Blog

  • 07 Feb

    A Wizard in the Workplace

    Hello you,

    Right, first entry in a while; indeed first post of 2013 and it’s already got off to an excellent start.

    I’ll start off with a brief celebratory nod to the recent passing of the equal marriage bill. Now anyone can get married. Good. Another victory for emancipating progress and objective equality, another defeat for damaging prejudice and subjective paranoia.

    It really is a non-debate. If you love someone with all your heart, you should be allowed to express this love, publicly, formally and legally through the institution of marriage, whoever you are. It’s only fair, right?

    Ironic that people who bang on about how marriage is on the decline are usually the same folk who don’t want equal marriage. So they moan that fewer people want to join the club then turn away those who want in. They can’t have it both ways. Does this bill represent an erosion of traditional family values? Of course not. Historically marriage was not about the family anyway, it was about property. In fact, marriage has been constantly redefined over time so there’s no correct answer to what it actually means or why we do it.

    Bottom line, this decision represents the time we currently live in – one that aspires to compassion, freedom, respect and tolerance – all of which, by the way, lie at the heart of all religious traditions. Anyway, here’s hoping religious wedding ceremonies will now be forced by law to resemble scenes from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Might make them slightly less tedious.

    In other news, another collaboration with the amazing Guerrier Brothers is on the way. Here’s a BTS photo (courtesy of the fabulous Lisa Bowerman) of the shoot, in which I was fortunate to act opposite veteran actor David Warner. The film is still being edited, so watch this space for more news as and when it breaks…

     

     

     

  • 04 Nov

    EDIT: The Plotters finally embeddable

    Hello world,

    Right, on the eve of the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot it seem fitting I am finally able to embed my latest short film, The Plotters, onto my site.

    As you may or may not know we made the final thirteen films in the Virgin Media Shorts competition, and are eligible for the grand final, on Thursday November 8th. Hopefully the verisimilitude of the date for the final falling so near to Bonfire Night may work in our favour, but then I’ve always been a silly, sentimental sort. Anyway, enjoy.

  • 29 Jul

    Remember, Remember…

    Hello world.

    Finally got round to uploading this. Based on an idea conceived by myself and award-winning wrter comedian Hannah George, The Plotters is the latest comedy short I’ve made in collaboration with a fabulously talented bunch of writers, performers and crew members.

    I co-wrote the script with Simon Guerrier, and the end result was directed by his brother Tom. I had the priviledge of working with the Guerrier Brothers on Revealing Diary, and was thrilled to get a chance to collaborate with them once more. Full credits can be seen here.

    Anyway, we’ve entered it into a short film competition, so click below to watch and see what you think. We’re really proud of the finished result, filmed over one humid Saturday in olde London town on a VERY small budget but an awful lot of beards.

    The Plotters – Virgin Media Shorts.

  • 14 May

    New short film, nature and pigeons.

    Hello world.

    Not much to report, largely because I’ve been very busy. Working two full-time jobs into the time it takes to do one is not to be advised.

    Did notice that new nature programme on the telly. Planet Earth Live. It’s the most ambitious wildlife experience ever made apparently.  It’s presented by that tiny moron from the car show who nearly incinerated himself strapped to a rocket on wheels and that woman who wanders around fields so it must be important.

    And it’s live. A live nature show. Not sure they’ve thought this through. What are we going to get, half an hour in an empty field? A sleeping pig? A bewildered chaffinch? Animals don’t handle direction very well. Even if they use exciting ones like a lion, they might not be in the mood. What are they going to do then, send in some terrified assistant to poke it? They’re going to need a very long stick.

    Thing is, there’s never been a live nature show for a reason. Ever been to a zoo? It’s boring. Imagine that, but without the gift shop. That’s your live nature show right there. In fact, you want a live nature show? Open a window.

    Talking of nature, I read recently that pigeons have GPS brain cells. Whichever research team has been paid to investigate this area, this is the earth shattering conclusion they have reached. Pigeons are living, breathing, feathered sat navs. And there we were thinking they were just rats with wings, indifferent to vehicles. Turns out they could develop a symbiotic relationship.

    If we could harness this power, we could have one in every car.  Actually that might be a terrible idea. A bird trapped in a combined space? Can you imagine the humanity? Thousands of lives put at risk as cars spin off roads, lorries jack-knife into central reservations and vans collide into each other, twisting into macabre, mangled of sculptures of metal and fibreglass, just because the sat nav decided it wanted to get out.

    No, we must stop meddling in affairs that do not concern us. Leave the pigeons alone. Let them do what they do best. Spreading disease and upsetting statues.

    Lastly,  I was asked to take part in a short film by the supremely talented Guerrier brothers. We made it from scratch in two days.  To find out more click here, but here it is. Enjoy.

  • 02 Jan

    Hooray for Hollywood

    Hello world,

    2012 is here. This year will prove very interesting, not least if the Mayans are right. Still if they were that good at pinpointing the apocalypse, surely they would have foreseen their own demise…?

    Sadly astral charts and ancient predictions are less likely to bring about the downfall of modern civilization than the current economic meltdown which shows no sign of abating, but I know precious little about the ins and outs of it all so I shall say no more.

    What I will say, is that last year ended for me on a career high when a sitcom script I co created and co-wrote with dear friend James Devonshire is being sold to a major Hollywood studio. As several people have asked me to explain further on Facebook or Twitter I thought here would be a better place to do so.

    The idea was simple enough – a recession comedy about a man who has everything, loses everything and has to return to where he grew up and start again. Not particularly original I’ll admit but what me and James wanted to do is recreate that fast-paced, zingy dialogue that those Yanks have been doing so well for decades, but which is somewhat lacking from British comedies. Think Howard Hawks over Roy Clarke and you’re on the right lines.

    It seems the script had proved a bit too much a storng flavour for the British producers we’d so far shown it to, but on reflection it makes sense it would appeal more to the US market. Sure enough we gave it to a producer now working over in California (who also happens to be a gloriously wonderful, kind, thoughtful woman – a rare thing in this game) who read it, liked it and felt her boss would like it too.

    We’d never heard of her boss, but a quick google search revealed him to be the former President of a major US TV studio. This is when it all got very exciting. further probing revealed that during his tenure, he had a hand in developing and sustaining, among others, Cheers, Frasier, Seinfeld, Friends, ER and The West Wing. This is when it all got VERY exciting. Talk about a proven track record.

    This man did like our work and talks began with a view to develop a US version of our script which, despite the aforementioned dialogue style, was very much a British beast, picking apart and subverting the traditional view of rural English village life. More The Wicker Man than The Vicar of Dibley but without the surreal grotesque overtones of the former that inspired the brilliant League of Gentlemen. In short, village life can be pretty grisly and that’s what we wanted to capture.

    Fortunately for us, America has hundreds of equally grisly rural backwaters and so our script struck a chord over the Pond and as we move into the new year, with any luck we’ll see a pilot being filmed. At the moment I am keeping everything crossed and touching an enormous amount of wood. I ask you please to do the same.

    Hopefully this blog entry won’t have jinxed development, but I always believe that if I had the power to negatively affect the outcome of a future event by merely vocalising my desire for everything to go well then this must make me some sort of demi-urge. Rest assured, I know from my tussle with a minor stomach bug over the festive period I am not a god. Merely a frail, overly-delicate mortal, flesh and blood and full of wind.

    So that’s it. Forgive the vagaries – I felt it best not to mention names (apart from James of course) and I’ll keep this site updates with more news as and when it breaks. If, on the other hand, the Mayans turn out to be right about 2012 then I suggest we all stock up on the ham in the tin and start building that bunker in the garden.

  • 21 Oct

    What offends you?

    There’s currently a lot of hubbub in the media about comedians offending people. BBC Four reminded us with a patchy drama about the outrage back in 79 surrounding the release of Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, while Ricky Gervais has caused a Twitter storm over use of the word ‘mong’.

    But does anyone ever take a moment to think about what it actually means to be offended? Really, it just means someone says or does something you don’t like.

    I hate to break it to you but that’s not going to go away, no matter how much you protest, scream and shout. And I guarantee something you hold dear and true will offend someone else and vice versa.

    It’s just how the world works. You can’t police this, because different people are offended by different things. If you want to be really offensive in the Middle East, throw a shoe. If you want to be really shocking in Japan, blow your nose in public.

    In the past we Brits were offended by a woman showing her ankle. Ridiculous. Bottom line, being offended is the price we pay for freedom of speech.

    People can be cruel, vicious and downright nasty, but that same licence to say what you want has allowed some of the greatest acts of creativity, innovation and discovery.

    Besides, if someone offends you, you have the right to be offensive back. If someone insults your god, insult their wife. Someone pokes fun at your ethnicity, give them a bunch of fives. Someone sexually harasses you, express your gratitude. And if you find that offensive, that’s the point.

    ————————-

    In other news, there’s a new coffee machine in the kitchen where I work. It really is a marvel of the modern world. It has three settings, none of which result in any coffee.

    Setting one offers a feeble dribble of dark brown mud into the cup, followed by an equally pathetic splash of cold water. Setting two is very similar to setting one, except without the water. But the real triumph is setting three. Whoever factored this one in should be awarded the Nobel Prize.

    It begins with the machine vibrating and thrashing like a blackbird trapped in a shoebox. This is followed by a sound akin to pig being aggressively guided through a rusty mincer.

    Then, once this whole production has died down, comes the grand finale. Molten coffee cascades all over the table while a pyroclastic cloud of scalding steam is jettisoned into the unsuspecting face of anyone within a ten-foot radius.

    Three members of the accounts department perished at the mechanised hands of this infernal contraption in one week and while this may not be a bad thing in itself, morale is beginning to wane.

  • 15 Aug

    The aliens are coming, bring a packed lunch!

    The Ministry of Defence has finally released its archive of files into reported UFO sightings. For years we can see the work of a clandestine Government department many believe, according to the papers, act as “a defender of the British Isles against the alien menace”.

    Which alien menace would this be then? Blurry photos of small, cloud-shaped objects drifting aimlessly over the M1, much like a cloud would do? Because if we’re honest (and I do try to be wherever appropriate) that’s all these sightings ever are.

    Think about it. Would extraterrestrial beings of higher intelligence who have mastered intergalactic travel really fly light years across the universe just to fleetingly hover over a beech tree in Norfolk?

    And if so, would they really impart news of their impending attack on planet Earth to some ex-hippy with a mind so riddled with acid flashbacks and loneliness their testimony is as trustworthy as a hoodie loitering outside a burning Foot Locker.

    And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to state, for the record, I’d welcome an alien invasion right now. There are some parts of the UK that already look as though they’ve been destroyed by invading martian marauders so their actual presence can only improve things.

    Moreover, if an alien beastie did approach me demanding “take me to your leader”, I’d try and persuade it to meet someone with a smidgen more credibility, like H from Steps .

    So if anything is unearthed from these files (which it won’t be) I say let’s make the alien menace feel welcome. Who knows, maybe if we’re lucky they’ll take some of us back with them.

  • 05 Aug

    Just how small IS Jamie Cullum?

    I’ve been wondering this a lot lately. He’s been around for some time now but the media keep referring to him as the ‘pint-sized piano player’. Is this accurate? Is he really the size of a pint? That’s about six inches high. I know, I just measured it with a pint glass and a ruler in the kitchen.

    If this is true, then that’s truly incredible. He’s a miracle of evolution and biology. We should have top scientists perform experiments on him day and night. There are so many questions we need answering.

    Where does he get his clothes? Hamleys? How does he reach the piano? Does he have a special one made? When he appears on telly, do they just stick him very close to the camera?

    Most importantly, should he be worried? Because we are. One moment he’s making his way to Abbey Road studios to lay down a happening freeform piano track, the next moment and he’s snatched by a kestrel. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

    ————————-

    The Edinburgh Fringe Festival kicked off this week. It may appear on the surface to be a glorious, light-hearted tribute to the timeless art of comedy, but scratch the surface and you’ll uncover a seething bear pit of paranoia, fear and unconscionable behaviour.

    Thirty days of night descend on the Scottish capital as thousands of comedians dance like anxious monkeys in an over-heated portacabin every night for a whole month, vying for your attention and approbation, risking mental and physical breakdown just to entertain you.

    Many of them haven’t even finished writing their show by the time they arrive, convincing themselves that they thrive on the panic. They get their head down, hold their breath and hope their ill-prepared toil and trouble will take their career to the next level. Then the reviews come in.

    Each flippant remark holding the terrible power to generate unbridled happiness or induce self doubt, self loathing and despair. And at the end of the Fringe, when booze-laden veil is lifted from the Royal Mile, many comedians emerge blinking in the September sun thousands of pounds in debt. Because you see, there’s no business like showbusiness.

    ————————-

    Before I go, here’s a tip. Whatever you’re up to this week, never, ever go into pubs with flat roofs. They are always terrifying. You know the ones. Often located near rundown train stations or at the base of crumbling tower blocks, these pubs glare angrily at the rest of the world, vast St George cross flags waving aggressively in the breeze. And that’s just outside.

    Inside you’ll find a seething gaggle of tough, sinewy men armed to the teeth with tattoos. And not the “I got this done when I went travelling” tattoos middle class people get to be interesting. No, these are the blue, smudged, ‘I got this done when I went to prison for doing over that post office” tattoos.In a way I should respect them more; at least they’re being true to themselves. But I don’t.

    Anyway, if you are a normal person, it is inadvisable to go inside. If you do the music will stop. The stares will start. Guns would be produced and you would be chased out of this hive of scum and villainy just because you had the temerity to enter with your opposable thumbs. No, there’s probably a much nicer pub down the road. One with a proper roof. Have a nice weekend.

  • 25 Jul

    Russians, snacks and china tat

    More proof emerged this week that we are evolving as a species: Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has signed a bill that officially classifies beer as alcohol. Well thank God for that. After all, if we’re honest none of us were sure.

    Yeah we’d all heard the rumours. But that’s all they were. No concrete facts. To some the very notion of alcohol in beer has been consigned to myth and legend – a spook story used by parents to frighten the children. Well not any more.

    It must be a great comfort for the hundred and forty million odd Russians that they’ve got this genius running the show. And he’s clearly on a roll. Early reports have come in that President Medvedev will address the Russian people next week to tell them trees are made of wood and the sea is wet.

    ——————

    I have come to the conclusion that the vending machine where I am currently working is not my friend. It is a spiteful monster that wears me down in a mean-spirited process of attrition.

    Every day it’s the same. I come into the office each morning with the best intentions. I make myself a tea, glance at the vending machine and scoff at its audacity. How dare this arrogant contraption think it can break me with its sugar-filled trinkets of deceit. I don’t need to rely on it for a snack fix. I’ve brought in an apple.

    But come four in the afternoon, several hours after I failed to enjoy my pathetic apple, it’s a different story. I’m wandering around the office like a crack-riddled homeless person, asking people if they can spare any change so I can gorge myself on chocolate and crisps. I’ve snapped. And it knows. The vending machine is laughing at me. Every single day.

    ——————

    Who buys those hideous china figurines advertised on the back of magazines? Will somebody please own up. Clearly these foul baubles are being bought because they keep on selling them.

    For only fifty pounds you too can be the proud owner of a delightful porcelain cat dressed as a Victorian scullery maid. Or a timeless ceramic gravy boat emblazoned with a horse standing next to a duck. And if you buy two or more you’ll receive a pair of tiny china shoes and a miniature English country cottage absolutely free.

    Who looks at an inaccurate image of a member of the Royal Family badly painted onto a dish and thinks, yes, that gaudy piece of tat will really tie the room together?

    Commemorative plates are the worst. Is it company policy to hire artists who can’t paint? Saw an advert the other week for a plate claiming to have Lady Diana’s face on it, but it looked like Rod Hull.

    Thing is, if there actually was a Rod Hull commemorative plate on the market, people would buy it. Which is probably what he would have wanted.

  • 18 Jul

    Personal trainers, idiots and cyclists

    There have been a lot of photos of Rupert Murdoch out in the park with his personal trainer. Makes sense. If most of society is on your case you need to be ready to run at any time.

    Then again, is now really the best time to go for a jog? His empire his crumbling, Rome burns and there he is, sauntering around Kensington in an ill-fitting cap and crumpled shellsuit.

    But, in times of crisis, these billionaire businessmen need their personal trainers more than ever. In this case Murdoch’s trainer is hired just to work on a very specific set of muscles: the ones on his face. That’s why he keeps being photographed grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

    Think about it. Shut down a successful newspaper after a hundred and sixty eight years? Keep smiling. Shares plummet while share holders threaten to sue? Keep smiling. Hemorrhaging billions of pounds? Keep smiling. Those muscles need to stay in shape.

    ———–

    There was someone outside my office this week speaking into their mobile phone like they do on The Apprentice. You know, holding it out in front of their mouths instead of pressed against the side of their head. But not this moron. Oh no.

    He’s assessed the situation, then decided to turn the whole phone conversation thing into a laborious two stage procedure. He holds it out in front of him to speak then moves it to his ear to listen.

    Essentially he’s doubling the workload. Ironic given his brain is obviously functioning so poorly that he needs all the help he can get. Why make things twice as hard for yourself if you’re an idiot?

    It would almost be a shame to point out to him that for decades phones have been designed specifically so you don’t need to do that. Then again he probably wouldn’t listen anyway. After all, this guy’s obviously a trailblazer, a maverick, a lone wolf. That’s just how he rolls.

    ———–

    While on the subject of idiots, this is a special message for all you cyclists. And I know it may come as a surprise since all the evidence suggests you are unaware of what I am about to reveal. Here it comes. Ready? A red light means stop.

    You cyclists may need to sit down at this point to process this information. To help you, here it comes again. A red light. Means stop. Hate to break it to you but everyone else knows. People in cars see the red light, they stop. Pedestrians see the little red man, they stop. Yet you cyclists do not.

    Are you all colour blind? Do you think that just because you combine your daily commute with regular exercise and environmentally friendly travel you are above the law? No, it makes you a git. Oh and another thing. No one looks good in lycra. Just putting it out there.

    But hey, you don’t have to listen to me. Carry on ignoring that red light, ringing that little bell as you slice through people like a particularly smug scythe through downtrodden wheat. But know this. Keep carrying on like that and you cyclists just inspire the rest of us to invest in a Hummer and run you down.

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