Candice: I’ve let Phil do most of the writing on the blog this year. Being a parent and working full time does not allow a lot of time for thinking so I keep it for book writing and editing rather than blog writing.
But I felt we were missing our traditional Christmas blog post about photocopying bums at Christmas parties.
The first book finishes with a Christmas party, and I still like the way that it opens. I can still see dry ice and characters walking through the fog in a ‘Batman and Robin’ style.
I had my work’s Christmas party last week. I can only just write this blog now as my head is still recovering. I am not the best drinker so try to keep the alcohol intake to a minimum, this was not the case with my work colleagues who also decided that, as organiser of the Christmas do, I should have lots of free drinks as thanks. One of those was a Jagerbomb…
I sloped off at midnight as I’d had a good two hours dancing and drinking since a lot earlier, I was an early bird compared to most.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Christmas party. I pretty much always end up organising it, because no one else will, but it also means I have to spend a lot of time dealing with people asking stupid questions – what time does it start, how much is it etc. But once the meal part is out of the way – ‘ herding cats’ is how a colleague described it, then I got what I really wanted. A chance to show that Mrs Demure in the office knows how to shake her butt. Think more Tracey than Kate.
The other thing I had to organise was the Secret Santa, yet another herding cats experience. However, I ended up with a well thought of present… a magic mug with that – when you put hot water in to it, the book appears. Someone had been listening then. So thanks to Secret Santa, I’m chuffed with it.
Filed under Candice, Writing
Phil: When team NolanParker meet up, we like a bit of cake. And quite a lot of chat. Sometimes though, we need to get some words on the screen and then everything changes.
Laptops out. iPods on.
The iPods are an essential piece of kit. For a start that stop us talking to each other. Mostly though, it’s all about blocking the rest of the world out and helping our concentration.
We have both spent years of our lives in noisy offices. Environments where you learn to tune things out. I know that I now can’t work in a silent room. The walls seem to close in on me and the lack of noise become oppressive. I like to use this as an excuse for my poor exam performance rather than admitting I’m just a bit thick.
Is this just a comfort thing though? It appears not. Reading this fascinating blog post by author and expert Nicola Morgan, there does seem to be science to back all of this up.
Most interesting is how the choice of music matters. It must be:
- Music you actually love
- More than one song – an album or playlist
- At a volume that doesn’t intrude on your thoughts
Which probably helps to explain why I get more done with the iPod on than the radio.
Even with over a thousand tracks on shuffle, it’s rare that anything surprises me. My memory for music isn’t bad.
The radio, on the other hand, will play tracks that I don’t know so presumably, part of my limited brain capacity feels the need to pay attention. Part of the historic response to danger we developed as cavemen, although more to avoid being eaten than exposed to something new by Harry Styles!
Filed under Phil, Writing
Phil: Last week, Candice was blogging about one of her earliest favourite albums – Phil Collins “No Jacket Required” and by coincidence, I was listing to a show on the radio about one of mine.
1985 saw the release of Suzanne Vega’s eponymous first album and to promote it, the first single “Marlene on the Wall” enjoyed heavy rotation on Radio 1. What I should have done is rushed out and bought the album, but in those days, my local library loaned proper vinyl albums out so I simply borrowed it and made a tape using my sisters record player and the tape recorder I used for my ZX Spectrum. Obviously this is bad so don’t do it kids. As they said at the time, “Home taping is killing music” even if the phrase “It tapes tapes” appeared on every stereo system in my mum’s catalogues at the time.
Anyway, while I liked the songs and the imagery, the inspiration for the lyrics was always a bit of a mystery. Until I heard Johnnie Walker’s Long Players last week. The program covered the album track by track with explanations of each from Vega.
Much of it was slightly disappointing, stuff about songs being something to do with whoever she was dating at the time but for pure weirdness, the track “Small Blue Thing” wins.
Inspiration struck when she saw the blue doorknob in a boyfriends apartment. In the centre of the knob (stop sniggering at the back) was the image of a blue eyeball. All of which inspired the opening lines:
Today I am
A small blue thing
Like a marble
Or an eye
Utter barking mad, but oddly, still sounds good today.
So, songwriter, get down to the ironmonger’s for your next hit. It just shows, ideas can come from anywhere.
Mind you, if you think this is oddball, I’m working out how to shoehorn a Lieutenant Pigeon joke into our latest book just to see if anyone spots it…
Filed under Phil, Writing
Phil: So there I am listening to Dermot O’Leary on Radio 2 last weekend and he’s interviewing Rick Astley about his return to prominence and No.1 album. Suddenly Astley says something profound:
“It’s never been easier to make music that gets ignored.”
By jove, I think he’s got it!
It’s true. Anyone can cut a track (I know all da modern lingo daddy-o) sitting in their bedroom fiddling with a computer. They can even knock together a video and release it to the world on YouTube.
And the world probably won’t even notice.
The same thing is happening in publishing. Whereas writing used to be the preserve of a select band of people, monks mainly, now any numpty can string together some words and stick them up on Amazon for the world to buy.
The trick is to MAKE the world beat a path to your door, or at least the webpage selling your book.
So the skill is no longer making the product, it’s selling it. Marketing people are the new kings. Nolan is going to be insufferable now I’ve worked that out…
Candice: No, this is not a reference to Fifty Shades of Grey (I am not going to see the film even though Phil seems to think I should) but an unashamed plug for a project that I worked on.
Last year I was working for the Farm Safety Foundation (aka Yellow Wellies) encouraging people to be safer when they farm. Being a highly dangerous profession (just check out the HSE stats) I thought this was a worth while cause.
One of my projects was to find a way to connect with the younger audience – and between us on the team we came up with re-recording a song that struck a chord with the farming community, ‘I’ve got a brand new combine harvester’ by The Wurzels.
Well with some negotiating and an trip to their recording studio, we came up with a new version. In fact I had a lovely day hanging out with the lads making their part of the video (and being invited to get ‘scrumpied up’ with them!) I then left for pastures new and hoped my little project would come to fruition. And this week it did.
So you can see the new version ‘Farm Safety is the Key’ on You Tube. So if you know anyone who works in a dangerous job, farming or otherwise, send them this funny video and let them think a bit more next time they want to cut corners. And if you watch it to the end you might just see my name in the credits.
Filed under Candice, Writing
Candice Phil’s last post was about how songs can transport you back to a place and time. This ringing a real cord with me as I am in to my music and there are definitely songs that have strong memories for me, and I am always trying to find new music in which to build new memories. I associate Clean bandit’s ‘Rather be’ with being at home with Erin, and am quite into Sam Smith ‘s new album at the moment which is creating a whole new set of memories.
Well Monday was a complete wash out in the Midlands, typical bank holiday weather. Hence the reference to the Eurythmics’ song in my title. I can remember first seeing Annie Lennox on ‘Top of the Pops’ with her red hair and androgynous clothes and everyone saying was it a girl or a boy, but that voice gave it away. However, it did allow me to get things done round the house I wouldn’t have if the sun had been out.
I don’t know about everyone else but if there is sun outside I want to be in it, which often doesn’t bode well if I have things to do inside. I’m self employed which often means I have work things to do evenings and weekends, but a nice bout of sun can make me struggle with work versus fun. I’m missing the lovely sunny weather we had this summer, and the warmth too, but at least I had a chance to catch up.
The same could be said for writing. I can remember trying to crouch over my lap top doing some work in the conservatory, and struggling with wifi and seeing the screen. I could have done it faster if I’d just given up and worked indoors but the pull of the sun was too strong.
I’m off on holiday again soon, and in the meantime I’m hoping Phil and I will get more feedback on our book so we can soon see it in the public domain, but woe betide them if they try and give them me things to do on holiday. That will be an epic fail.
Filed under Candice, Writing