Sunday, November 05, 2006

Chewing Gum Menace!!! Aaaaaaarghhhh!!!

Taken from the wonderful BBC News website.

The five ages of chewing gum, from wrapper to stain on the pavement.

It costs at least 10p to clean up each piece of gum spat out on pavements and roads, and councils sick of this unsightly mosaic of trodden-in gum are desperate to find a solution.

Many and various ways have been tried to encourage people to dispose of their chewing gum more thoughtfully, but often to little avail.

Rare is the chewer who will carefully rewrap their masticated blob of gum and seek out a rubbish bin or, failing that, tuck it in a bag or pocket to throw away later. Instead, that spittle-ridden blob ends up on the pavement, along with germs and bacteria from the chewer's mouth.

And the hinted-at development of biodegradable gum still seems a long way off.

As part of a House of Lords debate this week on whether to tax chewing gum to help pay for cleaning it up, Lord Selsdon, a Conservative life peer, presented his research into the life-cycle of gum.

Stick: Gum starts life in a wrapper with a nice notice on the outside, asking the chewer to "please use this wrapper prior to disposal".

Blob: "It then enters the mouth where, mixed with saliva and often respiratory pathogens - and occasionally blood if you have recently been to a dentist for teeth cleaning - it is masticated and then given its exit in the form of excrement," Lord Selsdon told the house.


London's remains of the day
Projectile: "This excrement is either spat on to the pavement, or disposed of in other ways, and carries with it certain dangers. As it hits the pavement, it is colloquially known as a 'gum turd'. This may retain viruses and bacteria for as long as it is wet."

Flat: It is then squashed by passing feet and wheels and becomes a flat. Those that are cleaned up - at a cost of up to £250,000 for a small city centre - might be steamed, scraped, lasered or doused with chemicals out of existence. According to the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, councils in England alone spent £8.5m in 2005 cleaning up gum.

Stain: But long after its removal - whether by cleaning or erosion over three to four years - evidence of its presence remains as a stain. The result - speckled pavements.

But that is just half the time that it's said to hang around in the stomach if swallowed. Wrong. Gum is, by its nature, sticky, but it passes through the digestive tract just like any other foodstuff. It's more likely stick around longer in your hair. Or on your shoe.

Taken from the wonderful BBC News website.

See how the demise of tobacco and the rise of the 'chewing gum menace' is affecting the film industry.

More 'Chewing Gum Revelations!!'

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Another true story..............

The Smiths were unable to conceive children, and decided to use a
surrogate father to start their family. The day the proxy father
was to arrive, Mr.Smith kissed his wife and said,

"I'm off. The man should be here soon."

Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer rang the doorbell, hoping to make a sale.

"Good morning madam. I've come to......"

"Oh, no need to explain. I've been expecting you," Mrs. Smith cut in.

"Really?" the photographer asked. "Well, good! I've made a speciality of babies."

"That's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat."

After a moment she asked, blushing, "Well, where do we start?"

"Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub,
one on the couch and perhaps a couple on the bed. Sometimes the
living room floor is fun too....you can really spread out!"

"Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work for Harry and me!"

"Well, madam, none of us can guarantee a good one every time.
But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or
seven angles, I'm sure you'll be pleased with the results."

"My, my, that's a lot of .....of.....!!" gasped Mrs. Smith.

"Madam, in my line of work, a man must take his time. I'd love to be in and
out in five minutes, but you'd be disappointed with that, I'm sure.

"Don't I know it," Mrs. Smith muttered.

The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures.

"This was done on the top of a bus."

"Oh my god!!" Mrs. Smith exclaimed, tugging at her handkerchief.

"And these twins turned out exceptionally well, when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with."

"She was difficult?" asked Mrs. Smith faintly.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job
done right. People were crowding around four and five deep, pushing to get a good look."

"Four and five deep?" asked Mrs. Smith, eyes widened in amazement.

"Yes", the photographer said. "And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling; I could hardly concentrate! Then darkness approached and I began to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling
on my equipment, I just packed it all in."

Mrs. Smith leaned forward. "You mean they actually chewed on your... um ...equipment?"

"That's right. Well, madam, if you're ready, I'll set up my tripod so that we can get to work."

"Tripod???!!"

"Oh yes, I have to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big for me to hold for very long.......Madam? Madam?...Good Lord, she's fainted....!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

John Hannah on the mend.

John Hannah is expected to leave The Priory next week, having responded well to treatment.
He no longer holds any bitterness towards the makers and creators of 'Rebus' - the TV detective show currently starring Ken Stott, where formally he was the star.
He has expressed his great excitement at starring as the new 'rival' television detective 'Trebus' - blatantly based upon Ian Rankin's original 'Rebus' creation but with distinct differences in character.

Read the full story here:

Rebus Shocker!

Model assaults man with phone.

I thought I’d relate the unfortunate tale of a dear friend of mine, in light of the current news item concerning a certain dark skinned model with attitude.
My friend too had the misfortune of being at the receiving end of a telephonic device, directed at his bonce by an overpaid model.

You may think this not such a serious incident as the one currently in the news, given that the telephonic device which bounced off my friend’s head was in fact a mobile phone and not a landline phone, as was the one involved in the recent court case. However, the incident to which I refer occurred 15 years ago when mobile phones resembled bricks and were capable of inflicting a comparable injury to a brick if thrown with similar force.

My friend was placed in somewhat of a dilemma by the offer of compensation by the model in question. You see, John (not his real name of course) is not blessed with any admirable physical attributes that would attract the opposite, never mind the same sex. In fact, it was rumoured that he was still a virgin, even after having reached and passed his 40th birthday.
The dilemma to which I will relate, was in the form of a choice of recompense not normally of a type offered in court. You see, the model in question created a ‘Michael Miles’ situation when she put it to John to ‘take the money or open the box?’

John, at this particular juncture in his life, had found himself in serious debt through no fault of his own, and the offer of what was a substantial four figure sum, was the answer to some of his prayers. Yet the attraction of ‘opening the box’ proved too strong a temptation for him and he forewent the chance of paying off his debts; instead preferring the imagined delights of the flesh.

It is only now, 15 years later, that John approached me, relating this episode in his life.
You see, John believes that he was ‘diddled’ all those years ago, in relation to his expectations, having decided on the meatier option of recompense.
I have no wish to divulge details here of the exact nature of his complaint, but I can reveal that he intends to seek financial reparations for the original injurious nature of the assault carried out on him all those years ago, even though he originally opted for the more salacious option of compensation.
Unfortunately, he foolishly contacted the model in question, to make it known to her that he was pursuing this course of action and was most taken aback by her vehement response.
She said something along the lines of it ‘not standing up in court either.’

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Operation South Downs - Part 7

May 21st 2001:

I suppose one must look at the positive aspects of a Hopkins musical score.
In the two weeks since his official appointment as composer, he has in fact “composed” himself in as much as he has ceased all consumption of alcohol to concentrate on writing the score and other musical accompaniments.

An upright piano has been installed in his trailer – he would have nothing to do with the latest, modern, musical composing technology; instead favouring the actual piano from the bar where he first broached the subject of his appointment.
It was an expensive purchase for what was basically a piece of old junk. The landlord certainly knew what he was doing when he sold it to us for one thousand pounds cash. And the fact that two of the keys didn’t actually work didn’t seem to concern Hopkins one jot! He just said that he wouldn’t bother using those particular notes in his score.

You have to admire his energy though. After a hard day’s filming, Hopkins would immediately depart for his trailer and wouldn’t be seen until the next morning.
One could hear the tell-tale plink, plink, plonk of piano keys being depressed, wafting forth from his trailer.

Initially, I too was being “depressed” at those very sounds that assaulted my ears and beat my musical sensibility into submission. But over the period of a few very short weeks, a musical pattern began to emerge and establish itself and in fact, one found oneself involuntarily humming those very same notes whilst involved in the day to day grind that is the film-making process.
Could it be that the world too would find itself humming those self same notes, much as happened with that Horner’s horror stuff on “Titanic?”

June 2nd 2001:

Eventually, Hopkins left for London to begin musical arrangements, with a promise that he would return with a short orchestral recording of his score, for us to listen to.

June 17th 2001:

Hopkins returns from London.

And so it was that found us in a small local tavern in Lewes (we had pre-booked the premises for the evening for a private gathering, at no small cost, for the purpose of listening to Hoppy’s score, all thirty seconds of it, or so we thought!)

Suitably lubricated as we were, Hopkins had skilfully built up the tension and apprehension before allowing for us to be bewitched by his composition.

I ventured a relaxed smile; probably my first for many a week. After all, things were really beginning to come together for the first time. In fact it was really beginning to feel like one big happy family on set. I was quietly confident.
Even Horrocks had deemed it a suitable period of elapsed time since the “pensioner’s muff” incident, and had even exchanged a few short words with Hopkins, outwith those words scripted for her on film.
This was an absolutely fabulous turn of events that couldn’t have happened at a more opportune time given that, within the week, we were due to return to London to film their most intimate moment together when their love for each other formulates itself into a physical coupling.

Forget “Don’t Look Now” and other supposed erotic encounters on film. This coupling is destined to be cinema’s most daring and moving.
Damp cinema seats are destined to be the norm after an evening experiencing the thrills and delights of our great production!
Only one small possible blip however.

Hoppy had decided to partake of a “small” amount of Harvey’s “Lizzie” – a particularly heavenly but strong potion, disguised as ale - by way of celebrating his no small musical achievement. His first tipple for a number of weeks I may add.
I felt a small concern but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Only that I had trusted my instincts.

I will say here and now that the Hopkins musical score and other musical embellishments have proved to be the most astounding and awe inspiring of creations, having the effect of reducing most of us to tears at their very raw emotional content.
That he will gain a statuette is a foregone conclusion. Even two being a definite possibility, especially if the crucial chemistry between himself and Horrocks develops further.
It is just so very unfortunate that on that particular evening events took a downward spiral that were to have an initial negative effect on the Hopkins/Horrocks relationship that hasn’t been suitably rectified to this day.

It all relates back to that extended train journey to Harvey’s Brewery where the champagne flowed so freely.
I remember having been in a carriage with the film crew, giving them the benefit of my experience as to the form and structure of the documentary they were filming, when a loud screeching assaulted our ears most violently.
We immediately looked out of the window as it sounded very much like the screeching of the brakes, though we felt no tell-tale change in the speed of the train.
We shrugged our shoulders and continued our discussion, ably lubricated by a drop of bolly. But the awful screeching sound continued in bursts until such time as I decided to investigate further.
It is at the point where, on passing the carriage containing Depp, Hopkins and Horrocks, that I witnessed the “pensioners muff” incident that resulted in Hopkins being knocked unconscious.
I of course put all thoughts of my original concern at the violent screeching sound to the back of my mind, as I wrestled Horrocks to the ground.

I remained in that carriage for the remainder of the journey, having completely forgotten my original investigation, more interested in keeping the peace between overly lubricated celebs. In any case, the screeching assault on my eardrums had ceased and did not repeat itself for the remainder of the journey.

It is only now, that I am fully aware of what indeed that sound had been. I should have realised as I’d heard it on a further occasion, but at closer quarters. It was that awful whining, disguised as singing, as produced from deep inside the Horrocks gut.

In any case, this is what happened:-

Having very skilfully built up our expectations, Hopkins stood up and called for silence.
That moment had come for our being introduced to what will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the worlds’ greatest film scores.
Anyway, the room fell silent as the lights were dimmed until we were almost in complete darkness, save a few candles that had been lit specially for the occasion.

At first nothing, an eerie silence and then a gentle tinkling sound, very much likened to the sound of a gentle brook flowing over ancient rocks, worn smooth by the centuries of flowing water. And then the “tinkling” sound gradually became the “tinkling” of a piano, a series of notes, repeated in a formation that all in the room had become familiar with - that self same combination of notes that all on set had been humming since our having been wafted by those very same notes floating out from the open window of Hopkins trailer all those weeks ago.
Gradually, the gentle brook became a raging torrent as the full force of the orchestra was introduced, one instrument at a time; our little brook now in full flow and seemingly unstoppable.
All the while the “theme” – those few very hummable bars – formed a continual repetition as the music unfolded before our ears.
And then came what sounded like something very primeval; the impression of animals wailing, of birds screeching; a haunting sound overlaying the main theme.

In the eerie blackness of that public house I began to feel very much alone, a fear tightening across my chest, as the music took me to places I’d never been before.
I was suddenly there, experiencing the horror of those terrible days and nights of flooding that must have been experienced by those who were unfortunate to have been its victims.
As I sat there, transfixed by Hoppy’s awesome creation, I vowed to capture that moment in time for at least the next few months in order to impart that feeling within the further creation of our great film.
Then all of a sudden I let out a short involuntary scream as a hand grasped mine tightly. The tension that Hopkins had so wonderfully manipulated had also obviously gotten to another. I could feel the fear from that hand as it gripped mine, its cold and clammy moisture penetrating my pores and imparting an unmistakable chemical message. It only served to instil an even greater fear in me, right down to the very marrow in my bones.
Then just as suddenly, the lights came back on. And with that, the hand of Horrocks quickly unclasped from mine.
I swear everyone in the room let out a short nervous burst of laughter on being released from the hypnotic torment that was Hopkin’s finest creation.
I noticed a few glistening cheeks, a few short brushes with the back of a hand to remove a stray tear. My own cheeks, lightly moistened, were likewise unglistened.
Then almost as if commanded by another, we all stood up and broke into spontaneous applause.

If only the evening had ended at that particular point. But no, old Hopkins had one more musical item up his sleeve.
It was, in fact, young Depp who was inadvertently the indirect cause of the violence that was to ensue. But that in no way excuses the actions of Hopkins or indeed Horrocks in the unfortunate incident to follow.

Over the previous months, young Depp had been gaining a reputation as one who drinks very little but acts as if he’s drunk a great deal.
Unlike most of the team on set who were British, his was of American birth and like most of his great nation, their inability to quoff even the smallest amounts of real ale without any visible effect, is not to be lauded.
Obviously being teamed with Hopkins was, in retrospect, not the best of casting combinations of star and co-star. The benefit of our experience on “Operation South Downs” should be borne in mind by all casting directors on future projects.

It is completely acceptable that one so young and inexperienced an actor as Depp should feel in awe of one of the world’s greatest actors in Hopkins, for to emulate his acting abilities is bound to be to the young fellow’s future advantage.
But to try and emulate the drinking “talents” of Hopkins could be likened to Depp paddling a li-lo across the English Channel in a race to reach the French coast, against Hopkins sailing a multi-engined speedboat.

And so this very evening found Depp matching Hopkins, pint for pint of “Old Lizzie.”

As the applause died, we all rushed over to congratulate Hopkins most warmly on his musical accomplishment. Even Horrocks was most gushing in her praise.
He thanked her graciously for her contribution and promised a mention on the musical album to that effect.
Horrocks was most touched at this gesture of friendship and even I myself could feel a warm glow inside, not wholly attributable to the liquid contents of my stomach.
I left them to “bond” further as I made my excuses and departed for the gents.

As I was relieving myself I could hear the faintest sound of something most awful, emanating from the region of the public bar. Awful as it was, it was familiar to my ears as that self-same sound as one had previously heard on that eventful train journey to Lewes, and only now did I make the connection with that other occasion on which I’d heard it.
As it turned out, I couldn’t have picked a less opportune moment to empty my bladder, as on my return to the bar I was greeted with the most awful scene.

All persons had departed from the premises, bar just the three. One stood over the other two, both very much maintaining a horizontal position upon those ancient floorboards.
A line of fearful faces outside, pressed up against the windows, looking inwards on that awful scene.

It was only the next morning that Gloria from the Costume Department related the full and exact events to me.

June 18th 2001:

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Operation South Downs - Part 6

April 11th 2001:

One of the strange contradictions in our modern world is our ambiguous and rather strange attitude to the animal kingdom and its subsequent elucidation as to the equally strange attitude we have to our fellow human beings.

To explain further:-

It was a very unfortunate occurrence, the tragic drowning of one of the film extras, one of our American cousins, while filming the crucial scene where Parsons Linklater (Hopkins) makes first contact with Jules Crabtree (Horrocks).

You may remember from my previous writings, that Parsons Linklater, ex-lifeboat captain, “retired” to the sleepy little town of Lewes these past number of years, drags a bloated “corpse” from the River Ouse, instinctively performs the kiss of life upon its cold blue lips and thereby saves the life of young Jules Crabtree. An extremely crucial scene in the development of the plot, not to mention the development of their relationship.

Anyway, it was at this time that the unfortunate ‘extra’ was to be one of many “foreign bodies” being swept downstream in the background as the kiss of life was being performed on the Horrocks character.
And swept by he did, face down in the mire!

I was watching behind camera as he swept by, just as Hoppy was blowing oxygen into Horrocks’s ample lungs. Initially I was most impressed by the extra’s improvisation and dedication to the job in hand and asked to be introduced to him afterwards by way of congratulating him on a fine piece of acting.

My fine words in his ear went unheard, as by the time I was introduced to him he’d unfortunately expired.

I had a terrible night of anguish over this unfortunate incident and wondered what I could say to the poor chap’s parents who were flying over from the U.S. the following day.

April 13th 2001:

Meeting the parents of the dead extra. Can't remember his name.
It was with great trepidation that found me expressing my great sorrow at the very great tragedy that had occurred on the death of their son and the even greater tragedy that would occur if they did not let us use the very piece of film where their son had so gallantly given his life for the sake of our great project. It’s what he would have wanted surely?!

To cut a long story short, an agreement was reached whereby the parents will be credited as executive producers on the film and their son will receive a star billing immediately after Depp but before Horrocks. A small price to pay for such glorious drama I’d say!
Anyway, the “incident” did not effect filming and indeed failed to alter or change the filming schedule. We carried on in the true British tradition!

April 20th 2001:

This following week we were filming another scene, only this time live cattle were to be swept down river as the Ouse swept over fields and carried them off and through the town of Lewes.
For authenticity, we used real cattle, taking every precaution as to their safety and wellbeing.
In fact I had even stipulated that said cattle should be supplied from those that were due for slaughter within the week. This way, should there be an unfortunate accident, then at least we could be happy in the knowledge that they were going to die soon anyway.

Sure enough, it had to happen and it did. A bloated cow (not Horrocks Ha! Ha!) was washed up outside an antique shop in Cliff and that’s when all hell broke loose. Within a few short hours we were invaded by the Animal Liberation Front and numerous other “animal lovers” carrying placards bearing rude words with inferences as to our illegitimacy.
Anyway, the police were called in and water cannon were utilised in the dispersion of the riotous mob! Serves the buggers right I thought.

Little did I realise then, that heading the mob was none other than our very own Franco/American cousin Depp.
Seemingly he’d been in floods of tears over the death of the cow and had locked himself in his winnebago, drowning his grief with bottles of Ouse booze.
By the time the liberation types had arrived, young Depp was inebriated yet again and had decided to join in with the “peaceful” protest!
He seemingly grabbed a placard, and started screaming and shouting as to the poor orphan calves left motherless by that cruel twist of fate.
He was one of the first to be knocked flying by the blast from a water cannon. Nobody recognised him as young Depp of course. One has to realise that the normal everyday appearance of Depp is one of extreme scruffiness; old filthy and torn jeans, unshaven fissog, floppy knitted hat, baggy, moth-eaten jumper et al.
In fact, even as he was being dragged screaming and kicking to the local police station, his identity was still not realised.

I, of course, would have apologised most profusely at my most feeble kick to his testicular region as he was being dragged away by the police, if I’d known then of his true identity. But as I’d kicked out without that knowledge, I felt it better left unsaid. Anyway, I had been most upset at the interruption to filming and had naturally lashed out, little realising that those very testicles belonged to the king of grunge himself.

April 28th 2001:

It was a week later before Depp returned from hospital to the film set, his left testicle having been pushed back down into its natural location.
Fortunately, due to his alcohol induced protest, his memory of the incident remained blurred. I just hope that my admission here does not in anyway effect our mutual admiration and respect for each other. An incident best forgotten. In fact, I wish him well with his continuing fertility tests. Best of luck old chap!

Anyway, to get back to my point on the human psyche:-

The “cow” incident as I shall refer to it, resulted in protests continuing on set for a number of days, which resulted in a complete disruption to filming, only ceasing after a substantial donation to some animal charity was agreed and a dedication was formalised for inclusion in the opening credits of the film. What a palaver I’ll tell you!

Anyway, if I’ve learned anything from the past few weeks it is this. If there is a death on set, just pray that it’s a human one!

After the incidents hereby referred to, it was decided to unburden ourselves of the services of that most esteemed British company “Farm Animals for Filming” (FAF) and use “human animals” instead.

My beloved Gloria from the Costume Department was persuaded back on set to rejoin the “dream team,” in order to construct buoyant cow suits for our film extras to don for those scenes requiring flailing cattle to be swept down river.
I challenge you to distinguish the real cattle from the human kind when the film is released to undoubted worldwide acclaim! Better prepare your speech now Gloria, it’s a dead cert!

It’s truly amazing the way things fall neatly into place. I’m convinced God is watching over me, fully realising himself that “Operation South Downs” will be his favourite island’s greatest film.

May 5th 2001:

Let me breach the subject of the musical score for the film.

We had pencilled in the wonderful John Barry to compose a rousing, dramatic, musical masterpiece suitable for such a brilliant and stunning British film as ours was promising to be. In doing so, I had immediately envisaged our third oscar nomination.

Unfortunately, the musical talents of Barry’s were not deemed “suitably ‘American’ enough” for our influential financiers of the that persuasion. They had instead, approached that Horner chap after his “success” with that dreadful Titanic!

I was mortified at this possibility! How could Jack Horner suitably capture the very essence of our own very British drama with his slushy, syrupy musical leanings?!
No, I would not have it! I will put my foot down!!
I do realise that Horner was born in GB but as far as I was concerned he was now a fully fledged American!
No, our composer had to be British!……or at least Welsh, as it turned out. At least Wales is not quite so far from Britain as the US of A!

To explain…..

That very evening I was in an extreme state of despair, which was not being alleviated by the quoffing of copious amounts of Harvey’s finest, at one of Lewes’s prime drinking establishments.
To make matters worse, I had young Depp as my companion for the evening and he was consuming alcohol at an unnatural rate, which was not the sensible thing, given that he was still on medication for his swollen testicle.
The combination of his medication with large amounts of beer was beginning to have a profound effect on his mind and body to an extreme degree. Luckily he lost all control and fell down on the floor unconscious.
Anyway, as the evening wore on, a drunken Hopkins turned up and I made the mistake of burdening him with my particular predicament of finding a suitable composer for the film’s score and other musical embellishments, to challenge the financiers’ proposal of James Horner as musical director.

Hopkin’s eyes lit up. He could write the score he insisted. He begged, cajoled, even got down on his knees on the floor next to the prone body of young Depp and grabbed my leg, pleading for the chance to prove himself.
He even said he’d do it for nothing!
He then stood up, swaying slightly, grabbed my arm and staggered over to the old “joanna” in the corner of the bar, dragging me over with him.
He then sat down on the piano stool and started playing.

Now for a man inebriated as he was, lacking in any apparent co-ordination of limb, his playing was a revelation. I can only assume that the beer, having found its way into his legs with such apparent ease had not yet reached his fingers. He played Chopin with such feeling that I was transfixed. Even young Depp seemed to rouse momentarily before finally succumbing to the power of an alcohol chemical cocktail.

How could I possibly refuse Hoppy’s request to write the music for the film?
Anyway, I fully realised that the decision was out of my hands, so just to appease him I said I would put it to the backers the very next morning, that Hopkins would write the score, knowing full well the derision that would greet my proposal.
Little did I realise the folly of that decision.

You have to understand that Hopkins is now a fully fledged American citizen, commonly referred to over the water as “President Hopkins.” He can in fact do no wrong in their eyes.
This I hadn’t realised when I put it to them that Hoppy had offered to do the score for free; an involuntary laugh passing my lips as I pronounced it to them.
Anyway, that is how we ended up with a Welsh American actor as musical composer on one of Britain’s all-time great movies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Unusual Names

While researching for a new project, I came across the following unusual author’s names, as extracted from an interesting book entitled ‘Bizarre Books’ by Russell Ash and Brian Lake.
Inevitably, names such as Prick van Wily will be funnier to an English reader than to a Dutchman. Here are a few others I have selected for your delectation:-

Marston Bates
Nicolas Bidet
Hugo Bonk
Bert de Cock
Roger A Destroyer
Arsen Diklic
A. Farto
Francis Fillerup
Semen Frug
Stanka Fuckar
Bent Koch
Rene Perve
Willy Prick
A. Schytte
I Shitts

More to follow.

New George Clooney film

We are wholly stuck in the era of the ‘re-make.’ How many films are being churned out of Hollywood that represent a re-modelled version of a previous film? What has happened to all the original writing? It despairs me no end to see such a dearth of original screenplays, especially as I am personally struggling to complete the filming of ‘Quigley Cuts Down’ in the face of American opposition – a wholly original screenplay, penned by my own hand and superior to anything the Americans can throw at us!

What is doubly galling for me is the fact that even with American monies, my previous film adaptation, ‘Operation South Downs’ starring Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp and Jane Horrocks, has been ‘shelved indefinitely’ by the backers, mainly of American persuasion, at the forceful request of one Mr. Hopkins, who has decided, via his legal team, that the film – and I quote, ‘shall not see the light of day while I am still alive.’

You have to realise the deference towards Hopkins in as much as is he is referred to, over the water, as ‘President Hopkins’ and is in fact a full blown US citizen!

What is triply galling for me, is the news of a further re-make of a particular favourite of mine, starring the late and great Leonard Rossiter. The wonderful ‘Le Petomane’ (1979).
But of course, the Americans are calling it by some other title, citing various inexplicable reasons for doing so. Well let me suggest those reasons, based on previous experience.

Remember ‘The Madness of King George?’ Originally entitled ‘The Madness of King George the Third.’
Of course the American reaction to the original film title was one of, ‘Well I aint seen the first two, aint gonna waste ma time tryin’ to pick up the storyline.’
Of course, with some forceful persuasion, the film’s title was altered in favour of the American preferered version.

Well let’s look at the reasons for a change of title in the case of ‘Le Petomane.’
Firstly, it was cited:-
‘Hell it’s in French. Aint nobody gonna understand what the hell it’s all about!’
Secondly it was stated, ‘It got subtitles, gonna sink like a dog.’
Thirdly it was stated that, ‘We give it a Frenchie name, nobody gonna wanna go see it!’

It is well known what the yanks think of the frogs. They have made their feelings very clear in their usage of rouge et blanc as cleaning fluid and drain unblocker. Have you seen some of the humorous quips that our obese cousins over the big pond have been saying about our garlic loving cousins over the little pond?

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion."--General Norman Schwartzkopf

"As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure."--Jacques Chirac, President of France"
As far as France is concerned, you're right."--Rush Limbaugh

"It is important to remember that the French have always been there when they needed us."--Alan Kent"

Somebody was telling me about the French Army rifle that was being advertised on eBay the other day --the description was, 'Never shot. Dropped once.'"--Rep. Roy Blunt, MO

'The French Government announced today that it is imposing a ban on the use of fireworks at Euro Disney. The decision comes the day after a nightly fireworks display at the park, located just 30 miles outside of Paris, caused the soldiers at a nearby French Army garrison to surrender to a group of Czech tourists.'


Anyway, getting back to the plot, I believe that George Clooney has agreed to play the starring role of Joseph Pujol in the ’soon to be filmed’ American film version of ‘Le Petomane’ and has tentatively refused a stunt double. I have it on good authority that he is holed up in some villa overlooking Lake Garda in Italy, practicing his technique.
I hope he has adequate insurance cover, as in the case of one Simon Tup, affectionately known as ‘The Farting Blacksmith’, through uncommon exertion while accompanying the song ‘Blow High, Blow Low,’ unfortunately broke a blood vessel of which he instantly died.
More of this story later.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Operation South Downs. Part Five.

It was a cold crisp morning that saw us ferried to London Victoria for the pleasant rail trip down to Lewes. The hour long journey was to be used profitably in reiterating that our outing was to be filmed for an official documentary, and it was vital that everyone was thus aware of their personal responsibility in conducting themselves in an acceptable manner whilst at the same time retaining an air of nonchalant reality. I was particularly worried about young Depp’s inability to control his legs and mouth after the smallest of quoffings of alcholic beverages and had had a quiet word with the elder statesman of booze, Mr.Hopkins, with a view to him taking young Depp under his wing as chaperone to the young fellow.
This, in retrospect, was not one of my better ideas, being likened by one later, to my “dousing the flames with gasolene.” But the beauty of the medium of modern filmmaking is the ability to edit, enhance, computer generate and generally tell a story that bares no relation to the actual reality of events that occurred on that fateful day in Lewes.
I’m sure when the documentary reaches the television screens of the western world, both Depp and Hopkins will appear only as they should, completely captivating and completely sober, and that’s not to mention that Horrocks! But more of her later.

The reality of the situation, as previously inferred, is somewhat different and will form one of the many contradictions that will become obvious between the “official” documentary and my own “unofficial” personal diaries. I shall not gild the truth or indeed hide it from the public. In fact I shall expose all, presenting in its ghastly and very human glory the whole and very sordid truth. That will include some very embarrassing revelations regarding my own behaviour in Lewes on that fateful day. Hopefully it will make for interesting reading.

So there we were, 8:00am that morning, the whole of the first class carriage to ourselves, full English breakfasts all round, the veritable works, and all washed down by the finest champagne.
Just enough time to eat, drink one glass of bubbly and have a short nap before arriving in Lewes. Anyway, that was the plan. We failed to allow for the notorious service that is British Rail. Three hours and twenty bottles of champagne later, we arrived in Lewes.

It was lucky that the platform was empty, apart from one unfortunate person, as young Depp fairly managed to project the contents of his stomach a fair old distance. I was just glad that his chaperone managed to get him to the window on time.
Not that his chaperone would get any thanks from me, given his obnoxious behaviour towards Horrocks. Not a good start to their on-screen romance (more of that later), were his rude comments as to the extent of her facial hair.

The Horrocks “beard” is well known within the industry but for it to be referred to as a “pensioner’s muff” was much too much for her to bear. Under normal circumstances she most probably would have left the carriage in disgust, but due to her being slightly squiffy herself, she somewhat lashed out, catching Hoppy squarely across the jaw and knocking him completely unconscious.

This was to prove very unfortunate for all those of us remaining conscious. You see, the ability to consume large amounts of champagne is something that Hoppy does with great aplomb, equalling his skills as seen on the big screen. In fact, his continued consciousness would have ensured that most of the twenty bottles were in fact consumed by him, to minimal effect, whereas his early removal from the drinking pool was to contribute severely to the sordid events of that day.
He in fact, only regained consciousness as we were pulling into the platform at Lewes, just in time to help young Depp to the window for a spot of projectile vomiting. By then it was too late, everyone else was by then completely inebriated, including myself.

That solitary person on the platform, now covered head to toe in champagne breakfast, via Depp’s gut, was in fact the Marketing Director of Harvey’s Brewery, who was there to greet us.

I have to say that the cameraman has captured the barfing moment most beautifully.
It’s just a crying shame that it will never be seen by the viewing public due to the very real threat of court action by Harvey’s.
More important a consideration has been their very real threat to withdraw funding on the project due to the further sordid actions that followed that day.

We did manage to placate the Marketing Director somewhat by offering him a free choice of replacement apparel from the entire M&S range, all completely without cost to him, or us of course. These things have a habit of working themselves out eh?

April 4th 2001:

It is only now, over two weeks after that fated research trip to the brewery in Lewes, that I can bring myself to put pen to paper in admission of the further despicable goings on of certain individuals who shall not here remain nameless.

It was as a direct result of their atrocious behaviour that saw myself drowning my frustration and sorrow in too copious an amount of Harvey’s most wonderful product, and as a result almost drowned in a large vat of Armada ale.
Health and Safety regulations stipulated that the entire contents of the vat had to be disposed of as undrinkable due to my partaking of a “swim” within.
I, of course, agreed to pay all costs incurred in that respect but I make it known here that in no way did I agree to pay for all other damages that were incurred on that day.
Certain “celebrity” actors involved, with more money than you can shake a stick at, agreed afterwards to cough up the required amount as calculated by Harvey’s accountants.

Anyway, after having alighted on the platform of Lewes station, and having apologised most profusely to our host for the day, we bundled young Depp into the limousine with instructions that he be cleaned up ready for the official tour of the brewery. This duty was bestowed upon Hopkins. After all, his participation in the sordid events on the train were partly responsible for young Depp’s condition.

Understandably, this was a big day for Harvey’s, with the arrival of Hollywood legend Hopkins and up and coming young star Depp to their illustrious premises. It hadn’t got off to a wonderful start, but with god’s help, it could yet prove to be a glorious day.

Horrocks and myself had decided to walk from the station with the intention of regaining our sobriety and composure on the short walk down the hill.

After having caught Hoppy across the chin with a fine outswinger, Horrocks had unfortunately decided to drown her grief at Hopkin’s insult, in further amounts of free champagne. She was now in quite an extreme state of drunkenness and it required all my skills to keep her on her feet and walking in a straightish line towards our goal.

As I previously alluded to, the young lass has an acclaimed reputation as a fine chanteuse. This she demonstrated clearly in a recent, quite successful film, taking on the voices of Bassey, Munroe and Minnelli among others.
Unfortunately, when afflicted by the over-consumption of alcohol, her singing voice
assumes all the best qualities of a Mel Blanc voiced cartoon creation - How so sweet a voice can be so changed in such a few short hours should warn anyone as to the damaging powers of alcohol.

Anyway, she was proving that fact ever so loudly as we swaggered down towards the brewery premises. By this time I’d had to place an arm around her to keep her reasonably upright. You see, as she “sang,” her legs suddenly stopped working in any sort of co-ordinated fashion, but as soon as she stopped “singing” they magically regained their powers of propulsion. She obviously had only enough unaddled brain power left to perform one task at a time.
I begged her to “shove a sock in it” so to speak, with no obvious success, as she continued from one crooner classic to another.

By now, my arm was becoming weaker in its efforts to support her, even though she’s actually a tiny slip of a thing, and I’d had to move her over to my left arm to avoid a nasty accident.
Further pleas for her to cease were falling upon stony ground. By now it was not just my arm that was pained but my senses too!
And obviously not just mine; a number of persons passing had asked for her to “shut the f**k up” but without any success, so I decided drastic action was required to avoid a major incident in Lewes.

Just to explain:

It is only fair, if I’m willing to expose others’ misdemeanours in the fullest technicolor, for my own shameful actions to be so exposed also.

A few days after the particular incident to which I’m about to refer, Horrocks was back in the city filming a second series of a successful TV sit-com.
Rumours on set were abounding as to a possible rift in her “marriage;” rumours brought on by the large bruise on her cheek combined with a story circulating about her “involvement” with her leading man on the set of Operation South Downs.
The fact that Hopkins had a bloody great bruise on his chin also, only helped to etch deeper in peoples’ minds the story that her partner had caught them together “inflagrante” and had given each of them a “bunch of fives.”

The truth of the matter I am now going to relate, and only hope that the persons therein involved will see the funny side of it. I did it for the right reasons and in the long run believe it can only add to the growing worldwide interest in our great British production.

The “drastic” action to which I earlier referred, in relation to Horrock’s continued awful whining, disguised as singing, involved a small “slap” to her cheek by way of “helping “her out of her “trance” and hopefully putting an end to her “crooning.”
That I “slapped” her with more force than was necessary is debatable, but it certainly did the trick, as her “singing” ceased immediately.

Anyway, I picked her off the ground and sat her down on a nearby park bench,
and while I waited for her to rouse, I dabbed at my bloodied knuckles with a hankie, hoping that some good may yet come of the day’s events.

And there it was, just before she regained full consciousness, I came up with the plan to circulate a rumour as to the possible “involvement” of our leading man with our leading lady, by way of taking advantage of their respective facial abrasions and also to heighten interest in our great production. The success of this plan is not yet confirmed but as far as I was concerned, on that day, all news regarding our great production was good news.

That there is no truth in the rumour of their “involvement” is patently obvious to all those involved on set. The “pensioners’ muff” incident has seriously diminished the “chemistry” between them and will have to be rectified as soon as Horrocks returns on set from her city stint. I shall have to use all my cunning on that one to help build a bridge between them. But that’s for later. Back to that day in Lewes.

Horrocks quickly regained consciousness, smiled warmly towards me and then puked all over my nice new M&S suit.
This was a difficult situation. The suit itself didn’t matter as I had over one hundred M&S suits back in London, but at this particular moment in Lewes, the one that I was adorned in, was the only one I had on my person. I’d just have to buy another one here in Lewes before finally partaking of the arranged visit to the brewery.
So off to the shops then, Horrocks in tow.

What a stroke of luck, an M&S in the sleepy little town of Lewes. I dragged
young Horrocks across the road in its direction and entered their fine establishment.

I fatefully left Horrocks browsing in the ladies section while I searched the suit racks for an identical suit to the one I was wearing, minus, of course, vegetable broth decoration.
And it seemed that the tide was beginning to turn in my favour. I found an identical suit in my size and walked over to the pay point.
I off course did not have enough cash on my person and had left all credit cards in London. After all, the day was to be a freebie, with no need to part with any monies at all, at any point during the day. It was unfortunate that I hadn’t allowed for this unlikely occurrence and would live to regret it later.

Eventually the store manager made an appearance. By now I was getting impatient and admit I may have used a few choice words in my explanation of the situation.
In any case, the store manager obviously had no desire in retaining his position of seniority, as I made it clear to him the grave mistake he was making in refusing to let me have the suit I’d selected.

I scoffed at his confirming that this was a £250.00 suit and asked that I pay for it.
I told him squarely that I don’t pay for M&S goods and it’s unlikely that I will ever have to again when this great picture of ours takes the world by storm next year! In fact, M&S will be begging me to take whatever I want!
He wouldn’t listen to me so I told him quite plainly to kiss goodbye to his job.
What a complete arse!!

Anyway, not to be beaten by some two-penny yokel, I raised myself up, tilted my head at him with a haughty demeanour and made a gracious exit.
I’d quickly decided that when reaching Harvey’s the vegetable broth decoration would no doubt have dried out somewhat anyway and could be lightly brushed off with no apparent ill effects. After all, it did say on the label “supremely stain resistant.”

I then made a search of the store for the lightly bruised Miss Horrocks.
Nowhere to be seen. Damnation!!

I ventured outside and debated whether or not I should abandon her to her fate and make my way to the brewery alone – I was by now gagging for a pint.
But no, being the gentleman that I am, I decided to locate her person and gallantly accompany her to our official engagement with that fine establishment of Harvey’s.

Her location made itself known forthwith:-

A small commotion was occurring immediately outside Tescos; a supermarket that will be forever associated with the erstwhile delightful Miss Horrocks. I could only assume that she’d stopped to say hello. After all, they were almost family to her. But I was wrong. Whatever she’d said or done had not been received warmly, and when I approached, I found her being pinned against the wall by two security guards.
I immediately demanded they unhand her or face the direst of consequences for their actions.

My obvious authority had cleared a space for me – it was like the parting of the red sea as I approached and the crowd magically parted in front of me.
Unfortunately Horrocks started “singing” again which only re-affirmed the crowd’s non-believing in her true identity. It is true, the bruising and swelling on her cheek had somewhat temporarily altered her features, and that, combined with the awful din that spewed forth from her mouth convinced all that she was not who she said she was.

I did my best to try and convince them of her star status but to the eternal shame of the Lewes populous, they tossed us both aside like some human detritus.

It has been that one sole incident that has convinced and decided for me, not to have the world premiere of our great film in Lewes, as was previously concurred upon.
This will no doubt prove to be a great loss to the town of Lewes but one they will have to accept given the circumstances surrounding my decision.
So now you know!

On our eventual arrival at the wonderful Harvey’s brewery, I excused myself in order to somewhat remove as much of the Horrocks breakfast splash as possible.
By then I’d gotten used to the smell, though it was obvious from the comments of others in our group that their nostrils were not also suitably accustomed.

I was eventually convinced to don a white overall in place of my M&S apparel, and in so doing, was somewhat likened to the Harvey’s Marketing Director who like me had had an unfortunate accident with a celebrity and had also donned same.
Unlike me however, he had decided not to have his suit dry-cleaned, but instead intended to keep it in the freezer until such time as it could be sold at auction for a substantial sum of money to some rich Depp fan.
Everyone laughed when I said “maybe I should do the same with mine!” And that was how I ended up at the receiving end of a Horrock’s outswinger which sent me flying into a vat of Harvey’s Armada ale!

After a welcome lunch, which absorbency factor was desirable in relation to the continued consumption of various of Harvey’s products; our tour of the premises and production facility resumed.
By this time I was now necessarily completely attired in Harvey’s product, from the embroidered logo sweatshirt to the equally adorned, rather tasteless baseball cap.

Their Marketing Director was in now in full flow, describing the ale brewing process,
whilst also responding to various questions from his “esteamed” guests, when I sidled up to Horrocks and whispered a few choice words in her ear as to the origins of the brewery’s name.
I immediately took rear-guard action, beating a most hasty retreat, as Horrocks raised her voice with an informed question directed towards the Marketing Director.
He replied with a smile, “No, the brewery was not named after an imaginary over-sized rabbit from a Jimmy Stewart film.”
All hell broke loose after that!

To be continued

Operation South Downs. Part Four

March 5th 2001:

Gloria from the costume department, myself and Depp are standing by the side of a quiet stretch of the Thames, when I remove his “puffer” from the boot of my car. He is naturally pleased at its return and doesn’t notice the modifications to its construction. Anyway, he puts the jacket on and smiles contentedly. I suggest he pulls up the zipper to its full extent, to which he of course complies.
He is in the process of igniting a cheroot when I manfully toss him into the Thames. Unfortunately, the previously quilted and ribbed panels of the puffer jacket had been filled with too much air and young Depp floated too high in the water for it to be reasonably acceptable.
So there I was, racing down the footpath, trying to keep level with Depp, screaming at him not to be such a cissy when our previously concealed divers manage to catch him and drag him up and on to the bank.
I quickly remove the jacket from his shivering body and instruct Gloria as to its further modification.

A few hours later and Gloria enters the public house to inform us of the completion of said modifications. So we finish the game of darts we are on and help a slightly inebriated Depp into his further modified jacket.

Luckily, the bar we’d selected for our luncheon lay directly on the banks of the Thames.
There was a small drop from the bar’s pleasant balcony, but only a slight splash was heard as Depp hit the water once more.

This time it worked perfectly. Just the right amount of air and his bobbing, flailing body floated at just the right height out of the water.
We returned to the bar and ordered their finest champagne by way of celebrating our success. We, of course, saved a glass for young Depp who returned shortly afterwards but was unfortunately refused entry due to his dripping persona.
We joined him on the balcony where we spent a most pleasant afternoon quoffing champagne.

March 6th 2001:

We carried out more tests on the modified jacket until young Depp was suitably relaxed in his now buoyant “puffer.” In fact, he achieved such a state of relaxation as he was swept down the Thames that on his final session he could be seen puffing on a cheroot as he swept by us.
My stroke of genius had worked a treat!

It was during these eventful happenings by the Thames that, purely by coincidence, the chief buyer for Marks and Spencers was walking his dog along the footpath and stopped to watch in wonder at these strange proceedings before him.
On inquiring as to the madness of it all, I duly explained to him the situation.
As a consequence of this conversation, a new range of “puffer” jackets are to be launched at M&S, Oxford Street, to coincide with the UK launch of “Operation South Downs” in summer 2002.

In a unique marketing tie-up, a limited edition range of jackets will be produced, nicely embroidered with the “Operation South Downs” logo and the “Prepare to be swept away” log-line, and thereafter the standard “buoyant puffer” will be available to the general public.

As well as being a “must have” fashion accessory for 2002, these jackets could well save hundreds, if not thousands of lives worldwide due to their air filled buoyant pockets. And all because young Depp was a poor swimmer! It’s strange the way these things work out isn’t it?

March 14th 2001:

I fully realise a flagrant and certain disregard of mine for the mounting interest in the soon-to-be-filmed “Operation South Downs” in my not having kept my diaries up to date with its progress.
Unfortunately one’s time is not one’s own when so heavily involved in the writing of draft number six of the screenplay.
It’s a fact that I hadn’t fully understood; the commitment and sheer workload involved on a project of this size and importance.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’m cut out for this type of stressful vocation.

No matter, apologise I must, most profusely. And by way of making suitable amends I will hereby elucidate, as fully as contractual constraints will allow, and hope that the following “titbits” will maintain your interest.

One of the main problems over the last few weeks has been the continuing volatility in the money markets which has led directly to a number of major backers withdrawing funding in the project.
One is, of course, very pleased at Gordon Brown’s continuance of preferential tax breaks to those wishing to invest in the British film industry, and indeed there has been a pronounced increase in interest shown since the budget, by small investors particularly, and a few major players too!

Specifically, I am very pleased to announce the involvement of Marks and Sparks as a major investor. Given their recent, well publicised difficulties, this is a very brave and welcome addition to the coffers on their part.

You may remember their agreed involvement in the production of the much lauded Operation South Downs “puffer” jacket – an air filled buoyant fashion statement and combined lifejacket that is destined to take the world by storm in the summer of 2002 - The further involvement of this major retailer, in a much needed injection of funds, has guaranteed the future of the project at very small cost to the purity of the concept.

Yes it’s true that the entire cast will be required to wear, exclusively, the products of this great retail outlet to the exclusion of all others, but their range of apparel is so extensive and all encompassing that one is not in the least concerned. (Unfortunately, Gloria from the Costume Department who assisted me so admirably on the production of the prototype “puffer,” has tendered her resignation in direct response to the M&S involvement on such a scale. I shall miss her sorely!)

Funding and sponsorship has also been forthcoming from one of Britain’s oldest brewers.
Harvey’s, situated in Lewes, know only too well the heartache and great drama that occurred in the great floods of year 2000, having been one of its many victims.
And before criticism mounts and is voiced as to the placement of their product within the film; it is wholly acceptable and to be expected that their superior product should be so drunk by the stars of the film as it was at the time of the floods and still drunk by the locals today.
In fact, it should have been one of the more pleasant aspects of my involvement in the film that saw myself, Hopkins, Horrocks and young Depp, among others, being invited to take a tour of their premises by way of necessary research and also, it is admitted here, by way of a well earned “jolly” to sample their wares.

March 20th 2001:

Our visit to Harvey’s Brewery was to be cloaked in secrecy. You have to understand that the publicity machine, in its official capacity on the film, is not due to kick into gear until March 2002. We did, however, have a small camera crew with us, to record the highlights of the day.
Though still in its infancy, the idea had been broached as to the possibility of a documentary to further heighten public interest in the project. Funding has yet to be agreed to cover costs in their entirety.
Under separate cover, I also hope to agree terms in the near future with a view to publishing my own “unofficial” diaries, charting the whole project from initial inception to world premiere in the summer of 2002. More of that later.

to be continued.

BBC 2's Dragon's Den

Letter to Terry Wogan.

Dear Terry

I have been caught out before, on being informed by one of my ‘contacts’ of some ‘exclusive’ news item, only to find out later, that said news item has been fabricated solely for the purpose of making me out to be some kind of ignorant buffoon.

Given this fact, a ‘pinch of salt’ is applied to all such ‘exclusives’ passed in my direction and the necessary due diligence performed by me personally, to verify such ‘news items’ as being 100% kosher.
In relation to the following exclusive, I can assure you that all the details, which I herewith reveal to you, have been verified by my own intervention and as a consequence, I am now able to say, with all confidence, that the following ‘news item’ is stamped with my own personal seal of approval as being fact.

You are no doubt aware of ‘Pick Your Own’ in relation to acquiring certain types of fruits and vegetables, though I am sure that being aware of same, does in no way assume that you have ever ‘picked your own’ - at least not in reference to fruits or vegetables.

I am sure you are probably in agreement that this mode of fruit and vegetable acquisition is a successful business model in persuading persons of a certain bent, to get out into the country and to get in touch with the reality of food production. In our modern age, the supermarket removes us from this ‘connection’ with the everyday items we put on our plates.

With this is mind, a certain group of business minded individuals have applied extrapolation to this successful business model in marketing their new company ‘Kill Your Own.’

To enable them to expand their business, they took the bold step of applying to present their company and business model on the successful television programme ‘Dragon’s Den. This they did on the last series, which I believe has just completed its television run.

Now you are probably thinking ‘I don’t remember that one?!’

And you’d be correct in your assumption. It never actually made the light of day. The reasons for this I can now relate to you, though I accept no responsibility for the consequences of my revealing this to you here now.
In this respect, you are free to read no further, the details which I am about to reveal to you. I hope I make myself clear on this matter?

If you have just one ounce of imagination – which I’m sure you probably have - you will have no doubt already applied extrapolation to those three little words ‘Kill Your Own.’ And you’d be right!

The presentation to the five dragons went extremely well, to such an extent that two of the dragons offered their combined services and the full amount of £250,000, for a 50% share of the company. So far so good.

Unfortunately, the assistant sound engineer attending set on that day, was and is a member of the ‘ALF’ (Animal Liberation Front) and is also a long standing vegetarian, as you’d expect. Also, I have had it suggested that he is an active Animal Rights Activist, though I have not been able to personally verify this statement, so will remain ‘on the fence’ in reference to that fact.

To cut a long story short, the two persons who presented to the ‘Dragon’s Den’ and who also head the company ‘Kill Your Own’ - together with the two ‘dragons’ who offered their services and financing for a 50% steak in the company, have been the subject of numerous death threats by individuals unknown.

It is for this reason that the BBC decided to ‘edit’ that particular episode of Dragon’s Den, for fear of retribution by ‘animal terrorists.’

It is possible and altogether probable that you have already caught a whiff of this story, given your standing at the BBC; no doubt being informed by the DG no less, that the story will remain ‘under wraps’ or at least hidden away until it is well past its ‘sell by date.’
If this be true then I am absolutely appalled! Especially as you are a big fan of snorkers – something that you have made public on many an occasion.
Ask any child if they would like a snorker and 9 out of 10 will say ‘yes please.’
Now ask those same children if they know where snorkers come from and you will probably get one of the following answers. ‘The fridge.’ or ‘Sainsburys.’ or answers to that effect.
Of course you and I both know that snorkers come from the butchers. But then we are both of a certain age where we are more in touch with reality.
‘Kill Your Own’ offers our children the chance of ‘connecting’ with the real world of food production. We owe them at least that.
It is to this end that I ask of you to please use all your powers to see that this story receives the exposure it deserves.

Yours Sincerely

Stephen Fry - Manic Depressive

So Stephen Fry is Bi-Polar is he? I knew he was gay but…..anyway, no wonder he’s depressed. Someone with all his money and he chooses to holiday in Antarctica or the North Pole. I’d be pretty miserable too with all that ice and not a ‘G’ or ‘T’ to go with it!
What he needs is a couple of weeks in the Caribbean or The Seychelles. That’ll cheer him up no end.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wogan

Dear Terry,

Your show just perpetuates the perceptions of the masses in their right wing extremes of thought and deed, in your continued insistence of including a ‘religious slot’ in your programme. I realise the deft delicacy of its presentation is designed not to offend any particular religion; especially so in these modern times where religious extremists would use any means of interpretation to twist the words in such a fashion as to appear to have an opposing meaning.
However, in your perceived ‘softly softly’ approach in likewise twisting words around into various wholesome shapes, you have omitted to be inclusive in your supposed all encompassing presentation.
I will have you know that The Devil himself listens in to your show every day, but woe betide Hell’s Controller of Radio Transmissions if she should fail to switch off at the appropriate time, when your appointed ‘preachers of all things good slot’ is aired.
I have known The Devil now for 104 years, having sold him my soul in exchange for a life of eternity, and I can tell you here that he is a very reasonable entity and fair in all decisions of Hellish importance.
But when you air your supposed ‘all encompassing religious slot’ he fumes more than is normal for him.
As a big fan of Radio 2 and specifically The Wogan show, he can’t understand why this exclusion?! 10 years ago he would not have batted any of his eyelids at this affront, but in these times of ‘add all ingredients to the recipe to make sure we include all tastes and flavours’ he feels especially affronted.
I’ll have you know that The Devil is an entity of some no small taste and culture; fully realising that if you mix all the colours of the rainbow together you get ‘brown.’ Similarly, if you mix all the world’s ingredients together you will only create the culinary equivalent of ‘brown.’ (Incidentally he uses this analogy when getting off on one of his political diatribes. Only replace lower case ‘b’ with capital ‘B’ in the word ‘brown.’) BUT even so, fully aware of the ‘all-things-to-all-men’ resultant recipe and its vomit inducing creation, he WILL NOT tolerate being left out of the list of ingredients.
It is to this end that he has asked me to write to you in order for you to flex your muscles in exerting pressure on the powers that be within the BBC.
His gratitude will be in the form of granting you five more years as a mortal upon this earth. I’d say that was a bloody good deal, especially given your advanced years and poor health.
He’s wicked isn’t he? But I suppose that’s what makes him so good.

The Rebus Novels of Ian Rankin

The Rebus Novels of Ian Rankin

As a good friend of actor John Hannah, it’s been a difficult few months trying to pull him out of his depression, since his being ousted in the role of Ian Rankin’s rogue policeman Inspector Rebus.
His replacement is that fat bloke Ken Stott, who plays himself, playing Rebus as some manic cartoon creation who would be more at home as the painted baddie in the next Batman movie.

Luckily I am not alone in my desire to see the role of Rebus once more played by John (Hannah) and it is to this end that myself and a number of senior TV executives have formed a production company to make this a reality.

Up until now we have kept our plans pretty much ‘under wraps’ as the yanks would say, but we have now decided to go public on our campaign due to a letter received last week from the creator of Rebus, Ian Rankin.
He has made it very clear that our campaign ‘is doomed from the start’ and will exercise legal proceedings to ensure the integrity of his creation and the continuance of Stott in the starring role.

This is not something we are going to give up so easily on, especially as we don’t respond well to threats from the likes of Rankin and his cohort Stott.
We feel that John (Hannah) was the right man for the job. Just look at the viewing figures when he was in the starring role – nine million at its peak!

Stott’s creation is such a grotesque presentation of a policeman and totally unbelievable in his portrayal to such a degree that the producers have managed to create a character so far removed from a real police inspector to such an extent that it would be more appropriate to have ‘Rebus’ as a cartoon series, voiced by Mel Blanc, if he were still alive to provide such a service.

What I find most offensive is the portrayal of Rebus as an out-and-out alcoholic. The producers have been very cynical in making a point of enhancing this aspect of his character in a cruel dig at John Hannah’s personal real-life struggle to combat the demon drink, since being unceremoniously tossed aside like some human detritus.
It is no laughing matter to see a good friend lying in the gutter, covered in his own vomit and faeces, when he has done nothing wrong and in fact, it could be argued that he has done everything right!

We fully accept that the character of Rebus was created by Ian Rankin. We do not dispute that fact. We also accept that all rights to Rebus and its television adaptation have already been granted.
However, armed with these facts, we have decided to proceed with our own independent production, with John Hannah in the starring role; filming to start in January 2007.
As you are no doubt aware, John has been admitted to The Priory for a course of intensive treatment. But we are wholly confident that he will be fully fit and ready to ‘grasp the mettle’ when filming starts early next year.

We liken this unusual scenario to a similar situation a few years back when we had two ‘Bonds’ - Roger Moore and Sean Connery playing the same character in two ‘Bond’ films released at the very same time. Both films were a success and generally accepted by the viewing public.
We say, in similar circumstances, ‘let the public decide.’

Obviously, due to threats of legal action By Mr. Rankin, Stott and other nameless goons, we have had to make a few changes to the character of Rebus to avoid ‘confusion’ with the original creation and the subsequent televisual representation of the character in the flabby shape of Stott.

This has now been achieved and agreed, in the almost completed screenplay for the pilot episode of ‘Trebus’ which has been penned by myself – successful creator of ‘Operation South Downs’ and ‘Quigley Cuts Down.’

Edmund Trebus, Polish √©migr√© and resident of Haringey in North London, is a police inspector on the edge. Chain smoking his trademark ‘roll ups’ he is a thorn in the side of his employers, who frown upon his unorthodox methods of crime fighting but generally give him a free reign, as his methods prove successful in reducing crime in the borough of Haringey and its environs.

Living alone in a large dilapidated house, he collects and collates evidence and crime samples, storing them throughout his abode, to such a degree that his home has become an unofficial extension of the police forensics lab.

Trebus is a big Elvis Presley fan and as such, the new series will feature some of Elvis’s most famous recordings as an accompaniment to the opening titles, the closing titles and to accompany the dramatic police chases featured in the opening pilot and also proposed for future episodes.

We didn’t want the character of Trebus to come across as a complete ‘hard man’ especially as we have him as living alone; his family having deserted him years previously due to his dedication to fighting crime. So we have decided that he will have a pet rat called ‘Peelie’, which will be the sole subject of his affection in the first series of ‘Trebus.’ We hope to introduce a ‘love interest’ in the second series, should the first series prove popular with the viewing public. More of that later.

We are already having successful talks with an American TV network. (my influential contacts across the water pulling strings on our behalf).
And we are hopeful in having a deal signed in the next few weeks, after approval of the screenplay.

One American television executive said it all when he stated, and I quote:
‘John Hannah?!! Loved the guy in Four Weddings. If I was queer, he’d be the guy inside my pants! Stole the show in The Mummy. And Acted the pants off Fraser in The Mummy Returns! So who the f**k’s this guy Stoat?!!’
Quite…..

Much like that successful police series ‘Kojak’ with the catchphrase ‘Who loves ya baby!’ Or the equally successful series ‘Hawaii Five-O’ with its catchphrase ‘Book him Danno, murder one.’ We have been asked by our American counterparts to come up with a similar catchy catchphrase for Trebus.
This was a tricky one. I mulled over its inception for a number of days; being directed in its creation solely by the nature of Trebus’s character.
I felt that the catchphrase should only be used when Trebus is in confrontational mode with either one of his fellow police officers or one of the hardened criminals he meets in the course of his crime fighting duties.
To this end, the catchphrase is a ‘put-me-down’ and will form the final ‘punch’ to the end of a scene or be placed just before a ‘cut-to’ instruction within the screenplay.
The words of the catchphrase will be ‘spat out’ by Trebus and will be preceded by him extracting the roll-up from the corner of his mouth before spitting out the words – ‘You couldn’t even get in Dad’s Army!!’

Make a note in your diary NOT TO MISS the opening pilot episode of ‘TREBUS’ pencilled in for its world television premiere late autumn 2007.

Monday, September 25, 2006

10 Years Older.

An interesting evening was spent last night at a private view, featuring a pilot for a new television series called ’10 Years Older.’
This has blatantly been developed ‘on the back’ of a previously successful television series called ’10 Years Younger’ presented by ‘style guru’ Nicky Hambleton-Jones.

The premise of the original series was to present a prematurely aged member of the public to a high street audience, who would guess at his or her age. This was followed by an intense schedule of treatments on this unfortunate person, including laser eye surgery, facial skin removal, botox injections, hair dyeing, facial hair removal, a new wardrobe of clothes and even plastic surgery!

They were then re-presented back on the streets for a further ‘guess-my-age’ session by members of the public, where undoubtedly their mean age would now be ’10 Years Younger’ and inevitably was.

The idea for the new series ’10 Years Older’ came from a 22 year old girl, who had written in to Channel 4 on a separate matter, complaining that she was always challenged when trying to get served alcohol at a public house.
Her problem is that she looks much younger than her years and wished that she could look ‘more mature.’

She was chosen as the ‘guinea pig’ for the pilot episode of ‘10 Years Older.’

I must say that she is bloody gorgeous, with the most perfect skin and a beautiful smile. A real natural beauty. Or at least she was.

On the first part of the programme, the public guessed her age at a mean 16 years old. One person actually thought she was just 14! The highest guess was all of 19.

The next part of the programme, which formed the bulk, was quite shocking.
I don’t believe I am doing a disservice here in revealing the content of the pilot, as it is unlikely to be commissioned by Channel 4.
(I have since heard that it may be taken up by one of the lesser satellite channels but in a heavily edited format.)

We found out that our young ‘guinea pig’ who I will call Claire, was regularly challenged in the pub when she tried to get served alcohol. She doesn’t actually drink alcohol herself, and on these occasions the alcoholic drinks were for her friends.

This was where our presenter, Paul Reynard-Grosse, concentrated his efforts initially.
He explained to young Claire the wonderfully beneficial benefits of alcohol in ‘maturing’ the interior as well as, crucially, the exterior features of one’s body.
Lager, in half pint measures over the first and second days, followed by pint measures on subsequent days, were consumed by Claire with much crying and no small amount of accompanying vomiting. But one could see the ‘beneficial’ effects quite noticeably on her features. Her complexion became flat and colourless and her hair, dank and lifeless. Even her previously sparkling eyes had lost most of their sparkle. Fantastic stuff!!

When she had reached a stage of being able to consume four pints every single day, Paul then added in another element to the recipe.

I liken Paul to an orchestral conductor, whereby the symphonic harmonies are built up slowly, instrument by instrument. In this case the first ‘instrument’ was the 'alcohol' followed then by the ‘crisps’ and then the ‘peanuts.’

Paul is a fantastic presenter and I’m sure he will ‘rise up’ in some other reality programme in the very near future. He has those necessary qualities of quiet manipulation and feigned sincerity that are a ‘must’ for any modern day presenter to acquire if they are to progress in this great industry of ours. Just look at Davina MacColl.

Claire, god bless her, actually gorged herself on multiple packets of hula-hoops and dry roasted peanuts with little complaint, as they naturally form a perfect accompaniment to beer or lager.

But there is one other ‘perfect accompaniment’ to the delights of alcohol that Paul kept up his sleeve until he deemed Claire was ready to accept it.

He needn’t have worried, she took to cigarettes like a duck to water.

Initially she was getting through maybe twenty Silk Cut Ultras a day, but soon moved up to Marlboro Lights and then amazingly Marlboro full strength or Camels, hitting a record thirty-three smoked in just one day. Pretty good going for someone who only started smoking just over two weeks ago.

But don’t think they spent all their time filming in public houses. They also visited MacDonalds and Burger King.
This should have been the easy part, but it just so turned out that Claire was also a vegetarian. This shouldn’t have been a problem as both burger outlets also stock a small number of vegetarian options; lettuce leaves and such. But Paul was having none of it! He insisted that she eat the ‘full monty’ – double cheeseburger twice with accompanying fries.

She couldn’t manage it and the wails of protest and tears were scaring off the regular punters. They were eventually ordered out of MacDonalds. The very same thing happened in Burger King.
So off they went, back to the pub to ‘soften’ her up with alcohol, prior to a further visit to each burger outlet.
Eventually it worked. (Now this was the bit that I found distasteful.)
Claire had consumed so much alcohol (you have to understand that she’d moved onto vodka and red bull with the occasional dark rum and coke) that she had collapsed in a heap, face down in her own vomit.
She was cleaned up somewhat before they all returned to MacDonalds.
Paul sat her down – he sat close by her side and the assistant cameraman sat on her other side. (to stop her falling over you see) This didn’t stop her falling forwards however, face down on the table, so they had someone called George kneel behind her pulling on her shirt, but out of view of the camera mostly.
This had the desired effect and she was then force fed the required items, in both burger outlets (some advertising tie up or agreement here I imagine) before they decanted back to the public house for further refreshment.
I’m sure you’re getting the picture by now. Very much more of the same.

Claire had been a regular gym member and visited usually three or four times a week. This was of course banned during the filming period. Claire eventually put on almost two stone in weight over the six weeks they took to film the pilot. I have to say it didn't sit well on her, but I suppose this could be considered a success.

They also tried her on some mild substance abuse, but her personality changed so drastically that they had to stop it. She couldn’t stop saying the word ‘c**t’ – which was bleeped out of course. I understand that there were so many instances of it, that it sounded like they’d been faked – a bit like on that Jeremy Beadle programme from a few years back. (funnily enough, Jeremy was in the invited audience, two rows in front of me)

The pilot show was an hour long, with an agreement that it would be cut down to half an hour in its regular format.
Anyway, when they eventually got back out onto the streets to ask the general public what they thought Claire’s age was, the end result was a foregone conclusion.
I have to add that the desired ageing of Claire was not all down to Paul and his team’s clever tactics. Near the end of the six weeks of filming, Claire was rushed to hospital with alcohol poisoning and had to have emergency surgery. She had only been out of hospital two days when she was ‘persuaded’ by Paul to complete the programme with the ‘guess my age’ spot in some anonymous shopping centre resembling Milton Keynes. (they all resemble Milton Keynes of course, as it was the model for all subsequent shopping centres built throughout the UK. But that’s another matter).

The result of her operation had a two fold effect. Yes, she’d managed to lose almost a stone of the weight she had put on over the filming period. But crucially, it had aged her features by at least another four years I would guess.
So when the mean age was revealed, as Paul and Claire drank coffee in some chic coffee bar, I felt a little cheated.
The mean age was revealed as 36 years. Though, as I said, I personally believe the hospitalisation and operation had added four years to Claire’s age. Therefore, if she hadn’t been hospitalised and we had been judging it purely on the work of Paul and his team, then the mean age would have been just 32 years – co-incidently ’10 Years Older’ than her real age.
Strange the way these things work out.

The end result is that Claire no longer has to worry about being challenged in public houses.
In the two months since the end of filming, she has managed to retain her looks and figure and, in fact, it could be argued that she has aged even more since then.

Operation South Downs - Part Three.

February 23rd 2001:

The latest from the “casting couch” has a certain young Mr. Depp “pencilled in” to play the archetypical American tourist, accidentally caught up in events far from home. (no “damp handshake” here I may add!).
I shall have to remain unofficial in my statements regarding his involvement until signatures have been exchanged.

His part wasn’t “officially” written within the first five drafts of the screenplay but it was expressed by the financiers that American interest in the project would be enhanced by the inclusion of a major American born, box office draw. Unfortunately, Depp was the only one they could muster.
No matter, I shan’t take these liberties with my script to heart. It is the industry norm when one is dealing with big money. And big money is what we need to recreate the floods of last year.

February 24th 2001:

So far we’ve managed to persuade a large number of the Lewes populous to allow their homes to be flooded again this summer for the sake of art. They were quite happy to accept large sums of money in exchange for the inconvenience; monies which will go towards the eventual renovation of their properties, most of which still remain in dire need of repair. I’m just so very glad we can be of help.
Of course if the precipitation proves to be as plentiful as last year then we may not need to recompense. We just turn up and start filming. Well here’s hoping!

February 25th 2001:

Young Depp came over from France to chat through the project. (he tried to write himself a bigger part of course!)
He has this annoying habit of speaking “frog” which has me all of a fluster given my grasping of only the tiniest smattering of “Franglais.” Didn’t get our relationship off on the steadiest of footings I don’t mind saying.
Anyway, thought I’d knock him down a peg or two.
You see, he fancies himself as a bit of a tennis player. (that much I picked up from his “frog” talk.) So I challenged him to a game right there on the spot!

So off we went. I said …”three sets?” He said ..”five.”… “No, you don’t understand.” I said with a wry smile. “It’ll only take three!” That wiped the smile off his face I can tell you.
Anyway, we had quite an audience. Lots of pretty young things had come to watch me thrash him soundly.
And they were definitely on my side too, the way they tried to put him off by staring at him so intently and sitting there with legs held apart, akimbo fashion.

So anyway, there we were, three sets later and I’d somewhat softened towards him. Decided to do the very British thing and let him win. I didn’t realise at the time that I’d decided on that particular course of action but it came to me later that, subconsciously, I’d obviously made that decision without my being aware of it. It’s a wonderful thing the human brain isn’t it?

So there I am, serving, two sets down, one five down in the third set, and at fifteen thirty. Cracking serve it was too, hit the frame of his racket at lightening speed and due to the ferocity of the serve, had enough momentum to come back over the net for a fluke point to him.
He shouts out “love deuce” and with that, all the pretty young things, clamp their legs together in unison. He couldn’t quite get the hang of the scoring system you see. Anyway, he won the next point to win the match.

I was full of admiration for the hordes of young British girls who flocked around him afterwards. I could see they were upset at my losing, yet they did the very British thing in congratulating him warmly – one more warmly than the others if rumours are to be believed.

March 2nd 2001:

Many kind wishes and congratulations have been received and have been warmly welcomed under the difficult circumstances that have constituted the past few weeks. I shan’t elucidate here as to specifics due to the legal ramifications surrounding the various rumours that have abounded and that will eventually be proved to be completely untrue.
Should you be aware of said rumours then you will surely realise their untrue nature. And should you NOT be aware of same, then I shall not waste my time and yours, repeating them here.
But please be assured that everything is running completely on schedule. I run a very tight ship!

March 3rd 2001:

One piece of good news regarding that Depp chap. Due, no doubt, to the cunning shown by my own disregard for glory in having let him beat me at tennis; I can now officially declare that his signature was forthcoming this very morning and he is now completely and officially a member of the “dream team.”

And so it is that finds me spending tonight holed up in a quite adequate suite at the Dorchester in London, having foregone my usual lodgings at my favourite club, in order to entertain our young Mr.Depp.

Having attired myself in apparel suitable for the occasion - smoking jacket and velvet smoking cap, complete with tassel - I was most pleasantly interrupted by a ringing telephone informing me that Depp was equally attired and awaiting my presence in the bar downstairs.
Being initially of a miffed demeanour at his inclusion in ‘my’ production at the insistence of the film’s financiers, I was beginning to have a change of heart, especially so in the knowledge that he was suitably presentable for an evenings jolly in the pleasant surroundings of the Dorchester.
In the circumstances I thought it appropriate to select a number of my finest cigars from the humidor and decant to the bar forthwith.

Yes, it is possible that he’s a quite decent sort of chap after all. He’d obviously gone to the trouble of hiring himself a suitable smoking jacket and cap for the evening, purely out of a mark of respect to my good self. This had the promise of being a very pleasant evening indeed.

Many admiring glances were focused in my direction as I entered the bar in all my finery and made my way over to the lone figure of young Depp perched on a bar stool.
I have to say, my initial reaction was one of disappointment at his choice of apparel; no doubt the American version of a very British tradition, his jacket more resembled a dark gothic version of a duvet quilt than the British tradition to which I was accustomed.
No matter, I tried to look impressed and commented favourably on his choice of evening attire, enquiring as to its providence.
He informed me that he had in fact purchased the same in New York. (they call it a “puffer” jacket over there).
So anyway, we took our positions at a secluded table to avoid prying eyes, and I offered him one of my cigars to “puff” on, while I “smoked” on mine.

The reason I’m telling you all this directly relates to the film, so please bear with me.

You see, young Depp is unfortunate in not being a very strong swimmer, which was proving to be problematic in respect of a vital scene in the film, whereby it is necessary for him to be swept forcibly down the Ouse. Witness the scene in the film “Chocolat” where young Depp was required to swim across the river to the burning boat. It is very clear that his head has been computer spliced onto a stunt double which, for me, completely ruins the film, not that it was a very good film anyway.
Of course a stunt double could be utilised for those critical scenes in Operation South Downs, but this was something I wasn’t prepared to consider given the need for a few crucial close ups.
This was something I wished to discuss with him within the relaxed and pleasant surroundings of the Dorchester. (only after a few gins you understand, by way of making him feel more relaxed. I could see that he was initially somewhat tense in my esteemed company.)

Anyway, after our fifth G&T I took it upon myself to raise the subject of this crucial scene.
Three G&T’s later and he was still adamant that a double would suffice (stunt double, that is, not a G&T double,)
That’s when it hit me; another one of my flashes of genius at the most opportune of moments. Let me explain:-

Young Depp was slightly squiffy by the end of the evening when I suggested he loan me his “puffer” for a couple of days. He naturally complied at my continued insistence, with wild animal gesticulations, before falling off his chair. He was carried up to his room, minus “puffer.”

March 4th 2001:

The morning after the night before, I take young Depp’s jacket to our costume department with very precise instructions as to its modification.

March 5th 2001:

Gloria from the costume department, myself and Depp are standing by the side of a quiet stretch of the Thames, when I remove his “puffer” from the boot of my car.
He is naturally pleased at its return and doesn’t notice the modifications to its construction.
Anyway, he puts the jacket on and smiles contentedly. I suggest he pulls up the zipper to its full extent, to which he of course complies.
He is in the process of igniting a cheroot when I manfully toss him into the Thames.

to be continued...........

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Good News!

Distribution for 'Quigley Cuts Down' signed and sealed today. Slightly squiffy presently.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Operation South Downs - Part Two

I realise that this is posted five days early. But this is due to my unexpected requirement to pay a visit to Los Angeles on Sunday - won't be back in London until Friday 22nd September.
It's unlikely I'll have the time or the inclination to log-in to my blog whilst there, so here it is - Part Two of Operation South Downs.


December 13th 2000:

Things are certainly moving apace; numerous personal recollections documenting the direct and indirect effects on the lives of those involved in the great floods are coming together in a coherent structure which will form the backbone of my documentary.
The day to day grind of everyday existence of those affected has been disrupted to an obviously extreme degree by the power wielded by mother nature in all her awesome glory. That one can utilise that same material as the basis for a blockbuster screenplay of the natural disaster genre, is most welcome.
I envisage its premise as being very similar to ‘Twister’ but without the cows swirling across the sky – though having said that, if one could provide proof that this has in fact occurred as a direct or indirect result of the adverse conditions, then I should surely include it.


December 21st / 22nd 2000:

A very welcome visit by (name deleted) from the U.S. has only confirmed my thoughts and ideas on the particular matter of a great British production.
Certainly, monies will no doubt have to be forthcoming to a greater degree from our American cousins if the project can be gotten successfully off the ground.

I was assured the following morning that belief in the project was solid and all-encompassing. I’m now extremely confident that a British made production is a distinct possibility and has the potential to rival anything that Hollywood can throw at us.

January 19th 2001:

This has been a glorious day, wonderfully capped off by the signing up of Wales’ most famous son, Anthony ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, for the leading male role.
My meeting with him in person was our first encounter but was destined not to be our last. Now it is down to me to put to him my proposal.

I shouldn’t have been so nervous, for he was extremely gushing when I presented to him the briefest of synopsi, and in fact nearly fell off his bar stool with the excitement of it all.
On the strength of his involvement our hopes have been greatly enlivened.
It is now our belief that we will be able to gather together the cream of British film talent for a rollercoaster ride through the East Sussex countryside.


January 26th – February 2nd 2001:

It is unfortunate, but rumours of Jones and Douglas being involved in our film project, was sadly only that…. a rumour. They did, however, profess their disappointment at not being able to participate due to a previous engagement.

It is true, however, that Julia Roberts has expressed an interest in playing the Hopkin’s love interest.
It is with extreme regret that we had to turn her down due to her not being able to convince with an East Sussex brogue. Very disappointing given that she’s an absolute corker, and more so in real life I can tell you! The upside is, is that we’ve managed to save a few million squid on fees.

(It was pointed out to me that Miss Roberts is very much a major box office draw, and yes, she was willing to work for a substantially reduced fee for the privilege of working with Hopkins.
Jane Horrocks, had even been tentatively signed up to dub Julia’s voiceover, but alas, it was not to be.

February 6th 2001:

Some major re-writing required on what is now my fifth draft of the screenplay.
It is now a joint effort with (name deleted). Can't say that I get on particulary well with the fellow!
Sixteen hour days are beginning to take their toll.
Also, a full realisation that there will be a requirement for a few hundred extras over the summer of 2001, now definitely agreed as to be filmed on location in East Sussex.
A few conditions have been drafted up specifying the necessity of each film extra to be a certificated swimmer, for those scenes where a large number of persons are forcibly swept down the River Ouse. Wet suits will of course be provided. We would have preferred the dry suit variety but found that the very nature of their construction causes them to be visible under everyday clothing.

February 8th 2001:

In respect of the requirement for extras; we need to draw up a disclaimer due to the real health risks involved (other than drowning). This is due to the very real but very small risk of serious infection by the natural contamination caused by raw sewage in the floodwaters.
Should be a wonderful experience fro them, something they can tell their grandchildren about and certainly it will be a better organised experience than those equivalent scenes experienced by extras, during the filming of “Titanic” where a number of extras, and more importantly, Winslet and Capriot, nearly drowned.


February 12th 2001:

I previously enlightened you as to the involvement of Hoppy in the starring role, where, in fact I should have stated that his involvement at that stage wasn’t officially “official” as per the “official” meaning of the word “official.”
I had my knuckles severely rapped on that one, I can tell you!
Seems that the gentleman’s agreement of a gob of spit skilfully directed at the palm of one’s hand and slapped into the hand of another, equally enhanced by a gob of same, is not sufficient to “ do the deal.”
To say I was extremely miffed at this revelation is an understatement! As far as I was concerned, the ”damp handshake” was a legally binding agreement! Fortunately, Hoppy, being the gentleman that he is, thought the same as I and signed on the dotted line the very next day.

As to his starring role, he’ll play the part of Parsons Linklater, ex-lifeboat captain, “retired” to the sleepy little town of Lewes, these past number of years. Through the gradual telling of his story in Act One, all will be revealed as to his very last operation as lifeboat captain, where a fatal drowning “accident” occurred; he being implicated in its great and awful tragedy.
Of course, our hero is completely exonerated in the ensuing court case, but not before it has left the indelible imprint of failure, etched on his brain.

And so there we find him, prematurely retired, trying to put the past behind him when his skills are once more called to the fore in the devastating floods that land literally on his very doorstep. Will he “bottle it” or will he come to the rescus and save the day? You’ll need to see the film to find out.

February 16th 2001:

A number of persons have expressed their dismay at our turning down Julia Roberts in the female lead. Wholly understandable given her acting credentials and her special place in the hearts of the British audience. As I have stated elsewhere, her abilities to play a character other than that of the American persuasion, sadly proved her eventual downfall.
Further to that, I’ve been inundated with bouquets of flowers and numerous phone calls from the very sweet Miss Horrocks, who you may remember had been “pencilled in” to dub the voiceover for Miss Roberts. It seems she has friends in high places. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’ve been “persuaded” as to her suitability for the leading lady, namely Parson’s Linklater’s love interest, and the phone calls and bunches of flowers have now thankfully ceased.
I have to say my wife is now sadly talking to me again, having been sorely convinced of my involvement with the said Miss Horrocks. Words were exchanged which could not be printed here for fear of causing offence.

As to Miss Horrocks, she may be a wonderful character actress and an accomplished chanteuse - thankfully her vocal prowess is not required on this occasion – but her fissog leaves a lot to be desired in terms of capturing the desires of the male cinema going public. This has entailed additional expense in terms of the make-up budget and computer generated enhancements (CGI) in order for her to be transformed into an acceptable leading lady.

You have to understand that her first scene with Hopkins is when he drags her “bloated corpse” from the Ouse and instinctively performs the kiss of life upon her cold blue lips. This is a vital scene in their introduction, when she coughs up a gob of brown Ouse water, opens her eyes and seeing her saviour, immediately falls in love with him, and he likewise with her.

As you can imagine, she needs to look completely captivating even though she’s just been swept down river and swallowed a whole bucketful of rancid Ouse. This has called for a hefty appliance of superior quality foundation cream, not to mention the extra-firm hair gel to keep her “bob” in place.

Thankfully, developments in make-up technology have progressed enormously in the last few years, thanks mainly to “Titanic.” - witness the remarkable way that Miss Winslet remains a complete dish even after being submerged in the icy cold water, and all thanks to the make-up department. I know it will be an even harder task with Horrocks, but I’m convinced we can do it and that our make-up team will be “up there” when the nominations are announced.

Part Three to follow next week.