29 June 2005

Diamond Geezer today salutes the persons who have him on their blogroll, me included. Why, it's nothing, dear chap. He also asked, whose blogname do we like?, and this place is mentioned in despatches. I blush with pride to think of it. One blogger even gives it the affectionate abbreviation, 'Bob Crusoe'.
My day is made.

A couple more things of note. B and I are doing stewarding (on alternate nights) for the walkabout Canterbury Tales production running at the moment, out of the mighty Southwark Playhouse. I think it's pretty much sold out for the run, but if you're keen, give the box office a call. Anyhoo, as they say downunder, it's a roister-doister of a night out (and about). Unless, that is, the gods are agin you, in which case, just as you're settling into your foldout chair in the Gardens of St.George the Martyr to hear the Knight deliver his tale of courtly love (complete with jousting), the heavens cry havoc, and before you know it you're dodging thunderbolts and scramming for the nearest pub. Given that the show opens in the courtyard of The George, 'London's only surviving galleried coaching inn', you're alright on that score, you just retrace your steps. This happened last night. The rain lasted just fifteen minutes, but it was a biblical affair, and if the audience of 150 had moved on to the next venue, it would quickly have become quagmired. "We don't want a Glastonbury on our hands", opined the production manager, shortly after announcing the cancellation.

Otherly, I am coming to terms with nearly having an agent, nearly finishing the play, having to do my tax return urgently, hosting a rejection of playwrights tomorrow night (cooking vegetarian...), and the pressing need to compose a letter to the Liverpool Everyman on the subject of The May Queen and other matters.

26 June 2005

Radio plays reviewed!

Found this very amusing blog, consisting solely of mostly poor reviews for plays on BBC radio by two bloggers going by the monikers 'Scrofula101' and 'Cal-Beeb-Fan'. Pithy and prickly, anonymous and acerbic. They do like some things, but mostly they don't. One review goes: "There are very few good plays set in Wales. This is not one of them."
So I felt okay about their comments on my Feb '05 offering, The Visitation - S101 thought the play depressingly bleak, but CBF counted that as a virtue and says the love story reminds them of Nabokov (presumably Lolita)! Not bad, all round. Scroll down to Saturday, 5th Feb to read it.
I did find one rave, though - a play called Terre Haute, with Serena McKellen in it, gets a blinder. (Friday, 25th Feb.)

25 June 2005

It's a Big Day in our house, as B and her ma are throwing a Big Party tonight and our place will be CentCom for the operation. So I'll be off shortly to do prep - printers, florists. All very last minute but that's part of the fun.

But a quick word about last night. The Laramie Project is on at the new Sound Theatre, which is practically on Leicester Square, in the throbbingly busiest part of London Town. It was press night and I went along with pals connected to the company in various ways. I liked the buzz of pn, I liked the free sarnies (tho' they weren't meant for me), and I liked the acting very much. What I could see of it anyways - liggers like me were coralled on a balcony affording views of the space to only the first rank of standees, and even then there were massive pillars in the way. So we had to think of it as a radio play, and sit with eyes closed, concentrating.
This rather odd "view" of the play means that I can't comment on the production, but I think I got enough of the piece to be able to say, I just didn't like it. I didn't sit well with me at all. I couldn't abide the tone, the relentlessly earnest, mawkish, and, frankly, ghoulish material, leavened by caricatures of Laramie-ites designed to raise a titter.
The original LP was a terrifically well-meant exercise, an urgent response to a shocking, senseless murder. But I agree with a comment I've read on the Culture Wars site, that the Mass Observation-style approach employed says a lot more about the prejudices, foibles and concerns of the Tectonic Theatre people than it does about the people of Laramie. The portrayal of the perpetrators was, to me, grossly inadequate. This is a limitation of the verbatim genre that can't be glossed over. Since they can't explain themselves, we get no explanation, and the people of Laramie, according to the piece, couldn't care less about that.

In the end, what are we left with? God knows, Matthew Shepard didn't deserve to die such a cruel, miserable, painful death, and there's no possible 'but' to that fact. You'd have to have a heart of stone to be unmoved by the verbatim account, beautifully acted, of the courtroom speech delivered to the murderers by Matthew's father.

Theatre of Blood

O how I loved it. Thank you, Improbable.

B and I very nearly missed the first half. Buses were slow, no taxis to be had (we nearly got the one Ben Kingsley just vacated outside Sadler's Wells, but weren't quick enough...).

We made it, just. As the house lights went down, and the thunder and lightning kicked off the evening's Gothic horrors, we were clashing knees with the punters in row B of the stalls, wading toward our seats.

Live poodles minced and baked in a pie.


Ghastly bouffanted lady critic fried under the hairdryer, till she was a smoking skull - don't know how they did it.


Bibulous critic (looked a bit like a tall Billington) drowned in a malmsey-butt (wine casket) - again, don't know how they did it. Blood a gogo. Hilarious hair-dos. Fantastic one-liners. A great nostalgic kick to it - my best childhood tv memories combined and lovingly represented.
I had a portable tv in my room from age 16, and delighted in watching late night horror flicks, especially the British ones from the 70s, the fruity acting and heaving bosoms (I was at an all-boys school and knew, let me see, three, four, five... no girls, apart from the ones I saw at Mass). Theatre of Blood was a favourite before I'd even set foot in a theatre (panto excepted, which was of course itself not a million miles from the Hammer House of Horror style). And then there was the effortless, swaggery vaudeville of Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies... The latter did a serial sketch - Phantom Raspberry Blower, was it? - that had a nasty edge to it, murderous camp, and this elided nicely in the imagination with the Hammer films to form a kind of genre, Comedy of Cruelty and Surrealism. And all these years later here it is again, come alive in Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson's exceptionally witty and deft adaptation of the Vincent Price schlock horror movie, T of B.

I'm not being very coherent I know, but it's late. I went to a press night, The Laramie Project, of which more tomorrow. It was at a new venue in Soho and the bar afterwards was very very loud, but the people at my table were lovely, and the canapes were tasty, so I couldn't bring myself to leave.

Couple more things though, about T of B - the cast were perfect, they were having a ball, they're incredibly skilful - there's a lot of choreographed violence, coups de theatre, quick changes etc, and it's all accomplished and swift. Jim Broadbent in the lead is extraordinary - it's a sustained piece of technical brilliance for him to act badly for two hours! Rachael Stirling is fabulously glamorous and eerie, just like her mother was in the film (and, of course, she looks eerily like her mother did in the film...) and all the critics were sublimely funny, but special mentions to Hayley Carmichael, who plays the redheaded bluestocking who ends up skewered like a kebab, and to Mark Lockyer, who as polo-necked young buck Peter Devlin almost makes you believe that theatre criticism is a noble calling. ML was in the Greek I did at the Gate, and it's always ace to see someone you've worked with get a smashing part like that.

As Oscar Wilde said, one should always be a little Improbable.

22 June 2005

See my stab at a cliffhanger failed miserably. I'd be no good writing for EastEnders, would I.

Happiest birthday congrats are due to Ova Girl. She is the smartest playwright on the the block now in her new Campers with monkeys on. Well played, C (I'm assuming hubbie bought them for her). If you don't know who I'm talking about go to her site toot sweet.

Over here meanwhile I am not a hundred percent, with mystery pain in right side since Monday eve. I'm hoping it's nowt, seeing the doc later, before I go with B to see Theatre of Blood (at last).

On the subject of critics, do we not think the Indie should have a think about letting Paul Taylor do those preview write-ups before reviewing the plays himself? He had a cosy chat with David Lan and Helen McCrory in the run-up to the As You Like It opening, then rubbished the production today. He'd probably say it's his job to ask people what they plan to do, then later write about whether they'd succeeded. But to me it seems not quite cricket. When approached, Lan and McCrory (director and star) could hardly have turned down an interview in a broadsheet read by their target audience. But they probably said to themselves after, I bet he hates it, after all that schmooze. And lo.

(ps just read Charles Spencer in the Telegraph. makes PT look like a pussycat. ouch.)

stop press: doc says it's a muscular thing. it really hurts! that darned washing machine probably responsible... next time i'll get someone else to do it! virility be hanged.

21 June 2005

Old Friends

Either side of having my eyes checked out (no major change in two years, still shortsighted with a touch of astigmatism) I caught up with two pals. Both had been estranged from me during, and largely because of, my depression. Since I last saw J he's got married to L, a BBC journalist specialising in Africa. He spent some time with her there and took some startling photos for the Beeb. He also had some harrowing stories of pictures he couldn't take, without endangering himself and his colleagues.
J and I had arranged our catch-up, but the later one was accidental. Browsing in the Oxford Street HMV (daring myself to buy the Seinfeld Series 4 DVD, actually) I was accosted by M, a good friend I had fallen out with after leaving a show he was in at the interval, just before his big speech. We'd since made up by text message, but not seen each other till today. It was just great to see him, and I realised how much I'd missed him. Apart from being the funniest man I know, he's a very good actor, and was in town for an audition for a West End play.
On our way to the Coach and Horses in Soho for a beer (it was blissfully quiet in there, for once) we walked past an unbelievably talented star sitting outside a restaurant with a pal. M is the least starstruck person, as a rule - he was partying with Dame Judi just recently and has the photos to prove it - but even he was dazed by seeing this person. I wonder if you can guess. Tell you tomorrow.

18 June 2005

When The Temp Goes Up To The Mid 80s

Your correspondent is not at his best in hot weather. Didn't leave the flat till about five o'clock and that was just to clean several months' worth of birdshit off a bench in the garden so's I could sit on it. (Last night I sat by the pond - "the greenwood tree" was a bit of artistic licence, hope you don't mind, but today I needed the shady spot, under the tree.) Eric at no.3 had thoughtfully repaired it a few weeks ago, with super-strong adhesive of the kind they use on gliders, so he says, and I believe him.
What was I up to till five? Writing a draft of scene 9, mostly. Also re-plumbing the new washing-machine. Our old one packed up just as Georgina was moving house, so we got her old one and I put it in myself, which made me feel very virile, what with all the spannering and messing about in my useful cupboard. Then it sprung a leak, so I had to get a new hose. Hence the re-plumbing.

Scene 9 is just between my hero and the Virgin (in disguise). For no reason I can think of, I listened to loud music while I wrote, not my usual m.o. - Prodigy, Fat Boy Slim, New Order, Morrissey.

Then B went off to Southwark to do the bar, and me and the boy toddled off to have supper at the park cafe. I had a bacon toastie and S had chicken and chips and salad. Our diet is usually exemplary, so we let ourselves go a bit as a treat. S even had a lolly for pud, and while I was queuing for that I bumped into Richard Bean. Actually he had no idea who I was, and still doesn't!, but I recognised him from his Monsterist talk and introduced myself. The fog cleared a bit when I mentioned pm and Rod. He told me the Monsterists are having a conference at Hampstead soon.

My siblings and Mum are all up at Loch Lomond, at the REM gig. I kind of wish they'd invited me. Ah well. The price I pay for being the posh twat of the family.

17 June 2005

As You Like It

Oh I really should be outside, it's a beautiful midsummer evening and I'm thinking a g&t in the garden is most certainly in order. But it's quite in keeping with the skittish mood I'm in to blog about AYLI at the Wyndham's Theatre.
The WT couldn't be more West End if it tried, it's smack in the middle of touristical, theatreland-y London. You fall out of Leicester Square tube into the foyer. Unless, that is, you're an idiot and get out at Covent Garden at 7.20, thinking it'll save you some precious seconds to take the lift there and sprint down Long Acre, seeing as the tickets are booked in your name, no latecomers admitted.
There was barely enough time to say hi to R and J, hand over the plastic, buy peanuts and water and do the necessary in the conveniences before, with a hey nonny, Orlando was on having a right old moan about his brother.
It took me a while to settle in to David Lan's production. It's set in 40's France and clearly late on in that decade, since there are no bombs or Nazis or massacres, but I've been reading a deal about WW2 in France lately, and the ominous notes in the first few scenes unnerved me - I was ready for explosions, tank battles, the lot.
But Helen McCrory's Rosalind is a wonderful thing, and little by little I fell under the spell of the play. I found the comedy a little forced at times, a little programmatical. R's very right, if you're going to cast proper comedians - in this case, Sean Hughes and Reece Shearsmith - you should give them their head and let them improvise. Where possible, anyway. And actually, RS gave a v good Seven Ages speech.
Our friend Sam Kenyon was of course lovely and bright and sang beautifully as Amiens. We had dinner with him after at a cafe right beside the stage door, so we could see the photographers and autograph hunters milling about...
Because of course there was Sienna Miller. In the play, as Celia. In little round glasses! And plaits! And smoking cheroots, smiling her lovely smile, and generally being a wonderful foil for a wonderful Rosalind. You must forgive, but I swooned. Sure, she looks great in all the fashion mags, with her boho chic down to a t, but give me her Celia any day of the week.

Now it really is g&t time, under the greenwood tree...
Re: bloomsday, I thought this was very sweet. Check out the "News As It Happens" menu down the page. Ah, those junkies and weed-freaks.

(later... you now need to fill out an easy sign-in to get to the page.)

15 June 2005

A Thousand Yards

Seldom does a new play immediately make you value one of your senses more than you did before you went. A N Zakarian's A Thousand Yards did that for me at Southwark last eve.
It's a cracking piece about a picture editor losing her sight, and investigates the effect of the mind on the body's reaction to stimuli. I found it quite absorbing. The lead character Lucy filters out the more horrific images that arrive at her desk from front-line photo-journos (including her former boyf) and crops and selects the pics for public consumption. So she has a growing database of hellish scenes in her mind. Her mind, therefore, is starting to dim her sight, because it can take no more. In the play, Lucy visits a therapist who helps her address all this. These scenes reminded me of The Singing Detective, The Sopranos also. Formidable forebears, and the writing doesn't reach their heights (it's only her second play, I believe), but there's plenty enough to engage and involve us. Plus the superb Gerard Kearns (off of Paul Abbott's genius Shameless series) as the teenager Lucy befriends.
Sadly, the audience was thin. I served about five glasses of wine and a few cokes and coffees. Good on the people who came, but the play deserves better. Here's the Times review.

I've booked in for my check-up at the opticians.

In other news, I have shocked myself by starting to organise a show. Five fifteen minute plays, five different writers (one of them's me). It may happen at Southwark in late September. We have a provisional green light. So watch this space, as they say in the producing business, or at least I imagine they do. Any tips on avoiding production disasters very welcome...

13 June 2005

Mum's Not The Word

Just recovering from a day out with Spike. Buzzed down to the Barbican on the bus with him mourning the absence of his mother the whole way down in tones carefully designed to shred the nerves of all auditors and the dignity of the parent in charge. I tried every distraction in the book, finally resorting to the nuclear option - chocolate buttons. When the little white chocolate discs fail, you know you're in trouble. But they did. I used them too early, showed my hand...
In the end, trundling through the City toward the knobbly Barbican towers, S called for me. I bent down beside the pushchair. He said: 'Daddy I feel better now. I was sad, I feel better now after my shluff'. (Yiddish = nap, imported from B's family.)
He hadn't actually napped, but I didn't care about that, I was just happy he wasn't sad.
The upset could be traced back to the morning, when we were all three in the park cafe, and I was already in danger of being late for meeting McK and Nora at the Barbican when Andrew Clover showed up with his two girls. The Misses Clover are well acquainted with our Spike, as they go to the same playgroup, so S was naturally miffed when I dragged him off for a smelly bus ride. Add into the mix that his Mum had been out two nights running (gasp!) and you get a situation. Incidentally, Andrew is a comedian and storyteller, and McK raves about a show of his he saw at Edinburgh. Dastardly simple premise - Andrew is 6 today and we're all at his birthday party. There's cake and silly jokes and singing, and it all gets rather out of hand as we get into the regressive spirit and become 6. Then Andrew gets a cob on. He throws tantrums, he gets stroppy. He gets abusive. And in the show McK was at, a woman who just wouldn't do as she was told got (after due warning) a cracking slap on the leg. McK can still hear the sound it made.

Any road up, the waterside terrace at the Barbican is a lovely spot on an afternoon in June, and S recovered his bonhomie well enough to be a good playmate for Little Miss Barnacle. I just had to remember not to say the word 'Mum', and everything was rosy.

Jolly time at Erica's last night - she was having 'open house' to celebrate her good news, which I don't think I'm allowed to blog just yet, but will in due course. She has a very exciting new job, I'll say that much. Rachael was there, as was E's designer pal Soutra Gilmour, actors Sam Kenyon, Grant Gillespie and Tamzin Griffin, directors Joe Austin, Alan Cox, and sundry other people of good character.
E and Tamzin are sharers in this beautiful, immaculately kept terrace in Fournier Street which retains so many of the original (c.1800?) features, it's something of a timewarp. The wooden staircases, for inst, are all so bent and bowed they make you want to rush home and read some Harry Potter.

11 June 2005

Apollo Twelve

Found this beautiful shot from the Apollo 12 landing here.


Charles "Pete" Conrad and Al Bean were the third and fourth men on the moon. They spent about eight hours walking on the surface, in two separate stints - more than three times as long as their illustrious predecessors, Neil and Buzz. They conducted experiments, collected samples, and took some rather good pictures.
Conrad had a bet with a friend of his, an Italian journalist rejoicing in the name Oriana Fallaci, that he would make up his own words to say when his feet touched the moon. She was certain NASA had scripted Armstrong's first words, 'one small step' and all that, and would do the same for the other moonwalkers. As he jumped off the ladder onto the Ocean of Storms, November 19th 1969, the diminutive Conrad said:
'Whoopie! Man, that may've been a small one for Neil but it's a long one for me.'
He won his bet - and 500 big ones.

08 June 2005

Brighton Rocks

Went to Brighton yesterday en famille. I realised I hadn't left the city in far too long, and announced to B and S after playgroup that we were off to the seaside.
I know Brighton's a city too but on a perfectly still and blue late spring day, you could be on the Med. And I love all its idiosyncratic barminess. The grandeur and the gaucherie. And that West Pier looming out there, a monstrous memento mori.

I can't believe some people actually still want to restore the thing. I suppose it was socially significant, but look at it. It'd take more than a lick of paint, and there are worthier targets for resurrection. It's hardly as worthy as the Grand Hotel - famously rebuilt after the attempted assassination of Mrs T - which is now fated to gaze out at its remains for eternity, or at least until the next bomb/fire/storm. Perhaps the Grand should have been left as a monumental reminder of the futility of terrorist acts, or of the hatred Thatcher inspired among her enemies. You decide.

Spike and B had a good time too and we were all tired and happy when we got home. (S didn't quite make it to bed before exhaustion rattled him into panic, and it took a while to quiet him...) Just what the doctor ordered. Even a hilariously poor and expensive supper in a restaurant called Nia hadn't put B off her stroke, and she's already planning our next excursion. Hard to beat Brighton when it's on form, though.

04 June 2005

I've Created A Monster

The play - The May Queen - is giving me the heebeejeebees. Not only is it a runaway train of pain and misery and divine mercy, it's enormous. I put it into double spacing and it's 135 pages, and we're hardly anywhere near the mercy bit. omg.

Here's a bit of it. It's scene eight. I'm having a go at a loose adaptation of the Orestes myth, so this bit corresponds with the false messenger speech (in the Sophocles Electra) where the death of the avenger is announced to create a false sense of security among his intended victims. It's May 1941. Angela is the mother, Eileen her friend, Phelan her lover, Theresa her daughter (Electra). JJ is Michael's (Orestes) best friend and together they have gone AWOL from the army and returned to Liverpool to avenge Michael's father's murder. Btw, in the previous scene, a demon in disguise has taunted Theresa, telling her that JJ's back.

It's a draft, so if you want to comment, go easy. (If you like it, go crazy.)

Scene 8

The Donohues’ front room.

JJ wears a black armband. He plays the part of a soldier grieving for a comrade-at-arms.

JJ There were the five of us. Me and your Michael,
Johnny Bingham who we knew from our unit but not all that well, fella called Simon, tank driver whose ankle was broke, and the Captain. Simon was gunner in a Matilda we’d found gutted about five miles down the track. Was hit by a Panzer but he’d been thrown clear. Couldn’t believe he was alive and if you’d seen the state of that Matilda nor would you.
The Captain was alright, liked him meself but Michael didn’t warm to him much. He was called Avery or Avebury or something like that. Michael didn’t trust any of the officer class as far as he could throw them, to be honest. Which was fair enough considerin’ the number o’ daft orders we’d been given by the likes. Well we were in a bad way, we were all of us out on our feet. And we could hear them, the German tanks, steamin’ through the country all around, put the fear o’ God in us. The Captain hadn’t got a clue but yer couldn’t blame him. Michael was sure we could shimmy our way back north and find our unit, or at least some other stragglers like us who might at least have a radio. But Simon’s ankle meant we’d a passenger to think of, we couldn’t go none too quick, so we found the driest ditch we could and grabbed some kip ‘til nightfall. That was a horrible few hours that was, lyin’ there listenin’ to the moans of the Panzers on the move in the distance. Soon as dark fell we packed up and moved off, takin’ turns-about carryin’ Simon. Bastard moon was out so we still had to keep tight to the hedges. So we’d been going two hours when we saw a sign - Paradise. Le Paradise.Captain called it Para-dee. Tiny place, maybe ten houses, the church, cemetery, that was about it. Me and the Captain went forward on a reccy and left the others in the churchyard. Said to him


Said to him before I went, Keep your head down, soft lad. And he said, I will do. That was the last time I saw your Michael alive.

ANGELA God have mercy

PHELAN It’s alright. Go on, lad.

JJ The captain and me were gone maybe half an hour. Found some food, no one around. Then we saw these – these graves just been dug - and there was the worst smell -

ANGELA’S grief has burst its banks, and she cries out, JJ breaks off his narrative

JJ Listen


ANGELA Mother o God help me

PHELAN Angela queen

JJ I’m not sure

ANGELA I’m a dead woman


ANGELA I’m dead

PHELAN No love

ANGELA D’yers hear me


ANGELA Dead to yers all

EILEEN Angela no Angela you’re not that

ANGELA I am that I am

EILEEN You’re not

PHELAN No one’s that

EILEEN No no one’s that

ANGELA How can I how can I live now ey
Tell me that

PHELAN No love come here

ANGELA I gave birth

PHELAN Come here let me now

ANGELA I gave birth to him birth to him

PHELAN Come on let me


PHELAN No love

ANGELA Gone he’s
Dead oh
Mother o God

EILEEN Don’t Angela

ANGELA What am I


ANGELA What am I

EILEEN Don’t love

ANGELA Why am I even

PHELAN Drink this


PHELAN Do you good



JJ Mrs Donohue

ANGELA Breathing

JJ Michael

ANGELA When he’s

JJ Mrs

ANGELA When he’s dead

JJ Mrs Donohue

ANGELA When he’s

EILEEN Angela let him



ANGELA My only

EILEEN What did you want

ANGELA My only son oh God

EILEEN Did you want to say

ANGELA Michael I never
I never wanted

PHELAN God help her

EILEEN Here now

ANGELA I want him

PHELAN It’s all she needs

ANGELA I want him Eileen

I want him back

EILEEN Did you want

ANGELA I want him back

THERESA enters, unnoticed

PHELAN Come here

JJ Mrs Donohue

ANGELA Michael

JJ I’m sorry


JJ I’m sorry

ANGELA My baby my baby

JJ There was nothing anyone

ANGELA Baby boy

PHELAN Come on now

ANGELA Fuck off you


ANGELA Fuck off

PHELAN Come on queen


JJ He was always lookin’ after

ANGELA Don’t you fuckin’ queen me


ANGELA How dare you


ANGELA attacks JJ



ANGELA Yer fuckin’ no-mark

EILEEN NO leave him

ANGELA What gives you


ANGELA What gives you the right

PHELAN Alright lad

ANGELA Come in ‘ere tell me baby

PHELAN Alright son

EILEEN Sit down

ANGELA You saved yourself
YOU saved YOURself

EILEEN Sit down

JJ I couldn’t



ANGELA Yer fuckin’ always was


ANGELA Like yer father before yer
Fuckin’ useless

EILEEN Stop it now

ANGELA Scrawny fuckin’ useless waste o space

PHELAN No need is there

JJ I’m sorry

PHELAN She knows

EILEEN Yer alright John

PHELAN Give the lad a drink

EILEEN sees THERESA come striding forward


THERESA takes her mother by the shoulders, shakes her violently.
A beat.
Then she slaps her, viciously.
Three or four beats.
Then THERESA falls sobbing into her mother’s breast, and they cry together.

Slow fade.
End of scene.

02 June 2005

I'm It

Ova Girl has virtually tagged me - see, she's even given me a font-change.
She wants me and other bloggers to complete the following bookish survey. So here goes.

1) Total number of books I’ve owned:

There are about 1,200 in the flat, extrapolating from the count I made of one wall of the study here. Many of these belong to B, and I'm still carting around the odd classics text from school. Total I've owned? In my life, I've no idea. But I rarely get rid.
When I grow up I want to be able to buy any book I want.

2)Last book I bought:

The Voice of War, a compilation of first-hand accounts of WW2.
Before that, Ted Hughes' version of Alcestis (second hand), Dave Eggers' Short Short Stories.

3)Last book I read:
Text of Emma Frost's play Airsick. As I'm in the middle of a play I'm mostly reading snippets of research. The last novel I read was Oracle Night by Paul Auster.

4)5 books that mean a lot to me.

Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, because it unlocked for me certain things about my development (as a young man more than artist, I don't presume to bracket myself with JJ there) I hadn't yet understood.

A Man On The Moon by Andrew Chaikin. I fell in love with the Apollo missions to the moon while sharing a house in Clapham with some of the finest people. We were all marooned in penury and uncertainty at that time. I later wrote about Apollo for a living. And wrote a play, an update of Oblomov, with the moon and its exploration as metaphor for Oblomov's distracted, other-wordly meanderings. The set was a cross between a bed and a lunar lander. Anyway Chaikin's book is the Apollophile's bible.

Robinson Crusoe because it was such a head-fuck, I couldn't believe how good it was and I'm now all excited about reading all the other classics I've shied away from for myriad misguided reasons. I read it shortly after moving to Stoke Newington. I pass the Robinson Crusoe pub every day. (Only had the one drink in there though, bit of an old geezers' boozer.)

Rites Of Passage/Close Quarters/Fire Down Below by William Golding. I wrote the Nobel-Winning One a fan letter, I think it was 1988. He wrote back. I couldn't and still can't believe it. My angle in my letter was that there was always one of his books on my desk, in amongst.. and I listed all the things on my desk. This was his reply, in an impressively curly hand:
Thank you for the praise
which has "touched my trembling
If there is anything
in the cheque-book I recommend
"A Moving Target".


William Golding

A Milton quote, and an advert for his new book. Class.
It's framed on the wall behind me.

So there it is. I can't see anyone in the playground I can tag without getting funny looks. If you'd like to be tagged, come out from behind the science block and post your own booky thoughts, be they on your own blog or in comments here or at Ova Girl's place. Look forward to them.


That was only four when OG'd asked for five. So I'll add... I was going to say Girlfriend In A Coma, but I think I'll go for Generation X, by Douglas Coupland. It doesn't mean a lot to me in the sense that I was a slacker or anything. Because I'm not a slacker, in that I never had anything to slack off from. I am, rather, an idler. No Generation X is meaningful to me simply because I can still recall how much pleasure it gave me. And that means a lot. I adored the style, I laughed at the jokes, I even liked all the little slogans, like - "DEAD AT 30, BURIED AT 70",
"SHOPPING IS NOT CREATING", "THE SUN IS YOUR ENEMY". Most of all I liked the characters - Andy, Dag, Claire. Impossibly wry and sympathetic and knowing and timorous, living in a burnt out Americana landscape psychically twinned with every downbeat twenty-something lair in the West. Julian bought it me for my 26th. Thanks, Julian.