepole. Possibly they're not evil, soul-stealing cynics preying on the simple naivete of wannabe writers, but even so, the basic rule of writing is this: money should always be moving toward the writer. If it's going the other way, something is amiss.

The one time I broke this rule was to pay ten pounds to enter a Channel 4 scriptwriting competition. But I did win it, which proves that it's okay to break your own rules if you're both a) tops and b) skill.

UPDATE: sorry for the rampant egotism evident in this post, I just finished off the home-made simnel cake. Marzipan low due to crash in... now.

UPDATE 2: Re a certain line in GW2 Ep3 - GW writer Rob has confirmed that the line is 'little wooden tree'. He even wrote it in English, just to be sure. Now let that be an end to the matter.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Based on a picture book, so it must be good.

If anyone's around Hammersmith on the 29th of April and fancies seeing The Wolves in the Walls, I think there's a few tickets left. I got mine ages ago (for the evening performance), but then I got the wrong month, so can't be too smug about it. I'm going with my ex-agent Ginny, who now works for the National Theatre, this being the one event I could find where our separate worlds could sort of just about come together.

I don't usually even contemplate going to the theatre, due to my occasionally mentioned 'reverse stage fright' thing ('argh, he's going to forget his lines! Or walk into the sofa! Noooooooo!'), but this is a kid's play, with loads of puppets in it, which for some reason circumvents those worries. I don't know why.

We're in a new tax year now, and I'm looking at my small blue book of invoices for the past twelvemonth, which I have to add up before sending on to my accountant. I can then work out how I'm doing relative to last year. I may even draw myself a graph, although I suspect it will look a bit wonky, having spent months working on my children's fantasy novel, which has now gone into cold storage for a bit. Publishers loved the synopsis and the opening chapters, then all seem to have come unstuck at the halfway point, so I need to rework it a bit, only I think I'd rather work on something fresh first, which currently has the working title of 'The Seven Sides of Ferdinand de Charabang'.

However I have just had some hundreds of pounds advance for the Green Wing DVD (more than four, less than eight), and the The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society, which Ginny was nagging me for ages to join, finally netted me some moneys from repeats of Bob the Builder on obscure cable channels in Ireland, so weep not for me dear reader, for though I may be sort of skintish, I could still afford to get my £1 bag of smoked salmon offcuts from the farmer's market this morning. Phew.

UPDATE: hurrah! Cardboard Tube Samurai is back!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I suppose they are sort of... biscuity-looking. Ish.

Originally uploaded by jamesandthebluecat.
The thing about your Nature is that in order to appreciate the good bits, you have to accept the bad bits as well.

This way, you can take your mum's dogs on a walk from Flushing to Mylor, and thoroughly enjoy the springy benefits (flowering gorse bushes, violets everywhere, neat patches of primroses) and not be put off for an instant when Head Dog adds to his previous crimes of:

a) rolling in a dead dolphin.
b) disembowelling a baby rabbit in front of a group of small children.

by introducing his new hobby of:

c) eating cowpats.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Iced trousers, invisible rats and CIA perfume

This whole gossip from the White House thing (originally posted at - great site if you don't know it), is fantastic - in every opposite sense of the word, in that it's very depressing and entirely believable. And somehow, in the bleakest possible way, very funny indeed.

Just hope the original writer doesn't end up buried with the million Chinese nose hair trimmers.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I'll get by, with a little help - oh, he's gone.

I'm writing some sketches for a comedy thing, only they're being rubbish at sorting out contracts, and naming specific amounts of money, so said sketches are currently chained to a radiator in the dark somewhere until it all gets sorted out.

This happens a lot. Everyone wants material in as soon as possible, but the very mention of contracts and payment is so terribly ungentlemanly that to even mention it causes loud coughing, awkwardly adjusted ties and being shown an office with a bottle of scotch and a loaded revolver.

- And as if to prove something, I don't know what, Agent Matt phoned while I was writing this very post, to say movement has been made with contracts and I can start sending some stuff off, which renders this whole post irrelevant, but there we are.

At least I have an agent to sort this stuff out - poor old PP is having to re-interview for his job for a second time. He phoned me about this last time, and to be honest, I should really have logged off World of Warcraft for the duration of the call, but I tried to do both things simultaneously, and it didn't really work. PP thought there was an odd satellite delay, and Garnethor, the warrior I was supposed to be protecting from a distance with a barrage of healing spells (this character's a priest, which means you hide behind a tree and support butcher characters), got chopped down by four club-wielding thugs.

THUGS: (all four at the same time) Aha! Now you give us the chance to use this freshly-sharpened blade!*
GARNETHOR: Argh! Heal me! Heal me!
ME: Ooh, hang on a tic, I'm on the phone.
PP: So it's the day after tomorrow. I've prepared for the questions though.
ME: Shall I do big heal, or renew?
ME: Hmm, I've got a potion somewhere...
PP: ?
ONSCREEN INFO: Garnethor has died.
ME: Ooh sorry dude, I was on the phone.
PP: Yes, I know.
ME: Still, I sure it'll work out fine. Hey, did you see the banana thing?
PP: My mum told me about it in excruciating detail.
ME: Heh - someone described it as 'the troll office woman is tit-raped with a banana by the mad pregnant one'.
PP: Is that how it was in the script?
ME: Not really.

It's very uncool to lay claim to bits of GW, they're not 'mine', as without the top performances they'd be nothing. But I'm going to do it anyway, as that scene was based on a real-life thing, where I was eating a banana, when a friend who was slightly inclined to embonpoint leaned very close in (I think she was dyeing my hair for me) and the banana started making its way almost involuntarily into the darkness while a friend sitting on the sofa opposite (Hi Jeremy) stared at me, transfixed with horror. Fortunately a rare outbreak of common sense stayed my hand in time, but I've always wanted to put that in a scene somewhere.

UPDATE: the ho from the taxi would like to give credit for the 'I've still got my tights on' line to Richard, although I've talked to him, and he can't remember if that one's his or not, but he thinks, on balance, it probably is.

I knew I shouldn't have started this.

* 'freshly sharpened clubs!' it should have been of course.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

GW DVD signing

Today at Virgin Megastore on Oxford St (next to Tottenham Court Rd tube) at 6pm. Tell them you love the way the show is completely improvised.

Then let me know what they say.

UPDATE: Damn, I forgot Mangan occasionally reads this blog. Abort! Abort!

Mangan is also the biggest improvisor/always credits the writers. So yes, we heart Steve. Even if he does occasionally TRY TO KILL MY READERS (see comments thread below). A shiny english pound to anyone who turns up to the signing with a tyremark on their forehead and points tearfully to Mangan sobbing 'Officer, that's the one! Arrest him forthwith!'.

Just now, coming back from the farmer's market (smoked salmon offcuts £1 a bag, which means I can have smoked salmon and scrambled goose egg on local bread for... not very much money, I can't work it out), when I wished I had some chocolate. I put my hand in my jacket pocket to find... a small bit of chocolate wrapped in gold foil. So either:

a) I went out for a meal Saturday night with some colleagues and forgot there was some chocolate with coffee at the end, which I must have put in my pocket, the chocolate not the coffee, or:

b) my magic powers have finally appeared, at the not-insignificant age of 33.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Cornish Birthday Dinosaur

What, do other counties not get a birthday dinosaur? Then, my lovely friends, you have chosen to live in the wrong bit of the world entirely. And having a second home down here doesn't count. If anything, you have proved yourself even less deserving of a birthday dinosaur, because me nor not none of my friends can afford to buy a home down here, and all the nice little villages have now become like creepy deserted sets from zombie films, only without zombies. And more floral.

Other presents: a proper 'Scrubs' top from The Mighty Evans, which if were to wear with my special congratulatory Green Wing watch would present a telecomedic crossover reality breach so powerful that... something odd would happen. Haven't worked out what yet.

Possibly my fave birthday present came from my mum though, who gave me: a bar of ASDA chocolate and an oven glove*. This cracked me right up, and I'm still not quite sure why. Perhaps it was the way she'd tied the carrier bag handles together so technically, I still got to open it. Magic.

Dinosaur puppet was from BM, who bought it in January, and has spent the intervening months fretting, not unreasonably, that I might buy it myself first.

* And some coriander. I forgot the coriander.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

'Beauty and the Geek'

Why did nobody tell me about this?* Tis fabulous. Although I have to close my eyes quite a lot.

Favourite B: Elissa.
Favourite G: The little beardy one who looks like a woodland animal.

UPDATE: ah, he's called John. Think I've gone off Elissa already though. Blimey, this is complicated.

*Actually, maybe people were sparing my feelings. Hmm.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Tootling about

I'm currently in the pleasing position of having one largish comedic thing in the offing, and one smaller comedic thing in the offing also. However neither of the contracts have come yet, so I am free to traipse about the coast and fields of Cornwall idly pretending I'm thinking of amusing things in preparation for said comedic things, whereas in fact if you could listen to the inside of my head, it would be making the sort of noise a satellite makes whilst whooshing through space in a film.

Sort of 'Pshhhhhh..... bip. Pshhhhhh.....bip'.'

However I have saved up for just this sort of eventuality two reported news headlines from Radio Cornwall that m'colleague Richard swears he really actually did hear whilst on holiday.

1. "The traffic trouble in Penzance is over.  The hay has been cleared off the road and the town has calmed down now."

2. "The fair in Truro will be having a special afternoon for the disabled. The rides of course, going just that little bit slower.

To add to these, I discovered today that when my Grandad moved down here to become a County Planning Officer, someone immediately tried to bribe him with a bag of turnips. Marvellous.

Tonight's episode of Green Wing will apparently see fellow blogger Ori (Bearded Lady) being violated in the back of a taxi by Mister Mark Heap. I have set my video, and I hope you will too.

I would also add that the GW DVD signing is now at Virgin Megastore (not HMV, who it turns out are rubbish and smell) on Oxford St (next to Tottenham Court Rd tube) at 6pm on Tuesday 11th April. Currently Mr S. Mangan, Mr J. Rhind-Tutt and Mr O. Chris are aligned attendencewards, perhaps with more to follow. I bumped into Oli on the London Street last week and he was hobbling around on one foot*, an injury he told me had come from kicking a baby into a fire, although I later ascertained it to be in fact some sort of sporting injury. What a strange young man.

* the other one was in a cast.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Not tree/tree!

Like a whimsical, but ultimately benevolent Creator, I strike down the tatty old apple tree of yesteryear and replace it with the twiggy new apple tree of today*.

Gaze upon its slender beauty and marvel that yesterday, where there was but a stony patch of ground, today there is an tree which will one day have apples and that. It was me that brought it forth. Or at least from out the garage where it was wrapped in a sack. And I planted it at the side of the garden, because cutting down the old tree accidentally did at least open up the lawn, making it look bigger.

On the way back, I tried to smite some seagulls, but they ignored me. Then I realised I'd accidentally stolen a quote from Terry Pratchett's 'Small Gods' book (his best, although 'Feet of Clay' is very good), so I stopped.

One of the small joys of writing is when you get to teach your computer new words. This morning I taught Final Draft (posh screenwriting application) the following:

'Shit' (can't believe it didn't know 'shit')



A good day's work, I feel. My laptop is now enable to hang around in cockney pubs and start fights. I hope this doesn't invalidate the warranty.

* The thing against the fence. No, not that thing, that thing. There, yes. The white poles are weaves, through which the dogs, when so inclined, 'weave'. They're very good at it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Brief friendplugs/HMV update

On Monday 3rd April, Radio 4, Fay and Ori's 'Helen and Gail' will be aired (10.45 am and 7.45 pm - but you can always listen again from the site after these times). Great write-up from the Radio Times, which called it 'Slyly written and brilliantly structured, it's Ladies Of Letters with flick knives'. So listen on.

UPDATE: This next bit might not be true - not sure what's going on but will put up more info as soon as I know what's going on. An hilarious April Fool that spiralled out of control? I do not know.

UPDATE 2: Apparently HMV double booked, and the signing is now scheduled for NEXT Tuesday (11th April). Keep an eye on the C4 Green Wing Forum for times and that though. 'Helen and Gail' was very funny by the way - highly recommended, with my favourite words being 'set-to' and 'banana'. Keith was great too.

And on Tuesday 4th April, various cast members of GW will be signing DVDs in the HMV on Oxford Street at some point in time, although I don't yet know when. There are two HMV's on Oxford Street, and I must confess to not knowing which one they're at, but if you go to one and they're not there, it'll most likely be the other one.

Wow, I'm really bad at the news, aren't I? Will update when I get proper times and so on. And when I'm less tired.