Month: November 2007


"For a cautionary tale, everyone cites Paul Bradley Carr." - THE SUNDAY TIMES


The last refuge of the complex

I’ve been rediscovering simple pleasures lately – cottage pie, watching films in bed (thanks to my new free TV/video), sober conversation (that is to say, conversation while sober), mopping, good coffee, reading and of course writing.

I think there’s also a lot to be said about simple pleasures, but writ large. Things like Richard’s decision to watch the Breakfast Club for his birthday, but to hire a whole leather cinema to do it. Or the fact that in a few weeks I’m going to be a Christmas party with a Christmas treasure hunt. Across London. Or that I’m toying with the idea of ‘celebrating’ my birthday next week by going bowling at that upscale Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes place.

And, following on from my Cottage Pie for one triumph, I’m also quite keen to take an afternoon to try making the ultimate fish pie that Heston Blumenthal made last week on In Search of Perfection. Langoustines, no less. (I might wait ’til I go home for Christmas for that one. I’m a little short on Langoustines here, but they’re the sort of thing my hotelier parents have in the freezer).

But my big, big want for the beginning of next year is to have my first holiday in ten years (weekend breaks are not holidays, despite what I told myself).…

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Do do do do do-be-do do

Last night was Richard Moross’ 30th birthday and in an inspired move, he hired the Soho Hotel’s screening room for a private showing of The Breakfast Club – a film I’ve seen the beginning of a dozen times, but never the ending. And, oh boy was it good, even more so in the leathered comfort of the Soho.

Afterwards, over Champagne (another inspired more – thank you Richard), a few of us got to talking about what film we’d show for our 30th birthday. A popular choice – perhaps unsurprisingly, given what we’d just watched – was St. Elmo’s Fire. Another favourite was The Breakfast Club’s (I guess) sister-flick, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I couldn’t decide.

Part of me wanted to fuck with people and force them to sit through something awful like Gigli. Just to see how they’d reconcile having to stick around because it was my birthday with having to leave because their brains were being raped. Another part of me wanted to put on something I personally would love, because it’s Aaron Sorkin, but that there’s a risk half the room would hate: A Few Good Men.

In the end, I settled on Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, which was fresh in my mind from mentioning it here the other day.…

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Nobody listened to the psychiatrist

Today marked the official start of Operation Write Like A Mother.

I’m pretty much researched out now, and I’ve got a nice wall full of structural Post-It notes. All that remains now is to commit some 60,000 words to paper between now and 2nd January. Just north of 1500 publishable words a day. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, what nearly went wrong is that, until three days ago, I had no idea what the ending was going to be. In writing, as in love, endings are hard. Really hard.

As I may have mentioned a few times before, I’m reading a lot of William Goldman at the moment. In Which Lie Did I Tell he claims that he’s only ever written one really good ending, and that was the end of Butch Cassidy. I believe him. The ending of All The President’s Men, for example, stands out for me as one of the worst of all time. The screenplay was written at a time when everyone knew the story of Watergate inside out, so Goldman decided to stop the film halfway through the book. Pre- impeachment, pre-conclusion. The audience could fill in the rest themselves.

The only problem is that today, for me, it gives the same feeling as the end of Monty Python and The Holy Grail (ironically, one of the best endings).…

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The return of the word count counter

Word counts are not necessarily a good way to track progress. They encourage churning out words, rather than actually writing them. Which kind of worked for the Second Life book, but not so much for this one.

But nonetheless, the fact that – with a target of 1500 words a day – I’ve just saved a document that’s some 2500 words heavier than it was this time yesterday pleases me no end. I’ve just read them back (fatal, by the way) and they’re actually not at all bad. A good day, and one that makes me feel a bit better about writing off Friday with surfing and Die Hard.

Now, a few hours of sleep before trecking in to town. I have some errands to run and I need to buy Richard a birthday present. He’s 30, so I can’t get away with just a card, but I’m absolutely shit at present shopping.

I once bought an ex-girlfriend a cushion, an alarm clock and a vibrating duck for her birthday and – to this day – I honestly don’t know why she didn’t like them. I tried really hard.

Richard – if you’re reading this – what the hell do you need?…

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Cliched self-indulgent blog post

Well, I fell spectacularly off the ‘not drinking this month’ wagon last night. I may not have started ’til 10 but by four AM, by God was I there. And to think it was all going so well.

As a result today I’ve mainly been sleeping, eating and dicking about on the web. Drinking really is ghastly, isn’t it? A total and complete waste of both time and money.

Ruth has suggested I write off the rest of the night and watch Zoolander, but that just reminds me of the thing I got drunk last night to forget.

Ah well. Channel Four News then dinner, I think.


Thanking you (ess ay)

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.

Oscar Wilde

So here it is, happy Thanksgiving.

There’s very little in my life – all of our lives, I suppose, but at the moment it feels like particularly mine – that isn’t affected one way or another by Americans. And, appropriately, Thanksgiving is the ‘holiday’ that makes me feel happy for all the good American things, and sad for all the less good ones.

So, a brief Thanksgiving thank you to the ten best American things that I can think of off the top of my head (in no particular order)…

1) American women. They don’t do things by halves in America; it’s all about the extremes. Take Manhatten (Staten Island too) – spend some time there and you’ll find every woman is apparently either totally single or totally married. Boyfriends are too – you know – mushy middle. And it’s not just New York. American women (and I’ve been out with the odd one or two, so please know I speak from experience) are without doubt the most loving, hating, funny, lunatic, balanced, psychotic, professional, flighty, essential distractions you will ever meet.…

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Nobody knows anything

“The easiest thing to do on earth is not write”

– William Goldman

In ten days’ time, this blog will celebrate its first birthday. A cake will be baked, streamers will be unfurled and all assembled will sing a little birthday song.

And then will come the customary ‘looking back’. How much has changed in the previous twelve months, how much older things are looking, how much we’ve learned. And then some idiot will trip over the buffet table and all of the sausage rolls will be ruined.

To prepare for the party, I’ve decided to have a bit of a spring clean of the blog. Change of colour scheme, updated the text a bit to make it clear it’s a personal blog, that kind of thing. I’m also making yet another public resolution to write stuff here more frequently.

Difference this time is that I might actually stick to it.

You see, the last time I managed to update daily was when we were writing the Second Life book. Weirdly, the more words I have to churn out for work, the more inspired I am to blog. And vice-versa. I think it’s a rising tide lifting all ships thing.…

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