Writing Comedy

I have been writing comedy lately, trying to be funny and as usual failing. A page that is supposed to fill up with funny things is the blankest sheet of paper a writer ever looks at because there is only one way out for the sentences and that is to be funny. With other kinds of writing you can describe the powder blue suit, or else like an elephant trying to pick up a pea, get involved in the emotions. But with comedy it’s a very simple litmus test – is it acid or alkaline?

To me writer’s block is the wrong expression for a failure to perform, because if I look myself straight in the eyes, something I try not to do too often, writing is, and apologies to more human factors, the thing I like doing best, something I never delay in getting down to. But it’s with comedy that nothing happens on the page for the longest, until the connections somehow get together into an order that conveys roughly what is meant, if anything is meant. And often after an hour or so, rather than 200 words of something that looks kind of Okay in a first draught kind of way, you are left with one single scrawny thing you have managed to get down surrounded by lots of white space.

There are two people on the top deck of a bus. First person: I went to see Wagner’s Ring. Second Person: Restricted 18 certificate was it?

Why are the Simpsons yellow?

The seventh anniversary of the day my Mum died has passed by. Parents when they die are still around with you until the day you die, and it’s good to have them still around. You don’t need an audience to die and she managed to do it when my dad was in Bridlington having a very short break from taking care of her. Such is life and death. As you get older, and I have now started to consider myself as older, you have the privilege or handicap of being surrounded by more and more dead people. But as studies on old people have shown it is important to get them involved in the present rather than just living in the past. Five-year old’s are concerned with what five-year old’s are concerned with, and have the direct action that comes from little experience. Such attitudes are a good tonic for eighty-five-year old’s who are nailed to the floor. The directness of Dogs is good for this too. The only thing that matters to them is thinking it’s great now. If we older guys see this it seems we remember the past positively without needing the protective goggles. On July 20, 2010 my Mum, ignoring health and safety, made the break, and so on that day I get the photograph album out and think about those questions that were important, such as why are the Simpsons yellow? Then there are the people on Television she disliked – Basil Fawlty, Johnny Morris (and the animal magic signature tune which I used to turn the volume up for so she could hear it better), Kenneth Williams, and Gloria Hunniford, which is understandable. Also, her insistence, before I’d got into double figures on supporting Lancashire in the Roses Cricket Match because she was born in Morecambe, which is always a tricky one to spell.

My week of speaking French

The blog is a little late this month as I was doing my yearly stint of house sitting for friends in Languedoc, West of Montpellier. It’s about 250 kilometres from Girona and maybe 125 kilometres North of my home city, so the climate is much the same, which at the moment is a tad too warm 32 degrees centigrade. So apologies to all my readers, and I know there are two of you because here at control centre I can monitor your every move.In St Paul et Valmalle I look after a dog and two cats and remind myself about why I don’t have either back at the ranch. Pip, the camel sized dog has now reached the geriatric stage after eleven years, and has had two heart attacks, so its likely I won’t see him again. He is my favourite dog ever, and I still don’t want one. Being in France is also an opportunity to buy some Blanquette de Limoux.  This has all the subtlety of Champagne, its bubbles detonating in the mouth in the correct way, but is one seventh the price. This week off is also the only time I really write longhand rather than keyboard words onto the screen. I am fairly fluent for a page, get to a point I think I can continue from and stop. 35 minutes of writing but with 23 hours 25 minutes of letting it lie in between. The result being the 250 words a day target achieved – and good stuff it is too.  On the website front I am getting closer to the Amazon Kindle solution for my catalogue. Amazon has its own payment platform for the products which is a big plus. I intend downloads to be free for seven days in return for a review when I do get to posting things up in the new format. This will be announced in the news section of the site.

Stooge

It is the end of the school year at the Escola Hosteleria in Girona – the school of Hotels, Tourism, Cooking and Entertainment. They finish early at the end of May rather than the third week in June so the students can take up summer jobs on the Costa Brava. I have performed the part of the customer in among since October last, booking into and checking out of hotels, ordering meals, being led through the wine-list, finding the tourist highlights, having holidays in Cuba, and taking the occasional custard pie in the face – an art in itself. I have always wanted to put stooge on my CV and now I can. In the heat and sunshine at the end of May Britain seems a long way away, and for the time being it can stay there. My postal vote is done and returned. There is nothing else I can do.

Leaving West Bromwich Behind

A new book has appeared on the site. A novella, ‘Love in Trieste’ which is downloadable electronically for one single pound, hardly much more than ‘un eurito.’ And so my international busking career continues. I’d like to thank everyone who has thrown money in my hat for helping me to remain here in the Mediterranean for the health reasons that forced me to finally leave West Bromwich behind five years ago. I can now only watch the train wreck that is contemporary Britain from the distant safety of somewhere with an outdoor ambient temperature of twenty-three centigrade. Those donations are important and they do make a difference.  However I am able to vote in this 2017 General Election. So I will be able to say I tried by best even if I can never vote again once May’s ‘strong and stable’ regime suspends Democracy on June 9th.

Situation Comedy

I may or may not start writing a sit-com in Catalan with my friend, Marti ‘Brian’ Blesa, comic, cultural critic and photographer. Guess who’ll be doing the Catalan, though in three conversations today I knew most of the time what was being said to me, except as usual for when their were crucial words that were absolutely essential.

The situation comedy will be set in an airport in Catalonia. Girona is possible but more likely somewhere like Reus (Tarragona). Things are always going wrong at airports within an environment that insists everything has to go right, so lots of comic potential.

The ‘difficult’ second novel, (notice how I have put difficult within inverted commas, but somehow, unlike Donald Trump’s assertion, the meaning has remained the same.) will hopefully go up on my site some time later this year. The plan also includes the second half of A Game of Two Halves – La Segona Part going up in Catalan Corner – Raco Catala now it has been translated into Catalan. With the two halves translated the idea is to put on a whole evening of Catalan entertainment, or not as the case maybe, in Girona and then Barcelona.

Small Worlds Within Worlds Of Our Own

Catalans have started to move about on their roof line terraces here in Girona. Potted plants and plastic furniture are being dusted down ready for the long summer season through to mid-October. I naturally prefer my own world to this harsh reality, and have decided to try, and no doubt fail, to put together a Catalan comedy writing and performing group that might use a few of my spare 203 comedy sketches. I’m not sure whether in this small world whether the art of playing something as if it isn’t funny to make it funnier will take, but I think it’s a niche I can amply fill, and it will make a change for Catalans to find what I do unfunny, rather than just British people. After all this is now my home. Anyway, which is sigui com sigui in Catalan, the times we are stuck in seem determined on staying dismal, and so another of my expansive positive projects is a crowdfunding idea for Barnsley, to reflect the fact it was one of the places that voted most to leave the European Union in the referendum. The idea is to give two Barnsley teenagers the chance to travel around Europe for two months before going to university, though I will have to act quickly before the UK regime bans state school students from the North of England from going to University entirely, rather than leaving it to extortionate fees to put them in their place.  Tinkerty-tonk!

Start Again

I like starting again, which is just as well because I always am. The second novel, a work of the ‘noughties’ modestly titled ‘The Harmony Of The World,’ Der Harmonie Der Welt in German should go up on site this year. The site itself is targeted to make me some money in 2017 with an overhaul. Some money coming through Pay Pal or another system would be nice. I also want to make the growing ‘oeuvre’ more widely available by putting it up on Amazon as well as other mouthpieces. Also a way for people to comment within reason, overwhelming praise is always acceptable. At the moment a Catalan is going through ‘Euphoria,’ the first novel looking for invisible commas, of which there are many. At present Euphoria is an interactive novel that you add your own punctuation to, though it reads fluently enough. On a more secular note I hope to set up a European Citizens Club, for people who support the European Union (not uncritically) as a basis for civilized communal behaviour with some disgruntled chums who live in Girona. I imagine a bit of a Wikipedia system where people donate what they think. Some politics, not too much, cultural coverage, European things etc. will be the rough arena it prances around in if it happens.

Love In Trieste

Praise has been received for ‘Love In Trieste.’ Naturally I will not let this alter my lifestyle of lolling about in the Mediterranean. However, praise is something to face up to and accept, rather than run away and cower from. And I believe I am quite capable of receiving more praise without it having a negative effect on my character. But to clarify, ‘Love In Trieste’ is loosely based on Debussy, though the fictional composer in the story is not Debussy. After all this is fiction, not a documentary.  Also, I have never been to Trieste, though I used to know someone called Jon King, who did his National Service with BETFOR, (British Empire Trieste Force) in 1949-50 defending Trieste from the Communist hordes. He told me that if Tito’s armies had ever launched an attack, his small force would, in technical terms, have ‘run.’ Anyway Jon said it was a good depiction of Trieste and so I’ve always left it as that. I hope these bits of information won’t spoil your enjoyment of the for now ‘free’ story, but as Spike Milligan’s dad said to Spike Milligan after waking him up at 3 a.m. to say, ‘I’ve never shot a tiger.’ To which Spike asked, ‘But why do you have to tell me? then said ‘I’ve got to tell someone.’

The State Of Play

Calling all followers. Calling any followers. This is the start of what I hope will be a monthly blog. It’s an age where no one writes letters anymore. Considered commentary seems to be missing in a world of facebook and tweeting, those arenas so easily occupied by both the willfully ignorant and the nasty piece of work. So I have decided to talk as if I am addressing a Public Meeting.

We all know where our collective attitudes have got us over the last twelve months – staring down both barrels. The idea therefore is to simply express my own thoughtful opinion on things I think worth pointing out.

Things have now gone so wrong in civil society it is possible to imagine the crisis of the Roman Republic 2100 years ago, when it had stopped coming up with the answers and the pressure was on to adopt a dictatorship model. And today Representative Democracy seems to have reached a similar position. Low quality professional politicians often with their hands in the till and skewwhiff attitudes watch as their bored and disappointed base of support contracts. This is how it must have been in early 30’s Germany. The environment Hitler exploited. You can imagine how bad the so called Social Democrat position was back then because the same calibre of people are around today, sheltering in the traditional ‘identical’ parties of both left, right and centre. And on that cheery note I hope to be back with you in December.