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Soundcloud – Writer-insighter

The play what I wrote

Hugely flatteringly if that’s a thing, people are actually listening to No Batteries Required on Soundcloud. I only put it up yesterday.

A Songs Without Music production.
A Songs Without Music production.

If you’ve got 34 minutes to spare you can listen too. It’s an everyday story of country folk, mostly, with some odd and debatably funny things in it.

Without giving away the ending, or the location of the Prime Minister’s tattoo (for security purposes, of course) it’s about a farmer and a celebrity chef. The funny things happened when I was writing it. I’d been thinking about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall who screamingly funnily becomes Pew Farley-Toherstall for the purposes of the play. So far so so. But he really did go to school and then up to Oxford with David Cameron. And if not even David Cameron would be bonkers enough to make Jeremy Clarkson Minister for Transport, there were certainly very strong rumours that Kirsty Alsop was going to be offered a Ministerial post prior to 2010 and turned it down. And she really is Cath Kidston’s cousin. And her daddy really was chairman of Christies. So you can make your own judgement about her career progression dahn the auctions, as she almost certainly doesn’t say unless she’s very drunk indeed.

For me the funniest thing was the pin number on the Prime Minister’s emergency phone. I gave this script to several people to have a look at it before we recorded. A solicitor friend so that the caution was correct, when Tom is at the police station. An actual police sergeant, for some of the procedural stuff. She said she hadn’t been on a firearms job but it sounded about right. Funny. She liked it. Just one thing.

I hate it when a police person says ‘just one thing.’

‘How did you know about the PIN number?’

It’s not really officially secret, she said, but you’re not really supposed to know about it.

And the honest answer is, I didn’t. I made it up. It was the most ridiculous thing I could think of, the most British procedural thing I could imagine, the thing you’d be most likely to forget under stress, which would be the only time you’d need it.

So it’s a fair cop, guv. You’ve got me bang to rights. I’m done up like a kipper. But I ain’t got previous and it was the voices made me do it.

And as she said, in the best Jack Reagan tradition before I poured her some more wine: ‘Shut it.




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Putting it about

In grown-up land.
In grown-up land.

Not like that.

Putting it about used to be a borderline smutty expression from the days when creepy uncles smoked panatellas and boasted about the two litre engines in their car while wearing lapels like an aircraft carrier for flies.

Add something as close to a Zappatta moustache as the Westbury Golf Club bar rules would allow and a vertical two-button waist on the tailored flares and you’ll know when we’re talking about, baby.

Everyone had a creepy uncle who thought he looked like this. It was the law back then.
Everyone had a creepy uncle who thought he looked like this. It was the law back then.

Putting it about meant, in line with the mores of the times, not-so secret admiration for men doing it and public shame for women if they were. I won’t say ladies, because however many horseboxes they might have frequented at gymkhanas (gymkhanae?) ladies didn’t. Obviously they did, or some of them anyway, but it wasn’t discussed. Not if you wanted to stay in your tied cottage, anyway. It goes, or went, with the territory.

The kind of putting it about I meant to write about before we started the vintage shagging meme was cross-platform multi-media engagement. Or telling people you exist in the clamour of the global marketplace point para.

See what I did there? I’d been thinking of ways of trying to get some money in from doing my stand-up poetry in pubs I don’t actually like calling it poetry because let’s face it, it’s not exactly something Khubla Khan would have spent a languid afternoon listening to, and Omar Khyam (no, not the bloke

It doesn't get better.
It doesn’t get better.

who did those electric shaver ads on TV) has already done the book of verse, a jug of wine and thou thing that sums up the ideal state in anything I write, even though the dominant theme is being English, in a way that more people used to be than now, thankfully, fingers clenched dangerously tight on the stem of a wine glass as hearts turn to stone to stop them breaking, accompanied by nice accents, bright smiles and garden furniture. It could be I’m just channeling A Bouquet Of Barbed Wire in some weird Rendlesham Forest time-slip. I could live with that.

Two months ago yesterday I did my first stand-up poetry gig. Or songs without music. Or whatever it is I do (see snark, therapy, showing off). It seems like a lot longer and I keep veering between thinking ‘haven’t done enough’ and counting Anchor four times, Golden Key twice, DP’s twice, Old Mariner, Grinning Rat, King’s Head, Wenhaston Star, or twelve in less than that weeks and thinking that’s quite a good start.

When I started I thought a single reading might be quite enough for the audience, but they continue to surprise me in a really nice way. I overheard two women I know in the way you know women in pubs. Reading this perhaps I didn’t quite mean that, or rather I meant the way you (sorry, one) knows women in pubs to talk to. At my age. And theirs. With our voices. And stuff.

Anyway, as we used to say. One was asking the other about my stand-up act I’d done in The Golden Key, at Snape, asking what it was like. “It’s really good.” Pretty, Dutch, eccentric clothes, says hello to me first. Oh, it was nothing really. You know. Would you like a drink?

Pleasant all this may be I’d still been thinking I wasn’t doing enough to get stuff out there, or put it about a bit, as people thankfully don’t say any more. I hope. Not that, but I’d noticed that while there are loads of talented musicians at the gigs I go to, almost all of them never promote themselves. Not so at The Grinning Rat. That was refreshing, finding practically every act closing with its Soundcloud file address, Twitter account and website, almost down to saying how you have to shove the gate a bit when you open the latch.

Not exactly pulling gear. Even in Suffolk.
Not exactly pulling gear. Even in Suffolk.

I’d read an American article about how to promote your writing for fun and profit or something and and marvelled at the crass vulgarity of the idea of taking your own books along to your gigs and actually telling people they could buy them. I mean! The idea! Really!

But it just makes sense. And it’s World Book Day. And I’ve got a book to sell. Oh, didn’t I mention that? I’ve got a book to sell.

I’m doing this gigging seriously. I like doing it. People seem to like me doing it, even if not the sort of people I thought would like it done. As it were. So I need to start telling people about my stuff. I’m finishing the sound edit on the new sound play No Batteries Required today. Then it goes on two local radio stations and Soundcloud for a start. Then I need to really get this cross-promotion thing going properly. And I need to do something about my stage image. Or maybe I don’t. This multi-media stuff is so confusing. I’ll just have a look on ebay for one of those scrolling LCD displays. You know the kind of thing they have in the post office to let you know the counter is free, only saying I am instead.



Note for younger readers: While most of this drivel is sadly true, there never was a golf club in Westbury. There may well be now, but back when the Triumph Stag was the pinnacle of smooth n sexy motoring there wasn’t. You can tell how long ago this all is by the piquancy of the idea that driving anywhere could be sexy. Or that anyone would use the word ‘motoring.’

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