Friday, April 30, 2004

Starting the weekend by eating 20 of Ikea's Swedish meatballs is a good thing to do. I laugh in the face of M's Mediterranean Roast Vegetables with Cous Cous.

posted by dave - 12:02 pm

Thursday, April 29, 2004
I didn't so much meet Alan Plater as shout out his name really loudly during a conversation before turning round to find the little old thick-lensed man standing right next to me. This was a mere 50 minutes after insulting a Big Issue vendor by coming within a second of buying a copy before realising I'd already got that one and snatching my money back, much to the vendors dismay. M said I should have still handed over the cash but it was too late, cos I'd already put it back in my pocket and was heading inside to claim my free tickets to take up my free seats in a comfortable theatre where, 50 minutes later, I would down free drinks and shout out "PLATER!" Is there a play in the play-on-names Plato/Plater perhaps?

There has been a glorious bust-up at work today about workloads, with some people thinking that they do more than others. It was quite good fun as it's always nice to be able to shout at your colleagues. We were asked to slip into a quiet room to discuss things further as our shouting in the newsroom was getting rather loud. Hurrah! Only thing is that the air is no clearer than it was before, so we'll have to do it all again soon.

Embarrassing thought in smaller font: Why do my dreams have to be so big? Why couldn't I have chosen something that was more easily achievable? And will I ever shut my eyes one night knowing that I've got there, that I made it all happen? Don't you just hate angst ridden blogs?

posted by dave - 11:42 am

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Occasionally there's a bit of comfort to be had when talking to other writers. Had a chat on the phone today with Patricia Cleveland-Peck, who's just about to have her play about the 1920s celebrity cellist Beatrice Harrison premiered in the York studio. Its title is as succinct as her name - The Cello and the Nightingale. When she first got the idea to write it, she told me, she was part of a writer's group. "Just on the first rungs of the ladder," she said. She's since had three plays on the radio and adapted another play, Evasion Tango, for the stage. And, heck, she's also a journalist. So there's hope for us Hull Truck wannabes yet. Speaking of which, went to the press launch of the new Hull Truck building today. A few hints that they will let new writers into the building. But too much chat about bricks for my liking. John Godber: "I'm into heritage. Bricks. We wanted bricks. We like bricks. The new building will be made of bricks. Very rugged. Very durable. Bricks." There was a buffet. But, rather than bricks, they put on a few open-topped sausage sandwiches and, for reasons that escape me, some Spanish-themed fodder. There was also a flamenco guitarist. But rather than use a brick to strum his strings, he finger picked his way through a few decent tunes before finger picking at the buffet. During the question and answer session an old dear asked what the exterior of the new theatre would be cladded with. "It won't be," said the big, rugby league-loving playwright, "It'll be made of bricks."

Leeds awaits us tonight. Off to see Alan Plater's Blonde Bomshells at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, another one of those damn theatres made of brick. And the food they serve up isn't too different.

Jarvis Cocker of the day: "If fashion is your trade then when you’re naked I guess you must be unemployed yeah." (Underwear, 1995)

posted by dave - 3:45 pm

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
The cover is about to be closed on Banana Yoshimoto's Amrita. For some reason it's taken me about a month to read it. But, now I'm so close to the end, I don't want to get to get there. Probably because next on the pile are two Andrew Loog Oldham biographies which will, no doubt, cover lots of Rolling Stones' ground I'm familiar with. But I still want to read them. A lot of Yoshimoto's book is about people that inhabit other people's dreams. So I was mightily disturbed when I read a Japanese blog I'm rather fond of yesterday and discovered that a real person seems to be having a traumatic Yoshimoto-style time of it at the moment. Another case of fact and fiction colliding. I do hope he's ok.

It's happened. At last. After ten years of internetery I have my own web domain. The other stuff is all the same. Only the name has been changed. But, still, I'm excited. Go on, click the link

Jarvis Cocker of the day: "Well I learned to drink & I learned to smoke & I learned to tell a dirty joke. If that's all there is then there's no point for me. Hee Hee Hee." (I'm A Man, 1998)

posted by dave - 9:05 am

Monday, April 26, 2004
Driving in, listening to Wes Montgomery's Bumpin' as the sun rose over the A64, I felt like I was in a film. The cool soundtrack continued for the next 38 miles, with Hammond organ, sax and, I kid you not, the occasional xylophone. Verve recordings are just made to be listened to in hot, sweaty weather.

Not sure what that film might be I'm in, though. Some disaster movie, I reckon, directed by the hopeless guy that did Independence Day. The soundtrack's the best thing about it, all the cool kids'll say, and they'll buy the album at the box office's expense. I'm having trouble writing about how I feel today.

posted by dave - 11:55 am

Sunday, April 25, 2004
Sunday night. Just 12 hours before I'll be setting off for work. I just hate the way that makes me feel.

posted by dave - 7:05 pm

Saturday, April 24, 2004
Signed Hull's Stop the War Campaign petition today and, soon after, heaved a big, somewhat depressed sigh. Is that all I can do?

posted by dave - 6:44 pm

Friday, April 23, 2004
Interviewed a shopkeeper who had put a big St George's Day display in the window. "The English flag's not all about football hooliganism or being racist. Some of us are just proud to be English," she said, before orating about asylum seekers in a way that would have made Britain's wannabe fuhrer Oswald Mosley proud.

posted by dave - 6:40 pm

Thursday, April 22, 2004
A Mexican restaurant. A buffet. All you can eat for £5.50. A waitress on the door refusing entry for our party of 10. Not because the restaurant is full - there's maybe only 20 other people in and room for five times that number. But because we're a group. "We can't do groups that big, not at lunch. It's a busy time for us." She failed to grasp the proposal we put to her that we could just be treated as five pairs of customers. "It's not that, it's just that there are ten of you. It's lunch. It's our busy time." Of course it is. It's lunch. You advertise a buffet lunch. Mexican food. All you can eat for £5.50. You run a restaurant, surely you expect to be busy at times such as lunch? Isn't that why you're there? We were told we had to wait for 30 least. Some of us decided to go to the bar and get a beer in - and were promptly ignored by the same waitress. "I'm busy doing an order," she mumbled, although found the time to deal with another customer who must have been wearing cleaner shoes or something. No wonder people that work in the catering industry are on low wages. They're rubbish at what they do. Anyway, it was no way to treat a party of journalists, especially when our numbers included the paper's mysterious Michael Winner-style food critic. Trouble was, the food was excellent, which took the wind right out of our "let's abuse the staff" sails. Post-10 plates of Chilli con Carne one of our party of ten, a rather dim graphic designer, revealed he had two of those tiny after-dinner toothbrushes you can get from vending machines handily nestling in his pocket. Someone asked him how much they were. "50p," he said, chomping on one. "But I got a bargain. A £1 for two." John Godber and his family were in, sitting behind us, and I'm sure I heard his pen jot that example of uneducated northern Apple Mac-user dialogue down on a napkin for use in his next play. I've been eating out too much this week. I'm bored of food. Considering fasting tomorrow for a change.

posted by dave - 9:22 pm

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
As I wandered through the centre of Hull today, with Shaun of the Dead still fresh in my mind, I thought how much this dull city would benefit from a bit of cartoon violence. And then a man got off a bus right in front of me with a garden fork. And I thought, hey, any minute he'll start swinging it at people's heads and running it through unsuspecting OAPs. But he didn't. So I wondered if I should go and buy me a cricket bat and make my own fun but then, when I was exiting the pub after eating Chinese Chilli Beef and was nearly ran over by one of those electric vehicles driven by a disabled woman in a duffel coat wearing an eye patch I was glad I hadn't, because she'd have been wearing a cricket bat instead. Films can do that to people, can't they? My equally violent alter-ego found himself defending Quentin Tarantino on Not BBC today. Not only do I like Shaun of the Dead, but my alter-ego also likes Kill Bill Volume 1. He reads a bit too much Bret Easton Ellis for my liking though, but I daren't tell him not to in case he gets nasty...

Sam came soooooo close to scoring a really great try in his u8s rugby league game last night. He ran half the length of the pitch but, within 4 ft of the line and with thoughts of what he would have done with the money from a proud dad that his try-scoring would have brought him running rampant through his tiny head, a child half his size stripped the ball away. And the moment passed by just as quickly as it began. It's hard standing on the touchline sometimes.

posted by dave - 7:58 pm

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Guilt got the better of me. Scope sent me an email thanking me for my support and outlining the tremendous benefit that giving a pound to Richard Herring will mean towards their work for children and adults with cerebral palsy. So I returned and gave him some more money. Not much. I wish I could have given more. And one day, I will.

We went to an amazing Japanese restaurant called Buzz the other night. And, as we tucked into our bento boxes I wondered if, in the parallel universe where M and myself went to live and work in Japan, whether they were having as much fun as we were. Kyoto might have been cool but, heck, we live in York...

Back on form: Prince. Musicology is the best thing he's done in years. Go and buy yourselves a copy. NOW!

posted by dave - 1:38 pm

Monday, April 19, 2004
I now feel wracked with guilt that I only gave Richard Herring a nominal amount for his London Marathon exploits. 26 miles for a quid doesn't seem like a fair trade-off. But there it is, lurking on the Just Giving website for all to see, nestling amongst the 50 quids and the odd fiver. I gave him a quid. A paltry quid. Perhaps I took 'no amount is too small' a little too literally. But Richard, hey, I really am strapped for cash. The credit card I used is almost maxed out. Then there's the two overdrafts. The student loan. The phone bill, the npower bill, the totally ignored council tax demand, not to mention the parking ticket I received despite finding a "You will not receive a parking ticket in the next twelve months" message inside a fortune cookie just two months ago. Sorry. Really. I know you once gave me a sandwich - part of your extortionate dressing room rider - that was, on its own, worth much more than a pound. I've done you and your efforts a disservice. I'll steal my mum's credit card and leave something a bit more sizable. And then there's the poor autistic children who lost out to Japanese food. But it was great food children. Please forgive me, then I can sleep again.

Dream #73: That I click on the link to my guestbook and there are 200 new entries for me to plough through.

posted by dave - 12:21 pm

Sunday, April 18, 2004
How many people will say, "Oh, I've always wanted to run a marathon," today? Poor Richard Herring. I feel entitled to read his blog now I've just sponsored him.

Talking of people dressed as cakes, Bob the Builder and Big Ben, I bailed out of a charity fundraiser myself today. I was lined up to do a firewalk for autistic kids but just didn't feel I had the time to get there, back and go out later and eat in a sushi restaurant. Oh. Now I feel guilty. It was a last minute thing anyway - the organisers asked me if I wanted to take part so I could write about it all first hand. Anyway, it's raining today so maybe the hot coals won't reach the correct temperature for foot scalding? I hope they raise a fortune. They're gonna use the money to send autistic youngsters over to Florida to swim with dolphins, which is, apparently, really brilliant therapy. Now, I wouldn't mind finding the time to swim with dolphins to fund a gang of autistic kids to do a firewalk...

Back to vegetarianism - in the new Thomson Holiday brochure there's this thing about in-flight meals. "8 dining options on offer. There's something for everyone. Even a vegetarian." Oh, wow, well done. Last year, when we were on an Airtours plane, they dished up the veggie meals 20 minutes before everyone else, just to make vegetarians feel nicely excluded from the raw meat orgy everyone else on the plane indulged in. Is it that hard to provide meals for people that choose not to be carnivores????

posted by dave - 10:44 am

Saturday, April 17, 2004
Living with a vegetarian has made me realise that vegetarians are regarded by food vendors as lepers. That famous advert for gloablisation, McDonalds, has just changed its menu to include lots of items with 'fresh' salad. It's good to discover that all those Big Macs I've previously devoured have been riddled with salad of the unfresh variety (wot, no slugs?). Anyway, part of the change includes an all new Quorn Premiere. But, rather than think, hey, veggies might want a bit of choice, they've removed the Veggie Deluxe from the menu. What is it that makes McDs think that, oh, meat eaters are quite keen to try all kinds of combinations of the appetite-appeasing crap we peddle but vegetarians will be happy with one thin slab of Quorn and nothing else? It's the smallest burger you could buy. Vegetarians they may be, but that doesn't mean they don't like eating 'til the hunger pains actually susbide. Oh, and the gormless staff member couldn't pronounce Quorn. We made the mistake of eating at the West Yorkshire Playhouse the other night and both opted for the V-friendly stuffed capsicums. It looked very nice behind the glass counter but, we were to find out, vegetarians don't actually like their food to come with any sauces like those offered as part of every other dish. One stuffed capsicum, a mound of new potatoes and a smattering of broccoli and not a sign of anything that would have allowed it to travel down the trachea with a bit more ease. And this stuff happens all the time. Restaurants have really crap veggie options, if any at all, and the presentation of the food sucks, big time. Maybe this rant shouldn't be shouted by a meat eater, but it's really beginning to bug me. How M puts up with it without shouting is beyond me. Peddlers of western food really have a long way to go.

Retail therapy really is great. The Simpsons complete series 3 on DVD now sits beside the TV awaiting our attention, while a new pair of jeans are just crying out for me to step inside them. Yeah, I had to pay extra for jeans that make this kind of crying sound, but fashion does come at a price. I really went out to get some new clobber for the one-man show, but there was nothing suitable. M thinks a Tom Wolfe-style white suit might create the right kind of impression with drunken lit-fest goers.

posted by dave - 10:25 pm

Friday, April 16, 2004
People that read newspapers are absolute lunatics. I had to deal with a lunatic today. An 80-year-old woman who insisted on being anonymous phoned up to complain about a letters page I'd subbed. "I don't believe that letter is real," she said. I pointed out it was, I'd seen it, and not only was it one genuine letter it was two (by the same writer!) that I had cleverly edited together. "What?" she shouted, not fully able to grasp what "we reserve the right to edit any letters submitted for publication" means. She questioned part of the address we had printed. "I know this woman. I don't think much of her. And that's not her address. You're printing lies," she continued. And that was just the start. Off she went, telling me how she hated the media, especially the BBC, and that she held the media partially responsible for the death of Christopher Alder (he died while in the custody of the Humberside Police, who watched him choke to death). I told her not to generalise about the media but she was having none of it. "If you could let me have your name and number, I'll look into what happened with the address on the letter," I said, trying to draw 20 minutes of getting nowhere to a conclusion. "I won't," she said, "You never know if you're safe or not in this country if you give them your name and address. I'll phone you when I'm ready for an answer." Then, for reasons that can only be related to an onset of dementia, she added: "I like you, you seem like a lovely man." What, apart from working in the media, you mean?

The weekend is upon us. It will be a weekend of garden centres, gardening, playwriting and zombies of the Shaun of the Dead variety. And two cans of Dutch export lager are waiting for me in the fridge...

posted by dave - 5:52 pm

Thursday, April 15, 2004
Things are coming together nicely. Yesterday I was asked to be the festival critic for Humber Mouth 2004, Hull's annual literature fest, which has switched to the summer and takes place in June. I said yes. The way it's going there's barely room for anyone else in the programme. Maggie, the festival organiser, was late for our first meeting because she was "bathing a dog", which sort of sums up my importance in the scheme of things!

Anyway, ramblings that are destined for a newspaper column I write illustrating that I just keep regurgitating the same old rubbish (and thanks for the inspiration, Mark Haddon readers)....

Why is it that people insist that you do exactly the same things as them? There's nothing quite as bad as hearing the dreaded words, "I saw this great film last night, and you've really got to see it. You'll love it."

Really? Yes, you might have enjoyed it - but how do you know that I'm going to find it a pleasant experience? You know the kind of people: They think that they're the fonts of all cultural wisdom, that they have their finger so far on the pulse of contemporary life that they could have written every hit film, best-selling book, game, and CD in the last five years. Just keep your views to yourself, smart arse, and let everyone draw their own conclusions.

I'm not averse to enjoying stuff that's popular. It's just that the minute it comes with additional baggage - say, a novel that's won the Booker Prize, or a piece of music that's garnered five star reviews in the way that a rolling stone gathers moss (has anyone ever witnessed that? No, didn't think so) - then I just feel inclined to shun it until all the fuss has died down.

But I've started caving in. Having heard that Mark Haddon's book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was the must-read of the decade and, according to, 'the big read of 2003', I promptly ignored it for as long as I could. Then two friends of mine bought half-priced copies and persuaded me to give it a go. And I quickly realised that my stubborn refusal to buy it at the time meant that I missed out on a life-affirming literary experience several months ago. Similarly, with everyone shouting about Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below double CD, I've opted not to listen to it, despite the fact that a copy is kicking around the house. Until now, that is. As I write this, it's playing in the background, and I'm fast coming to the conclusion that it's a classic.

The next few days offer a tough choice. Do I succumb to the crazy ramblings in every magazine I pick up that Simon Pegg's rom-zom-com Shaun of the Dead is the greatest and funniest Brit-flick for years? Or do I stay in, eat a Pot Noodle and complain that this country is full of sheep that would move en masse to anything providing the know-it-all in the office mutters "you've really got it see it!"? I get the feeling that the answer might be...baaaaah.

posted by dave - 3:16 pm

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
18 months ago I interviewed a bloke called David Fletcher who had escaped from a grizzly bear that was following him as he clambered 4,000 metres up an Alaskan mountain and crossing the 23 mile West Fork Glacier. He'd killed a bear cub with an ice pick and its mother was after him. So, hardly surprisingly, he legged it. But he lived to tell the tale and ended up writing a book about it (Hunted) and, last I heard, he'd flogged the film rights. I've just seen him in Hull city centre. And he look scared. Really scared. As if he was being chased by a bear. That's Hull for you.

I've posted David's story on my website, if you're interested -

posted by dave - 4:15 pm

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Ah, the sun, the warmth, the abandoned tie. It's a lovely day. So, what did I opt to do at lunch? That's right, head into a dingy, dark, freezing cold public house. At least I caught up with an old friend. Now, after two pints, am in no frame of mind to do any work....

Have joined the ranks of people currently reading (half-priced copies of) Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. Must agree with both M and Pik, who speak highly of it. 130 pages in and I'm keen to take the afternoon off to finish it. Though that might be influenced by the intake of beer!

posted by dave - 10:29 am

Monday, April 12, 2004
Stumbled into a 2nd hand book sale in a Methodist church. Picked up two Pinter plays and M snared herself Almost Heaven, a 'travel through the backwoods of America' by Martin Fletcher. We reckoned that some churchgoer had picked it up thinking it was some religious tome. There were thousands of books in apple boxes. All their previous owners no doubt long-buried. Paperbacks were 40p - unless, that is, it was about God, then you got a 10p discount. He works in mysterious ways, doesn't he? Continued the 2nd hand book theme with a trip to Oxfam. M was paranoid that, cos the church books didn't come in a bag, it'd look like I was on the rob. Picked up a copy of Bret Easton Ellis's The Informers - and was eyed up curiously by the man in the counter who was obviously thinking along the same lines as M.

Headed up on the walls and strolled from Monkgate to Gillygate, amongst the 'tourists' as we now disparagingly refer to them. Rather scary moment when we discovered a seat that had a brass plaque attached dedicating it to Peter Windass (my uncle's name). He was 22 when he died and worked for the council, did Peter, on the walls. So we reckoned he fell to his death one slippery, windy morning. Chose not to sit on my surnamesake and moved swiftly on...

posted by dave - 8:29 pm

Sunday, April 11, 2004
Further inspection of the Guide has led to more chuckles. The Big Lebowski was illustrated with an image of a man with two pigs - a shot from a BBC Easter Monday comedy drama called The Legend of the Tamworth Two (or The Pig Lebowski, perhaps). The Borrowers has a shot from a new Stephen Hawking biopic while, best of the lot, Jude, much to Thomas Hardy's graveturning dismay, is imperfectly illustrated with a frame from Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets, with Harry and Ron flying high in the Weasley's car. Very obscure.

Just remembered that it took lots of will power not to blurt out "it's me, it's me" as I spotted a man in Free Spirit reading my Big Issue video reviews.

posted by dave - 1:38 pm

Saturday, April 10, 2004
A tale of two city centres. This morning, Hull. Full of the ultra miserable, dowdy, down-at-heel types in their Donnay clothing, all pushing their way past each other in some kind of rush to absolutely nowhere. Incident of road rage on Prospect Street, as a car pulls out in front of a bus. No one, but me, appears to take any notice of all the shouting as the driver rushes out of his car to threaten the bus driver, who insists that "you're in a bus lane, dumbo" despite the fact that there is no bus lane. In Woolworths, checking out the Easter eggs, staff re-stocking the displays prevent customers from actually buying anything and tut with disgust when people ask them the prices of the unmarked eggs. Later, in York, rather jolly, happy, optimistic sorts flood the streets, all walking very slowly and occasionally stopping for no good reason right in front of us. Sam demonsrates an hilariously comic face that involves him sucking his nostrils shut. A large crowd gather around a dodgy-looking alcho with a guitar whose musical stylings are accompanied by a howling border collie. A ridiculous queue unaware that there are other places to eat in York awaits the overexaggerated delights of Betty's tea shoppe. No shoe emporiums carry the correct type of pink and black Vans that Danielle is in search of, and she has to settle for a pair of Duffs. Staff member in Boots can't believe I have the raw nerve to enquire where a certain type of hair product resides and leaves me in no doubt that I shouldn't have interrupted her. An incident of road rage on the ride back to the park part of the park and ride, as the bus driver shouts at a passing car who he wrongly thinks has 'undertaken' him even though there were two lanes moving along quite happily. He takes the trouble to open his doors to shout 'got a problem?' at the car driver, who responds with the two fingered salute through glass - a move that makes the rammed full bus 'oooh' en masse with shock. Both cities are odd places to be.

Strange image mix-up in The Guardian's Guide. A preview of A Bug's Life is accompanied by a picture of Nelson Mandella. Just remind me who he did the voice for???

posted by dave - 11:18 pm

Friday, April 9, 2004
Good Friday. Much of the rest of the country is out and about, having fun. Me? I'm at work. Ok, I'm making amends for missing much of the early part of the week. But it feels bad. Very bad. As do I. I have a wisdom tooth that has decided to make some kind of final push. I have a cold. I have v dry eyes. My head hurts. I am in no mood to be here. And I plan to make an early exit. From what I can see through the vertically hanging blinds behind the horizontally hanging blinds inside the glass office the editor sits in right in front of me, the sun is shining. It looks like a great day out there. And I want me a piece of the action. If ever a day was designed for sitting in a beer garden, pint of frothy, cold lager in hand, this could well be it. But I must buy choccie eggs for loved ones and cast aside all thoughts of liquid refreshment. Driving on the A1079 at 90mph on a Bank Holiday is fun, by the way, although, naturally, I wouldn't condone such behaviour.

posted by dave - 11:01 am

Thursday, April 8, 2004
Such a shame that I'm not seeing the hilarious comedy stylings of Joe Pasquale this evening. Isn't it?

posted by dave - 3:37 pm

Wednesday, April 7, 2004
The last three days have just been about waiting. I'm gripped by inertia. And it's frustrating. Here I am, drinking coffee, eating toast, listening to Abbey Road. Waiting. It'd be great if I'd planned it this way. Three days off work, hurrah! But it's not like that. Without a car, I feel stranded. Too far away from three people that need to know I can get there whenever they need me. Fingers crossed that I get it back today. George Harrison is telling me that Here Comes The Sun. I'm sure he's right.

posted by dave - 10:17 am

Tuesday, April 6, 2004
The car is still holed up in Toyota, where several tests to discover why I can't get the bleedin' thing in gear have proved inconclusive. This is now causing something of a problem as I work 40 miles away and need to get there. It also sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud, as people don't believe that a reputable garage could take so long to discover a problem on one of their own cars. The woman at Toyota also has a knack of making me feel guilty for asking about what they're up to with my car. Anyway, have worked from home, at great expense to my own phone bill, and done a blistering job although don't feel as if the management think along the same lines as me and won't thank me for it. Should have just pulled a sicky like everyone else would have done.

M has had her hair cut and looks better than ever. Which is great given my present state: full of cold, congested, smelling of Lockets, nose emitting lots of nasty fluids. Just what a gal with funky hair is looking for. Actually, I really should have pulled a sicky - I'm in no fit state to work.

Book I'm dribbling snot on: The Ultras, by Eoin Macnamee.

posted by dave - 4:35 pm

Monday, April 5, 2004
Notice near escalator in Top Shop: "Dogs must be carried". Interesting new retail concept.

Retail therapy: Borders for Banana Yoshimoto's Amrita and Oxfam for Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound

posted by dave - 10:12 pm

Sunday, April 4, 2004
Rope's not like it used to be, eh? This we discovered as the Toyota Yaris was towed to Clifton Moor for repair. Okay, I ran over the rope during the course of the tow and that probably caused it to break in half as we negotiated a roundabout. But still, that quality unbreakable rope of old is hard to find these days. Such pleasant police officers in York - we received instructions to the garage and a bit of a push to get us out of harms way after the rope went its separate ways.

Meanwhile, have been redrafting Off Their Trolleys. Or, rather, re-ordering it. Have cut out loads of direct address business and written about five new pages. And then shuffled the rest about. The result? A right bloody unintelligible mess! Draft number three coming soon.

On the book front, managed to read Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen this weekend and enjoyed it immensely. It's a very slender book - 150 pages - and only 105 pages contain the actual novel (the remainder is a short story, called Moonlight Shadow, after the Mike Oldfied bore of yore). Yet again a real brevity of words, just the bare essentials to tell the story, no yawn-inducing descriptive passages. Dunno if this is just how Japanese fiction translates or how Japanese authors write. But a perfect little novel.

Tunes of the day: Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now...and...Big Yellow Taxi (induced by last night's airing of Stars In Their Eyes)

posted by dave - 10:26 pm

Saturday, April 3, 2004
I hate cars. Coolant, engines, clutches, you can keep it all for me. I especially hate cars when they pretend for a few fleeting moments that they will get me to my destination, and indeed get me to the top of the street and quite a way around the corner. I hate cars when, suddenly, you can't get them in gear. At all. And you're stuck on a main road, with York's thousands of tourists heading in both directions all around you. And it's pouring with rain. And you think, ah, if I just sit here and try it again in a few minutes it'll start again. But it doesn't. So you have to ask a passing jogger to push you off the double yellows and into a side street. And then you lock the car you hate up and walk back home, in the pissing, pouring rain. And phone your kids and tell them you can't see them this week. I hate cars.

Oh, and two minutes later I got the letter that told me I didn't get the job in Harrogate.

posted by dave - 9:00 pm

Friday, April 2, 2004
Some days you're waiting on good news. You expect the phone to ring. You keep looking at the phone. Picking it up, staring at the display, checking the reception. You're sure the good new is on its way. But the phone doesn't ring. It just doesn't ring...

posted by dave - 9:18 pm

Thursday, April 1, 2004
Apologies, in advance, for the following rant. It's probably not interesting to anyone but me.

Strange day at work. Some asshole, and I'm pretty sure I know who it is, and pretty sure they'll be reading this, has some kind of grudge and doesn't like the fact that I get paid to write reviews for the HDM. As if I shouldn't get paid for divulging my expert depth of knowledge of theatre. No one else in that building knows as much about theatre as me. If it weren't for me, the only theatre venues that would get covered on a regular basis would be Hull Truck and Hull New Theatre, because no one will travel to Scarborough, York, Leeds and elsewhere for long for nothing. The HDM are shit payers. Let's get this straight. I get paid 20 quid, a paltry 20 quid, for doing a review for the HDM. That makes them the worst payer of any 'freelance' gig I've ever had. For that, they want a review of 350-400 words, making their word rate a rather laughable £50 per 1,000 words. They pay me no expenses. I do it because it's an extra £20 on top of the fee that someone else pays me. That someone else also pays me the expenses I incur to travel to these venues. If some other lunatic - and that's what it would take - would like a slice of that shit-tasting, very small pie, help yourselves, suckers. You won't get rich, that's for sure. I do it cos I love the theatre. There's certainly no kudos to be earned from writing for the HDM.

Apparently, an anonymous note (more on my theories on that one soon enough) was passed on pointing out that I have the monopoly on reviews of regional theatres. I don't. I'm the only person that ever offers to do them. I was asked to do them because, miracle upon miracles, someone recognised that I already wrote about the theatre. And offered money because, crikey, someone else realised what a ballsache it would be to turn out more than one review. I've also been accused of supplying identical reviews to different publications, which does me an absolute disservice and is total shite. This 'note' also pointed out that I post them on my website. And this website is, apparently, a place where I advertise my services as a freelance journo. Yeah, right, cos that's how I get my freelance gigs. I never have the initiative to contact commissioning editors, build up a relationship with magazines and newspapers and work freelance because I've got a good reputation for delivering clean, interesting copy, eh?

At last, after numerous attempts to get recognised, the editor of the HDM has become aware that other people pay me to write. Something of a miracle, albeit one that he reminded me was in breach of my contract. I was aware of this. I wrote under various pen names for other publications for about 18 months before I opted to antagonise people and get a reaction by dropping the guise. Surprised it took so long!

After pondering on things, I'm now of the opinion that the 'anonymous note' never really existed. I fear that some poor, sad, individual with too much time on their hands and a deluded desire to get somewhere within the company (hey, there aren't too many of those people, are there? ooh, I'm getting warm now) felt the need to put me in my place. How laughable. And I ain't so dumb. Like I said, I'm pretty certain I know who they are because, in these pre-Worst Seat in the House promotional activity days, I've not made too much song and dance about my website presence and only a select few people are aware of it. Yes, you should be worried, you Dave Windass-obsessed freak (shock thought, maybe it was me that wrote the note!)

As for reviewing for the HDM, I'm currently pondering on asking for more money - my words of wisdom are definitely worth it - and also suggesting that they only have first rights use for the reviews, which is all any other title I do stuff for gets, thus allowing me to post what the hell I like on my website. Or just not bothering to do them anymore and smiling with self-satisfaction as they return to the dark days of no regional reviews. Odd how Newsquest titles seem to have a more serious attitude towards the arts and see the value of traveling a little bit further than the theatre across the road, isn't it? Now, is the HDM a serious newspaper or isn't it? Does it mean business in every area that it covers or does it always want to be laughed at? Must it always let its talented writers slip through its hands in an effort to show who's boss?

Must remember to ask to see this 'note' on Monday. It will be interesting to see the response to such a request.

posted by dave - 9:27 pm

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