Phil: Sad news this week. One of the countries greatest writers has died. Victoria Wood has died after “a short but brave” battle with cancer aged 62.
Being able to turn her writing hand to comedy and serious work, it’s the funny stuff I’ll certainly remember her for. The temptation is to list all her output, but everyone is doing that.
I remember seeing her live with a crowd from work back in the late 1980s. We roared with laughter, even the blokes, although we had to imagine what the Liletes diagrams actually looked like…
No, just enjoy what I think is the one of the greatest comedy songs ever written and performed. The ballad of Barry and Freda.
Filed under Phil, Writing
Phil: Paul Merton had hurt his hand.
The bandage was an industrial injury. He’d been writing a screenplay for a film and sprained it. You see Merton writes everything longhand. Everything. Including both drafts of his 100,000 word autobiography.
As he explained to the packed Stratford Literary Festival crowd, he doesn’t own a computer or mobile ‘phone. “I’m just like everyone used to be.” he remarked to our great amusement.
Not only does he write by hand, he works in pencil. It’s a marvellous way to judging progress apparently. You can literally measure the work done by the length of your tool. He likes proper pencils too, attempts to foist plastic versions on contestants of Just a Minute by the BBC were firmly rebuffed.
Listening to Merton talk about writing is interesting because he’s best known for improvisational work – Just a Minute, Who’s Line is it anyway, The Masterson Inheritance and so on. All of which require no writing whatsoever, indeed very little preparation at all. Just a Minute contestants are shown the subjects in advance but most just use this opportunity to come up with some loose ideas. Only once has someone gone away and swotted up in an encyclopedia – and it showed.
This wasn’t how it started however. A shy boy fascinated by clowns, Merton (then Martin, he changed his name to join Equity) found inspiration at a bus stop one night and rushed off to spend 6 weeks honing a 3 minute sketch about a policeman who accidentally find himself taking “what I thought to be a sugar-coated chocolate confectionery but now know to be a hallucinogenic.”.
Performing this on stage got him started in showbiz and since then he has specialised in slightly surreal comedy that can be an acquired taste but I certainly enjoy it. Alongside this have been the long running radio and TV panels shows including Have I Got News For You.
I can’t say I learnt much about the craft of writing, and there’s no way I’ll eschew the word processor for a pencil, but it was very interesting to peek behind the curtain of the sort of shows I aspire to appear on once we are famous. And it was a hilarious way to spend an hour.
Filed under Phil, Writing
Candice: We’ve had a great summer in the UK and then all of a sudden, on the 1st of September, autumn has hit. We are still getting lovely days but the nights are drawing in, it’s colder so I’ve had to put the heating on for a few hours each night.
However, this does bode to a time of year when more reading might be done as people draw round the fire, and have more time to sit as they feel less inclined to do things as it gets dark outside. I was moaning the other week about not having had anything to read recently, well I’ve gone the other way and now have three books to read but don’t seem to have had time to read them so this might be a my chance. Of course, come January I’ll had loads of time on my hand (!) to do lots of reading.
Well this weekend the other half and I having a well deserved break from the decorating and general house sorting for our five year wedding anniversary. Thinking about the weather, five years ago it was absolutely throwing it down all this week but the sun shone on our day, then the UK had a heat wave while we were on honeymoon – so there is always hope for one last trip out for the shorts.
So, the other week I got an email from Warwick Words, another local literary festival. Warwickshire must be a popular area for this, I suppose due to our Shakespearean roots? Anyway, it’s a about their Autumn Festival, just a few events over the first weekend of October to whet your appetite for next year. Phil, being Phil, fancies the Pun Run, “the only pun and wordplay-based comedy club in the UK”, I also think this sounds interesting but it happens to be on a day when I am away. However, if we want to keep up the comedy vibe then ” An evening with Mark Watson” is the way to go. He’s not a comedian I know but it sounds like he is also a prolific writer so we could have a laugh and learn some stuff too.
Have a look, there might be something you fancy.
Filed under Candice, Writing